Assistant Dog Warden Under Investigation in Ohio

The Petfinder page for the Gallia Co Animal Shelter in Ohio describes the facility as a “HIGH kill shelter”.  There are 4 pets listed as available for adoption at the time of this post.

On February 14, a group called Friends of Gallia County’s Animals posted on its Facebook page that “11 dogs were euthanized at the pound this morning because the assistant warden couldn’t wait a day for us to clean the facilities from the dogs who are leaving.”  Friends of Gallia County’s Animals appears to be referring to dogs who were pulled for transport to the New England area, where shelter dogs are also killed, for anyone keeping track.

WSAZ reports today that the 11 dogs who were killed were all vaccinated and friendly:

“There are 11 (other) dogs that we can’t help because they’re aggressive,” [Friends of Gallia County's Animals board member Nathan] Weatherholt said. “They’re cat-aggressive, they’re food-aggressive, they’re people-aggressive. He could have picked 11 of those dogs and euthanized any of those 11 dogs. It would have still been tragic and horrible, but it wouldn’t have been the 11 dogs we were looking at.”

Never fall into this trap of saying it would be better to kill shelter dogs who don’t like cats or have some other perceived flaw than to kill animals who fit an arbitrary, subjective standard.  All shelter animals have the right to live.  Full stop.  If you aren’t advocating equally for the least adoptable animals in the place and the white and fluffies, you aren’t advocating.  What you are doing is buying into the culture of killing and bolstering the position that shelter animals have no inherent right to live.

An unnamed member of the Friends group alleges that the assistant warden killed the 11 dogs via heartstick without sedation.  Ohio code states that heartstick may only be used “on a sedated or unconscious animal”. The Gallia Co sheriff is investigating the matter and the assistant dog warden has been reassigned to a different county department while the investigation takes place.

Gallia County Commission President David Smith says the shelter is not a no-kill shelter, and it’s unclear at this point if anything wrong was done.

This is a consequence of maintaining a culture of killing.  If you believe shelter pets are born with the right to live, opt out.

(Thanks Clarice and mikken for the links.)

 

The Tuh Files: There is a Shortage of Dogs in Michigan

In August, Bloomberg ran a piece claiming there were 50,000 stray dogs in Detroit, MI – a claim widely disputed by various animal advocates.  (We talked about it on the blog at the time.)  Michigan Humane Society, which doesn’t hold an animal control contract but functions primarily as a pet killing facility anyway, was not one of the agencies disputing the figure at the time.  In fact, they tried to fundraise off the claim.

Regardless of the what actual number is, Detroit does have stray dogs and they are being killed at a horrifying rate at area animal shelters.  When asked about the ACOs who work in the field, rounding up the city’s stray dogs, AC head Harry Ward told Bloomberg:

“We are really suffering from fatigue, short staffed” and work too much overtime, he said in an interview.

Kristen Huston from All About Animals Rescue talked about the problem of widespread breeding among owned pets allowed to roam the streets of Detroit:

She said many dogs that appear to be abandoned actually have owners who allow them to wander. Those dogs often end up breeding with others, exacerbating the problem.

Daniel Carlisle of Detroit Dog Rescue also addressed the problem of uncontrolled breeding among stray dogs in the city:

“And the warehouses are large doghouses. They’re walking into these places, they’re bedding down in them and they’re mating.”

But while the city ACOs are working overtime to get stray dogs off the streets and into the kill rooms at area shelters, Michigan Humane is importing dogs from TN in a pretty white van with their logo on it, all shined up for the TV news crews.

Because there is a shortage of dogs in Michigan.

Because everyone in Michigan neuters their pets.

And other myths.

From WATE:

“Our centers are not full,” said Erin Campbell with the Michigan Humane Society. “We don’t often have small dogs or puppies. It seems spay and neutering has taken off so that’s why don’t have the puppies that are in the south.”

When a pet killing facility imports shelter animals from out of state, it appears they are doing it for personal profit and/or publicity.  They are obviously not doing it to save animals since they are killing pets they already have.  In the case of Michigan Humane, they are claiming to have empty space while simultaneously asking for donations to help save the supposed 50,000 stray dogs in Detroit.  And driving to Knoxville for more.  Apparently 50,000 dogs don’t stretch as far as they used to.

I hope the next time Michigan Humane sends its shiny logo van to the south to import more dogs into its pet killing facility, the local news will do a piece on displacement killing.  And fraud.  It’s always disappointing when reporters don’t lift the veil on the feel-good stories being fed to them.  All it would take is the tiniest bit of research to uncover the fact that Michigan Humane kills pets instead of saving them while bilking compassionate donors out of millions of dollars.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

An Estimated 1000 Pets Have Been Taken to L.A. Pound by BFAS

I have an update to the Best Friends post from Monday but decided to post it on its own in the interest of transparency, in order to make it as visible as possible to anyone interested.  Jon Dunn from BFAS answered the questions I had previously sent to 3 different BFAS e-mail addresses on 2 separate occasions.  The e-mail response is pasted below, in full, with my questions in regular type and the responses in italics.

My takeaways:

  • BFAS has taken 10-15 animals a week to the East Valley facility since taking over at Mission Hills in January 2012.  If I estimate 12.5 pets per week for 20 months (80 weeks), that works out to about 1000 pets that BFAS has brought to the pound.
  • BFAS does not keep track of what happens to these animals.
  • BFAS does not perform documentation or networking of any pet taken to the pound in order to help get the pet reunited with his owner (if there is one) or get seen by rescues and adopters.
  • BFAS sometimes places a hold on pets they take to the pound but since they don’t keep track, they can’t say how many.
  • Regarding the animals BFAS has pulled from the city shelter, BFAS does not pay fees to the city for these animals.  BFAS neuters and chips these animals themselves.  Some of these pulled pets have been transported to states other than CA.
  • My question, “What has happened to these pulled pets?” does not appear to have been specifically answered.  My reason for asking was to determine how many of the pulled pets may have been adopted, sent to other rescues, returned to the pound, or any other possible outcome.

Jon Dunn’s e-mail response, in full:

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: Grandpa – BFAS LA
From: Jon Dunn
Date: Tue, September 10, 2013 11:18 am
To: Shirley Thistlethwaite <eiderdown@yesbiscuit.com>

How many animals has BFAS taken to the East Valley facility since taking over at Mission Hills?

10-15 animals a week are usually brought in either as strays or owner surrenders to the Mission Hills Center. As you have likely already read elsewhere, it is illegal for us to accept animals from the public either as strays or owner surrenders (per the contract we have with the city of LA, all animals at the Mission Hills Center must come from one of the 6 LA Animal Services shelters). The animals must go to the East Valley shelter where they are held for their required hold times (dependent on microchip, etc.). It is important to note that these animals are never considered as “intake” by Best Friends.

What has happened to each of the animals taken to the city pound by BFAS?

We do not track the outcome of every animal that falls into this category. In some cases, we do put a hold and pull the animal ourselves. In other cases where we see an animal has a particular need served by one of the 65 NKLA coalition members (to whom we pay adoption subsidies), we notify that particular group. In others, one of the 190 LAAS New Hope Partners steps in and pulls the dog (as what happened with Grandpa). Best Friends is a large cog, but certainly not the only cog in the Los Angeles animal welfare system. We are thankful to the other organizations, many of whom we work with very closely, who are also working hard each and every day to contribute to the fantastic drop in shelter killing we’ve seen in LA the last two years.

When taking an animal to the city pound, does BFAS always perform documentation and networking of the pet in order to help get the pet reunited with his owner (if there is one) or get seen by rescues and adopters?

No, as we said above, the animals we re-direct to the East Valley shelter are of indeterminate status and must be held by law for the required hold period. They are never considered Best Friends animals. The hold time / owner reclamation process is wholly owned by the LAAS. Rescue work is full of tough decisions, and Best Friends and other rescues and shelters face them every day. The five million dollars committed to Los Angeles is a lot, but it is not infinite, and as such, we must make decisions on where to put our time and resources.

When taking an animal to the city pound, does BFAS always place a “hold” on the pet so that, if the animal goes unclaimed/unadopted and ends up on the kill list at the pound, BFAS will be notified to pick up the pet?

Not always. We place holds based on the same factors and pet profiles that we employ in pulling animals from the city shelters for the Mission Hills Adoption Center. We take old dogs, young dogs, black dogs, white dogs, “bad” dogs, cute, silly and all breeds including pit bulls and Chihuahuas and everything in between. We try to maintain a mix that reflects the shelter population, so we have around 50% pit bulls at any given time. That also goes for seniors and medical cases. We have a limited number of kennels/cages allotted to medical cases. Since there are always medical cases at the shelters those medical slots are usually full. We welcome anyone to come visit the Mission Hills Center and see the pets for yourself! Of course, our goal is to save as many lives as possible, and to do that right now it means moving animals out of LAAS shelters at the fastest rate possible and placing them in new homes as quickly as possible. It should be noted that in a system as large as LA Animal Services, we do not receive preferential treatment to get “first pick.” We are allowed to place holds at the same time as the rest of the groups.

How many pets has BFAS brought to the city pound and then later rescued via the previously described process?

We don’t track that particular statistic, but since taking over the Mission Hills center, we have pulled 7,075 animals from LAAS shelters. 3,149 animals in 2012, and 3,926 through the end of August 2013. All of the animals in our Mission Hills center are pulled from LAAS shelters.

Regarding the animals BFAS has pulled from the city shelter, what fee has BFAS paid to the city per animal? What has happened to these pulled pets? Have any of them been transported to rescues or adopters in states other than CA?

When we pull animals from LAAS, we do the spay/neuter surgery, and microchip the pets. The $45.50 fee New Hope Partners pay to pull, covers those same services performed by LAAS. So the city waives the fee and the associated services. Since we pull so many shelter animals at a time it would clog the system for the city to provide those services for Best Friends. Also, the operational costs of the Mission Hills Center fall entirely on us. Those costs, and our other operational expenses in LA exceed five million dollars a year. That’s a tremendous amount of value to the city, far beyond the $318,000 in New Hope fees (7,000 animals at $45.50) they have waived since the beginning of 2012.

We do offer a transport program for LA pets, known as Pup My Ride. So far in 2013, 2,011 animals have been taken to other areas. Roughly half of those pets came from LAAS, the rest were pulled from LA County shelters and other local shelters.

Advocates Allege Animal Neglect and Death at Montgomery Co Pound

The Leaf Chronicle reports on a couple of incidents which happened in May at the Montgomery Co pound in Clarksville, TN:

A litter of kittens was found rolling around one of their dead siblings, which had been there for hours if not days. The full litter and their mother had to be put down.

Also in May, a litter of “four puppies were found sitting in the drain covered in fecal matter.”  One of the puppies died.

Local advocates say these are not isolated incidents but part of a pattern of neglect at the pound.  The director, Tim Clifton, defends the pound’s care of pets:

“This is not a 5-star doggy hotel,” Clifton said. “We’re an animal control facility.”

Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers has indicated that she would investigate claims of neglect but stands by Clifton, on the job for the past year, and says he’s improved things greatly.  She specifically notes that the kill rate is down 25% and all 9 full time staffers are now certified to kill animals. Both contend the care provided at the pound is more than adequate.

Volunteers and advocates claim otherwise.  They say that staff hoses down kennels with dogs inside as well as numerous other violations of the county’s animal shelter manual.

One advocate e-mailed Clifton about the dead kitten incident which happened in May.  His response, in its entirety:

“I will not dignify that absurd slanderous lie with a response. If you would like to come down, we will talk about it, or better yet come take some animals,” Clifton wrote[.]

But in fact Clifton acknowledges the kitten did die and the entire family was killed after discovery.  At issue is what volunteers claim they saw:

Shawna Lund, Wendy McKay and Raven Gutierrez, three volunteers, found the dead kitten.

“Raven got Shawna because she noticed there was a really weird smell in the cat room,” McKay said.

The volunteers say the kitten had been dead long enough to go into rigor mortis and expose the other kittens to infection, giving the full litter of kittens a green eye excrement.

“When she pulled it out, the cat was stuck to the edge of the bed, and we literally had to pull him out,” McKay said.

The volunteers tried to clean the eye excrement off of the other kittens, in one case to horrible effect.

“We were putting warm compresses on it,” McKay said. “Shawna kind of rubbed too hard, one of the eyes just exploded out.”

The full litter and its mother had to be put to sleep because of exposure to the dead kitten, which the volunteers say lasted many hours and possibly days, a time span Clifton denies.

Clifton denies the dead kitten was stiff or stuck to the bedding.  He says he watched an employee clean the cage that morning and that cages are cleaned several times throughout the day as well.  And:

“A kitten did die, but it was a brand new litter of kittens,” Clifton said. “Brand new kittens can die.”

No one seems to be advocating for the fact that the surviving kittens and mother had a right to live, which is troubling to me.

The Animal Control Committee has been hearing concerns from local advocates but doesn’t plan to address them in any meaningful way until the October 24 meeting.  Until then, kittens can die, I guess.  Oh and yay for 9 people killing animals at the Not 5 Star Doggy Hotel.

On a side note, I was horrified to see a Facebook posting from the pound in Lee County, SC indicating they were sending 27 dogs to Clarksville, TN.  Rescues there clearly have their hands full already.  How can Clarksville rescue groups justify importing dogs from out of state while pets are suffering and dying at their own pound?

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Chester Co SPCA Described as “Kill Factory” by Former Staffers and Vols

In reviewing the website for the Chester Co SPCA in PA, I see the shelter sells county licenses, conducts cruelty investigations and accepts stray pets. These are often attributes of a taxpayer funded shelter although the Chester Co facility does not indicate whether it is a public or private facility, which is odd.  The reason I was looking is because an article on Philly.com seems to clearly indicate the shelter is funded in part by taxpayers:

The shelter takes in stray animals brought in from the county’s municipalities, and it also has a five-year, $30,000-a-month contract with Delaware County to accept strays from 46 of its municipalities.

As such, it would appear Chester Co SPCA is subject to FOIA requests for their kill numbers.  But Philly.com reports:

The shelter will not share its euthanasia numbers but acknowledges they are climbing.

Hiding the killing is always a bad sign.  Volunteers and staffers are jumping ship with alarming frequency and many have spoken out publicly about the killing at the facility:

[T]he Chester County SPCA shelter has become a “kill factory,” say SPCA volunteers, a former board member, and ex-staff members.

[...]

More than a dozen volunteers have formed a group to push for a change in leadership and more effective programming. They are troubled when dogs are euthanized for what they see as easily corrected behavioral issues or treatable medical problems.

[...]

Volunteers say some cats are taken from the intake counter directly to the euthanasia room.

The Chester Co SPCA recently terminated a program to adopt out cats from pet supply stores, reportedly due to the “hassle” of saving cats’ lives. Some rescues are reporting trouble working with the facility.

The Chester Co SPCA sells puppies for $225 according to its website and Philly.com reports that the shelter has been importing puppies from other states which is unfathomable considering the secret killing taking place there.  A state inspection in May faulted the shelter for failing to obtain the required health certificates on the imported puppies.  Unsanitary cage conditions and pest control problems were also noted.

Board president Conrad Muhly paints critics as a few bad apples:

“I am thrilled with the people that work there. The staff does an excellent job,” Muhly said.

So excellent apparently, that the shelter has to hide the body count from the public.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Caswell Co Pound and Transport

The Caswell Co pound in NC has a website that’s rather, uh – brief.  The reason I looked it up was that a reader sent me two screengrabs from Facebook which allegedly show puppies at the Caswell Co pound just before they were loaded for transport to NJ.  The kennel appears to be wet and a patch of what looks like suds may have washed into the space from beneath the guillotine door.  Were there other dogs on the other side of this kennel and if so, were they healthy?  Is that diarrhea on the floor?  Did these puppies have health certificates for their trip?

If shelters are going to transport vanloads of puppies, it needs to be done legally – that is, in compliance with the laws of every state the dogs are being transported through; and ethically – with attention paid to the health status of the dogs (as well as those they’ve been exposed to) and with careful consideration of the local dogs being displaced by the imports.  I hope Caswell Co is attending to the legal and ethical considerations regarding the transport of any pets.

I used to be more in favor of mass transport for shelter pets but I’ve modified my view in the past couple of years.  There seems to be no shortage of transport horror stories – pets escaping en route, pets getting sick and dying after arrival, pets who don’t sell quickly being killed or warehoused in sub-standard conditions, etc.  Then there is the notion that northern shelters and rescues “need” to import high value pets such as puppies and lapdogs because the ones they have get adopted quickly and all that’s left is big, black mixed breeds, Pitbull types and others who are challenging to adopt out.  This idea goes against the most basic tenet of no kill – that every individual pet has a right to live and that right must be protected.  If some of these importing shelters and rescues won’t put in the hard work to find the right matches for the least adoptable pets in their own communities, who will?

Screencap from Facebook

Screencap from Facebook

Screencap from Facebook

Screencap from Facebook

Pre-Announcement Announcement

I was going to wait until I had more info to share, such as a name and other important items, but I am too happy to wait.  So this is the pre-announcement announcing the arrival of a new beagley family member, who will be announced in more detail in an upcoming announcement.

This little girl was in a catch and kill pound which allows someone in to photograph dogs.  The photographer then sends out an e-mail with the pictures and that e-mail gets forwarded by various pet advocates.  Someone forwarded me the e-mail containing the beagle pic one week ago and with the help of some people I’ve never met, the dog was pulled, fostered and transported to within 90 minutes of me.  I picked her up yesterday.

The ride home.  Those toenails were trimmed shortly after arrival.

The ride home. Those toenails were trimmed shortly after arrival.

Her bones are sticking out, half her tail got left somewhere at some point and she looks generally like she’s been through the wringer.  But she is as gentle and sweet as can be.  She’s been sleeping in one of the beagle beds like she has never slept before in her life.  She’s only gotten up when it’s time to eat or to go out and potty.  We have a vet appointment today for a tune-up and an all points inspection.  You can count on seeing an update on this gal very soon.

Thank you so kindly to everyone who sent me beagles in need.  And of course to those who helped me get this sweet dog home.

***

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. – Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

What is Displacement Killing?

Facilities which kill healthy/treatable pets do so without cause and in spite of clear evidence of proven alternatives such as exist in the dozens of open admission no kill shelters throughout the country.  Pounds may or may not assign a particular “reason” for the killings:  space, illness, injury, too young, etc.  Whether or not a “reason” is provided, there is no justification for killing healthy/treatable shelter pets.  While euthanasia of pets who are medically hopeless and suffering (or dogs deemed dangerous by a qualified party) occurs in all shelters, it is the only time a pet’s life is ended at no kill shelters.  At pet killing facilities, lives are ended regularly based on arbitrary criteria such as date of impound.  This is different from euthanasia and I believe it’s appropriate to call it killing.

There are a growing number of kill shelters who, in an apparent effort to gain positive media attention and bilk unsuspecting donors, have jumped on the import bandwagon.  That is, they “rescue” pets from other kill shelters, often from the southeast, and have them transported to their facilities.  The animals (usually dogs) arrive at their destination and are presumably evaluated for adoption.  If a dog is sick or otherwise deemed unadoptable by the pet killing facility, he may be killed.  This is obviously not a rescue.

But there is a phenomenon, less obvious to the public, but apparent just the same, called displacement killing.  Any facility which kills healthy/treatable pets and then imports more animals from other pounds is guilty of displacement killing.  That is, some of the healthy/treatable animals already at the facility at the time the imports arrive will be displaced and killed.  Again, the facility may or may not provide a “reason” for the killings such as space, etc.

A healthy senior dog whom the kill shelter has failed to market successfully might be displaced by an imported puppy.  The staff might attempt to justify the killing of the older dog by saying things like, “No one wants him because he’s old”, “We’ve kept him a long time already and still no interest from adopters” or “Wouldn’t it be better to use his cage for a puppy who will probably be adopted more quickly and for a higher price?”  This is displacement killing.

A dog with a treatable medical condition such as mange might be displaced by an imported dog with an attractive coat.  The killing of the dog with mange might be explained away as, “Why spend resources on treating a mange dog who will take some time before his coat returns to a healthy appearance which would be appealing to adopters when we are getting this dog whose coat already looks nice?”.  This is displacement killing.

The killing might not correlate directly, one to one, between the existing animals and the imported animals.  It may be a general excuse for killing such as, “We need to weed out all the coughing dogs before the imports arrive so our population doesn’t get them sick” or “Let’s depopulate the large dogs, which we have a disproportionate number of, in order to highlight the small dogs we are importing who we know will be in high demand”.  This is displacement killing.

Displacement killing may be even more vague.  It may simply be a matter of a kill shelter maintaining its live release rate of say, 60% while importing dogs.  This too is displacement killing.  Had the additional animals never been imported and the shelter maintained its 60% live release rate, more lives would have been saved – those of animals already at the facility.  While one could argue that lives were still saved – those of the imported animals – it must be considered that the imports may have been adopted had they been left at their original shelter or might have been rescued by a no kill rescue group or shelter where no displacement would have occurred.

I am all for transporting shelter pets to where they are wanted.  This is how I got Surrey from TN.  But transporting Surrey to my house in SC did not displace any pets since I do not kill animals.  Rather, it freed up a space at the pound where she was on the kill list.  I know there are many other situations where shelter pets can be transported in order to save lives.  But importing additional animals into a facility which already kills pets is counterproductive.

Beagle Run: On the Road Again

Surrey has hit the highway once again.  Next stop:  South Carolina!

Thank you again to everyone who pitched in to save Surrey:  the shelter volunteers, the rescuers, the fosters, the drivers…  All the pieces add up to one barky life saved – plus 9 little barkers who got to be born and will now be looking for homes.

Beagle Run: On the Road

Surrey in transport yesterday, after having a sip of the driver's fancy coffee drink.

Thank yous all around to former foster owner Lori in TN for delivering Surrey to reader Leslie who drove her to an anonymous reader in MS. Surrey will have a layover of several days before she gets back on the road for her trip to SC. Watch this space.

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