Eyewitnesses Report Seeing Maricopa Co Pound Worker Abuse Dogs

Arizona – Two sisters who went to Maricopa County’s West Valley Animal Care Center looking for pets to adopt say they heard a pound employee yelling at a pair of dogs he was trying to put into a kennel. They say they saw the worker repeatedly and violently kick the dogs, although one got most of the abuse, until the cage door was ripped off its hinges, pinning one of the dogs to the floor. The women say they filed a formal complaint at the pound regarding the incident.

Their eyewitness account of animal abuse at the Maricopa Co pound spread on social media. Kim Kulpa, an area rescuer who saw the post, went to the pound and pulled both dogs.  She says one was visibly shaken and injured:

“He was cowering on the ground as soon as I walked up and his eyes were bloodshot and his face kind of puffy, I knew something’s not right with this dog,” Kulpa said.
She decided to rescue the dogs and took Hugo to a veterinarian for x-rays and says that the injuries supported the sisters’ story.
“He had bruises on both sides of his face. She felt he had a concussion. His body had a little bit of swelling,” Kulpa said. “Consistent with blunt force or being thrown against a gate, possibly.”

The pound has placed the accused employee on administrative leave and is investigating itself in the matter. But:

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Phoenix Police tell ABC15 that they have no record of any reports being made.

Off to a good start.

Raise your paw if you have full confidence in the county’s ability to investigate itself with integrity and transparency regarding this abuse complaint which law enforcement denies exists.

Thank you to the irresponsible public for advocating for and rescuing these dogs.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Roanoke Pound Volunteers Locked Out by Management

Volunteers at the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection in Roanoke, Virginia were heartbroken when they found out two of their favorite dogs at the pound, Murray and Smokey, were suddenly killed on management’s order earlier this month. Smokey had a volunteer willing to take him if he was ever put on the kill list and although she had reportedly communicated that to staff, she was never called.  The killings represented a tipping point for volunteers, as they wrote in an opinion piece on Roanoke.com:

The concerns of volunteers go far beyond the deaths of the two dogs mentioned, as sad and unnecessary as they were. There is systemic mismanagement, high turnover with constant firings and people quitting because of the negative environment, hostility toward volunteers that emanates from RCACP executive director Dave Flagler himself, an atmosphere of distrust because employees are asked whether they are “with” the staff or the volunteers, poor customer service with regular complaints from the public that fall on deaf ears, outdated sheltering practices and an unwillingness to do anything different or beyond what has always been done.

Volunteers and local citizens regularly attend the quarterly meetings of RCACP’s executive committee […] to voice our concerns. They too fall on deaf ears.

Frustrated volunteers planned a peaceful protest after Murray and Smokey were killed.  When management found out about the planned protest, the volunteers were locked out of the pound.  The protest was canceled and management let the vols come back after a few days.

Flagler told WDBJ that volunteers must accept the fact that the facility kills animals:

“If they cannot accept that, then it’s quite possible that this isn’t the right place for them,” said Flagler.

And:

The facility director says the volunteers are overreacting to something that is in the day of a life of an animal shelter.

If killing animals has become so ingrained for Flagler that he literally locks out anyone who doesn’t agree that shelter pet killing is standard fare, he needs to find a new line of work.  Wanting to do better is supposed to be a laudable objective, not a contemptible machination.

Vols recently addressed the shelter’s board to call for Flagler’s ouster.  Instead, the board unanimously voted to have an advisory board conduct a study of animal killing at the pound and report back in 30 days. Flagler said he will only change if forced:

If the review […] finds his approach is out of step of modern practices, he said, then it will be time for him to change.

I’m less concerned about the degree to which this shelter director is out of step with modern practices and more concerned that he doesn’t seem to realize that killing a dog who has an adopter is wrong.  As is punishing those who disagree with you when they attempt to exercise their 1st Amendment rights and by extension, punishing the animals by locking out the people who meet their primary socialization needs.  This is basic human stuff.  You can be taught modern practices.  Compassion and humility, not so much.

(Thanks Lisa and Clarice.)

 

Montgomery Co Vols Call for Shelter Reform

When a dog named Peggy Sue tried to break out of the terrible Montgomery Co pound in Texas, she wound up hanging by the neck, pinned between what appear to be metal grates shoddily fastened on top of her kennel.  She suffered there until a volunteer found her and saved her life.  This is a photo, posted on social media, of the dog being helped by the irresponsible public, while the staff was doing I don’t know what:

peggy sue montgomery co

The Montgomery Co pound is the same place where a sheriff’s deputy bashed a dog’s head in with a 2 X 4 then adopted another dog because the staff allegedly had no idea what was going on in their own facility.  And when they figured it out later, meh.

The shelter volunteers are fed up and calling for reform.  See their action alert here.

(Thanks Nathan.)

Action Alert: Harnett Co Shelter Pets Suffering in Heat

These videos were submitted by an animal advocate who wishes to remain anonymous. They were reportedly taken at the Harnett Co pound in NC this week and appear to show cats suffering in the summer heat:

I don’t know what type of system is in place to keep the animals cool during the summer months at Harnett Co but whatever it is, it appears to be terribly inadequate and may be a violation of state law.  It is my understanding that the NC Department of Agriculture, responsible for overseeing the state’s animal shelters, has already been advised of this situation.  Based upon the dates of the state’s inspections of the Harnett Co facility, it doesn’t look like the place has been inspected during the summer in years.

If you wish to take action on behalf of the animals:

Send polite, respectful letters requesting an immediate fix to the heat problem at the Harnett Co pound which does not involve further harm to the animals to:

Joseph Jeffries, County Manager
102 East Front Street
Lillington, NC 27546

Phone: 910-893-7555
Fax: 910-814-2662

jjeffries@harnett.org

“The Incident with Barbie”

barbie co co

Barbie with a toy, in a screengrab from a video apparently made by rescuers.

Contra Costa County Animal Services spokesman Steve Burdo says a 4 year old dog named Barbie was put on the June 18 kill list “after a series of evaluations by the department’s staff and medical team.”  She appeared to have a mammary tumor.  She also had two rescue groups who wanted to save her and had communicated that to the shelter.  But Contra Costa killed Barbie anyway – by mistake.  Oops.

“There were two rescues interested in this dog and the shelter manager overrode those notes and said to have her killed by the end of the day,” said Melissa Farley Law of Petaluma Pet Pals told CBS San Francisco on Thursday.

“I literally cried for three days,” she continued. “I couldn’t even look at her picture without crying. l just felt like I let her down.”

Rescues didn’t let her down. The people solely to blame for killing Barbie are the people who actually killed her – Contra Costa Co Animal Services.  And they did more than just fail Barbie – they appear to have broken the law.  Specifically the Hayden Act, which requires shelters to release pets to rescue groups willing to save them.

tommy co co

Tommy at Contra Costa Co Animal Services, as pictured on CBS SF.

In addition, a dog named Tommy who was killed around the same time, was reportedly also slated for rescue:

Rescue group member Melissa Farley Law said a second dog named Tommy had been pulled for adoption as well, but was instead euthanized.

Burdo said the department does not have any records confirming that a rescue group had shown interest in rescuing Tommy. He doesn’t believe there was a mistake.

No records.  Now.  So just punt, I guess.  But let’s be clear, unless Tommy was medically hopeless and suffering, which his completely adorable photo seems to refute, killing him was a mistake.  He had a right to live and it was Contra Costa County’s job to protect him from harm.  Instead of doing their job, they killed Tommy.  Just because the spokesman wants it known that the killing was intentional does not justify it in any way, shape or form.  Tommy is irreplaceable.

There are records confirming rescue holds on Barbie.  So there has been a two-pronged response by the county:

1. Distract with shiny thing.

Ironically, the “Barbie incident” comes on the heels of good news regarding the agency’s increasing live release rates. As of May 2016, around 80 percent of animals that were brought to the county shelter made it out alive, up from around 45 percent in 2011, CCAS spokesman Steve Burdo said.

“Not to take away from the incident with Barbie, but the situation with Barbie, if you’re asking me, seems more like the exception than the rule,” he said.

Breaking the law and killing dogs rescue groups are willing to save is not the rule at Contra Costa Co, it’s just the exception.  Gee, I’m glad it’s not the rule.  That would be bad.  Seeing as it’s just the exception, I guess we can let it slide.

Barbie’s death was not an incident or a situation, by the way.  It was a tragedy which a state law was enacted in order to prevent.  Barbie is irreplaceable.

2.  Investigate yourself!

“We’re going to take this opportunity to learn and improve our process so this never happens again.”
[…]
Burdo said the department is investigating the incident internally.

I can’t think of anything that would give me more confidence.  Except possibly an investigation by a specially appointed piece of cardboard with aspirations of higher office.

Anyway, if you feel like bawling your eyes out, watch this video of Barbie, apparently posted to social media by rescuers the day she was oops-killed, playing, being social and generally loving life.

Barbie had the right to live and to love.  So did Tommy, despite what recordkeeping, or lack thereof, may exist at Contra Costa Co.  Barbie’s needless and apparently unlawful killing is not “an opportunity” nor should it be waved off as merely “an exception.”  Barbie, like Tommy, and like every other shelter pet, was exceptional.  That’s the part too many shelters don’t get.  There are and will be other friendly, happy dogs in our broken shelter system.  But there will never be another Barbie.  Or Tommy.  Or any of the millions of others whose lives are snuffed out each year in the name of “animal services.”  Taxpayers of Contra Costa Co, this is your animal shelter.  Let your elected officials know exactly what services you want.  Demand that compassionate people are immediately put into place who are committed to treating every animal as exceptional.  Accept nothing less.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Whistleblower Photographs Dead Dogs All Over the Floor at CA Pound

stanislaus co

The kill room at the Stanislaus Co shelter, as shown on abc10.com.

A man on a work release program was working at the Stanislaus Co pound when he saw a number of dead dogs on the floor of the kill room. He snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook. People were upset by the photo, and rightly so. Taxpayers pay for community pets to be sheltered, not killed. Moreover, it is sinister to force pets about to be killed to see, hear and/or scent other animals who are being or have just been killed.

wicked witch of the west

The last to go will see the first three go before her, hahaha.

Stanislaus Co took to Facebook and spun the public backlash this way:

Stanislaus Animal Services says “Thank You” for the ongoing continued support we have received today from the community. We have received an overwhelming number of calls and messages for support of Animal Services expressing their concern and disbelief that an inmate in our community thought it was okay to post a picture on Face Book disrespecting deceased dogs and their owners. The picture is disrespectful to the families of these dogs and was posted purely for shock value. The picture was taken down by Facebook and this person in now in custody.

All good whistleblowers go to jail in Stanislaus Co apparently.  Also, nice smear on the “inmate”.  I guess we’re supposed to imagine he’s a kiddie rapist or a serial killer or something – you know, purely for shock value.

The local kool-aid drinkers ABC affiliate did a piece on the viral photo in which they asked such hard hitting questions as:

[W]ho would take such a picture?

Probably nobody ever again, after this guy was taken away to jail.

ABC 10 reassured the public that a bunch of dead dogs on the kill room floor is totally normal:

“What’s seen and depicted in that picture is that euthanasia is complete,” [director Phillip] Zimmerman said. “The employees do a double check to make sure these animals are expired. They are getting a gurney which you don’t see, and then they put them on that and take them to refrigeration.”

According to the Sacramento and Stockton Animal shelters, as long as a pet doesn’t have to see a fellow pet euthanized, this is the common practice.

And in the accompanying video, Annette Patton from the Stanislaus Co shelter says:

We never expose an animal coming into euthanasia to see other deceased dogs.

She also explains that pets are killed up on the table, not on the floor.

So ok. I didn’t go to journalism school but I am far less concerned about who took the damn picture than I am about all the dead dogs lined up on the floor. And I have questions:

  1.  Given that the shelter rep made clear that pets are killed in that room and on that table, can anyone come up with an even slightly plausible scenario that explains how these dogs did not see, hear and/or scent all these other dogs either being killed or having just been killed?  Because I can not think of A N Y T H I N G.
  2. Is this how 7248 animals were killed last year at the Stanislaus Co pound?
stanislaus co stats

Stanislaus Co stats, as posted on its website.

Depite what the killing apologists at ABC 10 say, having dead dogs all over the kill room floor is not totally normal. The standard, as specified by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, among others, is rather the opposite:

Animals should not be permitted to observe or hear the euthanasia of another animal, nor permitted to view the bodies of dead animals.

I don’t know if state or local statutes specifically address this issue but maybe, when the sheriff’s office is done tossing bread and water to whistleblowers in the clink, they could check into that.

You know what is “disrespectful” to these dogs and their families (including the families they might have had if the county had done their jobs and sheltered them until adopted)?  Killing.  You know who is doing the killing, in an apparently inhumane manner?  Stanislaus Co.  You know who hauled a whistleblower off to jail for exposing that reality?  Stanislaus Co.

Spin that, psychopaths.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Stokes Co Officials Decide Sheltering Animals is Too Much Like Work

In 2015, the troubled Stokes Co pound in North Carolina took in 1029 dogs and cats, killing 473 of them.  The county’s adoption rate was 36%, return to owner rate was 7% and kill rate was 46%.  Dogs and cats coming in the front door of the Stokes Co pound had a better chance of going out the back door in a garbage bag than anything else.

This month, county manager Rick Morris says Stokes is “overwhelmed with strays and surrenders”, there are funding issues and staff turnover as well.  To address these issues, county leaders voted to not address them at all:

“We will no longer […] take in animal surrenders by the owners or stray animals,” said county manager, Rick Morris.

Morris added that he expects his county’s failure to do their jobs with regard to community pets will leak onto surrounding counties actually trying to do their jobs. And he’s fine with that.  Let other shelters take care of Stokes Co animals because we’re not going to do it.  I guess sucks being you, other counties.

Then there’s this:

“It’s just unbelievable the number of animals people just want to give up,” said County Manager Rick Morris.

[Refusing to shelter strays and surrenders in need is] a change Morris says will cut costs for cleaning supplies and spay and neutering.

Right. Reduced spay-neuter should certainly help reduce your county’s animal population.  I have no idea how that would work but hey, less paper towels!

They are changes Morris hopes will save many animals from having to be euthanized.

“It’s doing a favor to the animals by not putting them in there,” he said.

tanya tucker

Critical cat photo by Casey Post

The most likely outcome for animals at the Stokes Co pound is killing. Because the staff kills them instead of doing their jobs to shelter them. So it’s a favor to the animals to not put them in a place where people kill them. I see what you did there.

Stokes County manager Rick Morris hopes by changing the way the shelter operates, it will make people around the area more responsible with their pets.

Yeah I’m pretty sure that’s how that works. Lead by example. By taking no responsibility for the challenges involved in sheltering animals, the job taxpayers are paying you to do, the public will learn – wait.

What the public actually did:

Several Stokes County residents stood before county commissioners Monday night, demanding to pay higher taxes to help offset costs for much-needed services like EMS, funding for schools and the county animal shelter.

Oh snap.  For some reason, the public seems to find the whole non-solution solution to be less desirable than paying higher taxes.  Let that sink in for a sec.

Nice try Stokes Co but it seems like taxpayers still want you to do your jobs.  And they are paying attention.  Quick – look busy while you try to think up another stellar plan to avoid work.

 

Action Alert: Animals Suffering in Clinton Co Shelter

No food or water, crammed in filthy cages, sick and dying.  These are a few of the photos taken at the Tri County Animal Shelter in Albany, KY and posted on Facebook.  Warning: There are additional photos and some videos at the links.  They are very disturbing and some appear to show dead animals.

If animals were suffering in these conditions at a citizen’s home, HSUS and/or ASPCA would be there with their logo jackets on, media in tow, bringing animals out for the cameras (before dumping them on the local rescue community after they got their fundraising ops).  I have been checking online since these photos were posted and have seen no reporting on this so-called shelter.  HSUS and ASPCA will never go there with the media and remove the animals because they enable this behavior and call us troublemakers when we demand the workers do their jobs.  They tell us to bring them cupcakes in appreciation for the work they do.  Fuck their worse than useless platitudes.

Contact Clinton Co.  Tell them to treat this emergency situation in their shelter exactly as they would if animals in these conditions were found in a citizen’s home.  The animals need immediate vet care and charges must be brought against those responsible for the neglect and abuse:

Clinton Count Judge Executive Office
Richard C. Armstrong
(606) 387-5234
judgearmstrong@windstream.net

County Sheriff
Jim Guffey
(606) 387-5111

The idea that a meeting could be held and changes proposed is unacceptable in this situation.  This is a life and death emergency.  The animals need help NOW and the people responsible need to be put in the back of a police car and taken to jail.  This is institutionalized animal abuse, paid for by taxpayers, and overseen by Clinton Co officials.  Shame on all of them.

Lincoln Co Animal Advocates Say the Pound is Far From No Kill

On March 21, The Lincoln Times-News in NC ran a lengthy piece on the troubled Lincoln Co pound which included comments from more than a dozen volunteers, rescuers, fosters and former employees.  Some requested their real names not be published in the paper due to fear of reprisal.  It’s been 2 1/2 years since Lincoln Co commissioners unanimously voted to embrace no kill.  The pound continues to kill animals.  Among the concerns expressed by those interviewed for the article:

  • Pound staff kill pets while cages sit empty, sometimes as a means of hurting someone who is trying to save the animals.
  • Cats are placed on the kill list for being feral when they are in fact friendly, socialized animals.
  • Some dogs are placed on the kill list for aggression without any sort of temperament evaluation.  Others are placed on the kill list for treatable conditions such as heartworm or itchy skin.
  • Intact male dogs pulled by rescuers often have chemical burns on their testicles from the bleach poured on the floors.
  • The supposed increase in the pound’s reported live release rate does not include animals who fall over dead in their cages – something that happens at an alarming rate.
  • Inmates perform the only real work that gets done at the pound while county employees smoke, play cards and play on their phones.
  • The pound’s contracted veterinarian is referred to as “Dr. Death” by many volunteers as death is her recommended treatment for many shelter animals, including nearly all the cats in the facility when she first came on board in 2012.

The same night the article ran in the paper, Lincoln Co commissioners held their regular public meeting and criticized the piece, comparing it to tabloid journalism.  It was also announced at the meeting that Dr. Death’s contract had been renewed and she’d been given a huge raise.  The county is currently in the process of hiring a replacement for the pound’s director who is resigning.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

“Just the worst shit that you’ve ever seen in your life” at OC Pound

California – Remember when Orange Co Animal Care Director and Chief Veterinarian Jennifer Hawkins was crusading for the right to kill a service dog named Karma because dogs are descended from wolves?  Well she’s got more wacky up her sleeve.  Like reportedly killing an adolescent puppy for being “bratty”.  And in response to two scathing grand jury reports which cited filthy conditions causing animals to get sick and “poor management practices and lack of effective leadership” as the root of many of the facility’s problems, Hawkins addressed animal advocates at a public meeting in September:

As for euthanasia practices, the shelter’s director said the policy is to only put down animals that have health or behaviors that are beyond staff’s ability to manage. Euthanasia rates are down to less than 6 percent this year, said Dr. Jennifer Hawkins[.]

Apparently teen puppy brattiness is beyond her staff’s ability to manage.  But reducing the kill rate to less than six percent sounds good, yes?  I mean, if it weren’t a big fat lie:

Of the 2,050 animals entering the county government’s sole shelter in October, 725 were euthanized, according to data from shelter officials. That makes for a euthanasia rate of 35 percent[.]

Ah, I see. Probably a lot of brats in there though.

Then there’s this:

Lake Forest Councilman James Gardner, who is active on animal issues, says the high euthanasia rate is an indicator of major problems with the way Orange County shelters animals.

While the shelter has many documents and policies about how to kill animals, “they have almost nothing on how do you care for animals. Almost nothing on how do you make [them] marketable to the people,” Gardner said.

The documents include advice on how many animals to put on table at a time when killing them, he added. “Just the worst shit that you’ve ever seen in your life.”

How many animalS? What the mother flippin’ pancake?  No animal should be killed in view of another animal, at any distance, never mind on the same table.  What kind of kill room horror show is going on at Orange Co?

When the shelter is killing as many animals as it does, Gardner said, it makes it harder to get volunteers to care for them.

Gosh, ya think?  I can’t understand why there isn’t a line of animal lovers around the block waiting for their chance to hold down animals on the kill table while they watch their buddies getting snuffed.

“Orange County kills animals because they’re scared – honestly, because animals are scared, they’re put to death.”

Look, I am a human being, thousands of miles away from the Orange Co pound and thinking about that kill room makes *me* scared.  I can only imagine how the animal victims locked up in the place feel.

This month, animal advocates spoke at the Orange Co Board of Supervisors meeting about their ongoing concerns. Advocates say the shelter manipulates data to give the appearance of a lower kill rate, e.g. counting the killing of an entire litter of kittens as one animal. Hawkins tried giving advocates the silent treatment at the meeting:

There was no response from county staff to the claims. Hawkins was watching the comments in the audience, but did not respond. Her spokeswoman didn’t have further comment when asked about the claims after the meeting.

The following day, Hawkins released a short statement saying her agency will be complying with a directive from county supervisors to respond to the claims by an unspecified date.

The county has previously stated that it’s not management’s fault that morale is low among shelter staff – it’s those pesky animal advocates who keep speaking up and demanding transparency and the implementation of proven lifesaving methods and yadda yadda.  I look forward to the next non-response at an unspecified date.  Meantime, go Team Pesky.

(Thanks Clarice.)

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