May 15, 2013
This search term, which appeared in my WordPress stats this morning, says it all:
where can i take a stray dog and not have it put down
Directors, staff and apologists for pet killing facilities often blame the public for the killing, claiming you and I are guilty of myriad transgressions which “force” them to kill dogs and cats. The truth: The so-called irresponsible public does not want pets killed in “shelters”. We want shelter directors and staff to do their jobs and provide true shelter to pets in need until they are reclaimed, rehomed, rescued or fostered. We want no kill.
As always, I want to be clear and this is why I reiterate a point made often on this blog: No one wants to see pets suffer and die in sub-standard conditions. It makes no difference to me whether these dogs are being warehoused for breeding in a “puppy mill” or warehoused for killing in a “shelter”. Causing suffering and needless death for pets is wrong. Full stop.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has never done anything to make me believe they care one bit about dogs suffering and dying anywhere. Neither has the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). And yet the two are frequently pitted against one another by reporters seeking “both sides of the story”. Newsflash: it’s the same story.
The Today Show website has an investigative report on AKC registered puppies and interviewed both an AKC representative and HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle, presumably for balance:
[Wayne Pacelle] says that while most AKC-registered breeders are probably fine, they’re seeing too many bad apples, from Montana to North Carolina. In some cases, those breeders are even convicted of animal cruelty.
“Most” are probably ok but some are bad – even to the point of animal cruelty. Gee Wayne Pacelle, have you ever heard of this system of pet killing facilities we have in our country? They deceptively call themselves “shelters” and you know, “humane societies” when in fact they are causing pets to suffer and die. “Most” are not fine. In fact most are killing healthy/treatable animals – the ultimate form of animal cruelty. And the directors of these pet killing facilities are keeping puppy mills in business.
But it’s no surprise Wayne Pacelle wouldn’t talk about that. It’s his job to ix-nay the uth-tray in order to keep compassionate donors on the hook. Thankfully more people are catching on every day. A reporter for WZTV in TN ran this story yesterday:
We checked the HSUS tax records Form 990. It shows the non-profit took in over $133 million in donations last year. Of that, $6 million went to local shelters.
So what does the Humane Society spend your donations on? Primarily fundraising, advertising, legislation to protect animals, and the lobbyists to push it through.
What else does the Humane Society of the U.S. spend your donations on? $17.3 million on lobbyists between the years of 2005-2009, more than it gave to local animal shelters in that time. In a letter, half a dozen congressmen called for an IRS investigation into HSUS’ tax exempt status. Tax exempt organizations are prohibited by law from attempting to influence legislation on a large scale. In a response, the IRS confirms to a congressman that it’s investigating, but wouldn’t comment on what, if any action it may take.
The reporter states that for 3 weeks, Wayne Pacelle declined the station’s requests for an interview.
We are not all on the same team. I am for no kill which means pets suffering and dying anywhere is unacceptable to me. HSUS and AKC are both on Team Screw The Pets, Show Me The Money.
April 27, 2013
Snipped from a letter from a reader expressing concern about advocates who proclaim they unequivocally believe in no kill but when faced with challenging animals, consider killing a reasonable option. These people often employ many of the same excuses they have previously condemned pet killing facilities for using themselves, in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable:
If he/she who has been so loud gives up so easily, really, how many actually believe? How many will really do anything not to kill when the chips are down, when it affects them personally?
What are your thoughts? How many no kill advocates truly believe that every shelter dog and cat has a right to live, even when it’s inconvenient or presents personal hardship? Do any of us know ourselves well enough to answer the question or must we wait until we are actually tested to see where we stand? Do excuses such as “Our situation is unique” apply differently to shelters vs. individual advocates when it comes to killing pets?
There is a saying that a group is only as strong as its weakest link. What is the no kill movement’s weakest link?
April 27, 2013
Should we put resources into saving the sick, the old and the aesthetically imperfect pets in shelters when there are so many perfectly healthy, young and adorable pets being killed every day in this country?
As a no kill advocate, I am opposed to the spaying of pregnant shelter animals. While I do not believe in the myth of pet overpopulation, that has nothing to do with my opposition. Even if I believed pet overpopulation was real (I do not), I would still be opposed to spaying pregnant dogs and cats because doing so means killing unborn puppies and kittens who have the right to live. As Nathan Winograd wrote in his blog:
When we spay pregnant animals and the unborn kittens and puppies die, the fact that they are not yet born does not relieve our responsibility toward assuring their right to live. When we abort kittens and puppies, we are literally killing puppies and kittens.
If the kittens or puppies are viable, they must be individually killed, usually through an injection of sodium pentobarbital. Even when they are not, however, when a mother is spayed, the kittens or puppies die from anoxia (oxygen deprivation) due to lack of blood supply from the uterus once the vessels are clamped. They suffocate.
I tragically witnessed the spaying of a pregnant dog when I worked in a vet clinic a couple of decades ago. There were two vets on duty and one was performing the surgery. She threw the uterus containing the puppies into the trash. The other vet retrieved the uterus and placed it on a sink table. The puppies crawled around helplessly while she drew up injections of Fatal Plus for each. Had she not killed them individually, they would have crawled around in the trash can until they eventually died. Back then, I did believe that pet overpopulation was real. But I still knew these killings were wrong.
In a shelter environment, pregnant dogs and cats are either killed or spayed regularly. There are presumably times when pregnant dogs and cats are killed or spayed and no one knew the animal was pregnant. While there may be variations among individuals, it is generally impossible to tell if a dog is pregnant just by looking at her during the first 5 weeks of the normal 9 week gestation period. With some dogs, you can not tell even in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy. Luckily there are other detection methods which can be performed by an experienced vet but they are limited. It is possible for vets who specialize in canine reproduction to palpate the uterus at approximately 4 weeks. The puppies at this time are contained in walnut sized sacs and the window for palpation is brief – about 1 week. Even if the timing is right and the vet is experienced, there are still some dogs who carry their pups in such a way to make palpation impossible. Ultrasound is a more reliable method of detecting pregnancy and may be used from about 3 weeks onward. Radiographs can only be used to detect pregnancy during the final 2 weeks of gestation. By that point, the dog may be able to diagnosed by simple observational methods such as an enlarged abdomen, development of mammary tissue, and fetal movement. While I have very little experience with female cats, my understanding is that pregnancy detection methods are similar to those used with dogs and ultrasound is the preferred method for reliability.
What does all this mean for female shelter animals? I believe we have a moral obligation to protect the lives of all shelter animals, including the unborn. I would therefore offer guidelines for a certain portion of the shelter population. That portion includes all female dogs and cats who meet the following criteria:
- Have reached the age of puberty (approximately 6 months).
- Have an unknown medical history and no sign of having been spayed (such as spay scar or tattoo).
- Have not come into heat while in the shelter’s care. (Pregnant dogs and cats do not come in season.)
For female shelter animals who meet the above criteria, I suggest the following guidelines to protect the lives of any puppies or kittens they may be carrying:
- If the female dog or cat meeting the specified criteria has been at the shelter for less than 9 weeks, the operating assumption must be that the animal is pregnant. For those animals meeting the criteria who have been at the shelter for less than 3 weeks, an inconclusive veterinary determination must be interpreted as positive for pregnancy until a conclusive determination can be made at a later date.
- Under no circumstances should a female dog or cat meeting the specified criteria be killed unless a veterinarian determines she is irremediably suffering, in which case euthanasia should be performed.
- Once a female is scheduled for sterilization, she should be evaluated for signs of pregnancy by the shelter vet.
- If the shelter vet determines the animal is pregnant, the shelter may release her with reasonable restrictions to ensure that mother and litter are all sterilized prior to permanent adoption.
- If the vet’s determination is inconclusive, the female may be released with a signed agreement to avoid all contact with intact males of her species until 9 weeks have elapsed from date of impound at which time she can be returned to the shelter for spay (or spayed by a private vet of the adopter’s choosing with verifiable documentation to be provided to the shelter).
- Females meeting the specified criteria who have been at the shelter less than 9 weeks (but more than 3 weeks) may be spayed if a veterinarian determines, based upon ultrasound and confirmed by observation, that she is not pregnant.
- Females who have come into heat while in the shelter’s care and who have been prevented from any unsupervised contact with intact males of their species may be assumed not to be pregnant and may be spayed without veterinary consultation regarding possible pregnancy.
- Females meeting the specified criteria who have been at the shelter for more than 9 weeks and who have been prevented from any unsupervised contact with intact males of their species may be assumed not to be pregnant and may be spayed without veterinary consultation regarding possible pregnancy.
April 9, 2013
This note came from a reader with whom I was discussing shelter staff who champion the idea that some killing is fine, so long as it represents a decrease in killing over time. I thought her response was a gem worth sharing:
They lack…that certain spark. The can-do attitude of “Why, we can put the show on right here!” that inspires people and leads to creative problem-solving. I suspect that it’s very frustrating for them. They’re Spock trying to be Kirk. Probably frustrating as hell for the people around them, too.
But you can see where that would lead to the “baby steps” attitude.
I wish I’d written that.
My view that animal shelters can and should stop killing pets immediately is regarded by some as extreme. There are many people who believe some period of time is required (months or years) in order to fully implement all the needed programs, personnel and funding which will secure no kill for the long term. During this transition period, pet killing continues, with a goal of steady reduction, and is regarded as a necessary evil. I refer to this as transition killing. And I wholly reject it.
There is an even more watered-down philosophy embraced by many animal activists which says that, “No kill can not be achieved until [insert your killing apologist claim-du-jour here]. Some of the many claims offered to extend the killing indefinitely are:
- No kill can not be achieved until everyone spays and neuters their pets.
- No kill can not be achieved until puppy mills are shut down.
- No kill can not be achieved until we accept that we are all on the same team.
This tactic is nothing more than a carrot on a stick and it results in even more permanent damage than transition killing because there is no end in sight. The date when any of these stated goals will be accomplished is never. So when an animal activist embraces one of these indefinite delay tactics, what they are really saying is what they really believe, and what they hope to convince you to believe too: No kill can not be achieved ever. Again, I reject this philosophy entirely.
In Alabama, a political action committee called Alabama Voters for Responsible Animal Legislation (AVRAL) is lobbying for a mandatory reporting bill (HB 238) which would require shelters to submit annual intake and outcome numbers to the state. Failure to report is a Class A misdemeanor under the bill. There has been significant objection to the bill from shelter pet advocates for several reasons, which I will cover in due course. But suffice to say that the premise put forth by AVRAL seems to be yet another carrot on a stick: No kill can not be achieved until we know exactly how many animals are in the system in the state. From a recent mass e-mail sent out by the group:
In an effort to determine how many homeless animals need assistance in our state, [AVRAL] wrote the shelter and rescue reporting act, which simply asks for a tally of how many animals enter shelters/rescues annually, whether they are strays/owner surrenders, are adopted, euthanized, etc. The purpose is to define the scope and nature of the homeless animal problem in Alabama, it is a starting point from which we hope to assist shelters and rescues with their efforts. As I made clear, shelters/rescues didn’t create the problem, they are the ones left to clean it up. I urged everyone not to demonize shelters in particular: they are easy targets, but people tend to forget they didn’t put the animals there.
We knew shelters might resist releasing their numbers. What we did not realize was that certain groups—animal welfare groups included—would spread such overt lies and misinformation about our bill that we are left dumbfounded.
Although my gut reaction is to tell AVRAL to take its blame-the-public BS and shove it, I have to ask the logical questions which come to mind:
- Who is going to pay to enforce compliance with this mandatory reporting which will make criminals out of any non-profit or municipal facility which fails to submit numbers?
- Even if the funding for enforcement is obtained, there are still likely to be some non-compliant shelters so the true state totals may never be known – do we have to put off no kill even longer because of this?
- For the sake of argument, let’s say every shelter in the state reports how many animals they are killing. So what? We already know shelter pets are being needlessly killed in AL, why do we need to pinpoint an exact number? How will having that number change the need for an immediate end to the killing of shelter pets?
- Why is AVRAL pushing a bill which does nothing to help save the lives of pets in shelters?
The Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA) has a reporting requirement for shelters but it primarily outlines specifically how shelters must make lifesaving their primary function. Minimum standards of care and access to the pets by groups willing to save them are key elements of CAPA. If AVRAL wants to spend resources on pushing a bill, why is it ignoring CAPA in favor of HB 238 when its bill will not save the life of a single shelter animal? Even if AVRAL doesn’t believe AL is prepared to enact the full CAPA, there is a modified version available, if what the group truly seeks is “a starting point from which we hope to assist shelters and rescues with their efforts”. CAPA clearly defines those efforts as saving the lives of shelter pets. This is in stark contrast to AVRAL, which appears to define the mission of animals shelters as cleaning up after the so-called irresponsible public.
From the AVRAL mass e-mail:
HB 238 is a first step toward understanding exactly what we are dealing with, what we are paying for, when it comes to the tragic problem of companion animal homelessness. It is one of the most “common sense” bills ever introduced in the legislature.
I am not a PAC but common sense tells me that animal shelters should shelter animals, that instead of shelter directors doing their jobs they are killing the animals in their care, and that I don’t need to know the exact number of dead pets in order to demand an immediate end to the killing. One is too many. And since I know there is at least one, that’s all the information I need. Common sense tells me that if I continually chase the “No kill can not be achieved until…” carrot, I will keel over before the lives of shelter pets are protected. CAPA, or a modified version, would include the annual reports AVRAL desires but primarily would ensure that animal shelters do their jobs. CAPA takes away shelter directors’ discretion to kill animals. Common sense tells me that is a bill I would support.
April 4, 2013
Many pet killing facilities in this country are enabled by caring volunteers and rescuers who buy into the Save a Few, Kill the Rest business model. How it works: The pet killing facility allows members of the public to care for, network and rescue certain pets so long as the public plays by its rules. The rest of the pets are killed. The rules that must be obeyed typically center around silence on the part of the enablers – no speaking to the media or posting online about the truth of what goes on at the shelter.
How do compassionate people stand by silently while healthy/treatable pets are being killed all around them? It a two-pronged attack – one from without and the other from within. The pet killing facility tells the rescuers and volunteers:
- We’re not monsters. No one here wants to kill pets. We’re animal lovers, just like you.
- It’s the public’s fault that we have to kill pets. With the exception of you guys, the rest of the public is irresponsible and uncaring.
- We’re all on the same team. But if you speak to the media about what goes on here, people might get the wrong impression and stop donating. That will only hurt the animals.
The rescuers and volunteers carry the weight from there and tell themselves:
- If I publicly tell the truth about what happens at the shelter, I won’t be allowed to walk dogs/foster kittens/rescue pets any longer and then the animals will have no one to be kind to them because the people here are monsters.
- The people here aren’t monsters. They only kill pets because the irresponsible public forces them to do it. I am a member of the public and so are all the networkers, adopters, fosters, donors, rescuers, volunteers and transporters that I know. Before we got involved with the shelter, we were all just regular pet owners. I guess I and everyone I know are all exceptions. Yes, that must be right because only uncaring people would surrender their pets to these monsters.
- The people here aren’t monsters. After all, they are allowing me to save a few of the pets. And saving a few is better than saving none so I am going to keep my mouth shut and play by their rules in order to maintain my privileges. If I don’t, they might kill Fluffy, whom I’ve been working on getting into rescue for 2 weeks, in retaliation. I can’t risk these monsters killing Fluffy.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these statements? This is how our broken shelter system’s status quo of Save a Few, Kill the Rest is maintained. The monsters sell it and the compassionate public buys it. If you buy it, there will always be a place for you at your local pet killing facility. Because there will always be a Fluffy. They will dangle a Fluffy in front of your face forever and taunt you with their power of life and death.
If however you decide to empower yourself to be free from this mindset, to put the responsibility for Fluffy’s protection on those paid to protect her, and to stand up for what you know in your heart is right – that ALL SHELTER PETS HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE – let me know. I’ll stand by you.
We don’t have to accept saving just a few. We can save them all. As compassionate pet advocates, we must reject the myths of pet overpopulation and the “irresponsible public” that have been put forth in an attempt to justify needless killing. It is our duty to publicly condemn the notion that saving shelter pets is a “privilege” which directors extend only to those who play ball. We must organize, not to enable more killing by keeping quiet, but to garner legislative support for the Companion Animal Protection Act to protect pets from monsters.
Take back your power. Giving it up was a tragic mistake but one that can be made right – unlike killing. Save them all, kill the excuses.
February 18, 2013
The Caswell Co pound in NC has a website that’s rather, uh – brief. The reason I looked it up was that a reader sent me two screengrabs from Facebook which allegedly show puppies at the Caswell Co pound just before they were loaded for transport to NJ. The kennel appears to be wet and a patch of what looks like suds may have washed into the space from beneath the guillotine door. Were there other dogs on the other side of this kennel and if so, were they healthy? Is that diarrhea on the floor? Did these puppies have health certificates for their trip?
If shelters are going to transport vanloads of puppies, it needs to be done legally – that is, in compliance with the laws of every state the dogs are being transported through; and ethically – with attention paid to the health status of the dogs (as well as those they’ve been exposed to) and with careful consideration of the local dogs being displaced by the imports. I hope Caswell Co is attending to the legal and ethical considerations regarding the transport of any pets.
I used to be more in favor of mass transport for shelter pets but I’ve modified my view in the past couple of years. There seems to be no shortage of transport horror stories – pets escaping en route, pets getting sick and dying after arrival, pets who don’t sell quickly being killed or warehoused in sub-standard conditions, etc. Then there is the notion that northern shelters and rescues “need” to import high value pets such as puppies and lapdogs because the ones they have get adopted quickly and all that’s left is big, black mixed breeds, Pitbull types and others who are challenging to adopt out. This idea goes against the most basic tenet of no kill – that every individual pet has a right to live and that right must be protected. If some of these importing shelters and rescues won’t put in the hard work to find the right matches for the least adoptable pets in their own communities, who will?
January 8, 2013
Serious allegations have been leveled by volunteer Barbara Valencia against the recently disbanded group No Kill El Paso:
She says a veterinarian told her puppies had been abandoned by [group founder John] Conwell, bills were going unpaid, foster parents couldn’t reach him for reimbursement and dogs were dying. Valencia called an emergency meeting, asking him for answers. That’s when he left the room, then changed his number, then dissolved No Kill.
She claimed she later found out he was transferring donations from the 501c’s account to his personal account and had left them with $10.
Specifically on the allegations of dogs dying, Ms. Valencia told a local news reporter:
Valencia says as a result of not having the resources they need, two puppies have died. “It’s heartbreaking,” said Valencia.
Last Friday KFOX14 met BB, a No Kill lab-mix puppy, sick with parvo. Valencia said BB died Monday morning because the group couldn’t get in contact with Conwell so that the puppy could get the proper treatment. Another dog, Astor, also died last week.
For his part, John Conwell told KFOX14 that he doesn’t have the group’s money but “other individuals” are in possession of the funds. Ms. Valencia claims this is false. Further, there is a question of access to records:
“No other volunteers had access to records he has all of the foster records, adoption records, vet records. He has everything and he refuses to give anything to us,” said Valencia.
Volunteers are reportedly relying on social media pleas to get an accurate count of foster animals and their needs.
I exchanged several messages on Facebook this morning with Mr. Conwell who told me the group never took in significant amounts of cash and limited the number of animals rescued to those whose expenses could be covered with the group’s funds. He said he has receipts for payments made to veterinarians and that the report of the $10 balance in the bank account is accurate. I asked him about the access to records and whether there is any way the remaining fosters could keep in touch and get reimbursed for expenses but he did not reply.
A local group called Animal Rescue League has reportedly offered to help the dogs abandoned by No Kill El Paso.
It is my hope that the animals currently in foster care under the No Kill El Paso banner can be immediately located and have their needs met. There should be no question as to access to records, regardless of the group’s status, since there are pets and people in need. Beyond that, I hope someone with an interest will form a new group to advocate for no kill in El Paso since the need is still there.