Cats Chemically Burned by Unsupervised Inmates at Memphis Pound

On May 31, 2015, a kitten named Snowflake, ID # 277907, was sprayed with an undiluted cleaning chemical (San-O-128) by an unsupervised inmate at Memphis Animal Services.  She suffered painful chemical burns on her legs, tongue and mouth.  She was treated by an outside veterinarian and survived.  This is security camera footage, obtained via FOIA request, of Snowflake being burned with the chemical by the unsupervised inmate at MAS.  (Note:  I edited this video to show both incidences of the kitten being sprayed with the chemical.)

On June 1, 2015, a one year old cat named Sydney, ID #277271, was also abused by the same unsupervised inmate at MAS.  She suffered painful chemical burns on her eyes, tongue, mouth and ears.  Sydney was treated by an outside veterinarian and survived.  (Warning: The video below depicts animal abuse and readers will find it disturbing.)

A month and a half later, it was noted in Sydney’s medical record by the MAS vet that she has a corneal defect:

Portion of MAS records for cat ID #277271.

Portion of MAS records for cat ID #277271.

On June 5, 2015, an owner was trying to reclaim his spayed, 10 year old cat called Uptimus (ID #278237) from MAS.  Due to the mandatory spay-neuter law in Memphis, MAS refused to release the cat without verifying a spay scar.  Uptimus had spent her whole life as an indoor pet and was very scared at the pound.  She would not allow a stranger to shave and examine her abdomen and so MAS continued to hold her until the veterinary staff could sedate her for an exam.

While Uptimus was waiting to go home, another inmate, also unsupervised, intentionally sprayed her with the same undiluted cleaning chemical used by the inmate in the previous videos to hurt the other 2 cats.  Uptimus was trapped in her cage and could not escape her torturer.  (Warning:  Although Uptimus can not be seen in the video, some readers will find it disturbing.)

Uptimus, her face swollen as a result of chemical burns, at MAS.

Uptimus, her face swollen as a result of chemical burns, at MAS.

Uptimus was found on June 6 wedged between the feral box and the side of her cage with severe facial swelling, severe drooling, and suffering from severe dehydration.  MAS staff determined she had been exposed to the undiluted cleaning chemical and sent her to an emergency vet clinic.  At the emergency clinic, Uptimus had an IV catheter placed as well as a feeding tube as her mouth was so swollen, she was unable to eat normally.  X-rays revealed she was suffering from chemical pneumonia.  She was found dead in her cage at 2am.

In light of the abuse which MAS failed to prevent and the terrible suffering endured by Uptimus as a result of this abuse, it is very difficult to read the notes from MAS staff members regarding their interactions with the pet’s owner, Mr. Kotee:

Portion of MAS records for Uptimus, cat ID #278237.

Portion of MAS records for Uptimus, cat ID #278237.

MAS staff wasn’t any nicer to Mr. Kotee after his pet died either:

Portion of MAS records for Uptimus, cat ID #278237.

Portion of MAS records for Uptimus, cat ID #278237.

I am so sorry for the needless heartbreak Mr. Kotee must be suffering. MAS management should have followed protocol and supervised inmates at all times. Instead inmates were left alone with cats to hurt them. And then MAS staff treated the owner like he was second class. I can absolutely understand Mr. Kotee not wanting to give these people his ID. MAS staff are apparently sticklers for following the rules when it comes to EVERYONE EXCEPT THEMSELVES.

Records for Snowflake and Uptimus, obtained via FOIA request, can be read here.  Additional records on Snowflake and Uptimus, as well as records for Sydney, can be read here.

A local paper reported that both inmates were charged with animal cruelty.  On July 11, a shelter supervisor who allowed the inmates to work unsupervised – a failure which resulted in the torture and death of a beloved pet and painful injuries to two other cats – received a written reprimand from MAS.  A second supervisor also received a written reprimand but it was rescinded 2 weeks later by MAS director James Rogers.

Number of cats chemically burned by inmates whom MAS staff failed to supervise:  three.  Number of cats who died as a result of their injuries:  one.  Number of MAS staffers who lost their job as a result:  zero.

How many more, Memphis?

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.)

NC Shelter Workers Indicted for Torturing Dog Were Previously Praised by HSUS

In January of last year, HSUS issued a press release announcing its “top ten emergency placement partners”.  Number one on the list was the Guilford Co Animal Shelter in NC, run by the United Animal Coalition.  The press release reads, in part:

Although every placement partner is deeply valued, these ten groups went above and beyond to help animals rescued from large-scale crisis situations. Throughout the year, they showed tireless enthusiasm and dedication to helping animals.

This wasn’t the first time HSUS offered special recognition for the Guilford Co pound.  In February 2012, HSUS also named the facility on its top ten emergency placement partners list and issued a press release which reads, in part:

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, visited the Guilford County Animal Shelter Thursday to tour the facility and meet with staff members.

“Guilford County Animal Shelter has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty to come to the aid of animals in need,” said Michelle Cascio, manager of the Emergency Placement Program for The HSUS.

There was a backlash among animal advocates as the United Animal Coalition was widely known for its secrecy and its reputation as an abusive killing hole.  Apparently Wayne Pacelle didn’t notice anything amiss during his tour or if he did, didn’t contact authorities about it.

This week, a grand jury indicted Marsha Williams, the director of the United Animal Coalition along with two employees, one of whom is the director’s daughter.  The charges stem from alleged illegal activities at both the Guilford Co pound and the Davidson Co pound, which was also run by United Animal Coalition.  A grand jury found that all three women “unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did cause to be maliciously tortured an animal, an injured dog named Nana[.]”

In addition to the animal cruelty charge, Williams was indicted on several other offenses:

The indictment also alleges Williams possessed more than 100 tablets of Tramadol and kept tablets at the Davidson County Animal Shelter. The indictment further alleges Williams hindered a federal drug investigation by ordering workers to remove controlled substances from the shelter and creating false invoices showing the transfer of controlled substances from one shelter to the other.

The horrifying and long-standing allegations of widespread animal suffering, needless killing and rampant fraud perpetrated by United Animal Coalition have finally been moved into the judicial sphere.  It’s a shame Wayne Pacelle and HSUS spent so much time praising the work of these alleged animal torturers instead of blowing the whistle on them years ago.  It’s staggering to think of how many animals could have been saved, including Nana.

(Thanks Lisa for posting this link in the Open Thread.)

State Inspector Finds Animals Suffering at NJ Pound

An inspector from the New Jersey Department of Health found numerous problems during a July inspection of the East Orange Animal Shelter.  The full report can be read here.  Among the items noted by the inspector (my summary):

  • The guillotine doors in two of the dog runs were glued shut.
  • Dogs were given broken beds that failed to get them off the floor.
  • Kittens were fed dry food from an unlabeled bin so it could not be determined whether it was actually kitten food or something else.
  • Food and water bowls were not cleaned and disinfected daily.
  • Some animals were left in cages with water bowls too small for their size despite appropriate sized bowls being in plentiful supply.  The small bowls were dry.

    Screengrab from the News12 website.

    Screengrab from the News12 website.

  • Many animals were left without water, including a mama cat and her three kittens.  The inspector asked an ACO to water them and once the water was put down, the inspector made this heart-wrenching note:  “The mother cat and kittens showed signs of excessive thirst and crowded to the water bowl after it was filled.  The mother cat was clenching her rear toes while drinking.”  The family drank all the water and the ACO was again asked to provide water.  The mother cat continued drinking from the refilled bowl.
  • Cats were not removed from their cages during cleaning which consisted of wiping down the cage with a paper towel that was dipped in a cleaning solution.
  • Cages were not being cleaned and disinfected properly.
  • Many empty cages, including those in the cat isolation area, were left dirty after the animal was removed.  Moldy food, decaying feces and other debris were left in the cages.
  • Sick and injured animals were not provided with prompt veterinary care, including a cat with a fractured, swollen leg that “crunched” when palpated.

    Screengrab from the News12 website.

    Screengrab from the News12 website.

  • One emaciated, dehydrated cat was vocalizing in distress.  The inspector was told by the staff the cat had not been eating or drinking during the 9 days she had been at the facility.  The vet had been informed of the cat’s condition one day prior to the inspection and responded he would check the cat the next week.  The cat weighed 11 pounds at intake and just 4 pounds on the day of inspection.  Her water bowl was empty.
  • The supervising vet showed up during the inspection and the inspector asked him to take the two most severely ill cats with him to his clinic for treatment but the vet refused.
  • There were no records indicating that animals were being medicated.
  • Sick animals were not moved to isolation and healthy animals were put in isolation upon impound as a holding area.  The ventilation for the isolation area goes directly to the general population housing.
  • Surrendered animals were being killed without proof of ownership nor any efforts to locate possible owners.  Some were killed the same day they were surrendered.
  • Animals were not weighed prior to being killed and the controlled substance log book was not being maintained accurately.  The ACO told the inspector that when the vet was on vacation for a week, they called him on the phone and he “walked them through” the killing procedure.
  • The crates in the AC vehicle were cracked and broken and contained dried blood and dirt.
  • Records were not kept properly and the inspector could not determine the disposition of many animals.
  • The same ID numbers were given to multiple animals and cage cards did not always match the animals inside the cages.
  • Some animals were unidentified, including both living and dead animals (in the freezer).
  • A microchipped dog who was surrendered with an adoption contract from another facility was killed.  The records did not indicate any reason for the killing nor any effort to contact the other facility to reclaim the dog.
  • Animals were being scanned for microchips upon intake only and not rescanned before disposition as required by law.

Yet another house of horrors disguised as a safe haven for animals.  But the truly baffling part is that this facility is in the magical north where we are told everything is daisies and My Little Pony for shelter pets because of MSN and responsible citizens.  So gee, how did this happen?  All the shelters shipping animals to the utopia north, take note.

(Thanks Nathan for sending me this story.)

More on United Animal Coalition Allegations

As posted yesterday, the secretive non-profit United Animal Coalition has had its registrations to run the Guilford Co and Davidson Co pounds revoked by the state of North Carolina.  The county editor for the Rhino Times, a paper in Guilford Co, reports that the allegations made by the state “are only the tip of the iceberg” regarding wrongdoing by UAC.

Citing a source who was in attendance at a secret meeting on July 27 held at the workplace of UAC president Carolyn Cudd, the Rhino reports that Cudd explained to the group how the investigation began:

On Tuesday, May 19, a severely injured dog that was paralyzed from the shoulders down and appeared to have a broken back was brought into the Davidson County shelter.

The next day, a shelter official assured a Davidson County sheriff’s deputy that the dog would be euthanized by the end of that day.  On Thursday, May 21, a deputy discovered the paralyzed dog still alive with maggots on its body and on the floor of the cage.

On Friday, May 22, a worker at the Davidson County shelter noticed a “bloody blowout” from the dog’s rear and took pictures of the animal’s plight and sent the pictures to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department.  The crippled animal was finally put to death later that day.

That led authorities to the investigation that expanded to Guilford County.


A picture of the dog with the broken back at the Davidson County shelter was also passed around at that time.

After the meeting attendees, including UAC’s former president, a current board member as well as county reps from both Guilford and Davidson, got a look at the maggot infested dog whose rear exploded while he lay paralyzed in UAC’s care, there was a discussion on whether UAC should suspend and/or hire a lawyer for Marsha Williams, the executive director of both shelters.  Because yeah, you know, not sure.

A Guilford Co pound volunteer told the Rhino that Davidson Co, the more recent contract awarded to UAC, was under greater scrutiny than Guilford Co.  In an effort to make Davidson’s numbers look good quickly, UAC set up a racket whereby dogs from the Davidson pound were sent to Guilford for killing and counted as adoptions on their way out of Davidson.  Hey, they went out the front door, technically.  I guess they were “adopted” by Fatal Plus at Guilford.

The vol also says UAC specifically directed employees to neglect suffering animals so that they would eventually die in their cages in order to manipulate the number of animals killed.  Hey, they weren’t “euthanized”, they just happened to be called to the Rainbow Bridge, la la la.

In addition, the volunteer told the paper the Davidson Co pound had no one licensed to kill animals for some period of time, donations were not being used for the stated purpose, the financial numbers being given to the county were false, and people were afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation by UAC.

Other allegations made in the piece:

  • Williams, who was paid more than $92,000 a year, hired several family members to work under her at the Guilford facility.
  • Controlled substances were not tracked and recorded as required by law.
  • Cats weren’t given sufficient quantities of food.
  • Animals were put in cages together without consideration of compatibility resulting in fights and food deprivation for weaker animals.
  • Bleach was poured directly into dog runs each day without rinsing causing dogs’ feet to burn.
  • Although severely injured and ill animals were often left to suffer, pets with minor ailments were regularly killed by UAC (I assume because they would take too long to die in their cages).

And of course, as is all too often the case in these situations, follow the money:

Guilford County Sheriff’s Department Col. Randy Powers said this week that the Sheriff’s Department is looking into multiple issues including concerns of financial fraud.  Powers also said the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department has some computer forensics specialists who were working with Davidson County in its investigation as well.

Several of the UAC board members have recently resigned and replacements have reportedly been made but the president won’t name them.  I’m guessing the UAC board, along with the officials in Davidson and Guilford counties, will claim they had no idea about the killing schemes, the animals forced to suffer for the sake of deceptive reports, the financial fraud and all the rest.  Did they have some obligation to make themselves aware of at least the surface appearance of things at the pounds?  Should someone/anyone who was writing checks to UAC have poked their head in the door at some point and asked why dozens of animals were literally dying in front of their faces?  Those are questions which will hopefully be asked by local animal advocates – asked until reasonable answers are provided.

The appalling level of suffering endured by the animals in Davidson and Guilford counties under UAC is enough to keep most anyone awake at night.  Hopefully, it’s enough to land those responsible in jail.  But anyhoo, should we hire a lawyer for the director?  Iffy.

State of NC Shuts Down Operator of Two County Pounds

The state of North Carolina has revoked the shelter registrations issued to the United Animal Coalition – one used to operate the Guilford Co pound and the other for the Davidson Co pound.  In letters dated August 17, the state ordered UAC to cease and desist operating both facilities within 5 days “based on UAC’s willful disregard” of the laws pertaining to the care of shelter animals.

In Davidson Co, the state investigated a complaint regarding a severely injured dog.  The state found that UAC had left an apparently paralyzed dog with a possible broken back to suffer without a vet exam for 3 days before killing the dog.  A review of records dating back to January 2015 revealed an astonishing number of animals who were left to die in their cages.  A few examples cited by the state:

  • From April 15 – 30:  40 animals found dead in their cages
  • In May:  91 cats and 5 dogs found dead in their cages
  • In June:  86 cats and 5 dogs found dead in their cages
  • In July:  78 cats and 14 dogs found dead in their cages

While the obvious suffering of animals at Davidson Co is disturbing, the state cited scores of specific examples of dogs and cats suffering at Guilford Co which are absolutely heartbreaking to read.  Among them:

    • A dog who had been shot in the face and had an eyeball hanging out was given pain medication upon intake and then left to suffer without a vet exam or meds of any kind for 12 days before being killed.
    • A cat who had been hit by car and had his tail degloved was given pain meds but never received a vet exam, wound treatment or antibiotics by the time UAC killed him 4 days later.
    • A cat who had been hit by a car came in with a missing leg and his chin degloved.  He never received a vet exam and UAC waited 10 days before killing him.  He may have received pain meds but the records contain conflicting information so that information is unclear.
    • A dog who had been hit by a car was bleeding from his penis and had abdominal swelling, possibly due to internal bleeding.  His breathing was labored and one of his legs may have been broken.  He suffered in this condition for 2 weeks without so much as a veterinary examination.
    • An elderly dog who appeared to be suffering was brought in by an owner requesting euthanasia.  UAC failed to obtain proof of ownership but took the dog and left him in a cage for 4 days before killing him.  He was never examined by a vet.
    • Another dog, circumstances similar to the above, was left for 6 days before being killed.
    • A dog with apparent neurological problems and leg wounds was left to suffer without a vet exam for 4 days before being killed by UAC.
    • A cat who had “severe diarrhea, anus and vagina swollen and raw, and hair under the tail missing” was given medication for one day then left without exam or treatment for 11 days before UAC killed her.
    • A dog whose feet were raw and who had a large mammary tumor was left in a cage and discovered with the tumor ruptured the following day.  The dog never received a vet exam and was killed after 5 days.
    • A cat who had a maggot in an infected hole in his neck was given pain meds without a vet exam, had the maggot removed and the wound flushed.  No antibiotics were administered.  The cat was found dead in his cage 6 days later.
    • An emaciated cat who appeared hypoglycemic and exhibited symptoms of conjunctivitis and a URI never received a vet exam or meds by the time UAC killed him, 11 days later.
    • An emaciated dog with multiple bite wounds, both old and new, came in with a swollen face and abdomen, a hematoma on the ear and the smell of infection in the mouth.  The dog was placed on pain meds without a vet exam and never received any wound treatment or antibiotics by the time UAC killed him 5 days later.

HSUS has listed Guilford Co as one of its “top ten emergency placement partners” and encouraged the public to bring the staff cupcakes to say “thank you”.  If anyone does plan on bringing cupcakes, please contact me for a top ten list of suggested places you can cram them.

While shutting down UAC is obviously good news for animals, it’s not good enough.  For one thing, the criminal douchebags responsible for what is likely years of animal suffering and death need to go to jail.  For another, Guilford Co taking over the pound is not exactly the knight on the white horse anyone was hoping for – unless the county has changed from doing basically all the same things UAC is accused of by the state.  Trouble behind, trouble ahead.  Annoying animal advocates needed in Guilford and Davidson counties.  Huge.

(Thanks Lisa, Laura and Arlene for the links.)

Animal Shelter Investigations in NC, OK, and CA

The secretive United Animal Coalition, a non-profit contracted to run the pounds in Guilford and Davidson counties in NC, is under investigation by everybody:

The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and the Lexington Police Department, in conjunction with their respective county district attorneys, are investigating animal cruelty and abuse allegations at both shelters, Guilford County officials said late Thursday.

The federal Drug Enforcement Agency is also looking into potential violations at both facilities.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture, which oversees and regulates animal shelters throughout the state, is also conducting a separate investigation, a spokesman confirmed Friday.

Although UAC has only been running the Davidson pound for less than a year, it’s had control of the Guilford Co pound since 1998. HSUS has listed Guilford Co as one of its “top ten emergency placement partners” despite widespread killing, breed discrimination and claims of abuse over the years. In 2014, UAC reported to the state that it took in 11,610 dogs and cats, killing 5592 of them.

The UAC president told a local news outlet that both shelters are continuing to operate as normal during the investigations. Which is…reassuring?  I hope HSUS has plenty of cupcakes on standby.

(Thanks Lisa and Alice for the links.)


In May, the Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners began investigating Marteen Silas, then-manager of the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society.  The state reportedly asked her to surrender her euthanasia license as a result of the investigation.  She did and resigned from her job in June.  At issue was the killing of a healthy husky owned by Silas’s neighbor.  Silas reportedly captured the dog, took him to the PAWS facility, killed him, told the employees to keep quiet about it, then lied to the owners who came to the shelter looking for their lost pet.  An anonymous whistleblower described the encounter to the local news:

“She acted really concerned, and said that she would be looking for it and would call him if she’s seen it,” the employee said. “And then when he left, she turned around to all the employees and just smiled at everybody.”

Silas claimed the dog was chasing her livestock.  She was arrested by the county sheriff last month “on suspicion of cruelty to an animal, larceny of a dog, obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud, knowingly obtaining a controlled dangerous substance for personal use by misrepresentation and administering a poison to a dog that was the property of another.”

(Thanks Clarice.)


An ACO with Los Angeles Co Animal Control has been placed on leave after disturbing photos posted to his Instagram account went viral:

Some of the explicit photos showed burned dogs, charred roosters, and animal extremities ripped apart.
Animal control officials said they were not sure why the officer posted the graphic photos to his account.

Los Angeles Co AC has refused to name the ACO and is investigating itself in the matter.

(Thanks Nathan.)

ACO Whistleblower Alleges Cruelty at Baytown Animal Shelter

Warning:  Some images at the second link and some material in this post is disturbing.


When Fox 26 reported on July 9 that police were investigating the Baytown Animal Shelter in Texas, Mike Lester, the Baytown health director in charge of the facility, said police hadn’t yet interviewed him for the investigation.  He also said no employees had come to him with allegations of wrongdoing at the pound.

Yesterday Lauren Hartis, a former ACO at the pound, went public with her whistleblowing evidence which prompted the police investigation.  Former ACO Hartis “says she saw fellow employees commit animal cruelty on a daily basis.”  And she states she had met with Mike Lester to discuss her concerns:

“I did go to Mike Lester,” Hartis said. “I sat in Mike Lester’s office for more than an hour and he wrote down everything I said on a pad of paper.”

[…] Hartis says Lester reviewed shelter videos and told her euthanasia laws were indeed being broken.

Former ACO Hartis says she resigned after 15 months on the job because she could not stand it any longer.  Among the allegations being made against the Baytown Animal Shelter:

  • Dogs and cats were routinely killed in full view of other pets, sometimes in stacked cages, other times in a large group cage.
  • Cats were ensnared in chokepoles, slammed to the ground and strangled to death by employees.
  • Trapped cats were drowned in a pond on the pound’s property, their bodies left floating.
  • Botched injections of euthanasia solution resulted in animals crying out in pain and terror.

Earlier this month, animal advocates attended a city council meeting to ask for new management at the pound:

One angry volunteer told city council, “You don’t have an animal shelter gentlemen you have a death camp.”

No argument there.

If substantiated by the police investigation, these allegations appear to violate state law so hopefully all involved will be prosecuted.  At the very least, I would think the Baytown city council would suspend the staff for the duration of the investigation due to the heinous nature of the allegations.  Let the volunteers run the place for now.  I think it’s reasonable to make the case that the animals at the pound are in extreme danger if even one of these allegations is true.  Local residents must demand city leaders take immediate action to protect the animals.

(Thanks Nathan for sending me this story.)

Dog Owner Alleges Severe Neglect at Detroit Pound

Major and his person, as shown on the Motor City Muckraker website.

Major and his person, as shown on the Motor City Muckraker website.

Veronica Seward’s dog Major was seized by the city of Detroit last month following a bite incident.  Motor City Muckraker chronicles “a series of blunders” by the city regarding the case:

Instead of seizing the dog on the day of the bites – June 25 – Animal Control officers waited until June 29. Although they planned to euthanize Major, “the dog was released in error by Animal Control” on July 7, according to the press release issued by the police department but attributed to Animal Control.

“Once the error was recognized, the dog was picked up again by AnimalControl officers the next day,” the press release read.

No warrant was issued.

When AC seized Major from the owner the second time, she was reportedly told that he must be held at the pound until a judge rendered a decision on the case.  Ms. Seward visited her dog on July 9  and was concerned about his unusual behavior.  She returned the next afternoon with her cell phone on to record video (later uploaded to YouTube) and found Major lying in his own waste and a pool of blood which was running down the front of the cage into a drain.  She says the cage was too small for him to stand up, he had no water in his bowl and the pound vet, who saw Major while Ms. Seward was there, “refused to provide care”.

The owner took Major to a veterinarian who diagnosed him with parvo.  The dog was also reportedly suffering from urine scald and pressure sores.  Despite treatment, he died the next day.

On July 12, Ms. Seward and local animal advocates held a press conference outside Detroit AC.  Pound staff hid:

During the Sunday morning news conference, workers could be seen inside the Detroit Animal Control center. Once media crews arrived, they put up a “closed” sign, shut off the lights and did not answer the door. Calls to the center during business hours, which was open Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., were not answered and messages could not be left.

On Monday, the Detroit Police Department, which oversees Detroit Animal Control, issued a statement, saying animal control staff and a veterinarian found no symptoms with Major during daily morning rounds on July 10.

“By the afternoon, the staff checked on the dog with the owner and determined he was ill,” said Sgt. Cassandra Lewis.

So no charges for anyone at the pound because apparently in the morning Major was all butterfly stickers and glitter but by the time the owner got there in the afternoon his cage was filled with blood, feces and urine and he was on death’s door.  Sounds legit.

Lewis said of the other 179 dogs at Animal Control as of Friday, “none had exhibited symptoms of parvo.”

“As a precaution, animal control staff are closely monitoring each dog and will be testing all 179 dogs for the parvovirus,” she said.

Closely monitoring – uh, lol?

Aaaaaaanyway, DAC probably isn’t overly worried about disease or dogs suffering in their cages or anything like that since the place doesn’t adopt out dogs and kills roughly 3 out of 4 pets in its care every year.  I mean how closely do Dead Dogs Walking need to be monitored, amirite?

Detroit taxpayers need to demand humane care, transparency and accountability at their municipal shelter.  And they need to keep demanding it, louder and more frequently, until someone in a position of leadership takes meaningful action to remedy the situation.  The status quo is unacceptable.

(Thank you to everyone who sent me links on this story.)

AL Shelter Under Investigation by Police

In February, the Lawrence Co Commission in Alabama awarded an $80,000 annual AC contract to Bobbie Taylor, whom the county had previously been paying $15 per animal for sheltering services. The controversial decision included an agreement that Ms. Taylor purchase and operate a new shelter within 6 months. She is currently using private property to house animals, many of them outdoors, for the county. Her shelter’s website states:

She has the backing of the community, local officials and AVRAL (Alabama Voters for Responsible Animal Legislation), a grassroots political action committee dedicated to helping pass animal-friendly legislation. It is run by Dr. Rhonda Parker.

I’ve blogged about AVRAL before.

In April, pictures from the Lawrence Co shelter were reportedly circulated on social media and claims were made that the conditions were sub-standard. The local paper ran an article and Ms. Taylor denied the allegations, stating basically that she was doing the best she could and that her intention was to buy an actual building:

Taylor said she is purchasing the former Liberty Woodworks building on Ala. 24 as the location for the new shelter, which she said will be the first county no-kill shelter in Alabama.

Yesterday WHNT aired a story centered around video and photos taken by Caleb Scott, a recent volunteer at the Lawrence Co shelter who said he quit after two days because he could not stand it any longer. The video shows a person identified by Mr. Scott as Bobbie Taylor whacking a dog on the head repeatedly. The pictures are also disturbing:

Scott provided us with additional images from the shelter showing dogs lying in their own waste, and at least one emaciated dog lying in a pen too small for it to turn around in. Scott claims several of the animals are obviously sick and in need of care.

“Sick animals, they can’t even get up to walk, just laying there, laying there in their own waste,” Scott says.

Screengrab from the WHNT website showing an emaciated dog in a metal crate at the Lawrence Co shelter.

Screengrab from the WHNT website showing an emaciated dog in a metal crate at the Lawrence Co shelter.

Mr. Scott says he brought his concerns to law enforcement and the police chief confirmed there is an investigation being conducted.  I get the impression that politics run deep here.

WHNT describes Ms. Taylor as “an outspoken advocate for no-kill animal shelters”. As many readers know, pet killing groups such as PETA enjoy exploiting any opportunity to condemn no kill sheltering and further an agenda of killing by falsely claiming no kill is about warehousing and neglecting animals. I don’t know if PETA or any other anti-pet groups have yet commented on the Lawrence Co situation but I want to make my position clear.

The Lawrence Co shelter’s “no kill” claim is irrelevant. If the allegations of abuse and neglect are true then in fact the shelter has more in common with high kill pounds and the leadership and staff who run them: the idea that animal life is cheap. Animal abuse, filth, neglect and suffering do not represent the no kill movement.

As Nathan Winograd writes:

No Kill does not mean poor care, hostile and abusive treatment, and warehousing animals without the intentional killing. It means modernizing shelter operations so that animals are well cared for and kept moving efficiently and effectively through the shelter and into homes. The No Kill movement puts action behind the words of every shelter’s mission statement: “All life is precious.” No Kill is about valuing animals, which means not only saving their lives but also giving them good quality care. It means vaccination on intake, nutritious food, daily socialization and exercise, fresh clean water, medical care, and a system that finds loving, new homes.

At the open admission No Kill shelter I oversaw, the average length of stay for animals was eight days, we had a return rate of less than two percent, we reduced the disease rate by 90 percent from the prior administration, we reduced the killing rate by 75 percent, no animal ever celebrated an anniversary in the facility, and we saved 93 percent of all impounded animals. In short, we brought sheltering into the 21st century.

The difference between true no kill advocates and those who embrace pet killing facilities is that we will not hesitate to condemn neglect and abuse of animals regardless of what label the group attaches to itself: AC shelter, no kill shelter, rescue group, etc. We speak only for the animals. By contrast, no kill’s detractors will generally ignore or even defend abuse, so long as the facility also intentionally kills the animals and does so by falsely claiming there are too many animals, not enough homes and the public is irresponsible.

I hope there is a fair and thorough investigation of the Lawrence Co shelter that rises above political interests and truly protects the animals.  Regardless of the results of that investigation, it’s important to be clear that animal abuse and neglect – wherever it occurs and whoever is responsible – is unacceptable.

(Thanks to Clarice and another reader for the links.)


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