April 13, 2013
Bodey was a 2 year old Lab belonging to Christopher and Desislava Mertens of Horry Co, SC. He had been raised from puppyhood and was a beloved family member. When the Mertens were overseas on vacation recently, they found out Bodey had gotten lost. They made every effort to find him:
“We did Facebook, Craigslist, every page we could think of as far as spreading the word,” said Christopher Mertens.
They enlisted the help of friends and local shops, putting up posters and online posts every day.
The Mertens also called the Horry Co Animal Care Center but were told there were no records indicating Bodey was there. Having heard that a neighbor may have called AC regarding Bodey, the owners pressed on, eventually tracking down the ACO who had impounded him. That ACO finally told the couple that Bodey had been adopted. They asked if they could leave their information for the new owners so they might be able to see Bodey and know he was safe. The pound refused. The family continued to worry and ultimately contacted the local news for help. A WCET reporter obtained records from the county showing Bodey had been impounded, held for 7 days, and killed.
The Horry Co pound initially told the family that Bodey wasn’t there and never had been. That was a lie. Then they said Bodey had been adopted. That was another lie. Only when the reporter got involved and demanded the public records was the truth known. I wonder if the county would have ever told the truth about killing Bodey.
The couple was devastated:
“If you pick up a dog and you give that dog five days to live, but you don’t post a picture of him, or put up anything notifying anyone of that, you’re not giving that animal a chance, period,” said Mertens.
The county, despite having been exposed as liars, admits no wrongdoing in the attempted cover up:
The sad reality, the county says, is thousands of animals are brought to the Animal Care Center every year. The decision to put an animal down is based on the animal’s health, the potential to be adopted, and the amount of space in the shelter.
Whatever lets you sleep at night, Horry Co. It’s monsters like you that keep me awake.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)
As promised, another installment featuring records for some of the pets needlessly killed by the Memphis pound during the week of December 5 – December 12, 2012. The first set of records belongs to a litter of pups, 2 male and 2 female mixed breeds, who were impounded as strays on 11-29-2012. Although the impounding ACO’s notes were requested, none were provided so presumably either the officer failed to make any notes or the city failed to provide the requested records. The MAS records show the pups were apparently young and healthy and they all received vaccinations and deworming on 12-2-12. Their cage cards indicate they were housed in an area of the shelter where the public is not allowed. Their review date (after the mandatory hold period) was 12-5-12 and instead of being marketed for foster or adoption on that day, they were all taken to the kill room and put in the trash. They weighed just 5 pounds each.
The next pet was a 1 year old Pitbull type female named Laura. Her cage card indicates she was housed in an area of the shelter where the public is not allowed. Laura’s owner surrendered her to MAS on 12-4-12 “due to chewing and climbing fence”. (Note: This is per a note entered by Christine at MAS. The owner surrender form was not provided and there is a note on Laura’s cage card that says “No form avail.”) Chewing and fence climbing are not unusual behaviors in young dogs and they are well within the realm of behavioral issues which can be readily addressed by owners, sometimes with the help of a professional trainer (other times simply with the help of a bone). But Laura was taken to the kill room on 12-5-12 after a note was entered in her record by shelter supervisor DeKeisha Tunstall which read, “Animal has poor behavioral history per owner. No holds requested at time of memo entry.” Poor behavioral history per owner in this case is the pound’s attempt to spin the facts: The dog’s reported behavior, which is not unusual and carries a reasonable expectation of modification with training, is unverified. And no holds requested is indicative of the fact that no one had a chance to request a hold on this dog because the only people who knew she was there were the ones intent on killing her. Laura never had a chance.
MAS impounded a 1 year old Pitbull type dog named Beer on 10-24-12. Although the impounding ACO’s notes were requested, none were provided so presumably either the officer failed to make any notes or the city failed to provide the requested records. Beer was neutered, wearing a collar and had a microchip. On 10-25, Vincetta D. Jackson called Home Again regarding the microchip and obtained the owner’s name, address and phone number. The records indicate the number was called but found to be disconnected. There is no note to indicate any letter was mailed to the owner’s address or that 411 was called to see if there was a new phone listing for the owner. There are no notes indicating the dog’s information was checked against lost dog reports in-house, on Craigslist, on Facebook or anywhere at all. There are no notes indicating the dog was listed by MAS as FOUND on any website. Beer was vaccinated, dewormed, given a flea treatment and determined to be heartworm negative on 10-30-12. There are no notes indicating he was ever determined to be sick. He was killed on 12-5-12. No reason was marked on his kill card.
Champ was wearing a leather collar and an ID tag when MAS impounded him as a stray on 11-13-12. Although the impounding ACO’s notes were requested, none were provided so presumably either the officer failed to make any notes or the city failed to provide the requested records. He was a neutered 2 year old mixed breed dog. A note entered into his record on 11-15 by Tameka Booker-Shaw indicates that “when moving this dog”, an ID tag was noticed and an unsuccessful attempt was made to reach the owner by phone. There are no notes to indicate any follow up attempts to reach the owner were made in the days following. There are no notes indicating the dog’s information was checked against lost dog reports in-house, on Craigslist, on Facebook or anywhere at all. There are no notes indicating the dog was listed by MAS as FOUND on any website. On 11-26, a note entered by shelter supervisor DeKeisha Tunstall says, “E-mailed Tracy Dunlap in an effort to locate a rescue group. Dog already neutered and very well trained.” As far as I know, no such plea was issued to the rescue groups on the MAS list. On 12-4, Ms. Tunstall noted “animal’s time has expired” in the record. Champ was killed on 12-5-12.
Goodbye litter of 5 pound pups, Laura, Beer and Champ. I’m sorry the people paid to protect you from harm failed to do their jobs. Your lives had value and you were loved, even if it wasn’t evident at the end. I won’t forget you. Memphis please, stop the killing.
Zach Gentile, a high school student in Revere, lost his dog Emily on December 19 when his mother accidentally let her out unattended. He searched the neighborhood for many hours but couldn’t find his beloved pet of nine years. The next day, he called Lisa Cutting whose kennel is contracted by the city to house stray pets. Ms. Cutting advised the young man that police had received a call from a man who reported finding Emily, but the dispatcher didn’t bother getting the man’s name or phone number.
Mr. Gentile called the police himself. They told him to call the city’s ACO, which he did. But no one has helped him. He has continued to search on his own and to put up fliers in the area.
Ms. Cutting spoke to the city council a year ago about the numerous failures involving lost and stray pets in Revere. She told the council that healthy, owned pets who had been picked up after getting lost from their homes have been killed by the city due to the lack of police communication with the owners. Nothing has apparently improved in the past year although when confronted with the Emily story by the local newspaper, the police threw them a bone:
Revere Police, upon learning more about the situation, told the Journal that they are revisiting the idea of making a clear policy for lost or abandoned animals – a problem they were told of more than a year ago by Cutting.
While they are revisiting the idea of having a policy, maybe they could help Mr. Gentile look for Emily. Pets are family. Animal services=family services. How sad it is that the Revere police need a written protocol to tell them that when someone calls in to report finding a lost family member, they need to do better than meh.
(Thank you Anne L. for sending me this link.)
November 7, 2012
Early in 2012, the city of Weslaco decided to open up its own animal shelter inside the public works building as a cost saving measure. The city had previously contracted with another shelter and estimated it would save a large sum of money by going solo. What they appear to have opened is not actually an animal shelter so much as it is a small mammal killing facility:
Since May, 684 animals have come through the facility. That includes 139 dead animals, 123 opossums, 225 dogs and 197 cats. A total of 490 animals were euthanized. Forty three were claimed by their owners.
That’s a 10% RTO for dogs and cats who came into the facility alive and a 0% adoption rate. A pet’s only chance of getting out of the Weslaco facility alive is if an owner reclaims him. And that’s no easy task.
Pet owner Ed Rodriguez recently lost his cat. He wanted to go into the Weslaco facility to search for his pet but the door is kept locked. He finally got a worker on the phone who asked him what color his cat was and then told him the cat wasn’t there. Mr. Rodriguez never got inside:
Weslaco city officials said the shelter is not fully staffed. Anyone who loses a pet should call 956-973-3123. After that they will need to make an appointment to see if the pet is at the facility.
Animal control officers said it usually takes two to three days to arrange a visit.
Three days to set up an appointment to look for your lost pet. Who hopefully hasn’t been hit by a car, mangled by another animal, is in need of insulin shots or anything at all. Oh and guess how long Weslaco holds pets before they start killing them? Did you guess three days? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
But wait – because austerity!
Weslaco officials said they’ve saved more than $46,000 since they set up their own shelter.
Oh well yay for saving money, but this is not a “shelter”. You know what helps offset the costs associated with operating an actual animal shelter? Adoption and redemption fees. If anyone in Weslaco cares.
(Thank you Clarice for sending me this link.)
July 5, 2012
If your pet bolted last night during the July 4th fireworks, here are some tips to help you in your search. I will add in my own tip and hopefully other people will contribute more suggestions in the comments.
- Visit every shelter that accepts “stray” pets in your area. When you get there, ask to see every dog (or cat) in the place. If they have certain animals housed in areas that are off-limits, ask to see photos of every one of the pets in those areas. Keep in mind that your pet may be injured and possibly being kept in the shelter’s vet clinic or at an offsite clinic. Ask if they have any other pets housed offsite and to view photos of all those animals. Ask to fill out a Lost Pet report. Ask to review any Found Pet reports the facility has taken since the time your pet was lost.
June 13, 2012
Victoria Henry’s beloved dog Nola was impounded by the Memphis pound on May 3 and hasn’t been seen since. What has anyone at MAS done to help find Nola?
Someone finally deleted her listing off the PetHarbor website. Other than that, I don’t know what has been done. The ACO who impounded Nola and made the error on the intake date didn’t do his/her job and failed to contact Ms. Henry based upon the microchip information. The supervisor who Ms. Henry talked to regarding Nola’s disappearance didn’t do his job and failed to view the security camera footage as he promised, instead allowing it to be overwritten. The person who denied Ms. Henry’s request for Nola’s records, forcing her to file a FOIA request, merely acted to obstruct in my view. I don’t know what other possible explanation there could be.
The city promised – at the last shelter advisory board meeting open to the public – to get a camera for the kill room at MAS since staff had been abusing animals in that room. But the city failed to follow through on that promise and now no one can confirm whether Nola was killed in that room. At that same meeting, the city also pledged to bring the security camera system up to the previously promised standard of retaining video data for 30 days. Had the city followed though on this, the evidence of what really happened to Nola could have been examined.
Interim director James Rogers says in essence that he is powerless to give direction to the MAS employees and that the police might have better luck getting answers out of them. Remember when Mayor Wharton said the attorney general’s office would subpoena testimony from employees regarding the alleged dogfighting connections at MAS? Good times. (Dang, I need a new category for the blog. What’s the superlative of HellaLame?)
As usual, it’s up to regular citizens – the irresponsible public, as MAS is so fond of calling them – to roll up their sleeves and step into the muck MAS has left behind. Here’s how people are getting involved:
- Where’s Nola? – group on Facebook for sharing information
- Nola’s Volunteers – group on FB for anyone willing to pass out flyers, conduct searches, etc (closed group, need to request membership from admin)
- Memphis area residents can attend tonight’s public meeting of the shelter advisory board at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library located at 3030 Poplar Avenue, 38111 in meeting room A from 6:00 PM until 7:30 PM.
June 3, 2012
Have you seen this dog? She was impounded at the Memphis pound on May 3 and no one has seen her since.
June 1, 2012
Memphis resident Victoria Henry’s dog Nola is missing. Ms. Henry writes:
My pups Uno (Siberian Husky) and Nola (Lab mix with American Bulldog) dug a hole in my back yard and got out under the fence on Thursday, May 3, 2012. They were picked up by animal control the same day between 12 noon and 1:00 pm. This information was unknown to me until a week later. On Friday, May 4, 2012, I visited the Memphis Animal Shelter on Appling Road and my search was unsuccessful.
A week later, Thursday, May 10, 2012, I received a phone call from a gentleman in the neighborhood stating that my pups were possibly picked up and taken to the Memphis Animal Shelter. When I visited the shelter on this day I was able to locate one of my pups, Uno. Uno is chipped and was reported lost. I never received a phone call. Nola was nowhere in sight. I also spoke with the officer that picked both of them up from the same location at the same time on the same day. However, Nola’s intake day was listed as April 3, 2012. Additionally she was listed as a pit bull and she is not a pit bull.
More so, I have visited the shelter several times and I have not had any luck locating Nola. The shelter does not have documentation on Nola being euthanized nor do they know of her location. I have requested her paperwork and I was denied; therefore, I am in the process of completing FOIA request. To make matters worse, a male employee recognized that the date was wrong and informed the female employee that was inputting the information into the computer system and she did not change the date. I have also sought legal assistance with this matter. An investigation needs to be done to prevent this from happening to someone else.
Unfortunately, Ms. Henry is “someone else“. In fact, MAS has a history of missing and unaccounted for animals. The rotary club report underscored many pet advocates’ worst fears: dogs being sold out the back door of the pound and possible staff connections to dogfighting.
Last night, ABC24 ran a segment on Nola. When interviewed now, interim director James Rogers gives the impression he’s on the case and will leave no stone unturned. It’s a shame he didn’t take action when Ms. Henry first notified him 3 weeks ago. I assume, based on our many denied FOIA requests for security camera footage, the footage from May 3 has been overwritten. It could have been saved though, if immediate action had been taken on May 10. Or if the city, you know – did its job and preserved security camera footage for 30 days like they said they would. And of course, there is no hope of Nola being found on any webcam grabs since the city shut those off last year.
Ms. Henry believes this is Nola (despite the ridiculous identifying photo) still listed by MAS on PetHarbor:
A number of questions arise regarding this case:
- Where were Nola and Uno on May 4 when Ms. Henry visited the pound to look for her dogs?
- Why wasn’t Uno’s chip scanned and Ms. Henry contacted by MAS?
- Why was Ms. Henry’s request for records denied?
- Why were there apparently no efforts made by MAS to find what happened to Nola after Ms. Henry advised the pound that they had lost her dog?
- Why is the PetHarbor listing still showing an incorrect date of April 3?
- What is the impounding officer’s explanation for these troubling events?
And most importantly:
A poster has been created in an effort to help find Nola and it can be viewed here.
November 14, 2011
In the American justice system, a person accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. I’ve been wondering if unowned pets – including those surrendered to or picked up by animal control, those abandoned at or taken to a veterinary clinic, as well as those taken in by compassionate animal lovers – shouldn’t be legally afforded a certain status: Presumed Wanted. That is to say, every pet, regardless of whether he appears to have no owner or even if it is known that his owner surrendered ownership of him, should be granted the presumption of being wanted by someone. That someone might be the current owner (in the case of a lost pet) or a future adopter (in the case of a surrendered pet). If we were legally obligated to to presume that there are people out there who want every unowned pet in this country, that would be the end to pet killing, right? (Of course, as always, I separate needless killing from true euthanasia of pets who are medically hopeless and suffering.) Just as we do not sentence criminal defendants who are presumed innocent, we could not kill a pet we presume is wanted by someone.
I know there are many facets to this complex issue and I hope you will chime in with your thoughts. As a general outline, I am thinking in terms of the “finder” – the person or shelter who has possession of the pet – having a few basic obligations:
1. If the finder is unable or unwilling to provide basic humane care for the pet for at least the legally mandating holding period afforded to strays in shelters, he must turn the pet over to the shelter.
2. If the finder decides to provide basic humane care for the pet for at least the legally mandated holding period, he must report the found pet to his local shelter (or national database, if one existed).
3. Once the legally mandated holding period has expired, the finder must either offer the unclaimed pet for adoption, adopt the pet himself, or turn the pet over to the shelter so that he can be offered for adoption.
This would only work if every shelter offered listings (available at the shelter and online) of all found pets reported (or if we had a single national database for this information). Does your local shelter offer this? I tried searching for places to list a found pet online and there are many – too many to be useful in any meaningful way. This is an area that needs improvement. As things stand, when someone loses a pet, they are advised to browse the online listings of area shelters, visit the shelters in person since online listings may be lagging (or non-existent, in some cases), browse and post ads in the local newspaper, on Craigslist, the social networking sites, visit area vet clinics to inquire if they have taken in any strays and to post flyers, leave flyers posted at local pet businesses and on phone poles, conduct physical searches of the area where the pet was last seen, etc. All this must be done daily. While the owner works at his job, takes care of his kids, etc. It’s impossible. And if we had a legally mandated reporting system in place, it would be unnecessary.
The Presumed Wanted status for unowned pets would also remove the discretion of shelter staff and vets who receive strays to kill them, unless the pet was medically hopeless and suffering. It would instead obligate those who choose to accept a stray pet to provide care during the required holding period, report the pet to a central agency and then to offer the unclaimed pet for adoption.
As I said, I know this is a multifaceted issue. What are your thoughts?
January 19, 2011
Merry (FKA “Mary”) is one of the Alabama 44. She was pregnant at the time HSUS surrendered her to the Lincoln Co shelter in NC. Merry was transferred to the Humane Society of Charlotte on 12-18-10 and placed in a foster home. She whelped her litter just before Christmas and 5 pups survived.
Sadly, Merry escaped her foster home at some point and is loose in the Charlotte area. The HS of Charlotte says there have been sightings of the dog and they are working on getting a trap delivered to the area. She is reportedly very wary of people. If you have any contacts in the Charlotte area, please let them know about Merry. It’s been so cold at night and I can imagine how scared she must be. And Merry’s pups are surely missing her terribly.
I will update this post if I find any other online notices for Merry or get any additional details to share.
Update, 1-20-10: Merry has been missing for a week, wearing green collar with butterfly print. She has been spotted with other dogs on Eastway Dr. near Sugar Creek Rd. and Fitchley Dr. in Charlotte. She seems to be staying near the railroad tracks. AC has 2 traps in the area and has been checking in with the foster mom frequently for updates. Craigslist posting for Merry here.