Cruelty Allegations against Franklin Co Dog Pound

The Franklin Co dog pound in Ohio killed more than 40% of the dogs in its care in 2012.  Among the thousands killed by the pound each year are dogs who don’t pass a behavioral test administered by the staff.  The pound’s assistant director, Deborah Finelli, e-mailed a local reporter regarding the process:

“To be selected for adoption, all dogs 6 months and older must pass a behavior assessment, which evaluates the dog’s ability to be safely handled, reaction to people and other dogs and any situations that might provoke aggressive behavior,” she wrote.

“No dog that is perceived to be a threat to the safety of other dogs or humans will be permitted to be sent to rescue and/or foster, or placed on the adoption floor.”

If this place was truly following this absurd rule, presumably no dogs would be made available for adoption since ALL DOGS BITE. Some bite people, some bite other dogs, some exhibit incredible restraint, some exhibit no restraint – and there are as many variations on these parameters as one would care to contemplate.  But the bottom line is that all dogs represent a potential threat to the safety of people and other dogs, even though that risk is small in the vast majority of cases.

Testing a dog in a pound environment is of very little value since the dog is not behaving normally due to severe stress.  Franklin Co’s statement that they test dogs for “any situations that might provoke aggressive behavior” suggests to me a pokey-in-the-face-with-a-plastic-hand-on-a-stick type deal or a take-food-away-from-a-hungry-stressed-out-dog-while-he’s-eating-it or maybe both monstrosities.  Whatever the tests, they should not be used as a justification to kill dogs.

To make matters worse, there are allegations that Franklin Co pound veterinarian Vincent Morton intentionally mistreats dogs in order to fail them on the behavioral tests and runs needless medical tests for the purpose of failing dogs he couldn’t sufficiently provoke to fail on behavior.

One complaint submitted in August 2013 says Morton would “purposefully be rough with them almost like he was trying to get them to growl or bite.”

Another complaint says Morton made fun of one employee for being gay and another for being Mexican. “Dr. Morton is very rough on the dogs and is rude to the employees and belittles them,” the complaint states.

But wait, there’s more!  There are allegations of oops-killings of dogs who had adopters waiting, dogs left to suffer without vet care for days, and dogs killed for behavior who had never been touched or let out of the cage.  And, despite employing a full time volunteer coordinator, Franklin Co has allegedly been shutting out volunteers.  Because volunteers, so complainy.

Local advocates voiced their concerns to the county commissioners this week and were told basically that their complaints weren’t going to be addressed as the county was already conducting its own investigation.  So tattle your tales elsewhere because we already know everything and you didn’t even know about our ultra secret investigation that is totally happening as we speak so sit back down, I guess.  Neither the vet nor the director have responded to the allegations at this time.

(Thanks Jan and Clarice for the links.)

Miami-Dade Pound Manager: “Obviously we’re doing something right”

The troubled Miami-Dade pound in FL is funded by taxpayers, in part to provide a safety net for stray pets in the community.  But when a Good Samaritan tried to help a dog he found loose on a highway by bringing him to the pound recently, he was turned away.  A Miami-Dade pound employee was caught on video telling the man the pound had no room and that he’d have to try again another day to get shelter for the dog.

Local news reporter Jacey Birch showed the video to manager Kathleen Labrada who described what happened as a “miscommunication”:

“For strays the doors are always open. We have no option in taking in strays,” said Labrada.

We have no option but to do the jobs taxpayers pay us to do. Except when we don’t do our jobs, in which case miscommunication.

But in this SuperFantasticWishTime exchange, the reporter doesn’t fail to do her job:

“If you euthanize for space, how could the shelter ever be at over-capacity?” asked Birch.

“The goal is to never euthanize for space,” said Labrada.

“But you do euthanize for space?” asked Birch.

“The shelter will euthanize for space as needed, but we take many actions to prevent that from ever happening,” said Labrada.

Like not accepting animals?

“In February, we saved 88 percent of the dogs and 82 percent of the cats, so obviously we’re doing something right,” said Labrada.

“Isn’t it because you’re not accepting the animals anymore?” asked Birch.

“No, not at all. We’re open for intake seven days a week,” said Labrada.

Jacey Birch: 1
Kathleen Labrada: 0
Stray pets in Miami-Dade County: We have no option but to miscommunicate you.  Obviously.  Because otherwise we’d have to do our jobs.  Which sounds like work.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Karma Rescue in CA Sells Lost Pet While Ignoring Owner’s Pleas

When a CA family’s 8 month old puppy got lost last month, owner Rosa Torres began looking for her right away.  She visited her local shelter repeatedly but never saw her puppy, called Raffiki.

In fact, Raffiki had been found running loose and was taken to a neighboring shelter – not the one the owner kept searching.  An area group called Karma Rescue pulled Raffiki from that shelter and listed her online as an adoptable pet.  That’s how Ms. Torres found out where her puppy was.  The owner immediately tried to reach Karma Rescue by phone but had to leave a frantic message explaining she wanted to get her lost pet back.  She then went to the group’s website and filled out an adoption application for Raffiki.

“The application form says why do you want this particular dog. I said because she belongs to me,” Torres said. “I said we love her and we miss her and we want her back home with us.”

But no one from Karma Rescue got back to Ms. Torres.  Instead, they sold Raffiki for $300 to another owner.  In a statement to the L.A. Times, Karma Rescue said Ms. Torres’s application “did not meet the qualifications that Karma looks for when adopting a dog to a home.” The L.A. Times writer explains:

As someone who’s worked with animal rescue, let me translate that: Torres is young; she and her son live with her parents in a small rental home in a not-so-great part of town. Her dog wasn’t microchipped, spayed or wearing ID tags. If she couldn’t manage to find the dog in a week, she doesn’t deserve to get her back.

Worse:

“Had [Ms. Torres] been a little more diligent, we would have spoken with her,” acknowledged Karma Rescue’s lawyer Susan Willis.

Karma Rescue decided that Raffiki’s owner wasn’t even worth talking to, never mind considering the return of her family member to her.  Not everyone agreed with the decision:

“You’ve got groups that help people and their pets, through education and support, versus people who just focus on the animals and tend to demonize owners,” said Jessica Gary, who spent the last year volunteering with Karma Rescue and considered the group one of the city’s best.

She resigned last week because this case revealed an elitism that’s shocked and disappointed her.
[...]
“If they’d returned this dog to the original owner, this new family could have adopted another dog, one that might die in the shelter now because it doesn’t have a home.”

Affirmative.

As we’ve discussed numerous times on this blog, rescue groups have no right to act like they are the 1%, trickling down animals upon the unwashed masses as they see fit. Poor people love their pets too. If rescues are truly wanting to save as many lives as possible, returning a lost pet to an owner should be a no-brainer under normal circumstances. It’s a way to put another one in the WIN column while reallocating resources to save the next animal on the local pound’s kill list. Instead Karma Rescue appears to have been determined to break up Raffiki’s family, because they deemed Ms. Torres unworthy.

On its website, Karma Rescue claims that the human-animal bond is sacred and must be respected:

“Unfortunately, your pet does not have a voice,” the Karma Rescue website reminds pet owners considering giving up their pets. “He can’t tell you he would rather stay with the family he has known and loved all his life.”
“Dogs and cats … go through psychological torment when they lose their family. Your pet deserves to stay with the family he/she loves.”

Apparently Karma Rescue neglected to include a giant asterisk there.

The owner who bought Raffiki is refusing to return her and it’s unclear to me whether Karma Rescue would send her home to Ms. Torres even if the puppy was returned. Ms. Torres and her 4 year old son are heartbroken that their family member will not be coming home. And you can probably guess what Ms. Torres’s opinion of rescue groups is at this point:

“My image for a rescue was always kind people who wanted homes for animals that need rescuing,” she told me. “I was really in shock that they weren’t trying to help me get my dog back.”

Instead of putting one in the WIN column and saving another pet in Raffiki’s place, Karma Rescue has broken up a family and needlessly given other rescue groups a bad name. It’s not lost on me that the group chose the name Karma. In Buddhism, there is no one to deem you unworthy like this group did Ms. Torres, but bad karma must be worked off, no matter how many lifetimes it takes. They might want to get started on that now. Ending their discriminatory practices and focusing on lifesaving would be a step in the right direction.

(Thanks Anne and Davyd for sending me this story.)

Deceptive Maneuvering at MAS Costs Another Dog His Life

Memphis Animal Services impounded a 2 year old male Alaskan malamute on January 31 for roaming loose.  His owner called the next day to inquire about redeeming her pet.  This should be the end of this dog’s story at MAS – right here.  Because the dog was owned and wanted and the owner contacted MAS to advise them.  But it’s Memphis, so no.

MAS told the owner they would sell the dog back to her for $83 but only if the dog’s heartworm test came up negative.  Then they ran to take blood from the dog and do a heartworm test.  Eleven minutes later, someone from MAS hopped back on the phone to call the dog’s owner with the news:  the heartworm test was positive so the price to buy the dog back was now $333.  So slick.  The owner advised she could not afford that amount and so MAS kept her dog.

Portion of MAS records, obtained via FOIA request, for dog #263122 (partially redacted by me)

Portion of MAS records, obtained via FOIA request, for dog #263122 (partially redacted by me)

Memphis Pets Alive photographed this dog on February 4 and February 11 and captured some stunning images of him:

mal face 02 04 14 mpa

Dog ID #263122 at MAS on 2-4-14, as posted on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook.

mal 02 04 14 mpa

Dog ID #263122 at MAS on  2-4-14, as posted on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook.

Dog ID #263122 at MAS, as posted on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook.

Dog ID #263122 at MAS on 2-4-14, as posted on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook.

Dog ID #263122 at MAS, as posted on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook.

Dog ID #263122 at MAS on  2-11-14, as posted on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook.

mal smile 02 11 14 mpa

Dog ID #263122 at MAS on 2-11-14, as posted on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook.

A rescue group applied to adopt the dog on February 12.  There are no further notes indicating why this adoption did not proceed.

Two days after the February 11 photos were taken, MAS records indicate the dog had a “brief exam” by a vet and was diagnosed with a “mild” cough. Medications were prescribed.

mal vet notes 1

The next morning however, MAS notes state the dog was found unresponsive in his kennel and since “no vet was on duty” to examine him, they decided to kill the dog rather than take him to a vet for care.

Two entries by two different MAS staff members indicating no vet was on duty at the time the dog was found unresponsive and the decision made to kill him.

Two entries by two different MAS staff members indicating no vet was on duty at the time the dog was found unresponsive and the decision made to kill him.

In what appears to me to be a glaring discrepancy, the medical notes for dog ID #263122 indicate a vet at MAS examined the dog after he was found unresponsive and recommended euthanasia:

mal vet notes 2

A dog who appeared to be happy, healthy and smiling on the evening of February 11 was found unresponsive in his cage the morning of February 14. A decision was made to kill the dog without a vet exam since, as two staff members noted, there was no vet on duty. A vet at MAS then noted that she examined the dog and recommended euthanasia on February 14. Whatever shenanigans went on here, the dog’s death was entirely preventable because this pet should never have been at MAS after his owner called to claim him on February 1.

Holding a dog for ransom that an owner can not pay is inconsistent with animal sheltering.  Jacking up the redemption fees because a young, healthy dog tests positive for heartworm makes even less sense if the shelter’s goal is to get animals out alive.  Heartworm is not an immediate death sentence and there are different treatment options available, including a very low cost option.  The owner should have been advised of the positive test result and counseled to seek vet care.  If she was unable to pay the $83 in fines to get the dog back, a payment arrangement (of any terms that would work for the owner) should have been made.  Tacking on the extra $250 just because the dog tested positive for heartworm is cruel and unusual.  The end result of all this nonsense is yet another beautiful dog in a garbage bag at Memphis Animal Slaughtering.

How many more, Memphis?

Corpus Christi Pound Oops-Kills Owned Dog During Quarantine

The pound in Corpus Christi, TX is run by the police department.  On February 9, Corpus Christi Animal Care Services  impounded a dog named Bandit for quarantine after he reportedly bit a person.  The owner, Mary Trevino, was given a 10 day quarantine form by the impounding ACO, which she signed and kept her copy.  Ms. Trevino says she maintained constant contact with an ACO named Rhodes throughout the quarantine period as she intended to pick Bandit up as soon as the city would release him.   The day before the quarantine expired, the city killed Bandit, because they say they thought his owner had surrendered him.  Oops.

But when a devastated Ms. Trevino went to the local news and a reporter began asking questions, the city decided to hold a presser to explain its side of the story.  Which basically amounts to:  Owner?  What owner?

Commander Todd Green:

Animal Care Services admits that this entire incident could have been handled better and offer our apologies to whoever actually owns the dog.

Right.  We apologize to Miss Mystery Owner, whom we don’t know and have never heard of in our lives.  The one we had sign the impound form and talked to about reclaiming her dog.  The one whom we later said we thought, incorrectly, had surrendered the dog allowing us to kill him.  That unknown person, wherever she may be, long may she run.

The city will investigate itself to determine whether any policies were violated.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Nobody WANTS to Kill Animals: Fox Valley Humane Edition

This friendly dog was killed by Fox Valley Humane Association even though an adopter was waiting.

This friendly dog was killed by Fox Valley Humane Association even though an adopter was waiting.

Appleton, WI – Betsy Quaintance and her daughter Allie found a very scared female Beagle wearing a collar but no tags on October 20, 2013. Once they gained the dog’s trust, she was very affectionate and appreciative of the food and love they gave her. The women suspected she was a lost pet and took her to the Fox Valley Humane Association in order to give the possible owner a chance to find her. There, the story took a tragic turn. Betsy writes:

We asked what the process was, and we were very clear that if the no one claimed her, or if they would want to put her to sleep, to please contact us, as we would be willing to adopt her if that happened. They instructed us to call back in a week. We called and stopped in at the end of the next week (as instructed). They said that she had not been claimed and gave us the adoption application. They then told us to go home and watch for her to show up on their website as an adoptable dog. Once that happened, we could bring the application back and pursue the adoption. We watched the site daily and did not see her, so on Monday 11/4, Allie called them to find out what was going on. She was told that the dog was food aggressive and had been put down.

I went to the FVHA the next afternoon and asked to meet with Liz, their new Executive Director. Liz did not have personal first hand knowledge, so she had to rely on what her staff have shared with her. The 7 days stray hold was up on Sunday 10/27. They completed her temperament test on Wed 10/30. They determined that she was “food aggressive to humans and dogs”. I was unsure what criteria is used to make that determination, so Liz shared that this would include bearing her teeth, growling, posturing or a combination of these actions. Once this determination was made, she was put to sleep that same day.

[...]

I reviewed our actions in pursuing her – and Liz did state that the staff that received her when we brought her in reported that we expressed an interest in adopting her if she was not claimed, or if she would be put down. I clarified that we also followed up when we directed to by the staff[.]

I’m guessing that Fox Valley Humane Association poked this dog in the face with a plastic hand on the end of a stick while she was eating and the dog got scared by such an absurd action. She showed her teeth or adopted a posture out of fright. And then they whisked her off to the kill room.

There has been a massive public outcry over the killing of this dog, who was never accused of biting or even nipping anyone and who had an adopter waiting. In response to the backlash from compassionate pet lovers, Fox Valley Humane Association posted a statement on its Facebook page this morning. It reads, in part:

During testing, after numerous attempts to acclimate Peanut to a typical meal-time routine, she continually demonstrated severe food aggression. In cases of manageable food aggression, FVHA seeks to correct any negative behaviors through multiple training techniques. Unfortunately Peanut’s aggression elevated to a dangerous level.

FVHA is extremely sensitive to cases in which humane euthanasia is deemed necessary for the best interest of the animal and the community. For the safety of Peanut and those who would provide care for her in the future, FVHA was faced with making the responsible decision to humanely euthanize her for all those involved.

Humane. They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.

My takeaway from their statement is, when the dog reacted normally to being poked in the face with the stupid plastic hand while eating, they kept poking and watched her fear escalate to the point where they felt satisfied that killing was the super right thing to do. They didn’t feel any obligation to inform the adopters they knew were waiting on the dog. Because posture. In one part of one test given once on one day. They didn’t feel any need to contact local rescue groups. Because humane.

Betsy tells me that several local TV stations will be telling this dog’s story tonight. I hope Fox Valley Humane Association has topped off its Bag o’ Lame Excuses for the media.

Thank you Betsy for trying to do right by this dog. I’m sorry for your loss. It seems like the so-called irresponsible public is getting burned by these so-called shelters all too often.

Instead of trying to find an excuse to kill pets people want to adopt, maybe Fox Valley Humane Association needs to put away its plastic hand on a stick and start doing its job to shelter animals. At the very least, couldn’t they stop killing pets they know have adopters waiting to take them home?

If anyone comes across any local news pieces on this dog, please post links in the comments.

Nine Dogs Not-Rescued by Broward Co Pound

On August 26, this was the headline on the Ft. Lauderdale ABC affiliate’s website:

Broward animal shelter, cops save dogs from suspected dog fighting ring – Investigation continues; Dogs to be rehabilitated

Eleven female mixed breed dogs were reportedly found in rough shape, living in sub-standard conditions at a Broward County home. The owner was arrested and charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty.

With names like Princess, Sugar and Cinnamon, these loving Pit bulls are now safe and protected at Broward Animal Care.

On August 28, the ABC affiliate followed up with an equally optimistic report:

Trainers rehab dogs rescued from alleged dog fighting ring

That piece included an interview with animal advocate Dahlia Canes:

“It kills me, it pains me, to see these dogs in the wrong hands.”

It turns out, the wrong hands in this case were those of Broward Co AC where nine of the eleven dogs were ultimately killed. The reporter returned to Dahlia Canes who brings the enabling:

“Unfortunately, for numerous reasons — including lack of space at the shelter and no rescues coming forth, no adopters coming forth — the rest of them had to be humanely euthanized,” Canes said.

Lack of space does not trump a dog’s right to live. Blaming the public for the killing done by the pound is straight out of the Enabler’s Handbook. And using the words “humanely euthanized” to described the violent betrayal of these dogs by those who are supposed to be protecting them is just enabler icing on the bullshit cake.

I wish the ABC affiliate would go back and change those headlines.  Nine of the eleven dogs were not “saved”, nor were they “rescued”.  They weren’t “safe and protected” at the Broward Co pound.  Tragically, nine of the dogs were better off in the hands of the original owner – and he was charged with animal cruelty.  But the dogs were at least alive then and the hope that they could be truly rescued by compassionate people who would respect their right to live was alive as well.  Now there is no such hope, courtesy of the Broward Co pound and its enablers.

Where there is life, there is hope. Killing is not rescue.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Beloved Pet Fast Tracked to Kill Room at Hillsborough Co Pound

Besides the most obvious reason shelters should not fast track owner surrendered animals to the kill room – that is, these pets have the right to live – there’s this:  The person presenting himself as the owner may in fact not own the pet being surrendered.  People who are most likely to pose as owners when taking someone else’s animal to a pet killing facility include pet hating neighbors, abusive spouses, and spiteful family members.

Such appears to have been the case with Bella, a Florida cat surrendered to Hillsborough County Animal Services by a family member of the owners in July.  Bella was fast tracked for killing because she was an “owner surrender” even though the real owners loved her very much and were looking for her.  Bella’s owners arrived at the shelter within 48 hours of her surrender but it was too late as Hillsborough Co had already killed her.

Local pet advocates are using Bella’s case to shine a spotlight on needless cat killings and bad policies at the Hillsborough Co pound.  Director Ian Hallett responded to critics in this Tampa Tribune article:

[...] Hallett ended a practice of allowing rescue groups to put after-hours holds on individual animals scheduled to be killed the next day. Bella could have been saved by an email or phone message the night before she was euthanized because animal rescue groups were aware she was there.

In fact, members of two rescue groups were looking for Bella late on the afternoon the day before she was put down, but shelter employees said they couldn’t find her in the cages. Time ran out and there was no after-hours option.

[...]

Hallett said he initiated the overnight holds on a pilot basis but it didn’t work out.

“In one week, 80 cats were placed on hold without any subsequent plans to get them out of the shelter,” Hallett said. “That caused a bout of illness in the shelter.”

Let’s be clear:  Allowing rescuers to place overnight holds on cats does not cause cats to get sick.  And killing to prevent the possibility of illness is unethical.

Local advocates want Hallett to end the 2 cat limit on adoptions which he seems to believe prevents rescue groups from hoarding.  Newsflash:  The overwhelming majority of rescuers do not hoard animals and the tiny fraction who do will not be cured by your 2 cat limit.  Another policy which animal advocates take issue with is the killing of pets while cages sit empty.  Hallett defends this practice using the outdated notion that empty cages prevent disease.  Yeesh.  It’s 2013.  We have hundreds of open admission shelters all over the country saving 90% or more of their animals.  And the Hillsborough Co director is stuck on Dead Pets Don’t Sneeze.  This from the guy Hillsborough Co brought in from Austin to reduce the killing.

Hallett defended his policies Thursday, saying he had reduced the cat euthanasia rate this year to 68 percent from 80 percent last year. The shelter takes in about 10,000 cats a year and, Hallett said, the numbers on any given day must be kept down to prevent disease.

As for the five-day hold period on stray animals, Hallett said it is required by state law.

“But if the owner brings it to us there is not a legal requirement to hold the animals,” Hallett said. “At that time, the shelter makes the best possible decision given the available resources.”

If killing is your best possible decision, I would say your best possible decisions suck.

I hope local advocates continue to push for reform at the pound.  Killing a little less is better than killing a little more but it’s still killing – which is the opposite of what shelters are supposed to do.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Orange Co Pound Oops-Kills Dog with Adopter Waiting, Rescuer Demands Answers

Florida – After Orange County Animal Services oops-killed a 2 year old dog named Hershey who had an adopter waiting to take him home, the facility’s spokesman refused to disclose exactly how the communication breakdown occurred.   Local rescuer Christina Duncan didn’t accept the brush-off and contacted several individuals in positions of leadership at the pound to demand answers.  Here is the e-mail she wrote to the pound’s vet, Robert Ridgway (click to enlarge):

duncan letter

Here is Dr. Ridgway’s response:

ridgway letter

If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. And like the spokesman for the Orange Co pound, Dr. Ridgway definitely can’t own it.

(Thanks for the links Clarice.)

Anyone Minding the Store, Memphis?

Remember when those MAS killing cheerleaders also known as the do nothing advisory board decided to lock the public out of most of their meetings because the unwashed masses wanted to speak up for the right of shelter pets to live?  Well here are the minutes from one of the recent super secret meetings.   It seems the advisory board members can’t be bothered to do the jobs they volunteered for and neither can the workers paid by taxpayers. But killing is the public’s fault, don’t forget.

Fair warning:  Do not take a large swig of any beverage while reading.

MAS advisory board notes from May meeting

MAS advisory board notes from May meeting (click to enlarge)

The only reasonable response, clearly:

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

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