Fayette County Shelter’s License Revoked by State of PA

The inappropriately named Fayette Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been quarantined and had its license revoked by the state of PA.  State inspections in July and August found the staff failed to separate sick dogs from healthy ones and failed to follow proper sanitation and vaccination protocols to prevent the spread of disease.

Specifically, the staff suspected many dogs were sick with kennel cough, distemper and/or parvo.  Feces potentially carrying disease from the dogs indoors was being hosed with water only, no disinfectants, while feces in the outdoor facility was left in piles, including on dog beds.  Not only were dogs not being vaccinated immediately upon intake, the state found that dogs who had been there more than 10 days still weren’t vaccinated.

Between July 29 and August 7, 7 dogs were killed and 3 were found dead in their crates among a population of 65 adult dogs and puppies. State inspectors observed several coughing dogs who were lethargic and had mucus visible in their eyes and noses.  One dog was housed in a pen so small he could not stand up.  Moldy dog food was being stored in pens and the entire facility was infested with a “centipede type insect”.

Pat Ballon, a board member for the SPCA, says the place is $130,000 in debt and will likely remain closed.  Also, there’s a conspiracy:

[A]ll of a sudden, Ballon said, the state has come down on the group by employing questionable inspection tactics or enforcing mandates that have never been a problem in the past.

“Nothing has changed for 30 years and all of sudden, everything’s bad?” he said. “Somebody’s got it in for us.”

Because the cackling state inspector came twirling his mustache in the morning, instead of the afternoon:

Ballon said the staff members earn about $8 an hour, so he wonders how he could convince someone to shovel excrement at night so the place would have been ready for an inspection early the next morning — an inspection that he expected in the afternoon as it had been done in the past.

The sick dogs got their mucus on, mixed themselves in with the healthy dogs, the dog food went moldy and the centipedes stormed the place because it was morning.

“Do you think a county employee is going to work here for $8 an hour, no benefits, to shovel waste all day?” he said.

So because you don’t pay your staff a living wage, you can’t be expected to follow the state’s rules for providing humane living conditions for the dogs in your care.  I get it.

Adding to the list of woes, Ballon says once the state revoked the SPCA’s license they could no longer sell dogs to earn income.  But the main reason they’re so broke is because nobody wants to kill animals:

First and foremost, Ballon said, Fayette SPCA Board members, employees and volunteers are reluctant to euthanize animals. He said there were only about five percent, roughly 150 animals, of the more than 3,000 taken in by Fayette SPCA last year were euthanized. Ballon said most shelters euthanize between 40 to 60 percent of their animals annually.

Trusty old “Other places are worse” – love that guy.

Ballon appears to be of the opinion that if the Fayette SPCA had killed more dogs, they wouldn’t be in dire straits now.  But the state inspectors who even now are out tying fair maidens to railroad tracks, probably indicate that the staff wasn’t even doing the minimum to provide humane care for the dogs, the result of which was sick dogs dying alone in crates during the night.  Which would seem to be the opposite of preventing cruelty.

An area no kill shelter has since taken some of the dogs from the Fayette SPCA.

 

(Thanks Jan, Clarice and Arlene for sending in links on this story.)

FL Pound Kills 16 Dogs in Response to Parvo Outbreak, Cites ASPCA Guidelines

Last Monday, Lake County commissioners “began investigating the deaths of several puppies which appear not to have received the proper vaccinations before they were cleared for adoption” at the pound.  On Tuesday, one dog, followed by several more at the Lake Co pound, reportedly began exhibiting parvo-like symptoms.  On Wednesday, the county veterinarian recommended shutting down the facility – dog adoptions and intakes were both halted.  That night, asymptomatic dogs were given booster vaccinations.  By Thursday, cat adoptions had also been suspended.  Somewhere in there, 16 symptomatic dogs were killed.  I have found no publicly available information indicating any dog was ever tested for parvo or diagnosed by a veterinarian.

The county claims that all animals are vaccinated upon intake but given the current investigation, that appears to be questionable.  When asked why the 16 dogs did not receive supportive care, Brian Sheahan, Lake Co community safety and compliance director, offered 2 justifications for the killings:  treatment is “extraordinarily expensive” (not necessarily) and the county is “following the ASPCA guidelines” regarding parvo.  That second thing appears to be accurate, tragically.

The ASPCA recommendations for shelters which have one dog diagnosed with parvo are the same for those with more than one dog diagnosed:

Dogs that are owned by the shelter but not strong adoption candidates are immediately euthanized.

As for the definition of “not strong adoption candidates” – it’s anything goes.  And if that’s not broad enough for you, the ASPCA gives additional leeway:

Dogs and puppies diagnosed with CPV may be euthanized for the following reasons:

1) No space at veterinary clinic to treat
2) Not adoption candidate
3) Failure to improve with treatment (defined by shelter veterinary discretion)
4) Parvo in addition to other illness

It’s disappointing to see that the ASPCA is not only providing cover for the needless killing of shelter pets but hasn’t updated its guidelines to reflect lifesaving as a priority for shelters dealing with parvo.  Diagnosis of disease is never a license to kill pets.  Decisions must be made on an individual basis utilizing the prognosis for each animal provided by a veterinarian.  It’s unclear if testing even occurred at Lake Co, let alone obtaining a prognosis for each individual dog from a vet.

Lake Co is no stranger to failure.  The public has long been critical of the needless pet killing at the facility.  The current director, on the job for just months, is quitting.  The county manager stated last week that he would request an audit of the pound’s intake and vaccination protocols.  Wow, you really want to go that far?  Color me underwhelmed.

Apparently the county politicians are only interested in scraping the tip of the iceberg then applying a band-aid to the pound’s image.  I hope the public will continue to demand meaningful reform at the Lake Co pound, including the implementation of the proven programs of the No Kill Equation.  Continued killing while hiding behind the skirts of the ASPCA is not going to cut it.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

New Reduced Cost Parvo Treatment Protocol Announced

Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital has announced a new protocol for treating parvo puppies at home at a greatly reduced cost. This will be welcome news for owners, rescuers and shelter directors who want to save the lives of sick pets but in some cases are unable to pay for the hospitalization costs at the veterinary clinic. The treatment was tested in a recent study of 40 parvo pups which found similar survival rates between puppies who underwent veterinary hospitalization and those treated at home.  Continual care is required during the home treatment, just as it is for the in-hospital treatment:

The treatment relies on two drugs recently released by Pfizer Animal Health (which funded the CSU parvovirus study): Maropitant, a strong anti-nausea medication given under the skin once a day; and Convenia, an antibiotic given under the skin once, and lasting two weeks; as well as administration of fluids under the skin three times daily.

CSU estimates the costs per puppy for in-hospital treatment of parvo at $1500 – $3000 while the home treatment is in the $250 range.

Parvo used to be considered a death sentence for puppies and many shelters automatically killed any pup suspected of having the disease or even having been exposed to it.  Widespread vaccination has helped to reduce the number of cases, even in shelter environments. And with advances in veterinary medicine, parvo is now considered a treatable illness with an excellent survival rate.

Sadly there are still too many shelter directors who continue in 1970s mode – offering neither routine vaccination upon impound nor treatment for dogs who get sick with parvo.  Mass killings in the face of outbreaks still occur in shelters around the country, even though the practice is inconsistent with current science.  This new reduced cost parvo protocol from CSU is yet another proven alternative to killing.  As more and more of these alternatives continue to develop, shelter directors still clinging to old-think will eventually be forced to either change or get out of the way.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Murray Co Pound Conducts Mass Killing after One Case of Parvo

Shelter directors who fail to vaccinate all animals prior to or immediately upon intake, utilize standard disease prevention cleaning protocols and/or maintain good housing practices are failing to prevent the spread of diseases such as parvo.  Their failure inevitably leads to needless killing of shelter dogs.

The Murray Co pound in Georgia took in a surrendered puppy earlier this month.  They did not vaccinate or quarantine the puppy, instead housing him in a kennel with other dogs in general population.  The puppy apparently had parvo and Murray Co reported the disease to the state Department of Agriculture.

[Shelter director Diane] Franklin said, “We are following their protocol. They said immediately euthanize the kennel where the animal was discovered which we did. And then from there on, any animal you feel could shed the disease or was an exposure which we did.”

The director was also given the option to quarantine dogs who had been potentially exposed through the director’s own negligence but declined that option.  On July 12, Murray Co killed 31 dogs.  The facility then closed for the sort of cleaning which should be performed regularly but obviously is not.

“It was a terrible decision. I didn’t sleep last night. I hated doing that, but I’ve got to do it to protect the citizens and the animals of Murray County to try to stop the disease immediately,” Franklin said.

Lost a night’s sleep?  Gee I wonder what kind of sleep 31 dogs are getting in the pound’s dumpster.  As far as stopping the disease “immediately”, maybe someone should have thought of that before operating the shelter in a sub-standard and negligent manner.  Barn door, open.

Murray Co is considering implementing a vaccination protocol in keeping with science.  While the possible advancement of shelter vaccination protocols will probably give the director a good night’s sleep, it is of little comfort to the 31 dogs in garbage bags and the families they will never know.

Even if the Murray Co Animal Shelter does bring its vaccination protocols into the 21st century, it still has a long way to go to actually fulfilling the mission implied in its name.  From the facility’s website:

The shelter does not adopt out aggressive, sick, injured, or nuisance animals. No pit bull or Rottweiler adoptions are allowed.

A check of the Murray Co Petfinder listings shows 17 pets up for adoption, 16 of whom are cats. When I clicked on the dog, the text read “more dogs available” and showed photos of 2 other dogs with no specifics.  Apparently the Murray Co director deemed all the other animals in the place either aggressive, sick, injured, nuisance, Pitbull or Rottweiler.  No sleep lost, I guess. 

I’m working up a joke for the next Murray Co shelter meeting that will go something like this:

“How does a dog get sick at Murray Co?”

“Walk in the front door.” 

It should be followed up with:

“How does a dog get out the back door at Murray Co?” 

“Get sick.” 

Total lawl, amirite?

(Thank you Clarice for sending me this link.)

TN Pound Kills 12 Dogs in Response to Parvo

Shelters who fail to vaccinate all animals prior to or immediately upon intake, utilize standard disease prevention cleaning protocols and/or maintain good housing practices are failing to prevent the spread of diseases such as parvo.

The webpage for Robertson Co Animal Control in TN does not indicate whether they vaccinate all dogs against parvo upon intake but mentions only that adopted pets receive a rabies shot.  The page also refers to a “goal that every effort be made to have animals walk out of the facility alive” which sounds pretty good.  But this doesn’t:

“I have a vet that’s on my committee and I consulted him about it and he said, if I come back in on Tuesday with two more cases [of parvo], I need to put everything down and start cleaning the building,” said [Robertson Co shelter director David] Blackwood.

Twelve dogs were killed this week and the pound was closed so the facility could be bleached thoroughly.  Parvo is a treatable illness and not an automatic death sentence for shelter dogs, most especially for asymptomatic and immune animals.  There is no science behind the recommendation to kill every dog in the facility and close for cleaning.  In fact, had the facility been thoroughly cleaned as a matter of course, and dogs vaccinated prior to or immediately upon intake as a matter of course, two dogs may not have died in their cages at the Robertson Co pound.  Why wait until dogs are dead and the place is closed to perform a thorough cleaning?

But wait, there’s more:

The facility will be closed until next week as they continue sterilizing the area. Anyone who has adopted a dog from Robertson County Animal Control within the past two weeks has been contacted.

The virus dehydrates the animal and while veterinarians can treat sick dogs, there is not a 100% guarantee of recovery.

The cost for treatment is around $15,000.

Oh geez.  I hope the recent adopters weren’t told that.  It’s true there isn’t a 100% guarantee of recovery from parvo – or any other illness.  But for adopted pets in a home environment who are taken to a private vet for treatment, the chances of recovery are very good.  And the cost may be nothing – for asymptomatic dogs – or more obviously for those who need treatment.  But $15 grand?  Not bloody likely.

Austin Pets Alive has a ward set up for parvo dogs at their shelter and it’s run by volunteers.  The 2011 save rate was approximately 88% and the average cost of treatment per dog was $250.  That’s in a shelter environment where the disease would be more challenging to manage than in a home with an adopted pet.

I hope no more dogs were needlessly killed beyond the 12 due to such misinformation.  And I hope the Robertson Co pound gets up to speed on best practices for disease prevention and management and starts including thorough cleaning and vaccination as a routine part of its protocols.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me the link to this story.)

Logan Co: Closing the Barn Door after the Horse has Bolted

The Logan Co pound in WV has been closed for quarantine.  A local television station reports that three dogs have tested positive for distemper and volunteers at the pound suspect 17 other dogs have died from the disease recently.  Dozens of dogs remain inside the facility:

“If they are not laying there dying they are being put down,” said SAFE volunteer Michelle Starr.

Well that sounds pretty awful.  It’s hard to imagine anything worse but don’t give up hope so quickly because there’s this:

Twenty-six dogs had to be vaccinated at the Logan County Animal Shelter after a distemper outbreak, and one dog had to be put down.

*facepalm*  Gee we’ve got a confirmed distemper outbreak, I guess we’ll have to vaccinate – there’s just no way of avoiding it at this point.

If the Logan Co pound had been vaccinating upon intake across the board, utilizing routine cleaning practices and quarantining new arrivals, they might not have dogs dying left and right.  Vaccination prior to or immediately upon intake is key to preventing and minimizing distemper outbreaks.  From the Koret Shelter Medicine Program info sheet on Canine Distemper Virus (CDV):

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

It sounds like Logan Co does little to nothing to prevent disease outbreak at the pound:

SAFE volunteers said the distemper outbreak is not an unusual problem. They provided 13 News with a letter from Michael Koch, a veterinarian at Tug Valley Veterinary Clinic in Williamson. Koch said in the letter that he has treated several animals from the pound. In the document Koch writes:

“All of the patients I have examined have been afflicted by at least one infectious or contagious disease. Some of them have had multiple diseases. I have diagnosed Sarcoptic mange, infectious canine tracheobronchitis, canine distemper, parvovirus, coccidiosis, hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. All of the patients have been in a very poor state of health.”

Pound officials said they do the best they can to regularly care for the animals and disinfect the facility, pointing out that animals are often not vaccinated when they come to the facility and are already in very poor condition.

They’re doing the best they can.  It’s the public’s fault for not vaccinating and providing proper vet care – which the pound doesn’t do either but hey, why quibble over details?

Logan County Commissioner Danny Godby confirmed that workers put down at least eight dogs within the past month after testing positive for parvo.

Vaccination upon intake.  Vaccination upon intake.  Vaccination upon intake.

“We are doing our best to save these animals,” said [County Administrator Rosco] Adkins.

So I’ve heard.

(Thanks Clarice for the links on this story.)

Stokes Co: The Killings Will Continue Until Donations Improve

As I have written repeatedly on this blog, parvo is preventable and treatable and every animal shelter has an obligation to both prevent and treat this disease. Parvo in shelters is prevented through the practice of vaccination prior to or immediately upon intake, good housing practices and standard disease prevention cleaning protocols.

Parvo is not the dreaded disease it once was. There are excellent prevention and treatment protocols available for shelters and pet owners to follow. Any shelter or state whose policy is to kill every dog in the place in the face of an outbreak (suspected or confirmed) is operating in The Before Time.

Meet Stokes Co, NC. As of Wednesday, the pound had killed 12 dogs and planned to kill 18 more after one dog adopted from the facility reportedly contracted parvo. County Manager Rick Morris, veterinarian Deborah Cowan, who is also chairwoman of the Stokes Co Animal Control Advisory Council, and pound director Phillip Handy “decided on Tuesday to ban adoptions of dogs at the shelter, euthanize the dogs there and put down any dogs brought to the shelter without vaccination records.” And there’s more:

That policy will remain in place until an outdoor kernel is built so that the shelter staff can clean the shelter’s indoor kennels of feces and urine and place down chemicals to kill the virus, Cowan said.

And not to put too fine a point on the new policy but, ok:

“If you bring it here and it has no vaccination it will be euthanized,” said Veterinarian Deborah Cowan[.]

Gee, is she accepting new patients?

Candis Loy, the president of Animal Rescue of Stokes County, said that euthanizing the dogs is regrettable. “I don’t think they have a lot of choices,” said Loy, a member of the animal control advisory council.

Yeah, the pound has no quarantine area so not “a lot of choices” besides killing. Because how could any animal shelter be expected to be cleaned without an outdoor kennel? That’s bananas.  Just kill them all.

But even when they get the outdoor kennels built, that still won’t be good enough:

Shelter advocates say it’s only a temporary fix until a new shelter can be constructed.

Fundraisers are already under way for a new shelter that will cost around $400,000.

“We are begging, we are pleading, we’ve been getting down on our knees asking people to help,” stated Cowan who says they need $40,000 right now to secure a discount on a new facility that could be up and running by 2015.

In the past 3 years, they’ve raised $13,000 toward the new shelter. At this rate, the killing will end never. And I suspect that’s exactly how the killing apologists in Stokes Co like it.

60 Dogs Needlessly Killed in TX Shelter

Parvo is a highly preventable and treatable disease, even in a shelter environment.  The diagnosis of parvo, whether confirmed or merely suspected, is not a license to kill dogs.  Euthanasia is appropriate based upon veterinary prognosis for an individual when a vet determines the dog is suffering and his chances of recovery through treatment are poor to grave.

Puppies squashed into a rusted cage, as posted on the Petfinder page of the Conroe Animal Shelter.

Puppies squashed into a rusted cage, as posted on the Petfinder page of the Conroe Animal Shelter.

A dog named Nina is pictured on a chokepole on the Petfinder page of the Conroe Animal Shelter.

A dog named Nina is pictured on a chokepole on the Petfinder page of the Conroe Animal Shelter.

The Conroe Animal Shelter in TX is run by the police department.  The shelter does not appear to be fulfilling its obligations to provide true shelter to dogs in terms of prevention or treatment of parvo:

While the shelter immunizes animals brought into the facility, there is a 72-hour waiting period mandated by the state.

Please show me this TX law that says the mandatory stray hold requires shelters to shun best practices.  And what about owner surrenders without documented vaccination history – does this same law require them to be left unvaccinated for 72 hours in the shelter too?  Ridiculous.

And yet when a recent parvo outbreak at the Conroe Animal Shelter made the news, deputy chief of police Russell Reynolds astonishingly told a reporter:

“It is very important for pet owners to get their dogs vaccinated.”

Really?

When two dogs were impounded on April 4 who “displayed positive symptoms of the viral disorder”, the Conroe facility killed 60 dogs in response.  They also ceased adoptions.  Not that they had any live dogs left to adopt, I imagine.

“We’re doing everything we can to address the situation,” [Reynolds] said.

No you’re not.  Following standard disease prevention protocols, including vaccination upon intake; providing treatment to dogs based upon veterinary diagnosis, not “looks like parvo”; and reserving euthanasia only for those individuals whom a veterinarian issues a poor to grave prognosis with treatment – that would be doing everything you can.  What you’re doing is nothing.  Nothing but killing.

In this photo posted to the Petfinder page of the Conroe Animal Shelter, a sick kitten appears to be housed with a healthy kitten.

In this photo posted to the Petfinder page of the Conroe Animal Shelter, a sick kitten appears to be housed with a healthy kitten.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Kern Co Pound Director’s Manifesto of Blame

In a 14 page Blame the Community manifesto, the director of the Kern Co pound in CA, Jen Woodard, details the needless killing of pets and blames everybody but those doing the killing.  Ms. Woodard previously worked for Best Friends in L.A. before taking the Kern Co job in October.

In the document, Ms. Woodard states that Kern Co kills any puppy who has parvo-like symptoms and tests positive on a snap test as well as all other exposed puppies less than 6 months of age.  This practice is not based in science and should be discontinued immediately.  Treatment of parvo puppies is possible in a shelter environment and that option should be fully explored by all shelters.  Killing exposed dogs based solely on age, dogs who may in fact be immune, is cruel for the sake of cruelty – it serves no purpose.  A compassionate director would have written 14 pages about that.

Instead, Ms. Woodard runs through a laundry list of members of the community to blame for the killing, including:

  • Local vets, who all suck apparently and are only in it for the dough
  • Mexicans, who don’t care about their pets because of “cultural beliefs”
  • Local animal organizations, who do nothing but bicker
  • The weather, which also sucks
  • Pet owners in general, who don’t want to know how to protect their pets from diseases

And while blaming everybody else for their ignorance, Ms. Woodard demonstrates her own lack of understanding regarding disease prevention.  For example, she states:

And furthermore, most puppy owners don’t know they need a series of 3 of the vaccines to be fully effective in preventing parvovirus and distemper. A pup with 2 vaccines is still susceptible.

This is not based in science.  The number of vaccines a puppy receives is not what confers immunity but rather the timing of the vaccines relative to the presence of maternal antibodies.  Before a shelter director goes blaming the Mexicans, it would be nice to see her demonstrate a meaningful understanding of vaccine conferred immunity in puppies.

The report offers a number of solutions to the killing and improper disease management protocols at the pound but none of them include “Stop needlessly killing animals and start using science based disease management strategies”.  Instead, the report focuses on educating the public about the importance of vaccination, among other things, and includes a volunteer team to walk the streets and another team to call Craigslist ads for puppies to educate the ad placers.  This is a puzzling strategy because earlier in the report, Ms. Woodard notes that one of the problems in the community is ignorance of “basic pet responsibility” which she attributes to the fact that “much of the community is uninterested in hearing this message”.  Will the unwashed masses suddenly become interested if they get a call from someone telling them about spay-neuter in response to their Craigslist ad for puppies?

I am very disappointed in Ms. Woodard’s report, which was apparently not intended to be read by the public.  I can see why.

Related:

Local news outlets react to the report: The Bakersfield Californian , Bakersfield Now, and KGET

Koret Shelter Medicine Program:  Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper Virus

Maddie’s Fund:  Redefining Vaccination on Intake

(Thanks Clarice for sending me links on this story.)

Updated: Whistleblowers Expose Parvo Coverup at Atlanta Humane Society

Atlanta Humane Society has 2 facilities, one of which cost 10 million dollars and was just opened in December 2011.

Three whistleblowers went to the local Fox affiliate to expose wrongdoing at the Atlanta Humane Society, prompting the reporter to investigate further and visit the facility to ask for the other side of the story.  The allegations involve a failure of the Atlanta Humane Society to report the occurrence of contagious diseases such as parvo to the state Department of Agriculture, as required by law.  The reporter found that the Department of Agriculture hadn’t received a single contagious disease report from the facility for at least 2 years.  Yet kill records from Atlanta HS for recent months indicate that almost all of animals killed have been puppies – for contagious disease.

There is a video of this great investigative piece at the link which I will describe in part for anyone unable to watch.

When visiting Atlanta HS, the reporter is met outside by Richard Rice, Vice President of Operations who, based on his response, has single-handedly lowered the bar for media crisis management for shelters.  When first asked about the shelter’s apparent failure to report contagious diseases, Mr. Rice looks like an immune compromised medical patient being asked for a hug by a plague victim.  As he dashes away, he promises to return with the records in question.  The reporter sits outside on the curb for ninety minutes before Mr. Rice shows his face again.  He doesn’t have the records but he does have a puppy.  In what looks like an attempt by Gilligan to avoid being bonked with the Skipper’s hat (You wouldn’t hit a guy with a puppy, would you?), Mr. Rice explains that they’ve done their jobs, are in compliance with state law, nothing to see here, etc.

Eventually, Atlanta HS produces a bunch of fax forms which contain no identifying information about the reporting agency – an obvious requirement – which it says were used as an alternative to phone reporting to the state.  The state says they never received a single one of these forms by fax.  The fax machine at Atlanta HS prints out a record of every number ever dialed and the Department of Agriculture’s number appears zero times.  Even if the faxes had been sent and received, they would not have brought Atlanta HS into compliance.

Apparently 10 million dollars does not necessarily buy plausible deniability.

Update:  Atlanta HS has a response to the investigative report on its website.  And the response is:  You know that lame story we concocted about generic faxes that there is no evidence of ever having been sent or even existed prior to the news showing up?  Well yeah – that, still.  Also:

It is our hope that the perspectives of former employees do not overshadow the exceptional work that our team performs every day.

The “perspectives” of your former employees come with proof, Atlanta HS.  Your “exceptional work”, not so much.

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