After a shelter oops-kills someone’s pet, there is sometimes media coverage where the director defends the killing and attempts to blame the owner, adopter and/or the general public. If you ever see a headline accurately naming the shelter where you work followed by the words “Defends Pet’s Killing”, you may want to find another job. Because you aren’t working at a shelter, you are working at an excuse.
All posts in category oops-killing
Posted by YesBiscuit on December 11, 2013
Kern Co, CA – On October 8, a dog named Capatcho was impounded by the city of Bakersfield after reportedly biting a neighbor. The dog lacked identification and was listed as a stray upon impound at the Bakersfield Animal Care Center. The owner, Bree Dedmon, went to the facility to identify her dog. She was told Capatcho had to be held for a 10 day rabies quarantine period and that she’d be able to pick him up on October 19.
Ms. Dedmon returned to the pound many times during the quarantine in order to visit with her pet and the staff came to recognize her by face. Ms. Dedmon told a local news outlet that she was “all excited” when she went to pick up Capatcho on October 19. When she arrived at the pound, a staff member told her that Capatcho was “missing”. When the distraught owner pressed the staffer for details, she was told he had been killed one day earlier. Oops.
The dog was put down after the quarantine period, because an owner for Capatcho was never documented by the shelter staff.
Following the notification of death, police were called into the shelter to help staffers with Dedmon, according to one center official.
Yeah, I can imagine how someone might temporarily lose it after being informed her family member was “missing” only to find out that was a lie and in fact, the pet had been oops-killed.
“Until I got Potch, I never understood how people could be so close to their animals,” she said. “I just mainly wanted to get the word out, and for people to know that his life meant something and he meant something to his family.”
We get it Ms. Dedmon. Pets are family. Animal services=family services.
The pound, in typical fashion, told the news outlet that people need to keep their pets on their property and wearing ID tags in order to avoid these kinds of situations. Which sounds like something out of The Sopranos if you think about it. Never have an oops with your pet because if you do, there’s gonna be the kind of oops you’re gonna regret. Oh and the pound also warned the public that quarantine costs more than $200. Stay classy, Bakersfield.
In addition to blaming the owner for the killing, the pound says it’s taking responsibility (I think they have a different definition of that term than the rest of us) and has relocated a staff member. Which means nothing. Until Bakersfield commits to doing its job to shelter animals instead of killing them, nothing will change.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)
Posted by YesBiscuit on November 3, 2013
The Escambia Co pound in Florida can’t stop oops-killing owned pets. Two months ago they oops-killed Cowgirl, then a few weeks later they oops-killed Maggie. Yesterday, a report surfaced of a third lost pet being oops-killed by Escambia County.
Details are sketchy but apparently the dog had been impounded as a stray, held at the pound for a week and put on the kill list as unadoptable. A scan determined he had a microchip but the pound says the phone number was not current. As part of its service, the company with which the chip was registered e-mailed the owner. She responded to the e-mail and called the Escambia Co pound to reclaim her lost dog. But the pound had already killed her pet. Oops.
The shelter says it’s not typical policy to put down a dog who is micro chipped, but they’re looking into the incident and will revamp its procedures.
I hate to get technical but apparently “typical policy” at the Escambia Co pound is KILL, KILL, KILL. A revamping of procedures is not going to cut it if meaningful change is desired. They need to throw out the SOP handbook, burn it and have everyone at the pound dance around the fire to underscore that the old policies are DEAD, DEAD, DEAD.
Here’s your ugh-frosting on the beater:
And one thing the shelter did say was for all pet owners out there to make sure they have updated information on their micro chips.
When shelters oops-kill pets whose owners are looking for them instead of doing their jobs and reuniting families, they are failing at the most fundamental level. In attempting to hide this fact, these places typically blame the owner. If the owned pet they oops-killed wasn’t microchipped, they blame the owner for failing to have chipped the pet. If the phone number has been changed, they blame the owner for not updating it. I swear to the Great Pumpkin, if an owner taught a pet to write “Do not kill me. My owner will pay your ransom. She lives at 111 Main St.”, the shelter would blame the owner for not attaching a sharpened pencil and notepad to the collar after oops-killing him.
The presence of a microchip means someone, somewhere, sometime loved this pet enough to try and protect him from being needlessly killed by a shelter that won’t do its job. Somehow the presence of a microchip means “Try one phone number then kill him” to Escambia Co. What about alternate contact phone numbers registered on the chip? What about e-mail? What about registered U.S. mail? What about driving to the person’s house and knocking on the door to announce the good news that the pet has been found and is being returned home? But apparently all that sounds too much like work to Escambia Co, where they just keep going with KILL instead.
I often rely upon the notion that it takes three points to draw a line. Three oops-killings in two months at this pound (at least, three that we know about and have made the news). Escambia County, here is your line: You are failing your community, utterly and completely. Quit blaming the victims, forget reviewing your protocols and start doing your job to shelter the animals in your care.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)
Posted by YesBiscuit on October 29, 2013
On August 26 , a 3 year old Florida dog named Cowgirl got lost while the owner, Danielle Riggens, and her roommate were at work. The two women searched for Cowgirl, learning 2 days later that she’d been impounded by the Escambia County Animal Shelter. The pound is only open for 6 hours per day, 5 days a week and Ms. Riggens was unable to get off work before the facility closed. The owner’s roommate, Brittany Ann Meade, went to redeem Cowgirl. Pound staff refused to release the pet to Ms. Meade so Ms. Riggens repeatedly phoned the pound to make sure they knew she would come in personally to redeem the dog on Saturday. She asked what the redemption fee would be so she’d be sure to have the right amount of money with her when she arrived. But the day before Ms. Riggens was to reclaim her pet, the Escambia Co pound killed Cowgirl. Oops.
The issue behind the “mistake” was a system of cards used to identify pets at the Escambia Co pound. Pets who were being reclaimed were supposed to have an arrow drawn on the right hand corner of their cards with the word “over” to alert staff that the owner is coming to claim the pet. Someone forgot to draw the arrow on Cowgirl’s card and instead placed her card into the pile of cards for animals to be killed that day.
“It was an accident that never should have happened,” said Director Marilyn Wesley of the Escambia County Community Affairs Department, which oversees the animal shelter.
“It was just an unfortunate mistake that the card accidentally did not have the marking on it, but it also got mixed in with another batch of animals,” she said.
Cowgirl’s owner and the roommate who lived with them were both devastated:
“It’s heartbreaking. She had her for so many years,” Meade said. “Our dogs are our children.”
“The life and death of an animal should not be as simple as turning over a piece of paper,” Meade said.
The two women spoke at length with Marilyn Wesley, asking for a major overhaul in the way the pound does business. Ms. Wesley indicated the county was “redesigning and revamping that card” but Ms. Riggens and Ms. Meade clearly saw that was not enough:
Riggens and Meade said they would like to see even bigger steps taken such as computerizing the entire animal card system. Riggens said she also plans to challenge the state’s policy regarding killing pets taken in without identification after three days and those with identification after five.
A couple of weeks later, the director of the Escambia Co pound was replaced.
This week, Leslie Reeder’s dog Maggie escaped her yard while the owner was napping inside the house. Maggie was reportedly barking at some kids at a bus stop. An ACO picked Maggie up and knocked on Ms. Reeder’s door, waking her. The ACO advised Ms. Reeder that Maggie was on the AC truck, sedated, that she was receiving 2 citations which she must sign and that she could come to the Escambia Co pound to redeem her pet. Ms. Reeder signed the paperwork without reading it.
In fact, what the ACO told Ms. Reeder and the paperwork provided to her were conflicting in nature. One of the forms Ms. Reeder signed included a surrender paragraph, giving Escambia Co permission to dispose of Maggie as it saw fit. Maggie was driven to the Escambia Co pound and immediately killed. Ms. Reeder says that if she had any idea of the true contents of the form, she never would have signed it.
Although details are scarce in this news report, some obvious questions come to mind:
- Why did the ACO take the dog to the pound when he knew where she lived and in fact had spoken with the owner in person? Is it because Escambia County likes to punish owners whose dogs get loose, just as they punished Danielle Riggens by not allowing her roommate to redeem Cowgirl?
- Why did the ACO tell the owner she could come to the pound to reclaim her pet while giving her a surrender form to sign?
- Why did the Escambia Co pound immediately kill a sedated dog who could not possibly have been evaluated in any meaningful way?
- Is barking considered to be an imminent public safety threat in Escambia Co that requires lethal force?
Marilyn Wesley admitted no mistake and in fact defended Maggie’s killing, stating the owner signed her right to the pet away. She also told the local news she’s “investigating” to make sure shelter protocols were “thoroughly followed”. Word to the wise: If the shelter’s policies were thoroughly followed and the result is the immediate killing of a sedated, owned dog who barked, I’d say the shelter’s policies need a complete rewrite. And does the county really want anyone who would follow such barbaric polices on the payroll? If the policies weren’t followed, which would seem to be the only logical conclusion here, I guess it will be just another oops for the Escambia Co pound.
I hope local advocates are pushing for reform at the Escambia Co pound. Clearly killing is the default for this facility even when the staff knows pets in their care have owners. It’s time to get some compassionate people in there who will do their jobs and actually shelter animals in need.
(Thanks Clarice for posting about Maggie in yesterday’s Open Thread.)
Posted by YesBiscuit on October 26, 2013
The troubled Hillsborough Co pound in Florida oops-killed a one year old dog the day he was scheduled to go home with the family who had adopted him. (Thanks Clarice for the link.)
East St. Louis police reportedly shot a dog who had been abused by a child after it was reported the dog had bitten the child in response. They left the dog to suffer in a field for 24 hours before a local rescuer took him to a vet. The rescuer was required to turn the dog over to St. Clair Co AC which decided on immediate killing. (Thanks Clarice.)
Kanawha County Commissioners in West Virginia are being urged by the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association to consider passing legislation to regulate high volume dog breeders – which no one even knows if there are any in the area. No recommendations that the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association stop killing animals and start doing its job though.
A lab at the University of Oklahoma allegedly “electrocuted dogs using a 9-volt battery applied to the heart” while failing to properly anesthetize the dogs. Animal welfare advocates are calling upon the USDA to investigate. (Thanks Arlene.)
Author Quentin Bell’s thoughts on dogs and cats from his 1947 book, On Human Finery.
Posted by YesBiscuit on October 11, 2013
Natalie Pruitt says her 8 month old puppy Thor was stolen from her vehicle on August 27. She notified Animal Control and began searching for her pet. The next day, she saw a post on Craigslist that described Thor so she called the woman who had placed the ad. That person told her AC had picked up Thor. Ms. Pruitt contacted AC again and received confirmation that Thor had been picked up and brought to the Western Arizona Humane Society. But workers at the Western Arizona HS denied that Thor was in the building:
Three times a day for a week Pruitt went to the Western Arizona Humane Society to see if they found the dog.
“The humane society kept telling me to go to the sheriff’s office and the sheriff’s office told me to talk to the humane society,” she said.
Ms. Pruitt also checked with other shelters in the area, none of whom had any record of impounding Thor.
On September 3, Ms. Pruitt again visited the Western Arizona HS, this time with sheriff’s deputies. Deputies found Thor’s record which showed the Western Arizona HS had killed him on August 28, less than 24 hours after impound and while the owner was searching for him at the shelter. Oops.
Thor should have been released to his owner who was at the shelter trying to find him. Failing that, the Western Arizona HS should have held him for at least the 3 day mandatory stray holding period. Instead, the Western Arizona HS killed the puppy.
“This is just so stupid,” said Pruitt. “They didn’t have to kill him. He was a good, healthy, loving dog.”
[Western Arizona Humane Society CEO Victoria] Cowper agrees, and while she makes no excuses for what happened to Thor, she did say the shelter is under great strain in Kingman, where it took in about 1,450 dogs in fiscal year 2012-2013 ending June 30. Of those, the owners of slightly more than 300 dogs were reunited with their pet.
The percentage of unclaimed dogs is higher in Kingman than in other communities in which the humane society operates, a fact Cowper said is due to too many dogs going without a collar or microchip, and dog owners who won’t bother looking for missing animals. She also said there is an abnormally high number of vicious dogs in the Kingman area.
It sounds like there is an abnormally high number of lame excuses in the Kingman area, specifically the area occupied by the Western Arizona Humane Society’s CEO. And attempting to redirect blame to “dog owners who won’t bother looking for missing animals” while explaining why a dog whose owner was at your shelter looking for him was killed – that’s just precious.
[Ms. Pruitt] said Cowper has been empathetic to the family, but other workers voiced no sympathy whatsoever.
Thor was a beloved family member and Ms. Pruitt’s autistic son had bonded with him. Ms. Pruitt has been trying to explain to him that Thor is not coming home but her son has been deeply affected by the loss – refusing to speak or participate in school.
Ms. Pruitt asked the Western Arizona Humane Society for a $5000 settlement to cover the $3000 she paid for her puppy and $2000 for the pain and suffering inflicted upon her family. The Western Arizona Humane Society consulted with its attorney and made a counter-offer: a shelter dog with a waived adoption fee. And the reassurance that the Western Arizona Humane Society has investigated itself in the matter, implemented better safeguards and staff has been retrained. Straight out of the Oops-Killing Handbook.
Ms. Pruitt intends to sue the Western Arizona Humane Society:
For Pruitt, it’s not all about the money.
“This is ridiculous,” she said. “It’s like somebody crashing into your car and their insurance company tries to settle by telling you to go to a junkyard and pick out a car. We don’t want another dog. We’ve been offered about a dozen dogs since this happened. Friends, strangers, so many people have offered us help, offered condolences and even purebreds. We’re not ready.”
You can’t replace a family member. The Western Arizona Humane Society not only failed to do its job and shelter Thor in his time of need, they broke apart a family in the most violent and permanent way. Shame on the Western Arizona Humane Society for offering the surviving injured party the minimum their attorney advised them they can get away with regarding the killing.
When the CEO learned of Ms. Pruitt’s intention to sue, she had this vomit-inducing response:
“That’s certainly her prerogative,” said Cowper. “This wasn’t done with malice. It was human error.”
Remember she’s talking about her shelter’s unlawful killing of a friendly, healthy puppy. In case you thought she was talking about a hub cap that got scratched at the factory.
“We made corrections and money isn’t going to replace the Pruitt family’s emotional connection with the dog.”
Duuuuuude. Seriously. Shut up right now.
(Thank you Clarice for the links.)
Posted by YesBiscuit on October 8, 2013
When Karen Lopez went out of town and learned her dog Red had accidentally escaped her yard and been taken to Houston’s BARC shelter, she reacted as many of us probably would. She contacted the shelter immediately on September 25 – the same day Red was impounded. She assured the shelter her beloved family member was wanted and she would be picking him up as soon as she returned to Houston on October 1. She gave her contact information just in case the shelter needed to reach her for any reason.
I can imagine Ms. Lopez might have felt relieved to know Red was in a safe haven and not possibly getting into trouble somewhere. It wasn’t as good as him being home, but it was the next best thing. Or at least it should have been.
But when Ms. Lopez tried to redeem her pet on October 1, a supervisor told her BARC had killed Red on September 29, as soon as the mandatory stray holding period had expired. Oops. A heartbroken Ms. Lopez told the supervisor that Red was not a stray, that she had called to claim him and that the city had taken her contact information as Red’s owner.
“He had no reason, no explanation but he did say they had failed to look at the police report and that (they thought) he was a stray,” Lopez said.
BARC says Red had bite marks on his face and the stray hold was up. So kill, obviously.
BARC investigated itself in the matter and has reportedly instituted changes in “the way personnel communicates with medical staff and 311 operators, who usually handle calls from people reporting stray dogs and owners looking for their pets.” These changes are aimed at avoiding additional oops-killings of owned pets. Who knows, maybe they’ll help. Or maybe BARC could stop using killing as its default and start doing its job to shelter animals. Bite marks and stray status, erroneous or not, should not be an automatic death sentence. Pets are family. Shelters such as BARC need to start treating them that way.
(Thank you Clarice for the link.)
Posted by YesBiscuit on October 7, 2013
On Tuesday, the Jessamine Co pound picked up a nursing mama dog who was lost and showed up at an elementary school. Instead of being placed on the legally mandated 5 day hold so her family could reclaim her, she got mixed up with another dog who was owner surrendered and on the way to the kill room. The Jessamine Co pound killed the nursing mama dog in place of the owner surrendered dog. Oops.
“Two dogs got switched somehow,” director Mike Cassidy said. “I don’t know if they were cleaning a kennel and they took it out and didn’t put it back in the right one; I don’t know how it ended up getting switched.”
The director did explain how owner surrenders are fast tracked to the kill room at Jessamine Co:
“Typically, when an animal is surrendered, a lot of times there’s a reason for it,” Cassidy said. “It’s either that it’s bitten someone or it has aggression issues and sometimes event [sic] health issues and the animal might need to be put down, but the people just can’t bear to do it, so they surrender it to us.”
Way to dispel the myth that shelter pets are damaged goods, dirtbag.
One manager was present while the mama dog was killed on Tuesday but in response to the killing, the pound will now require two managers to sign off on pet killings. Gee, I was sort of hoping they’d reconsider immediate killing of owner surrenders along with the needless killing of all other healthy/treatable pets. You know, begin actually doing their jobs. But yeah, two monsters in the kill room is good too. And doesn’t sound like WORK so: Bonus.
Cassidy also said if the dog would have had a microchip, the outcome would have been much different.
Sweet. Blame the owner. With another myth. Microchipped pets are killed in pet killing facilities all the time because that’s what these places do. Instead of blaming the killing on the owner, why not do your job and actually shelter the animals in your care?
I hope local pet advocates rally for reform at the Jessamine Co pound. If the current director won’t do his job, replace him with a compassionate leader who will. There is no excuse for the needless killing of shelter pets, especially when there are proven lifesaving alternatives available. Jessamine Co should get two managers to sign off on the No Kill Equation instead of pet killings.
The dead mama dog’s pups are reportedly being bottle fed. Let’s hope they survive without their mother and that they never get lost in Jessamine Co.
Fair warning: Any asshat who attempts to come to the blog and leave disparaging comments about the owners because the dog got lost, had puppies, wasn’t microchipped or whatever will have their offensive comments immediately removed and be permanently banned.
(Thank you Clarice for the links.)
Posted by YesBiscuit on September 13, 2013
Scanning shelter pets for microchips after the staff has killed them is one of the worst ideas in the modern history of animal sheltering. The excuse that the animal was too aggressive to be scanned while alive is unacceptable. Likewise, scanning after a pre-kill sedative has been administered may be useless if the pet has been allowed to get sick during the shelter’s hold period, been denied treatment and is in a severely compromised state. The pre-kill sedative may be the final nail in the coffin in those cases.
Clearly, the times to scan shelter pets for microchips are:
- In the field, if being picked up by an ACO
- During the impound process, if the animal has been brought to the facility by a member of the public.
- Re-scanning is good practice and should be performed the day of impound, e.g. during the vet’s routine impound exam.
- In rare cases when an animal can not be safely handled by a staff member while another scans for a chip, a sedative might be administered under the appropriate veterinary supervision at the time of impound.
Trained shelter staff equipped with appropriate tools such as cat handling gloves and dog leashes should be able to safely handle almost every pet in order to scan them. When I worked in veterinary medicine many years ago, it was my job to wrangle the animals, who were sometimes in pain, fearful and/or aggressive, and prevent the vet from getting bitten or scratched. I received no training. And I had to hold the animals still for invasive procedures such as blood draws and wound treatment. I would be whistling Dixie if all I had to do was hold animals while a scanner was waved over them.
On Tuesday, Brevard Co Animal Services in Florida picked up a microchipped cat and killed him. Oops. The cat’s owners had been looking for him for weeks. The lost pet, called Max, was in rough shape when impounded, per pound director Bob Brown:
The cat was found less than a mile from his home, covered in scabies, a parasite that can lead to rapid weight loss and a painful rash.
Max was down from 30 pounds to just eight pounds. He was missing hair, had an eye infection and wounds all over his ears.
It does indeed sound like Max needed immediate vet care. His owners, having gone to the effort of microchipping him for his own protection, should have been notified and given the opportunity to obtain vet care for their pet. Instead, they got the oops-kill call from the pound.
Animal services said they scanned for a microchip, but missed it and felt it was only humane to euthanize the cat.
Brown said, “And unfortunately, after the cat was euthanized, then just as a precaution, we do one more sweep and we picked up the chip.”
FYI: It’s not a PREcaution if you’re doing it after you’ve killed the animal.
Brown admits his agency made a mistake and is promising to do a better job of scanning animals for microchips. He also admits in the past 12 years, the same thing has happened three or four other times, but said part of the problem is the animals are injured and in pain and don’t want people touching them, scanning them for microchips.
So Max’s killing is not an isolated incident at Brevard Co, but part of a pattern of needless killings of owned pets. And peddle your animals-are-bitey excuse someplace else. Number one, it’s your job. Number two, I notice you always come up with a way to kill the animal. Use your ingenuity to figure out how to scan them first.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)
Posted by YesBiscuit on September 12, 2013
Florida – After Orange County Animal Services oops-killed a 2 year old dog named Hershey who had an adopter waiting to take him home, the facility’s spokesman refused to disclose exactly how the communication breakdown occurred. Local rescuer Christina Duncan didn’t accept the brush-off and contacted several individuals in positions of leadership at the pound to demand answers. Here is the e-mail she wrote to the pound’s vet, Robert Ridgway (click to enlarge):
Here is Dr. Ridgway’s response:
If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. And like the spokesman for the Orange Co pound, Dr. Ridgway definitely can’t own it.
(Thanks for the links Clarice.)
Posted by YesBiscuit on August 22, 2013