State Report: Lawton Pound Sucks but More Importantly, Facebook Sucks Worse

The Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners conducted an investigation into allegations of neglect and other wrongdoing at the Lawton pound at the request of the city manager.  The 464 page report starts out with a page titled “Conspiracy and Connection of Defendants”.  On one side of the chart featured on this page is a local spay-neuter clinic and on the other side is a Facebook page with various uh, conspirators named below each.  Yes, that says Facebook page.

The Facebook page is administered by a group called Lawton Citizens for Humane Treatment of Animals.  On that page, which I have not visited, people apparently post complaints regarding the mistreatment and killing of animals at the Lawton pound.  I know this because the board’s lead investigator has screencapped a ton of inflammatory posts from that page and included them in the report.  To show that some people act like dicks on Facebook, I guess.

If you are interested in reading a bunch of trash talk and the investigator’s wagging-finger-o-shame responses, knock yourself out.  The gist of the report, in my interpretation, is that oh sure, animals were being neglected and starved to death at the Lawton pound but you know, Facebook is terribleawfulsuperblech.  And the employees are doing the best they can.

Here are a few items I fished out of the muck and summarized that don’t have anything to do with Facebook:

Page 27, Item 69: Employees complained to the investigator that neither the kennel staff nor the ACOs had been properly trained; kennel staff refused to do their jobs and refused to follow instructions from supervisors; male staff refused to wash bowls or do laundry because it’s “woman’s work”; sick and injured animals were left to suffer without veterinary care.

Page 28, Item 70 and 72:  If the rescue group trying to pull a pet was not liked by the employees, they would kill the animal in retaliation.

Page 28, Item 73:  A dog was placed in a kennel with a dog who was known to be a resource guarder so that workers wouldn’t have to clean an additional cage.  (This was reportedly not an uncommon practice.)  The resource guarder prevented the other dog from eating and the dog starved to death after 3 weeks.  One of the employees responsible for the dead dog’s feeding and daily care has since transferred to the Lawton police department.

Recommendations, Pages 39 – 40:

  • Rotate animal killing shifts among the entire staff so that each person gets a longer break between killing shifts.
  • Ban all the people who talk smack on Facebook.
  • Sharing information and photos from inside the facility should be “strictly prohibited”.
  • The city needs to re-evaluate the practice of allowing animals discovered to be pregnant during spay surgery to give birth.
  • Staff should be trained in areas such as basic animal care.
  • A fresh coat of paint!

The city manager says that by July 1, all the violations noted in the report will be brought into compliance.  I would note that one of those violations was starving a dog to death.  But yeah, let’s silence the critics, start killing unborn puppies and kittens, slop some paint on the place and call it good.  The Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners must be so proud.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Owned Cat Trapped by Police, Taken to Cat Killing Facility

The most recent yearly report posted for Baldwin Co Animal Control facility in Alabama is 2012.  That year, the county took in 2526 cats, killing 2304 of them – a kill rate of 91% for cats.  Clearly killing is the default for cats at the Baldwin Co pound and it is a rare event for any cat to leave the facility outside of a garbage bag.

Kiki, as pictured on al.com.

Kiki, as pictured on al.com.

Tragically, as if there aren’t enough cats already being killed at the facility, the Foley police department traps cats upon request and takes them to the Baldwin Co pound.

Foley pet owner Diana Rohe thought her 10 year old cat named Kiki had gotten lost in January.  She searched the neighborhood for weeks and offered a $1000 reward for Kiki, whom she had rescued as a kitten.  It turns out, Ms. Rohe’s neighbor had complained to the Foley police about cats getting into trash cans and requested that traps be set.  Kiki was caught in one of the traps, taken to the county pound and killed for “erratic behavior” although obviously her chances of being killed there were extremely high, all behavioral considerations aside, since she was a cat.  The neighbor stood by in silence as Ms. Rohe searched for her pet.  Ms. Rohe was unaware that traps had been set on the property.

This week, Ms. Rohe spoke before the Foley city council about the needless killing of her beloved pet:

“My cat lost her life because there is no warning from the city. There’s no kind of sign, there’s no kind of phone call, there’s no notice on the Internet, on a website or something to say, ‘We’re going to be setting traps in your area,'” Rohe said.

Rohe described her cat being “lured and tricked like a little kid with candy.”

[…]

“I’m just telling y’all my life has changed,” Rohe said emotionally. “I’m devastated over what she went through … They put her to sleep because she was so traumatized.”

Foley police chief David Wilson said that the officers will start putting up signs to notify residents when they have set traps for cats:

“I’ve apologized to her that her Kiki was put down like that,” he said. “You couldn’t have made this up. And we’re going take measure so it doesn’t happen again, at least like that.”

Maybe not exactly like that, but the pound’s statistics show that any cat brought in will most likely be killed.  Putting up trapping signs for cat haters to rip down won’t force the county shelter to start doing its job.  As it stands, the county is operating little more than a pet killing facility with regard to cats and the city of Foley should either demand that cats actually be sheltered or terminate the relationship with the pound.  If Foley insists on trapping cats, the city has an obligation to take them to a safe place and the Baldwin Co pound is not safe for cats.

(Thank you Anne for sending me this story.)

Denver Animal Shelter Adopts Out Well-Loved, Lost Dog Despite Owner’s Attempts to Reclaim

Chewie and Korey, as shown on youcaring.com.

Chewie and Korey, as shown on youcaring.com.

Korey Wetherell left his beloved pet Chewbacca in the care of roommates when he went out of town at the beginning of the month.  The dog was accidentally lost and a roommate began searching for him after notifying Korey, who immediately posted a lost dog ad on Craigslist.  After learning that Chewie had been picked up by the Denver Animal Shelter, Korey called and emailed the facility, explaining that he wanted to reclaim his dog but was out of town.  He sent a friend to pick up Chewie but the friend was turned away because he could not prove ownership.

When Korey arrived home, DAS was closed.  He then had to go out of town again before the place re-opened.  He called the city’s 311 line to explain the situation and reiterate that he wanted his dog back, he just wasn’t able to get there in person to reclaim him.  Worried with concern for Chewie, Korey again sent a friend to DAS to try to bail the dog out, asking the friend to have staff call him on the phone and/or do whatever was necessary in order to prove ownership.  When the friend arrived, he was told DAS had adopted Chewie to a family:

“Because animals are considered property, that animal was considered abandoned,” Jill Brown with the Denver Animal Shelter said.

The shelter said the 5-day window for owners to retrieve their lost pet had passed, so Chewbacca went to a new home.

There is clearly no excuse for this egregious betrayal of the human-animal bond by the Denver Animal Shelter.  A hold should have been placed on the dog and/or an arrangement made to release the dog to the owner’s representative.  DAS knew Chewie was owned and loved, that the owner wanted him back but was out of town, and that he had sent someone to try and reclaim the dog on his behalf.  They sold him anyway then, when confronted by the local news, refer to the pet as abandoned property.

DAS contacted the people who adopted Chewie but that family has declined to return the dog.  Korey is heartbroken and made an appeal to the family on the local news:

“You’re doing a great thing adopting a dog, but help a dog who really needs it; because Chewbacca doesn’t need a new set of arms to hold him. He has that here,” he said.

He is also posting on Facebook and Craigslist, hoping the family who has his pet will let him come home:

If you are the person, or know the person who has him, please contact me. He has never been to the shelter before, and he got out while I was out of town. Had I known the City of Denver could and would do this without notifying me, I would have crossed heaven and hell to get him back. He is an amazing dog and I want the best for him, but we have 4 years together and I don’t think anyone knowing the circumstance would do this to somebody. Please contact me if you know any information.

I asked Jill Brown (quoted above) and DAS executive director Alice Nightengale why Chewbacca wasn’t placed on a hold after the owner contacted DAS and said he wanted to reclaim his dog but was out of town.  Neither immediately responded.  I will update this post if I receive any response.  DAS has not responded to my queries regarding their mistreatment of animals in the past and the staff seems particularly wrong-headed but we’ll see how long they feel confident hiding behind their “abandoned property” defense on this one.

Denver taxpayers deserve better.  If the shelter isn’t a safe place for lost pets whose owners are known to the staff, it certainly doesn’t bode well for how stray pets of unknown ownership and feral cats are handled.  I hope DAS starts doing its job to protect lost and homeless pets and that Korey is reunited with Chewie very soon.

(Thanks Davyd and Clarice for sending me links on this story.)

Genesee Co Pound and Director Named in Whistleblower Lawsuit

The long troubled Genesee Co AC pound in Flint, MI took in 5168 dogs and cats in 2013, killing 3246 of them – a kill rate of 63%.  (The 2014 reports haven’t been posted yet.)

In early January 2015, the county hired Paul Wallace as pound director and Karen Dombrowski as deputy director.  Ms. Dombrowski was fired by Wallace one month later.  This week, she filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the county, the pound and Wallace.

The lawsuit alleges that Ms. Dombrowski observed numerous instances of illegal activities while employed by Genesee Co, that she reported these to Wallace who dismissed her concerns, and that she went over his head to report them to county commissioners.  She was fired shortly thereafter.

Among the allegations in the lawsuit:

  • Animals were not receiving food, water, and clean cages on a daily basis.
  • An emaciated dog did not receive proper care at the pound.
  • A dog had been in a cage for seven months without adequate food, water or exercise.
  • A small dog experiencing pain was left unattended in a cage in a cold garage at the pound for several hours.  He was later euthanized.
  • A dog with a bone sticking out was left unattended for several hours.
  • A mother dog whelped a litter of puppies in a cage in the pound’s garage and no one at the pound provided any sort of box for the family.  As a result, the puppies repeatedly fell down the drain hole.
  • Wallace refused to allow an investigation into the finding of a deceased dog who appeared to have been used for fighting.
  • Dogs were seized from an owner’s home without due process.
  • A dog who had been “euthanized” by an ACO was found alive and suffering in the cooler the next day.
  • Expired drugs were used to kill a dog named Ana.  She was left in a cage.  When she woke up later, she began thrashing and injured herself.  The ACOs had already gone home when Ms. Dombrowski found her.
  • Dogs were killed via heartstick while fully conscious by untrained employees.
  • Feral cats were being killed in a gas chamber.

Ms. Dombrowski can be seen along with Ana, the dog she saved from the Genesee Co pound, in a video accompanying this news piece.  Additional reporting here.

(Thank you Clarice and Davyd for the links.)

Witness Tells of Botched Killings at Killeen Pound, Police Claim No Witnesses

Screengrab from the city of Killeen's website showing a dog at the pound.

Screengrab from the city of Killeen’s website showing a dog at the pound.

The pound in Killeen, TX has been no safe haven for lost and homeless animals:

In late January 2014, former manager Stacie Sherva was fired after allegations surfaced regarding poor sanitary conditions, injured animals left in cages without veterinary care or pain medication, and the adoption of sick dogs and cats.

Volunteers who have helped care for animals at the pound since that time are voicing serious concerns about current operations.  Volunteers report animals in cages filled with old urine and feces smeared on the walls.  Killeen Police Commander Lee Caufield, who oversees the pound, told the Killeen Daily Herald that he has “reinforced our cleaning policy with all employees”, they’re doing the best they can, blahcetera.

Jerry Hale volunteered at the Killeen pound last October while studying to be a licensed vet tech and told the paper he witnessed two botched dog killings:

“They were just jabbing (the needle) in any place they could,” he said. “They injected them in the stomach, and not intravenously, and they took hours to die.”
[…]

Hale said both dogs were still alive when they were placed in plastic bags and moved to a freezer to await incineration.

“I went outside and I threw up,” said Hale, who said he now works as a veterinary technician in Austin. “It was awful.”

Presumably those dogs either suffocated inside their garbage bags, froze to death in the freezer or were burned alive in the incinerator.  But despite the Daily Herald identifying Mr. Hale and speaking with him on the record, the police commander claims there were no witnesses:

 “In reviewing this issue, we were unable to locate anyone who had any information, other than inferring that someone had told them this happened,” he said. “Different replies had different timelines, and the story itself varied depending on the source.”

Right.  Like maybe the dogs suffered for three hours instead of four or they were bagged alive at one o’clock instead of two o’clock or *throws hands in the air* who knows?  It’s all too confusing so we’ll just have to forget about the whole thing.  But just to show he cares, the police commander did have a vet review the killing protocols and will have that vet “provide refresher training on procedures and protocols” which should set everyone’s mind at ease over the whole living dogs in trash bags thing.

Making matters worse for animals in Killeen, the city is slated to begin enforcing its new mandatory spay-neuter-microchip ordinance this month.  MSN has never eliminated or reduced the killing of shelter animals anywhere it’s been tried.  It’s a proven failure with some communities seeing an increase in killing after the passage of MSN.  This is why MSN is opposed by most every major animal welfare group in the country including the No Kill Advocacy Center, ASPCA, Alley Cat AlliesAVMA, and the American College of Theriogenologists.  There is simply no excuse at this point for implementing failed protocols while ignoring those which have been proven to be successful in saving shelter pets.  Killeen’s ordinance is particularly ignorant as it requires puppies and kittens to be spayed and neutered at the age of four months.

This is your public animal shelter, Killeen.  Demand better.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

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.)

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