Aurora Animal Shelter Refuses Offer of Hospice Care for Cat

When animal advocate Joan Ogner saw a Petfinder photo of a senior female cat at the Aurora Animal Shelter in CO this week, she felt moved and wanted to help get the pet transferred to a rescue group.  While working on that, she learned the cat has some serious medical issues. Specifically, the cat is partially paralyzed, has an acute URI, no teeth and an abdominal mass. She is being housed in isolation at the shelter.

At that point, Joan felt compelled to help this cat herself by providing hospice care at her home. She contacted the shelter to ask about adopting the cat and was refused. She subsequently contacted the manager via email to reiterate her offer and to advise that she works with another municipal shelter which would gladly do an official shelter-to-shelter transfer if the manager deemed that more appropriate.

The manager replied that the cat was receiving treatment at the shelter and that the vet staff had recommended euthanasia and so the request to transfer was refused. Joan asked the manager to reconsider, explaining that she was offering to care for the cat at home and even if euthanasia was the most humane option, to offer that in the quiet comfort of her loving home and not in a shelter environment which is highly stressful for cats.  She stated she would not allow the cat to suffer.

The manager again refused the offer to get the cat out of her cage at the shelter, citing the “five freedoms”, which she says are being provided to the cat there and stating that she didn’t feel comfortable sending the cat to an “unknown” situation.  Joan explained that she has adopted from the Aurora shelter before so she is not “unknown” and that she could provide immediate references if desired, including the director of the shelter who is willing to do the transfer, her veterinarian of 20 years, and local rescuers.  She again promised to provide loving hospice care and not allow the cat to suffer.

That was yesterday.  The manager has not replied since and the cat’s listing has been removed from Petfinder.  This is the post Joan put on her Facebook page in hopes of being allowed to give this poor cat peace and love in a quiet home environment for whatever time she has left.  Joan has named her Miss Kitty:

Screengrab from Facebook (provided by Joan Ogner)

“PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL ASAP THE AURORA SHELTER TO TRY AND SAVE MISS KITTY (I named her, they only know her by her shelter ID number A172673). Tell the Shelter Manager that this kitty deserves to live her last days in a hospice setting, rather than in the shelter. The Shelter Manager information is: Manager is :Jenee N. Shipman
Manager of Animal Care | City of Aurora
jshipman@auroragov.org Office 303.326.8299 | Mobile 720.409.2474 .
THIS IS URGENT as there is only a short time before they euthanize her. Let’s see that in her last breath she is not experiencing the smell of death in the Euth Room but instead feeling the love and peace of my home. THANKS”
(Screengrab from Facebook provided by Joan Ogner)

While it is humane to offer euthanasia to a pet who has been determined medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian, it is not humane to leave the animal in a cage at a shelter while typing out repeated refusals for an offer of home hospice care from a compassionate person.  If this cat is truly medically hopeless and suffering, she should have been euthanized to relieve her suffering as soon as the determination was made.  If not, the cat should be released – either directly to the person offering the hospice care or to the shelter offering to do the official transfer.  I simply don’t understand this refusal nor the reasons behind it.  Just because a shelter is able to meet the so-called “five freedoms” does not make sitting in a cage in isolation any kinder for this cat.  I hope the Aurora Animal Shelter manager reconsiders and accepts the offer of hospice care for Miss Kitty.

Kern Co Pound Exporting Sick Dogs

The UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program consulted on the troubled Kern Co pound in CA in 2008.  At that time, a report was issued which detailed, among other problems, lack of leadership and rampant disease at the shelter along with recommendations for how to reduce and prevent it.  Standard protocols such as the quarantine of new arrivals and examination/vaccination by vet staff upon intake were on the list.

Fast forward to 2015 and it appears as if disease is still rampant at the Kern Co pound and that few, if any, of the 2008 recommendations from Koret have been implemented.  A group that flies shelter dogs from the area to rescues elsewhere along the west coast recently suspended its partnership with the Kern Co pound after a number of the facility’s dogs were found to be sick upon arrival.  Despite all the dogs having health certificates from the pound’s vet, interim director Nick Cullen admits in an email that in fact some of the dogs had never been vaccinated “due to reported behavioral concerns”.  Three of the sick dogs died.

In response to the rescue’s refusal to take more sick dogs labeled healthy from Kern Co, Cullen has asked Koret to come around for another consult.  I guess he wants a current report to ignore because you know, ignoring the old one is so 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014.  Cullen also wants to reassure taxpayers that a cleaning chemical used for disinfection at the pound is being diluted correctly.  He had a consultant in on that one too.  So the disinfectant is being diluted correctly and apparently used to clean cages housing sick and/or unvaccinated dogs next to healthy ones.  Pound workers who are not on the vet staff are “examining” the animals and deeming them fit for transport, even if they are deemed unfit for vaccines due to behavior.  The vet is signing the health certificates and then the dogs are loaded onto planes and arriving with symptoms of serious illness.  It sounds shoddy, at best.

Like his predecessor, Cullen blames the public for the pound’s failures:

We are seeing an inordinate amount of illness in animals originating from Shafter, Mcfarland, and Arvin areas. Much of that is due to those communities being less involved in vaccinating animals with core vaccines.

Gee, if only there was some kind of magical way to make sure animals coming into the pound were vaccinated, even if their vaccine history is questionable.  If only there was someone at the pound who would take responsibility for that, somehow.  If only Koret would have told Kern Co about this in 2008 DOT DOT DOT.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

The Irresponsible Public Comes Through When Pound Manager Fails to Protect the Human-Animal Bond

Last year the Everett Animal Shelter in Washington “rescued” 110 cats and kittens from a 32 foot trailer and killed them all.  And the response to panleukopenia at the facility has been mass killing.  It’s not a good place for cats.

Kali, as pictured on the website of the Everett Herald.

Kali, as pictured on the website of the Everett Herald.

Lisa Shelly, an area resident, has been struggling to keep her family together.  Her husband suffers from some very serious medical issues and she has been unable to find work.  The family lost their apartment 2 years ago along with most of their personal possessions.  They’ve been living in week-to-week motels and do not have a car.  At Christmas, all Ms. Shelly’s 9 year old son Ronan wanted was a kitten.  His Christmas wish came true and he named her Kali.

Kali recently got out through an open window and Ms. Shelly began looking for her immediately.  She eventually learned that Kali had been impounded by the Everett Animal Shelter.  Ms. Shelly went to the pound to reclaim Kali but was told she’d have to pay $205 to get her pet back.  She didn’t have the money:

“I had to come home without her,” Shelly said, and tell her son she couldn’t get Kali back. “He cried so hard.”

When contacted by the local paper, the pound manager was all about the law:

Dee Cordell, the operations coordinator for the Everett Animal Shelter, said $165 of the fee is charged by Snohomish County, because Kali came from an unincorporated part of the county. The remainder covers the shelter’s costs of getting the cat spayed, vaccinated and tagged with an identification chip.

“By law cats need to be licensed. Since the cat was not spayed and not chipped, the fee is $40,” Cordell said.

A local blogger pointed out that under the Everett municipal code, the manager is “authorized to reduce or waive any fee” except the licensing fee.

But since the manager was apparently uninterested in getting Kali back with her boy, Ms. Shelly enlisted the help of a friend to set up a donation page for the redemption fee.  After the story ran in the local paper, people began donating.  And they continued to give, long after the $205 was raised.  Because irresponsible public.

Thank you once again to the unwashed masses for protecting the human-animal bond, getting a beloved pet reunited with her family and for generally being an alright sort.  Now if Everett taxpayers had some people like that working at the shelter, the community might really shine.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Detroit AC: Quit Focusing on the Dog You Love and Just Get Some Other Dog

Detroit ACOs, whom you may remember from such exploits as Dragging Dead Dogs Whose Guts are Falling Out in Front of Neighborhood Children, are once again dazzling the kiddies with their animal handling skills.

Jenga, as pictured on freep.com.

Jenga, as pictured on freep.com.

Last week, local media reported that a friendly stray dog who was beloved by children and teachers at the school where the dog had been hanging out, was captured and hauled away by Detroit ACOs while the kids pleaded for the dog they named Jenga to be spared.  The incident was so upsetting to everyone who witnessed it that a fifth grade class is writing a letter to Detroit AC to express their feelings.

Teachers at the school immediately began making calls to various city offices to try to keep Jenga from being killed but all they got was the runaround.  One teacher offered to adopt Jenga outright or at least place her name on the dog as an interested party but AC refused, citing the 4 day holding period.  And she won’t be allowed to adopt Jenga from the pound after the holding period either:

[Harry] Ward [head of AC] said the department must keep stray dogs without identification for four business days. If they are unclaimed, animal control evaluates the dog. Dogs fit for adoption are made available to the Michigan Humane Society; the rest are put down.

The Humane Society visits Detroit Animal Control weekly and decides which dogs to accept into its adoption program, Ward said. The animal control department does not run an adoption program, he said, conceding that an outdated website says otherwise.

Oh swell.  Also, shame on those kids and their teachers for falling in love with a stray dog and caring what happens to her:

Ward suggested those concerned about Jenga’s fate adopt a dog from the Humane Society to make room for more dogs in the adoption program.

“Do something for all the dogs, instead of getting focused on the one dog,” Ward said.

[…]

“I know to the world this one dog is important. I want the world to know there are 38 other dogs that will come in over one or two days,” Ward said. “People need to pull back and look at the bigger issue.”

The bigger issue is that the head of Detroit AC doesn’t understand that dogs are not interchangeable widgets.  Pets are family.  Humans bond with them.  It’s actually the kind of thing AC should be encouraging, especially with children.

Unfortunately for Jenga, her only hope at this point seems to be a transfer to another pet killing facility.  Perhaps media attention will help save Jenga from the fate of so many other stray dogs in Detroit whom rescue groups say they try to help but must battle AC in order to do so.

(Thanks Clarice and Karen for the links.)

Citrus Co: If It Ain’t Broke, Break It

Volunteers at the Citrus Co shelter in Florida say they have been instrumental in increasing the save rate and decreasing the length of stay at the facility.  This week, the board of county commissioners held a workshop regarding the shelter and there was a packet of information posted online which included various statistics.

Portion of material presented at the Citrus Co Board of Commissioners meeting on April 21, 2015.

Portion of material presented at the Citrus Co Board of Commissioners workshop on April 21, 2015.

Portion of material presented at the Citrus Co Board of Commissioners workshop on April 21, 2015

Portion of material presented at the Citrus Co Board of Commissioners workshop on April 21, 2015

Volunteers were stunned to learn during the workshop that the county is considering a change in policy that would almost certainly result in increased killing at the shelter and that county commissioners appear to be in favor of it.  I requested a copy of this policy change from Citrus Co Public Information Officer Tobey Phillips but haven’t received any response.  However Ms. Phillips appeared on the local news to explain the proposal:  Kill animals after 10 days.  Since the average length of stay for both dogs and cats at the shelter is currently more than 10 days, the likely result of this change would be a significant rise in pets leaving the shelter in garbage bags.

The packet presented at the workshop looks like it was put together by someone who hates animals.  There is support for MSN (a punitive law which has failed to decrease killing everywhere it’s been tried), opposition to TNR (in the form of old articles from cat hating groups), and documentation of a minor incident between a child and a dog at an offsite adoption event (which is the reason the county has suspended the offsite adoption program).  Much of the remainder is focused on money.

What the Citrus Co board of commissioners doesn’t seem to be taking into account here is that increased killing goes hand in hand with decreased community support.  If the volunteers who have worked so hard to get more animals adopted and rescued start watching their animals go into the dumpster, they aren’t likely to continue raising money and donating their time to the shelter.  The public will likewise be turned off, as is commonly found in many communities where the residents know the local shelter is a depressing death house.  Compassionate donors don’t like to give money to places that kill animals.

Shelter volunteers are advocating for the animals by speaking out publicly and contacting the board of commissioners with their concerns about the proposed change.  Let’s hope it’s enough to force the board to see reason.  Citrus Co has some good things going for it at the shelter, no need to flush it all away.  And while continued improvements would be the preferred route, even if all the board manages is to do nothing at all, that would be better than implementing this arbitrary kill order.

Shelter How To: Identifying Feral Cats and Reuniting Lost Cats with Owners

Elimination of the mandatory holding periods for stray cats impounded by shelters is part of what I refer to as the war on cats.  Cats deserve the same protections as are provided to dogs at shelters, including a mandatory holding period so their owners can reclaim them.

Groups who participate in the war on cats by promoting the absurd notion that shelters should immediately dump adoptable stray cats back on the streets instead of sheltering them attempt to justify this betrayal by claiming that sheltering cats is hard work.  Granted, reuniting lost cats with their owners is hard work and identifying truly feral cats among the many scared cats at a shelter is also hard work.

I think it’s reasonable to ask how the people actually doing this hard work manage to avoid throwing up their hands and dumping all their stray cats back on the streets.  So I did.  Specifically, I asked three directors of shelters where lifesaving is the priority how cats are determined to be feral vs. socialized and how cats are reunited with owners.  Their responses are below.

Mason, an adoptable cat at UPAWS

Mason, an adoptable cat at UPAWS

Lareina Van Strien, Manager at Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter (UPAWS) in Michigan:

At UPAWS this is not a black and white answer, although it used to be. In the past, if a cat reacted in ways such as climbed the walls of his kennel or the room, refused to use the litter box, charged anyone that came near, avoided touching at all cost, etc, that cat would have been considered feral or semi-social. But we have learned that this black and white categorization does not hold true. We have seen cats that come from loving homes act feral when they arrive, climbing the ways, refusing to be touched for weeks on end and we have seen cats that we know were born outside, that were never touched by a human, that were never fed by a human decide after a few weeks of socialization with staff that they don’t mind humans so very much. So at this time at UPAWS deciding if a cat is feral vs. socialized takes time. We give the cat time to settle in, to adjust, to learn that humans bring food and cookies, we let them get used to our smells and our presence. How long we will do this will depend on the individual animal, their history and their progress. Our decision to label a cat feral, semi-social or socialized is an individual decision, because these cats are individuals. If, after time, we decide a cat is truly feral and will never enjoy the company of humans, we work hard to find that cat placement at a barn or safe environment so that cat has a chance at life in a way that makes that cat happy.

P.S – I happened to have adopted a ‘feral’ kitty for my barn two years ago. This cat we knew for sure was born outside and living in an abandoned building. She stayed at the shelter for over 2 months, getting socialized and used to people, but she was never comfortable and terribly unhappy. So I placed her in my barn. She lived out there all summer and was doing great. But winter came, and it was a horrible winter, so I live-trapped her again and brought her inside. She climbed the walls and hid under the floor for two weeks. But, after talking to my other cats, I guess she decided to come out. And now that summer is here I can’t seem to get her back outside! :) She is a very happy indoor kitty.

We have a variety of ways that we try to reunite cats with their owners. Social media is hugely successful in getting pets home. We try to build our facebook following to make sure we are reaching as many people as possible. We take clear pictures of the newly arrived stray and post it on facebook right away. We ask people to share share share! We also have a wonderful group in the community that runs a facebook page called Lost Paws of the U.P. They work very hard to reunite owners and pets. They follow lost ads on craigs list, social media and in the paper and they work to match them up with found pets. They are hugely successfully and very diligent. At UPAWS we also take lost reports. We make sure to get as much info as possible and we look at ever stray animal and compare it to those reports. We encourage owns to be sure to come into the shelter and look, to make posters for their area, to post on social media and to look for their cat frequently. We report all our strays to the local paper ever night and we also make sure to post our strays on our website. We also microchip all our cats that are adopted and leave UPAWS and we send all our adopted cats out with break-away collar.

Daytona, an adoptable cat at the HS

Daytona, an adoptable cat at the HS of Fremont Co

Doug Rae, director of the Humane Society of Fremont Co in Colorado:

We treat all animals as individuals. This applies to cats, dogs, bunnies, hamsters, ferrets, birds, whatever we get. Just as we work to make dogs safe that appear “aggressive” in appearance, we do the same for cats. It’s been my experience that some cats are overly stressed when entering a shelter (living in a small cage maybe for the first time in their life), meaning their immune system becomes compromised, making life even worse for a scared kittie. So we give cats the necessary time to become accustomed to the shelter, to our staff, and to our volunteers. It might be a day or two, it might be a week, it might be longer. Like dogs, we give cats the time and space they need to feel safe so we can see who they truly are.

If the cat is not responsive to the time and space we give them or to our efforts to socialize with them, then we have a much better idea on the cats temperament. But again, that determination is never made on intake. Not even with a cat that appears feral on intake. To tag any animal as being this or that, or to place an animal into a black or white temperament test on intake, is not fair to the cat or to our life-saving community committed to saving lives.

We have a lost and found Facebook page that received intakes (dogs and cats) are posted on to try and have the cat reclaimed by it’s owner. This posting happens at the time of intake.

An adoptable cat at the Allegany Co Animal Shelter, as pictured on Facebook.

An adoptable cat at the Allegany Co Animal Shelter, as pictured on Facebook.

Peter Masloch, director of the Allegany Co Animal Shelter in Maryland:

It is not always easy to determine by intake if a cat is feral or not. Many cats are scared when coming to the shelter. We had several cases where we thought a cat was feral but then after several days it turned out the cat actually was very lovely. I know that many shelters are doing so called “behavior tests” on cats. We don’t do that. The most important factor is time. If we receive a new cat and we are not sure if it is a feral cat or just a scared cat, we just give the cat time to adjust. Usually after 3 or 4 days we can tell if a cat is truly feral or not. If she is feral, we get her spayed/neutered and then out of the shelter as soon as possible.
There just is no “one fits all solution”, at least not for us. Pets are individuals and every pet reacts different when entering the shelter

The Allegany County Animal Shelter has 3 different Facebook pages:

Usually we post all stray animals we take in on our Lost & Found Facebook page. People from our community also can post to our page if they lost their pet or even found a pet. This page has become extremely helpful to re-unite pets with their owners.

However, the owner return rate for cats is much lower than the owner return rate for dogs. In our County cats are considered free roaming animals and people often don’t come and look for their cat if she doesn’t come back home. But we also had some nice success stories with cats.

It sounds like the recipe for success here is patience, effort and community partnership.  There is no reason any facility accepting cats couldn’t follow the models of those that successfully shelter cats.  And there is no excuse for shelter staff dumping adoptable cats back on the streets instead of doing their jobs.  Mandatory holding periods are a necessary protection for all stray shelter pets and cats are no less deserving of this protection than dogs.

(Thank you Lareina, Doug and Peter for sharing how you help cats at your shelters.)

Disturbing Surgical Complications at Maricopa Co Shelter

An investigative report that appeared on azcentral.com over the weekend examines several cases of surgeries with “grisly outcomes” at Maricopa Co Animal Care and Control in Arizona.  The most disturbing of these is the occurrence of pets who undergo spay surgery and then have their guts fall out shortly thereafter.  Vets at the shelter reportedly use a “simple continuous closure” where one piece of thread is used to suture the incision with a knot at each end.  If the knot at one end comes undone DOT DOT DOT.  I didn’t go to vet school and I’m very bad at sewing but this is how I sew socks and I can’t imagine it’s a good way to sew up a spayed dog.

Assistant County Manager Rodrigo Silva, who oversees the Maricopa Co shelter, cites the facility’s 0.05 percent surgical complication rate:

“I found no lower case of complications than we have here,” Silva said. “Can we do much better? It is unreasonable to expect zero (complications).”

Fair enough.  Some complications are going to occur after surgery.  It doesn’t necessarily indicate incompetence.  But as a layman, I can’t help thinking that stitching the surgical incision sufficiently closed so the guts don’t fall out is something that should be a given.

In the estimated 111,000 surgeries performed by vets at the Maricopa Co shelter between 2008 and 2013, records indicate that 72 animals had their incisions rupture, also referred to as dehiscence.  That is an alarming number to my mind.

[Melanie Peters, manager and veterinarian at the Tempe Spay-Neuter Clinic] said spay incisions should not just come undone.

“If it is done correctly, it shouldn’t happen,” Peters said. “There’s no reason you can’t do high-volume spay and neuters … without complications.”

[…]

She said any clinic racking up dozens of dehiscence cases in less than six years needs to change its operation.

“There should be no expectation of dehiscence,” she said. “I wouldn’t expect all of the clinics in the Valley (combined) to have those kinds of numbers.”

And dehiscence is not the only surgical complication suffered by pets at Maricopa Co:

The records show instances of “blade left in abdomen,” “gauze left in abdomen,” “lacerated spleen,” “incised bladder” and “surgical infection.”

There are cases where animals returned to heat after being spayed. There are cases of abdominal bleeding. The county cites “anesthetic deaths.” At least one animal “died before recovered” and another “died after recovering.”

Gee, that 0.05% complication rate doesn’t sound so swell anymore.

In what seems to be a glaring oversight, the vets performing surgeries at the Maricopa Co shelter are not accountable to the state vet board:

Veterinarians are typically subject to Arizona’s Veterinary Practices Act. But the law makes an exception for pet owners and allows them to treat their own animals.

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control officials maintain the shelter owns the animals that are abandoned to its care. Therefore shelter veterinarians are, in essence, treating their own animals and not subject to state oversight.

That means veterinarians working for county and private shelters cannot be disciplined for mistakes that, if made by vets in private practice, could be punished with fines, probation and license revocation.

The Maricopa Co shelter reportedly has a contract which specifies that the shelter is the legal owner of the animals in the facility.  And since the statute exempts “a person treating an animal belonging to himself”, shelter vets are not answerable to the state board, even when animals they spay end up with their guts on the floor.

This is concerning on several fronts.  First off, why is it ok for owners to perform surgery on their own animals in Arizona?  Secondly, shelter vets should not be exempt from state oversight – practicing veterinary medicine is practicing veterinary medicine.  And why does Maricopa Co have a contract declaring the county to be legal owners of the animals at the shelter?  Shelters are intended to be short term holding facilities for lost pets whose owners are looking for them and for pets in need of new homes.  It is widely understood that the county is merely housing the animals temporarily, not taking ownership of them.

There appear to be some serious flaws in the statutes and county contract which need to be remedied.  Instead, the county created a task force to identify ways to improve conditions at the shelter.  *yawn*  I hope “Keep the innards on the inside” makes the list.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

MO Shelter: Rescues Down, Adoptions Sluggish, Killings Up, Director “Happy”

The city of Chillicothe, MO contracts the Livingston Co Humane Society (LCHS) for animal control services.  LCHS manages the Forest O. Triplett Memorial Animal Shelter, aka the Chillicothe Animal Shelter, which is run by Lesley Patek.

In 2014, the number of dogs and cats transferred from the Chillicothe shelter to rescue groups dropped markedly from the previous year:

In 2013, 276 dogs were sent to rescues, and in 2014 158 dogs went to rescues.

[…]

Rescued cats decreased from 10 to zero[.]

Adoptions remained stagnant while cat intake numbers increased.  Cat killings also increased in 2014 with Chillicothe killing 64% of its cats.  In summary, a dismal performance for the year which any shelter director should be working furiously to turn around for fear of losing her job, if nothing else.  But:

Lesley Patek, shelter guardian, said she is happy with the numbers. “I think we do an excellent job, but we can’t save the world,” she said.

[…]

“We had to put down litters and litters of kittens this year,” Patek said.

[…]

[The killing of pets at Chillicothe] is no fault of the animal’s or of the animals shelter’s, but more so a fault of irresponsible animal owners, Patek said.

If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it – and this person clearly can’t own it.

I checked the facility’s website to get some insight into the excellent job they do there.  Chillicothe doesn’t disclose what they charge to adopt pets but it sounds like adoption fees are set on a whim:

A pet’s adoption fee will sometimes be higher due to veterinary costs for illness or injury, or due to the fact that it’s a “popular” breed.

There are 8 pets listed for adoption on that page:  3 adult cats, 2 American bulldogs, 1 miniature poodle, 1 papillon mix and 1 chihuahua mix.  I’m guessing the cats all had vet expenses and the dogs are all “popular” breeds.  New pets were last added to the listings on October 10, 2014.  They’re doing the best they can, probably.  I hate that the irresponsible public keeps forcing them to kill animals instead of marketing them for adoption.  And we all know why there are no kittens for adoption at a place that kills “litters and litters of kittens”:  irresponsible pet owners.

Potential adopters are required to sign a contract which states that the adoption fee isn’t really an adoption fee but rather a “gift” so they can’t get their money back if they return the pet.  And the adopter will be required to return the pet at any point during the pet’s life if someone from LCHS conducts an inspection and determines “the animal’s condition and/or living conditions is/are unsatisfactory or that I have violated one or more terms and conditions of this contract.”  So you’re not actually buying the pet and your right to keep your family member is subject to the whims of the LCHS representative’s idea of “unsatisfactory”, whenever.

Aaaaaaanyway, excellent job there Chillicothe, doing your best to get animals into homes.  You can’t save the world.  Or even one kitten, apparently.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

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

Chewie and Korey, as shown on youcaring.com.

Chewie and Korey, as shown on youcaring.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St Johns Co Oops-Kills Beloved Lost Cat Upon Intake

Tails having a birthday with his boy, as shown on the News4Jax website.

Tails having a birthday with his boy, as shown on the News4Jax website.

A neutered and declawed indoor cat named Tails became lost last week while the owners were having work done inside their Florida home.  Owner Chelsea Santoro began putting up Lost Cat posters around the neighborhood.  Unbeknownst to anyone, Tails had climbed into the engine compartment of a neighbor’s rental car.  Miraculously, Tails was unharmed despite riding on the engine for 12 miles while the neighbor returned the car to the rental agency. A worker there found the cat.

Before anyone knew who Tails belonged to, and believing the St Johns Co pound was the safest place to bring the pet so that he could be reunited with his owner, an employee at the rental car company contacted AC to turn Tails over.  Once the company connected the dots and determined Ms. Santoro was the owner, they let her know the good news about Tails:

Santoro was ecstatic.
“They told me stories about how they were cuddling with him, and playing with him, and how they made him a little bed.”

Ms. Santoro immediately called the pound to reclaim her pet.  But she was told that pound staff had killed Tails.  The impounding ACO, on the job for two years, wrongly listed Tails as an unneutered stray male cat.  Tails was killed upon intake.  Oops:

“Our initial inquiry into this incident indicates that the county’s policies and procedures were not followed, and there was no justification for the actions that occurred, said Michael Ryan, St. Johns County’s communication manager. “The issue is currently under investigation and the employee in question has been placed on administrative leave. Appropriate measures will be taken to prevent this from occurring again. The loss of a pet under any circumstances is tragic and our condolences are extended to the family.”

Ryan seems to have learned a thing or two since St Johns Co killed an owned, lost, microchipped dog named Baby Girl a few months ago.  At that time, he was all blame-the-filthy-owners-for-not-finding-their-dog-that-we-didn’t-bother-to-scan.  Now he’s singing the “it won’t happen again” tune although to be accurate, he should be saying “it won’t happen again, again” but that’s just me being picky probably.

Tails and his boy, as shown on the News4Jax website.

Tails and his boy, as shown on the News4Jax website.

Anyhoo, don’t criticize because we all want the same thing and if cat owners actually loved their pets then shelters would have a higher RTO rate and if only people would spay and neuter – oh, uh… never mind.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 976 other followers