Sonoma Co Fires Director Who Implemented Lifesaving Changes at Shelter

Remember that one time we had good news about the Sonoma Co shelter in CA?  Well hold on to that memory like a clip-on koala stuffy because it may be all you get.

Brigid Wasson, the shelter’s director for the past 11 months, was fired without reason by Sonoma Co last week, one month prior to her probationary period being fulfilled.  She describes her termination meeting with the county:

My boss and her assistant came to my office at three in the afternoon, announced their decision, then watched me as I packed my personal belongings and was escorted off the property like a criminal. I was shocked and devastated.

Ms. Wasson, who says she moved to Sonoma Co for this job, is credited by the county with increased rescue placements, establishing social media marketing, improved record keeping and the robust return to owner program for lost pets I blogged about previously.  The bottom line:

The shelter’s live release rate is now at 85 percent, up from 59 percent in 2008, according to the county.

In fact, Ms. Wasson told me she had calculated the year-to-date live release rate at 88% just days before being terminated.  And that she was working on a number of other programs:

  • The community cat program which had already reduced cat euthanasia by 75%
  • The Sonoma County animal related ordinance revision which included bringing the ordinance up to state code (it currently isn’t), adding TNR/cat-friendly language, removing breed-specific language (restrictions to Pit Bull type dogs), and reducing pet limit restrictions
  • An expanded coalition including shelters in our county as well as in neighboring counties.

A Sonoma Co ACO will temporarily run the shelter while the county seeks a permanent director.  The ACO will be the third director in 14 months.  It’s unknown what will happen to the changes and protocols instituted by Ms. Wasson at the shelter.  But the county’s message seems clear enough:  saving the lives of pets at the shelter is not the direction the county wants to go.  What type of applicant will be attracted to the position knowing that the previous director increased lifesaving and was fired by the county?  What will happen to the lost and homeless pets in Sonoma Co going forward?

Dog #267442: Hidden and Illegally Killed by the Memphis Pound

Records obtained via FOIA request indicate dog #267442 was impounded as a stray by Memphis Animal Services on June 10, 2014. She was housed out of sight of the public, in the room reserved for animals being killed:

267442 cage card

MAS was obligated to hold her for the mandatory holding period which would have expired on June 17. Her medical notes indicate she was a generally healthy young dog.

267442 medical

On June 15, an MAS supervisor noted that no one had placed a hold on the dog who had remained hidden from the public since impound. And despite the fact that her owner still had 2 days to claim her, the supervisor noted the dog’s time had expired which appears to be a violation of the stray holding period law.

267442 MAS notes

Never having been made available to the public for adoption, rescue or foster, and not even having been held for the mandatory holding period for an owner to reclaim, MAS killed dog #267442 on June 15 (or June 14, if the date noted by the kill tech is accurate).

267442 cage card back

The first day that MAS would legally have been allowed to kill dog #267442 was June 18. I guess they just couldn’t wait.  Not that anyone WANTS to kill animals, of course.

Sadly, this dog is just one of so many whose right to life has been violently violated by MAS and whose legal right to be held for owner redemption was violated as well. Pound director James Rogers recently wrote:

By all accounts the death of one animal in error is unacceptable and MAS is diligently seeking to be error free.

How’s that working out for you? Ready to try something different? Is doing your job on the menu?

Feds Round Up Geese Families and Gas Them

The next time you see a cat hater spewing misinformation about how cats kill zillions of birds, remind them of the verifiable fact that the US government killed 4 million animals, mostly birds, last year.  That number includes tens of thousands of beautiful Canadian geese.

The government’s only criteria for killing appears to be a complaint from someone/anyone describing the birds as a nuisance.  And the killing is done in the cruelest of ways, as detailed in this recent story from Youngstown, Ohio.

Goslings [Image via Wikipedia]

Goslings [Image via Wikipedia]

Two hundred thirty-eight adult geese and their babies were targeted for extermination at Mill Creek Park.  Wildlife officials waited until June to kill the geese since they are most vulnerable at that time – the goslings are too young to fly and the adults have temporarily lost their ability to fly due to molting.  Unable to escape their killers, these adult and baby geese were herded into a chamber and gassed to death – an agonizing way for animals of any age to die.

Let’s be clear:  these are not fabricated numbers based on junk science like the now debunked cat claims, these are government reported numbers of kills.  All done for convenience in the most horrifying manner imaginable.  And paid for by American taxpayers.  The feds seem to have something in common with local government run “shelters” with regard to convenience killing of animals – and that is not a good thing.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Shelters Must Be Prepared to Help Surrendered Animals Even When Forms Aren’t Completed in Triplicate

Animal advocates have been hearing for years from people who kill animals at shelters that the public is irresponsible, that pet owners are animal dumpers and that death is better for many pets than being adopted out to a home.  We know all those things to be false, obviously.  But among too many shelter workers, there persists a judgmental attitude toward anyone surrendering a pet.  The notion that the surrendering party is trying to do right by the animal by taking him to a place with the words ANIMAL SHELTER on the sign is lost on those who insist on branding these people as trash.

The truth is, no one at an animal shelter knows for sure why a pet is being surrendered.  The surrendering party may relate circumstances regarding the pet that are fabricated, for example.  This might be attributable to the person’s unwillingness to explain his personal circumstances (terminal illness, eviction, domestic abuse, etc.) to a stranger.  The surrendering party may be unable to relate the true circumstances regarding the pet due to mental illness  (e.g. someone who suffers from delusions).  Sometimes people surrendering pets make up stories that they believe will prevent the staff from immediately killing the animal (e.g. claiming an owned pet to be a stray and therefore subject to a mandatory holding period).  The bottom line is that pets can not speak and the person speaking for them may or may not be relating the full and complete history associated with the animal.  Shelter staff absolutely must take this into account when accepting animals.

Beyond this, and regardless of any shelter worker’s personal feelings, staff members must do their jobs.  That is, when you hang out a shingle that says ANIMAL SHELTER and someone brings you an animal in need of shelter, do it.  It would be ideal if every surrendering party complied with all your requests such as scheduling an appointment, completing a surrender form and providing the pet’s vet records.  But in real life, that’s not always going to happen.  Be prepared for it.  Expect it.  Handle it.  Above all, take the animal that is in front of your face.  That animal may be lost, stolen, abused, sick or simply homeless – you don’t know for certain.  The only thing that is 100% verifiable is that someone has brought you the pet and told you there is no one to provide care for him.  Do your job.  Take that animal and shelter him while things get sorted.

Tragically, too many shelters stand on ceremony when it comes to accepting pets being surrendered.  If the surrendering party does not comply with one or more of the required protocols, the shelter attempts to refuse service – a service the staff is being paid by the public to provide.  This leaves the animal completely unprotected, which is the opposite of what the shelter is there to do.

Dog chasing vehicle after failed surrender at Denver Animal Shelter, as shown on TheDenverChannel.com.

Dog chasing vehicle after failed surrender at Denver Animal Shelter, as shown on TheDenverChannel.com.

Last week, a man tried to surrender a dog at the Denver Animal Shelter in CO.  He declined to complete the surrender form and presumably some sort of confrontation occurred, resulting in the man running from the lobby to his vehicle.  He tried to leave the dog in the lobby but the dog got outside and chased after the man’s car.  Witnesses say the man ran over the dog before picking him up.  When the man returned later that day and again attempted to surrender the dog, the shelter staff apparently insisted on the completion of the surrender form which caused a problem and resulted in the man running to his vehicle and the dog chasing after him.  Again.

The Denver Animal Shelter staff appears to have been unprepared to help the dog the first time the man attempted to surrender him.  That’s failure number one.  But for the staff to intentionally initiate a repeat of the failure when the man brought the dog back is positively outrageous.  At that point, the staff knew the dog was in need and knew the man did not want to fill out the form.  Failing to protect the dog a second time after witnessing the disastrous results of their first failure is unacceptable.

It is currently unknown whether the dog is alive.  The man told a local news reporter that he drove to Los Angeles and abandoned the dog on the street.  That’s one of his stories anyway.  Who knows what really happened to the dog?  The only thing we know for sure is that the staff at the Denver Animal Shelter did not help the pet when he was in need – which was their job – twice.  But staff did do one thing – they issued a citation to the man for cruelty and neglect.  He is due in court on July 2.  Yay animal “shelter”.

(Thanks Davyd for the link.)

 

Nashville’s Faux Rescue of 38 Dogs Represents Years of Failure

Bad:  Earlier this month, Metro police in Nashville arrested six people in connection with a drug trafficking investigation.  While raiding the home of Michael A. Davis, one of the six charged, police discovered dozens of chained pitbull type dogs in the yard.  Some of the dogs were emaciated and others had open wounds (photos of the dogs here).  In addition, police found items often associated with dogfighting including canine treadmills, syringes, and a rape rack.  WSMV reports that 38 dogs were transferred to the Nashville pound last Tuesday as a result of the raid.

Worse:  The night of the seizure, five of the “rescued” dogs, all of whom were apparently unsupervised, were involved in a fight which erupted after two of them got loose.  One dog was killed, another was seriously injured and the other three sustained minor injuries.  After the needless death and suffering on the rescuers’ (non-existent) watch, officials decided it might be a good idea to supervise the dogs 24 hours a day.

Worst:  After the seizure, the county “discovered” that people had been begging the Nashville pound to help the dogs chained at the Davis home for years.  As far back as 2010 and as recently as 2013, citizens had been reporting that Davis’s dogs were being neglected and possibly used for fighting.  The county was “concerned with the lack of documentation of these complaints” and will investigate itself in the matter.  In the meantime, two of the pound’s ACOs are being paid to not work during the investigation.

This waggy dog, shown on the Nashville.gov website, appears to be in decent shape, unlike some of the other dogs seized by law enforcement in the raid.

This waggy dog, shown on the Nashville.gov website, appears to be in decent shape, unlike some of the other dogs seized by law enforcement in the raid.

It sounds as if these dogs could have been rescued – for real, not the fake kind where they end up dead and injured the night they get “saved” – years ago if the Nashville pound had been doing its job.  Unfortunately, Nashville has long considered its “job” to be killing and if the dogs had been rescued in response to the previous complaints, they likely would have been killed under Nashville’s only recently modified Kill Them All pitbull policy.  Tragically, this way too late botched rescue is probably the best these abuse victims could hope for in Nashville.

(Thanks Karen and Clarice for the links.)

TN Pound Neglects Animals, Mayor Calls It “Good Care”

A woman says she went to the Smithville pound in TN last week during normal work hours to find the placed locked and no employees on site. Even more disturbing, she says a dead dog and a litter of living puppies were in the parking lot. Local animal advocates are calling upon the mayor to at least staff the facility during open hours and/or allow volunteers to care for the pets. But the mayor gots explanations:

Mayor Jimmy Poss of Smithville said the shelter only has one full time and one part-time employee, who had both called in sick Thursday.

An animal rescue group in Dekalb County is calling for more employees or volunteers to work at the shelter, but the Mayor said that’s extra help the shelter doesn’t need right now.

See? Yeah, me neither. But everyone can quit worrying about the animals left in the pound unattended, presumably without food or water, laying in their own waste, suffering from who knows what conditions.  And definitely no one needs to be concerned about the dead dog found outside the pound or the litter of pups running in the road. Because explanations:

Poss said even with budget constraints, the Animal Shelter takes good care of the dogs they have, even though some may be delivered to them sick.

I see what you did there. That whole irresponsible-public-is-to-blame thing. Smooth.

Mercifully, the irresponsible public stepped up and all the wandering pups are now in foster homes.  That’s what I call “good care”.  That thing the Smithville pound is doing?  That’s neglect, cruelty and fraud against taxpayers to my mind.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

#DeadDogLulz in Maricopa Co

As we are so often told about people who work in pet killing facilities:  Nobody WANTS to kill animals.  But apparently when they do get to kill them, it’s too fun not to gloat about it on social media.

A Maricopa Co dog called Mickey was reportedly minding his own business in his fenced backyard one day last month when someone let their 4 year old child wander into the yard.  When the child took Mickey’s bone, the dog bit the child in the face causing a severe injury.  Mickey was seized by the Maricopa Co pound and his family is fighting in court to keep him alive.

A Facebook group in support of saving Mickey’s life has more than 32,000 likes.  Vanessa Martinez, a Maricopa Co pound employee, visited the page and taunted those hoping to save Mickey:

“This is stupid… you guys doing all of this won’t help any. He’s going night night.”

Ooh, burn.

The pound’s director has defended Ms. Martinez’s comments as free speech.

A judge is scheduled to make a determination on Mickey’s fate by March 13.

A spokesperson for MCACC says Martinez is still employed. A petition is circulating on the Internet calling for Martinez to be terminated.

That petition and 5 pennies will get you a nickel and someone who likes killing animals.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

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.

How Would Your Pet Fare If Impounded by Putnam County Animal Services?

The sheriff’s office runs the pound in Putnam Co, Florida. The website states “the shelter is on N Highway 17, at the landfill.”

I reached out to the sheriff’s office for comment after seeing this photo posted on Facebook:

Photo posted on  Facebook of a sign at the Putnam Co pound in Florida

Photo posted on
Facebook of a sign purportedly displayed at the Putnam Co pound in Florida

I haven’t yet received a response from the sheriff’s office but if I do, I will update this post.

In researching this facility, I found… enablers!

Facebook posting in which a member of the public advocates for the lives of pets at the Putnam Co pound and gets swatted down by their "Friends".

Facebook posting in which a member of the public advocates for the lives of pets at the Putnam Co pound and gets swatted down by their “Friends”.

We so often hear from killing apologists that “Nobody wants to kill animals.” Since it is impossible to accurately assess temperament in ANY dog or cat upon impound at a shelter, the sign at top is instructing pound employees to ignore standard protocols, pretend to assess all animals upon impound and then, based upon the false assessment, kill all “feral” and “aggressive” animals whom the state does not mandate be held. And their “Friends” blame the public for the killing – the very people they demand rescue, donate and adopt from the shelter.

These people want to kill animals.  Or to put it more accurately, these people really want to kill animals.

How would you expect your pet(s) to score in an assessment administered immediately upon impound at a pet killing facility by people who want to kill animals?  I imagine most of mine would fail.  In which case I’d be relying on the state of Florida statute requiring a mandatory stray holding period to save their lives.  Assuming someone didn’t trap and falsely “owner surrender” my lost pet or that no one at Putnam Co put an X in the wrong box somewhere or DOT DOT DOT.  Gee, it seems like evaluation and killing upon impound is not the swell idea it’s made out to be.  I don’t suppose anyone in Putnam Co would be interested in scrapping that plan in favor of doing their jobs to shelter animals?

(Thanks Bonnie for the link to this photo.)

Shelter Pet of the Day: Kentucky

Added, 10-30-13: Readers Clarice and db have offered to donate to whoever helps Bo.

***

Bo, as pictured on the Petfinder website.  He is at the Franklin Co Humane Society in Frankfort KY

Bo, as pictured on the Petfinder website. He is at the Franklin Co Humane Society in Frankfort KY.

Today I received a note from a reader, asking me to feature a dog at the Franklin Co Humane Society in Kentucky on the blog as he is going to be killed on Friday and the reader really wanted to help find him an adopter or rescuer.  I needed to verify the information about the dog being scheduled for killing on Friday so I wrote to the contact e-mail address provided.

From: Shirley Thistlethwaite
Date: Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 11:47 AM
Subject: Jeanine
To: rescuebrigade@gmail.com

http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/24090302

I am planning to feature this dog on my blog today, per a request from a reader.  Are you affiliated with the facility that is housing this dog?  I am trying to confirm information I was given – that he is on the kill list for Friday.  I only want to include accurate info in my post.

Thank you,

Shirley Thistlethwaite

***

From: Jeanine <rescuebrigade@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 11:53 AM
Subject: Re: Jeanine
To: Shirley Thistlethwaite

I am the shelter’s Rescue Coordinator and yes he is on the list however my shelter manager will not allow our animals to be posted online with a euth notice because of the negative feedback the shelter receives.  The staff does not have time for harassing calls and emails.  Please stress the he has been in and out of our shelter for over a year and time is of the essence but do not use the word euthanasia or give a date.  Give my email address as the contact and I’ll expedite any interest in him.  Thanks.

***

From:Shirley Thistlethwaite
Date: Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Subject: Re: Jeanine
To: Jeanine <rescuebrigade@gmail.com>

Thank you for the information Jeanine.  If he’s on the kill list for Friday, I’ll be saying so.  I don’t play fancy dress up with people who kill pets.  Facts are facts.  I get them and I tell them.  I will be happy to include your e-mail address as a contact.

***

From: Jeanine <rescuebrigade@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Re: Jeanine
To: Shirley Thistlethwaite

We are a county open admission shelter taking in thousands of animals a year and people don’t understand the lack of resources and shelter space so thanks but no thanks. Do not post our shelter dog.

***

Shorter:  We’d rather put a dog in the dumpster than have someone tell the truth about the killing we do here at Franklin Co.

In order to get to know the Franklin Co Humane Society a little better, I visited the group’s website.  FCHS has a report posted there indicating its live release rate for January through August 2013 was 75%. The most recent board meeting minutes posted on the site are from July 2013. A few snippets:

This year the shelter alone (without the thrift store) essentially broke even. We have income exceeding expenses by $69,076 for the 12 months ending in June. [...] Assets went up from $340,000 to $470,000. Sam noted this was a good turnaround we should be happy about.

[...]

August 24 – Microchip and license sales at Petco from 11 ‐ 2. Lauren will attend with a volunteer to help with this endeavor. Normal cost is $25 but will only charge $20 (cost is $10 so there will be a profit).

[...]

Upon recommendation by the Evaluation Committee, a motion to approve a 3% raise for [shelter manager] Nancy Benton retroactive to July 1, 2013 was made by Ray Smith, seconded by John Hibbard. Motion approved by all except Linda Thomas opposed. Motion carried.

Shorter:  Income exceeding expenses, selling microchips at a 100% markup, give the manager a raise.

But I guess I don’t understand about “the lack of resources” at this profitable facility where the staff is going to kill Bo instead of doing their jobs.

If you are interested in helping Bo, please read his particulars then contact the Franklin Co HS.  Oh and I wouldn’t mention that you saw him here.  Not that anyone who works in a shelter would kill an animal out of spite but you know, negative feedback and resources and stuff.  Let us know if you need help.

Franklin County Humane Society
1041 Kentucky Ave
Frankfort, KY 40601
502-875-7297
contact.fchsky@gmail.com

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