Pitt Co Pound Oops-Kills Mama Dog Being Held for Cruelty Case

The Pitt Co pound functions primarily as a pet killing facility.  In 2013, Pitt Co killed 57% of the animals in its care:

The portion of the NC annual shelter report for 2013 showing Pitt Co.

The portion of the NC annual shelter report for 2013 showing Pitt Co.

The carefully developed system of checks and balances employed at the Pitt Co pound to determine which pets are to be killed on any given day is this:

Each kennel has a paper on the front of it stating the name and circumstances of the dog. Then, when it’s time for certain animals to be put down, that paper is turned around so that the plain side is facing out.

Gosh, I hope there isn’t any breeze in Pitt Co or any other circumstance which might result in paperwork being placed the wrong way around on a kennel.  Because obviously the staff doesn’t question the killing of healthy/treatable animals.  Nor do they have supervisors signing off on killings.  OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.  Just if one person, any person I guess, says they saw a backwards paper:  kill.  Brilliant.

Last month, a Greenville pet owner was charged with animal cruelty after authorities found a dead puppy in a crate on her porch and 4 more puppies, aged 12 – 16 weeks, near death inside the home.  The puppies and mama dog were seized and all 4 pups died later that day.  The mama dog, called Venus, was sent to the Pitt Co pound to be held as evidence:

“We specifically asked for a hold, a special hold… because of the case. We wanted to make sure she remained healthy and well-taken care of pending the case outcome,” said [Greenville Police Chief Hassan] Aden.

Aden says his Animal Protective Services Officers regularly checked in on Venus.

The last time an officer went to the pound to see Venus, the “Pitt County Animal Staff, sort of, reacted a little oddly” and later admitted they had killed Venus that morning because the paper on her kennel was facing backwards.  Oops.  But no worries, there was an e-mailed apology:

In an email to police, the Director of the County Shelter, Michele Whaley, admits that Venus was accidentally put down, stating: “I am truly sorry for the unfortunate situation where the pit-bull we were supposed to be holding for Officer Nichols’ court case was euthanized. I take full responsibility for this mistake.”

So has anyone lost their job over this needless killing?  Anyone disciplined?  Anyone anything?  I suppose it’s back to business as usual at the Pitt Co pound.  And that business is killing.

This is a tragedy.  Mother dogs love their puppies and grieve for them when they die.  Venus would have been suffering deep emotional pain after the loss of her pups and I’m sure it’s no picnic living in a cage in a pet killing facility either.  Her last days in this life were dark indeed and then her life was needlessly snuffed out by pet killers.  This is another case where, as dreadful as it sounds, the dog was actually better off with the person charged with cruelty over her care.  At least then she and her pups were alive.  Now all is lost.

Tip:  Don’t send a dog you want “to make sure she remained healthy and well-taken care of” to a pet killing facility.

Other Tip:  Get some people in there willing to do their jobs to actually shelter animals.  Then the worst Pitt Co would have to worry about is a pet being oops-sheltered.

I hope Pitt Co taxpayers demand better of their public servants at the pound.  Until they do, killing will remain the default, oops-killings will continue, and e-mailed apologies will be the cherry on top of this awful pie.

(Thank you Anne for the link.)

Philly Pound Oops-Kills Microchipped Lost Dog Whose Owner Filled Out Lost Dog Report

When Cailin Mulvihill’s 15 year old microchipped chihuahua named Rhonda accidentally wandered out of her yard, she immediately began searching for her.  She put up flyers around the neighborhood and went to the Philadelphia Animal Care & Control Team where she filled out a lost dog report.  One day later, a Good Samaritan saw Ms. Mulvihill’s flyer and called her with good news:  Rhonda had been found just a block from home and taken to the pound.  Ms. Mulvihill immediately went to reclaim her pet but the pound had killed her upon intake.  Oops.

The devastated woman asked for an explanation from ACCT’s staff, who initially told her they had scanned Rhonda’s microchip but it didn’t work, Mulvihill explained.

Ms. Mulvihill didn’t buy it. She drove Rhonda’s body to her veterinarian, Dr. Judith Tamas, where the pet was scanned three times and the chip was located three times. (There is a video of Rhonda’s body being scanned at the link but her face is not shown.)  So the pound staff had lied.

“This is the worst kind of negligence [and] laziness,” Dr. Tamas said.

I was thinking that too but pound director Sue Cosby seems to be of the mind that the
rush to kill Rhonda was a kindness:

“I believe the expediency was based on concern for the condition of the dog. It was not callous,” says Cosby, “but policy was overlooked.”

Policy being to scan every animal for a microchip – twice. Staff failed to scan Rhonda even once in their rush to kindness her. Then they lied about it to the owner in an effort to cover up their wrongdoing. I never thought “expediency” could be made to sound so creepy.

Rhonda’s vet said her health was that of a typical elderly dog and that she suffered from sporadic seizures – something which could have been quickly clarified by the pound staff had they done their jobs and gotten the owner’s contact info off the chip. Or failing that, checked their own lost dog reports to find the owner’s info. Or you know – kill, lie, whatever.

After admitting the error, the ACCT put the staff member responsible for the euthanization on unpaid leave while the agency decides what steps to take next, Cosby said.

Maybe a roundtable discussion on expediency and the value of life? Just a suggestion.

The director is refusing to release the name of the employee. But we should just take her word that there is someone on unpaid leave and the pound is taking this seriously, I guess.

Meanwhile Ms. Mulvihill grieves for the loss of her family member and gave the local NBC affiliate a message for her beloved pet:

“I love you Rhonda and you are perfect in every way.”

We have tragically seen callous pound workers fail to protect the lost pets in their care and kill them instead of returning them to their owners countless times. Often, they blame the owners for failing to microchip their pets. Except when they kill chipped pets like Rhonda, in which case – uh, lie.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Memphis Pound Oops-Kills Dog Who Had Rescue Waiting

Portion of the cage card for dog ID #269523 at the Memphis pound.

Portion of the cage card for dog ID #269523 at the Memphis pound.

Records for dog #269523 at Memphis Animal Services are incomplete.  Curiously missing is the e-mail exchange between Ms. Brenda Fortney, who was interested in rescuing the healthy, vaccinated dog, and pound director James Rogers.  On Friday August 8, 2014, Ms. Fortney e-mailed MAS to express an interest in the dog and director James Rogers told her he would keep the dog alive until the pound closed that afternoon.  Here is his reply in full. Note that several MAS staff members are copied on the response:

From: James.Rogers@memphistn.gov
To: bfortney; tracy.dunlap@memphistn.gov; DeKeishia.Tunstall@memphistn.gov; Glenn.Andrews@memphistn.gov; James.Edgeston@memphistn.gov; Rebecca.Coleman@memphistn.gov; Shanna.Wall@memphistn.gov
Subject: RE: Interested in dog A269523
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2014 12:01:01 +0000

Good Morning Ms. Fortney,

This pets time has expired. You have until close of business today to adopt. Please inform me of your intentions upon receipt of this message.

Thank you
James M. Rogers
Administrator, MAS

But when a second rescuer contacted James Rogers later that morning, she was advised the dog had already been killed.  Oops.  An explanation was requested, multiple times, and the director finally provided one.  It too is notably absent from this dog’s official records provided by the city of Memphis.  Here is a copy sent to me by a shelter pet advocate:

From: <James.Rogers@memphistn.gov>
Date: 11 August 2014 08:15:38 am GMT-5
To: alysemasserano, jennwestrich, bfortney
Cc: <tracy.dunlap@memphistn.gov>, <Glenn.Andrews@memphistn.gov>, <DeKeishia.Tunstall@memphistn.gov>, <LaSonya.Hall@memphistn.gov>
Subject: RE: A269583

Good morning Masserano,

My apologies for pet #269523 being humanely euthanized in error on Friday. I responded to Ms. Brenda Fortney at 7:01 Friday morning informing her that that she had until close of business on Friday to adopt the pet. I proceeded to remove the pet from the euthanasia list in our system at the time that I replied to her email at 7:01 a.m. This action should have been sufficient, however we have discovered through our investigation of this incident that it is not.

The pet was euthanized at 9:37 Friday morning. Reason being, pet ID # 259523 kennel card was not removed from the stack of kennel cards prepared for euthanasia the previous day. A fatal error. The pet’s kennel card remained in the stack of kennel cards for pets to be euthanized on Friday morning. The assigned staff proceeded to make the euthanasia list the “morning of” from the stack of kennel cards pulled the previous day. The pet was placed back on the euthanasia list from the kennel cards and subsequently euthanized.

We have a policy in place that the euthanasia list will not be completed until the “day of”. We followed that rule. The euthanasia list was made the “morning of” the euthanasia session. However, we must now include not pulling the kennel cards until the “day of” as well. By all accounts the death of one animal in error is unacceptable and MAS is diligently seeking to be error free. Again, please accept our apologies.

James M. Rogers
Administrator, MAS

*splashes cold water on face*

What the frell?

Does anyone on the planet earth understand the point of drafting a kill list the “day of” killing based upon information pooled from the previous day?

“We followed that rule.”

*slow clap*

By all means, step right up and grab yourself a prize from the Stupid Bin for following your own nonsensical rule that you made up because you can’t stop killing pets people want to adopt.

Despite all the staffers copied on the e-mail acknowledging the poor dog would be given an additional day to live, he was killed anyway.  Not because the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing at MAS.  That would be too innocent.  It’s because the left hand at MAS is always killing animals while the right hand is up someone’s ass trying to find a brain.

Oh and it’s not “euthanasia” nor is it “humane” when you kill healthy pets.  If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

How many more, Memphis?

GA Pound Oops-Kills Owned Dog Because Math

The Whitfield Co pound in GA has some “animal facts” on its webpage that the county likes so much, it printed them twice. They read, in part:

Dogs and cats out number humans in this country at a ratio of about 6 to 1. […]

Pet overpopulation is a serious and growing problem in the United States. It is estimated that between 10 to 20 million companion animals are unwanted and put to death every year.

The U.S. Census Bureau says there are approximately 318,649,000 people in the US. If dogs and cats outnumbered humans 6 to 1 in this country, that would indicate a dog and cat population of roughly 2 billion. Which would make it a tad difficult to get to work, what with all the freeways piled high with kittens, let alone the mountains of puppies covering the sidewalks.

The ASPCA says there are an estimated 144 – 176 million owned dogs and cats in the U.S. and that each year, shelters kill approximately 2.7 million pets.

I guess no one at the Whitfield Co pound majored in math. Or Google.  Or reality.

Wiz and family member, as pictured on the Dalton Daily citizen website.

Wiz and family member, as pictured on the Dalton Daily Citizen website.

Last month, a dog named Wiz bit a kid in Whitfield Co. Wiz was not current on his rabies vaccination so he was impounded by the county for a standard 10 day rabies quarantine.  After the holding period expired, the owner called the pound to make arrangements to bring Wiz back home.  But Whitfield Co had already killed Wiz because the person doing the killing couldn’t count to 10.  Because math is hard:

[County administrator Mark] Gibson said the employee claimed to have made a mathematical mistake in adding up the number of days since the dog had been brought in. So he euthanized the wrong dog.

Oops.  All two of the Whitfield Co pound employees have been suspended by the board of commissioners as a result of the killing – the director for 5 days and the guy who killed Wiz for 2 days.  And the county has instituted several changes at the pound to prevent a similar type of oops-killing from happening in future.  Specifically:

  1. Owners will be called at the end of the quarantine period to let them know their pet will be killed if not reclaimed.
  2. Animals being held on rabies quarantine will be separated from the general population and have their cages marked with the date the quarantine expires.
  3. The one guy who attempts to count to 10 to determine when the holding period ends needs to turn in his homework to the other guy for a double check.  Hopefully between the two of them, they might get it right.

The fact that they weren’t calling owners before killing their quarantined pets or separating rabies holds from other animals is shocking. The math thing is just frightening.

The director and the other employee both said they feel their punishment for killing Wiz is fair. The chairman of the board of commissioners also thinks it’s fair. As does commissioner Harold Brooker, third cousin to the pound director. No word from Wiz’s family on how fair they feel the punishment is but it’s swell to know the good ol’ boys are all satisfied.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Hillsborough Co Kills Dog Who Had New Home Waiting

Chai, as shown on the WTSP website.

Chai, as shown on the WTSP website.

At the Hillsborough Co pound in Florida, killing is the default – so much so that the pound put a protocol in place for anyone wanting to save a pet:  e-mail the pound with DO NOT KILL in the subject line and the animal’s ID number.  This is the only way to toss a cog into the killing machine at Hillsborough Co apparently.

But it didn’t save Chai, a stray dog who had been housed in an area not visible to the public at the pound.  Despite this, Chai managed to find a home.  When the rescuer called Saturday morning to follow up on the e-mail and advise she was on her way to pick the pet up, she was told Chai had already been killed.

Hillsborough Co offered no explanation – not even an official oops.  When the local news requested an interview, the staff hid.  When the reporter asked to see the records from Saturday, the staff claimed the records were unavailable to due to a power outage.  Presumably the power outage did not affect the killing assembly line.

This is par for the course at the Hillsborough Co pound.  And residents can expect more of the same until they demand meaningful reform and an end to the killing.  The default for any animal shelter should be lifesaving.  When mistakes happen, they should be in favor of lifesaving.  Hillsborough Co is on the wrong track.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Lubbock Pound Oops-Kills Microchipped Pet After Turning Owner Away Twice

Rahzz, as shown on the WFSA website.

Rahzz, as shown on the WFSA website.

When Damon Hughes’ 6 year old microchipped cat named Rahzz went missing, he visited the Lubbock, TX pound to look for her.  He found her sitting in a cage last Friday.  No one from the pound had scanned her for a chip and notified him she was there.  Missed opportunity number one.

It turns out, a neighbor had trapped Rahzz and turned her in to the pound.  Mr. Hughes reassured his pet:

I looked down and told her, ‘Alright, sweetheart, I’ll be right back. I’ll come get you, I’ll be right back.'”

But when he told the pound staff he’d found his pet and wanted to take her home, workers refused, telling him he needed to bring in her vet records from home.  Oh and the pound would be closed for the weekend so he had to wait until Monday.  Missed opportunity number two.

Mr. Hughes returned for Rahzz on Monday but pound workers again turned him away, citing the need for a booster on the cat’s rabies vaccine.  He was told to come back Tuesday and by then, the pound would have given Rahzz the vaccine.  Missed opportunity number three.

That night, he and his family prepared for her homecoming, getting new cat food, a litter box and new bed.

When Mr. Hughes went back to the pound on Tuesday, he was forced to wait for an agonizing hour while staff searched for his pet.  He feared the worst.  And he was right.

After another hour, a supervisor told Mr. Hughes that despite Rahzz being microchipped and her records being marked as having an owner wanting to redeem her, staff had killed her after she was placed in a cage marked for killing during routine cleaning.  Oops.

“There were three steps that they were supposed to follow,” Hughes said, “as far as making sure this pet doesn’t belong to anybody before we actually euthanize it, and none of that was done and he couldn’t give me an exact reason why it didn’t happen. He just pretty much told me that they dropped the ball.”

And straight out of the oops-kill playbook, the supervisor offered Mr. Hughes a free replacement cat, if he wanted one.  Hey, a cat’s a cat, amirite?

The mandatory final chip scan that should have been done in the kill room prior to injection represents missed opportunity number four, for anyone keeping track.

Shelter supervisor Shawn Bird told a local reporter:

Something like this hasn’t happened in a very long time.

First off, once is one time too many.  No credit for your 16 Days Without an Oops-Kill sign on the wall.  Secondly, how do you know?  It’s clear that in the case of Rahzz, no one was doing their jobs – not the intake staffer who didn’t scan for the chip and contact the owner, not the multiple staffers who turned the owner away, not the worker who put Rahzz into a cage marked for killing, and not the kill techs who also failed to scan her.  So if no one at the Lubbock pound is doing their jobs, how do you know you aren’t killing owned pets every goddamn day of the week?  You don’t know what you don’t know.

The Lubbock pound had 4 opportunities to return Rahzz to her family who wanted her.  They couldn’t be bothered to put forth the minuscule amount of effort it would have taken for them to take any of these opportunities.  Instead, they killed her.

Mr. Hughes says he made up a story for his child as to why Rahzz wasn’t coming him so he didn’t have to explain the horrors of a pet killing facility and its lazy staff to a 4 year old.  He also says a city official called him after he went public with his story and told him there would be changes implemented at the pound.  Unless those changes include an immediate directive to stop killing healthy/treatable animals – and I doubt they do – it won’t be enough.  There is a culture of killing at the pound and it’s obviously infected the staff to the point where killing friendly pets is blasé.

The Lubbock pound staff had a man who had come to them to get his cat when they should have been the ones contacting him.  He stood right in front of them and asked to take his family member home, twice,  but they refused because of paperwork when they could have simply given him his pet and dealt with the rabies shot issue later.  Obviously no one in the kill room at the Lubbock pound batted an eye when a healthy cat was placed in front of them for killing.  They didn’t even bother performing the final scan for a chip because hey – living cat, dead cat – what’s the diff?

Fire all their lazy asses and get people in there willing to do their jobs, Lubbock.  Anything less is unacceptable.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Chicago Pound Oops-Kills One Dog, Chokepoles Another to Death

Chance, as pictured on the Chicago Sun-Times website.

Chance, as pictured on the Chicago Sun-Times website.

The long troubled Chicago pound is again in the news – and not in the Good News column.  An article in the Chicago Sun-Times states that Chance, a stray dog at the pound who was slated for rescue, was killed because “a city employee neglected to put the dog on a do-not-kill list.”   Oops.

Pro tip:  If you are an animal shelter, ALL THE ANIMALS are on the do-not-kill list.

In addition, another pound employee recently strangled a dog to death on a chokepole as he was being impounded.  The pound’s director adds in the usual element of mystery in explaining away the dog’s killing:

Sandra Alfred, executive director of Animal Care, said “we don’t know exactly how” that dog died but added that “the staff could have acted more appropriately than they did.”

The dog could have had terminal cancer and his time on this earth happened to expire at the moment he was being strangled at the pound. That totally could have happened.

The employee who strangled the dog could receive a “severe” suspension of 20 days or more. Possibly. Unless, you know, cancer.

A donor committed to giving $2 million to the Chicago pound for renovations complained to city officials after Chance’s oops-killing.  Maybe that will get the attention of someone who makes policy at the pound.  Because obviously needless pet torture and killing won’t.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Corpus Christi Pound Oops-Kills Owned Dog During Quarantine

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

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

Commander Todd Green:

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

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

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

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

“Human Error” Blamed for Oops-Killing in Prince George’s Co

Screengrab from the WUSA website.

Screengrab from the WUSA website.

Prince George’s County in MD has had a body shape based ban on dogs since 1997.  Like every other similar ban, it tears families apart and offers no benefit of any kind.  But Prince George’s Co continues to uphold the ban.  Because AHHH Pitbulls!

When a bully breed type dog was surrendered at the Prince George’s Co pound by her owner last week, a local rescue group moved swiftly to save her.  Within hours, they found a foster home where the healthy dog, who was about to give birth to a litter of puppies, could raise her family in safety and comfort.  The rescue advised the pound they were sending a volunteer to pick her up.  But someone at the pound failed to mark the dog’s record with a DO NOT KILL so Prince George’s Co killed her before the rescuer arrived.  Oops.

Lisa Marie Czop, the rescue volunteer who tried to save this dog, told me she received a text message from a pound worker that read, “Don’t worry about the pregnant dog I emailed you about” which she soon learned meant the dog had been oops-killed.

The Public Information Specialist for Prince George’s Co told the local news:

[T]he animal was selected for euthanasia due to the lack of space at the Facility and her condition.

Her condition was reportedly healthy.  I believe that the county spokesman is using the word “condition” to indicate that the dog was pregnant and had a body shape deemed illegal by the county.

Lisa Marie Czop wrote to me in an e-mail:

The issue is the leadership at the shelter, and specifically in this case, the kennel manager who makes the decisions to euthanize, does not have life-saving as the top priority of the shelter.

In my opinion, the best outcome would be to remove leadership from this shelter, specifically Chief Taylor. However, a more realistic goal in light of all of this media attention may be to establish some oversight by the County of this shelter so that they can answer to the fact that they are euthanizing significantly more animals than the shelters around them.

County Executive Rushern Baker is the highest level of County leadership that the shelter reports to, and his office phone number is 301-952-4131.

When a pregnant dog who is near term is injected with Fatal Plus, she dies.  But her puppies remain alive inside her uterus, forced to slowly suffocate to death.  This dog had a right to live, as did her unborn puppies.  This dog and her unborn puppies were wanted and a rescue group had advised Prince George’s Co they were coming to pick her up.  But the county killed her anyway, blaming “human error”.

I would offer that the human error at the Prince George’s Co pound is the systematic killing of healthy pets and harboring bias against certain dogs based on body shape.  Within this culture of killing, pound workers view discrimination and death as standard operating procedure which is why no one jumped up and down screaming, “No, this is not right!” when this dog was taken to the kill room.  If Prince George’s Co was doing its job and saving every healthy/treatable animal in its care, that’s exactly what would have happened because no compassionate worker committed to protecting pets’ lives would stand by and allow this dog to be killed and her puppies, who likely could have survived outside the uterus, to smother.

I’ve been hearing for years that shelter works do not want to kill animals.  I’m tired of hearing it.  Show me.  Start doing your jobs and providing shelter to the animals in your care.  Follow the example set by the hundreds of open admission shelters in this country that are saving more than 90% of their animals.  Stop the excuses.  Stop the killing.

(Thank you Anne T. for the link.)

AZ Shelter Oops-Kills Family Pet

Hollie in a screengrab from the KGUN online report

Hollie in a screengrab from the KGUN online report

On Christmas Day 2013, an ACO impounded a dog named Hollie for a rabies quarantine at the Pima Animal Care Center in AZ after she reportedly chased a child on a bike and bit his leg.  Owner Tammy Porter was given a form to sign indicating she would redeem Hollie as soon as the quarantine expired.  The Porters were prepared to meet with shelter staff for education on how to keep Hollie reliably contained and prevent another incident.

When Ms. Porter arrived at the shelter to take Hollie home, she learned the impounding officer had failed to properly communicate to the staff that the owner intended to redeem Hollie.  So they killed her.  Oops.

“It devastated us.” Hollie was part of our family for six years.”

The news really hurt Tammy’s 12-year-old daughter Rachel Porter.

“I was really close to her,” said Rachel.

Manager Kim Janes comes across as lackadaisical in his response to the killing of an owned pet:

“We always review our procedures when these kinds of things happen,” he said. “And we just doubled up on some of the double checks we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Ho hum. Just another day at the office.

In its 2012-2013 annual report, the Pima Animal Care Center claims its live release rate was 64% (without providing the detailed numbers behind this figure).  Shelters that do their jobs have live release rates in the 95% range.  Pima is falling short.  “These kinds of things” don’t happen in a vacuum.  They happen as a result of a culture of killing – where controlling the shelter population by violence is an accepted standard and owned pets sometimes inadvertently wind up in the vast swath of death deemed acceptable and normal.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

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