PETA Shames Medina Co for No Longer Killing Cats

Allegra, a cat at the Medina Co SPCA, judges your stupidity.

Allegra, a cat at the Medina Co SPCA, judges your stupidity.

PETA kills animals – mainly dogs and cats in need of love, temporary sheltering and new homes.  But the organization goes a step further by encouraging and rewarding (with vegan cookie gift baskets) municipalities that threaten to kill pets and shaming those that implement changes designed to eliminate needless killing.

Such is the case with Medina County, Ohio, where officials were pressured by the so-called irresponsible public into finally giving up the gas chamber which they’d been using to kill most of the cats impounded at the shelter.  The county stopped accepting cats and entered into an agreement with the Medina Co SPCA to take over cat sheltering from the county late last year.

Medina Co SPCA executive director Stephanie Moore writes:

The Medina County SPCA mission is to care and rehabilitate animals that are suffering from cruelty, abuse, neglect and abandonment. We entered an agreement with the county on December 16th 2013 to start taking in the healthy adoptable stray cat population that previously went to the county facility and were then euthanized by carbon monoxide. We entered this agreement so they would stop using the gas chamber, which they did.

We told the county that we would have to wait list cats as we do not euthanize for space here and we would need to have room before a healthy stray could enter our program. Initially we had many people bring us cats from hoarding homes and our first one was the day after Christmas with 49 cats. All of our animals must be quarantined for 10 days, spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before adoption, all of which does take time.

But in a letter to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, PETA equates the SPCA’s responsible management of cat admissions with “refusing to take in cats who are in need” and then drags out all the yawn-inducing tricks from its tired trick bag:  

  • Nobody wants to kill animals.
  • Killing is a kindness.
  • The cats who aren’t immediately accepted by the SPCA will be hit by cars, purloined by hoarders or placed in iron maidens by people “desperate” to deliver cat kindness.
  • We have to keep killing pets until EVERYONE IN THE GALAXY spays and neuters.  (Which will be never, for anyone keeping track.)

I asked Stephanie Moore for some details on the Medina Co SPCA’s managed admission program for cats.  She writes:

 We currently have a wait list of around 2 weeks. We have 11 people waiting to surrender a total of 32 cats. Sick, injured, abused, or neglected cats we will take anytime as that is our mission (even ferals if they are sick or injured). We never turn an animal away that is suffering.

We feel we are doing a tremendous job in saving the healthy stray cat population in our county and our number of cats has nearly tripled compared to the same time frame before we started this program.

Well gee, apparently homeless cats in need of sheltering in Medina Co have more options available to them than the iron maiden.  Despite the claims made in PETA’s shammy letter, cats can go to the SPCA immediately if they are in need of emergency care or they can go to the SPCA within about 2 weeks if they are healthy.  And unless they are medically hopeless and suffering, they won’t be killed – which sounds pretty damn good.  To everyone except PETA obviously.

(Thanks Casey for the link.)

WV Animal Control Officer Violates Law in Dog Killing, Will Keep Job

A Fayette County dog bit a child on March 11, 2014 and stitches were required as a result of the injury. Fayette Co ACO Russell Parker seized the dog and was advised by the owner that the dog had not been vaccinated for rabies. The owner stated the dog had attacked another person in past and agreed to have the dog euthanized.

The Fayette Co animal control director is the only person licensed to euthanize animals for the county and she works at a veterinary clinic. When ACO Russell was advised by the county health department on March 12 that the dog’s head needed to be sent to a lab for rabies testing ASAP, the individual licensed to perform euthanasia was contacted. She stated she would come to the county facility after her shift ended at the clinic that afternoon to perform the euthanasia. The dog’s owner had already paid the vet clinic for the euthanasia.

ACO Russell decided the euthanasia could not be delayed and opted to shoot the dog to death with a small caliber rifle. He did not inform the animal control director of his intentions.  Nor did he exercise the most obvious option of immediately transporting the dog to the vet clinic for the euthanasia. After killing the dog, he reportedly used some sort of tool to remove the head and sent it to a lab for testing.

West Virginia code allows for the shooting of dogs under limited circumstances and there are specific protocols which must be followed:

(c) In an emergency or in a situation in which a dog cannot be humanely destroyed in an expeditious manner, a dog may be destroyed by shooting if:

(1) The shooting is performed by someone trained in the use of firearms with a weapon and ammunition of suitable caliber and other characteristics designed to produce instantaneous death by a single shot; and

(2) Maximum precaution is taken to minimize the dog’s suffering and to protect other persons and animals.

The animal control director filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office regarding the killing. The sheriff’s investigator determined that ACO Parker was in violation of the law as he did not use a firearm capable of killing the dog with one shot. In fact, ACO Parker shot the dog three times before he finally died, causing needless pain and suffering.

Fayette Co sheriff Steve Kessler concluded that despite the violation of the law which resulted in the dog’s agonizing death, there were no grounds to fire ACO Parker. His reasoning:

  • ACO Parker was trying to to get the dog’s head to the lab as quickly as possible for the sake of the bitten child and thought this was the only way to do it.
  • Using a weapon of insufficient caliber to kill the pet with a single shot as required by law is exactly the same as when a technician tries to euthanize a pet by injection, misses the vein and must re-insert the needle.
  • Serving as an ACO is a “dirty, nasty” job which pays slightly more than minimum wage.

As to the first point, it does not seem credible to me that ACO Parker thought shooting the dog to death was the only way to get the head submitted for testing right away. He didn’t even explore the alternatives such as driving the dog to the clinic himself or requesting the services of another clinic. Regarding the second point, a missed venipuncture with a small needle is in no way, shape or form the equivalent of a small caliber rifle shot. One does not cause the same pain and suffering as the other, as posited by Sheriff Kessler in his press release.  And lastly, whether or not the sheriff thinks sheltering animals is a “dirty, nasty” job is irrelevant, as is the pay.  The sheriff is sworn to uphold the law which in this case, was violated.

Local animal advocates had been calling for ACO Parker’s termination.  Sheriff Kessler stated that ACO Parker has been disciplined but refused to elaborate.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Calling All Cars! Angry Pet Lover in Parking Lot, Talking and Stuff!

We last checked in with the Chester Co SPCA in August 2013.  At that time, the facility was refusing to release its kill stats, abandoning its offsite cat adoption program due to it being a “hassle” despite reports that impounded cats were taken directly from counter to kill room, and importing puppies from other states without obtaining the required health certificates.  Former staffers and volunteers described the Chester Co SPCA as a “kill factory”.

Today, there doesn’t appear to be any progress to report.

A volunteer who had bonded with a dog at the Chester Co SPCA grew concerned after he was placed on a six month quarantine for kennel cough (What the what?) and she found him in a cage covered in filth.  When she expressed her concern to staff, she was told she was not allowed to go into the quarantine area.  Problem solved, eh?

The volunteer scheduled an appointment to meet with the volunteer manager concerning the dog on March 24.  After the meeting took place, the volunteer was told to never return to the Chester Co SPCA.  When she asked why, the only information she was provided was that there had been a sekrit vote.

The vol reportedly went to the parking lot where she met another vol with whom she began a conversation.  During that time, the Chester Co SPCA called the police to have her removed from the premises, claiming she was trespassing.  The officer handed her a letter from the pound making her banishment official and told her to leave the parking lot, which she did.

Apparently calling the police on people trying to help animals is SOP at the Chester Co SPCA:

Monday’s incident is the second time in less than a month that police were called to the shelter because of a dispute between staff and volunteers. On Feb. 22, West Goshen Police were called after an altercation between its executive director, two board members and two volunteers. The two volunteers were also fired prior to that incident, according to police.

No doubt the local police unit is thrilled with the Chester Co SPCA’s trespassing calls against volunteers.  I hope no one in Chester Co is being robbed or assaulted while the Sekrit Vote Club is taking law enforcement resources away from the community.

How do you know when your local pound needs a complete overhaul?  Well, this.  For example.

Miami-Dade Pound Manager: “Obviously we’re doing something right”

The troubled Miami-Dade pound in FL is funded by taxpayers, in part to provide a safety net for stray pets in the community.  But when a Good Samaritan tried to help a dog he found loose on a highway by bringing him to the pound recently, he was turned away.  A Miami-Dade pound employee was caught on video telling the man the pound had no room and that he’d have to try again another day to get shelter for the dog.

Local news reporter Jacey Birch showed the video to manager Kathleen Labrada who described what happened as a “miscommunication”:

“For strays the doors are always open. We have no option in taking in strays,” said Labrada.

We have no option but to do the jobs taxpayers pay us to do. Except when we don’t do our jobs, in which case miscommunication.

But in this SuperFantasticWishTime exchange, the reporter doesn’t fail to do her job:

“If you euthanize for space, how could the shelter ever be at over-capacity?” asked Birch.

“The goal is to never euthanize for space,” said Labrada.

“But you do euthanize for space?” asked Birch.

“The shelter will euthanize for space as needed, but we take many actions to prevent that from ever happening,” said Labrada.

Like not accepting animals?

“In February, we saved 88 percent of the dogs and 82 percent of the cats, so obviously we’re doing something right,” said Labrada.

“Isn’t it because you’re not accepting the animals anymore?” asked Birch.

“No, not at all. We’re open for intake seven days a week,” said Labrada.

Jacey Birch: 1
Kathleen Labrada: 0
Stray pets in Miami-Dade County: We have no option but to miscommunicate you.  Obviously.  Because otherwise we’d have to do our jobs.  Which sounds like work.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Escambia Co Burns Through Its Third Pound Director in Eight Months

Directors keep resigning from the troubled Escambia Co pound in Florida. The latest is veterinarian Alphonso Steward III who just took over operations in November 2013.  He replaced a director who only lasted 2 months on the job.

Animal advocates claim an inordinate number of shelter pets were dying after Dr. Steward performed routine neuter surgeries on them. For his part, Dr. Steward blames the deaths on his tech, whom he says cleaned cages with a “noxious spray” and exposed the pets to toxic fumes during their surgical recovery.

In addition, Dr. Steward told the local paper that the pound’s kennel manager, Phyllis Trout, was giving information to animal advocates in an effort to drive him from the pound.  Dr. Steward said Ms. Trout is responsible for selecting animals for the kill list at Escambia Co:

 “If her friends knew how many animals she would sign off every week, they wouldn’t be as friendly to her any more. She signs off as many as 20-30 animals a week.”

The county is launching an investigation into the post-surgical deaths under Dr. Steward:

Interim Escambia County Administrator Larry Newsom said the county is bringing in an independent, third party veterinarian from out of town to look at the animal deaths, and the county will look into any issues with the hiring of Steward.

Neither linked article indicates if any of the carcasses of the animals in question have been frozen for examination but without the ability to conduct necropsies on these animals, the investigation will be limited.

Wherever the truth lies in all this muck, the fact remains that needless death is standard operating procedure at the pound.  Lifesaving is not the prime directive.  Reform needs to start there.  Focusing on anything else will result in more pets in trash bags and more drama, which seems to be the only area where Escambia Co excels.

Escambia Co needs to take a long, hard look at its institutionalized pet killing and determine why its directors keep running from the place.  Maybe county administrators could use some of that noxious spray on their eyeballs to see if it helps erode the accumulation of awful.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Buffalo Seizes Four Dogs from City Employee, Loses One

In December 2013, Shanon Richardson was arrested and charged with felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges in connection with allegations of dogfighting.  Four pitbulls were seized from his home:

Police accused Richardson of failure to provide proper shelter for two of the dogs. There was also evidence of training or breeding dogs to fight, including a treadmill in the basement of the home and “weights for the animals necks.

Bite sticks, hormone growth pills, needles with injectable fluids, which was used and intended to use for training, preparations, conditioning,” according to court documents.

Earlier this month, one of the four seized dogs being held at the city shelter was stolen:

A volunteer at the Buffalo Animal Shelter told News 4′s Lou Raguse the missing dog was being kept in a section of the shelter accessible to the public.

Richardson is currently suspended from his job with the city of Buffalo and ordered to have no contact with animals.  A plea deal was rumored to be in the works which would allow Richardson to plead to lesser charges.  The case was slated to go to a grand jury and no additional updates appear to be available.  Police are reportedly investigating how the missing dog was lost on the city shelter’s watch.

Three OH Dog Wardens Charged with Animal Cruelty

On February 14, the assistant warden at the Gallia Co pound in OH allegedly killed 11 dogs via heartstick without proper sedation.  Ohio code states that heartstick may only be used “on a sedated or unconscious animal”. The Gallia Co sheriff investigated the matter and the assistant dog warden was reassigned to a different county department during that investigation.

Gallia County Commission President David Smith says the shelter is not a no-kill shelter, and it’s unclear at this point if anything wrong was done.

Although wrongdoing wasn’t clear to the county commissioner at the time, it’s crystal clear to everyone now:

Dog warden Paul L. Simmers faces 32 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty, while his former assistant Jason Harris is charged with 12 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with the Feb. 14 deaths of several dogs at the Gallia County Animal Shelter. Former dog warden Jean L. Daniels was also charged with 13 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with the investigation.

The 57 cruelty charges stem from illegal killing protocols at the Gallia Co pound – specifically injecting sodium pentobarbital into a shoulder or hip muscle of shelter pets before injecting it into the heart muscle.

“When administered directly into the muscles of an animal, sodium pentobarbital is widely believed to cause intense pain,” [Gallipolis city solicitor Adam] Salisbury said. “The practice of injecting this drug into the muscles of an animal is specifically labelled an ‘unacceptable practice’ by the American Humane Association.”

Salisbury said Simmer, Harris and Daniels each attended a training session sponsored by the American Humane Association and earned a certificate allowing them to euthanize animals by injection.

David Balz, Ohio-certified euthanasia instructor and director of the Wyandot County Humane Society, agreed that the reason the practice is deemed unacceptable is due to the needless pain inflicted on the animal and also told me he makes a point of emphasizing this during training:

The students are taught, among many other things, that IC [intra-cardiac] can be used as a route of administration for euthanasia with sodium pentobarbital only on animals that are unconscious to the point of no longer feeling pain. They are taught that sodium pentobarbital injected outside a vein causes pain, and burns because it is a sodium “salt.” Every final exam that I have administered over the last 15 years actually has a test question concerning this issue, and if they attended any AHA or HSUS or Ohio State Veterinary Board approved course, they were taught this fact. An intramuscular injection of sodium pentobarbital is not only an unacceptable practice, but would appear in my opinion to violate the Ohio laws regarding euthanasia of animals in an animal shelter as well as the animal cruelty statutes.

Gallia Co prosecutor Jeff Adkins reportedly found no felony violations pursuant to the investigation. This article cites a 2 year statute of limitations on misdemeanors in Ohio and Mr. Salisbury appears to have done a thorough job investigating the case, going back the full 2 years to encompass all violations.  This is a big deal.  We so often see animal cruelty cases treated far too lightly or dismissed entirely.  Mr. Salisbury appears to have taken this task seriously and in so doing, has given a voice to the many victims in this case, well beyond the 11 dogs who suffered needlessly on February 14.  If you want to drop him a brief note of thanks, his e-mail is citysolicitor@gallipoliscity.com.

The Gallia Co commission is set to release a statement today regarding the employment of the two current dog wardens.

(Thanks Arlene and Clarice for the links.)

#DeadDogLulz in Maricopa Co

As we are so often told about people who work in pet killing facilities:  Nobody WANTS to kill animals.  But apparently when they do get to kill them, it’s too fun not to gloat about it on social media.

A Maricopa Co dog called Mickey was reportedly minding his own business in his fenced backyard one day last month when someone let their 4 year old child wander into the yard.  When the child took Mickey’s bone, the dog bit the child in the face causing a severe injury.  Mickey was seized by the Maricopa Co pound and his family is fighting in court to keep him alive.

A Facebook group in support of saving Mickey’s life has more than 32,000 likes.  Vanessa Martinez, a Maricopa Co pound employee, visited the page and taunted those hoping to save Mickey:

“This is stupid… you guys doing all of this won’t help any. He’s going night night.”

Ooh, burn.

The pound’s director has defended Ms. Martinez’s comments as free speech.

A judge is scheduled to make a determination on Mickey’s fate by March 13.

A spokesperson for MCACC says Martinez is still employed. A petition is circulating on the Internet calling for Martinez to be terminated.

That petition and 5 pennies will get you a nickel and someone who likes killing animals.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Orange Co Pound Kills Lost Pet Upon Impound

Sofie, as depicted on the WFTV website

Sofie, as depicted on the WFTV website

Lisa Storey is a pet owner in Orange County, Florida.  When one of her children accidentally left the home’s front door open recently, her senior cat slipped outside.  Ms. Storey began searching for her beloved pet, called Sofie, immediately.  While canvassing the neighborhood with flyers, Ms. Storey learned a neighbor had found Sofie and taken her to Orange Co Animal Services.

“I was kind of relieved when I heard she was there.  I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. She was rescued.’”

But Orange Co had killed Sofie upon impound so Ms. Storey never had any chance of reclaiming her.  The pound’s vet examined the cat, determined her to be “lethargic and extremely emaciated” and killed her.

Ms. Storey was heartbroken:

“It’s not right.  I mean, she wasn’t in any pain,” said Storey.

This isn’t the first time the Orange Co vet has been involved in a pet killing that made headlines.  After the pound oops-killed a 2 year old dog named Hershey who had an adopter waiting to take him home last summer, a local rescuer wrote to Dr. Robert Ridgway, requesting an explanation for the killing.  Dr. Ridgway’s highly unprofessional response included no explanation for the needless killing but a number of attacks on the person demanding answers.

Orange Co policy dictates that stray animals are held for at least 3 days so the owner can reclaim them.  But apparently that policy is less policy and more possibly, depending on whatever way the wind blows:

Channel 9 asked Animal Services if that three-day holding policy depended on whether the animal was sick or healthy.

They said hold times are made on a case by case basis.

Orange Co Animal Services likes to read the rules and then apply them based on interpretive dance, as they did when wrongly claiming the law required them to kill a beagle named Rufus whose owner wanted him back last year.

This is your municipal animal shelter, America.  These are the people blaming the “irresponsible public” for the killing and claiming shelters should do away with mandatory holding periods for cats because their owners don’t want them.  Fight back.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Odessa’s Multi-Tiered Failure Results in Dog’s Death

The police department in Odessa, Texas runs the pound.  Thousands of animals are impounded and killed each year, with the police department claiming most of them are “unadoptable”.   One dog impounded on February 15 for quarantine was definitely not “unadoptable” – he had a family who loved him and wanted him back.  Instead, he is now dead:

OPD says on Saturday, the dog pushed up a water bowl, escaped from the opening and out of exterior doors, which were open for ventilation.

The dog was found dead in the street later that day.

When municipalities insist that dogs be quarantined at the pound instead of at home, it’s purportedly being done in order to provide the highest level of safety to the public.  That is, Odessa apparently doesn’t trust owners to quarantine their own dogs at home following a bite report and requires dogs be sent to the pet killing facility for the duration of the quarantine.

Pro tip:  If your quarantine cages are such that all a dog has to do is push aside a bowl in order to escape not only the cage but the entire building, you aren’t protecting the public very well.  I think a reasonable argument could be made that in fact you aren’t doing your jobs at all.  But with a cited kill rate of 85% at Odessa’s so-called shelter, I guess everybody already knows that.

The Odessa police department will investigate itself in the case.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

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