Orange Co Shelter Director Intent on Killing Service Dog

Karma, a service dog trained to help with PTSD, as shown on the Orang Co Register website.

Karma, a service dog trained to help with PTSD, as shown on the Orange Co Register website.

An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled this month that a service dog named Karma must be killed at the Orange Co shelter in CA before October 20. The ruling was based upon the recommendation of the shelter’s director/veterinarian:

OC Animal Care Director and Chief Veterinarian Jennifer Hawkins has deemed the husky mix too dangerous to be released in the community or to live at an animal sanctuary. OC Animal Care designated Karma a vicious animal because the dog killed at least one cat in 2012 in Anaheim, and because of the dog’s partial wolf ancestry, the effectiveness of required rabies vaccinations is unknown.

The “partial wolf ancestry” being referenced:

Animal Care ordered a genetic test on the dog – the first ever by the agency – after her owners were arrested and family members told police the dog was part wolf. The genetic test suggested that Karma likely had a wolf ancestor two or three generations back.

Suggested? Gee, that sounds… inconclusive. To complicate matters further, the CA Veterinary Medical Association says:

The California Department of Health Services (CDHS) requires that if an animal contains any wolf, even 1 percent, it must be considered a wolf hybrid and handled as an exotic animal. The California Department of Fish and Game, however, only requires a permit for the animal if it is 50 percent or more wolf. According to CDHS, a veterinarian can vaccinate the animal with canine rabies vaccine, but if it bites someone or is bitten by a rabid animal, it will be treated as unvaccinated.
The AVMA Trust cautions veterinarians to inform owners that the vaccine is not licensed for use in wolf hybrids, and no studies have proven efficacy of the vaccine in the animals.

It appears that in CA, owners of any animal designated a wolf hybrid run the risk of having the animal ordered killed if the animal bites a person or is exposed to a rabid animal due to the unknown efficacy of rabies vaccine on hybrids. But as far as I can tell, Karma has neither bitten a person nor has she been exposed to a rabid animal. It’s unclear to me why the OC shelter director is recommending she be killed.

Orange Co Supervisor Todd Spitzer also questioned the director’s recommendation and asked the Board of Supervisors to override the director at a hearing this week:

Spitzer argued that a liability release drafted by county lawyers Friday and approved by OC Animal Care outlining the requirements of how Karma must be kept should be enough to spare the dog from death.

But Hawkins would not relent:

“I stand by my recommendation that euthanasia is a reasonable means to assure public safety,” Hawkins said during the Board of Supervisors meeting. “I don’t know if it will distinguish between domestic animals or a small child.”

Oh geez. So let’s kill the dog because the director doesn’t understand canine behavior and can’t predict the future. Sounds like solid reasoning. Spitzer was apparently caught off guard:

“When county counsel gave me a draft of what it would take, I believed, mistakenly, she supported that,” Spitzer said. “I had no idea even if a rescue (group) signed the agreement she would not support it. The fate rested in the board’s hands. We’re the only ones who have the authority to overrule the recommendation of our Animal Care director.”

Spitzer was the only board member advocating for Karma’s right to live. None of the other members were willing to support Spitzer. The wolf sanctuary that originally agreed to take Karma backed out. Because Karma is a dog. There are reportedly several other rescues willing to take her. But it sounds as if the OC shelter director is committed to killing Karma, despite all offers and all reason. I dread to think how the director applies her form of logic to saving – or ending – the lives of other pets at the shelter.

(Thanks Kellee for the link.)

Dog Dies After Being Left in Hot Van by ACOs in PA

On September 1, ACOs employed by Upper Darby Township in Delaware Co, PA delivered two dogs and one cat to the Chester County SPCA.  All three pets were suffering from symptoms related to excessive heat after riding in the back of the AC van which has no air conditioning or ventilation.  The temperature that day was 94 degrees.  Two of the animals were treated and saved.  The dog who had been in the van the longest, about two hours, was too far gone to respond to treatment.  Chester Co SPCA executive director Adam Lamb issued a press release regarding the incident:

The dog, later named “Baby Blue” by the staff because he was a blue pit bull, was “… listless, his pupils were unresponsive to light, he was panting for air, and he was bleeding from his rectum.”

Lamb said the dog was immediately brought into the shelter and was examined by medical staff, which started treatment for what was likely heat stroke. The dog’s temperature was 107 degrees Fahrenheit before the thermometer indicated that the rising temperature was too high to read.

Baby Blue had been left in the hot van without so much as an ounce of water, to suffer and die a horrible, entirely preventable death while the ACOs sat up front enjoying the air conditioning. An assistant DA with Chester Co is reviewing the case for possible cruelty charges:

The manner in which the dog was transported to the shelter facility was cruel and inhumane, Lamb said.

“Everyone must be held to the same standards with respect to the humane treatment of animals, including those providing animal control services,” said Lamb.
As a result of the incident, Chester County SPCA officials said they will stop accepting stray animals from Upper Darby Township until the shelter has inspected and approved of the vehicles being used to transport animals to their facility.

Thomas Judge Jr., the township’s chief administrative officer, concedes that the pets were stuck in the back of the hot van but is not willing to make the giant leap to associating Baby Blue’s death with heatstroke. And he’s got reasons!

The animal had problems when we picked it up. It was tied to a post in the area of St. Laurence. We don’t know who it belongs to.
And the two other animals in the van survived.

Judge noted the township has been operating with only one van because one of the two animal transport vans was out of service. A new van with air conditioning with individual cages in the back is on order.
There is no law that says we have to have air conditioning in the back of the van.

Everyone knows if you find a dog tied to a post, he’s probably going to fall over dead within a couple of hours regardless of whether you leave him in an unventilated metal box in the summer heat. It’s just like, a thing that happens. And how about a little credit for not killing the other two?  Plus who is this mysterious owner? I mean, that is also very relevant. Anyway one van is out of service and another one’s on order so *shrug*. And there isn’t any law that specifies our ACOs have to share their air conditioning with animals or even provide them with a survivable environment for two hours. Is there? But hey, we’re not monsters:

We are going to drill holes in the back of the van to have air-conditioning in the back.

They’re going to make air holes for the pets. Because they killed one.  Maybe I’m naive but I thought this was a lesson we all learned when we were kids catching fireflies in jars.  (My dad always poked holes in the metal lids for my caterpillars and other temporary pets.)  Or if you didn’t learn it then, I would have thought maybe ANY OTHER TIME BEFORE YOU GOT CERTIFIED AS AN ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER.  Apparently an air hole law is needed in PA.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

TZI: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Can I see some ID?

Can I see some ID?

The troubling Target Zero Institute, one of the sham “no kill” consultants that participates in the war on cats, is being called on the carpet by a no kill advocate in Huntsville, AL. At issue are the do-nothing tactics and general fakiness of the group:

Target Zero is actually a nonprofit called First Coast No More Homeless Pets which is based in Jacksonville, Florida. The name of the organization has flip-flopped in the last few years but it was last changed from Target Zero to FCNMHP in May of 2014; it has received numerous grants over the years, two of the largest being from the Best Friends Animal Society (a 2012 grant for $340,000 and a 2013 grant for $280,000).
Target Zero was in Huntsville in early September of 2014. We found out in early March of 2015 that the City had signed a contract with Target Zero on January 15, 2015. When I contacted Cameron Moore of Target Zero in March of 2015 to inquire about plans moving forward, I was told that a Town Hall meeting would be held at some point. Beyond that, there were no specific plans shared with me during our hour-long phone conversation. When I expressed the opinion of our coalition that the city should make a commitment to become a no kill community in order to obtain an in-kind commitment from the public, I was told this position is “silly.”
Target Zero has yet to become visible in this community, to hold a Town Hall meeting here or to otherwise inform the public of how it plans to make ours a no kill community.

As a backdrop to the Huntsville fraud, the shelter in the city of Jacksonville, TZI’s home base, is in disarray. The division chief is quitting her job while under investigation for falsifying records to make it look like the facility has achieved “no kill”:

The city’s inspector general confirmed Thursday that the chief of Jacksonville’s Animal Care and Protective Services Division who resigned Wednesday is under investigation.
Nikki Harris’ resignation came a month after at least two whistleblowers made allegations that the shelter was being mismanaged and possibly putting animals’ lives in danger.
Harris personnel file shows that she came to ACPS from First Coast No More Homeless Pets in 2013. She was appointed chief the next year and given a salary of $90,000.

Gee, I’d like to keep a salary that size too, if I had one. Although I’d be inclined to actually do my job in order to keep the salary – not kill animals and lie about it. But I guess I’m “silly” too.

The emperor will presumably continue to show off his invisible clothes. The question is, how much longer must the animals being victimized by this chicanery, especially cats, wait for Best Friends, the Jacksonville Humane Society and the other enablers to start protecting their interests.  Because waiting is lethal.

(Thanks Brie and Clarice for the links.)

State of NC Revokes Certifications from Two ACOs

The NC Department of Agriculture received a complaint from a citizen in June regarding improper pet killings at the Stokes Co pound.  On July 2, the department revoked the euthanasia technician certifications from two ACOs at the facility. An investigation conducted by a state inspector found that Phillip Handy, then director of the Stokes Co pound:

  • killed animals before the required 72 hour holding period expired
  • improperly killed at least one animal in May 2015 “which involved the cruel and inhumane treatment of the animal”
  • “performed, participated in and/or witnessed” the inhumane killing of multiple animals
  • treated multiple animals cruelly and inhumanely causing them pain and suffering
  • shot an animal as “euthanasia” and failed to report it
  • failed to cooperate with the state during the investigation

The state further found that ACO Darryl Sheppard:

  • killed animals before the required 72 hour holding period expired
  • witnessed at least one inhumane pet killing incident in May 2015 and failed to report it
  • “performed, participated in and/or witnessed” the inhumane killing of multiple animals
  • shot or had knowledge of the shooting of an animal as “euthanasia” and failed to report it
  • failed to cooperate with the state during the investigation

Neither Sheppard nor Handy has been charged with any crime in connection with the department’s findings but the State Bureau of Investigation is investigating both men.  They no longer work for Stokes Co.  The facility failed its most recent inspection in late August.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Lady Transforms Life at City Pound, Mayor Tells Her to Beat It

It sounds like life for lost and homeless dogs in Livonia, LA used to be pretty wretched if they ended up at the city pound:

The dog pound is located outside, directly behind town hall and is tended to by a single paid employee. The Mayor of Livonia tells NBC33 his name is Brian and he looks after the dogs every afternoon.

Penned up outside, waiting all day long for a guy to come by to clean and throw some food down. And I don’t imagine Brian works 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year either. So there were probably even longer gaps in there which would be cruel to any dog, especially puppies who need to eat several times a day. It doesn’t sound like there was any veterinary care offered to the dogs and ultimately, they were killed – because you know, “unwanted” and such.

But last year, Lisa Shields moved to Livonia from Texas where she had been a shelter volunteer.  She offered her services to the city.  And how:

For nearly a year, Shields fed, bathed, and cared for the dogs like they were her own children. She would take them to adoption events, raised money for them, paid for their vet bills and never asked for anything in return.

Ms. Shields says she had an agreement with Brian that she would care for the dogs in the mornings, since he wasn’t there.  She says things had been working out very well and killing had been completely eliminated since she came on board.  Success by anyone’s standards.  Or not:

At some point in the last month, Shields says Brian started having issues with the work she was doing with the dogs. The Mayor took issue too, saying Shields was over stepping her boundaries.

“I’m not saying she was breaking any rules but we have things that we have a guy, you know, that does washing of the pens, the feeding of the animals, you know, and we asked her, you know, don’t do those type of things” says Troy Chustz, the Mayor of Livonia.

The mayor banned Ms. Shields from the pound.  And that’s with her not breaking any rules but simply volunteering to do some additional feeding and cleaning.  I guess if she had broken any rules the mayor would have sent her to Gitmo.

“I can’t even drive by there and look now to see if there’s dogs down there because I know they’re just going to get the blue juice and be buried in the bayou and it’s just heartbreaking, it didn’t have to be this way, it didn’t have to go this far” continues Shields.
Shields is now hoping she can rally the town behind her at the next city council meeting.

Geez, I hope so too.  Come on Livonia, give the lady who single-handledly eliminated the needless killing of the community’s lost and homeless pets while vastly improving their quality of life and paying their vet bills one more chance.  Pretty please?  If she promises to let some puppies go hungry and sit in filth?

(Thanks Davyd for the link.)

Sangamon Co Suspends Volunteer Who Changed Cage Card

When a 16 year old volunteer took an exuberant dog out of his cage at the Sangamon Co shelter in Illinois last week, the dog was very excited.  The dog, called Alpha, hadn’t been walked in more than a day.  In expressing his enthusiasm, Alpha scratched the girl.  She reported the scratch to the staff who then made a note of it on the dog’s kennel card.  Another vol, Leland Grove Mayor Jill Egizii, felt this was unfair to Alpha and would present an obstacle to adoption.  She told the local paper that she gets scratched by exuberant dogs all the time and doesn’t consider it to be a strike against the dog.  So she replaced Alpha’s cage card:

The new card had Alpha’s name and a note that said, “Good Boy.” In the section for “energy level,” the box for “high” was marked.

“It’s a different way to say the same thing, really, but in a more positive light. It allows the dog to be pulled out so that somebody could look at him for a potential forever home,” Egizii said.

Egizii added that volunteers routinely make notations on kennel cards. She said she didn’t think she was breaking any rules when she made the change, and she doesn’t think Alpha is dangerous.

Sangamon Co Administrator Brian McFadden didn’t see it that way.  At all:

“The fact is, her actions violated the rules and put the county at a huge risk and potential liability if that dog were ever adopted out without full disclosure of its actions, and then it harmed someone… I think we would find ourselves in a courtroom pretty quickly.”

Plus there is apparently some sort of state law about cage cards in Illinois (which I’d like to read, if it exists in this plane):

McFadden added that once the volunteer notified staff that she had been scratched, the county was legally obligated to make that notation on the kennel card.

“That set in motion a chain of events dictated by state law. We can’t ignore it,” McFadden said.

So the mayor was a law breaker and created liability for the county.  As such, the county suspended her for 2 months.

After Egizii was suspended, there was speculation in the community that the action was taken because she objected to a mass euthanization at the shelter.

McFadden says pshaw, that’s just a coincidence.  Lawbreaker.  Lawsuit.  Lions.  Tigers.  Bears.

Egizii did not know of any other volunteer who has been suspended from volunteer work at the county. She said that since last week, two other Friends of Sangamon County Animal Control board members have resigned, and a couple of dog walkers have left.

The county, which has credited volunteers with being instrumental in helping to drastically reduce the kill rate in recent years, seems to have developed a new strategy in the way it handles volunteers.  I guess if it ain’t broke, break it.

The mayor is still working on getting Alpha into rescue.  She doesn’t know if she will continue to volunteer at the shelter after her suspension expires.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Animal Advocates Continue to Protest Legal Decisions in KY Dog Case

In April, Boyle Co Animal Care and Control in Kentucky seized twelve presa canarios from owner Christopher Pope who was charged with twelve misdemeanor animal cruelty counts.  Five of the dogs were returned to him while the other seven were housed at the local HS while the court case proceeded.  In June, Pope’s house caught fire and three dead presa canarios were found on the property – two in a bathtub and one decomposing in a plastic bin.  The cause of death was never sought.  Last month, Pope made a plea agreement with Boyle Co on reduced charges.  His seven dogs were returned to him despite protests from rescuers:

Boyle County Attorney Richard Campbell decided to release the dogs into Pope’s care despite some public outcry and requests from “rescue” organizations to take the dogs. Campbell said in a recent interview that he made the decision because if Pope went to trial on the charges and was found not guilty, he could rightfully reclaim his dogs.

Days after Pope put the dogs in kennels on property in Lincoln Co, six of them chewed through the fencing and escaped.  They reportedly mauled a woman in her yard, causing her serious injuries.  One dog was shot to death at the scene and the others, including a pregnant dog named Fiona whose belly was too fat to escape the kennel, were taken to Lincoln Co AC.  There, Fiona whelped a litter of ten puppies.  Local animal advocates hired an attorney to fight for Fiona’s right to live along with her puppies, noting none of them were involved in the attack.

Lincoln Co judge executive Jim Adams ordered all the dogs, including Fiona, killed on August 10.  All ten of her puppies are also reportedly dead, although the county is refusing to say exactly how they died.  Adams has also put a stop to rescues and volunteer transporters pulling animals from the pound, citing liability concerns.  Animal advocates protested the judge’s decisions on the steps of the Lincoln Co courthouse this weekend.

The case appears to have been mishandled from the beginning with multiple points along the way where the counties involved could have prevented further harm.  Instead, they have ended up with a seriously injured resident, a pile of dead dogs and puppies, protesting animal advocates, and presumably more dogs languishing at the pound.  Maybe they figure they’re in a hole and it’s too late to stop digging now, I don’t know.  I hope the locals stay on them.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Discussion: How Do You Cope?

A search term which led someone to the blog last week.

A search term which led someone to the blog recently.

Snipped from an email received from reader Renate:

Subject: How do you cope?
From: Renate
Date: Tue, August 11, 2015 8:13 pm

There is one thing I’ve been wanting to ask you: How do you cope with the relentless stream of bad news and downright evil reported from the animal world? I sometimes feel like I cannot stand another report about a kill shelter abusing the animals in its care, assembly line killing, callous, indifferent and abusive employees and directors. I believe such shelters and pounds attract employees that are at best indifferent and at worst abusive to animals. Who like the feeling of power over life and death that it gives them. It’s so depressing.

In my reply, I mentioned a few of the tools and strategies I use: humor, taking breaks as frequently as needed, and reminding myself that the no kill movement continues to grow and succeed. But the exchange also got me thinking about our group as a whole. While each of us is focused on our own areas of animal advocacy, we all likely suffer from some form of stress related to this work and have developed coping strategies which may be useful to others.

So I am opening up the floor to everyone who wants to share what works for them – or even what doesn’t, which might be helpful information too. Anonymous comments are accepted, as always, but please feel welcome to use your name if you feel comfortable. This will be a safe place to discuss mental health issues related to animal advocacy and absolutely no shaming or other jerkass behavior will be tolerated.

If you are a U.S. resident in crisis and need to talk to someone by phone or online, visit this site.  Additional resources, including those in other countries, are available here.

Cook Co Officials Bicker Over Who’s the Bigger Jerk

When the former residents of a foreclosed home in the Chicago area abandoned the house, they also abandoned their dog. A German shepherd was found in a cage in a filthy, sweltering garage last month by Cook Co sheriff’s deputies. Found and left:

“The eviction officers who locked up the house left her in the garage without food or water,” neighbor Cynthia Villanueva told the Chicago Tribune. “How could anyone that was locking down a house for an eviction leave without taking the dog out?

“You could hear her barking continually. … I just don’t understand how this happened.”

How it happened takes a little sorting. The sheriff’s department says it called Cook Co AC to alert them that the dog needed to be picked up. Cook Co AC says no such call was ever received – they even double checked their call log to be totally super sure that the police were pants on fire. Then the sheriff’s department got all evidence-y:

But the sheriff’s department released a tape of a July 13 call in which a woman is clearly heard saying, “Cook County Animal Control, may I help you?” A sheriff’s officer then says, “Cook County Sheriff’s Police calling” and that there’s “a dog to picked up from an eviction” and giving the address in Worth.

“It’s a German shepherd in the garage,” the officer says, giving the name and phone number of the receiver, the person representing the bank, who would be waiting for animal control at the garage.

Animal control apparently never sent anyone to the house.

Oops. Also: busted. But don’t fret – Cook Co AC is investigating itself in the matter.

Asked if animal control dropped the ball, [a spokesman for the county board who had previously denied the existence of the phone call] said, “I respect the question, but I can’t comment on something that’s under investigation.”

Under investigation by the people who, at best, are incompetent to the point of being dangerous and at worst, intentionally left an animal to suffer, covered it up, got caught and now need time to make up some other shit as an excuse.  Yeah I wouldn’t want to comment on that either.

The sheriff’s department spokesman says:

“From what I understand, we did everything correctly.”

Well gee, everything’s correct and questions are respected. It’s nice.

The dog survived all the correctness and respect and is now recovering at an area shelter, thanks to the neighbor who called the police and insisted the dog be helped.  Oh Irresponsible Public, I wish I knew how to quit you.

(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.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 987 other followers