Detroit AC: Quit Focusing on the Dog You Love and Just Get Some Other Dog

Detroit ACOs, whom you may remember from such exploits as Dragging Dead Dogs Whose Guts are Falling Out in Front of Neighborhood Children, are once again dazzling the kiddies with their animal handling skills.

Jenga, as pictured on freep.com.

Jenga, as pictured on freep.com.

Last week, local media reported that a friendly stray dog who was beloved by children and teachers at the school where the dog had been hanging out, was captured and hauled away by Detroit ACOs while the kids pleaded for the dog they named Jenga to be spared.  The incident was so upsetting to everyone who witnessed it that a fifth grade class is writing a letter to Detroit AC to express their feelings.

Teachers at the school immediately began making calls to various city offices to try to keep Jenga from being killed but all they got was the runaround.  One teacher offered to adopt Jenga outright or at least place her name on the dog as an interested party but AC refused, citing the 4 day holding period.  And she won’t be allowed to adopt Jenga from the pound after the holding period either:

[Harry] Ward [head of AC] said the department must keep stray dogs without identification for four business days. If they are unclaimed, animal control evaluates the dog. Dogs fit for adoption are made available to the Michigan Humane Society; the rest are put down.

The Humane Society visits Detroit Animal Control weekly and decides which dogs to accept into its adoption program, Ward said. The animal control department does not run an adoption program, he said, conceding that an outdated website says otherwise.

Oh swell.  Also, shame on those kids and their teachers for falling in love with a stray dog and caring what happens to her:

Ward suggested those concerned about Jenga’s fate adopt a dog from the Humane Society to make room for more dogs in the adoption program.

“Do something for all the dogs, instead of getting focused on the one dog,” Ward said.

[…]

“I know to the world this one dog is important. I want the world to know there are 38 other dogs that will come in over one or two days,” Ward said. “People need to pull back and look at the bigger issue.”

The bigger issue is that the head of Detroit AC doesn’t understand that dogs are not interchangeable widgets.  Pets are family.  Humans bond with them.  It’s actually the kind of thing AC should be encouraging, especially with children.

Unfortunately for Jenga, her only hope at this point seems to be a transfer to another pet killing facility.  Perhaps media attention will help save Jenga from the fate of so many other stray dogs in Detroit whom rescue groups say they try to help but must battle AC in order to do so.

(Thanks Clarice and Karen for the links.)

Weekend Jade

When one of us leaves the house, Jade keeps watch at the window.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ― A.A. Milne

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
― A.A. Milne

Open Thread

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

[x]

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Shelter Pet of the Day

This handsome 4 year old kitty with the sad face was spotted by reader Anne.  A comment left on his post says he has been moved to sick hold for a URI.  I don’t have any further info but please consider sharing him so that he can find the person he needs.

Hermes, cat ID #27630587 at the Greenville Co pound in SC .(via Facebook)

Hermes, cat ID #27630587 at the Greenville Co pound in SC  (via Facebook)

Greenville Co Animal Care
328 Furman Hall Rd.
Greenville, SC 29609

864.467.3950 Phone
864.467.3294 Fax
Email: petpr@greenvillecounty.org

Unraveling a Cover Up at the Memphis Pound

On April 2, 2015, animal advocate Beth Spencer contacted James Rogers, director of Memphis Animal Services, indicating she would like to photograph a dozen adoptable pets to be featured in a local magazine.  Her email reads, in part:

The tricky part here will be to make sure the animals we feature are not euthanized when the article is published on May 1. Can I send you the ID numbers after the photoshoot, then we can make some kind of notes on their cards and in the system, so they won’t be euthanized when the article is published? I can photograph extras, in the event the ones we’d photographed are adopted.

Rogers replied to Beth that same day:

Hello Beth,

Yes. Please provide the numbers so we can ensure we have them fully vetted and prepared for adoption.
Thanks for your help.

James M. Rogers
Administrator, MAS

After the 12 animals were selected and photographed on April 11, Beth sent this email to alert several people, including Rogers and MAS supervisors, that these pets should be kept alive:

From: Beth Spencer
Sent: Saturday, April 11, 2015 8:25 PM
To: Rogers, James
Cc: Tunstall, DeKeishia Masha; Edgeston, James; graycat13@yahoo.com; mingostar@aol.com; DebbieLFraser@bellsouth.net
Subject: Re: MAS in Click Magazine

Good evening,

Below are the ID’s for the animals that will be featured in Click Magazine. Please do not euthanize these animals. Per Mr. Rogers, the 6 dogs and cats below will be ready for adoption by the publishing date of 05/01/2015.

Dogs

A276251

A276091

A275930

A276371

A276559

A276264

Cats

A261116

A276152

A275657

A276289

A273887

A273889

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best,
Beth

MAS supervisor DeKeisha Tunstall confirmed that she had added the appropriate notes to each of the 12 animals’ records.

Since MAS kills the majority of its pets, it would indeed be “tricky” to keep these 12 animals alive from April 11 until after the magazine article was published on May 1. And as it turned out, too tricky.

On April 21, Beth says she learned from an MAS clerk that one of the dogs on her list had been killed because “no names were on the dog”. Dog ID #276371, a rottweiler she called David, had been killed by MAS on April 20. She emailed Rogers to request verification and to ask what had happened. Rogers replied, in part:

I am investigating to find out what went so terribly wrong with this one pet.

Beth asked the names of the 2 supervisors who signed off on the kill list for April 20. Rogers did not answer that question in his response but did include this:

Five people reviewed the list and did not catch this pet.

Beth again asked for the names of the 2 supervisors. Rogers replied, in part:

[T]he pet was signed off for euthanasia by the operations manager and me. There were extenuating circumstances identified by our staff concerning this pet that we should have communicated to you, but did not.

Local media covered the story of David’s killing and Rogers issued a press release on April 22 which reads, in part:

One of the pets selected by Ms. Spencer was not a good candidate for adoption. The pet was reviewed by the kennel staff and the clinical staff on Sunday, April 19, 2015.

Beth asked what the “extenuating circumstances” were which resulted in David being killed. Rogers wrote back:

On Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 7:46 AM, <James.Rogers@memphistn.gov> wrote:
Ms. Spencer,

Your request to house 12 pets for 21 days was a unique request to say the least. We have accommodated 11 of the pets on your list. I have apologized for the humane euthanasia of one of them because we did not inform you prior to euthanasia. MAS pets are reviewed daily, by kennel staff and clinical staff. A pet kept in this environment for extended periods of time is not good for the pet. Extenuating Circumstances; the pet was found to be heart worm positive, growling, having to have a muzzle to perform clinical interaction and was here past the review date. Your note to have the pet networked for CLICK Magazine was missed by the staff and the pet was humanely euthanized without notifying you.

James M. Rogers
Administrator, MAS

My, how quickly we went from “investigating to find out what went so terribly wrong with this one pet” to FFS lady, we kept 11 out of your 12 animals alive – isn’t that good enough for you?

Obtained via FOIA request, MAS records show that a note was placed in David’s record indicating he should not be killed as he was being featured in a magazine article. Records further show that David was killed, not for health or behavior as Rogers contended, but for “time”.
david MAS kill record

david MAS kill record2

There are no notes indicating that 5 people reviewed and approved David’s killing. There are no notes indicating the dog had any problem with aggression. He is described in the records as QAR and BAR (quiet/alert/responsive and bright/alert/responsive). The tech muzzled David before drawing his blood for the heartworm test on April 4 and there is a note that he growled during his vet exam that day. There are no notes indicating the dog was ever evaluated for his behavior by anyone. There are no notes indicating the dog was “reviewed by the kennel staff and the clinical staff on Sunday, April 19″ for suitability as an adoption candidate. The sole note entered on April 19 says that the animal’s time has expired and there are no holds on the dog.

Beth said she specifically chose David, along with the other 11 animals, because of his solid temperament, describing him as a calm dog who would make an excellent pet. Photos taken by Beth on April 11 show him being handled by a volunteer:

David at MAS.  (Photo by Beth Spencer)

David at MAS. (Photo by Beth Spencer)

David at MAS.  (Photo by Beth Spencer)

David at MAS. (Photo by Beth Spencer)

Since this was not the first time a pet whom Beth had been trying to get adopted was killed by MAS, she asked Rogers what steps are being taken to prevent these types of killings from continuing to happen. Rogers finally answered her question on April 30, adding that he doesn’t want any response from her and that he considers the matter closed. These are the steps Rogers states he has taken in the aftermath of David’s killing:

The request by Beth Spencer to hold 12 pets she identified for 21 days for a magazine article was a unique occurrence.

This is something we haven’t done before and will definitely think about before approving again.

I have discussed thoroughly with the management/clinic staff and resolved to

1.) ensure memo is input and not a comment,

2.) check pets with a request like this daily and inform customer of changes in status

3.) ensure management/employees check comment box before disposition,

4.) MAS make recommendation of pets to be advertised as opposed to outsiders.

I guess it hadn’t occurred to me before how the word “outsiders” could be made to sound so… dirty. Ew. But yeah, looks like Rogers has learned some important lessons here. Agreeing to not kill pets is stupid and we won’t be doing that again. And don’t give up on that lame ass aggression story, even when there isn’t a shred of evidence to support it.

Beth would like to see James Rogers removed as MAS director. Respectful letters condemning David’s killing (in strong but polite terms) as well as the needless killing of thousands of other pets under Rogers’ leadership and calling for Rogers to be removed may be sent to Rogers’ bosses:

Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.
City Hall
125 N. Main St. Room 700
Memphis, Tn 38103
(901) 636-6000
mayor@memphistn.gov

Janet P. Hooks
Director, Parks and Neighborhoods
125 North Main, Ste. 200
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 636-6564
Janet.Hooks@memphistn.gov

LaSonya Hall
Deputy Director, Parks and Neighborhoods
125 North Main, Ste. 200
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 636-6564
LaSonya.Hall@memphistn.gov

(Thank you to everyone who sent me info on this story.)

Treats on the Internets

A family who took in a stray dog in Glynn Co, GA had her spayed and vaccinated but ultimately surrendered her to the county pound due to destructive behavior.  As sometimes happens, the family changed their minds after surrendering the pet and returned the next day to retrieve her.  Pound staff had already killed the dog for being “timid”.  After a citizen’s complaint was filed, the county terminated the director, who had been on the job less than 2 weeks.  But the county has 1001 excuses for killing animals so I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for whoever is hired next.

Amarillo, TX – Four ACOs working in the field lack current certifications and haven’t had them in years.  (Thank you Clarice for the link.)

In Las Vegas, AC impounded a puppy with a severely mangled leg in need of amputation.  The surgery was delayed for 72 hours with the shelter citing the stray holding period as the reason.  The puppy has since been rescued, had her surgery and been adopted.  (Thanks Clarice.)

Feline audiogenic reflex seizures aka “The Tom and Jerry Syndrome” connects sound sensitivity to seizures in senior cats.

Fifteen bison who escaped from a NY farm were shot to death by “hired guns” under supervision of county deputies and with permission from the owner.  Determined to be a public safety risk, one animal was left “flailing in the creek” after being shot.  (Thanks Susan.)

The state of MN has ended a $1.7 million moose research project which involved fitting both newborn calves and adults with GPS collars.  More than a dozen of the collared calves were abandoned by their mothers and five of the collared adults died.  (Thanks Clarice.)

Dog Runs Home After Being Shot by ACO 5 Times, ACO Hunts Him Down

Max with family, as shown on the WVVA website.

Max with family, as shown on the WVVA website.

West Virginia – On April 21, Tamara Curry’s dogs Max and Tyson accidentally escaped the family’s fenced yard and were roaming the neighborhood.  Someone called Greenbrier Co ACO Robert McClung about the dogs.  ACO McClung loaded Tyson into his vehicle but says Max was growling, showing his teeth and coming towards him so he shot the dog 5 times.  The wounded pet went to his bed on his porch to lay down.  ACO McClung says he then dragged Max off the porch.

Ms. Curry, who had been asleep inside the house with her children but was awakened by the gun shots, heard ACO McClung tell Max, “That’s what you get for being stupid.” She then heard more gunshots and the sound of a vehicle driving away. Curry, who had not come outside during the incident because she did not know who the lunatic with the gun was or what he might do next, found a note slipped under her door by ACO McClung which read “We have removed 2 dogs from your property.”

Ms. Curry is heartbroken because Max was family.  She says he was never aggressive and was a good dog.  She doesn’t believe McClung should stay employed as an ACO because he’s not doing his job:

“I feel that there should have been some other step done first. I don’t feel he’s compassionate. I will quote his business card. It says serving and protecting man’s best friend. I don’t feel he did that. I don’t feel he did the steps to protect my dog.”

I would agree that an ACO whose one and only tool in the toolbox for dealing with growling dogs is GUN should not be on the job.

McClung tells WVVA that there was nothing he could have done differently, especially with Max coming at him. While some outraged citizens worry he isn’t trained, McClung says he is only one of 100 people nationwide that has the level of training he does from the National Animal Control Association.

What special NACA training is he referring to?  And where are the other 99 bozos we have to protect our pets from?

Greenbrier Co has fined the Curry family for having dogs off leash and for expired licenses and rabies tags.  There are still blood stains on their porch.

Concerned citizens are expected to attend tonight’s county commissioners’ meeting to demand that McClung be fired.  McClung is confident that won’t happen and in fact, isn’t even bothering to attend the meeting.

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

Chicago Pound Leaves Dog in a Van for 5 Days

"Waaaaaateeer" Missy, as pictured on the NBC Chicago website.

“Waaaaaateeer”
Missy, as pictured on the NBC Chicago website.

That pillar of animal care and control, the Chicago pound, is once again pillaring all over the animals.  Pound staff brought 14 dogs to the Chicago Wolves hockey game for an adoption event on Saturday, April 18.  A dog called Missy was reportedly “having problems” at the event and was taken out to a cage in a city vehicle.  Missy was left unattended in the cage for the remainder of the adoption event and for the next five days.  A volunteer found Missy on Thursday night, April 23, “barely alive” and still caged in the van which was parked in a city lot a mile from the pound.  Someone called the police, who immediately went into corrupt enabler mode:

Police said they do not know specifically how many days the dog was left inside the van.

[…]

Police say it was an accident and they do not expect any criminal charges.

We don’t know how many days the dog was left in the van because math is hard and also a very inexact science.  But we don’t need to know how many days it was because even if it was 5 or 3 or 53, we know it was just an oopsie.  And oopsies are not crimes when committed by city employees I guess.

Pound spokesmen describe Missy as “playful” and suffering “no health issues” after being neglected for 5 days.  Which totally gels with the “barely alive” thing.  Maybe she was too weak to stand and had to be carried and they figured she was “playing dead”, I don’t know.

Anyhoo the pound will investigate itself in the matter and depending on the findings, may go so far as to take disciplinary action against someone.  Which is exactly the same punishment as would be doled out to a regular citizen who neglected a dog so egregiously no doubt.

In addition to determining who left Missy in the van instead of returning her to the pound after the adoption event, I have more questions.  Who signed off on feeding Missy every day from April 18 through April 23?  Who signed off on walking her?  Who made the daily notations in her records about her general well-being?  Are any of those people going to face the dreaded disciplinary action?

Chicago taxpayers need to demand that pound employees do their jobs and be held accountable when they don’t.  For whatever that demand might be worth.

(Thank you to everyone who sent me links on this story.)

Weekend Jade

Open Thread

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

Artist:  Lorraine Loots (via Instagram)

Artist: Lorraine Loots (via Instagram)

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