Houston Police Officer and Tow Truck Driver Abandon Elderly Dog in Traffic

Guero, as pictued on ABC13.com

Guero, as pictued on ABC13.com

In Houston, the owner of a 14 year old Chihuahua named Guero gave a friend a lift on July 13, taking the pet along for the car ride.  A Houston police officer stopped the vehicle for failing to signal a turn.  And because Houston apparently takes turn signals terrible-awful seriously, the officer decided to search the SUV.  The search turned up prescription medication belonging to the passenger.  But the officer decided to arrest both men. BECAUSE TURN SIGNAL.

The officer called for a tow truck to impound the vehicle but refused to call anyone to pick up Guero.  The owner, Mr. Garcia, pleaded to be allowed to call someone himself but the officer refused.  In Houston, animal control can be reached by calling 311 but the officer refused to make that call nor would he allow the owner to make it.  They were 2 blocks away from AC, at the side of the highway ramp.

Instead, the officer instructed the tow truck driver to leave the dog at the side of the road.  Mr. Garcia begged for Guero’s life, explaining that the pet was nearly blind from cataracts and needed medication.  The officer replied that it wasn’t his problem.

Charges against Mr. Garcia were dropped (apparently not everyone in Houston is on the same page when it comes to zero tolerance for turn signal criminals).  The family put up Lost Pet signs in the area and received a call a few days later from someone advising that a dog matching the description was at the side of the road where the officer had ordered he be abandoned.  The caller was unable to help the dog due to the heavy traffic.  The family went to the area and found their pet dead, having been hit by a car.  They wrapped Guero in a towel, took him home and buried him.

Mrs. Garcia filed a complaint with the Houston police department.  Receiving no response, she addressed the city council on July 22.  There she received a public apology from the mayor.  The police department will investigate itself in the matter, which may take 6 months.

In the meantime, I suggest the unnamed Houston police officer whose reckless disregard for the life of a member of the Garcia family and the tow truck driver who was just following orders when he abandoned the helpless pet at the side of the road ask themselves some serious questions.  Starting with What The Fucking Hell?  The tow truck company isn’t responding to the media, instead hiding behind the police department’s skirts.  And the police department is busy looking for turn signal violators apparently.

Here’s my question:  How does Houston deal with asshats who leave blind dogs in traffic?  If the police officer and tow truck driver aren’t dealt with in exactly the same manner in this case, I call shenanigans on the city of Houston.

Mrs. Garcia says her family has been torn apart by the death of Guero, who had been part of their family his entire life.  In an interview with the local ABC affiliate, she tearfully said:

I felt so much pain, like I never knew I had.

We get it Mrs. Garcia.  Pets are family.  Good on you for refusing to give up in trying to get justice for Guero.

(Thanks Lisa and Davyd.)

Hawaiian Island on Path to Exterminate 20,000 Cats

Abby, member of a manged TNR colony in Alabama.  (Photo by Aubrie Kavanaugh)

Abby, member of a managed TNR colony in Alabama. (Photo by Aubrie Kavanaugh)

The county of Kauai, one of the Hawaiian islands, assembled a nine member Feral Cat Task Force to make recommendations regarding the management of the community cat population.  The county paid $30,000 for the report, issued in March 2014.  The task force excluded the president of Kauai Ferals and was primarily comprised of individuals wishing to exterminate cats.

The final report highlighted the Billions and Billions of Birds myth often touted by cat haters and estimated the county’s feral cat population at 20,000.  The 10 year goal, as stated in the report, is for the island to have “zero feral, abandoned and stray cats” which is obviously an unattainable and unrealistic goal.  Gee, maybe they should have let the guy who knows feral cats have some input.

Among the recommendations made by the task force:

  • Expand the cat licensing ordinance to include colony caretakers.
  • Outlaw cats on county property.  Trap any cats found on county property for adoption or killing.
  • Require licensed cat owners to obtain written permission (revokable with 10 days notice) from any property owner willing to allow cats on his property.  Any cats found on property without written permission from the owner will be deemed stray and subject to trapping.
  • Implement a TNR program in two phases:
    1.  For the first five years, TNR colonies must be registered and monitored to maintain at least a 90% spay-neuter rate.  Sick, injured and new cats, including kittens, must be removed from the colony for adoption or killing.
    2.  After the initial five year period, TNR colonies must be registered and will only be allowed on fully fenced, private property.  The county will no longer pay for maintaining its community cats and the financial burden will be shifted to private citizens.
  • The county must hire additional animal enforcement officers in order to conduct the increased cat licensing, monitoring, trapping and killing.

In effect, the recommendations target outdoor cats for extermination – potentially including indoor cats who escape their homes – and punish colony caretakers with licensing fees and unreasonable restrictions making it impossible for them to reduce the colony size over time. The TNR program as outlined is destined to fail by design. This is what you get when you commission a report from people who want to kill cats.

Judy Dalton, one of the token non-cat hating members of the task force, expressed some reasonable concerns in her comments at the end of the report:

If there is going to be a reduction in the numbers of community cats, it is absolutely imperative that spay/neutering services be affordable and accessible to all cats – both owned and unowned. The cost to spay and microchip a female cat at the Humane Society was hiked from $10 to $50 last year – 5 times more than it has been in the past. This is beyond the affordability of most residents on Kauai where a female cat and 4 female kittens and 2 males would cost them over $300,
when a primary concern is putting food on their tables. As a result, female cats didn’t get spayed and their kittens were abandoned. I rescued more abandoned kittens this past year than the past 18 years that I’ve been doing so.
[...]
The spay/neuter van needs to continue and be available to feral cats, as it has been in the past and not be denied to feral cats as it was this past year.

In addition, Ms. Dalton lamented that experienced TNR supporters were barred from participating during the decision making work session of the task force, resulting in a lop-sided set of recommendations favoring cat eradication.

It’s up to the Kauai Co Council to consider the recommendations of the task force and determine what action to take regarding its community cats.  Anyone wishing to contact the council with polite comments supporting TNR and opposing cat extermination and the criminalization of cat owners should email: Councilmembers@kauai.gov

(Thanks Nathan for sending me this story.)

Louisiana Pound Worker Neglects Dogs to Death, Receives Fine

Vick and Fancy, as depicted on the KATC website.

Vick and Fancy, as depicted on the KATC website.

Cynthia and Royce Johnson’s healthy 4 year old dogs were family.  Vick and Fancy had their own Christmas stockings and were in the family portraits.  But when Vick was found loose in a neighbor’s yard in mid-June, the Town of Basile, LA inexplicably took both dogs away, requiring the Johnsons to go to court to get their pets back.  They went to the scheduled hearing five days later, only to find it had been canceled.  The next day, they found out Vick and Fancy were dead:

All that’s left of the Boxer and Shar Pei is a grave in the backyard of their owner, Cynthia Johnson. She can’t help but relive the day they were taken away.

“I loaded them up, I told them they would be home soon, and they didn’t come home,” Johnson said. “They came home to be buried.”

As if the horror of losing two family members at once wasn’t enough, Cynthia Johnson learned details of their agonizing deaths in the most gruesome way imaginable:

She said the situation became worse when she demanded to see her dogs, who were delivered to her home.

“The dog catcher said, ‘Ma’am, be careful; there are maggots,'” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘What do you mean maggots? He just died two hours ago. How could he have maggots?’ So I took the bag and I tore it open, and when I did he was just like covered in maggots. They were, like, everywhere, and he had sores everywhere, and they were eating him,” Johnson said.

A report from a local vet clinic indicated Fancy was dead at the time she arrived at the hospital and Vick took “one last agonal breath and died.”

Part of the Town of Basile, as well as the pound where it takes animals, is within Acadia Parish.  Tim Benoit, the Acadia Parish Animal Control supervisor, investigated the deaths.  He determined that the Basile town employee in charge of caring for impounds neglected Vick and Fancy to death.  Benoit issued the employee a citation for two counts of animal cruelty – but it’s just a $500 fine.  After all, they’re only animals:

Benoit said he did not see the alleged violations as criminal in nature.

“It’s a civil matter,” Benoit said.

Nothing civil about it.  Pets are family.  The employee has been reassigned and won’t be working at the pound in future.  Gee, nice gesture on the town’s part there.

Benoit said that his investigation revealed the need for improving animal care in Basile and that the the town’s mayor asked for his recommendations on how to remedy the Basile animal control issues at hand.

Ya think?  There will reportedly be some upgrades and training and blah.

“Just give me some time. We will get this fixed,” Benoit added.

How much time will it take to get justice for Vick and Fancy?  I guess never would be the answer to that.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Augusta Pound Refusing to Adopt Out Animals Because of Possibility Adopters Might Not Follow Through with Neuters

In Richmond Co, Georgia, Augusta Animal Services has been killing 70% of its animals for the past two years.  And that tragic kill rate appears to be the result of a hot mess perpetuated by local leaders.

An animal advocate recently told the Augusta Chronicle that Augusta pound director Sharon Broady refuses to work with rescues and charges them full adoption fees.  In addition, with the loss last month of the pound’s part-time vet, animals are apparently being single-tracked to the kill room, with the state spay-neuter law being cited as the reason.  No vet=no neuters=no live releases.

Georgia state law and Richmond County ordinance both require shelters to either neuter pets prior to adoption or have the adopter sign an agreement that the pet will be neutered within 30 days (for adult animals).  It is unclear to me why the Augusta pound is not utilizing the latter option in order to save lives.  The director cites a lack of compliance in past on the part of owners who adopted intact pets but fails to mention that the alternative choice she is making, instead of working to increase compliance, is death.

The pound’s adoption program appears to be suspended and the facility is killing more than 100 pets a week. The director won’t reopen the adoption program until a veterinarian is hired.  City commissioners recently approved hiring a full time vet for the pound but there is no sense of urgency to fill the position, which the city estimates may take as long as 6 months.  No rush I guess, as long as the city has the landfill space for the mountain of dead animals it’s creating.

The city commissioners bring the blame:

“This is a community wide problem and not strictly to our animal control director. It goes all the way down to people who have pets and don’t take care of them,” Commissioner Donnie Smith said.

It is the director’s choice to kill animals instead of allowing rescues and adopters to save them. That choice is not in any way reflective of the behavior of area pet owners. Naming the problem is the first step to finding a solution.

Then there’s this guy:

“I wish we had more debate about abortions. I mean nobody has talked about that. animals are animals and I love animals. We don’t have the funds and I approved to have a veterinarian. At some point we need to have responsible pet owners,” Commissioner Joe Jackson said.

What, no nightcaps?

What, no nightcaps?

Mmmmkaaaay.  I wish we had a debate about foxes wearing pajamas.  Maybe I’ll get my wish someday and maybe Commissioner Jackson will get his.  In the meantime, the director of the Augusta pound is choosing to operate the place primarily as a pet killing facility while turning away rescuers and adopters.  While we’re waiting for our debate wish lists to be fulfilled, maybe we could talk about that.

(Thanks Clarice and Kim for sending me links on this story.)

Memphis Pound Kills Ten Kittens in One Day

Public records of ten kittens killed by the Memphis pound on May 22, 2014:

Records from Memphis Animal Services, obtained via FOIA request (click to enlarge)

Records from Memphis Animal Services, obtained via FOIA request (click to enlarge)

The first four kittens on the list were killed because of their “behavior”. I guess the person holding them in their hands must have been mauled after these photos were taken. The complete records, including all veterinary notes, were requested. The only records provided by the city of Memphis were copies of the cage cards. Records indicate that the behavior of these tiny kittens was so unmanageable, they could not be scanned for a chip or weighed. But all four kittens had their records marked “no chip” at the time they were killed.

266315

266316

266317

266318

no chip

The next two kittens on the list were killed because MAS staff didn’t have “time” to take care of them. The complete records, including all veterinary notes, were requested. The only records provided by the city of Memphis were copies of the cage cards.

266351
266352

MAS killed the last four kittens on the list because they were “too young”. Kittens have that tendency. It’s not a permanent disability but when you operate primarily as a pet killing facility like MAS does, any excuse will do. The complete records, including all veterinary notes, were requested. The only records provided by the city of Memphis were copies of the cage cards.  Note that all four kittens were killed before their “review date”, the date the city says must expire before the animals can be photographed or networked by Memphis Pets Alive to save them from the kill room.

266565

266566

266567

266647

But don’t criticize, they’re doing the best they can, we all want the same thing, blah.

York Co SPCA Kills 36 Cats in Response to Ringworm Outbreak

Ringworm is a treatable condition which appears as a skin infection in pets.  Both oral and topical medications may be prescribed by a vet in treating pets with ringworm.  As with all diseases, it’s essential that animal shelters have protocols in place to prevent ringworm since treatment involves time, space and money – resources which shelters must use carefully.  The Koret Shelter Medicine Program at UC Davis has very detailed recommendations for shelters on both prevention and treatment.  These include:

  • Carefully inspect all incoming animals and all animals being considered for foster care or group housing. Look for any areas of hair loss, scabbing, or crusting, especially focal areas affecting the face, ears, feet or tail.
  • Segregate affected or suspected animals and institute cleaning protocols to prevent further spreading.
  • Environmental decontamination
  • During an outbreak or in areas that have frequent problems with ringworm, separate housing of all kittens in an easy to bleach area for at least two weeks, followed by careful re-inspection for signs of ringworm.

It sounds like hard work but obviously for a shelter, it comes with the territory.  After all, the name is not Animal Shelter, When It’s Easy and Convenient.

Dingo, a cat with ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

Dingo, a cat with ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

Dingo after receiving treatment for ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

Dingo, after receiving treatment for ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

On April 1, the Fox affiliate in central PA reported that the York County SPCA killed 36 cats in response to a ringworm outbreak, for convenience:

York County SPCA executive director, Melissa Smith, says likely a stray cat spread its undetected ringworm to 120 cats.

Smith says, “That was too large a number for us to successfully treat so we decided to decrease that number down to a more manageable amount we could quarantine.”

Decrease that number. Ew.

Apparently the quarantine area at the York Co SPCA can house 90 cats so they killed 36 cats for convenience. And if you don’t like them apples, you will probably not like hearing that the decision to needlessly kill cats for convenience is your fault:

It’s a decision Smith says is preventable by spaying or neutering your pet.

If only we irresponsible public types would spay and neuter, the staff at the York Co SPCA would start doing their jobs. Wait – I did spay and neuter my pets. Now what’s the excuse? The York Co SPCA board president explains:

The York County SPCA recently experienced an outbreak of ringworm that ultimately resulted in the difficult decision to euthanize 36 cats. In a perfect world, there would be no unwanted animals, no need to operate animal shelters, and thus no need for those who dedicate their lives to the well-being of animals to make the heart-wrenching decision of euthanasia.

Such decisions are made out of necessity, not by choice, in thousands of similar humane organizations across the country on a daily basis. Sadly, an ideal world is one we continually strive for but not the reality of the world in which we live.
[...]
Many are demanding the resignation of Executive Director Melissa Smith, who has been a tireless advocate for the well-being of animals for nearly 25 years. Let us be unmistakably clear: Melissa Smith has the full support of the York County SPCA Board of Directors and will continue to do so.
[...]
Euthanasia is a disease that can be cured. The ultimate blame for this measure should be assigned not to those who must routinely make such heart-wrenching decisions, but to those who do not properly care for their animals, leave them unattended, allow them to reproduce, and whose lack of responsibility inevitably causes countless unwanted animals to end up in our and similar shelters throughout the country each day.

To recap:

  • The world is imperfect. Therefore, it’s anything goes, including cat killing!
  • Thousands of other shelters needlessly kill pets every day. Which makes it ok.
  • “Euthanasia is a disease that can be cured.” So it’s exactly like ringworm!
  • Don’t blame those doing the killing for the killing of pets. Blame your awful selves.
  • We are awesome. You guys suck.

Notably absent from the Yay Cat Killings/Boo You People PR:

  • Any mention of the York Co SPCA’s protocols to prevent ringworm
  • A detailed explanation for how those protocols failed
  • Whether any/all of the 120 cats were actually tested for ringworm
  • Why the York Co SPCA chose to kill for convenience instead of issuing a plea to the public for assistance
  • Why donors should continue to have faith in the York Co SPCA
  • What changes are being implemented in order to avoid, or at least minimize, another outbreak.

I guess the organization was so busy congratulating itself on its tireless animal advocacy filling up the dumpster with dead cats, no one remembered to appear accountable.  But when they are not killing cats, they are probably doing their jobs, right?  I mean, they would be, if it was a perfect world.  Until then, sucks being a cat at the York Co SPCA.

(Thank you Beth for the links.)

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?

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