Roanoke Pound Volunteers Locked Out by Management

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

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the staff or the volunteers, poor customer service with regular complaints from the public that fall on deaf ears, outdated sheltering practices and an unwillingness to do anything different or beyond what has always been done.

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

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

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

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

And:

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

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

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

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

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

(Thanks Lisa and Clarice.)

 

Lexington-Fayette AC & C Oops-Kills Another Lost Dog

drake

Drake, as shown on the ABC 36 website.

Kentucky – When a friendly, healthy 3 year old dog named Drake got lost, he wandered into a neighbor’s yard.  The neighbor brought him to Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control so that his owner could find him.  When Drake’s owner, Vanessa Kyle, went to the shelter to redeem her pet, she did not see him in the cages.  When she went back again, staff told her they had killed Drake by mistake.  Oops:

“Why would you kill a perfectly healthy dog?” says Vanessa Kyle.

Good question, especially since, as we are so often chided by shelter killing enablers, nobody wants to kill animals.

And here’s your answer:  computer glitch.  Those pesky computers.  I didn’t even know computers could speak sternly to shelter pets, never mind kill them.  Maybe their role in shelter management should be reviewed.  Or something.

ABC 36 news called the Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control for answers. No one wanted to talk on camera, but someone there told me what they told Kyle – there was a software glitch. We asked if this happens a lot. We were told once every five to six years.

Ho-hum. Once every 5 to 6 years we kill someone’s lost family member.

Drake’s killing reminded me of the time Lexington-Fayette AC & C oops-killed Peanut, another lost dog whose owner was trying to claim him. That was 3 years ago:

Animal Control is supposed to keep stray dogs for five days. Peanut was euthanized after one. Animal Care and Control officials didn’t want to talk on camera[.]

One day, five days, whatevs.  Capt. Tim Mitchell of Lexington-Fayette AC & C told the media at the time:

“I can’t remember the last time it happened,” he said.

Can’t remember. Once every 5 to 6 years. Maybe 3 years.  But we don’t want to talk on camera. So shrug, I guess.

Meanwhile, Ms. Kyle’s life has been forever changed by the needless violence against Drake:

“It’s awful, I have cried constantly. You know for the first two or three days, I didn’t eat,” Kyle says.

[…]

“I loved him, I loved him,” says Kyle.

Kyle says she received a one dog adoption and city license gift certificate. It has to be used within a year.

Because there is a time limit on grief and compassion. But don’t worry, these people apparently can’t tell time anyway.

(Thanks Lisa.)

“The Incident with Barbie”

barbie co co

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

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

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

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

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

tommy co co

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Distract with shiny thing.

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

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

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

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

2.  Investigate yourself!

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

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

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

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

(Thanks Clarice.)

Dallas Pound Tries Out a “You Think You Hate Us Now? Just Wait!” Stance

When the public won’t stop clamoring for their public animal shelter to do the job they’re paying them for, the only reasonable thing to do is punish the public.  That’s the approach the long-troubled Dallas pound is taking in a briefing posted this week to the city’s website.  Among the proposed punishments:

  • Slap pet owners who fail to license, fail to keep a rabies tag on their pets at all times, or fail at some other horrible thing with criminal fines and civil fines.  If they can’t pay, sue them.
  • Impound pets belonging to anyone who hasn’t gotten them neutered and hasn’t bought a special permit.
  • Eliminate holding period protections for cats picked up outdoors.
  • Eliminate holding period protections for dogs picked up from areas “with high incidence of injury by animals”.
dasdog

A dog for adoption at Dallas Animal Services, as shown on PetFinder.

What’s that you say?  You are a taxpayer and if your cat or dog gets lost and impounded by Dallas Animal Services, you want the chance to reclaim him and you don’t want pound staff disposing of him as they see fit before you even get home from work?

You don’t see how increasing impounds and breaking up families by imposing hefty fines many owners won’t be able to pay qualifies as “sheltering”?

You sound like a troublemaker.  We have punishments for you.

DAS killed more than 9000 dogs last year.  But don’t worry, that’s “the hard part of the job.”  I guess thinking up ways to increase intake and take pets out of homes is the easy part.  Good going DAS.

(Thanks Nathan.)

 

 

Nobody Wants These Animals: NYC Edition

What would you be willing to do in order to avoid killing a shelter pet?  And let me be clear – in this hypothetical, you are getting paid to do whatever it is your answer is going to be.  So set aside all those obstacles that sometimes hinder us in life when we are trying to save animals.  This is your job.  What would you be willing to do?

I’ll go first:  I would be willing to do just about anything to avoid killing a shelter pet.  The first thing I’d probably do is check the pet’s records to see if any interested adopters or rescuers had placed their names on the animal.  If someone had in fact applied to adopt the pet, I’d call that person.  If he left two numbers, or six or sixteen, I’d call all of them.  If he left an email address, I’d get typing, in addition to the phone calls.  If his mailing address was available, I’d drop a note in the mail if I didn’t receive a prompt response to the calls/emails.  If he put down his place of employment on the application and I hadn’t had any luck reaching him, I might go there, depending on the type of business.  Carrier pigeon, smoke signals, skywriting – I’m not ruling anything out.  And while I wouldn’t quickly give up on the adopter, I’d be trying all sorts of other things in the meantime:  posting an online plea for a temporary foster to buy an extra day, reaching out to rescuers/animal advocates/person I sat next to on the bus once/lady who made eye contact with me at the grocery store/etc.  Like I said, just about anything.

I’m guessing most readers here might give similar type answers.  But if your answer is:  I wouldn’t be willing to do one damn thing even though it’s my job and if I get called out on it later I’d just lie, you might like to apply at NYC ACC.  You know, to be around your own kind.

promise

Promise, as shown in a video posted on Facebook.

This gentleman posted on social media that he had applied to adopt a dog named Promise from NYC ACC.  He was told he’d be contacted upon approval of his application.  While waiting, he tried to check back with the facility several times but couldn’t get anyone on the phone.  Finally he emailed and received a response:  NYC ACC had killed Promise because she had a cough.  They said someone had left him a voicemail but he says that just isn’t true:

I left both of my cell numbers, my girlfriend’s number, my mom’s number, 2 references complete with contact information. I have no missed calls, no voicemails on either of my phones… No email to ensure your transmission was received. No effort whatsoever. Shame on you Animal Care Centers of NYC. You killed my dog for fucking Kennel cough. She deserved better than that. You had a pending application and an eager recipient, yet you took her life anyway.

Her bed arrived last week, she’ll never get to sleep in it. Her new collar with her name on it was on the way, she’ll never get to wear it.

[…]

RIP Promise. We loved you already.

Well done NYC ACC.  You must be proud.  Same shit, different day.

NYC ACC says there is no such thing as no kill.  (There is, of course.)  I heard there was no such thing as monsters but apparently that ain’t true either.

(Thanks Nathan.)

Dallas Pound: Stop Me If You’ve Killed This One Before

SpencerTracy

Spencer Tracy, as shown on the Dallas Morning News website.

When a Good Samaritan in Texas saw a dog running in traffic, she whistled for him.  Michelle Henderson got the friendly, 84 pound dog into her car while he slobbered kisses on her.  She brought him to the Dallas pound and gave staff her contact information for his record to make sure he wasn’t killed as she intended to find a foster home for the dog, whom she named Spencer Tracy.  After lining up a foster, she called the pound to check on the dog only to learn staff had already killed him.  Oops.

But hold up, there’s REASONS:

  1.  In addition to Ms. Henderson, another person had asked to have his/her contact info posted in the dog’s records.  Staff did contact that person before killing the pet but didn’t bother contacting Ms. Henderson because “staffers believed the two were the same person.”
  2. Pound staff decided the dog was unadoptable because he was “shy and withdrawn” and as such, put him on the kill list.

Gosh, a dog acting shy and withdrawn in a cage at a pet killing facility? Weird. Plus the two people asking to be contacted are really the same person. I just know it. No need to call.

Last summer, when the Dallas pound oops-killed a bucket full of kittens who had a foster home lined up, management expressed regret that staff never bothered to call the rescuer who had asked to be contacted about the kittens:

“[S]he should have gotten that phone call, and we’re devastated that we failed her and those animals.”

Several months earlier, the Dallas pound oops-killed 4 dogs slated for rescue and issued a statement which read, in part:

Euthanasia of animals is tough enough for employees. To know that four dogs may have been euthanized in error has devastated staff, and they are also eager to look for ways to prevent incidents like this in the future. We mourn the loss of homeless animals that can be saved. DAS prides itself on caring for thousands of animals that staff members come into contact with each year. The City, DAS and community remain committed to our life-saving efforts and continued progress in this area.

Now it’s a new year but the same old song and dance:

Shelter manager Teresa Cleek apologized for Spencer Tracy’s death in an email to an animal advocate. She called the death “unfortunate” and promised to remind staff of proper procedures.
“We are sorry we failed this pup and appreciate the opportunity for our continued improvement,” she said in the email, which was forwarded to The Dallas Morning News.

Here’s the thing about continued progress and continued improvement – you actually have to have some progress and some improvement to continue.  All the Dallas pound seems to have is workers too lazy to give a flying fuck, too willing to kill animals whose records have been flagged with DO NOT KILL notes and management too quick to dispense platitudes about how the staff has all the sads.  The Dallas pound staff needs to stop being sorry about failing animals and start doing their jobs.  Maybe if they actually sheltered animals instead of killing them, their dogs wouldn’t be “shy and withdrawn” in their cages.

(Thanks Nathan.)

What Are You Guys Wearing to the Ceremony Honoring the Dog Skull Cracking Deputy?

An attorney for the off-duty Montgomery Co deputy who bashed a dog’s brains in then adopted a different dog at the pound wrote a letter to the local paper to tell of his client’s uh, heroism.

The MCSO deputy, now identified as Keith Berger, says through his lawyer – and oh yes, I’m paraphrasing here – that he saw three female vols, one of them a teenager, in an enclosure with Rock, the 90 pound pitbull mix, another large pitbull mix and a tiny dog being eaten by the other two.  The three hysterical women were yelling and flailing and attempting to break up the little dog buffet with sticks and a hose.  Although the dogs were not behaving aggressively toward the vols, the deputy envisioned that the teen girl looked very chomp-worthy to Rock and decided to jump in and save the overemotional wimmins.  Berger could have opened fire inside the enclosure, cause you know, yay guns, but he valiantly opted not to do so instead relying on his super manly strength.  He “picked up a piece of ‘half rotten’ 2×4 and hit Rock on the head.” It was barely a tap, just enough to save the pygmy dog and the silly little girl and the world. An ACO then came in and broke up the fight between the two large dogs.

See.  It was totally a situation where womenfolk got themselves into a fix and they were all going to die, probably.  The deputy has a sworn duty to protect and to serve and just because he’s not on the clock doesn’t mean he’s going to stand by while fainting ladies put themselves in harm’s way.  He gets all the credit for not shooting up the place and for his deft wielding of a toothpick to stop Rock from doing what he was not doing but totally could have, possibly, if you’ll only believe.  You don’t have to thank him, just let him know when the medal ceremony is to be held.

Montgomery Co is continuing to investigate itself in the matter and the investigation is reportedly “moving along quickly.”  And, not to give away the ending but:

“While this matter is still being thoroughly investigated, several accounts that had initially surfaced on social media regarding the incident have proven to be false,” District Attorney Brett Ligon said. “We will continue to follow every lead and witness; but as of yet, we have not received the necropsy report or the completed report from the detective assigned to the case.”

We don’t yet know what happened but we do know that several accounts which do not fit our narrative are wrong. We are being very thorough and waiting by the mailbox for the necropsy report which will confirm that Rock had Jelly Head Syndrome and even a love pat would have caused his skull to cave in which will prove that the deputy did him a favor actually.  Medal ceremony to be announced forthwith.

(Thanks Clarice.)

The Worst Deja Vu Ever

tilly

Tilly, as shown on the WDAM website.

This again.

A man thought to be a potential adopter visited the Brookhaven Animal Rescue League in Mississippi on Friday, asked to see the cats, then allegedly beat one to a pulp before leaving. The guy was unsupervised as all the staff and vols at the private shelter were chasing a loose dog. The three year old cat, called Tilly, was found in an open cage, battered and bloody, clinging to life. She died later at a vet’s office.

The area where Tilly was found is described as a colony room so it sounds as if she was tortured in view of other cats. There was blood spatter on the walls and a “plastic stick” was in pieces. The man apparently beat Tilly until his weapon fell apart then stomped on her.

Jody Cothron has been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with the case. In Mississippi, nearly all animal cruelty offenses are misdemeanors. Police have obtained surveillance video from the shelter.

I totally get that there was an emergency at the shelter because a dog had gotten loose. I get that everyone was looking out for the dog’s well being by chasing him around and leaving the guy in the cat colony room unsupervised. But come on people, you need to watch your pets and not leave them alone with strangers.

If a guy walks into a daycare and says he’s interested in looking around because he might want to enroll his kid, you don’t show him into the infant room and leave him alone – even if there’s an emergency. Emergencies happen. They need to be handled in such a way that no one’s safety is compromised.

If it was absolutely an all-hands-on-deck situation that required everyone in the place to help, the first thing that needed to happen was for someone to quickly explain to the visitor that he would need to wait in his car until the dog was captured and then to make sure the guy was out of there. Because apparently unsupervised adopters beating shelter pets is a thing now. FFS.

(Thanks Clarice.)

One Dog Dead, Two Others Injured as Adopter Selects a Pet

Montgomery Co in Texas is investigating itself to determine how one of its off duty sheriff’s deputies visited the county shelter to adopt a dog and ended up allegedly beating three dogs with a two-by-four in the back before having his adoption processed out front.  (You probably want to go back and re-read that so I’ll pause for a moment here.)

The Courier of Montgomery Co reports that on Saturday, the MCSO deputy and his family were in the shelter’s exercise area with three dogs, including a friendly male pitbull mix named Rock who was reportedly a staff favorite.  There was apparently no shelter staff supervising the family.  Not saying the guy got special treatment because he was a sheriff’s deputy but, unless the staff is totally lax with everyone who comes to visit, it seems like a possibility.

rock

Rock at the Montgomery Co Animal Shelter, as shown on the Courier website.

When the three dogs started fighting, the deputy allegedly picked up a board and began beating the dogs.  Rock apparently got it in the head and was left with neurological damage so severe that he had to be euthanized.  The other two dogs are described as “seriously injured” but the county won’t say what their status is.  They’re probably fine, you know.

After the bloodshed, the deputy apparently went up front and got the adoption paperwork processed and took home his new pet.  Not saying the guy got special treatment because he was a sheriff’s deputy but, unless shelter policy states adopters can’t be denied for any reason including leaving a trail of blood from the exercise area to the adoption desk, it seems like a possibility.

Shelter director Dr. Todd Hayden told the Courier he didn’t know why three dogs were in the exercise area together, where the two-by-four came from or who Rock was.  And:

“We are working with the DA and the dog is going to Texas A&M tomorrow (Monday) for a necropsy.”

Right. Because maybe Rock had heartworms or hookworms or earthworms or any other possible thing that his death could be pinned on besides having his skull cracked by a sheriff’s deputy. Not saying the guy is getting special treatment because he is a sheriff’s deputy – well, actually.

As far as how the guy’s adoption was processed and he was given a dog to take home, Hayden offered this:

He said the front desk personnel was unaware of the situation unfolding at the back of the shelter.

Gee, maybe they need to institute an Adopter Carnage Alert system to take care of this little loophole.  Or at least a quick visual inspection to determine the adopter isn’t covered in flecks of gray matter and blood.

Anyway, don’t criticize.  Until the stupid public spays and neuters their pets, I guess we just have to accept.  I can’t wait to find out that Rock had Jelly Head Syndrome or a bum ticker or whatever cause of death that will not be attributable to being Negan’d with a two-by-four.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Discussion: Cost of Care Laws

So-called “cost of care” legislation, pushed by get-rich-quick-via-one-eyed-shivering-puppies-commercials groups such as the ASCPA and HSUS, are sometimes referred to as “civil forfeiture” or “bonding” laws.  They are on the books in some form in most states with Georgia currently considering such a bill.  These laws basically require someone accused of animal cruelty to pay whatever amount the agency that seized their animals, usually the public shelter, tells a judge they have already and will in future spend on their care while awaiting trial.  This care is likely to include such things as housing, food and veterinary procedures.  If the accused is unable to pay, he forfeits his animals and the seizing agency/shelter is free to sell them.

Those in favor of this type of legislation frame it as “making animal abusers pay” which sounds – you know, good.  And if they can’t come up with the money, which could be $50,000 a year or more for a dozen dogs, well hey, we don’t want abusive jerkwads getting their animals back anyway so yay, right?  The ASPCA tries to justify requiring the presumed innocent owner to pay up front this way:

The imposition of a bond is not a punishment for committing a crime. It is a requirement to continue paying for the costs of caring for his or her animals when there is sufficient evidence of cruelty and the owner chooses to maintain ownership—costs which, in theory, the owner would be incurring already if he/she was taking proper care of his/her animals. We are all legally responsible for the care of our animals, and taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay the costs of such care for an owner who faces cruelty charges.

Sufficient evidence of cruelty is of course, open for interpretation. Since the accused has not yet had his day in court, the evidence may consist of an ACO telling a judge about pets with long toenails and/or fleas, accusations we’ve seen numerous times in cruelty cases.

As far as $50,000 a year (or whatever amount is requested by the seizing agency/shelter) being the amount of money an “owner would be incurring already if he/she was taking proper care of his/her animals”, I can anecdotally dispute that. I’ve never made $50,000 a year, I’ve always had a group of pets and they’ve all been properly cared for. I’m not saying they get rushed to the emergency clinic every time they crinkle a whisker but they get neutered, vaccinated, receive heartworm medication, etc. Sometimes their toenails get long, sometimes they get fleas. Maybe I’m just a terrible person.

In any case, the Georgia bill at least addresses the fact that some of those accused of animal cruelty are not going to be convicted:

Under the act, if the owner is found innocent, they would be reimbursed.

Gee, was keeping the money an option?

And for those owners who couldn’t produce a platinum card to pay the seizing agency/shelter? Well your animals were long ago sold. Sucks being you.  But you can cling to your innocence and celebrate the fact that you are now free of this tremendous financial burden of having family members who love you unconditionally and who get dirt on your sheets and stuff.  You’re welcome.

What other ways could a shelter pay for care of seized animals without depriving citizens of due process?  Are cost of care laws acceptable because many, or even most, of those accused of animal cruelty will eventually be found guilty?  How much money could you come up with on short notice to pay your local shelter to cage your animals for months while you await trial?

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