SC Pound Policy: Take Newborn Kittens Away from Nursing Mothers and Kill Them

Mama cat and newborn kittens, saved by a member of the public.  Because kittens.  (photo by Casey post)

Mama cat and newborn kittens, saved by a member of the public in Ohio. Because kittens. (photo by Casey Post)

The Greenville Co pound in SC has implemented two new policies concerning cats:

1. Kittens born at the pound who weigh less than 100 grams will be taken from their mothers and killed immediately.  The reason, as stated in an e-mail written by Susan Bufano, the community relations coordinator for the Greenville Co pound, in response to a concerned citizen:

It is not a normal, healthy birth weight and our vet has determined that they will probably not survive.

“Probably not” indicates to me an inherent admission that there is some hope for survival. And I think that hope is very reasonable, considering the following:

  • The ASPCA says 100 grams is “an average birth weight for kittens… depending on breed and litter size.”  Average means some kittens will weigh a little more than 100 grams, some a little less.  Size of the mother cat and number of kittens in the litter must be taken into account when evaluating birth weight of each individual.
  • This government study which looked at newborn kitten weights in five different cat breeds found that only two breeds, Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat (both large cats), had kittens which averaged more than 100 grams at birth.  The other three breeds studied – Birman, Persian, and Siamese/Oriental Shorthair – all had kittens whose average weight at birth was between 82 and 97 grams.
  • A random veterinarian I found via Google wrote: “Kittens have a normal birth weight of 100 ± 10 g (3.5 ± 0.35 oz). Kittens with a birth weight of less than 90 g (3.2 oz) have poor survival rates.”

Given this information, it’s not at all clear to me that the Greenville Co pound policy is based in science.  That is, the notion that kittens weighing less than 100 grams at birth “will probably not survive” appears dubious, at best.  And to be clear, taking newborn kittens of any weight away from their nursing mothers in order to kill them is something only monsters would do.  Kittens have a right to live and their mothers have the right to care for them.  No animal “shelter” policy trumps those rights.  Any “shelter” staff members who do not recognize that fact should resign immediately, before any additional animals are harmed due to their failures.

The other new policy at the pound:

2. Orphaned kittens under one pound are deemed “rescue only” and must leave the shelter within three hours. The reason, per Ms. Bufano’s e-mail:

We want our fosters to focus on the animals who have the highest likelihood for survival[.]

It was so hard on wonderful, loving fosters to take these neonate kittens home only for them not to thrive (and, the small weight also ended up indicating illness in the mothers) and pass away, regardless of how hard they cared for them. I witnessed the agony of many fosters who blamed themselves, when we all know that some kittens just don’t make it. They will be fine one day and die the next.

So, the decision was made to save the animals that had the most chance at survival. In doing so, we are anticipating more life saving, not less.

Wow, apparently it takes a whole mountain of bullshit to allow monsters to sleep at night.

By branding pets “rescue only”, shelters shut out an enormous pool of potential help:  the general public.  It’s not a good strategy to increase lifesaving.  Also bad:  using phony we-care-about-rescuers’-feelings as an excuse for killing kittens.  How did someone even think this twisted thing up?  Also also bad:  requiring rescue groups, typically operated out of people’s homes on shoestring budgets, to somehow get orphaned kittens out of the Greenville Co pound within three hours of arrival.

Rescuers often have day jobs, families, and other pets in need of care and will rarely be in a position to drop everything in order to quickly snatch kittens from the kill room at the pound.  That is, assuming the pound has promptly notified rescue contacts by mental telepathy since e-mail or voicemail obviously won’t suffice in these situations.  How would you like to be the rescuer who checks her e-mail at lunch or after work and finds out a litter of orphaned kittens you would have been willing to save was killed by Greenville Co because you didn’t check your messages sooner?  How is threatening to kill newborn orphaned kittens consistent with the county’s purported concern for rescuers’ emotional well-being?

While those who kill shelter pets instead of doing their jobs often blame the so-called irresponsible public for the killing, it is the shelter staff, following antiquated and inhumane policies designed to kill pets instead of helping them, who are to blame for the killing.  In fact, no rescuers, fosters, adopters and no one outside of the Greenville Co pound should blame themselves for the needless killing being done there.

Greenville Co pretends to be interested in lifesaving and pretends to care about the emotional toll taken on the compassionate public willing to help shelter pets, all the while implementing policies so cruel and archaic, no one with a conscience need perform more than a cursory examination to determine how heartless and inconsistent with animal sheltering those policies are.  Shame on Greenville Co for pretending to care.  There are few worse things in this world.  And they do those there, too.

Added, April 19, 2014:

Bringing up from the comments, from spaycritter, for those wanting to know who to contact about the needless killing of kittens at the Greenville Co pound:

Just an FYI– emails/calls to GCACS will be spun into gold.. Seriously , they will be said to ” create drama , and take away from the staff’s ability to care for the animals in our facility”… at least , that’s what has been said on past attempts to shine a light. A better tactic is to contact the bosses of the boss..Here is contact info for those interested
Go to the county admin and county council..And since Greenville County contracts with Spartanburg County, contacting the same offices of S’burg county would be good..



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.)

Vermilion Parish Pound Allegedly in Violation of Law, Local Politicians Shield Director

Vermilion Parish Rabies Control in LA does not adopt animals to the public.  It functions primarily as a pet killing facility while allowing rescue groups to save some animals – unless the director decides she feels like killing those animals too.  After a recent story about the killing of dogs tagged for rescue went viral, the parish placed a temporary halt on pet killing while the police jury came up with some new guidelines.  This week, those new guidelines were announced:

  1. Re-start killing cats deemed feral immediately.
  2. Hold dogs for 30 days in order to allow rescue groups to network them.
  3. Once the pound exceeds capacity (20 dogs), arbitrarily kill the dogs whose intake dates are the oldest to make space.

It seems to me that numbers 2 and 3 are going to conflict with each other unless rescue groups can consistently do the Vermilion pound staff’s jobs for them and keep getting dogs into homes before the 20 dog limit is reached.  Also, number 1 totally sucks.

And there’s more bad news:

KATC reviewed hundreds of parish euthanasia records and uncovered that last year, more than 21 percent of all dogs and cats were killed before [the mandatory holding period of] four days, some even dying the day they arrived at the facility.

The only sort-of-explanation for why the pound appears to have been violating parish law in such an egregious manner comes from an ex-staffer:

“Every Thursday was euthanasia day, and sometimes we would pick up the dog on Monday and by Thursday they were gone,” said Thad Savoy, a former animal warden of the Vermilion Parish Rabies Animal Control Center.

Right.  It’s Thursday.  And Thursday is kill day.  If the lost pet’s owner is looking for him or if an adopter might like to save him, that’s just not happening.  It’s Thursday.

“Most of the dogs that were picked up were able to be rescued. But they were not rescued or put online because of the color or the breed. … It’s kind of hard to say; it’s kind of hard to describe why,” Savoy said.

Wait, wut?  Prolly no owner would want their black dog back so no point posting her online.  Because black.  Plus it’s Thursday.

The current director of the pet killing facility – the one who threatened to call the police last time a reporter tried to ask her a question – is once again being shielded by the asshats who came up with the brilliant killing guidelines:

For now, the parish is not commenting on KATC’s investigation. On Wednesday night, the Vermilion Parish Police Jury unanimously denied KATC’s request for an interview with Animal Control Facility Director Pam Monceaux and Public Works Director Bill Nogel.

Instead of providing cover for monsters, maybe the Vermilion Parish police jury could hire some people willing to do the jobs taxpayers pay them to do and actually shelter animals in need.  Any vote on that?

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)


Escambia Co Burns Through Its Third Pound Director in Eight Months

Directors keep resigning from the troubled Escambia Co pound in Florida. The latest is veterinarian Alphonso Steward III who just took over operations in November 2013.  He replaced a director who only lasted 2 months on the job.

Animal advocates claim an inordinate number of shelter pets were dying after Dr. Steward performed routine neuter surgeries on them. For his part, Dr. Steward blames the deaths on his tech, whom he says cleaned cages with a “noxious spray” and exposed the pets to toxic fumes during their surgical recovery.

In addition, Dr. Steward told the local paper that the pound’s kennel manager, Phyllis Trout, was giving information to animal advocates in an effort to drive him from the pound.  Dr. Steward said Ms. Trout is responsible for selecting animals for the kill list at Escambia Co:

 “If her friends knew how many animals she would sign off every week, they wouldn’t be as friendly to her any more. She signs off as many as 20-30 animals a week.”

The county is launching an investigation into the post-surgical deaths under Dr. Steward:

Interim Escambia County Administrator Larry Newsom said the county is bringing in an independent, third party veterinarian from out of town to look at the animal deaths, and the county will look into any issues with the hiring of Steward.

Neither linked article indicates if any of the carcasses of the animals in question have been frozen for examination but without the ability to conduct necropsies on these animals, the investigation will be limited.

Wherever the truth lies in all this muck, the fact remains that needless death is standard operating procedure at the pound.  Lifesaving is not the prime directive.  Reform needs to start there.  Focusing on anything else will result in more pets in trash bags and more drama, which seems to be the only area where Escambia Co excels.

Escambia Co needs to take a long, hard look at its institutionalized pet killing and determine why its directors keep running from the place.  Maybe county administrators could use some of that noxious spray on their eyeballs to see if it helps erode the accumulation of awful.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Oak Ridge Police Department Conducts Mass Killing in Response to Distemper Outbreak

TN – The Oak Ridge police department, which runs the pound, closed the facility one week ago after two dogs tested positive for distemper:

As a precaution, all animals brought into the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter are being vaccinated on arrival. The shelter is separating dogs with any kind of cough or nasal discharge from dogs available for adoption.

These are not precautionary practices that a facility should institute in the face of an outbreak but rather standard protocols which should be in place 365 days a year.  It’s unclear to me what standard operating procedures are in Oak Ridge:

[Lt. Robin] Smith said the shelter staff vaccinates all animals, but it takes about 10 days for the vaccine to do any good.

So wrong.  As Maddie’s Fund indicates, vaccination prior to or immediately upon intake for all shelter animals is critical and provides protection within hours:

Immunity is not typically an “all or nothing” condition. For some diseases of concern in shelter settings, particularly respiratory illness, vaccination serves to protect from serious symptoms rather than infection.

Additionally, animals will begin to be protected from the worst effects of other diseases, such as canine distemper in a very short time. At the 2011 Shelter Medicine Conference at the University of Florida, Dr. Annette Litster, Director of Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, told the audience, “With canine distemper virus, challenge studies have shown a really incredibly fast response to a modified live vaccine, or a recombinant vaccine. Within four hours of an effective vaccine, those dogs are protected – provided there’s not a problem with maternal immunity – from the really severe neurological effects of challenge with canine distemper. There’s complete protection within 7 days after vaccination from the challenge studies that have been published.”

If the Oak Ridge pound had been vaccinating upon intake across the board, utilizing routine cleaning practices and quarantining new arrivals, those in charge might have a better understanding of disease prevention and management.  From the Koret Shelter Medicine Program info sheet on Canine Distemper Virus (CDV):

The most important factor in disease risk is vaccination: a “fully” vaccinated animal over four months of age is at very low risk of CDV infection. However, even incompletely vaccinated animals may survive a possible exposure.

Relying on incorrect information not based in science, Oak Ridge killed every one of the thirty dogs in the pound – including the majority who appeared to be healthy:

Smith said that the shelter staff refused outside help with the euthanasia. He said they wanted to do it themselves and ensure the animals knew they were loved and cared for.

“I have never been prouder of that staff doing a horrible job that needed to be done,” [Chief James] Akagi said.

Death be not proud. That “horrible job” did not need to be done.  The job that needs to be done here is for the police department in charge of the pound to educate itself on how vaccinations work to prevent disease in conjunction with standard cleaning and isolation practices.  Ensuring animals are loved and cared for includes at least minimal education on standard disease prevention and management practices for shelters.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Orange Co Pound Kills Lost Pet Upon Impound

Sofie, as depicted on the WFTV website

Sofie, as depicted on the WFTV website

Lisa Storey is a pet owner in Orange County, Florida.  When one of her children accidentally left the home’s front door open recently, her senior cat slipped outside.  Ms. Storey began searching for her beloved pet, called Sofie, immediately.  While canvassing the neighborhood with flyers, Ms. Storey learned a neighbor had found Sofie and taken her to Orange Co Animal Services.

“I was kind of relieved when I heard she was there.  I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. She was rescued.’”

But Orange Co had killed Sofie upon impound so Ms. Storey never had any chance of reclaiming her.  The pound’s vet examined the cat, determined her to be “lethargic and extremely emaciated” and killed her.

Ms. Storey was heartbroken:

“It’s not right.  I mean, she wasn’t in any pain,” said Storey.

This isn’t the first time the Orange Co vet has been involved in a pet killing that made headlines.  After the pound oops-killed a 2 year old dog named Hershey who had an adopter waiting to take him home last summer, a local rescuer wrote to Dr. Robert Ridgway, requesting an explanation for the killing.  Dr. Ridgway’s highly unprofessional response included no explanation for the needless killing but a number of attacks on the person demanding answers.

Orange Co policy dictates that stray animals are held for at least 3 days so the owner can reclaim them.  But apparently that policy is less policy and more possibly, depending on whatever way the wind blows:

Channel 9 asked Animal Services if that three-day holding policy depended on whether the animal was sick or healthy.

They said hold times are made on a case by case basis.

Orange Co Animal Services likes to read the rules and then apply them based on interpretive dance, as they did when wrongly claiming the law required them to kill a beagle named Rufus whose owner wanted him back last year.

This is your municipal animal shelter, America.  These are the people blaming the “irresponsible public” for the killing and claiming shelters should do away with mandatory holding periods for cats because their owners don’t want them.  Fight back.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Medina Co Kills Microchipped Dog

When shelters kill lost pets whose owners are trying to find them and it makes the news, shelter directors often attempt to blame the owner, stating that the pet should have been microchipped. The implication being that if the pet had been chipped, the shelter would have called the contact information associated with the chip before killing the animal and the owner could have had a chance to find out where the pet was while still alive. As if somehow that is in any way a reasonable explanation for why a pet was killed by someone whose job it is to provide shelter to lost pets.  At any rate, it’s false. We know that pet killing facilities do not always call to get the contact information associated with a microchip before killing pets.

The Medina Co pound in Ohio has bragged about its very high lifesaving rate for dogs for some time, while stuffing cats into the gas chamber until the public recently shamed them into ending the barbaric practice.  But numbers don’t tell the whole story, as evidenced in records obtained via FOIA request which show Medina Co was regularly killing dogs using incorrect dosages of Fatal Plus.  Another dog record recently obtained via FOIA request shows a stray pet was impounded last summer when the finder brought him to the Medina Co pound:

Portion of records from the Medina Co pound

Portion of records from the Medina Co pound

The neutered cattle dog mix was picked up by a Good Sam who found him running loose.  The Medina Co pound clearly scanned the dog for a chip, found it and noted the chip’s manufacturer and ID number on the records.  Then they killed the dog, noting they didn’t have “time” to do their jobs and shelter him.  There are no records indicating Medina Co ever contacted Home Again to obtain the contact information for anyone associated with the microchip.

When I shared this record with an animal advocate in OH, she contacted the chip manufacturer listed and was advised the chip had been implanted by a shelter in OH.  She called that shelter and spoke to someone who looked up the chip’s ID number.  The chip belonged to a dog named Gambit who had been adopted to a new owner.  The new owner apparently did not register the chip in his name.  The shelter records for Gambit contained a note that he was an “escape artist”.  It seems plausible that Gambit escaped from his new owner’s home and was found by the Good Sam who brought him to the Medina Co pound.  The shelter worker who spoke with the advocate said Medina Co had never contacted them about Gambit and if they had, the shelter would have picked him up right away.

Many pet owners do not understand how microchips work or the importance of registering them.  This is one reason chip manufacturers keep the contact information of the facility where the pet received the chip – so even if the new owner doesn’t follow through with registration, there is still a contact for the pet in case of emergency.  But Medina Co apparently couldn’t be bothered to make that phone call.  Because they don’t have “time” to do their jobs.  Too busy injecting dogs with insufficient amounts of Fatal Plus and gassing cats last summer, I guess.  And while it’s understandable that a pet owner might not understand the significance of a microchip, workers at a taxpayer funded animal shelter definitely should.

Nobody WANTS to kill animals, except when it takes “time” to save them.

Assistant Dog Warden Under Investigation in Ohio

The Petfinder page for the Gallia Co Animal Shelter in Ohio describes the facility as a “HIGH kill shelter”.  There are 4 pets listed as available for adoption at the time of this post.

On February 14, a group called Friends of Gallia County’s Animals posted on its Facebook page that “11 dogs were euthanized at the pound this morning because the assistant warden couldn’t wait a day for us to clean the facilities from the dogs who are leaving.”  Friends of Gallia County’s Animals appears to be referring to dogs who were pulled for transport to the New England area, where shelter dogs are also killed, for anyone keeping track.

WSAZ reports today that the 11 dogs who were killed were all vaccinated and friendly:

“There are 11 (other) dogs that we can’t help because they’re aggressive,” [Friends of Gallia County's Animals board member Nathan] Weatherholt said. “They’re cat-aggressive, they’re food-aggressive, they’re people-aggressive. He could have picked 11 of those dogs and euthanized any of those 11 dogs. It would have still been tragic and horrible, but it wouldn’t have been the 11 dogs we were looking at.”

Never fall into this trap of saying it would be better to kill shelter dogs who don’t like cats or have some other perceived flaw than to kill animals who fit an arbitrary, subjective standard.  All shelter animals have the right to live.  Full stop.  If you aren’t advocating equally for the least adoptable animals in the place and the white and fluffies, you aren’t advocating.  What you are doing is buying into the culture of killing and bolstering the position that shelter animals have no inherent right to live.

An unnamed member of the Friends group alleges that the assistant warden killed the 11 dogs via heartstick without sedation.  Ohio code states that heartstick may only be used “on a sedated or unconscious animal”. The Gallia Co sheriff is investigating the matter and the assistant dog warden has been reassigned to a different county department while the investigation takes place.

Gallia County Commission President David Smith says the shelter is not a no-kill shelter, and it’s unclear at this point if anything wrong was done.

This is a consequence of maintaining a culture of killing.  If you believe shelter pets are born with the right to live, opt out.

(Thanks Clarice and mikken for the links.)


Fort Bend Co Oops-Kills 2 Owned Pets While Rescue Group Signs Paperwork to Save Them

Fort Bend Co AC in Texas posts its mission statement on its website:

The mission of animal control is to eradicate the spread of rabies among the county’s animals, prevent rabies in the human population, and control wild, potentially dangerous animals in areas of high population density.

Animal shelter fail.

The site contains a link so owners can view photos of lost pets who have been impounded. At that link this morning, there is one dog and zero cats. Animal shelter fail.

Screengrab from

Screengrab from

Rene Vasquez, assistant director at the Fort Bend Co pound, told a local reporter that the facility takes in 600 pets every month and adopted out just 750 animals last year. Animal shelter fail.

On Monday, a pair of friendly dogs were brought in by someone who had found them roaming loose.  The french bulldog and his pitbull mix buddy were immediately seen by a local rescue group that offered to take the dogs for their 3 day holding period and return them if an owner was located.  While the representative from the rescue was filling out the paperwork, Fort Bend Co killed both dogs.  Oops.  Animal shelter fail.

The rescue group posted the photos of the dogs on its Facebook page in hopes that the owner could be found and informed as to what happened to his pets.  And since Fort Bend Co clearly doesn’t keep its website updated, it’s good the so-called irresponsible public stepped in to take up the slack.

The owner did learn that his pets had been killed and was understandably devastated.  He explained he had followed his normal morning routine, letting his 3 dogs out into his fenced yard and when he let them in 30 minutes later, only 1 dog remained.  When he found out Fort Bend Co had killed his dogs upon impound, he told the local news:

I couldn’t believe it.  I don’t know what to do.  I really don’t know what to do.

Fort Bend Co says protocol wasn’t followed and disciplinary action will be taken against the employees who killed Jax, the mixed breed, and Jake, the frenchie.  Because there is a protocol in place for the systemic killing of dogs and cats at Fort Bend Co – a protocol which dictates owner surrenders may be killed immediately but strays can’t be killed for 3 days.  Animal shelter fail.

Screengrab depicting Jake and Jax from a video at the Click2Houston website

Screengrab depicting Jake and Jax from a video at the Click2Houston website

The kill techs accidentally got Jax and Jake mixed in with the group of pets who are routinely killed upon intake.  Animal shelter fail.

The owner, who did not wish to be identified, told the reporter it would be a shame if this happened to someone else’s dogs.  But killing is the standard protocol in place at Fort Bend Co.  Killing immediately or killing 3 days after impound.  Kill, kill, kill.  I find it extremely unlikely that oops-killings of owned pets haven’t happened before at Fort Bend Co and surely they will happen again.  Because killing is the default.  The protocols are all about killing.  When your facility takes in 600 animals a month and only live releases roughly 62 of them, you are functioning primarily as a pet killing facility.  Animal shelter fail.

In the face of this epic failure at Fort Bend Co, I would suggest disciplinary action against the kill techs who got mixed up while doing their jobs is not going to cut it, especially if the county truly wants to be a no kill shelter, as the assistant director told the Local 2 reporter.  What’s needed is a complete overhaul.  I would start by round-filing all killing based protocols and replacing them with lifesaving protocols, such as the ones followed by the hundreds of open admission shelters in this country saving more than 90% of their pets.  Make the commitment to doing your jobs and sheltering the animals in your care – both owned and unowned.  Get everyone on board with the goal of saving every healthy/treatable dog and cat that comes through the front doors.  If you do that, no employee at the shelter is even going to consider killing dogs like Jax and Jake because their immediate reaction upon seeing them in the kill room is going to be, “A mistake has been made.  These pets are not medically hopeless and suffering.  I am not going to kill them because my job is to save them.  That’s what we do here.”  Tragically, Fort Bend Co had very little to offer in response to the needless killing of Jax and Jake besides oops.

Animal shelter fail.

(Thanks Maureen and Clarice for sending me this story.)

VA Pound Kills Injured Stray Dog Despite Available Foster and Vet Care

In 2012, the Chesapeake pound in VA took in 3724 animals and put 54% of them into trash bags.  In December 2012, taxpayers bought a new $10 million building for the facility.  But the needless killing has continued.

Earlier this month, volunteer Lauren Sanders, who regularly photographs pets at the Chesapeake pound and networks them on social media, took a picture of a dog called Ozzie.  He had been impounded after being found hit by a car and partially frozen to the road.  She posted his photo on Facebook in hopes of finding his owner, if he had one, or getting him some help if he didn’t.

Photo by Lauren Sanders

Photo by Lauren Sanders

As sometimes happens in the animal advocacy world, Ms. Sanders fell in love with Ozzie herself and decided that if no owner was located during his mandatory stray holding period, she would foster him. But when she returned to the pound to care for Ozzie, the shelter management told Ms. Sanders she had acted inappropriately in advocating for Ozzie:

“The next day, I went into the shelter and they told me I absolutely should not have posted his picture at all because no one wants a broken dog,” Sanders said.

In the meantime, Ms. Sanders still intended to care for Ozzie at the pound during his holding period and take him home when it expired if necessary. Many people offered to help pay for the dog’s vet bills and a vet willing to perform surgery at a discounted rate was found. The day before his holding period expired, Ms. Sanders says Ozzie was doing well despite his injuries:

“I saw him yesterday and he had scooted himself across the floor, gobbled up treats, tail wagging; that leads me to believe he wasn’t dead,” Sanders, a volunteer with Chesapeake Animal Services said. “He still had fight in him.”

But the pound killed Ozzie that day:

Chesapeake officials tell NewsChannel 3 the dog had made a turn for the worse and surgery wouldn’t have helped.

The Chesapeake pound is run by the police department. It’s unclear to me whether any of the officers are also veterinarians but that seems unlikely.  Did the dog see a vet on the day he was killed – the same day that Ms. Sanders describes him as wagging his tail and vacuuming up treats – and did that vet determine he was medically hopeless and suffering?  The city has made no such statement nor offered any details.  Which begs the question: How and why did the police department arrive at the decision that a dog who had a foster waiting and was still on stray hold needed to be killed?

Chesapeake Police say nothing could have helped the dog. With Sanders so ready to do whatever she could to rehabilitate Ozzy, she wishes she would have been given the opportunity.

There is a group on Facebook advocating for a change in management at the Chesapeake pound. An online petition calling for the replacement of staff at the pound has collected 1603 signatures as of this morning.  A website called Justice for Ozzie has been set up in an effort to share his story and aid in reform efforts at the pound.  Ms. Sanders told me she has no intention of returning to the Chesapeake pound under its current management.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me info on this story.)


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