February 18, 2013
I try to approach all shelter stories with an open mind. I tend to form opinions as I learn the facts being reported. But what’s happening with the shelter in Douglas Co, GA is just weird.
In November 2012, the county hired Rick Smith as AC director. He had previously managed the shelter for the city of St. Joseph, Missouri. Since he took over Douglas Co, the shelter director and kennel supervisor have quit and a local HS has terminated its relationship with the county. A third employee resigned for “personal reasons” and there are currently 5 vacancies at the shelter. Carl Pyrdum, a vocal critic of Mr. Smith, has been removed from the AC advisory board. Anyone wanting to volunteer now must report directly to Mr. Smith’s wife. The hours the shelter is open to the public have been reduced (there are no morning hours at all). Cage space for cats has also been reduced.
On the face of it, none of this sounds good. Especially given that the county says its kill rate for 2012 was 16%. While this is not no kill, which should be the goal of every shelter, it is a relatively low kill rate for the region and would seem to indicate the existing personnel, volunteers and rescues were doing at least some things right. So driving them away would not appear to be conducive to progress.
In what comes across as a very unprofessional document, the county posted this lengthy response to shelter critics on its website. The response serves to answer allegations being made by critics of Mr. Smith and to marginalize certain individuals.
In response to the kill list no longer being made public, the county says:
Due to the resignations of staff members whose responsibility it was to develop the “in danger” list, it was not produced for a couple of weeks. The “in danger” list is now being posted weekly on the Animal Control Department page of the Douglas County web site, http://www.CelebrateDouglasCounty.com, and on the Animal Control Department’s facebook page with allowances and encouragement for ”sharing”.
I haven’t checked the FB page but did check the website listed and was unable to locate any animal list. As an aside, I am not sure whose bright idea it was to post a kill list on a website called “Celebrate Douglas Co”, but no one asked me.
On the subject of feral cats being locked away from the public and killed, the county says that “feral cats are wild and can attack”. This statement is misleading at best. Feral cats have a right to live. They “can attack” rodents to be sure, but the wording gives the impression they are a threat to public safety, which is false.
The county gets personal with its criticisms:
Due in part to the unstructured management and operation of the Animal Shelter prior to Director Smith’s arrival, there are individuals who no longer have “their way” at the Shelter. Two were the employees who resigned; others are volunteers; one was a member of the ACAB, Mr. Carl Pyrdum, Jr.
Mr. Pyrdum openly challenged Director Smith after his employment and the County because Mr. Pyrdum no longer could have “his way” at the Shelter.
He is openly hostile and has been threatening to Director Smith, other employees, other members of the ACAB, and to the public who support the changes. In addition, Mr. Pyrdum has solicited local businesses and animal welfare agencies to stop supporting the County and its Animal Shelter and to instead support his personal efforts. Mr. Pyrdum’s efforts, were they to be successful, would hurt the animals by increasing the euthanasia rate.
I am not even sure how to interpret this. The county appears to contend that Mr. Pyrdum is threatening a number of people, including random members of the public, and that he is striving to increase killing at the shelter.
Mr. Pyrdum is a former law enforcement officer with the City of Atlanta Police Department who regularly relates to others that he carries a pistol and is not afraid to use it. He has posted videos on his blog opposing City of Atlanta policies.
Mr. Pyrdum has posted on numerous Internet blogs and other social media petitions and information in an effort to have Director Smith fired.
Does it seem to you as if the county is attempting to paint Mr. Pyrdum as some sort of anti-government gun nut on a personal mission to get Mr. Smith fired so more pets can be killed at the pound? That’s what I get out of it. And I don’t understand it at all.
Does anyone know anything more on what’s happening in Douglas Co?
(Thanks Clarice for sending me links on this story.)
November 13, 2012
DeAnna Douglas used to be the vet for Chatham AC in GA. She pulled her DEA license from the facility and quit in September 2012, apparently because the staff was allowing pregnant mama dogs to whelp their litters instead of killing them, she couldn’t get anyone on board with her Kill All The Pitbulls plan of shelter management and various other concerns. She removed from the pound all the controlled substances which had been purchased under her DEA license. In addition, she took away the drugs used in the ACOs’ tranquilizer guns so they currently lack the ability to tranquilize a potentially dangerous animal in the field.
I am guessing that it takes a fair amount of time for the pound to get a new vet and get that vet’s DEA license registered with the state. I say this because the pets at Chatham AC are currently being killed under circumstances dictated by Dr. Douglas, according to the chief of police. Specifically, the director, staff members and ACOs “are forced to label, load in a pickup truck” and drive pets over to the vet clinic operated by Dr. Douglas. The tranquilized animals are then laid out on the lawn in front of the clinic in full view of the public, killed and bagged. These are Dr. Douglas’ requirements for the pound’s use of the Fatal Plus purchased under her DEA number.
It’s good to know Dr. Douglas is carrying the “It’s my ball and I’m going home!” banner for the veterinary profession. I was afraid there was no one over the age of 9 still championing this noble cause.
For local pet owners looking for a vet, why not try Dr. Douglas? Maybe after you get done explaining to your kid in the car how her precious Fluffy is only going for a vaccination and will be fine, you can tackle the, “Mommy, why are all those sleeping dogs on the grass being tied up in garbage bags?” issue. And don’t forget: Nobody wants to kill animals or be a psycho control freak ordering the killing of homeless pets as a public spectacle.
A couple of vets are putting together some written protocols for the pound based on the Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ published guidelines. God but I hope Dr. Douglas isn’t one of the two.
October 30, 2012
The Humane League of Lancaster County in PA will cancel its 8 municipal animal control contracts in the upcoming months and begin operating as a limited admission no kill shelter in February. Critics are concerned that municipalities aren’t being given sufficient time to secure new AC services. Connie Kondravy, co-founder of the Organization for Responsible Care of Animals, has some additional concerns as well:
- “Animals running in the streets”
- “Pet overpopulation”
- “I’ve been in this business 30 years, and I never thought I’d see this day.”
- The Humane League is going to become a “little boutique shelter.”
- “[P]eople are just going to be dumping animals right and left.”
- “It’s absolutely insane.”
And speaking of absolutely insane, Ms. Condravy warns that someone needs to “step up to the plate” because:
“When you have a no-kill shelter, someone else is going to have to kill.”
Right. Because killing pets is the one and only plan that could ever exist in any realm of possibility. Never mind the fact that there are dozens of open admission no kill shelters all over the country. Never mind that killing shelter pets hasn’t solved anything anywhere ever. Because it’s easier not to do the research or the hard work of saving pets and simply blather on about animals running in the streets. A brilliant plan with no drawbacks. Unless you’re a shelter pet of course.
(Thank you Jan for sending me this link.)
August 30, 2012
When an alligator turned up 1 mile away from the nearest body of water in the parking lot of a store in West Ashley, SC, Charleston AC came to save the day. And by “save the day”, I mean: Snare the gator in a chokepole, drag and lift him by said chokepole and place him in an open wire cage directly next to some poor dog the ACO already had on the truck.
It’s all on video (including plenty of ACO asscrack, in case you are watching at work). It makes me wonder what handling technique this guy used to get the dog into his cage.
(Thanks Liz for sending me this story.)
August 18, 2012
Volunteers in the town of Von Ormy, Texas were reportedly operating a no kill animal shelter. (I could not find any statistics posted online to verify the no kill claim so if anyone has additional info, please leave a comment.) Earlier this week, the city council voted to suspend its animal control program:
The town of Von Ormy has a $4,000 budget for animal control, and for the past two years they have had volunteers work as officers for no pay.
Michael Suarez, Von Ormy animal control officer said, “Last night the Von Ormy City Council voted 3 to 2 to eliminate animal control.”
At issue – and I had to re-read this article (as well as the one linked above) several times to make sure I was understanding it correctly – were low cost vaccination clinics offered by the non-profit which Mr. Suarez operates called Hope for Dogs. One member of the city council questioned whether the vaccines being used at the events were purchased by the city, with the profits going into the Hope for Dogs bank account. Von Ormy mayor Art Martinez de Vara ordered an audit and found no discrepancies:
He said audits showed that there were more shots used than the city actually paid for and that Suarez’s receipts showed that he was buying 3 to 4 times more inoculations than the city, paying for them out of his own pocket.
So an internal audit showed the volunteer ACO was personally buying 3 to 4 times the number of vaccines as the city in order to get the community’s pets vaccinated at his low cost shot clinics. And to express its thanks, the city council showed him the door.
The city is currently without animal control services.
July 22, 2012
When this photo of a cat in Orange Co, FL was posted on Facebook, some people complained about it and others offered to help. I snipped out some of the comments to give you the gist of the overall discussion. (Click any image to enlarge it.) I don’t know what happened to the cat but if this was the only group advocating for him, I imagine he’s in the landfill.
January 26, 2012
…and into the Fire of Stupid. I recently blogged about the pound in Jackson Co Oregon where they sometimes kill microchipped pets. One of those pets was a cat named Max, whom the shelter deemed aggressive while in the trap, and killed. This was an easily preventable tragedy and can be prevented from ever happening again: Jackson Co must check ALL PETS for microchips, regardless of the pet’s behavior. They must contact owners of microchipped pets and post them online so that owners can find them. Further, they must cease impounding feral cats.
But at a recent Animal Control Advisory Committee meeting, these items didn’t get much attention. Instead, misinformed attendees clamored for mandatory spay-neuter (MSN) laws and even tossed in some wildly misleading (and I’m being generous here) information:
More than 32 states have mandatory spay/neuter laws, with a minimum requirement that all animals adopted from a shelter be spayed or neutered, said Lisa Frost, an Ashland attorney and shelter volunteer.
Frost urged the committee to move forward in implementing a mandatory spay/neuter program to help curb pet overpopulation and reduce the numbers of feral, stray and abandoned animals who are euthanized.
Where to begin? There is no such thing as pet overpopulation. The danger to community pets in this country lies primarily with the agencies designated to protect them which are instead killing them.
MSN does not reduce/eliminate shelter pet killing and it’s failed everywhere it’s been enacted. Some examples:
- The city of Los Angeles enacted MSN in 2008 and after the first year, shelter intake and killings were up. Killings increased after the second year as well. The third year was yet another failure.
- Intakes and killings increased in Las Vegas after the city enacted MSN in 2010.
- When CA was considering statewide MSN legislation in 2007, the past president of the California Veterinary Medical Association wrote a lengthy letter to the Board detailing his opposition.
- Killings and costs both went up in King Co, WA after MSN was passed in 1992.
As a result, most every major animal welfare group in the country opposes MSN. That list includes:
- The No Kill Advocacy Center explains “Why Punitive Legislation Fails”
- Alley Cat Allies points out that MSN does not reach most intact cats
- “Best Friends does not support mandatory spay-neuter legislation as a method of pet population control.”
- The “ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence demonstrating a statistically significant enhancement in the reduction of shelter intake or euthanasia as a result of the implementation of a mandatory spay/neuter law.”
- The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes MSN.
32 states do not have statewide MSN as the article leads the reader to believe. In fact no states have statewide MSN. There are various cities and counties around the country which have enacted MSN but they have all failed. All.
To be clear, MSN is completely different than requiring shelter pets to be neutered. The article makes it seem as if the two are related. They are not.
Also during the meeting, another resident told how her cat Max (incredibly, a different cat) had also been trapped by a cat hater, brought to the pound, deemed agggressive and killed before she could find him.
More mess o’ stupid:
There is no county ordinance forbidding cats to be “at large,” said Colleen Macuk, shelter director. But owners are responsible for their animals’ actions. It is also legal for others to bait and trap “nuisance” cats and take them to the county shelter. In fact, it is required that trapped cats be taken to the shelter to prevent the possibility of animal abuse, said Macuk.
“We don’t turn them away because of the alternative,” Macuk said.
Well gee, I wish you would turn them away. Because the alternative is that they might, ya know - live. (It’s just this little thing I’m fond of.)
The director explained that Max (the recently killed cat) was deemed aggressive while in the trap so they stuck him with a needle on the end of a pole to kill him. He was never checked for a microchip.
With the county’s resources, wild and aggressive cats cannot be safely or humanely held to perform this task [of checking for chips] without putting staff at risk of bites or scratches or injury to the cat, Macuk said.
Heaven forfend the poor cat might get injured. Better to go straight for the kill stick.
Adding to the problem is the lack of manufacturer uniformity regarding chips and scanners. The shelter has two scanners, which are capable of reading all but two types of chips, she said.
Gee, all but two. That sounds… inadequate.
In 2011, the shelter received 2,883 cats. Only eight were microchipped, Macuk said.
Well but – how do you know, right? I mean, you’re not checking them all so maybe 8 had chips or maybe 800 did. Or maybe 2800. Nobody knows.
“One thing we’ve committed to is that we’re going to scan them all after they’ve been euthanized,” Macuk said, referring to cats that were deemed unsafe for staff to handle.
An excellent plan with only one possible drawback…
August 10, 2011
The reader who sent this MAS webcam grab cropped it but indicated it was in the isolation area at about 1635 today and that the incident went on for longer than this one shot. The reader reports observing the brown dog on a chokepole.
As far as I can tell via the webcams, the only entrance to this isolation area is at the far end of the room, opposite of where this encounter is taking place. There is no entrance at this end of the room. Therefore, I don’t see how this could possibly have been one worker “surprising” another by coming around a corner.
Which category will this one fall under – Isolated incident? We don’t know what happened the second before and the second after? You are not seeing what you are seeing? Whatever the inevitable justification from MAS might be, it looks concerning to me. What do you think is going on here?
Added, August 11: Nathan Winograd weighs in on the photo here.
The Commercial Appeal reports the city is investigating.
July 8, 2011
A reader sent in this FB posting:
If MAS really wants to find a home in the next 2 days for this pair of elderly cats who need to stay together, can’t they like GIVE THEM AWAY? What the hell is with the $50 fee? I mean, since the alternative is KILLING, I do not understand why they wouldn’t offer these cats for free. If they feel the need to charge for the chips, I say forget the chips. Christ on a pony, these pets are F I F T E E N years old and you’re going to kill them if someone doesn’t adopt them together in the next 2 days. Did Common Sense run screaming for the exit at MAS immediately after Compassion hit the road?
October 5, 2010
I talk a lot on this blog about holding public shelters accountable. Like most of our taxpayer funded services, shelter workers would be my heroes if they just did their jobs. Anything above and beyond the call of duty – I’d worship them as gods! Firefighters are another taxpayer funded group who get to be heroes simply by doing their jobs. I truly do appreciate all of the public services we often take for granted in this country – clean drinking water, education, roads, etc.
Unfortunately for the people of Obion Co, TN, they do not have a taxpayer funded fire department. Perhaps some people there – the types who are always complaining about paying taxes – think that’s a good thing since it’s one less tax. The fire department for the city of South Fulton offers service to rural residents in Obion Co for an annual fee of $75.
Gene Cranick’s family lives in Obion Co. When his grandson was burning trash last week, the fire got out of control. Mr. Cranick called 911 but was informed he had forgotten to pay his annual $75 fee and as such, wasn’t on “the list”. Mr. Cranick offered to pay any amount of money required to get the firefighters to come to his home. Nope.
Eventually the fire spread to his neighbor’s property. His neighbor had sent in the $75 fee so the South Fulton fire department came and doused the flames that had leapt into the neighbor’s yard. When they were finished, they stood around, watching the Cranick family home burn to the ground and presumably hearing the 4 pets inside being burned alive.
“They could have been saved if they had put water on it, but they didn’t do it,” Cranick told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann.
The city of South Fulton stands by the actions of the firefighters:
South Fulton’s mayor said that the fire department can’t let homeowners pay the fee on the spot, because the only people who would pay would be those whose homes are on fire.
Fair point. Except we’re not talking about something less than a family’s home, all their worldly possessions, and 4 beloved – living, breathing – pets. How could this have happened?
Last month, I did some grocery shopping, packed up my car with the bags and found it wouldn’t start. I was stranded. Although I would have liked to have renewed my old AAA membership when it expired several years ago, it just hasn’t worked out financially. I called them that day and asked if I could renew. They said sure and asked if I needed service that day. If so, there would be an extra $40 fee in addition to the membership renewal fee. That seems fair. Couldn’t the South Fulton fire department offer something like that? I mean, we’re talking about a family home with pets inside burning to the ground. Hullo! Where is the love? Is this how Americans treat each other now?
Let’s be clear: Firefighters were on the scene of the Cranick family home with means to put out the fire and prevent the 4 pets inside from burning to death. They did nothing. Over an unpaid $75 fee.
Afterwards, Mr. Cranick’s son was arrested for assaulting the fire chief at the firehouse.