Federal Agency Attempts to Scare Escambia Co Commissioners Out of TNR

Ford, part of a maintained TNR colony in AL.  (Photo by Aubrie Kavanaugh)

Ford, part of a maintained TNR colony in AL. (Photo by Aubrie Kavanaugh)

Reform at the long troubled pound in Escambia Co Florida is getting some support from county commissioners.  Specifically, the commissioners had planned to discuss the implementation of a TNR program for the community’s feral cats at its July 24 public meeting.  But on July 23, the US Fish and Wildlife Service sent a nastygram to the commissioners, threatening them with jail if they moved forward with TNR.

Instead, the US Fish and Wildlife Service encouraged the county to continue trapping and killing its community’s cats.  Because that’s what the US Fish and Wildlife Service does:  kill animals.  Last year, the agency killed 4 million animals, in addition to mailing out threatening letters I guess.

The Escambia Co TNR ordinance was tabled until the August 14 meeting so that the county attorney could advise commissioners on what to expect in prison their legal options.

Commissioner Grover Robinson seems like he gets it:

“Clearly what we’ve got isn’t working,” the commissioner said. “We’re killing 5,000 cats a year, and it hasn’t made a dent.” He added that whatever concerns conservationists and public health officials had likely would apply regardless of whether the county moved forward with TNR.

“The whole reason we’re considering this is because we believe it will lead to fewer cats in the long term,” Robinson said.

No more calls, I think we have a winner.

If you live in Escambia Co and would like to voice your support for TNR, the commissioners meeting is at 9am on August 14:

Ernie Lee Magaha Governmental Complex, 221 S. Palafox Place

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

TX City Manager Says Pound’s Primary Goal Should Be Killing

The website for Aransas Pass, TX describes the city as a “paradise” and promises a number of ideals, all consistent with a no kill community:

We pledge, through a strong sense of teamwork and customer service, to be respectful of individual dignity and rights, to remain fiscally responsible, to ethically and responsively interact with our citizens, to innovate when addressing community needs, and, in doing all that, be an organization in which we are all proud to serve.

But Aransas Pass isn’t a no kill community.  In fact, city manager Sylvia Carrillo appears to envision an all kill community, in direct contrast to every pledge made in the previous paragraph:

“We have, in the last five years…steered away from our mission. Our mission is animal control, and that is controlling the animal population,” she said. “Which means our primary goal should be euthanization. We have not planned accordingly or budgeted accordingly.”

It turns out that the city’s main ACO, Carol Crockett, had set up a Facebook page on her own initiative to network pets at the pound and was adopting them out. Both of these things are obviously problematic as neither is consistent with the mission: killing animals.

And Ms. Carrillo wants more than dead dogs and cats in her Mountain of Things to Roll Around In:

“We strayed from that (mission) to even the point of not putting down opossums and skunks, releasing them at the collection station,” she added.

Oh math.  I suppose that despicable ACO also intentionally avoided stomping ant hills on her way into the office every day. Mission: Inconsistent.

It sounds like the ACO is some kind of weird person who responds with bizarre answers when asked at a public meeting about why she isn’t killing everything, all the time:

“In a public meeting, that [killing] was brought up, and (Crockett) said, ‘I can’t do that every day. I can’t go home and live with myself.’

She must have one of those Abby Normal brains.

Paradise has a 72 hour holding period and no adoption program so it’s 72 hours then kill because as Ms. Carrillo points out, the pound is “not meant to be doggy hotel or kitty hotel.” Ooh – burn on you, fancypants pet hotels – what with all your high-falutin’ not dead pets and such as. In the real world, we kill pets in need, and that’s best done on an arbitrary schedule:

“[W]e’ve strayed away from euthanization. We’ve strayed away from doing what we’re supposed to do on a daily basis,” she said. “It came to my attention recently that we were doing euthanizations probably once a week. If you think about that, 72 hours, and you plan accordingly, you should be euthanizing at least every other day to keep that population down, so that the facility, number one, is not overcrowded.

If you’re not going to kill every day, which really is ice cream and yay and mission-y, at least kill every other day because come on, not doggy hotel.

ACO Crockett has quit her job. The other ACO is currently getting certified to kill animals and the city is advertising for someone to replace Crockett (don’t everyone apply at once). In the meantime, the city will pay an area vet to kill shelter pets.

Note: If you choose to contact Sylvia Carrillo or anyone else in the city of Aransas Pass, please keep your comments respectful and obviously making threats of any kind is never cool.  Shelter dogs and cats have the right to live and open admission no kill communities are a reality.  We have that on our side.  And that is enough.  

I’ve included links in the first quote in the post to various pages and files illustrating how no kill sheltering is consistent with everything Aransas Pass claims its wants to be.  Please feel welcome to share those links with city officials in case someone there feels like walking the walk.

(Thanks Mike for the link.)

Pets Go Missing After Animal Control Gets Involved

Doozie Bean, as pictured on The Evening Tribune's website.

Doozie Bean, as pictured on The Evening Tribune’s website.

Annie Allison and her family have owned their beloved cat Doozie Bean for 9 years. He’s been missing since May 7, when he was reportedly trapped in a neighbor’s yard by the ACO for Hornell, NY. Prior to setting the traps in the neighbor’s yard, Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan states the ACO was supposed to knock on doors of area homes to alert residents. In addition, any cats trapped are supposed to be held for 5 days in order to give owners a chance to reclaim them. The ACO in this case, Gary Hadsell, appears to have not followed procedures.

After Ms. Allison brought her concerns to Mayor Hogan, the mayor denied any knowledge of traps being set. He says he talked with ACO Hadsell who reportedly admitted losing one of the cats he trapped. The ACO also apparently denied ever trapping Doozie Bean, claiming he has the ability to immediately distinguish feral cats from owned pets based on their behavior in the trap. The article doesn’t say if he also pulls rabbits out of hats or whether he’s available for kiddie birthday parties.

Mayor Hogan says ACO Hadsell has resigned. This too is clear as mud:

When reached for comment on his resignation, Hadsell said, “I don’t believe I did (resign). If you have any questions, call Shawn Hogan.”

Mayor Hogan also says that because of what happened with Doozie Bean, his city is getting out of the trapping business.

In the meantime, Ms. Allison and her family are heartbroken. She continues to search for Doozie Bean, driving around for hours, whistling for him and shaking cat treats out the window.

***

Blue, as depicted in a screengrab from the WREG website.

Blue, as depicted in a screengrab from the WREG website.

In West Memphis, AR a dog named Blue got spooked during a thunderstorm Saturday night and got lost.  A police officer took him to the West Memphis pound.  When Blue’s owner inquired at the pound Sunday, he was relieved to hear his pet was there.  But Blue’s cage was found empty.  Pound director Kerry Sneed says she personally locked the gate on Blue’s cage Saturday night and that it did not appear that he had escaped on his own.

For several hours Sunday morning, Sneed said there was a window of opportunity for people on the property to steal the dog.

Well gee.  Is that the sort of failure that taxpayers in West Memphis are supposed to accept?  What is being done to actually shelter animals from harm once they arrive at the so-called shelter?  Anything?

The owner, George Johnson, continues to walk the streets, calling for Blue.  He has made his e-mail address public in an effort to get any possible leads on the whereabouts of his pet: rjhealthfirst@yahoo.com

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

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.

WA Shelter Director Threatens People Who Use Shelter Services with Prosecution

KEPR in Washington reports that 3 seriously injured dogs were surrendered to the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter within the past week when their owners could not afford to pay for the necessary veterinary care.  When I hear about these types of stories, I am sad for the families who are forced to give up their pets due to financial concerns.  I also feel sad for the animals who, in a time of crisis, are likely confused and possibly depressed as they find themselves suddenly away from home in a strange, stressful environment.  I always hope the shelter has some strategies in place to prevent these types of surrenders whenever possible.

But in cases where that’s not possible, I am thankful the owners cared for the pet to the best of their abilities for as long as they could and when the animal’s needs exceeded their ability to pay, they sought help for the animal. Our shelter system is a safety net for pets who become homeless for whatever reason, regardless of whether their former owner died, became homeless himself or any other circumstance – known or unknown.  This is what shelters are for – to help homeless pets in need, no matter how they became homeless.

This is why I was astonished to read a quote from Tri-Cities Animal Shelter director Angela Zillar implying that the owners who surrendered their injured pets should have killed them:

 “I don’t want to be the person that has to hold a dog while it takes it’s last breath. That’s not my job, that’s not what we’re here for. This is not what we should have to do.”

Right.  But that’s not what the owners should have to do either.  Because these animals have a right to live.  Their owners loved them enough to give them up in order to protect that right.  Serving as a refuge of last resort for animals in need is exactly what you’re there for and what your job is.

Tri-Cities is reportedly getting vet care for the animals but unbelievably, also threatening the owners with prosecution:

Those owners could be facing criminal charges.

[...]

Animal control works with the prosecutor to hold owners accountable for potential charges of animal cruelty, abandonment and theft.

Unless the director has evidence the owners intentionally caused the injuries to these animals, I don’t see how any cruelty charges would be applicable.  Abandonment implies they left the animal tied to a tree in the woods when in fact, the article makes clear the pets were surrendered to the shelter due to an inability to pay for vet care.  Theft, I don’t even know.

Surrendering injured animals to the shelter when the owner can’t afford to pay for vet care and has exhausted all options is what we want people to do.  It’s why shelters exist.  Without that safety net in place, we are driving people to acts of desperation such as abandoning the injured animal in a highly visible location in hopes that a Good Sam will take him in and provide the necessary care.  It does not matter one iota how the pet became homeless, it matters only that he is.  And once he is, it’s your job to help him Angela Zillar.  Full stop.

I wonder how many people in the areas served by the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter have seen this article and now believe if their pet ever becomes injured beyond their ability to pay for care, they need to either kill the animal or do something illegal in order to avoid prosecution by animal control.  I hope local taxpayers contact their elected officials and demand that the shelter director stops threatening the public with prosecution and starts doing her job.

(Thanks Mary for the link.)

Funky Cold Medina Co

At the time public pressure brought by an animal advocate forced the Medina Co pound in Ohio to stop gassing cats, it was believed that the shelter staff did an admirable job caring for dogs.  After all, the facility boasts a 92% live release rate for dogs.  But records obtained via FOIA request appear to show that many of the dogs who were euthanized last year at Medina Co received less than the amount of Fatal Plus indicated on the label.  For example, a 50 pound dog being euthanized by IV injection with Fatal Plus should receive no less than 5 cc according to label instructions.  But many dogs whose weights were recorded as 50 pounds by Medina Co received only 4 cc of Fatal Plus with one 50 pound dog receiving just 3 cc.  Several dogs weighing 60 pounds also received the 4 cc dose.  This is a serious problem according to an animal euthanasia expert in Ohio:

The Medina County animal control officers “need to be relieved of duty pending a thorough investigation of their qualifications and ability to do their jobs,” David Balz, Ohio-certified euthanasia instructor and director of the Wyandot County Humane Society, wrote Thursday in an email to The Plain Dealer. “I would not trust them to work in my shelter, in any capacity, under any circumstances, let alone that of euthanasia technicians.”

The state of Ohio does not specifically require that those qualified to euthanize animals do so only using the dosage on the drug’s label.  (The state of Virginia for example, requires exactly that.)  But Ohio code does include this:

Any agent or employee of an animal shelter performing euthanasia by means of lethal injection shall do so only in a humane and proficient manner that is in conformity with the methods described in division (A) of this section and not in violation of Chapter 959. of the Revised Code.

A humane and proficient manner.  In order to get a qualified opinion, I contacted David Balz myself. I asked him his view on whether using less than the label dosage, such as is evident in the Medina Co shelter’s drug logs, would qualify as performing euthanasia “in a humane and proficient manner”? He replied, in part:

I would say that it is certainly questionable. There is also the issue of using a drug “off label” in other words not following the directions or usage on the bottle. Only a licensed professional can do that. The rest of us have to use things as they are labeled. I may “know” that a particular drug will do something or that a different dosage would do a particular thing, but, not being a MD, DDS, DVM etc, I would not be allowed to do it any way except what is labeled on the bottle.

I also asked Mr. Balz to explain the concerns associated with using too little of a euthanasia drug. His reply, in part:

There are a number of problems associated with “underdosing” when using the drug for euthanasia. The most obvious is that, while the animal may literally go to sleep, it may also wake up. The problems with that are obvious. My worry about the workers in Medina is that if they previously had confusion regarding Intraperitoneal injections on cats and are now having problems with IV dosage calculations, then perhaps they also are not capable of establishing that the animal is dead before disposing of the body.

The other issue with “underdosing” is that at the doses we recommend you are basically “anesthetizing” the animal to the point where the base of the brain shuts down and the animal’s heart and lungs simply stop working – long after total unconsciousness which is the first effect. Picture the human operating room and the doctor asks the patient to start counting backwards from 100 – the doctor injects the drug and the patient says 99………and is unconscious. From that point on the level keeps deepening. Obviously in anesthesia we support the patient, but in the case of euthanasia they rapidly go into coma and then stop completely (at recommended doses they are unconscious in seconds and dead in 1 to 5 minutes). During this process there is an “excitement” phase where the patient/animal may flail about injuring themselves and others. When the animal is underdosed it becomes more likely that this excitement phase will occur or be extended. Thereby potentially being dangerous for the workers.

Public records obtained via FOIA request show that Medina Co shelter director Del Saffle, whose initials appear on all of the underdosed dogs, received training and certification in euthanasia practices in 1995. Although many shelters require their euthanasia technicians to continually update their training and certification, Medina Co apparently does not. Even without recent training, anyone performing euthanasia in an animal shelter should be reading and following the label instructions for the drug being used. No animal shelter employee should be underdosing animals with euthanasia drug under any circumstances.  If there is to be any deviation from the label instructions, it is always recommended to overdose and never to underdose animals being euthanized.

From the HSUS euthanasia reference manual:

Technicians can help minimize the chances of record-keeping errors by rounding up (never down!) to the nearest milliliter[.]
[...]
[R]ounding up and administering slightly more drug than technically needed is perfectly acceptable (it is never acceptable to use less than the label dose).

Medina Co reportedly places euthanized animals into an onsite incinerator.  The implications of the shelter’s practice of routine underdosing of dogs with euthanasia drug are obvious and disturbing.  Why was this practice ever allowed at Medina Co and when will the county put a stop to it?

Cat Drools, NC Vet Gets Frothy

Matthews, NCFamily:  Hi.  Our 2 year old cat has never been been outdoors or even been around another animal.  He seems to be drooling.

Vet:  OK, he probably just got into something he shouldn’t have.  Here’s some medicine.

Family:  Coolio.  By the way, we had him vaccinated when he was a kitten.  Are we supposed to get him a booster shot at some point?

Vet:  RABIES!  Your cat is rabid!  He must die!

Family:  Dude.  You just said -

Vet: This is a hair-on-fire emergency. I’m calling the Health Department.

County Health Department (on phone to Vet):  Too many people have potentially been exposed to rabies from this cat.  Cat must die!

Family:  No see, our cat’s never been outside or been around other animals, like we said.  There’s no risk of rabies here.

Vet:  Rabies Will Robinson!

So the vet killed the family’s pet, cut off his head and sent it to the state lab for rabies testing.  The results were negative.

Drooling is a very common reaction in cats and stems from a wide variety of possible causes.  Some cats drool when they are being pet, for example.  But maybe they are all rabid too.  And the rabies vaccine this cat had received may still have been offering protection anyway – not that he needed it, since he was strictly indoors-only.  But yeah, rabies.  I mean:  RABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And if all the violent hysteria associated with a drooling cat isn’t enough for you, WCNC in Charlotte ends their story with this tidbit:

NBC Charlotte checked with the county and looked over the law. Officials say quarantine was not an option because too many people were potentially exposed to rabies, and rabies is 100-percent fatal.

Why is the number of people potentially exposed even an issue?  The cat didn’t walk across the laps of a stadium full of people between home and the vet’s office, did he?  If the size of this family was smaller, would the cat still be alive today?  And since “rabies is 100% fatal”, which gives the impression that extreme measures must be taken even in highly questionable cases, I guess somebody should let the CDC know they may as well chuck their post-exposure vaccination protocols since everyone is going to die.  No exceptions.  Least of all for cats who drool and their families who love them.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Discussion: Manager Explains Deaths at the Bulloch Co Pound

Georgia – The Bulloch Co pound’s webpage is on the county government website. It indicates the shelter is closed on weekends and describes what appears to be a limited admission status. The local paper, the Statesboro Herald, publishes weekly reports detailing the number of animals handled at the facility. I previously wrote about a 3 week period in Bulloch Co from August 26 – September 15, 2013. Here are the reports in the weeks since that post:

It is unknown how many animals died in their cages, were impounded or were killed during the week of October 14 – 20 since the paper reported the information was “unavailable”. If we exclude that week entirely and include the stats from the previous post on Bulloch Co, we have 8 weeks worth of data from the pound. In the absence of a yearly report, which does not appear on the pound’s website, we can at least gain some insight into how shelter animals fare in Bulloch Co by examining the numbers for these 8 weeks.

For the 8 weeks worth of data collected between August 26 and October 27 at the Bulloch Co pound:

  • Total intake: 420
  • Total killed: 263
  • Total died in cage: 99
  • Live release rate: almost 14%

I have never seen any published data on the number of animals who die in their cages at shelters.  I once asked the director of my local pet killing facility (where 3 out of 4 animals are killed every year) how many pets die in their cages there and she told me it was a “very rare” occurrence. I contacted former shelter director and current No Kill Advocacy Center director Nathan Winograd for some hard numbers:

In Tompkins [County, NY], when I was there, it was just under 1%. When I’ve crunched the numbers, using a database of about 1,100 shelters, the average was 4% (I always thought that was incredibly high) and that included kill shelters which would drive that number up.

While 4% seems very high to me too (I would have thought 1% at most), at least it gives us a number with which to work. In Bulloch Co, the percentage of animals dying in their cages for the 8 weeks worth of recent data published in the Stateboro Herald is approximately 24%. This is 6 times the average calculated by Nathan Winograd. And by any compassionate human being’s account, it’s obviously a staggering figure. Roughly 1 in 4 dogs and cats impounded by the Bulloch Co pound are falling over dead in their cages and less than 14% are getting out alive. And this is happening at a public facility which limits admissions for owner surrenders.

I’ve asked before and I will ask again: What is going on at the shelter in Bulloch Co?  Neither healthy dogs and cats nor those being treated for conditions commonly seen at shelters (coughs, colds, mange, broken limbs, etc.) die in their cages under ordinary circumstances.  It seems only logical to believe that there are an unusually high number of dogs and cats who are being left to suffer to death in their cages at Bulloch Co.   But how and why is this happening?  In the absence of any sensible explanation, my mind started to venture into some very dark places.  So I wrote to the shelter and asked.

I received 2 responses from Bulloch Co pound manager Wendy Ivey.  I have snipped the relevant portions from both e-mails and pasted them below:

Do animals die in their kennels, yes sometimes they do. When an animal becomes unexpectedly sick, which is very common in the Shelter worlds due to not knowing the animals history or previous medical care, unfortunately the passing of the animal can take place in their kennels while staff is not here. Sometimes even while the animal is being medically evaluated and treated, the animal still may pass while in their kennel. This is no different than being in a Veterinary Hospital, under 24 hour staff care and they pass while in their kennels.

[...]

The high numbers of our “died at shelter” are normally within the Feline population. We have disease outbreaks that we encounter often with housing a high number of animals, Feline or Canine. Unfortunately, Bulloch Co. is highly over populated with Felines as we all know. When these cats come into the shelter in large groups or litters, especially feral and ones from within colony’s, it’s common for most of them to come in with upper respiratory infections as well as other forms of contagious diseases amongst cats. We have also in the last 4 months or so, been fighting a new disease to us within cats, known as Feline Parvo. It is much like Canine Parvo, where it hits without warning. Symptoms begin to show and within hours can be fatal and spreads very rapidly. We are still learning this form of disease within the feline population. There is no vaccine to prevent it nor is there a cure when they become stricken with it. Our sick and feral cats that come in are isolated away from our domestic and healthy cats, to help with the disease control process and prevent further spreading to our healthy cats, but is not always a 100% effective. Due to this, unfortunately you have at times a large number of sick cats together at one time. So the number of decease cats from sickness is not uncommon at the shelter, especially during our peak months. During these months, a normal number of cats housed ranges between 85 to 100 cats a day. The high numbers can also be contributed to having litters that come in that no longer have their mother to nurse and are already sickly. We then try to place them with another nursing mother that’s available, but most times those litters don’t make it or the new mother is not accepting of the babies. I could go on and on with other reasons that numbers can be high at times at the shelter but again, being a county wide animal shelter facility, not having a 24 hour staff available as a Veterinary Hospital would, and dealing with approximately over 250 animals a month (not including wildlife and our peak months), it can be difficult to save everything. We do our best to eliminate these situations from happening as much and best we can. It is of no fault or lack of care from our staff or facility. We do the best we can to house these animals and isolate the disease as best we can. I feel our numbers are typical, compared to other shelters. I also do feel it’s hard to say or compare our numbers as being “high” only at the Bulloch Co. Animal Shelter, because most shelters do not even report these numbers of a animal dying at shelter or necessarily keep record of them. Bulloch Co. chooses to give this information openly, because we want the public to be aware of all of it.

What do you think? Do you agree with the manager that having 1 out of 4 animals fall over dead in their cages at the Bulloch Co pound “is of no fault or lack of care from our staff or facility” and that they are doing the best they can?  Should this municipal pound be given some sort of pass for publicly reporting their stats?  What do you make of the manager’s assertion that there is no vaccine to prevent “feline parvo” aka panleukopenia (the P in the routine FVRCP vaccine administered to cats)?

Note:  After I received the second response from Ms. Ivey, I requested the most recent year’s statistics for the Bulloch Co pound. I haven’t yet received a response to that request.  If I do, I will update this post.

Humane Society of New Braunfels Area Claims Puppy is Possessed, Kills Him

From the mission statement page on the website of the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area in Texas:

We house animals for Comal County and the City of New Braunfels.
[...]
Through the ceaseless efforts of our professional staff, our primary goal is to awaken the true humanity and compassion of the citizens in our communities to the needs and rewards of caring for and respecting animals.

It seems like the citizens of Comal Co are good on the humanity and compassion thing. The staff of the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area? Not so much.

Anyone who has ever spent time with puppies will tell you:  puppies bite.  Their baby teeth are needle-like instruments of pain which they wield with reckless disregard.  They bite shoelaces, hair, hands – anything within reach.  And they bite hard.  As soon as their teeth start coming in, the mama dog will start teaching them about bite inhibition.  They also learn from playing with their littermates, often times too aggressively, until someone gets told off.

As compassionate caregivers, it’s our job to take over teaching duties once pups are weaned and ready to begin their lives as pets.  In the absence of a mama dog and littermates to do the telling off, it falls to us to teach the puppy that biting hurts and is not an acceptable behavior.

One of the humane ways we help puppies become good pets is by continually redirecting their bitey behavior and encouraging alternatives:  Here, chew this toy instead of me.  Hey, let’s play ball instead of biting my hands.  And so on.  It seems like these redirections are necessary about a million times before the puppy either catches on or finally stops teething.  It’s part of the deal with puppies and certainly anyone in the animal sheltering business knows this.

But when the the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area got an 11 week old Dachshund-Chihuahua puppy named Baby George, they were apparently aghast that he was bitey.  In fact, they decided he was possessed (yeah, by demons) and killed him for his normal puppy behavior.  Then they posted about it on Facebook:

The Facebook post read: “The pup is now free; free from whatever unknown demons were causing the aggression.”

The shelter’s executive director, Billie Zercher, defended the killing to the local news outlet:

[T]he animal did show aggression to our staff members on a couple of occasions. And because of that, we cannot put it up for adoption.”

I’m sorry, what?  An 11 week old puppy showed “aggression”?  Check.  Normal.  Expected.

But let’s be clear:  Any “aggression” displayed by an 11 week old puppy is simply the offering of a behavior which needs to be modified by the humans in charge so the puppy learns it’s not desirable.  It’s not in any way equivalent to an adult dog who has displayed aggression toward people, undergone extensive behavior modification with trained canine behaviorists and tried veterinary drug treatment but still failed to modify the behavior.  Eleven weeks isn’t long enough to determine whether rehabilitative efforts have been successful in an adult dog with human aggression issues.  Baby George had only been ALIVE for eleven weeks, let alone had any chance to modify his normal puppy behavior.  No judge in the country would have deemed Baby George a threat to public safety and ordered his killing.  But the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area – the very agency which should have been protecting him – did.  And blamed it on demons.

Will the real demons please stand up?

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

What is going on at the shelter in Bulloch Co, GA?

Something new caught my eye this month in my Google Alerts. The Statesboro Herald, a Georgia newspaper, was including weekly statistics from its local animal shelter in a section titled “Police Report”. I’m always interested in looking at shelter stats so I started monitoring these entries. Here is what the paper reported for a 3 week period:

I had never come across the Bulloch Co shelter before so I looked them up online. The facility’s webpage is on the county government’s website. It indicates the shelter is closed on weekends and describes what appears to be a limited admission status:

Sometimes the Shelter may not be opening at the exact normal time due to unforeseen circumstances that may arise with the animals, so we ask that you always call the shelter first before coming. Especially, if you are surrendering in a animal. Even with a new and larger facility, we still fill up very quickly. Each space is on a first come first serve bases, and we keep a high demand for them daily. If we don’t have the space available we can not take the animal in.

Apparently Bulloch Co taxpayers are funding a limited admission animal shelter which is not only killing dogs and cats regularly but has pets falling over dead in their cages at an alarming rate.  Surrenders outnumber strays impounded by ACOs for each of the three weeks chronicled in the above snippets.  So if Bulloch Co is limiting owner surrenders, why are they killing pets?

For this three week period, the Bulloch Co shelter took in 177 dogs and cats, killed 97 of them and saw another 41 (4 dogs and 37 cats) die in their cages.  The live release rate for this three week period was roughly 22%.  What on earth is happening at this LIMITED ADMISSION facility and why are Bulloch Co taxpayers funding this death house?

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