Islip Shelter Tells Owners Their Beloved Lost Pet Will Be Sold to Strangers

When we last checked in with the Town of Islip Animal Shelter in NY, it was to report on one of the employees there pocketing hundreds of dollars in cash from a pet owner who wanted to rehome her two little dogs.  Instead of taking the dogs to the shelter as promised, the employee tied one dog up in a garbage bag and left her in a dumpster while turning the other pet loose on the street.  He was charged with felony animal cruelty.  I don’t know the status on that case.  This week, the Town of Islip Animal Shelter again made the news and again, not in a good way.

Lucky, as pictured on the CBS 2 website.

Lucky, as pictured on the CBS2 website.

The owners of an eight year old King Charles Cavalier called Lucky had to leave the country to care for a terminally ill family member.  They left Lucky with a dog sitter but he somehow got lost and was taken to the Islip facility.  The dog sitter attempted to reclaim the dog but was turned away.  Friends of the family also attempted to intervene but they too were refused.  At issue was proof of ownership:

The shelter released a statement on its Facebook page Monday, saying “Since the dog has no form of ID, no tags or microchip, their is no proof of ownership. Legally we have to put the dog up for adoption after being held for 5 days if no owner steps up.”

[…]

According to the Islip Animal Shelter, to properly claim one’s dog the owner needs to go to the shelter in person with photo ID and proof of ownership. The owner should also have veterinary information, medical records and family photos.

While this sounds like a fair policy in general, it seems obvious that not everyone is going to be able to meet all these requirements – especially if the person reclaiming the pet is a temporary caretaker and the actual owners are on another continent. Each individual case should be processed with due consideration given to the circumstances at hand.

Lucky’s owners called the shelter to plead for their pet’s return but to no avail.  The shelter’s statement verifies that staff did speak with the owners:

“We do know who the owner is, and that they are out of the country. They have been contacted and they have been made aware that the dog will be put up for adoption and placed with a good home.”

What the effing eff?  How is this not just plain evil?  We know who the owner is but screw them, they just pay our salaries.  And screw the dog too.  We’re going to break up this family.  Because that’s what animal sheltering is all about.

I can’t help but notice that Lucky is a purebred dog of a very popular breed.  It makes me wonder if Islip is one of those places that charges extra for certain “high demand” pets.  Is Islip this stringent on proof of ownership for every mangy shepherd mix and lame pitbull whose owners or caretakers try to reclaim them?

Lucky’s friends contacted the local news which aired a story and made the rounds on social media.  Public outcry was swift.  And the next day, the shelter was shamed into returning Lucky to his caretaker.  Thank you irresponsible public for demanding the Islip shelter workers do their jobs and for advocating for Lucky while he was being held prisoner by these people.

What the hell goes on at the Islip facility when the news cameras are not around?  How many other owned pets have been stolen by Islip?  I bet every heartbroken owner who ever lost a pet in this town and resigned themselves to life without their family member is now wondering if Islip might have had their animal.  Something is seriously wrong with this place.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)

Video Shows Dog Being Abused at Hesperia Pound

A video posted online shows a whimpering dog being dragged by a leash around the neck at the Hesperia pound in CA:

The video was reportedly taken by a member of the public who was looking for her lost dog at the pound when she saw what appears to be one staff member dragging a dog behind her like a bag of trash while two other city employees have a chat.  But I guess they are all talked out now because they have nothing to say to the local news:

Victor Valley News reporters reached out to the Hesperia Animal Shelter staff, the operator simply said, “The department is aware of it and investigating it”. A message was also left for Cheryl Lewis, a shelter supervisor, who is not yet available for comment on this matter.

Gosh, I wonder how long before Ms. Lewis becomes available for comment:

A past shelter employee, who asked to remain anonymous for legal reasons has identified the alleged people in the video. Victor Valley News will withhold from publishing the name of the person seen dragging the dog until the investigation is complete.  The former employee alleged the two other’s who stood by in the video are Officer Osvaldo Montes and Supervisor Cheryl Lewis. The former employee, also shared that she was let go from her position only after speaking out about some of the happenings at the shelter.

Welp.

The Hesperia pound reportedly will only allow rescuers to save animals from being killed if they sign an agreement waiving their First Amendment rights with regards to speaking up about abuse at the pound.  That has kept many from going public with their concerns.  In spite of the threats against rescuers, 60 people showed up at an emergency city hall meeting last night.

When the city council was asked about the legality of violating the Constitutional rights of rescuers, the city attorney responded, “This might not be satisfactory” and said he’d look into the matter.

The meeting went four and a half hours, with most of the speakers advocating on behalf of the shelter pets:

Stephanie Lonsdale, an animal advocate that is known in the community for speaking up for the well-being of animals mentioned that the Hesperia Animal Shelter currently has a 70% kill rate. The 70% kill rate equals 7 out of 10 animals entering the shelter being euthanized rather than reunited or adopted. “The shelters do not utilize the free sites that are available to them to place these animals,” said Lonsdale.

Of course there’s one in every bunch:

“I believe it was misjudgment, not abuse. Ideally the dog would not be there or the dog would have been socialized,” said Lisa Wilson.

Yeah, the slutty whoredog was prolly drunk and asking for it and the owners are all the suck too.

Oh and the unwashed owners, who have since irresponsibly reclaimed their pet, showed up to speak for their dog:

Of all the speakers, the most touching, bringing tears to the speaker as well as, much of the crowd was the dog’s owner, Tracie Carpenter.

“I don’t have fancy things to tell you, like a lot of the people here. I am not going to use crazy big words or rescue terminology. I am here on behalf of Mia, who is my dog.  She is not a 60 pound dog that can not be carried, she is 47 pounds. She is not unsociable, she is a beautiful girl and very lovable, she was scared, the floor was slippery,” said Carpenter with her voice cracking due to her emotions on the treatment of her dog.

“She was in the shelter for just over 24 hours and I have no idea how the rest of her stay was there. If it is going to happen to a dog that belongs to somebody, that is loved, that has a good home, that has someone to care for them, it can also happen to the ones that have no one to speak for them, the dogs that are being euthanized, the ones that are being put to sleep, the ones you don’t hear anything about, the ones who do not have anyone to come here and stand before you gentlemen to explain that they do not have any behavioral issues, it was a good dog, she is a wonderful dog.”

Any questions as to where the haters can stick their “misjudgment”?

The city council says they love animals and will take the matter seriously and blah:

The city is encouraging anyone with concerns to email socialmedia@cityofhesperia.us.

Right.  Funnel all the concerns to one faceless email account where they can sit and rot.

OR, you can contact the Hesperia city council members directly and ask that a complete and transparent investigation be conducted and all applicable criminal charges filed:

Eric Schmidt, Mayor; email eschmidt@cityofhesperia.us
Bill Holland, Mayor Pro Tem; email bholland@cityofhesperia.us.
Russell “Russ” Blewett, Council Member; email rblewett@cityofhesperia.us.
Mike Leonard, Council Member; email mleonard@cityofhesperia.us.
Paul Russ, Council Member; email pruss@cityofhesperia.us.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Staff at Texas Pound Chucks Donations into the Dumpster

The Montgomery Co pound in Texas has a sign taped on the front door asking the public for donations of towels, blankets, quilts, puppy pads, pet food and various other items typically requested as donations by shelters.  We’ve all heard this one before:  municipal shelters are underfunded and the staff is forced to kill animals because of the irresponsible public and blah.

Well in Montgomery Co, the irresponsible public kindly donated many of the requested items on the pound’s list.  And the staff threw the donations into the dumpster.  Volunteers had to dumpster dive in order to retrieve the brand new pet beds, food, puppy pads and other donations.

Donations from the public thrown away by staff at the Montgomery Co pound in Texas, as shown on the KHOU website.

Donations from the public thrown away by staff at the Montgomery Co pound in Texas, as shown on the KHOU website.

When a KHOU reporter asked pound director Dr. Aubrey Ross for an explanation, he was all oh gee, misunderstanding. But a reporter with The Courier of Montgomery Co got more details:

Included in the items was unopened, unexpired pet food, the volunteer said. The situation was reported to the shelter’s director, who helped pull the items out. According to the volunteer, the director did not know who instructed employees to trash the items.

[…]

However, Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark, who is overseeing the transition of the shelter’s new management, said the situation was a misunderstanding between Dr. Aubrey Ross II, who is now managing the shelter, and staff.

He said items were not “brand new.”

[…]

Clark said Ross gave the nod to discard the items under the impression that the items were not usable.

“We didn’t have all new stuff there,” said Clark, adding that many of the items were torn or broken.

Volunteers say many of the donations still had tags on them. I guess the filthy rat bastard public must have ripped up the donations after paying for them and before leaving them at the pound.

On its website, the Montgomery Co pound has two months of statistics – September and October 2013.  Those two months reflect a kill rate of 46%.  I think the misunderstanding here has to do with the meaning of the word shelter. Get some management in there who understands what it means to actually shelter animals and I bet the donation hurling stops all by itself.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Page 15 in Wednesday’s Virginian-Pilot Newspaper

Photo of a full page ad in the Virginian-Pilot.  Click here to for a scanned version of the ad which is easily readable.

Photo of a full page ad appearing in the Virginian-Pilot on January 28, 2015. Click here to for a scanned version of the ad which is easily readable.

Maya’s story is here.

(Thanks Jean for sending me these images.)

New Hanover Co Wants to Kill “Dangerous” Dog Who Has Never Bitten Anyone

Honey, as shown on the WECT website.

Honey, as shown on the WECT website.

New Hanover Co in NC killed roughly half of its dogs and cats in 2013.  And the pound wants to kill yet another dog, an owned pet named Honey who has never bitten anyone, because she allegedly sneaks and snarls:

[New Hanover Co] deemed Honey as a potentially dangerous dog in June after five separate civil and state citations were filed reporting the owner’s inability to keep the dog controlled.

“All of the different accounts have stated the dog is snarling. It sneaks around behind them. It does a sneak attack sort of situation,” said Steve Watson, of the New Hanover County Animals Services.

Emphasis on SORT OF, I guess.  No one has been bitten.  But for whatever reasons, Honey’s owners seem to have repeatedly failed in keeping her confined.  And after the county declared Honey potentially dangerous, she was picked up running loose again last November, making that a sixth citation against the owners.  As punishment, the county wants to kill the healthy 2 year old dog:

“We get to a point where it becomes an issue of public safety, and if the owner doesn’t comply then we have to take the dog from them,” Watson explained.

Well, SORT OF public safety, if you close one eye and squint with the other.  Again, no one has been bitten.

Owner Ashley Aiena is heartbroken:

“You’re not just taking away a dog, you ‘re taking away our child,” sniffled Aiena. “We love this dog with all of our heart. It’s been very, very stressful and I am loosing [sic] it over this. It’s not right.”

Ms. Aiena filed an appeal with the pound, requesting Honey be allowed to live but the pound denied the appeal.  The family has until January 29 to take the appeal to superior court.

Any dog with teeth could be described as a potentially dangerous dog.  It seems the real issue here is the owners’ failure to keep the dog confined.  What are the reasons for this?  Could the problem be solved with a fence?  Does Honey need a coyote roller bar on her fencing to prevent her from climbing?  If Honey is killed, will the owners get another dog and face similar confinement issues, effectively hitting reset on the six citation cycle?  How is the public served by killing Honey?

New Hanover Co needs to take a fresh look at how it handles owned dogs picked up running loose.  The current protocols aren’t making anyone safer and are violating the animals’ right to live, which New Hanover Co obviously doesn’t respect anyway.

(Thanks Lisa and Clarice for the link.)

UPDATED: More on Klein Animal Shelter Cruelty

Texas – In addition to the Klein Animal Shelter’s director, who was charged with multiple counts including felony animal cruelty, another former employee who was certified to kill animals has been arrested and charged with cruelty.  A third arrest is expected today.  The Jacksonville police chief is asking former pound employees who witnessed crimes to contact police and give a statement.

The cities who contracted with the Klein facility for animal control are all developing individual plans for handling lost and homeless pets.  Tragically, the city of Tyler “is developing euthanasia guidelines to manage populations long term” instead of embracing a proven model which would make lifesaving a priority.

Klein is being emptied out by private rescue groups.  All the cats are now out of the building and a number of dogs have been removed as well.  The killing apologist who was “not surprised” to hear that dogs were being kicked to death and cats were being strangled at Klein because it’s a hard job and blah, is quoted in several articles complaining that no one is giving her any animals.  I put that down as a win for the pets.

Meanwhile, KLTV decided to follow the money.  Specifically, the city of Tyler has been contracting the Klein facility to take its animals since 2007:

Invoices on record with the city of Tyler indicate that Klein Animal Shelter was paid between $43.00 and $72.00 for each domestic animal. Over the past five months, the charges totaled $57,341.50 paid to the shelter for 557 cats, 626 dogs, and one ferret.

Tyler is just one of several cities that reportedly paid Klein for AC services.  I wonder if Klein’s books will show how the money was spent, seeing as strangling cats to death is you know, free.

KLTV also raises the issue of accountability:

With charges against shelter employees mounting on the heels of a six-month investigation by police, the scrutiny now turns to whether any entity was required to monitor the shelter.

[…]

[Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 823] requires that the shelter separate animals by species, sex, and size; comply with housing and sanitation laws; and that the governing city or municipality appoint an advisory committee to assist with compliance.

So was there an advisory committee?  And if so, what have they been doing all these years while animals were being tortured and killed on the taxpayer’s dime?  Where is the committee now?  Maybe they are with the Klein Animal Shelter board of directors – in a spider hole.

Our shelter system is broken, in part due to the fact that there are little to no legal requirements for transparency and accountability.  Too many cities and counties attempt to hide what’s happening at the local shelter while shielding the animal abusers who work there.  Employees at these facilities know they are free to starve, torture and kill animals at will.  And it’s literally no one’s job to poke their head in the place once a year to see what’s going on and file a public report.  Municipalities keep taxing their residents, writing checks to animal abusers and calling it a day.  Taxpayers deserve better.  Animals deserve better.  Only one of us can advocate for reform.

(Thank you Clarice and Arlene for the links.)

UPDATE, added January 22:  A total of three Klein employees have now been arrested and charged in connection with this case.  Director Angela Wallace was arrested last week and KLTV reports some details on the other two:

Jason Craft was charged with misdemeanor cruelty to non-livestock animals. His bond was set at $1,000. Ashley Ruhl was charged with felony cruelty to non-livestock animals – torture. Her bond was set at $2,500.

Both Craft and Ruhl posted bond and have been released.

From there, the article spirals down into blame the public hysteria and the myth of pet overpopulation so be forewarned.  It seems that even in the face of criminal charges against shelter workers, some people are still willing to levy their harsh judgment against us regular folks who happen to love and own pets.

(Thanks Clarice for the update.)

A Promising Start in Fremont Co Delivers Hope: An Interview with Douglas Rae

When we last checked in with the Humane Society of Fremont Co in Colorado, the place was a hot mess.  State inspections revealed that the facility was killing animals before their legal holding period expired using inhumane methods, including heartstick, performed by untrained staff, leaving sick and injured animals to suffer without immediate vet care, housing cats in cages that were too small and had mesh flooring, and using the surgery room as a cat intake/holding area as well as an isolation area for sick cats.  Local advocates were calling for a new director to bring reform.

Douglas Rae, director of the Humane Society of Fremont Co, with friend. (Photo courtesy Douglas Rae)

Douglas Rae, director of the Humane Society of Fremont Co, with friend. (Photo courtesy Douglas Rae)

On September 24, 2014, advocates’ efforts paid off when newly hired director Douglas Rae started on the job.  I recently interviewed Doug and learned that under his leadership, the HSFC is now saving nearly every animal in its care.  And it’s not being done at the expense of cats either since HSFC isn’t a participant in the War on Cats, choosing instead to reunite lost, friendly, outdoor cats with their owners or find them new ones if needed.  Feral cats are neutered and returned to their place in the community.  And the only time HSFC performs owner requested euthanasia now is when an animal is medically hopeless and suffering.

I asked Doug to describe his first day at the Humane Society of Fremont Co:

I was greeted with a large sign on the front door that said, “Welcome Douglas Rae To Our Shelter.” A volunteer was at the front counter when I walked in, he recognized me, and he greeted me straight away before I could introduce myself. I talked with this volunteer at the front counter for almost 30 minutes. This volunteer (and his wife) took me and Lynn (my wife) out to lunch on my first day.

After speaking with the volunteer that greeted me, I immediately went into the cat adoption room and introduced myself to every cat. “Hi my name is Doug, I’m getting you out of here.” After the cats, I had the same talk with every dog in the building. And then the rabbits. And then the cats in intake. It’s a ritual I do in every shelter on day one.

When the Board flew me out for in Interview in August, I spotted several changes that needed to be made. So I had noted many things I would address on day one if I were selected as the new director.

We had signage seemingly on every wall inside of the shelter. I took every sign on the walls down but one, the pricing structure, which I relocated to a better area.

In the front lobby, we sold urns, lots of them. To me, it looked like death with all of the urns on display. I understand why the urns were out for display, I simply didn’t want others to think what I did when they walked in the shelter for the first time. The last thing I want people to think is about is “death.”

So we moved the urns out of immediate eyesight, put nice pictures on the wall in the front lobby and the hallways, moved a couch with pillows into the lobby, added a giant and soothing waterfall in the front window. and made the front area look nice and homey We also started playing soft music and piped aromatherapy through the ventilation system in week one.

In fact, as I write this, over one hour after everyone has gone home for the night, not one dog is making a sound. Not one dog is howling or crying. Not one dog is barking. If dogs were barking tonight, the aromatherapy was not changed out from the previous day. Silence is golden in an animal shelter.

I have a volunteer willing to help us with easy yet potent protocols utilizing homeopathy, essential oils, flower essences, herbs, etc. There are several, easy-to-use remedies that can help calm, ease anxiety, and relieve stress for animals in a shelter. Diffusing oils in both the front area and the kennel area would be very easy and helpful as well.

Individual dogs will also receive homeopathy and other remedies that are good for them specifically – post surgery, digestive support, skin support, URI, UTI, lameness, wound healing, eye issues, arthritis, etc… and guess what, volunteers are all over this making it happen for the animals.

We made a lot of changes straight away because I have high expectations for how a shelter should look. But especially in Canon City, where the shelter had been under such scrutiny. Getting the building to where the community needed it was a priority on day one/week one.

I want the lobby to be warm and inviting. Heck, I want the entire building to be warm and inviting. For the month of October the shelter was decorated for Halloween. It was scary spooky in here. The day after Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations went up throughout the entire building. Including dog and cat cages. It was quite something to see.

Animal shelters need not look and smell like an animal shelter.

I filled a notebook on day one with things we needed to address. But I always do this in new jobs. A lot of notes were written that day.

Since no kill deniers often falsely claim that shelters can not be open admission without killing animals for population control, I asked Doug if HSFC was still contracted to provide animal control services:

Yes. We are contracted through Fremont County, CO and the cities of Canon City, Florence, Coal Creek, Williamsburg, Rockvale and Westcliffe, CO.

There were months of discussion of pulling the contract. Once my appointment was announced online, and after several people who wanted the contract canceled but were now advocating that the contract remain in place (after my announcement and one month before I started), the council decided to not pull the contract.

I also asked about the facility’s budget:

The combined per capita number for all cities and the county we are serving when I started was $1.07. We are still at $1.07. Though I desperately need more money to manage this shelter, I have not received more contract dollars.

Our donations decreased a good deal due to the shelter’s recent history and the medical expenses increased after my start, as we treat all animals requiring treatment, no matter how big or how small the bill (we do not have a vet on staff).

Although much ado is made by some animal groups about length of stay for shelter pets, Doug is not overly concerned with that number at HSFC and doesn’t track it:

Some people think an animal living in a shelter for longer than 7 days (or whatever that magic number is) should be moved out; I guess through the back door, but I don’t. Nor will I ever.

If we have to keep an animal for 30, 60 or 90 days to find that animal a home and ensure life, then we will. We kept two dogs for over 30 days because they needed to be kept together. They were adopted and are now alive in a loving family. Other shelters might have split up a bonded pair of dogs and adopted each individually, or worse, killed the animals if they couldn’t be placed within a designated time frame. Not here, ever. We treat all animals as individuals.

HSFC has been returning lost pets to owners at an impressive rate since Doug started:

We have a 37% Return to Owner rate in my 3 months.

We have a detailed list of lost animals at the front counter, we have a lost and found bulletin board in the shelter, we have a “lost animal found” Facebook page where strays are “immediately” posted online at intake, we scan for micro-chips on intake, we check the Colorado lost pets Facebook page to see if animals match any in our shelter.

We literally have had ACOs bring in a dog and the owner and dog were reunited in less than 30 minutes.

Adoption promotions run continuously:

October, National Shelter Dog Month: half price adoptions. Half price adoptions for rabbits. Half price adoptions for cats. November Adopt a Senior Shelter Dog month $25. Black Friday $25.00 adoptions.

Our shelter was incorporated December 26, 1950. Adoption prices this 12/26, and adoptions always on 12/26, will be $19.50.

Currently we are doing “Gas prices have dropped, and this week…so have our adoption fees for dogs!”

We are always doing something.

Doug attributes credit for saving almost every animal at HSFC to the so-called irresponsible public:

In October (my first month) we saved 93% of the animals, November 99% and December 100%, with a $1.07 per capita and close to being 300 operational hours short.

What we have accomplished over the last three months may not be noteable when compared to other shelters doing the same thing in other cities, but it is historic in this County. And not because of me. I am simply fortunate to be sitting in the drivers seat as this bus makes its way down the road to bigger and better things. My team has made everything happen and because of that teams efforts, Canon City is now on the national life-saving map.

I have never had such a committed and focused group of people saving lives before and I have had a few solid teams in the past. Volunteers from around the state of Colorado (and beyond) have reached out and asked me how they can help.

Volunteers drive two hours one-way to bring animals to a rescue. Volunteers have written a check for $900 to cover a cat’s dislocated shoulder, as quickly as they buy a cup of coffee in the morning (and without my even asking for a penny).

Volunteers raised $400 for a dog’s eye surgery in less than 24 hours (again, without my asking them to do anything). Volunteers completely manage my rescue program. Volunteers take and upload pictures of adoptable animals onto the website. Volunteers foster pregnant dogs, and bring back healthy puppies for people to adopt 8 weeks late. Volunteers save neonatal kittens when they need to be bottle fed by taking them into their foster home. And so much more.

Volunteers are the absolute foundation for what we do in Fremont County. I simply could not be prouder of this team. And really they seemingly were behind me on day one. Sure, I reached out to several people at the start, meeting everyone one-on-one, but folks that were not currently volunteering at the shelter embraced life-saving with little to no direction from me at all.

Rather than clinging to the old/failed ways, which we see so often in animal sheltering, Doug embraces change and sees it as an indication of progress:

If we are not changing, we are not getting better.

Thank you Doug for bringing hope to the lost and homeless animals of Fremont Co. Thank you to the animal advocates who campaigned for reform. And thank you to the irresponsible public for making lifesaving the priority at the Humane Society of Fremont Co. It would be hard to imagine a more impressive turnaround or a more promising start. I hope the future holds continued success.

Starving Dogs Cannibalize Dead Kennel Mate in OK Pound

(Warning:  graphic images and descriptions at links.)

Abe Thomas, animal advocate and rescuer, as depicted in a screengrab from the KTEN website.

Abe Thomas, animal advocate and rescuer, as depicted in a screengrab from the KTEN website.

When a potential adopter, Abe Thomas, visited the Idabel pound in Oklahoma on Tuesday, he found a cage containing three dogs – one was dead and being eaten by the other two, who appeared to be starving.  He says the dogs had no food or water and “were living in their feces, urine.” Mr. Thomas filmed what he saw on his cellphone and posted it on Facebook.

Mr. Thomas left the pound but worried that the adult dog, a gray pitbull, would be blamed for something she didn’t do and killed simply due to breed bias.  So he went back and bailed her out of the pound, calling her Joy while he looks for a permanent home for her.

The pound’s sole ACO, who has been on the job for 24 years, admits the pitbull looks emaciated but says she’d only been at the pound four days and hadn’t had a chance to put on weight yet.  He feeds the dogs once a day.

Area animal advocates say this is not an isolated incident and the animals at the pound have long been neglected.  The ACO says the city generally holds dogs for ten days before taking them to a vet to be killed.  Tulsa World called area vets to ask how many animals they kill for the pound but none called back.  I guess going on the news and talking about how many pets you kill for the city doesn’t exactly encourage clients to open their wallets for your vet services.  So uh, hide.

Speaking of which:

Tulsa Humane Society President Gina Gardner said she had reached out to Foshee on Wednesday and offered to come to Idabel and assist with anything the shelter needs. She said Foshee had so far declined her offer.

Predictably, city officials are in CYA mode:

The Idabel mayor calls this a “gross misunderstanding.” She claims the dog died of natural causes and this must have happened in a few short hours.

The mayor alleges Animal Control Officer Cecil Richards fed the dogs Tuesday morning then came back after lunch to find the scene along with Thomas.

The Idabel police department is in charge of supervising the pound and they investigated themselves in the matter.  And good news, the investigation seems incredibly thorough, despite its lightning speed:

“What was found through that investigation is that yesterday morning, our animal control officer went to work around 8:00 a.m., he went to the dog pound, cleaned out the dog pens, sanitized them, fed and gave water to the dogs” claims the mayor in during a phone interview with KSLA News 12.

[…]

Mayor Foshee-Thomas says the animal control facility has nothing to hide and welcomes anyone to stop by and visit the animals. Abe Thomas says that he and numerous others would happily volunteer their time to make sure the animals are properly cared for. The mayor says that the city plans on doing more checks at the shelter and that in the future, more aggressive dogs will be housed separately.

Right.  Because aggressive dogs cause other dogs to die of natural causes.  Then they make friends with their surviving kennel mate and launch plans to eat the dead dog because aggression.  Any behaviorist will tell you that.  As for the results of the “investigation” anyone who read any of the articles on this story could have come up with that information, since the ACO’s timeline of events was repeated countless times in the media.

Thank goodness Mr. Thomas bailed the pitbull out of there because it sounds like his suspicions were justified.  Here is Joy at Mr. Thomas’s house, getting a belly scratch from a reporter:

Screengrab from KTEN website.

Screengrab from KTEN website.

There is a group on Facebook advocating for reform at the Idabel pound.  I know the mayor doesn’t want any help but feeding the dogs, particularly the emaciated ones, more than once a day would be something the ACO could do.  And should do, although that in itself wouldn’t be nearly enough to be considered meaningful improvement.  I wonder if one of the reasons area vets killing dogs for the city are hiding is because they don’t want to be asked how many pound dogs are emaciated when they stick the needle in them.  I hope the local advocates will FOIA records for the animals who have been killed in Idabel and expose what’s going on there.

(Thanks Clarice and Arlene for the links.)

Protesters Rally Against Neglect at Manatee Co Animal Services

On December 15, Manatee Co Animal Services in FL impounded an adult mixed breed dog, ID #A069483, who had been shot in the leg.  They sent her to a vet clinic for an xray which confirmed her leg was broken.  No treatment was administered to alleviate the dog’s pain or help her in any way.  She was sent back to the pound.

Manatee Co Animal Services medical record for a dog who had been shot in the leg, as posted on Facebook.

Manatee Co Animal Services medical record for a dog who had been shot in the leg, as posted on Facebook.

On December 16, Manatee Co entered notes in the dog’s record indicating she had received an exam from a vet and her prognosis was poor due to severe injury.  The county put flea poison on the dog, gave her a dewormer and vaccinated her.  No treatment was administered to relieve the dog’s obvious suffering.  The severely injured dog was left in a cage to suffer further on December 17, December 18, December 19, December 20, December 21, December 22, and December 23 – no treatment or vet care of any kind was provided according to county records.  Finally on December 24, a volunteer called a vet who authorized giving the dog a pain pill.

The dog, now in the care of rescuers, has been named Amari.  Animal advocates staged a public protest this week to bring attention to Amari’s neglect by the Manatee Co pound.  They say this is not an isolated incident:

“I’m here for Amari and all the other animals that have been mistreated,” said Tara Tresca, 33, of Bradenton, a rescue group volunteer and the organizer of the rally in front of the historic Manatee County Courthouse, 1115 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. “If we did it, we would be in jail for animal cruelty.”

The pound is investigating itself in the matter. Bill Hutchison, interim director of the Animal Services Division, bravely acknowledged that we have a Constitution in this country and that it contains a First Amendment:

“But I respect their opinion and their right to do what they’re doing, and when we have something to say, we will say it,” Hutchison said, referring to rally participants.

Asked to confirm basic facts of the case, he said Amari was a stray admitted to the county Palmetto animal shelter last month, lame and obviously in distress.

Obviously in distress. I guess that’s one way to describe getting shot and dragging a broken leg around. But he has nothing to say right now. Gotta hear both sides.

(Thanks Clarice for all the links on this story.)

Dallas Pound Secretly Kills Four Dogs Slated for Rescue

 Photo attributed to Deborah Whittington, as shown on the Daily Mail website.

Photo attributed to Deborah Whittington, as shown on the Daily Mail website.

Dallas Animal Services functions primarily as a pet killing facility, killing more than half of the animals taken in last year.  You don’t earn the moniker “pet killing facility” without putting forth some effort – specifically, killing most of the animals in your care.  There is not going to be a whole lot in the way of justifications for killing.  It’s just the thing you mainly do to your animals.

So hardly a surprise to read that on January 1, the Dallas pound killed 4 dogs who were slated for rescue.  The dogs were reportedly part of a larger group whom local rescuers were getting into foster homes after the owner reached out for help.  Rescuers say they in turn reached out to Dallas Animal Services for temporary assistance with 4 of the dogs in order to buy time to secure more fosters.  There was reportedly an agreement between rescuers and Dallas Animal Services that the dogs would be listed under “protective custody” which indicates a 10 day hold.  But at the pound, the dogs were listed as “owner surrenders” which indicates they are eligible for immediate killing, at the discretion of pound workers.  The pound housed the dogs for 2 days, then killed all 4, citing “health and behavior”.  When rescuers tried to visit the dogs a few days later, they learned of the killings.

Dallas Animal Services released this statement:

On Tuesday, Dec. 30, Dallas Animal Services officers picked up four dogs. The owner gave the dogs to DAS in hopes of finding them a new home. They ranged in age from about one to eight-years old. The officers took the animals to the City shelter, where they were entered into the system as “owner surrenders.” Two days later, on Jan. 1, all four dogs were euthanized by DAS staff based on their health and behavior.

On Monday, Jan. 5, community members said potential homes had been found for the dogs. DAS is now conducting a complete investigation to determine if system failures and/or performance issues may have contributed to the incident. Once the investigation is complete, we will share our findings and potential next steps.

Euthanasia of animals is tough enough for employees. To know that four dogs may have been euthanized in error has devastated staff, and they are also eager to look for ways to prevent incidents like this in the future. We mourn the loss of homeless animals that can be saved. DAS prides itself on caring for thousands of animals that staff members come into contact with each year. The City, DAS and community remain committed to our life-saving efforts and continued progress in this area.

Oh gee, I hope no one was swigging coffee when reading that part about being “committed to life-saving efforts and continued progress”.  If so, I hope your keyboard doesn’t stay sticky for too long.

Rescuers dispute the city’s claim that the dogs had behavioral problems requiring death and have filed a complaint with the city manager.  Dallas Animal Services is investigating itself in the matter.

Here’s the problem:  While advocating for the right that these 4 dogs had to live is a worthy effort, it does nothing to change the fact that Dallas taxpayers are paying for a “shelter” which primarily kills animals.  It does not alter the pound’s policy that owner surrenders are eligible for immediate killing, if workers so choose, without so much as a phone call, email or internet posting notifying anyone of the intention to kill.  This policy is entirely inconsistent with the “lifesaving efforts” the pound claims it is committed to and effectively dooms any animal listed, correctly or incorrectly, as “owner surrender” to the whim of whomever is making up the kill list for the day.  Pets whom the public is willing to save will continue to be killed under this system, as should be obvious.  And many more owner surrendered pets whom the public might be able to save if only they knew the animals needed help, will also continue to be killed.

Dallas Animal Services needs to immediately dispense with its killing for convenience policies and at the very least, adopt a slightly more progressive approach.  All animals, except those few deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian, should be guaranteed at least a chance to survive the pound.  Killing animals without a minimum of 2 business days notice to the public should be summarily abandoned.  Advance notification to all interested parties, including rescuers and potential adopters, should be made in addition to the public notices posted online for each individual animal.

It is human nature to hide those things of which we are ashamed and thus we see so much secrecy in the kill rooms of our animal shelters.  But that doesn’t make it any less objectionable.  As taxpayers, we must demand our shelters do their jobs and actually shelter animals.  Those who refuse must be held accountable through transparent government policies and actions. If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)

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