NC Ends Routine Gassing of Shelter Animals

The gas chamber at Henry Co AC Shelter, 2005

A gas chamber for killing shelter pets, no longer in use.

On December 4, 2014, the Animal Welfare Section of the NC Department of Agriculture issued a policy statement regarding the use of gas chambers to all licensed euthanasia technicians and registered shelters.  The letter can be read in full here.

In summary, the letter states that because the last major animal welfare organization still endorsing the gassing of pets, the AVMA, revised its position in its Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals:  2013 Edition, the state too is revising its position.  The letter states that all shelters should immediately stop the routine gassing of animals and gives a compliance deadline of February 15, 2015.  Exceptions for killing animals in the gas chamber will be allowed, in keeping with AVMA recommendations:

  • “Unusual or rare circumstances”
  • “Natural disaster”
  • “Large-scale disease outbreak”

Licensed euthanasia technicians are requested to contact the Department of Agriculture prior to gassing in order to explain the circumstances and see if the director of Animal Welfare agrees that the case qualifies as an exception.

Any facility which anticipates it won’t be able to stop gassing pets by February 15, 2015 has until January 7 to file a one-time extension request.

Paws Up to the NC Department of Agriculture for taking action to drastically reduce the conditions under which it will be legal for shelters to gas animals to death.  It’s not as good as a ban, but it’s a solid step.

Paws Down for only doing it after the AVMA, the gas chamber’s last champion, finally arrived in the 21st century on the issue and stopped endorsing it for routine pet killing.  No other major animal organization approves of gassing shelter pets.  How many more years until the AVMA crosses the gas chamber off its list permanently?

(Thanks Lisa for sending me this letter.)

Irvine Animal Advocates Detail Concerns Regarding Shelter in Report to City Council

More than 50 pages worth of comments and photos regarding the Irvine Animal Care Center (IACC) in CA were submitted to the Irvine City Council by concerned shelter pet advocates at its public meeting last month. The full report can be read here. (The first 2 pages are not related to the shelter.) I have pulled out a number of quotes as well as my own summaries to give readers a sampling of the concerns expressed by advocates.

Comments from Dr. Barbara Chlupek, rabbit rescuer:

  • After the new manager took over, a long time volunteer “was summarily ousted on false pretenses.”
  • “[T]he new manager suspended the volunteer program supposedly in order to “review” it. It has not yet been brought back.”
  • “Dr. Kosmin has been documented as proudly referring to himself as “Dr. Death”, since he enjoyed killing animals.”
  • irvine patty

    Patty

    An 8 year old rabbit called Patty who had an adopter waiting was killed instead of being adopted.

  • An in-depth investigation is needed immediately because “[a]nimals are being abused and killed[.]”

Comments from “A coalition of concerned citizens, volunteers, current employees and ex-employees who care about the animals”:

  • “We have not heard back from the Mayor or any members of the City Council on issues regarding the IACC brought to your collective attention starting in July of 2014.”
  • “Current IACC management has not addressed issues and concerns brought forward during the last nine months and they have not presented any plan to fix issues going forward.”
  • “Christine Brown and Molly Brown should immediately be stopped from conducting all behavioral assessments of dogs as they tend to recommend euthanasia if the dog is large or exuberant.”
  • Request for transparency: “Intakes and outcomes of all animals regardless of intake be made available on the website monthly – all intakes and outcomes, nothing excluded.”
  • Two employees attempted to kill a cat named Cody for 2 hours and allowed him to suffer instead of seeking assistance from a veterinarian.

Comments from Ava Crittenden, former employee:

  • “Dr. Kosmin exhibited counter constructive unwillingness to hear my ideas when the zoonotic disease Toxoplasmosis appeared in the trailer. I recommended protocols for gowning and cleaning for kennel staff, along with testing of every cat to prevent the possible spread of the disease. Following my suggestion I was told in front of three other lead supervisors “sure, if we want to piss away our money.” […] The next day, on 10/22, two other cats tested positive for Toxoplasmosis.”
  • Quantities of Fatal Plus have gone missing on multiple occasions.
  • irvine azulAn employee killed a hummingbird, left the remains in a kennel and went home for the day. The same employee killed a kitten called Azul who “was left in the laundry/trash bin overnight, visible to volunteers.”
  • All weekly staff meetings have been cancelled.
  • Regarding management’s handling of the former employee’s missed work due to medical reasons: “I feel I am being bullied[.]”
  • “In the conversation regarding my medically excused absences for the August/September of 2014, [Denise Jakcsy] told me “steroids can make you gain weight, just so you know”.”
  • “I noticed a community bullying behavior that is not just specific to me and has created a hostile working environment for others. Several staff members express similar intimidation tactics and bullying and unfortunately several others have left.”
  • Questions submitted in June regarding use of the shelter’s new software system have never been addressed.
  • irvine laneA 14 week old kitten called Lane was killed in full view of other cats after testing positive once for FeLV/FIV. No re-test was performed. He was underdosed with Fatal Plus by a staff member and placed in a cage where he began seizing. He suffered for 90 minutes before finally being injected with a weight appropriate dose of Fatal Plus.

Comments from [unknown]:

  • The shelter manager scheduled a pregnant dog to be spayed despite available foster homes. The information was made public and the dog was removed from the surgery list after much public outcry.

irvine intake

  • “When Animal Service Officers brings in animals, they are placed into intake the kennels pictured above. These kennels used to be in a different location directly next to the parking lot, but they were moved a few months ago due to construction. The new location is just outside of the freezer where Cal Trans and the shelter store deceased animals. The previous location had drains for easy cleaning and sanitation. The new location does not have any drains so animals now sit in a kennel that has standing urine. It is also very difficult to clean because there is no division of the kennels at the base. When you clean one kennel it flows into the other kennel and has to be hosed about 40 feet to clear the area and not pool in front of the freezer. There are new signs for staff to squeegee the area and towel dry, but that is very difficult to do with concrete. These animals arrive scared to be in a new situation and are placed next to a smelly freezer of deceased animals while waiting in a wet kennel.”
  • “Until July 2014, Animal Service Officers would bring animals directly into the clinic unless it was after hours. In July 2014, intake protocols were changed where all new animals were to be placed in these kennels until clinic staff were able to intake them. This resulted in some animals being in these kennels for several hours in hot weather.”
  • IACC adopted out 2 of 5 owned cats whose owner had been hospitalized.  The facility was supposed to be holding all 5 cats for “safe keeping” as a public service.  The owner wanted all her cats back but was only able to reclaim 3 since IACC had sold the other 2.
  • Dr. Kosmin is botching dog neuters.
  • Dogs are being brought into IACC under the “3rd Chance” program from other shelters then being sent back for killing.
  • Cages sit empty while healthy/treatable animals are being killed.

(Thank you Clarice for sending me this report.)

Weekend Jade

Schroeder, Jade and Randi

Schroeder, Jade and Randi – ears akimbo.

Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments, anytime.  New Open Threads are posted weekly.

pegasus draconis

Discussion: After Biting a Child, Mickey Lives in a Jail Cell

Regular readers may remember when a Maricopa Co pound worker taunted animal advocates trying to save a dog named Mickey who had severely bitten a child.  The taunting was defended by the pound director as free speech.  And also mocking dog killing is absolutely a trait we want in our public pound employees so shut all the way up.

As it turns out, an agreement was reached with the court that Mickey would be allowed to live (aw, pet killers have a sad) if his teeth were ground down and he was locked up by the county for life.  Mickey is literally being kept in a jail cell with a webcam on him 24/7.

From the webcam page:

That’s when Sheriff Joe Arpaio stepped into the fray. He went to court on behalf of the dog and offered the judge a way to save Mickey ….the Sheriff’s Office would give Mickey a ‘life sentence’ inside Arpaio’s MASH jail (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Animal Safe House). The pit bull would be offered no parole, and no probation in exchange for taking the death sentence off the table.

Right now, the cell appears to be unsanitary, to put it mildly.  Take a look.

What are your thoughts on what has happened to Mickey?

(Thanks Arlene and Clarice for the links.)

Treats on the Internets

A pound in Washington is trying to encourage adoptions by cutting prices this month.  At the same time they continue to strictly enforce a policy prohibiting anyone from saving a pet to give as a gift.  Better dead than gift, I guess.  (Thanks Mary Frances for the link.)

This sad sack claimed a lost dog from a Good Sam in VA who listed her as “found” on Craigslist, then turned around and tried to sell her on the same site.  The true owner alerted authorities and arranged his own undercover sting operation to get his dog back.  Sad sack was arrested and charged with obtaining property under false pretenses.

Using what one pet owner described as “gestapo tactics”, tribal officials in Pine Ridge, SD rounded up loose dogs, including owned pets, and shot them to death after a child was killed by loose dogs on the reservation.  Officials refused to say where the remains were taken and also refused to allow journalists to view the remains.  But they deny any wrongdoing.  (Thanks Kathleen.)

Like most bans based on a dog’s skull/body shape, Petsmart’s pitbull ban is vague and harmful.

But how’d they get them to sit under the hair dryer all that time?

State of NC Issues Failed Inspection for Yadkin Co Pound

The Yadkin Co pound functions primarily as a pet killing facility, killing more than 70% of its dogs and cats in 2013:

Portion of the 2013 report from the state of NC showing the dogs and cats taken in by the Yadkin Co pound.

Portion of the 2013 report from the state of NC showing the dogs and cats taken in by the Yadkin Co pound.

The NC Department of Agriculture regularly inspects the state’s pounds in order to hold them to bare minimum standards which do not in any way include lifesaving. The state has passed Yadkin Co many times. But on November 6, the inspector took issue with a number of sub-standard conditions and practices evident at the facility and did not give Yadkin Co a passing report. The full inspection report can be read here. It was signed by the same inspector who had just given the facility a pass one month earlier.

Portion of the state's inspection report for yadkin Co dated November 6, 2014.

Portion of the state’s inspection report for Yadkin Co dated November 6, 2014.

Among the failings noted during the November 6 inspection:

  • Sick cats were being housed with healthy cats.
  • Sick cats were not receiving veterinary care.
  • Three cats were being housed in an enclosure that had old, dried blood on the walls, and none of the three were bleeding.
  • There was so much old hair and debris in the cat area that the ventilation system was clogged.
  • Excessive amounts of food and feces were present in the cat area.
  • Build up of food and debris in the dog area is an ongoing problem.
  • Staffing was inadequate to provide care for the number of animals at the facility.

The local FOX affiliate visited the pound to see conditions first hand.  The reporter noted there was still old, dried blood on the walls in the cat area.

FOX8 spoke with Jessica Wall, assistant director of Yadkin County’s Human Service Agency, regarding the state’s bare bones standards and the county’s failure to meet them.  She appears to be in total denial:

“We’re meeting those requirements, we’re meeting what needs to be done and even in a lot of instances, we’re going above and beyond,” she said.

As for the “excess feces” and dried blood in the cat enclosure, Wall also cited employee performance.

“There might be that here’s not enough attention to detail, but if that’s something that’s happened, it’s been brought to our attention, we’re going to address it, and it has been addressed. Those issues have been corrected,” she said.

There might have been some teensy problem but most likely not, because the Yadkin Co pet killing facility is super awesome.

FOX8 asked Yadkin Co chairman Kevin Austin about the understaffing problem:

As for the number of employees at the shelter, Austin noted that the county employs two full-time staff members at the shelter, on top of the animal control personnel designated by the sheriff’s office.

“There was one employee there the day of the inspection, but we have two staff; we had one who called in sick,” he said.

But that doesn’t appear to jive with the inspector’s notes in the report:

Portion

Portion of the state’s inspection report for Yadkin Co dated November 6, 2014.

The county has 30 days to correct the problems that don’t exist and are already fixed anyway.  In the meantime, a 70% kill rate apparently qualifies as “going above and beyond”.  This will surely be a source of great pride for the lost and homeless pets in Yadkin Co and the taxpayers funding their deaths.

(Thanks Clarice and Arlene for sending me this story.)

Advocates Allege Animals “Barbarically” Killed for Convenience at Irvine Shelter

It has long been the position of this blog that numbers alone do not tell the complete story of any shelter.  Individual lives matter.  As shelter pet advocates, it is up to us to advocate for the right to live of every healthy/treatable shelter animal – not just the ones who fall within an arbitrary statistical analysis.  There is no save rate percentage that is “good enough” at any shelter if it means even one healthy/treatable animal was killed there or that any animal needlessly suffered while being euthanized.

I am glad to see advocates in Irvine, CA taking action on behalf of shelter pets there.  Mind you, there hasn’t been any reported increase in killing at the Irvine Animal Care Center, which has a reputation for being a “low kill” facility.  But advocates are speaking out regarding the reasons and methods used to kill shelter animals.

For example, records show a 2 year old Chihuahua named Tate was fed a half can of food and taken for a walk one morning in July.  He ate all his food and would have gladly eaten more according to an employee.  Instead, he was killed just minutes later for “not eating” and “orthopedic conditions”.

That same month, a cat named Cody was brought in by his owner for euthanasia but was left to suffer for 2 hours while he was injected with Fatal Plus IV, then IP and finally IC before finally dying.

The Irvine shelter sent x-rays on a rabbit with a dislocated hip to a private vet for an opinion.  The vet recommended repair but Irvine killed the pet instead.

Advocates also cite killing while cages sit empty, reduction of volunteer hours and scaling back lifesaving programs at the Irvine facility.  Rita Gatto has volunteered at the shelter for 10 years:

Euthanasia numbers have been kept low, she said, because volunteers and staff have taken in animals that were slated to be killed. But those homes are now full and some staff have quit because of what she terms an oppressive work environment.

The euthanasia numbers in Irvine, Gatto added, will rise going forward when they reflect what she views as the shelter’s new policies.

“Right now, Irvine is not euthanizing for humane reasons, but killing animals for convenience,” Gatto said.

Last week, advocates spoke before the city council to request an independent investigation of the Irvine shelter, claiming management has bullied individuals who have questioned the killing:

In a 50-page report presented to council members, advocates described a progressively hostile work environment toward staff and volunteers in the past 18 months. The report cites several incidents of careless treatment leading to animals being destroyed.

“I saw, and assisted, in the euthanasia of animals that had not even been diagnosed [with an illness or a disability] or seen by a veterinarian,” former center staff member Ava Crittenden told the council. She resigned her position last week.

“Sadly, I realized the shelter developed a culture that did not center on animal welfare.”

Another speaker painted an even darker picture:

“Today, animals are being euthanized carelessly, barbarically, for space and just out of laziness for not wanting to care for them any further,” said one speaker, who said she had volunteered at the center for 11 years.

Several speakers said they have been expressing their concerns and requesting action for months, to no avail.  Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway was all *shrug*:

“I got a few emails, maybe some letters, this summer,” Lalloway said. “I remember specifically asking the city manager to look into it.”

I asked someone to look into whatever might have been said in maybe some letters but I guess they didn’t because I don’t know.

I hope the advocates in Irvine aren’t putting all their hopes in the mayor’s basket.  Because the bottom fell out of that basket some time back and nobody noticed.

If anyone has a copy of that 50 page report, I’d like to read it.  E-mail me.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Amarillo Pound Worker Spraying Dogs with Chemicals

A rescuer visiting the Amarillo pound in Texas last week watched as an employee used his hose as a weapon against puppies, spraying them with chemicals to get them to go through a doggie door.

“He sprayed the chemicals and was spraying the animals, including the puppies to try and get them to run inside the building,” [Bridget] Brecheen said. “He soaked the puppies.”

Ms. Brecheen spoke about what she had witnessed at a city council meeting.  The pound’s interim director followed her, stating the employee was being disciplined for spraying the dogs with chemicals.  No word on what that discipline involved or whether the affected dogs were treated or if anyone bothered to check if they needed treatment or if the dogs were still alive.

But we all want the same thing, don’t criticize, blah.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Photo Call

Once again this year, I’d like to put together a post for Christmas day celebrating the human-animal bond in pictures.  If you would like to submit a photo for inclusion, please keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Photo should feature at least one pet and one human in keeping with the human-animal bond theme.  It need not be an entire human, e.g. just a hand patting a pet is ok.
  • Please include a brief caption identifying the pets, people, and what area you are from.  Your caption can be specific (e.g. “Shirley and shelter pet Fluffy in South Carolina”) or vague (“Neighborhood kids with our Pitbull in New England”).  If you prefer to remain anonymous, please clearly indicate that.
  • Photo should have no copyright issues – that is, the photo should be taken by you, a family member or someone who isn’t expecting payment for the use of the photo.
  • Please e-mail photos to me no later than December 21, 2014.

To get an idea of the kinds of pics people have submitted in previous years, take a look at ghposts of Christmas past:

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