AL Shelter Volunteers Charged with Animal Cruelty

Two young women in AL, described as volunteers at the Walker Co pound, have been arrested and charged with 23 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty each.  The charges stem from a report made to police by one of the volunteers’ family members, with whom she lived.  The family member told police there were dozens of live dogs at his home, all brought there from the pound by the volunteer, and approximately 50 dead dogs in trash bags on an adjacent property.  Authorities seized 23 dogs from the home and killed 7 of them due to their medical conditions.  The women have not been charged in connection with the dead dogs and are currently jailed on a $6900 bond each.

There are two additional news clips on the story here.

I tried searching online to find what, if any, connection exists between the current Walker Co pound and the now defunct Walker Co HS but was unable to find any information.

(Thanks Clarice for these links.)

Update on Abandoned Pets at Walker Co Humane Society

The man depicted in a YouTube video abandoning puppies at the Walker Co Humane Society has come forward to take responsibility for his actions.  He visited the WCHS and explained that he had found the pups abandoned at his church on a Sunday morning.  He took them home for the night and on his way to work late Monday afternoon, brought them to the shelter, which was closed.  His friends and family have reacted negatively to his actions and he feels bad about what he did.  He made a donation to the shelter.

[Shelter director Lane] Reno said one reason she posted the video of Monday’s incident was to educate the public about how frequently animals are abandoned at the humane society.

[...]

Reno said a nighttime drop-off has not worked in the past because incompatible animals were sometimes placed in the same cage and the staff also wants some history on animals that come into their care.

Well sure.  It would be ideal if everyone obeyed the law, didn’t abandon pets at shelters (or anywhere) and provided a complete case history when surrendering them.  But reality is that people do leave pets at this shelter after hours.  Almost daily.  And those pets have no safe place to stay.

Certainly drop boxes carry a risk that incompatible animals might be placed in the same cage.  But if given a choice between the possibility of that happening and the reality of pets being abandoned daily without safe confinement, I’d choose the drop boxes.  And perhaps more than you’ve put out in past, so as to minimize the risk of the cage already holding a pet when another person decides to place a pet inside as well.

“People bring animals by here all the time at all hours of the night. I just don’t want them to do that,” Reno said.

Right – You.  Don’t.  Want.  Them.  To.  We get it.  How’s that working out for you?

Walker Co Humane Society Ignores Plight of Abandoned Pets Daily

The Walker Co Humane Society in AL hardly seemed thrilled about having video from their security cameras posted online when it proved their shelter director had killed a friendly dog named Boost and then lied about it.  In fact, the director’s attorney tried to go through the courts to get the video removed from the web.

But this month, the shelter was only too eager to post footage from their security cams on YouTube when it showed a man abandoning 6 puppies at the shelter after hours.  They wanted to identify the man and lecture the public about not abandoning animals at the shelter.  The shelter director, Lane Reno, says “[T]his really happens a lot”.

Reno said he appears to have left the dogs at the side of the building where employees leave several bowls of food for abandoned animals.

Only 4 of the pups were found by the shelter staff the morning after they were abandoned.  Of those, one reportedly died not long after admission.  I don’t have any details on that pup but I wonder what it is that affected him and not the littermates.  How did he die so quickly while in the shelter’s care?

At any rate, the shelter is located on a busy intersection and near railroad tracks.  If, as Ms. Reno says, people are abandoning pets at the shelter after hours “almost every day”, why hasn’t the shelter addressed this issue long ago?  Why don’t they have “drop boxes” like other shelters so pets left after hours can be safely confined until the morning crew arrives for work?  To my mind, they could at least leave some crates outside with food and water in them and maybe a tarp (if it’s not too much trouble).  No wonder the report says someone left a pet in the shelter’s dumpster one night – there isn’t anyplace else to put them!

For the life of me, I can’t figure out what on earth Walker Co HS is thinking by leaving bowls of food out for abandoned pets on a busy intersection.  I hate to break this to you all sudden like but:  Bowls of food does not equal safe, temporary confinement.  I shudder to think pets are being abandoned at this shelter “almost every day” with nothing more than a bowl of food to protect them from being squashed by a car or meeting some other dreadful end.  I don’t know how the taxpayers of Walker Co can allow the shelter to continue ignoring this issue.  On top of that, they then have to stomach a lecture from the director on irresponsible actions regarding pets!  Ugh.

I have no idea what the story is with the man in the video – or for that matter, with any of the people who are abandoning pets at this shelter.  Maybe they’re all evil.  But I doubt it.  It’s plausible to my mind that at least some of these people are simply facing difficult circumstances and using poor judgment.  I’ve been known to make bad decisions when stressed myself.  I bet at least some of these folks are well intentioned, heading to the shelter with their pets, thinking they are doing the right thing.  After all, they’re not throwing them into a river or leaving them in a rural neighborhood far from home.  They’re trying to get them to a place where they think they’ll be cared for and adopted out.  But after finding the shelter closed, a difficult situation turns into a sort of panic – people don’t know what to do.  They still don’t want to go the turning-loose-in-the-country route, so they try to think.  That’s possibly what the man in the video is doing.  He walks around, doesn’t find anyplace suitable to leave the pups, and makes a bad decision.

Maybe the man with the 6 puppies knows better – maybe he doesn’t.  The same goes for everyone abandoning pets at the shelter after hours.  But you know who absolutely should know better?  The Walker Co HS.  They are paid by taxpayers to know better.  Get your act together Walker Co HS and come up with some drop boxes so no more pets die because you repeatedly fail to respond to a crisis that greets you “almost every day”.

A posting on the shelter’s Facebook page says that the man in the video came forward voluntarily and told his side of the story and gave the shelter a donation.  They seem to consider the matter closed.  I hope the taxpayers of Walker Co hold the shelter accountable for its part in these needless tragedies.

Update on Boost and Walker Co Humane Society

A Boxer named Boost was turned in to the Walker County Humane Society (WCHS) in AL by good Samaritans after he got loose in May 2009.  He was friendly and obviously someone’s pet but the shelter director killed him immediately (it was close to 5 o’clock) and lied about the incident afterward.  The owner filed a lawsuit against the shelter and per the attorney, Brett Wadsworth, the suit is currently being amended to include Walker County on the grounds that the county failed to properly fund the shelter in accordance with state law.

The goal of the lawsuit is to bring about major reforms to the shelter.  The attorney has stated publicly that any money he receives from this suit will be donated to a reformed Walker Co shelter.

The WCHS director, Lane Reno, is still on the job and presumably still killing pets and lying about it.  She recently spoke to a local paper about the shelter:

“Unfortunately, we have to put some animals down, because we simply don’t have room.”

Ms. Reno defines “some” for us:

“We have about 5,000 to 7,000 animals dropped off to us every year, with maybe 200 of those being adopted,” Reno said.

Maybe 200 adopted.  Out of roughly 6000 pets.

OK let me stop here and say that I do appreciate the many challenges faced by underfunded shelters in the South.  That is not lost on me.  I don’t expect anyone to work magic.  Lack of sufficient funding is a major obstacle.  I get it.

But.

If you are in charge of caring for the community’s pets, I expect you to take all reasonable actions to save as many pets in your shelter as possible.  This includes aggressive public education and outreach, reuniting lost pets with owners, TNR for feral cats and an adoption program that colors outside the lines.  I don’t expect you’ll be able to save all your pets right away, but you should be able to increase your save rate by implementing successful programs from the No Kill Equation, just as other communities have done.  Aim for the 90% or better save rate that other open admission shelters have achieved.

Specifically excluded from my expectations of a shelter director is killing friendly pets because you don’t feel like setting up another kennel close to quitting time and then lying about it when confronted by the media.

Needless to say, if your adoption rate is 3%, and you’ve been caught lying about why you “need” to kill pets, ur doin’ it rong.

But Ms. Reno believes her shelter has “done enough”:

The WCHS believes that it does enough in the county to have gained the public’s support in donating so that it can remain operational.

“We offer many services such as a Pet Therapy program, where we go to all the nursing and retirement homes in the county — and a couple in Winston County when we can — with a pet,” Reno said. “We also have a cruelty/neglect officer that deals with the 400 to 500 cruelty complaints that come in every year. We even have a 24-hour emergency pager service for cases where a stray animal gets injured.”

The WCHS is also always willing to visit schools and summer programs to teach lessons such as how one should protect him or herself if a dangerous animal should approach.

How about teaching lessons on how to protect your pets from danger should they fall into the hands of Ms. Reno and the WCHS?  Or is that basically a hopeless situation?  I guess you could always pray your pet is among the lucky 3% who don’t end up getting wheeled out the shelter’s back door just moments after being “rescued”.

Perhaps most troubling of all, I don’t see one thing in Ms. Reno’s explanation of how her shelter has “done enough” that has to do with saving pets.  It’s nice that they visit nursing homes to offer pet therapy but then, statistically speaking, they apparently drive back to the shelter and kill the therapy pet!

Seriously, would you give money to a shelter that adopts out 3% of the pets they take in, lies about killing people’s pets and then tells the local paper they think they’ve done enough to earn your donation?

Case Update: Walker Co Humane Society in AL

Brett Wadsworth, the attorney representing Boost’s owner against the Walker County Humane Society (you might remember that the shelter killed Boost immediately upon admission and then lied about it), says that last week, the shelter made the owner an offer of $2000. They are refusing the offer and pursuing their lawsuit.

Good on them.

You can read all the posts on this case here.

Case Update: Walker Co Humane Society in AL

Couple of updates:

No gag order has been imposed in the Boost case but the surveillance videos I linked to previously have been removed. Thankfully we still have access to the truth here and here.

You’re so lame, you probably think this blog is about you.

Someone who didn’t pass creative writing in high school has made herself up a webbysite:

Walker County Law is a site dedicated to featuring attorneys located in Jasper, Alabama in Walker County, Alabama. Attorneys featured on this page are here because they have performed outstanding or noteworthy deeds in the recent past.

The attorneyS featured on the site amount to a grand total of one – the attorney representing Boost’s owner. I think the page intends to discredit the attorney and his client. Hard to tell from the jumbled mess o’ words (I’m still trying to work out “the Imoral Boost”). But what’s really a funny coincidence is the page is a twin of looks kinda pretty much exactly like the Walker Co Humane Society website. I assume only high level staff have access to the shelter’s web design. What are the odds, ya know?

Boost Video

The Walker Co Humane Society Shelter Director kills friendly dogs and then lies to cover it up.

Surveillance video from the shelter documents the last minutes of the life of a friendly Boxer named Boost who was killed at the Walker Co Humane Society in May 2009. There is a view from the parking lot of Boost being taken out of a carrier, a view from the shelter lobby of him being walked inside, and a view of his dead body being wheeled out the back door in a shopping cart.

Boost’s owner has filed a civil case against the lying Shelter Director. The Shelter Director’s attorney is trying to obtain a gag order in the case to prevent Boost’s owner from telling his story and to get the video proof removed from the web.

Not so fast.

Thank you to my friend John Sibley for editing together this video and helping to get the truth out to the public.

Tech notes: Embed code appears at end of vid. Size of the vid can be adjusted by changing the height/width numbers in the embed code. Keep same proportion for best results. (IOW reduce or increase both numbers by the same factor.)

Case Update: Walker Co Humane Society in AL

You know how sometimes, whatever the reason, you come across something that leaves you feeling like you’ve been kicked in the chest?

You may remember the story of Boost, the Boxer who got loose and was turned in to the local shelter by good Samaritans in Walker County, AL. The shelter director killed him immediately and so the owner’s heart was broken when he showed up promptly to redeem his pet. The shelter director’s justification for the killing:

“The dog would not come out of the carrier so we had to use a capture pole. That is when he became aggressive.”

She further hinted that Boost tried to bite someone at the shelter.

Lies, damn lies and lying shelter directors who kill dogs:

  • Surveillance video from the parking lot shows Boost being taken out of the crate. (about 1:00 mark)
  • Surveillance video from the shelter lobby shows Boost being brought into the shelter (about 1:00 mark)
  • Surveillance video from the shelter kennel area – well it shows a shelter worker pushing a shopping cart containing a trash bag out the back door before turning out the lights for the day. [Insert run of curse words here.]

The video seems to confirm what the couple who turned Boost in to the shelter claimed – that he was not aggressive and no catchpole was used. It also might confirm my suspicion that the dog was brought in near the end of the day and the shelter director didn’t feel like doing her job so she killed the dog instead of making a space for him. And then made up a story to cover her lying ass when the owner showed up to redeem his pet.

There is a legal case regarding this matter which I will continue to follow with interest. In the meantime, I can’t help but wonder how many friendly dogs this shelter director is killing today. Or yesterday. Or tomorrow…

Update on Case Against Walker Co Humane Society in AL

You may remember the story of the Boxer named Boost who was lost in AL and turned in to the Walker Co Humane Society by Good Samaritans where he was immediately killed before the owner could redeem him. The reason the shelter director gave for killing the dog was that he was aggressive – she implied Boost snapped at her while being dragged from a carrier via catchpole. The shelter director’s exact words:

“The dog would not come out of the carrier so we had to use a capture pole. That is when he became aggressive.”

The couple [who turned the dog in to the shelter], however, disputes this.

“They put a leash on him and he jumped out and walked right in the place,” Dunn said. “It was a regular leash.”

[slams both feet on brakes]

Martin said he watched every move the dog made once unloaded at the Humane Society. From his account, Boost showed no sign of aggression.

“When they took it (pet taxi) off the truck they took a little old leash and put it on him,” Martin said. “He got out of the box and they went inside, walked down the hallway around in the back and that was the last I saw of him.”

Well ain’t that somethin’? The director’s lame excuse for killing the dog was paper thin at the outset anyway, but now *poof*

***

A lawsuit was filed May 26 against the shelter director and the Walker Co Humane Society.

***

There is an online petition to reform the shelter here.

I will post additional updates on this case as warranted.

Fastest Kill in the East: AL Shelter Breaks Record

A lost Boxer wearing a collar was found Tuesday by a couple of good Samaritans who brought the dog to the shelter in Walker Co, AL at 4:00. The relieved owner was waiting to redeem the dog the next morning prior to the shelter’s opening. But shelter staff had “evaluated” the dog and killed him by 4:30 the previous day. The shelter director explains:

“We can have any individual bring a dog in. It’s a family pet. It’s never bitten anybody. It’s really nice, but I guarantee you if it tries to bite one of us while we’re reaching for it, we cannot and will not put that animal up for adoption.”

Where to begin?

A dog wearing a collar that is turned in to the shelter may well be owned by someone looking for him. That’s just common sense. Evaluating whether to put the animal up for adoption is a non-issue until the owner has had a chance to redeem the dog. Typically that’s at least a few days. What is this shelter’s policy for holding dogs for redemption – 14 seconds?

Temperament evaluations are a useful tool when conducted by a qualified individual with an understanding of dog behavior in a shelter environment. I’m pretty sure if I was lost and on the run, and somebody brought me to this shelter and introduced me to this shelter director, I would not be on my best behavior. Or even my normal behavior. And I can talk.

The evaluation is a guide to determining what type of training and home environment best suits the dog’s needs. It’s a chance for the dog to be placed successfully in a home either now, or hopefully at some time in future after some rehab. It is NOT a Pass/Fail with Fail equaling Death. That is not an evaluation. That is a lazy and cowardly excuse for killing.

Every shelter dog deserves a fair evaluation. And you know, shelter too.

Added: Thank you Heather for posting the link to an additional story on this case in the comments. In that piece, the shelter Director, finding herself in a hole, keeps digging:

The dog would not come out of the carrier so we had to use a capture pole. That is when he became aggressive.”

According to [shelter Director, Lane] Reno most animals brought to the Humane Society become frightened or agitated, which she said could explain Boost’s reaction.

“Some of the friendliest dogs change their demeanor as soon as they get here,” Reno said. “They smell the smells and hear all the dogs barking and it scares them. It changes their mind about cooperating.”

She acknowledges that dogs are often scared and not behaving in their normal manner when they arrive at the shelter. And yet inexplicably, she stands behind her decision to immediately kill the dog. In fact, she seems to be upset only at the allegation that she possibly sold the dog and lied about it. Apparently selling someone else’s dog is rude but killing him=A-OK.

“Mr. Campbell [the Boxer's owner] wants to say I sold his dog or gave him away to someone, which just isn’t true,” Reno said. “I hate the Humane Society is getting a black eye over this, but we have a lot of animals brought in on a daily basis and many of them have to be euthanized. But no one here stole his dog.”

Reno alleges the Humane Society did not have any room for the boxer, despite Campbell’s claim of three empty pens. Reno said the pens to which Campbell referred are useless because of damage.

Gee, if only they would invent some kind of thing which could be done to fix damaged runs – something like a “repair”. That could be useful for a shelter I would imagine in my La La Land of Fantasy Animal Shelter World. In reality, I guess the only answer is to kill dogs.

When confronted with AL law specifying that impounded dogs must be held for at least 7 days, Ms. FancyShelterDirectorPants has an answer for that too:

“That doesn’t apply to us, We aren’t a pound. We are a animal shelter,” Reno said when read the code. “The only pound that is in this building is on the city side. The building belongs to us, but the City of Jasper has Animal Control. When you have animal control you have to provide impound. Impound is what ever the city want’s to make it. Jasper City has a 72-hour hold. Jasper City pays us to feed and house their city impound dogs. Anything else that gets directly turned into us becomes our dogs. This is a not-for-profit organization, and is privately owned and operated by a board.”

Unless your business sign that reads “Humane Society” is actually made up of characters from some now defunct language which translate to “Dog Killin’ Hole”, I’d say you’ve got some kinda problem. We are the real humane society and we don’t kill people’s pets. I don’t care what part of the building you’re in (?!) or who pays your salary. You are not above the law lady, even if’n ya thinks so.

Contact info for the Walker Co Humane Society:

2302 BIRMINGHAM AVENUE
JASPER, AL 35501
PHONE: (205) 221-6621

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