Treats on the Internets

Kevin Myrick, an ACO with Iberville AC in Louisiana, was sent to the scene of a car accident on July 5 to pick up a loose dog.  In the official report on the incident, ACO Myrick stated someone had run over the dog by the time he arrived.  But at some point afterward, he reportedly told several co-workers, including at least one supervisor, that the dog was not friendly so he chopped him up with a machete.  He has since been fired and arrested. (Thank you Clarice for the link.)

A Pennsylvania woman who had her animals seized in January 2014 by the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area under shady circumstances has been fighting in court ever since.  Although the HS filed criminal charges against the owner, the DA refused to prosecute.  In December 2014, the court ordered the HS to return her animals but by then, the HS had already killed some and sent others out of state.  And in May 2015, a judge ordered the HS to pay the woman $3500 in legal fees.  (Thanks Brenda.)

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is reportedly cracking down on rescues, requiring them to adhere to the same standards (all surfaces must be non-porous, etc.) required of municipal shelters.  Cat trees, newspapers, cardboard boxes and anything wooden are all against regulations and some groups are shutting down as a result.  (Thanks Lita.)

A former employee at the Memphis pound alleges she was targeted by director James Rogers because of her religious beliefs.  In one incident, she says he required her to recite scripture to prove she was being true to her faith.  (Thanks Arlene.)

Another study to fuel the War on Cats.  And the sensible version.  (Thanks Valerie.)

Delta, American and United Airlines have all banned the transport of buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino “trophies”, making it that much harder for rich, killy Americans to get animal body parts to decorate their walls and compensate for their own dead body parts.

Everyone loves this clip of Laura the lizard popping bubbles.  (Thanks Karen.)

Nobody WANTS to Kill Animals – Pittsylvania Co Edition

The Pittsylvania Co pound in Virginia has an 80% kill rate for cats.  Pete Boswell, the county’s chief ACO, has an excuse:

Boswell said the county’s shelter picks up feral cats throughout the year, which drives up rates, he said.

It only drives up kill rates if you actually kill the cats.  But that’s probably just me being persnickety.

Most cats impounded by Pittsylvania Co get sent to the Danville Area Humane Society.  Which has a 93% kill rate for cats.  So long frying pan, hello fire.  Paulette Dean, the Danville pound’s executive director also has an excuse:

“Have you seen the number of cats we receive?” Dean said via email Friday.

Apparently if you saw the number of cats, you’d be all right with killing 93% of them.  Because number.

The Pittsylvania facility has no director and never has had one in its 30 years of existence.  The ACOs go out on calls and the pound is unattended while they are in the field.  But they’re doing the best they can:

Boswell said the shelter makes every effort to adopt out its animals.

[…]

As for adoptions, Pittsylvania County animal shelter officials promote them by running four photos of animals per week in a local weekly publication, Boswell said.

Four photos.  Not one – not two – not three – but FOUR PHOTOS.  The county really is doing all the things to save lives.  Except TNR.  They don’t do that.  Because it’s stupid:

“It has not been proven that it reduces the number of cats,” Boswell said. Of course it decreases euthanasia rates if they’re picked up and released back into the wild, Boswell said.

Yeah I mean OF COURSE if you aren’t actually killing the cats, it makes the kill rate go down.  That doesn’t mean it’s some kind of good idea or anything.

Hound at the Pittsylvania Co pound who was killed while rescuers offered to save him.

Hound at the Pittsylvania Co pound who was killed while rescuers offered to save him.

Pittsylvania Co has 3 ACOs, one of whom has been out sick the past 3 months.  If someone wants to adopt or rescue an animal and the place is locked, they have the option of waiting around to see if an ACO shows up.  Can’t call because no one is there to answer.  Can’t email because no one has time for such tedium, as evidenced by the case of a starving, mangy hound who was picked up by Pittsylvania Co last month and killed while offers to save him were ignored:

[Franklin Co HS director Anita] Scott says she made several attempts to contact the shelter to save the dog but says her calls and emails went unanswered. “So, there was never a reply.”

Boswell claims he didn’t have time between himself and the other officer to respond to Scott’s emails. “The email says “Is this guy going to be released. That’s all it says. The next day I didn’t get to reply due to the work schedule.”

The email did not say DO NOT KILL in red typeface with many exclamation points and the “oh no” emoticon and anyway I can barely squeeze in all the animal killings what with the four photos a week and such.

So many more cupcakes are needed.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Weekend Jade

The blockhead who brings comfort.

The blockhead who brings comfort.

Open Thread

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

Illustration by Edward Gorey

Illustration by Edward Gorey

Name That Animal

This is just for fun and the only rule is:  no researching.  Post your smartest or, if you are playing on my level, embarrassing guesses in the comments.  Reading other people’s answers before posting your own is inconceivable! optional.  Answer will be posted in the comments tonight.

nta

Thoughts on Cecil

Regardless of where one falls on the rather broad spectrum of views on hunting, I think nearly everyone agrees that poachers – those who hunt animals illegally – are the worst of the worst.  Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer is a poacher, having plead guilty in 2008 to a felony related to a bear he illegally killed in Wisconsin.

Earlier this month, Palmer paid professional hunting guides $55,000 so he could go to Zimbabwe and kill a lion with a crossbow.  Palmer and his guides tied a dead animal to the back of their vehicle and scented an area just outside Hwange National Park to lure the lion out of the protected area at night.  The 13 year old lion, a beloved tourist attraction named Cecil who was wearing a GPS collar and being monitored by researchers from Oxford University, followed the scent out of the park and onto private property where Palmer lay in wait.  Palmer reportedly shot Cecil with an arrow and the lion fled in terror.  Palmer and his guides tracked the injured lion for 2 days and finally killed him with a rifle.  He then allegedly tried to destroy Cecil’s tracking collar, cut off his head and skinned him, leaving the headless, skinless remains to rot:

The hunt was illegal, according to Zimbabwe parks authorities, who say that the hunter and the landowner did not have permits to kill a lion. The landowner and professional guide accompanying Palmer will face court in early August for poaching charges[.]

Calls for the prosecution of Palmer have been swift and numerous.  In a statement, Palmer threw his guides under the bus and claimed he didn’t know Cecil was collared until after he finished killing him.  His statement fails to address why at that point he didn’t report the killing to authorities but instead went ahead with the beheading and skinning of Cecil.

Trophy hunting is big business and Americans make up the vast majority of trophy hunters.  Lion “trophies” get sent to the U.S. more than any other place in the world.  And some conservationists support trophy hunting as a means to manage and fund conservation efforts.

I don’t know if Walter Palmer is concerned about conservation work or whether he has ever used his money to help animals stay alive.  In researching this post, I found that in 2009, he paid $127,500 and agreed to undergo sexual harassment training to settle a claim filed against him by a female employee who said she “was subjected to verbal comments and physical conduct involving her breasts, buttocks, and genitalia.”  In 2012, he donated $5000 to the presidential election campaign of fellow animal abuser Mitt Romney.  I did not find any record of Palmer funding conservation efforts directly.

Whether one supports or condemns trophy hunting, it is legal and will continue to take place, courtesy of rich Americans mostly.  Poaching of course is illegal but it too will continue so long as there is someone with cash in hand.  On Monday, under cover of darkness, poachers killed an adult female elephant and 4 of her offspring in Tsavo West National Park in Kenya, hacked off their tusks then escaped on motorcycles.  The story barely made the news.

In the midst of all the back and forth over the sinister killing of Cecil, many people have been deeply moved.  Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel choked up on live television when talking about the story.  An interview with Ernest Small, an academic who specializes in biodiversity revealed that, despite understanding the science behind the emotional reaction to Cecil’s death, even he feels upset:

“I was disgusted frankly. If there was a lynch mob I’d probably join it,” he said, acknowledging the irony.

Our relationship with animals is complicated.  I don’t have any particular wisdom to impart regarding Cecil and I am just as sad and angry as everyone else.  I don’t think that signing a petition or making a donation is going to make me feel better although I’m certainly not opposed to either.  Being human is a heavy burden and a great responsibility.  Animals have always made that burden easier for me and in return, I try to be as compassionate and respectful as possible.  It’s not enough and it doesn’t negate the Walter Palmers of the world, but it’s something.  And something beats the hell out of nothing any day of the week.  Where there’s life, there’s hope.

Cecil with a lioness.  (Photo by Brent  Stapelkamp)

Cecil with a lioness. (Photo by Brent Stapelkamp)

Alabama ACO Fails to Catch Loose Puppies, Guns Them Down

A litter of friendly puppies who appeared to be suffering from mange turned up near a golf club in Boaz, AL.  Two pups were caught by local rescuers and are being treated for mange before they go up for adoption.  The local ACO was called about the other pups who had wandered into someone’s yard.  The ACO reportedly tried to catch them but was unsuccessful so he shot them to death.  There was a public outcry over the killings on social media.  The Boaz police department, which oversees AC, responded by releasing a statement which reads, in part:

The animal control officer responded to the residence where the dogs had been dropped, and the owner of the property wished the dogs to be removed. The animal control officer noticed that the dogs were covered in mange and appeared to be sickly. However, after several attempts to catch the dogs, the officer was unable to do so and informed the home owner of this fact. After talking with the property owner and with a neighbor, it was decided that to remove the dogs, they would have to be put down. The home owner and neighbor both agreed with the animal control officer that because of the conditions of the dogs and for the safety of the public, it was best to put the dogs down. The officer had no alternative except to remove the dogs due to their conditions and concerns about the health, welfare, and safety of the public.

Guys, GUYS – The Neighbor was consulted and agreed that shooting the puppies was a good idea!  Totes reassured.  But just in case any of you nitpicky animal advocates have any lingering questions:

The Boaz police are investigating the incident to insure that all proper measures were taken and to implement corrective procedures if necessary.

The Neighbor gave the thumbs up and the police are investigating themselves so I guess there’s nothing left to do but fall into enabler mode:

Doug McGee [the rescuer who saved two of the pups] said he’s spoken with [Boaz police chief Scott] Farish about the whole thing and is hopeful the animal control officer made the right call. McGee said it’s a sad situation, and it’s hard for anyone who wasn’t there to know if shooting them was a correct move because of the public safety issues involved. He hopes the officer weighed all the options first.

“I wish he could have come up with a different approach. Sometimes decisions have to be made,” he said.

Yeah it’s hard for anyone who wasn’t there to know if shooting puppies was the right thing to do.  Because sometimes shooting puppies is the right thing to do, apparently.  Although no circumstances jump to mind of when that would be exactly.  But The Neighbor agreed.  And the public is now safe.  From puppies.

Animals:  Controlled.  Well done, Boaz.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Be Here Now: Loving Pets Available in Shelters

I was researching a public shelter and couldn’t find a website for the facility so visited its page on Petfinder.  At the top of that page, the shelter had a quote from another website which reads, in part:

ALL SHELTER DOGS WERE ONCE NORMAL PUPPIES eager to learn how to live with people. Yet far too many dogs are surrendered to shelters largely because their owners were unaware of how to prevent predictable puppy/adolescent behavior, temperament and training problems.

While I understand the desire to promote responsible puppy ownership, putting this quote on a shelter’s webpage is a terrible idea because it translates to:

ALL SHELTER DOGS ARE ABNORMAL. They were once normal but that time has passed. As adult shelter dogs, they don’t want to learn how to live with people. It’s not their fault they are defective. Their ignorant former owners saddled them with the behavioral, temperament and training problems they now have.

Myth:  Shelter dogs are damaged goods.  There is a reason they are sitting in a shelter.

Reality:  Shelter dogs are dogs, just like owned pets.  They come in all varieties of behavior, temperament and training, just like owned pets.  They may have had an ignorant owner in the past or a loving owner who was simply unable to care for them any longer or perhaps they haven’t had an owner in quite some time.  Verifiable information about the pet’s past is often not available.

Nearly all dogs are happy to learn how to do what is required of them in order to have a place within a family home.  This is true for dogs adopted from shelters as well as dogs obtained from friends, family or other sources.  Adopters should expect to put some work into their new pet – not because he came from a shelter but because he is a dog.  Adopters can also expect to experience the joys of living with a companion animal.

Wendy, former and current normal dog, was adopted from a shelter and readily took to her bed hog training.

Wendy, former and current normal dog, was adopted from a shelter and readily took to her bed hog training.

Shelter dogs don’t dwell on their past.  Neither should we.  Every dog is an individual with the right to live, love and be loved.  At most public shelters, animals’ right to live is violated by the very people we pay to protect them from harm.  The notion that anyone at a shelter would do anything to discourage adoptions, and thus increase the number of pets going to the kill room, is tragic.

If you are considering adopting a shelter pet, don’t be fooled by the myths.  A dog sitting in a shelter is a dog – no more, no less.  It’s possible they might be a little more appreciative than average because you saved their life but you can probably manage.

ASPCA All Done with Bunny Publicity Now

In January and February 2015, the ASPCA and NYPD seized 175 rabbits from a woman in Brooklyn.  The rabbits were reportedly living outdoors, suffering from syphilis, conjunctivitis and other illnesses.  Logo jackets were donned, sad rabbits were displayed, photographs were taken and presumably, donations were collected.  Since the seizure, approximately 60 more bunnies have been born.  And the bills for housing the animals have been adding up all these months.

The owner was charged with animal cruelty but has yet to go to trial.  She has claimed the rabbits were part of a breeding scheme, designed to produce pastel colored bunnies and make her a multi-millionaire.  I wonder where she got the wacky idea that there are millions to be made off animals.

The ASPCA sent an attorney to a bond hearing in the case last week to fight for permission from the judge to kill the seized animals.  The judge ruled in favor of the bunnies:

“None of the rabbits shall be killed,” the judge order, adding, “If they die of natural causes that’s one thing, but if they need to be euthanized you need a further order.”

One of the animal advocates closely involved with the case said on social media that the “ASPCA lawyer jumped to her feet to argue for him to change his mind” but the judge did not waiver.  I always wondered what it would take to get the ASPCA to jump in response to an animal case.  Now I know.  

The judge ordered the owner to pay the ASPCA for the cost of caring for the rabbits but it’s not known if or when that might happen.

Anyhoo, so tragic.  The ASPCA is going to have to actually do their jobs and prevent cruelty to animals instead of inflicting it via mass bunny killing.  And they’re going to have to open up their fat wallet and part with some dollars too.  *single tear*   

(Thanks Nathan for sending me this story.)

Weekend Jade

Special efx

Special efx

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