Calling All Cars! Angry Pet Lover in Parking Lot, Talking and Stuff!

We last checked in with the Chester Co SPCA in August 2013.  At that time, the facility was refusing to release its kill stats, abandoning its offsite cat adoption program due to it being a “hassle” despite reports that impounded cats were taken directly from counter to kill room, and importing puppies from other states without obtaining the required health certificates.  Former staffers and volunteers described the Chester Co SPCA as a “kill factory”.

Today, there doesn’t appear to be any progress to report.

A volunteer who had bonded with a dog at the Chester Co SPCA grew concerned after he was placed on a six month quarantine for kennel cough (What the what?) and she found him in a cage covered in filth.  When she expressed her concern to staff, she was told she was not allowed to go into the quarantine area.  Problem solved, eh?

The volunteer scheduled an appointment to meet with the volunteer manager concerning the dog on March 24.  After the meeting took place, the volunteer was told to never return to the Chester Co SPCA.  When she asked why, the only information she was provided was that there had been a sekrit vote.

The vol reportedly went to the parking lot where she met another vol with whom she began a conversation.  During that time, the Chester Co SPCA called the police to have her removed from the premises, claiming she was trespassing.  The officer handed her a letter from the pound making her banishment official and told her to leave the parking lot, which she did.

Apparently calling the police on people trying to help animals is SOP at the Chester Co SPCA:

Monday’s incident is the second time in less than a month that police were called to the shelter because of a dispute between staff and volunteers. On Feb. 22, West Goshen Police were called after an altercation between its executive director, two board members and two volunteers. The two volunteers were also fired prior to that incident, according to police.

No doubt the local police unit is thrilled with the Chester Co SPCA’s trespassing calls against volunteers.  I hope no one in Chester Co is being robbed or assaulted while the Sekrit Vote Club is taking law enforcement resources away from the community.

How do you know when your local pound needs a complete overhaul?  Well, this.  For example.

Town of Hempstead Kills Owned Pets, Owners File Lawsuit

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Last month, 2 mixed breed dogs called Cici and Yankee escaped their yard and went for a run around the neighborhood in Long Island, NY.  Both were known by neighbors to be friendly and playful.  But apparently any loose animal that looks like a Pitbull type dog in Nassau Co warrants the summoning of the National Guard:

An incident in Lakeview involving Pit bulls three days prior caused  police to send multiple police officers including detectives and a police helicopter.

Nassau Co police responded to a report that Cici and Yankee were chasing kids and started shooting at the dogs, hitting Yankee.  The dogs ran home and the Town of Hempstead sent an ACO to the residence where police had gathered.  The owner, who is unable to read English, signed a form he was given by the ACO and the dogs were taken to the pound.

There are no reports indicating the dogs bit anyone, growled at anyone or even cast a stern glance in anyone’s general direction.

The family went to the pound the next day it was open to reclaim Cici and Yankee and were told both had already been killed.  The form the owner signed without understanding what it said due to the language barrier reportedly transferred ownership of the dogs to the Town of Hempstead to do with as the pound saw fit.  The family was apparently so shocked at this news that they went home and returned the next day, believing they must have been given the wrong information.  But they were again told their pets had been killed.

The Town of Hempstead, well known for its alleged abuse of shelter animals, offered this response to a reporter:

“We are confident that the police don’t throw their weapons and shoot at animals unless they present a danger to the public.”

Oh the Town of Hempstead is jokes.  If police shot at the dogs, they must be the spawn of Satan because police.

Cici and Yankee’s owners have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead for killing their pets without due process.  The town is apparently rolling in dough.  I hope the owners get every penny and just maybe, some stuffed shirt mooching off taxpayers there will take notice and effect change.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Stockton Pound Sued for Killing Animals Illegally

Last month, a couple whose dog had been impounded by the Stockton pound in CA spoke to the city council about their experience.  Their microchipped, neutered, vaccinated dog had escaped through a gate accidentally left open in their yard.  When the owners, both newly unemployed, tried to reclaim their pet, the Stockton pound demanded $180.  The owners couldn’t come up with the entire fee so offered a partial payment and a promise to pay the balance in installments.  The pound refused, leaving the crying owners no other option but to beg for their beloved family member’s life.  Stockton killed their pet.

As might be expected, this is not an isolated incident at the Stockton pound:

A review of 2013 documents found instances in which seven dogs belonging to five people were euthanized because the owners could not immediately afford to pay impound fees.

The Stockton pound is no stranger to controversy.  Mayor Anthony Silva put together a citizen commission to examine allegations of wrongdoing at the facility one year ago.  The group has been trying to present its findings since January but have yet to be allowed to speak at a city meeting.

Now local advocates have teamed up with the Animal Legal Defense Fund and filed suit against the Stockton pound.  Using a year’s worth of pound documents obtained via public records requests, the plaintiffs in the suit allege:

  • Stockton killed more than 1500 cats and dogs during their legally mandated holding periods.
  • The pound kills owned pets without making meaningful efforts to return the animals to their owners.  One case involved a dog who was killed because the owners couldn’t speak English.
  • Pets who are medically hopeless and suffering are forced to linger in their cages for days before being euthanized.

ALDF attorney Jenni James says no money is being sought in the suit:

“Our request is very simple,” James said. “We’re asking the court to demand that the city of Stockton follow its own laws, and for the city of Stockton to acknowledge that the laws it passed apply to the shelter.”

The pound’s director went the predictable route in response to the lawsuit:

The city of Stockton said it cannot comment on the lawsuit and neither can the Animal Services director — but she did say the shelter does the best it can for the animals.

“People who come here see the impact and how many dogs come into the shelter,” Animal Services Supervisor Pat Claerbout said. “It’s extremely limited, and we can’t keep every animal.”

We’re doing the best we can. We can’t keep them all.  Ergo, the law doesn’t apply to us and if your broke ass can’t come up with the ransom to bail your pet out of our kill factory, sux being you.

(Thanks Clarice and Eileen for the links.)

Vermilion Parish Director Kills Dogs Tagged for Rescue Because She Can

Vermilion Parish Rabies Control in LA does not adopt animals to the public.  It functions primarily as a pet killing facility while allowing rescue groups to save some animals – unless the director decides she feels like killing those animals too.

Last week a group called Animal Aid of Vermilion Area had exchanged e-mails with Vermilion Parish pound director Pam Monceaux, confirming they would pull three dogs – Sasha, Pepper and Ringo – on Thursday morning.  But when the rescuers arrived, they learned Ms. Monceaux had killed Sasha, Pepper and Ringo.

There was no claim of a misunderstanding about these three dogs being pulled by rescue.  Ms. Monceaux apparently killed them intentionally while rescuers were en route.  A local news reporter asked Ms. Monceaux for an explanation:

 News 10 reached out to Monceaux for answers, but we were told to leave the premises or she was calling the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office.

If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

Under our current, broken shelter system, killing is a choice.  Any shelter animal may be killed at the discretion of the director.  Some shelter directors consider this their job while, in stark contrast, there are hundreds others working hard to save every healthy/treatable animal in their care.

There are two ways to stop retaliatory and needless shelter killing in Vermilion Parish:

  1. Replace the director with someone committed to lifesaving.
  2. Enact legislation removing killing as an option.

Contact information for the Vermilion Parish Police Jury that oversees the pound is at the bottom of this page.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me info on this story.)

Fulton Co In Their Own Words

Welcome to Fulton Co where they kill more than 1/3 of the animals in their care and post “urgent” animals on Facebook. But do not call them!  Because whoa – it’s not THAT urgent.

Screengrab from Facebook

Screengrab from Facebook

In late October, the Fulton Co rescue coordinator took to Facebook to shame the public for asking the pound to do the job taxpayers are paying it to do and help stray pets:

Screengrab from Facebook

Screengrab from Facebook

In early November, an opportunity for Facebook users to vote a dog off the kill list at Fulton Co. Who wouldn’t want to play The Sophie’s Choice Popularity Contest, amirite?

Screengrab from Facebook

Screengrab from Facebook

In mid-November, an announcement from Fulton Co that Spaghetti Mondays have been moved to Tuesdays – yay! And by spaghetti, of course they mean killing:

Screengrab from Facebook

Screengrab from Facebook

Current Fulton Co listings on the PetHarbor website:

Be further dazzled by the professionalism on display in these previous Fulton Co pet listings on Hell Yes Biscuit.

There is a Facebook page dedicated to reforming the Fulton Co pound here.

UPDATED: The Word Police are on Duty in Odessa

The police department runs the pound in Odessa, TX.  In October, local rescuers complained that the pound was killing pets who had rescue commitments.  The city issued a press release in response that basically said the rescuers were lying and come on, we’re doing the best we can to get animals the vet care they need and the homes they deserve.

A check on Petfinder reveals the Odessa pound has zero animals listed there today.

This week, a St. Bernard was adopted from the pound and taken to a vet for treatment of a broken leg.  A photograph circulated online showed the dog had suffered in pain for approximately 2 weeks at the pound without treatment prior to adoption.  A local rescuer noted that if a citizen had left a dog to suffer in this condition, he would have been charged with animal cruelty:

CBS 7 sent the city and police a number of questions for the shelter – including asking whether the dog was treated at all and if not, why not?

Neither the city nor the shelter responded to those questions. OPD Cpl. Steve LeSueur says an internal investigation has been launched into the dog’s case.

Screengrab from the KOSA website showing portions of a city document which rescuers are required to sign before saving animals from the Odessa pound

Screengrab from the KOSA website showing portions of a city document which rescuers are required to sign before saving animals from the Odessa pound

The city of Odessa requires rescuers to sign a document that appears to violate their First Amendment rights to free speech.  Any rescuer who wants to save animals from the Odessa pound must promise to never “identify an animal as being “rescued” from City of Odessa Animal Control, nor will any member of the group make disparaging remarks, verbally or in writing, about City of Odessa Animal Control.” Violations will result in the refusal to allow the offending rescue group to save any more lives at the pound.

CBS 7 called and left messages for every city council member, the city attorney and manager. One person called back.

When asked about the language in the document, City Council Member Dean Combs said he had received e-mail complaints about the shelter, but referred further questions to City Manager Richard Morton.

It’s true that it would be misleading to use the word “rescue” when referring to an animal who was living in a safe haven and then was transferred to another safe haven.  But when referring to a facility that leaves severely injured pets to suffer, puts little to no effort into marketing animals for adoption, and kills animals they are supposed to be sheltering, “rescue” is an entirely appropriate word choice.  Plus there’s that whole First Amendment thingy.  But if the Odessa police department really wants to serve as the Word Police, I would suggest they start with “euthanasia” in their own document.

Or they could quit worrying about the word “rescue” entirely and start doing their jobs.  Is there a suggestion box?

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Update, added December 6:  The Odessa police department investigated itself in the matter of the dog left to suffer in pain for 2 weeks at the pound and determined there was no wrongdoing.  Because the pound “is not a hospital”.  So put that in your pipe and smoke it, I guess.

Further, the city manager said that while the contract limiting free speech rights of rescuers is legal, the wording will be changed.

(Thanks Clarice for the update.)

Burlington Co SPCA Picks on Compassionate Elderly Rescuer

Kate Decker is a 68 year old retired public relations executive living in Burlington Co, NJ.  She has two homes on her property – her own (she is a widow) and the one formerly occupied by her parents, who are now deceased.  Over the past 30 years, she has dedicated herself to saving dogs, many of them Pitbull types, who would otherwise have been killed in municipal pounds:

Instead, she said, she trained them to be therapy dogs she takes to nursing homes or to work with the mentally impaired, such as autistic children.

[...]

Decker recalled taking a therapy animal to a nursing home and watching an Alzheimer’s patient talk to the dog, then to her. On the way out, she said, health-care workers were amazed, saying they had never seen the woman speak.

Ms. Decker keeps a couple dozen dogs and works with them daily, along with two assistants, to make sure each animal receives exercise, training, fresh air and quality time with people and other dogs.  The outdoor dog yards are fenced.  The dogs are housed throughout the two heated homes as well as a heated garage on the property.  Her neighbor reports that the dogs are no trouble whatsoever to the neighborhood and that Ms. Decker is devoted to their care.  There are no pet limit laws in the county.  A reporter who recently spent three hours visiting the property observed happy, healthy dogs being well cared for and described the home as “stately”.

You are probably thinking this lady is up for some sort of community service award.  Hold that thought.

In October 2012, the Burlington Co SPCA reportedly received an anonymous complaint about Ms. Decker.  An officer visited her home in response.  Ms. Decker says the officer forced her way inside the house.  Cheryl Mosca, recently appointed deputy chief and treasurer of the county SPCA, says Ms. Decker invited the officer inside but was “not completely cooperative” in allowing a thorough search:

Decker said the officer looked around and asked to see veterinary records. She retrieved the records from another room, and the officer left after reviewing them, she said.

Several days later, Decker said, she noticed that a gold watch given to her by her parents when she was 16 was gone. She filed a theft complaint, alleging the animal welfare officer was the only one who had entered the house between the last time she saw the watch and when it disappeared.

Moorestown police investigated. No charges have been filed.

In December 2012, Cheryl Mosca led a raid on the property after a search warrant was obtained:

Wayne Becker, Decker’s neighbor across the street in Moorestown, said he recalled the day of the raid. He saw several vehicles outside the house and checked whether Decker needed help.

Becker, retired from the Coast Guard, said one of the officers, who was armed, blocked him and ordered him to leave, which he did.

“This was like a military operation, but it did not have the discipline of the military,” Becker said[.]

Ms. Decker states that during the raid, she was prevented from calling anyone or caring for her dogs for five hours.  She says officers threatened to seize and kill her dogs.  She was subsequently charged with 66 counts of animal neglect:

Half of the charges are criminal, half are civil. Authorities allege she failed to keep water in all of the crates, and stacked some crates two high without a barrier between the top and bottom crates.

[...]

Charges against Decker do not include allegations of abuse or that animals were malnourished, dehydrated, or denied veterinary care.

[...]

During the raid, there was a strong animal odor, animal waste in the home, and the house was not clean, Mosca said.

If this seems like petty retaliation and abuse of power to you, you may be on to something:

The county SPCA has a checkered past. An investigation of the enforcement agencies statewide in 2000 found that many, including Burlington’s, did not comply with state and federal regulations.

In Burlington County, the former treasurer was convicted of stealing.

Maybe the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in Burlington Co political circles.

Ms. Decker must face a municipal trial next month and if convicted, could be fined up to $66,000.  She is refusing to give up any of her dogs because she considers them to be family members.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Minneapolis Pound Brings the Hammer Down on Volunteers Saving Pets via Facebook

Screengrab of a dog posting on the Friends of MACC Facebook page

Screengrab of a dog posting on the Friends of MACC Facebook page

A couple of years ago, volunteers at Minneapolis Animal Care and Control started a “Friends of” page on Facebook.  MACC wasn’t promoting its own animals online and some of the volunteers were professional photographers who believed that good photos and descriptions posted on social media could help get more pets out of the pound alive.  Kathy Boyd began volunteering about a year ago after being inspired by the success and community involvement of the FoMACC page.  She and the other volunteers would photograph animals and write up summaries of their observations and interactions with pets at the pound so that potential adopters could get some insight into the animal’s personality.  They also gave all the pets names and answered questions from interested parties.

Since its creation, Ms. Boyd estimates that at least 100 people have adopted or fostered pets from the pound due to the FoMACC page on Facebook.  But even while staff at MACC cooperated by supplying information to volunteers, they also complained.  Ms. Boyd was told that staff did not like the extra effort required of them when potential adopters forgot to to make note of an animal’s ID number and instead inquired about a pet by name.  Staff was also reportedly  annoyed by angry phone calls from compassionate pet lovers after the FoMACC administrators moved a pet’s photo into a category reserved for pets killed by the pound, which was a common occurrence.  MACC has historically tried to hide the killing at its facility, failing to report on any animals it deems “unadoptable”.

Around the beginning of summer 2013, things began to change.  MACC staff stopped cooperating with the volunteers and refused to give them information on what happened to individual animals.  The partnership deteriorated, at the animals’ expense.  On November 2, the volunteer coordinator at MACC, Jeanette Weidermeier, called a meeting of the volunteer photographers which Kathy Boyd attended.  It was announced at this meeting that MACC would be using its own photographers, posting its own photos (using PetHarbor via its website) and from now on staff would no longer be sharing information with the FoMACC Facebook page.  A gag order of sorts was imposed upon the volunteers and they were all required to sign forms acknowledging the change in policy.  Ms. Boyd writes:

So, at the meeting on Saturday, Jeanette passed out print copies of the new procedures. One copy for each person to keep, and one to sign. But I got a different piece of paper. Mine was a memo that said, in effect, “Thank you for graciously offering to step in when we needed photographers… and now we can let you go back to your passion – cuddling cats.”

Feeling distraught by MACC effectively killing a successful form of marketing for its animals as well as humiliated for being kicked to the curb in an open meeting, Ms. Boyd resigned. The FoMACC posted about the meeting on Facebook.

When asked about the situation by a local TV station, MACC issued a statement in response.  It reads, in part:

Our new website features the most accurate, real-time information for all of the adoptable and lost animals at MACC and allows for more animals to be seen online than ever before.

I checked the PetHarbor listings on the MACC website yesterday.  There were 5 dogs and 10 cats available for adoption.  While there were a couple dozen additional animals listed in the stray category, there were also duplicate listings there for some of the adoptable animals.  It’s unclear to me how a facility that takes in roughly 4000 animals a year could find only 15 of them adoptable at this time.  If this is MACC’s idea of allowing more animals to be seen online than ever before, I think their idea is clearly a fail.

Screengrab of a dog listed as adoptable on the MACC website.

Screengrab of a dog listed as adoptable on the MACC website.

Thank you Kathy Boyd for speaking out publicly about MACC’s attempt to stifle the First Amendment rights of volunteers and muzzle anyone telling the truth about the needless killing there.  The volunteers have started a petition asking the city pound to reverse its decision and once again permit them to help save animals’ lives through their Facebook page.

Veterinarian Accuses AZ Shelter of Criminal Neglect

The police department for the city of Bisbee, AZ runs the animal shelter.  In August, local veterinarian Carol Burke submitted an official complaint to city officials detailing what she describes as “a pattern of criminal neglect” at the shelter.  She begins by sharing the story of an arthritic 85 pound dog named Phoebe whom Dr. Burke indicates was impounded by the Bisbee Animal Shelter as a stray on July 11, 2013.  The timeline of events as outlined in Dr. Burke’s complaint:

July 18:  Bisbee Animal Shelter sends Phoebe to a groomer.  Phoebe returns dripping blood from her back and feet.  The groomer advises the shelter that Phoebe has urine scalding down the length of her back (?!?) and recommends an herbal spray for the dog.  The shelter takes no action.

July 22:  Phoebe is seen by a local vet who prescribes an antibiotic for her skin infection.  Volunteers raid another dog’s pain medication and begin administering it to Phoebe without veterinary supervision.  Records are not kept of medications administered.

July 28:  Dr. Burke sees Phoebe for the first time.  She is told the dog has been lethargic since returning from the groomer’s, seemed to be in pain and “was laying on the concrete at the shelter covered with flies.” The fur had not been clipped away from Phoebe’s burns so Dr. Burke got a groomer to do that.

Shaving revealed third degree burns on Phoebe’s back from the nape of her neck to the base of her tail with multiple areas of charred black leather curling up from raw open tissue. This type of burn is caused by heat or caustic chemical and the distribution of lesions on Phoebe was a typical pattern we see when boiling water, candle wax, etc. accidentally spills on the patient or if someone uses a solvent based chemical to clean an animal or “treat” parasites, odor, etc.

Dr. Burke placed Phoebe on an IV and began daily treatment to help her recover.  She noted Phoebe refused to eat but since records of feeding are not kept at the Bisbee Animal Shelter, was unsure if this was new behavior.  Phoebe was in a lot of pain from her burns so possibly her lack of appetite was related to that.

August 1:  Dr. Burke’s concern over Phoebe’s refusal to eat prompts her to take abdominal x-rays which revealed a tumor.  She sends the x-rays to 2 specialists for their opinions and they agree.

August 2:  Dr. Burke euthanizes Phoebe to end her suffering.

Dr. Burke also mentions two other dogs she treated from the Bisbee Animal Shelter. The first was a female Boxer seen in 2012 who had been diagnosed with a leg abscess and put on an antibiotic by a local vet. Dr. Burke describes seeing the dog emerge from the car:

Her entire left foreleg was twice its normal size and she was in such pain the memory still brings tears to my eyes a year later.

Dr. Burke took x-rays which confirmed her suspicion that the dog was suffering from osteosarcoma which had spread to other organs. She euthanized the dog immediately to end her suffering.

The second dog’s story is equally tragic:

The second case was a young male chocolate Pit Bull who had been vomiting for a week. I saw this dog 9/21 /2012. He was in shock from sepsis and dehydration, also in unspeakable pain, and had not one but two blockages from intussusception (a telescoping of the bowel upon itself which occurs with relentless vomiting).

This dog was also put to sleep immediately.

Dr. Burke states that all 3 dogs were brought to her by the same worker who is “apparently the only person affiliated with the shelter with a conscience.”

When reached for comment by a local media outlet who had obtained a copy of her complaint via FOIA, Dr. Burke replied:

I had previously voiced my concerns about the shelter to Sgt. Maddux and sent him a copy of the NHI Shelter Guidelines where I yellow highlighted the paragraph indicating that budgetary constraints did not excuse neglect. I subsequently learned that prior complaints had resulted in punitive action against hard working, dedicated volunteer “whistleblowers.”

Last week, action was finally taken regarding the shelter:

At the request of Bisbee City Manager Steve Pauken, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation into any potential wrongdoing at the Bisbee Animal Shelter after a dog was euthanized.

But before anyone gets too excited:

“There is no imminent danger involved here,” Pauken said Friday, urging patience to allow the sheriff’s office to complete its investigation.

No imminent danger. Just a pattern of criminal neglect, pets needlessly suffering in pain and retaliation against any volunteer who dares speak the truth.  Be patient.  No need for anyone to break a sweat.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Through a Glass, Darkly

A mama dog and her 3 crated pups as seen through the glass on the door to the owner surrender room at the Memphis pound on June 29, 2013.  (photo by Jody Fisher)

A mama dog and her 4 crated pups as seen through the glass on the door to the owner surrender room at the Memphis pound on June 29, 2013. (photo by Jody Fisher)

On Saturday, June 29, Memphis shelter pet advocate Jody Fisher was at MAS trying to help save lives. She saw what appeared to be a healthy, adoptable family of dogs (mama and four pups) being surrendered to the pound. When the dogs didn’t show up on the PetHarbor listings for MAS, she e-mailed the above photo in an inquiry on Monday, July 1st and learned they had all been killed.  None were ever marketed for adoption.  None were listed online or housed in an area accessible by the public.  The only reason anyone outside MAS even knew of the 5 dogs was because Ms. Fisher photographed them through the glass.

The entire healthy, adoptable family was slaughtered while the facility was closed to the public.  They never had a chance.  Their records, obtained via FOIA request, can be viewed here.

On Saturday, July 6, Ms. Fisher returned to MAS to again try to save lives. She found the glass on the door to the owner surrender room had been covered with a garbage bag – the same kind MAS fills with dead pets – so no one could see the pets being surrendered. I guess that’s the punishment for asking questions and trying to save lives. Transparency, anyone?

What cowards do.

What cowards do.

If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it MAS.

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