The long troubled Companion Animal Alliance in Baton Rouge, LA has killed owned pets before under suspicious circumstances. But even for this disturbing group, the killing of an owned pet named Bow Wow represents a new low.
Eighteen year old Bow Wow escaped his yard on May 11, 2013. His owners, Patrick and Kimberly Morris, searched for him, put up fliers around the neighborhood and visited the local pound several times. Pound workers refused to allow Mr. Morris to walk the kennels to look for Bow Wow himself, instead telling him on 3 separate visits that his pet wasn’t in the facility. In fact, AC had picked up Bow Wow the day he got lost and chokepoled the elderly dog into the pet killing facility on May 11. He was there every day the owner was turned away after inquiring about him.
Finally after one week of runaround, Mr. Morris convinced CAA to allow him to walk the kennels to look for his dog. He found him immediately and Bow Wow began going crazy with excitement. CAA refused to give the dog back without the ransom fee, even though they had held the dog for a week unnecessarily while turning the owner away multiple times. CAA forced Mr. Morris to go to an ATM for the cash to bail Bow Wow out. While the owner was getting the money, CAA oops-killed the dog.
Mr. Morris was devastated:
“I can tell you it was like losing a child.”
Patrick’s wife Kimberly says she would like to see a system overhaul at the shelter.
“There is nothing that can replace him,” said Kim Morris.
“No monetary gain. I don’t want this to happen again.”
Sadly, Bow Wow was “again”. CAA has killed people’s pets before and will undoubtedly kill more in future. CAA is in the pet killing business and they don’t discriminate between those whose owners are looking for them and those in need of new owners. And the local government backs them 100%.
Shame on Companion Animal Alliance again, and the local politicians and killing apologists who enable them to continue their reckless actions which hurt pets and people. Pets are family. CAA has no right being in the family services business. I hope local advocates will organize and demand the government kick CAA to the curb, replacing them with a group committed to no kill. It’s long overdue. And the pets in Baton Rouge can’t afford to wait.
(Thank you Joni for the link.)
On the home page of the Lexington-Fayette Animal Care & Control website, it says “EVERY DAY, the dedicated staff of lfacc… Provides safe shelter and care to stray and homeless animals.” Apparently Sunday was not “EVERY DAY” because on Sunday, the KY pound picked up a lost Chihuahua named Peanut and killed him.
Saturday night, Peanut had followed his little girl down the street to a friend’s house. From there, he got lost. The family searched for him and ultimately learned the public agency charged with protecting Peanut had instead oops-killed him:
Animal Control is supposed to keep stray dogs for five days. Peanut was euthanized after one. Animal Care and Control officials didn’t want to talk on camera, but they said over the phone that when they brought Peanut in, he failed a health and temperament screening, then someone mistakenly thought he’d already been there for five days. That’s when the decision was made to euthanize him.
No animal coming into a shelter should receive a temperament test immediately since pets are naturally scared and out of sorts upon impound. No temperament test should be used as an excuse to kill a pet under any circumstances. And mandatory holding periods are in place for a reason – so families can find their missing family members.
Although the pound refused to speak about Peanut’s killing on camera, they offered an entirely vague reassurance that some unnamed person is to blame and has been fired. Put me down in the NOT REASSURED column on that. If the pound is contending that the decision to kill animals rests solely with one employee, that is yet another failure to provide true shelter to pets.
Pets are family. Any questions?
Fair Warning: Anyone who attempts to come on the blog and blame the owners for Peanut’s killing for not keeping him confined, not having him chipped or any other reason is going to be on the receiving end of a virtual boot. Whatever anyone’s opinion of Peanut’s owners, they loved him and they did not kill him. The pound did that – illegally and immorally. The pound is supposed to be there to protect pets when they are in need. Instead of offering Peanut protection, Lexington-Fayette AC & C killed him.
No one has been criminally charged for the illegal killing of Peanut as far as I know, nor do I expect that to happen. Because in our broken shelter system, killing is the default and failure of shelter personnel to follow the mandatory holding period laws is looked upon as nothing more than oops. Moreover, your standard fare pet killing in so-called shelters is exempt from the normal animal cruelty laws applicable to the so-called irresponsible public.
(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)
March 9, 2013
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. A dog named Tigger was impounded on November 20, 2012 by MAS and his cage card says “Quarantine/Bite”. The city provided no records indicating that this dog bit anyone. 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.
Tigger’s owner obviously wanted him back and there are notes documenting this. The owner was told it would cost him $468 to reclaim his pet after the quarantine hold expired on November 30. Apparently finances were an issue and the owner requested additional time, until December 4, to come up with the money. On December 4, there is a note stating that the owner called and said he would not be reclaiming Tigger because he didn’t want him neutered. I have no idea if the owner was being truthful or if he was attempting to hide any shame he felt over not being able to come up with the $468 ransom. In any case, there are no notes to indicate MAS offered the owner any options – no option for vasectomy in lieu of neuter surgery, no option for having the dog neutered at his own vet, no option for a payment plan so Tigger could go home.
The only option Tigger was offered was the kill room. MAS killed him on December 10. He was apparently healthy at the time of killing.
Grace was surrendered to MAS on Saturday, December 8. She was a healthy, 10 month old black Lab who was already spayed. MAS determined she was heartworm negative on December 8. A rescuer was immediately interested in Grace and requested to pull her on the day she was surrendered. But it was a Saturday and you know, who wants to do paperwork on a Saturday? Grace’s records indicate Glenn Andrews told the rescuer to come back on Tuesday. Grace was killed on December 12 because there was “no note in computer to hold”. Oops.
Gee, if only someone at MAS had been willing to do their job and send Grace out the front door with the rescuer who wanted her on Saturday. Or, if only someone had been willing to do their job to at least place a hold on the dog so she didn’t get routed to the default disposition at MAS. Failing both of these tasks, one would hope that someone, ANYONE at MAS would be willing to do their job and market a healthy, spayed black Lab for adoption, rescue or foster. That’s money in the bank, right? But doing their jobs is clearly not on the agenda at MAS. So Grace went out the back door in a garbage bag, like most of the other pets at MAS.
But remember, don’t criticize. Nobody wants to kill pets.
January 1, 2013
2012 was plagued by a spate of oops-killings at our public shelters. We all make mistakes. But when pet killing is your business, your mistakes mean death for cherished family members and heartbreak for families.
On a night in February, a beloved dog called Ace escaped his yard and was picked up by Polk Co Animal Control in GA. The family contacted the pound as soon as it opened the next morning but Ace had already been killed, his body sent to the dump. Oops. The county said it would police itself and decide if any policy violations occurred in the killing of Ace.
In May, Victoria Henry’s two dogs escaped her yard and were picked up by the Memphis pound. Ms. Henry visited MAS several times and was able to reclaim one of her pets but the other dog, Nola, remained missing. MAS refused to release Nola’s records to Ms. Henry. It was later revealed that MAS had killed Nola before the legally mandated holding period had expired due to a series of chronic failures within the system. Oops.
In August, an owned cat named Poobs was trapped by a cat hating neighbor in South Dakota. She was healthy and current on her vaccinations. But she was understandably upset in the trap. The officer who picked her up from the cat hating neighbor determined on the spot that she was too aggressive to live. He shot her to death in the trap before even impounding her. The owner never had a chance to reclaim Poobs. Oops.
A municipality in PA hired an ACO to trap feral cats for killing. Area cat owners began noticing their pets going missing. Apparently the ACO was killing all cats caught in traps, including residents’ pets. Oops. Concerned citizens attended the Borough Council meeting searching for answers but the council appeared defiant when faced with angry cat owners:
“If you were so interested, you would have found out about why we’re starting to trap,” said one council member.
Right. If you weren’t in on our death-for-community-cats plan at the ground floor, you must not really love your pets and therefore, they deserve to die.
The Humane Society of Yuma (HSOY) in Arizona turned away a family attempting to reclaim their lost dog in September. The family made an agreement to return for the dog and when they did, HSOY told them the dog had been killed. Oops. HSOY issued a statement about the killing which concluded:
It’s a tragic reminder to come look for your pet as soon as it goes missing.
Or we might kill your pet and imply that it’s your fault.
A worker at Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services in FL recognized a pair of bottle baby kittens who had been sent out to foster. The foster had just brought them back to the pound in order to transfer them to another foster, who was on the way to pick them up. The employee reportedly did not know the new foster was on the way and killed both kittens before the new foster could get in the front door. Oops. Characterizing the killings of two healthy kittens the public was willing to save as an “unfortunate miscommunication,” city spokeswoman Monica Landeros said the pound “has begun necessary improvements” to avoid similar killings in future. When the local paper asked her for specifics on these improvements, she refused to answer.
In Hernando Co, an ACO killed a stray dog whose owner, if he had one, wasn’t given the legally mandated time to redeem him because he was killed after just 2 days at the pound. The dog looked somewhat similar to another dog who was actually on the kill list. Oops.
In September, a Pitbull named Scar escaped his yard and a Pitbull hating neighbor took him to the Central California SPCA, claiming he had been bitten. The owner tried to reclaim him but the pound refused to release Scar before an investigation was completed. When the investigation revealed the neighbor was lying, the owner was contacted to pick up Scar. But when she arrived at the pound, she learned the dog had been killed. Oops. The devastated owner could not stop thinking about Scar being walked to the kill room at the pound:
“I kept thinking that what was he thinking when they were going to take him for a walk?”
The Central CA SPCA later sent the owner a letter of apology which included an offer of a free pet and a promise of additional training for the staff.
Also in September, a cat hating neighbor trapped an 8 year old boy’s pet and gave him to the police who took him to the Cache Humane Society in UT. The child’s father attempted to reclaim the cat, named Toothless, but was turned away over protocol about where the redemption fee had to be paid. Upon return, the man learned Toothless had been killed because someone forgot to leave a DO NOT KILL note on the cage door. Oops. In the words of the heartbroken 8 year old boy:
She had just forgotten to write a note to save a member of my family. They killed him and I don’t know why.
I found no information that the Cache HS ever apologized to the family, offered a new pet, or anything at all.
The McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga, TN killed 50% of the pets in its care in 2011. In October 2012, McKamey impounded a dog named Zion for a 10 day quarantine after the dog jumped on a stranger. Owner Matt Sadler called to check on Zion and visited him multiple times during the quarantine period which was very difficult for him:
“That was my best friend,” Sadler says. “He was there for me through my parents’ divorce and a lot of really hard tough times in my life.”
When the 10 days were up, Mr. Sadler immediately went to McKamey to bring his pet home. But staff at the pound had already killed Zion. Oops. The pound director apologized, offered the owner a free pet and said the employees who made the paperwork error that resulted in Zion’s killing would be retrained.
Also in October, Memphis Animal Services was caught in a slew of conflicting statements when owner Tish Tonole, who had visited the pound several times looking for her lost dog Oliver, learned that he had been killed while she was searching for him. Oops. Ms. Tonole told me, “He was my best friend. He slept with me every night. I would wake up in the middle of the night to find his head in the crook of my arm and his paws in the air. He was a sweet, kind, good dog. He just wanted to be loved by everyone.”
These are just some of the cherished family members who were “accidentally” killed in 2012 by the public facilities paid to protect them from harm. Millions more were killed by so-called shelters on purpose. Because they can. Because they want to. Because enablers, including those from the multi-million dollar national animal organizations like HSUS and ASPCA on down to “Friends of” the pet killing facility groups, cover up the truth with a Blame the Public blanket of excuses, denials and rationalizations.
There are no excuses. Pets are family. Animal services = family services. There are proven programs available to every pet killing facility in the country which would end the killing today – both the oops and the intentional kind. Are lost, stray and homeless pets as well as loving owners doomed to a repeat performance in 2013 or will you do something to force an end to the slaughter of our family members in shelters?
The McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga, TN states its mission on its website: “To enhance the lives of companion animals and people by encouraging a culture of responsibility and compassion.” In 2011, McKamey killed 50% of the pets in its care. A culture of responsibility and compassion?
In October, a 3 year old Lab mix named Zion reportedly jumped on a pizza delivery person. Owner Matt Sadler indicates the incident was minor but required that Zion be seized for quarantine by the McKamey Animal Center:
“The lady didn’t want to press charges, it wasn’t anything serious, but the law has a 10-day quarantine period,” he says.
Because Zion was a month past due on his yearly rabies vaccine, he was held for the full 10 days at McKamey Animal Center.
I don’t know what specific law was cited when McKamey told Mr. Sadler he had to turn over Zion for quarantine but it sure seems odd to me that a dog who jumped on a stranger and had a rabies vaccine that was just one month overdue would be impounded. How does that protect the community or the community’s pets? How does it serve taxpayers? It makes me wonder if Zion really had to be surrendered for quarantine or if McKamey was abusing its power.
Mr. Sadler called to check on Zion and visited him multiple times during the quarantine period which was very difficult for him:
“That was my best friend,” Sadler says. “He was there for me through my parents’ divorce and a lot of really hard tough times in my life.”
When the 10 days were up, Mr. Sadler immediately went to McKamey to bring Zion home. But staff at the pound had already killed Zion:
Executive Director Karen Walsh says two employees missed a step filing paperwork.
When the quarantine ended, despite calls and visits from Matt, it was not known that Zion was to be reclaimed. He was euthanized in error.
Oops. In keeping with what appear to be standard protocols among oops-killing pet facilities, McKamey apologized, offered the owner a free pet and says the employees who made the paperwork error will be retrained. Also: blah.
A culture of responsibility and compassion? Maybe it’s time to turn on the waterworks:
With teary eyes, Walsh explained how devastated her staff is by the mistake that she calls an isolated incident.
Yeah, about that. In 2009, I posted about the killing of 2 Pitbulls who had been seized by McKamey and killed before the owner could retrieve them following a court case. The dogs had not bitten anyone nor were there any accusations of neglect or mistreatment. McKamey officers took the dogs out of the owner’s yard. In the aftermath of those killings, a judge issued an order to McKamey to stop exercising sole discretion over the killing of pets being held for court cases. In my post, I posited:
AC officers are supposed to help animals – not abuse their authority to seize and destroy them. I wonder if this is an isolated incident at McKamey or if there is a culture of abuse of power there and a history of killing pets waiting to be redeemed by owners.
Wonder no more.
A culture of responsibility and compassion? Mission fail.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)
October 26, 2012
On September 24, the Del Rio family’s dog – a Pitbull called Scar – escaped the yard wearing his collar and ID tag. A Pitbull hating neighbor took the 11 month old puppy to the Central California SPCA and told them he’d been bitten by Scar. Owner Helen Del Rio went to the pound to get her dog back but instead she got one story after another from the staff: Scar bit the neighbor, he bit a cat, he killed a dog. Finally, they told her they’d investigate what really happened.
As you may have guessed, the investigation determined the neighbor was lying. And there was no cat bite or dog killing either. So the pound called Ms. Del Rio on October 11 to come down and pick up Scar:
“Grabbed his leash, ready to take our dog home. We get there and they can’t find him. They call the supervisor out, the supervisor’s going from building to building,” Helen said. “Then Officer Boyce comes in and calls me over and says he’s been euthanized; just like that. He didn’t even say sorry, he was just like, basically with an expression on his face like, it happens.”
Ms. Del Rio later received a letter from the pound apologizing – not for killing Scar – but for “our failure in insuring the return of your family pet to you.” The letter also promised more training for staff (where have we heard that before?) and a free pet (ditto).
Ms. Del Rio is heartbroken and can’t stop thinking about Scar being walked to the kill room at the pound:
“I kept thinking that what was he thinking when they were going to take him for a walk?”
The Central CA SPCA would not respond to the TV station’s request for comment but people who left comments on the online article state that this is not an isolated incident at the pound.
October 6, 2012
The Cache Humane Society in UT made news a few weeks ago regarding a Great Pyrenees puppy named Whitey. In June, Whitey had wandered onto a ranch belonging to Hans Peterson. He was emaciated and had been shot in the mouth. Mr. Peterson took him to the vet for care and Whitey had surgery on his badly wounded jaw. Mr. Peterson fed Whitey from a spoon during the recovery period. Although the dog’s jaw was permanently disfigured by the trauma, the vet determined he could still eat and drink and function normally. Everyone who met Whitey marveled at how friendly he was, including a horse vet who came to the ranch on September 9 and was amazed to see the incredible recovery Mr. Peterson had helped Whitey make.
On September 12, Mr. Peterson fed Whitey then left the ranch for a few hours. When he returned, Whitey was gone. He immediately called the local ACO and learned that Whitey had been picked up by a neighbor and taken to the Cache HS where he was immediately killed. The well intentioned neighbor, Shelly Hoppie, did not know Whitey had a home in the area although she assumed he had an owner since he was wearing a rabies tag:
Hoppie said she took the dog there with the belief they would care for him for a few days while they tracked down the owner.
“I am just sick to my stomach,” she said. “If had known, I would have taken him back home and found the owner myself.”
Hoppie said she remained at the Humane Society for about 45 minutes, and during that time, she was not aware of the staff attempting to trace the dog’s owner. She said Whitey was acting calm and very friendly, with no trace of pain in his demeanor.
The ACO and 2 vet techs at the Cache HS had visually assessed Whitey and determined he was in extreme pain for which immediate death was the only answer. No attempts were made to contact a vet to see if the pain the non-vets believed Whitey was in could be relieved by non-fatal means and no attempts were made to track down the owner via the rabies tag. Whitey was just immediately killed. Dr. Clay Robinson, the horse vet who had seen Whitey just a few days prior to the killing, told the local paper:
“Something is not quite right about this whole scenario,” Robinson said. “Clinically, that dog was as healthy as can be.”
The executive director of Cache HS, Brenda Smith, posted a statement in response to the news story on the shelter’s website. She has lots of blame to spread around in that statement, including:
[R]abies tags are not a form of identification for animals.
Based upon the condition Whitey was in when he came to the shelter, the animal control officer made this decision and requested our staff to assist him with the procedure. The decision was made by animal control, who at that point had responsibility for the animal.
The staff at the Cache Humane Society are professionals who are trained to give vaccines, implant microchips, and yes, perform euthansias. As I am sure most people understand, this is not something that our staff enjoys doing. However, it is a reality when animals are injured or there are more animals then there are homes and funding for. I am thankful every day for our staff who continually and professionally work with a small budget, believing that their actions make a difference for animals that would not have a place to go if our shelter did not exist. This is why we advocate that everyone get their animals spayed and neutered and make sure they are wearing proper identification.
Ms. Smith also boasted to the media that the Cache HS has a 97% save rate for dogs which reflects the shelter’s mission:
While they are trained to administer the [euthanasia] injections, that is not the mission of the CHS, said Smith.
The organization’s vision statement is to “work until homelessness and abuse are no longer issues within our community and our adoption services are no longer needed. Through our example and work, we will affect and influence similar activity throughout Utah and the region.”
“Basically, our goal is to put ourselves out of business,” said Smith. “We are only here to respond to a need.”
Last week, Cache HS again responded to a local pet in need. A cat hating neighbor trapped an 8 year old boy’s pet and gave him to the police who took him to the Cache HS. The little boy knocked on every door in the neighborhood, including that of the trapper, asking if anyone had seen his missing kitty. The cat hater told him “No.” The child’s father went to the Cache HS to look for the pet and found him. But the staff refused to release the cat to the owner because the redemption fee had to be paid elsewhere and it was after hours. The owner was told to return in the morning to pick up the cat. When he did return the following morning, he found that Cache HS had oops-killed the cat because nobody had put a note on the records not to kill him. The owner asked for the remains so the pet could be buried, presumably to help the family in their grieving process, but the shelter refused.
The above link is a letter the 8 year old boy wrote to the local paper about the needless killing of his pet. It serves as a tragic reminder that shelter services are perhaps more accurately described as “family services” since their actions impact families. In the words of the heartbroken 8 year old boy:
She had just forgotten to write a note to save a member of my family. They killed him and I don’t know why.
I don’t know why either. The Cache HS reports that it saves only 37% of the cats in its care. In this case, they had an opportunity to save one pet by returning him to his family. They refused, apparently over money and protocol. When Mr. Peterson spoke to the local paper about Whitey’s killing, he said:
“If this is in fact protocol, then protocol needs to change[.]”
I agree with Mr. Peterson. The Cache HS director says they are working to put themselves out of business. Please Ms. Smith, do it. Today. The protocols employed by the Cache HS are putting families out of the happiness business and putting beloved pets out of the life business. Do the families in your region a favor and close your doors today. Demand that the community leaders in your service area come up with a true shelter to address the needs of lost and homeless pets by implementing the programs of the No Kill Equation. The community can not endure much more of your “mission”.
September 25, 2012
The last few posts on the blog have involved pets being needlessly and “accidentally” killed by the municipal shelters charged with protecting them. In Hernando Co, the victim was a dog whose owner, if he had one, wasn’t given the legally mandated time to redeem him because the pound oops-killed him before the holding period expired. In Jacksonville, it was two newborn kittens who were being transferred from one foster owner to another when the pound oops-killed them without bothering to check. And in Yuma, AZ, a lost dog whose owners tried to redeem him but were turned away by the pound was oops-killed for coughing. When public shelters fail to do their jobs and cultivate a culture of killing healthy/treatable pets as the acceptable norm, they damage more than just the staff, volunteers and rescuers involved in day to day operations. They pollute the community with this morally bankrupt ethos.
A young man in MA had flea bath appointments for his two cats at a veterinary clinic last week. He first dropped off one kitty, signed the form he was given, then returned shortly afterward to deliver the second cat. As he was signing that form, which he assumed was a basic form allowing the cats to have flea baths, the vet asked him if he wanted to keep the bodies.
Keep the bodies?
“It was like a blank stare back at each other for the first 10 seconds, then [the veterinarian] immediately grabbed the papers I thought were registration forms and told me I had signed the papers.”
As it turns out, the form the young man was given was an authorization to euthanize a pet, not a consent for a flea bath. No one at the clinic reportedly explained anything to him – just got his signature on the form and took the cat.
The vet who killed the first cat and was prepared to kill the second one declined to speak with the local TV news but instead hid behind his lawyer, who also hid.
The practice of killing healthy/treatable pets without asking questions, commonplace in too many municipal shelters, is accompanied by a lack of compassion and a failure to stand up for a pet’s most basic right: the right to live. This disturbing attitude is not limited to animal shelters and creeps into society at large. But shelters, whose very names imply a duty to act as a safe haven, provide humane care and protect pets from cruelty, are community leaders and must set the example for others to follow. When shelters, humane societies and societies for the prevention of cruelty kill healthy/treatable pets without question and do not advocate for the right of pets to live, it is not surprising to find individuals in the community adopting this same attitude.
It also doesn’t surprise me to read that, when confronted about the killing of a healthy pet, the vet refused to stand behind his actions. Again, a page from the playbook of too many pounds in this country. Everyone knows killing healthy/treatable pets is wrong – even those doing the killing. But most of them aren’t going to stop on their own. It is up to us as pet lovers and ethically responsible people to publicly demand an end to the killing of healthy/treatable pets and to demand their right to live be respected. Until we change the culture of acceptance concerning needless pet killing, we will continue to witness this unending parade of death. And in the end, it doesn’t matter much whether the pets at the landfill were killed by “accident” or by design. What matters is that most people accept the killing as “necessary” and some even go so far as to call it a “kindness”. This must change.
September 24, 2012
The Humane Society of Yuma (HSOY) in Arizona holds animal control contracts with multiple municipalities. The pound promises on its website that every dog will get a toy, a bed and at least 45 minutes of outdoor time every day. And:
In the event that an animal is suffering and at the end of its life, HSOY will provide the most humane death possible to that animal.
One family’s beloved lost pet did not get a toy and a bed on September 14 – he got an injection of Fatal Plus. One day earlier, the family visited HSOY to ID their dog and take him home but the Humane Society of Yuma refused to release the dog, who had already been there for several days. Although the shelter has not disclosed the reason for this, I would guess it may have had to do with the owner’s inability to pay the reclaim fees since this is a common reason some so-called shelters refuse to send pets home with their rightful owners. The family made an agreement to return for the dog and when they did, HSOY told them the dog has been oops-killed. There is no evidence the dog was “suffering and at the end of its life”. In a post on Facebook, the pound stated:
Unbeknownst to the kennel staff that this pet had an owner, this animal had been chosen for euthanasia because it was ill.
Ill? Or “suffering and at the end of its life”? In fact, the dog had a cough according to the official statement from HSOY:
HUMANE SOCIETY OF YUMA INVESTIGATED THE INCIDENT AND HAS TAKEN MEASURES TO ENSURE A TRAGEDY, AND MISTAKE, LIKE THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. THE DOG HAD BECOME SICK WITH KENNEL COUGH AND WAS ALSO ASSESSED AS BEING AGGRESSIVE. UNFORTUNATELY, IN THESE SITUATIONS, WITH OUR LIMITED SPACE AND RESOURCES, THE DOG WAS DEEMED UNADOPTABLE AND SELECTED FOR EUTHANASIA. IT’S A TRAGIC REMINDER TO COME LOOK FOR YOUR PET AS SOON AS IT GOES MISSING.
To my mind, the closing sentence of this official statement seems not only unfair but cruel. Unfair because the owners did come to look for their lost pet, even if they didn’t arrive at the pound as quickly as HSOY thinks they should have. Cruel because it shifts the blame for the killing from HSOY, who actually did the killing, to the owners, who tried to redeem the dog but were turned away. This is not a tragic reminder of the perceived failures of pet owners. It’s a tragic reminder that the organization calling itself a “humane society”, promising to give your lost pet a bed and a toy and to only perform euthanasia if your lost pet is medically hopeless and suffering is actually failing to do its job and blaming the public for its failures.
Nowhere in the official statements from HSOY do I see any reference to this dog’s name, gender, age or breed. This beloved pet is referred to only by “it”, as if he was a lost piece of luggage. This comes across to me as an attempt to devalue the dog and thus, lessen the impact of the killing. It does not give me any sense that HSOY is staffed by compassionate people who want to get pets out of the shelter alive. I hope these official statements have given me a wrong impression and that the staff and volunteers there truly do care about pets. I realize the statements may have been crafted by a PR consultant and that the staff/vols may have had no input. If that is indeed the case, I think the staff/vols should be angry to have been represented so callously in these statements.
On a hopeful note, I contacted the director of HSOY, Shawn Smith, in order to authenticate the shelter’s official statement (above). Mr. Smith conveyed what seemed to me to be a sincere desire to “stop the killing”. I like his word choice. That phrase speaks to me as I imagine it does to others pet lovers. And it would have been a powerful sentiment, along with paying tribute to the individual value of the life of the dog who was oops-killed, to include in the official statement about the incident.
While the killing can’t be undone and the cruel statements can’t be taken back, it’s not too late for HSOY to deliver a true public apology to the owners and to its donors, supporters and community. It’s not too late for HSOY to publicly commit that no owners, save for animal cruelty cases, will be turned away when attempting to reclaim pets in future. It’s not too late to say that an incident like this could never happen again because in future, the only animals euthanized at HSOY will be those who are medically hopeless and suffering or dogs deemed aggressive by the courts where no sanctuary options exist.
Blaming the public has created zero no kill communities in this country. Why not try implementing a proven model aimed at saving pets’ lives, partnering with the community and preventing the need to craft statements to an outraged public about oops-killings?
September 23, 2012
Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services in FL was very busy on Friday after issuing a public appeal for help on Thursday due to the shelter being over capacity:
The shelter, which has a capacity of 390 animals, had 466 animals Thursday morning. By closing time at 4 p.m. Friday, 186 animals had been adopted, fostered or taken by rescue groups over the two-day period, [city spokeswoman Monica] Landeros said.
Amidst all the lifesaving, courtesy of the so-called irresponsible public, the kill techs were apparently patrolling the halls, looking for victims. An employee recognized a pair of bottle baby kittens who had been sent out to foster. The foster had brought them back to the pound Friday in order to transfer them to another foster, who was on the way to pick them up. The employee reportedly did not know the new foster was on the way and I guess the prospect of killing healthy newborn kittens was too exciting to take the time to ask. The kittens were killed before the new foster could get in the front door.
Characterizing the killings of two healthy kittens the public was willing to save as an “unfortunate miscommunication,” Ms. Landeros said the pound “has begun necessary improvements” to avoid similar killings in future. When the local paper asked her for specifics on these improvements, she refused to answer. Because why do anything to reassure the public, right? And next time the pound issues a plea for help and people don’t show up for fear of having pets they cared for immediately taken to the kill room with no questions asked, the city of Jacksonville can tell the media they “have to” kill because the irresponsible public won’t help.
(Thanks Eucritta and Clarice.)