Fort Bend Co AC in Texas posts its mission statement on its website:
The mission of animal control is to eradicate the spread of rabies among the county’s animals, prevent rabies in the human population, and control wild, potentially dangerous animals in areas of high population density.
Animal shelter fail.
The site contains a link so owners can view photos of lost pets who have been impounded. At that link this morning, there is one dog and zero cats. Animal shelter fail.
Rene Vasquez, assistant director at the Fort Bend Co pound, told a local reporter that the facility takes in 600 pets every month and adopted out just 750 animals last year. Animal shelter fail.
On Monday, a pair of friendly dogs were brought in by someone who had found them roaming loose. The french bulldog and his pitbull mix buddy were immediately seen by a local rescue group that offered to take the dogs for their 3 day holding period and return them if an owner was located. While the representative from the rescue was filling out the paperwork, Fort Bend Co killed both dogs. Oops. Animal shelter fail.
The rescue group posted the photos of the dogs on its Facebook page in hopes that the owner could be found and informed as to what happened to his pets. And since Fort Bend Co clearly doesn’t keep its website updated, it’s good the so-called irresponsible public stepped in to take up the slack.
The owner did learn that his pets had been killed and was understandably devastated. He explained he had followed his normal morning routine, letting his 3 dogs out into his fenced yard and when he let them in 30 minutes later, only 1 dog remained. When he found out Fort Bend Co had killed his dogs upon impound, he told the local news:
I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know what to do. I really don’t know what to do.
Fort Bend Co says protocol wasn’t followed and disciplinary action will be taken against the employees who killed Jax, the mixed breed, and Jake, the frenchie. Because there is a protocol in place for the systemic killing of dogs and cats at Fort Bend Co – a protocol which dictates owner surrenders may be killed immediately but strays can’t be killed for 3 days. Animal shelter fail.
Screengrab depicting Jake and Jax from a video at the Click2Houston website
The kill techs accidentally got Jax and Jake mixed in with the group of pets who are routinely killed upon intake. Animal shelter fail.
The owner, who did not wish to be identified, told the reporter it would be a shame if this happened to someone else’s dogs. But killing is the standard protocol in place at Fort Bend Co. Killing immediately or killing 3 days after impound. Kill, kill, kill. I find it extremely unlikely that oops-killings of owned pets haven’t happened before at Fort Bend Co and surely they will happen again. Because killing is the default. The protocols are all about killing. When your facility takes in 600 animals a month and only live releases roughly 62 of them, you are functioning primarily as a pet killing facility. Animal shelter fail.
In the face of this epic failure at Fort Bend Co, I would suggest disciplinary action against the kill techs who got mixed up while doing their jobs is not going to cut it, especially if the county truly wants to be a no kill shelter, as the assistant director told the Local 2 reporter. What’s needed is a complete overhaul. I would start by round-filing all killing based protocols and replacing them with lifesaving protocols, such as the ones followed by the hundreds of open admission shelters in this country saving more than 90% of their pets. Make the commitment to doing your jobs and sheltering the animals in your care – both owned and unowned. Get everyone on board with the goal of saving every healthy/treatable dog and cat that comes through the front doors. If you do that, no employee at the shelter is even going to consider killing dogs like Jax and Jake because their immediate reaction upon seeing them in the kill room is going to be, “A mistake has been made. These pets are not medically hopeless and suffering. I am not going to kill them because my job is to save them. That’s what we do here.” Tragically, Fort Bend Co had very little to offer in response to the needless killing of Jax and Jake besides oops.
Animal shelter fail.
(Thanks Maureen and Clarice for sending me this story.)