Louisiana Pound Worker Neglects Dogs to Death, Receives Fine

Vick and Fancy, as depicted on the KATC website.

Vick and Fancy, as depicted on the KATC website.

Cynthia and Royce Johnson’s healthy 4 year old dogs were family.  Vick and Fancy had their own Christmas stockings and were in the family portraits.  But when Vick was found loose in a neighbor’s yard in mid-June, the Town of Basile, LA inexplicably took both dogs away, requiring the Johnsons to go to court to get their pets back.  They went to the scheduled hearing five days later, only to find it had been canceled.  The next day, they found out Vick and Fancy were dead:

All that’s left of the Boxer and Shar Pei is a grave in the backyard of their owner, Cynthia Johnson. She can’t help but relive the day they were taken away.

“I loaded them up, I told them they would be home soon, and they didn’t come home,” Johnson said. “They came home to be buried.”

As if the horror of losing two family members at once wasn’t enough, Cynthia Johnson learned details of their agonizing deaths in the most gruesome way imaginable:

She said the situation became worse when she demanded to see her dogs, who were delivered to her home.

“The dog catcher said, ‘Ma’am, be careful; there are maggots,’” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘What do you mean maggots? He just died two hours ago. How could he have maggots?’ So I took the bag and I tore it open, and when I did he was just like covered in maggots. They were, like, everywhere, and he had sores everywhere, and they were eating him,” Johnson said.

A report from a local vet clinic indicated Fancy was dead at the time she arrived at the hospital and Vick took “one last agonal breath and died.”

Part of the Town of Basile, as well as the pound where it takes animals, is within Acadia Parish.  Tim Benoit, the Acadia Parish Animal Control supervisor, investigated the deaths.  He determined that the Basile town employee in charge of caring for impounds neglected Vick and Fancy to death.  Benoit issued the employee a citation for two counts of animal cruelty – but it’s just a $500 fine.  After all, they’re only animals:

Benoit said he did not see the alleged violations as criminal in nature.

“It’s a civil matter,” Benoit said.

Nothing civil about it.  Pets are family.  The employee has been reassigned and won’t be working at the pound in future.  Gee, nice gesture on the town’s part there.

Benoit said that his investigation revealed the need for improving animal care in Basile and that the the town’s mayor asked for his recommendations on how to remedy the Basile animal control issues at hand.

Ya think?  There will reportedly be some upgrades and training and blah.

“Just give me some time. We will get this fixed,” Benoit added.

How much time will it take to get justice for Vick and Fancy?  I guess never would be the answer to that.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Hillsborough Co Kills Dog Who Had New Home Waiting

Chai, as shown on the WTSP website.

Chai, as shown on the WTSP website.

At the Hillsborough Co pound in Florida, killing is the default – so much so that the pound put a protocol in place for anyone wanting to save a pet:  e-mail the pound with DO NOT KILL in the subject line and the animal’s ID number.  This is the only way to toss a cog into the killing machine at Hillsborough Co apparently.

But it didn’t save Chai, a stray dog who had been housed in an area not visible to the public at the pound.  Despite this, Chai managed to find a home.  When the rescuer called Saturday morning to follow up on the e-mail and advise she was on her way to pick the pet up, she was told Chai had already been killed.

Hillsborough Co offered no explanation – not even an official oops.  When the local news requested an interview, the staff hid.  When the reporter asked to see the records from Saturday, the staff claimed the records were unavailable to due to a power outage.  Presumably the power outage did not affect the killing assembly line.

This is par for the course at the Hillsborough Co pound.  And residents can expect more of the same until they demand meaningful reform and an end to the killing.  The default for any animal shelter should be lifesaving.  When mistakes happen, they should be in favor of lifesaving.  Hillsborough Co is on the wrong track.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

NM Pound Returns Hero Puppy to Abuser

Gabriel Garcia of Las Cruces, NM was indicted by a grand jury last month on one count of first-degree kidnapping, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, battery, criminal sexual contact and assault. The indictment stems from a May 31 incident in which a female victim reported that she was held in Garcia’s home against her will while he physically assaulted her, made sexual advances toward her and threatened her with further harm if she told anyone about the crimes. At one point during the ordeal, Garcia allegedly ordered his 9 month old pitbull puppy to bite the victim but the dog bit Garcia instead. This allegedly further enraged Garcia further who grabbed a hammer and stepped up his threats.

The victim was finally able to escape the home and police arrested Garcia, who bonded out of jail. AC impounded the dog for a standard 10 day bite quarantine at the city shelter in Las Cruces. At the end of the quarantine, the pound gave the dog back to Garcia.

“From what I have heard, there was no reason to believe the dog would be in any danger in returning it to the owner,” [Curtis] Childress [Animal Cruelty Coordinator for the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office],wrote in an email. “As for the owner, he has a right to have his property returned. Animals in New Mexico are considered personal property.”

No reason to believe the dog would be in any danger from a violent twit who is likely holding a grudge against the dog.

“Animal Control had no cause to keep the dog,” Childress wrote in an email. “The decision to return it would have come from the animal shelter.” [...]

Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, the shelter that housed the dog, did not reply to a request for comment. Childress speculates that it’s “unlikely” the shelter hesitated to return the animal.

No hesitation.  Because a dog is exactly like a lamp.

The Las Cruces pound states on its website:

The Mission of the Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley is to provide safe shelter for all lost, mistreated, and abandoned animals of the Mesilla Valley and surrounding communities. The Center (ASCMV) utilizes all avenues available to it in placing each animal into a safe, loving and permanent home whenever possible. We strive to meet highest standards of humane animal care and to promote responsible pet ownership through public education and outreach.

Safe shelter for mistreated animals.  Safe and loving home.  Responsible pet ownership.

It’s not at all clear to me how returning the dog to Garcia is in any way consistent with the stated mission.  ASCMV had a dog who was being mistreated by the owner – and make no mistake, anyone who attempts to sic his dog on a victim he’s hoping to rape is mistreating that animal – but instead of protecting that dog, they returned him to the abuser.

This failure is the result of a culture of killing within our broken shelter system.  Animals are devalued to the point where anyone on the job who might care is broken down and made complicit and monsters who actually enjoy hurting animals are attracted to the job.  Within this backwards structure where animals are supposed to be protected but instead are killed for convenience on a mass scale, is it so surprising that no one would “hesitate” to return an animal to an abuser?  Because in the end, what’s the difference?

(Thanks Arlene for sending me this story.)

Weekend Jade

jade 071314

Big and strong and waggy.

Open Thread

Animal related links, questions, stories and such as go in the comments.

[x]

[x]

Memphis Expands its Retaliation Against Rescuers and Owners of Lost Pets

Screengrab from PetHarbor of a lost dog, posted by the Memphis pound.

Screengrab from PetHarbor of a lost dog, posted by the Memphis pound.

Ever since Mayor Wharton put straight man James Rogers in charge of Memphis Animal Services, MAS has become lolMAS.  While MAS slaughters pets by the thousands, Rogers blathers on about being “on a positive trend” and continuing the “march forward in terms of excellence”.  When rescuers started doing his job for him by volunteering to photograph shelter pets and network them on social media, he retaliated with a ban on photography.  When his ban was recently overturned by the city, he had to dig deep into his bag of shenanigans:

Memphis Animal Services director James Rogers is shortening shelter hours.

Specifically, Rogers is eliminating the evening hours, which totally by coincidence happens to be when most people, including the rescuers who photograph pets, can get to the pound.  He’s also eliminated all morning hours – because hey, who wants to deal with the unwashed masses before noon?

He’s got explanations people, so please buckle in:

He says his goal is to increase adoptions.
[...]

Rogers calls it a budget cut, but he is not cutting the number of staff members or the hours MAS employees will work. The only thing changing is the hours the shelter is open to the public.

By being open 9 less hours a week for adoptions, including the hours most people can get there, he’s going to increase adoptions. And it’s going to save money in the budget, even though every single staffer will be paid exactly the same as they are now so no actual dollars will be saved. Also: increased adoptions!

As soon as Rogers announced the changes at a public meeting of the pound’s advisory board on Wednesday, people knew what was up:

“There were two evenings a week they were open late. You’re eliminating both. On one Memphis Pets Alive took photos to network,” people in the crowd said.

Those against the changes pointed out there are now no hours for those who work 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to come.

The hour shift is also cutting into the shelter’s popular Thursday adoption event called Yappy Hours. It’s held from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays. Rogers admits the events are a huge help.

“What we’re trying to do is increase number of adoptions,” Rogers said to people in the crowd laughing.

All the credit for keeping a straight face, Rogers.  But there is something sinister going on here, beyond the obvious retaliation against rescuers and the ridiculous excuses.  Included in the announcement about shortened hours was another change:  MAS would open at noon for 2 hours each on Sundays and Mondays strictly for owners of lost pets to be shown some of the animals in the facility by staff members.

Since MAS has previously been closed entirely on Sundays and Mondays, those days were not counted against strays when determining their mandatory 72 hour hold.  With the announcement that the pound would open for 2 midday hours on Sundays and Mondays, comes a change in how Rogers calculates the mandatory hold for strays.  Sundays and Mondays will now count as 2 of the 3 mandatory hold days, even though the shelter is closed for all but 2 midday hours each of those days.

I am not an attorney but I think there is a legitimate case to be brought against the city of Memphis here.  The city appears to be subverting the intent of the 72 hour holding period for strays by playing games with the pound’s business hours.  It is entirely possible that a pet owner in Memphis who works a day job could not get to the facility to search for his lost pet during the newly announced, limited hours.  Since MAS does an extremely shabby job of posting impounds online and since the pound kills lost pets immediately after the 72 hour holding period expires, the new hours are in effect an automatic death sentence for many lost pets.  And Rogers won’t allow these animals to live, even for one day past their holding periods:

MAS holds stray dogs for 72 hours as required by law. The shelter has been euthanizing the dogs immediately once their time is up, often before opening and allowing them a chance to be adopted. Board members are questioning that logic, especially when the shelter has empty kennels.

The director’s explanation for why strays need to be put down immediately isn’t adding up.

“It behooves us to follow the law which is 72 hours,” said director James Rogers. “Anything beyond that opens us up to the susceptibility of allowing parvo to increase.”

“It’s a disease of puppies,” said Stephen Tower, who is a veterinarian and on the MAS advisory board. He argued an extra few hours won’t cause any greater risk. “I don’t buy that exposure argument.”

“According to the director of veterinary medicine at Memphis Animal Services, the parvo virus has mutated and it does affect adult dogs now,” Rogers said.

But just a few weeks ago, the head veterinarian Rogers is talking about said the exact opposite at an open press conference about parvo.

“There is some acquired immunity with older pets, so I don’t think the public should be concerned about adopting an older pet,” said Dr. Rebecca Coleman.

So to recap:

MAS is eliminating the evening hours that many adopters and rescuers can get there to save lives. To increase adoptions.

The shortened hours are going to save money. Not actual money but possibly Rogers has cut out some rectangles from construction paper and drawn pictures of himself and dollar signs on them and likes to pretend he can buy unicorns and fairy dust with them – those dollars might be saved.

Sundays and Mondays will now be counted against strays under mandatory 72 hour hold. Because parvo is magic and now infects all adult, vaccinated dogs at MAS and immediately zaps them with death rays on the 73rd hour.  And Rogers’ kill techs aren’t going to get beaten to the punch by no magic parvo death ray.

Memphis, this is your animal “shelter”.  File an emergency injunction to stop the killing.  Address your city council.  Demand meaningful reform.  Do something.

(Thank you to everyone who sent me these links.)

Cumberland Co Kills Dog Whom Owners Wanted Back, Calls Family Liars

Debo, as pictured on the ABC 11 website.

Debo, as pictured on the ABC 11 website.

People tend to think that animal shelters shelter animals and that everyone who works there is an animal lover who would never hurt a pet.  Tragically, this is far from the truth in too many shelters.  Sometimes people only find this out when their pet ends up at the “safe haven” and is killed there.

On June 15, a 10 year old Rottweiler named Debo reportedly bit a person.  A Cumberland Co, NC ACO came to the home and advised owner Yolanda Streeter that Debo had to be quarantined for 10 days – either at home or at the pound.  Since the family was about to go away on vacation, Mrs. Streeter’s husband chose the option to quarantine Debo at the pound and signed the form the ACO gave him.

On June 17, Mr. Streeter called the Cumberland Co pound to make sure it was known that the family was going away but would be back to pick up Debo on June 27.  He wanted the date to be clear since it was two days after the quarantine ended.  The family also went to the pound that day to visit Debo and reiterate that they would be back to pick him up on the 27th.  Mrs. Streeter says the staff agreed with the arrangements.

But when Mr. Streeter called on June 27 to ask if he needed to bring a fee with him when he picked up Debo, he was advised that his pet had been killed on the 25th.  Because that was the day the quarantine expired and he’d signed a form surrendering ownership of Debo to the county.  And since the staff could legally kill him, they did:

Officials said Wednesday that the paperwork the Streeters signed gave them possession of an aggressive dog. The animal release form Mitchell Streeter signed on June 15 is marked for a “Code 2,” which released Debo to the county.

Yolanda Streeter said they thought they were simply signing the dog off for quarantine.

“Believe me, the last thing we want to do is put an animal down,” said Dr. John Lauby, Director of Animal Services.

I’m going to go with nah on that one.

Adding insult to injury, county officials told the local news the Streeter family never said anything about coming back to pick up Debo and the fact that they called and visited means nothing since owners who know the county is going to kill their pets do that too.  Which apparently happens all the time in Cumberland Co.  Sheesh, I hope these county officials aren’t on the tourism board.

The Streeter family is heartbroken and has no closure:

“Honestly, I feel like somebody who had a loved one who was murdered or killed or something,” Yolanda Streeter said. “And they don’t have the body back.”
[...]
“If I’d known what was going to happen, I would have never sent him there.”

Pets are family.  Having an owned pet in the care of people who kill pets for convenience ends tragically all too often.

If “the last thing” the pound truly wants to do is kill pets, I have a suggestion:  Instead of calling the Streeter family liars, Cumberland Co needs to investigate why the staff failed multiple times to note in Debo’s records that the family was coming for him.  Start by asking the ACO whether he explained clearly to Mr. Streeter that he was signing over his pet to be killed and whether Mr. Streeter indicated to the ACO the family would be reclaiming the dog.  Then find out who at the pound took Mr. Streeter’s call verifying he would be there on the 27th and failed to note the date in the records.  Then talk to the staffers who spoke with the family during the visit when they reiterated they were coming back for him.  See if any of them have reasonable explanations for their failures.  If not, fire them and get people in there willing to do their jobs.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Nebraska Humane Society Kills Two Cats for Hissing

Chloe and Truman, as shown on the WOWT website.

Chloe and Truman, as shown on the WOWT website.

The Lovewell family in Nebraska had 2 snuggly cats since they were kittens – Chloe, age 13 and Truman, age 7.  Due to a chronic health issue with a family member, the Lovewells decided to take the cats to the Nebraska Humane Society where they believed the cats would find new homes.  No one at the facility led them to suspect otherwise and had anyone done so, the family says they would not have left them there.

But that night, the Lovewells were unable to sleep and realized they could not bear to part with their pets, no matter what.  They called the Nebraska HS first thing the next morning to let them know not to adopt out Chloe and Truman as they wanted them back.  But their calls were sent to voicemail.  And anyway, the Nebraska HS had already killed both pets:

Nebraska Humane Society spokesperson Pam Wiese said, “They were acting aggressively, hissing and spitting and swatting and we couldn’t really handle them. If you can’t handle them, you can’t get them into a kennel to get them into adoptable condition.”

It sounds like the cats were scared at the time they entered the facility – which is normal behavior for cats.  The staff at the Nebraska HS should know this and should have protocols in place to allow cats time to settle.  Instead, the facility apparently has a policy that if a pet is not immediately made “into adoptable condition” – wearing a bow tie and playfully rolling a ball of yarn around the cage I suppose - he needs to be made into dead condition.  The Humane, it hurts.

The Nebraska HS says it will now explain to all surrendering parties that their pets might be killed.  And someone will start answering calls from people wanting to reclaim their pets.  Oh.  I was hoping they were going to stop killing animals and conducting useless behavioral assessments at the time of impound.  I guess humane doesn’t mean what I think it means.

Note:  Comments bashing the owners for surrendering the cats will be deleted.  Every single one of us has made decisions we regret.  Sometimes we can correct them, sometimes we can not.  This family tried.  They believed, as most people do, that a place calling itself a humane society was staffed by animal lovers who would not kill their pets.  Now they know better.  Blame the people doing the killing.

(Thanks Karen for the link.)

Feds Round Up Geese Families and Gas Them

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

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

Goslings [Image via Wikipedia]

Goslings [Image via Wikipedia]

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

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

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Coffee Co Pound Director Refuses to Put Free Bed in with Dog Whose Skin is Falling Off

The director of the Coffee Co pound in TN is one of those who refuses to give donated beds to dogs to get them up off the concrete in the indoor/outdoor runs.  Even after a Chihuahua apparently froze to death there last winter, director Kevin Brown attributed the death to possible old age, also:  mystery!  The public was outraged and dozens of dog beds were donated to the pound – which the director won’t allow to be used. Because he is the ultimate wielder of dog bed power exclamation point, possibly several:

Brown said he doesn’t agree on using the beds in the summertime because the pavement is much cooler for the dogs.

Plus, he said the beds are nearly as big as the kennels themselves and leave little room for them to move around.

A pregnant dog named Elsa has been severely stressed while being held at the Coffee Co pound for a court case. And she’s been loving her room-to-move-around-uninhibited-by-awful-bed so much, her skin is falling off:

“The pads on her feet are coming off; it’s from constant wear on concrete and hot temperature,” said volunteer and founder of Love Linked Dogs, Andrea Ahlijah.

Even her backside is down to the flesh.

“The raw marks on her back, right here, the sores, that’s from the hot pavement,” she said.

The dictator director wants the record to reflect that there is only one dog at the pound being flayed alive due to his refusal to use the free dog beds:

Director Kevin Brown points out that no other dogs at animal control have that problem.

Let’s pool together our dollars and get an Only One Dog Having Her Skin Stripped Off Due to My Willful Neglect award for this man.

Would Coffee Co allow a citizen to leave a pregnant dog to suffer in this way? Would cruelty charges be brought against such a citizen? Where are the cruelty charges for the director? No doubt the mayor is on standby with his trusty thermometer to defend the needless suffering at the pound.

Mercifully, the so-called irresponsible public stepped up and offered to foster Elsa and her litter of 10 newborn pups.  I guess we should bring cupcakes to the director for allowing taxpayers to do the job he refuses - but still gets paid – to do.

Elsa, in foster care, as depicted on the WSMV website.

Elsa, in foster care, as depicted on the WSMV website.

(Thanks Clarice and Devry for the link.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 892 other followers