Starving Dogs Cannibalize Dead Kennel Mate in OK Pound

(Warning:  graphic images and descriptions at links.)

Abe Thomas, animal advocate and rescuer, as depicted in a screengrab from the KTEN website.

Abe Thomas, animal advocate and rescuer, as depicted in a screengrab from the KTEN website.

When a potential adopter, Abe Thomas, visited the Idabel pound in Oklahoma on Tuesday, he found a cage containing three dogs – one was dead and being eaten by the other two, who appeared to be starving.  He says the dogs had no food or water and “were living in their feces, urine.” Mr. Thomas filmed what he saw on his cellphone and posted it on Facebook.

Mr. Thomas left the pound but worried that the adult dog, a gray pitbull, would be blamed for something she didn’t do and killed simply due to breed bias.  So he went back and bailed her out of the pound, calling her Joy while he looks for a permanent home for her.

The pound’s sole ACO, who has been on the job for 24 years, admits the pitbull looks emaciated but says she’d only been at the pound four days and hadn’t had a chance to put on weight yet.  He feeds the dogs once a day.

Area animal advocates say this is not an isolated incident and the animals at the pound have long been neglected.  The ACO says the city generally holds dogs for ten days before taking them to a vet to be killed.  Tulsa World called area vets to ask how many animals they kill for the pound but none called back.  I guess going on the news and talking about how many pets you kill for the city doesn’t exactly encourage clients to open their wallets for your vet services.  So uh, hide.

Speaking of which:

Tulsa Humane Society President Gina Gardner said she had reached out to Foshee on Wednesday and offered to come to Idabel and assist with anything the shelter needs. She said Foshee had so far declined her offer.

Predictably, city officials are in CYA mode:

The Idabel mayor calls this a “gross misunderstanding.” She claims the dog died of natural causes and this must have happened in a few short hours.

The mayor alleges Animal Control Officer Cecil Richards fed the dogs Tuesday morning then came back after lunch to find the scene along with Thomas.

The Idabel police department is in charge of supervising the pound and they investigated themselves in the matter.  And good news, the investigation seems incredibly thorough, despite its lightning speed:

“What was found through that investigation is that yesterday morning, our animal control officer went to work around 8:00 a.m., he went to the dog pound, cleaned out the dog pens, sanitized them, fed and gave water to the dogs” claims the mayor in during a phone interview with KSLA News 12.

[…]

Mayor Foshee-Thomas says the animal control facility has nothing to hide and welcomes anyone to stop by and visit the animals. Abe Thomas says that he and numerous others would happily volunteer their time to make sure the animals are properly cared for. The mayor says that the city plans on doing more checks at the shelter and that in the future, more aggressive dogs will be housed separately.

Right.  Because aggressive dogs cause other dogs to die of natural causes.  Then they make friends with their surviving kennel mate and launch plans to eat the dead dog because aggression.  Any behaviorist will tell you that.  As for the results of the “investigation” anyone who read any of the articles on this story could have come up with that information, since the ACO’s timeline of events was repeated countless times in the media.

Thank goodness Mr. Thomas bailed the pitbull out of there because it sounds like his suspicions were justified.  Here is Joy at Mr. Thomas’s house, getting a belly scratch from a reporter:

Screengrab from KTEN website.

Screengrab from KTEN website.

There is a group on Facebook advocating for reform at the Idabel pound.  I know the mayor doesn’t want any help but feeding the dogs, particularly the emaciated ones, more than once a day would be something the ACO could do.  And should do, although that in itself wouldn’t be nearly enough to be considered meaningful improvement.  I wonder if one of the reasons area vets killing dogs for the city are hiding is because they don’t want to be asked how many pound dogs are emaciated when they stick the needle in them.  I hope the local advocates will FOIA records for the animals who have been killed in Idabel and expose what’s going on there.

(Thanks Clarice and Arlene for the links.)

Rhode Island Pound Closed, ACOs Suspended Amidst Police Investigation

The Woonsocket, Rhode Island police department is in charge of supervising the local pound.  On Tuesday the pound was closed indefinitely and its two ACOs suspended without pay pending a police investigation:

City solicitor Michael Marcello told NBC 10 an anonymous tip in November prompted Woonsocket police to launch an investigation into allegations that food and other donated supplies were being transported out of the Woonsocket shelter to a location in Burrillville.

The “location in Burrillville” was where one of the ACOs was living.  If the city solicitor phrased it to the media as a “location”, making it seem like some mysterious place, that sounds like cover up to me.  Then there’s this, from Dr. Ernest Finocchio, president of the RISPCA:

“I guess the good news is that this has nothing do [sic] do with animal cruelty.”

And this, from Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt:

Baldelli-Hunt noted there was no abuse of animals and that the animals were cared for properly.

Yeah – about that.

There were eleven dogs and no cats at the pound at the time it was ordered closed.  Eight dogs were transferred to other facilities.  Two were killed for behavior after being housed in the cinderblock structure for up to two years.  Another dog required emergency vet care.  The police guarded the facility during the removal of the dogs and wouldn’t allow the media inside, which is always reassuring.  But yay, no animal cruelty.  No transparency either, or adequate supervision apparently, but hey, it’s all good.  Cops sitting in unmarked cars outside the pound to prevent the press from reporting the truth is a hallmark of community trust.

Remind me again how southern shelters are run by good ol’ boys who don’t take proper care of pets while shelters up north are all shining beacons of progress where all the pets are saved.  I have trouble keeping my stereotypes straight sometimes.  I’m sure the many people shipping shelter dogs up north will be interested to know ignore what’s been happening in Woonsocket.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Dallas Pound Secretly Kills Four Dogs Slated for Rescue

 Photo attributed to Deborah Whittington, as shown on the Daily Mail website.

Photo attributed to Deborah Whittington, as shown on the Daily Mail website.

Dallas Animal Services functions primarily as a pet killing facility, killing more than half of the animals taken in last year.  You don’t earn the moniker “pet killing facility” without putting forth some effort – specifically, killing most of the animals in your care.  There is not going to be a whole lot in the way of justifications for killing.  It’s just the thing you mainly do to your animals.

So hardly a surprise to read that on January 1, the Dallas pound killed 4 dogs who were slated for rescue.  The dogs were reportedly part of a larger group whom local rescuers were getting into foster homes after the owner reached out for help.  Rescuers say they in turn reached out to Dallas Animal Services for temporary assistance with 4 of the dogs in order to buy time to secure more fosters.  There was reportedly an agreement between rescuers and Dallas Animal Services that the dogs would be listed under “protective custody” which indicates a 10 day hold.  But at the pound, the dogs were listed as “owner surrenders” which indicates they are eligible for immediate killing, at the discretion of pound workers.  The pound housed the dogs for 2 days, then killed all 4, citing “health and behavior”.  When rescuers tried to visit the dogs a few days later, they learned of the killings.

Dallas Animal Services released this statement:

On Tuesday, Dec. 30, Dallas Animal Services officers picked up four dogs. The owner gave the dogs to DAS in hopes of finding them a new home. They ranged in age from about one to eight-years old. The officers took the animals to the City shelter, where they were entered into the system as “owner surrenders.” Two days later, on Jan. 1, all four dogs were euthanized by DAS staff based on their health and behavior.

On Monday, Jan. 5, community members said potential homes had been found for the dogs. DAS is now conducting a complete investigation to determine if system failures and/or performance issues may have contributed to the incident. Once the investigation is complete, we will share our findings and potential next steps.

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.

Oh gee, I hope no one was swigging coffee when reading that part about being “committed to life-saving efforts and continued progress”.  If so, I hope your keyboard doesn’t stay sticky for too long.

Rescuers dispute the city’s claim that the dogs had behavioral problems requiring death and have filed a complaint with the city manager.  Dallas Animal Services is investigating itself in the matter.

Here’s the problem:  While advocating for the right that these 4 dogs had to live is a worthy effort, it does nothing to change the fact that Dallas taxpayers are paying for a “shelter” which primarily kills animals.  It does not alter the pound’s policy that owner surrenders are eligible for immediate killing, if workers so choose, without so much as a phone call, email or internet posting notifying anyone of the intention to kill.  This policy is entirely inconsistent with the “lifesaving efforts” the pound claims it is committed to and effectively dooms any animal listed, correctly or incorrectly, as “owner surrender” to the whim of whomever is making up the kill list for the day.  Pets whom the public is willing to save will continue to be killed under this system, as should be obvious.  And many more owner surrendered pets whom the public might be able to save if only they knew the animals needed help, will also continue to be killed.

Dallas Animal Services needs to immediately dispense with its killing for convenience policies and at the very least, adopt a slightly more progressive approach.  All animals, except those few deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian, should be guaranteed at least a chance to survive the pound.  Killing animals without a minimum of 2 business days notice to the public should be summarily abandoned.  Advance notification to all interested parties, including rescuers and potential adopters, should be made in addition to the public notices posted online for each individual animal.

It is human nature to hide those things of which we are ashamed and thus we see so much secrecy in the kill rooms of our animal shelters.  But that doesn’t make it any less objectionable.  As taxpayers, we must demand our shelters do their jobs and actually shelter animals.  Those who refuse must be held accountable through transparent government policies and actions. If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)

City of Irvine Takes Action to Improve Conditions at Shelter after Community Complaints

After shelter pet advocates went public by bringing their concerns about the Irvine Animal Care Center to the City Council last month, changes are afoot.

The chief veterinarian at IACC, Dr. Lawrence Kosmin, whom shelter pet advocates allege has been botching surgeries and refers to himself as “Dr. Death”, will be leaving at the end of the month.  A vet who worked under Dr. Kosmin will take his place.

City officials plan to establish a clear euthanasia policy that ensures no treatable animal is euthanized. A policy will also be set to create an atmosphere in which shelter staff and volunteers can come forward about issues without fearing retribution from their management.

A number of other changes are in the works as well:

  • A behaviorist will be hired to evaluate pets and get them ready for adoption.
  • Staff will be given one day’s notice on the kill list.
  • The Third Chance program, which advocates allege has been misused resulting in the needless killing of “rescued” pets, will be re-evaluated.
  • A veterinarian who trained in shelter medicine at UC Davis was slated to begin an independent evaluation of the Irvine facility this week.

The mayor says it will take 4 – 6 months to fully implement the changes.

Former shelter staff and volunteers are encouraged by the city’s plans but worry the independent evaluation will rely on information provided by current shelter management, who deny wrongdoing.

That’s always a challenge.  But any reasonable shelter evaluation is going to include input from community stakeholders.  In this case, since the city only took action after the community dropped the problems on its doorstep, I would think the evaluation would have to include input from those who got the ball rolling.

We’ll be watching.

One last noteworthy bit from the article, regarding “Dr. Death”:

Kosmin is serving as president-elect for the California Veterinary Medical Association during 2014-15.

The CVMA must be so proud.

(Thanks Arlene and Clarice for the link.)

Irvine Animal Advocates Detail Concerns Regarding Shelter in Report to City Council

More than 50 pages worth of comments and photos regarding the Irvine Animal Care Center (IACC) in CA were submitted to the Irvine City Council by concerned shelter pet advocates at its public meeting last month. The full report can be read here. (The first 2 pages are not related to the shelter.) I have pulled out a number of quotes as well as my own summaries to give readers a sampling of the concerns expressed by advocates.

Comments from Dr. Barbara Chlupek, rabbit rescuer:

  • After the new manager took over, a long time volunteer “was summarily ousted on false pretenses.”
  • “[T]he new manager suspended the volunteer program supposedly in order to “review” it. It has not yet been brought back.”
  • “Dr. Kosmin has been documented as proudly referring to himself as “Dr. Death”, since he enjoyed killing animals.”
  • irvine patty

    Patty

    An 8 year old rabbit called Patty who had an adopter waiting was killed instead of being adopted.

  • An in-depth investigation is needed immediately because “[a]nimals are being abused and killed[.]”

Comments from “A coalition of concerned citizens, volunteers, current employees and ex-employees who care about the animals”:

  • “We have not heard back from the Mayor or any members of the City Council on issues regarding the IACC brought to your collective attention starting in July of 2014.”
  • “Current IACC management has not addressed issues and concerns brought forward during the last nine months and they have not presented any plan to fix issues going forward.”
  • “Christine Brown and Molly Brown should immediately be stopped from conducting all behavioral assessments of dogs as they tend to recommend euthanasia if the dog is large or exuberant.”
  • Request for transparency: “Intakes and outcomes of all animals regardless of intake be made available on the website monthly – all intakes and outcomes, nothing excluded.”
  • Two employees attempted to kill a cat named Cody for 2 hours and allowed him to suffer instead of seeking assistance from a veterinarian.

Comments from Ava Crittenden, former employee:

  • “Dr. Kosmin exhibited counter constructive unwillingness to hear my ideas when the zoonotic disease Toxoplasmosis appeared in the trailer. I recommended protocols for gowning and cleaning for kennel staff, along with testing of every cat to prevent the possible spread of the disease. Following my suggestion I was told in front of three other lead supervisors “sure, if we want to piss away our money.” […] The next day, on 10/22, two other cats tested positive for Toxoplasmosis.”
  • Quantities of Fatal Plus have gone missing on multiple occasions.
  • irvine azulAn employee killed a hummingbird, left the remains in a kennel and went home for the day. The same employee killed a kitten called Azul who “was left in the laundry/trash bin overnight, visible to volunteers.”
  • All weekly staff meetings have been cancelled.
  • Regarding management’s handling of the former employee’s missed work due to medical reasons: “I feel I am being bullied[.]”
  • “In the conversation regarding my medically excused absences for the August/September of 2014, [Denise Jakcsy] told me “steroids can make you gain weight, just so you know”.”
  • “I noticed a community bullying behavior that is not just specific to me and has created a hostile working environment for others. Several staff members express similar intimidation tactics and bullying and unfortunately several others have left.”
  • Questions submitted in June regarding use of the shelter’s new software system have never been addressed.
  • irvine laneA 14 week old kitten called Lane was killed in full view of other cats after testing positive once for FeLV/FIV. No re-test was performed. He was underdosed with Fatal Plus by a staff member and placed in a cage where he began seizing. He suffered for 90 minutes before finally being injected with a weight appropriate dose of Fatal Plus.

Comments from [unknown]:

  • The shelter manager scheduled a pregnant dog to be spayed despite available foster homes. The information was made public and the dog was removed from the surgery list after much public outcry.

irvine intake

  • “When Animal Service Officers brings in animals, they are placed into intake the kennels pictured above. These kennels used to be in a different location directly next to the parking lot, but they were moved a few months ago due to construction. The new location is just outside of the freezer where Cal Trans and the shelter store deceased animals. The previous location had drains for easy cleaning and sanitation. The new location does not have any drains so animals now sit in a kennel that has standing urine. It is also very difficult to clean because there is no division of the kennels at the base. When you clean one kennel it flows into the other kennel and has to be hosed about 40 feet to clear the area and not pool in front of the freezer. There are new signs for staff to squeegee the area and towel dry, but that is very difficult to do with concrete. These animals arrive scared to be in a new situation and are placed next to a smelly freezer of deceased animals while waiting in a wet kennel.”
  • “Until July 2014, Animal Service Officers would bring animals directly into the clinic unless it was after hours. In July 2014, intake protocols were changed where all new animals were to be placed in these kennels until clinic staff were able to intake them. This resulted in some animals being in these kennels for several hours in hot weather.”
  • IACC adopted out 2 of 5 owned cats whose owner had been hospitalized.  The facility was supposed to be holding all 5 cats for “safe keeping” as a public service.  The owner wanted all her cats back but was only able to reclaim 3 since IACC had sold the other 2.
  • Dr. Kosmin is botching dog neuters.
  • Dogs are being brought into IACC under the “3rd Chance” program from other shelters then being sent back for killing.
  • Cages sit empty while healthy/treatable animals are being killed.

(Thank you Clarice for sending me this report.)

Advocates Allege Animals “Barbarically” Killed for Convenience at Irvine Shelter

It has long been the position of this blog that numbers alone do not tell the complete story of any shelter.  Individual lives matter.  As shelter pet advocates, it is up to us to advocate for the right to live of every healthy/treatable shelter animal – not just the ones who fall within an arbitrary statistical analysis.  There is no save rate percentage that is “good enough” at any shelter if it means even one healthy/treatable animal was killed there or that any animal needlessly suffered while being euthanized.

I am glad to see advocates in Irvine, CA taking action on behalf of shelter pets there.  Mind you, there hasn’t been any reported increase in killing at the Irvine Animal Care Center, which has a reputation for being a “low kill” facility.  But advocates are speaking out regarding the reasons and methods used to kill shelter animals.

For example, records show a 2 year old Chihuahua named Tate was fed a half can of food and taken for a walk one morning in July.  He ate all his food and would have gladly eaten more according to an employee.  Instead, he was killed just minutes later for “not eating” and “orthopedic conditions”.

That same month, a cat named Cody was brought in by his owner for euthanasia but was left to suffer for 2 hours while he was injected with Fatal Plus IV, then IP and finally IC before finally dying.

The Irvine shelter sent x-rays on a rabbit with a dislocated hip to a private vet for an opinion.  The vet recommended repair but Irvine killed the pet instead.

Advocates also cite killing while cages sit empty, reduction of volunteer hours and scaling back lifesaving programs at the Irvine facility.  Rita Gatto has volunteered at the shelter for 10 years:

Euthanasia numbers have been kept low, she said, because volunteers and staff have taken in animals that were slated to be killed. But those homes are now full and some staff have quit because of what she terms an oppressive work environment.

The euthanasia numbers in Irvine, Gatto added, will rise going forward when they reflect what she views as the shelter’s new policies.

“Right now, Irvine is not euthanizing for humane reasons, but killing animals for convenience,” Gatto said.

Last week, advocates spoke before the city council to request an independent investigation of the Irvine shelter, claiming management has bullied individuals who have questioned the killing:

In a 50-page report presented to council members, advocates described a progressively hostile work environment toward staff and volunteers in the past 18 months. The report cites several incidents of careless treatment leading to animals being destroyed.

“I saw, and assisted, in the euthanasia of animals that had not even been diagnosed [with an illness or a disability] or seen by a veterinarian,” former center staff member Ava Crittenden told the council. She resigned her position last week.

“Sadly, I realized the shelter developed a culture that did not center on animal welfare.”

Another speaker painted an even darker picture:

“Today, animals are being euthanized carelessly, barbarically, for space and just out of laziness for not wanting to care for them any further,” said one speaker, who said she had volunteered at the center for 11 years.

Several speakers said they have been expressing their concerns and requesting action for months, to no avail.  Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway was all *shrug*:

“I got a few emails, maybe some letters, this summer,” Lalloway said. “I remember specifically asking the city manager to look into it.”

I asked someone to look into whatever might have been said in maybe some letters but I guess they didn’t because I don’t know.

I hope the advocates in Irvine aren’t putting all their hopes in the mayor’s basket.  Because the bottom fell out of that basket some time back and nobody noticed.

If anyone has a copy of that 50 page report, I’d like to read it.  E-mail me.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

21 Year Old Cat Illegally Impounded and Killed by Animal Control in CT

Wallingford, CT – Scott and Kim Palmer got their cat Zima from a neighbor 2 years ago when Zima was 19 years old. They converted an insulated shed in their yard for Zima, putting in several beds, a heater, and installing a window so Zima could enjoy the sunshine. The cat house was accessible via a covered kitty door.

Kim Palmer arrived home on November 12 to find Zima was missing. She began searching the neighborhood and went to Pent Road Animal Control. She was told at the pound that Zima had been impounded and killed due to possible rabies. Ms. Palmer said that Zima had been vaccinated and couldn’t possibly have been rabid. She went home to get her husband and they both returned to the pound, only to find the door locked. They have never received any reasonable explanation for why Zima was impounded and killed.

Connecticut’s animal laws can be read here. The statutes require cats to be vaccinated for rabies, which Zima reportedly was. And there are very narrow parameters which allow an ACO to impound a cat:

§ 22-332d. Impoundment and disposition of certain cats. Authority to spay or neuter unclaimed cat

(a) Any animal control officer for a municipality which has adopted an ordinance under subsection (b) of section 22-339d may take into custody any cat found to be damaging property other than property of its owner or keeper or causing an unsanitary, dangerous or unreasonably offensive condition unless such cat can be identified as under the care of its owner or a registered keeper of feral cats. The officer shall impound such cat at the pound serving the town where the cat is taken unless, in the opinion of a licensed veterinarian, the cat is so injured or diseased that it should be destroyed immediately, in which case the municipal animal control officer of such town may cause the cat to be mercifully killed by a licensed veterinarian or disposed of as the State Veterinarian may direct. The municipal animal control officer shall immediately notify the owner or keeper of any cat so taken, if known, of its impoundment. If the owner or keeper of any such cat is unknown, the officer shall immediately tag or employ such other suitable means of identification of the cat as may be approved by the Chief Animal Control Officer and shall promptly cause a description of such cat to be published once in the lost and found column of a newspaper having a circulation in such town.

Cats who are not deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian must be held at the pound so their owners can reclaim them. And that’s if the cat was causing property damage – otherwise, it seems that an ACO has no authority to impound a cat. It appears that the Pent Road pound may have violated state laws by impounding and killing Zima. When the local paper reached out to the assistant ACO for comment on the case, she had nothing to say.

There is a provision in the state laws for owners who have had their pets taken by ACOs to complain:

§ 22-335. Removal of municipal animal control officer. Complaint against municipal animal control officer

Any municipal animal control officer may be removed by the authority which appointed him or by the commissioner, and a successor may be appointed by such authority or commissioner. Any owner of a dog or cat aggrieved by the taking of such dog or cat by a municipal animal control officer may make complaint to the appointing authority of such municipal animal control officer or to the commissioner; and if, upon investigation of the complaint, the authority or the commissioner finds that the municipal animal control officer took the dog or cat otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, or abused or cruelly treated the dog or cat, the authority or the commissioner may remove the officer and appoint his successor.

I hope the Palmers file a complaint. How many other owned pets has the Pent Road pound impounded and immediately killed? How many owners have given up hope after finding the facility’s doors locked and/or being met with the staff’s refusal to provide explanations as to what happened to their pets?  Where are the records for Zima and all the other pets killed at this facility indicating a vet determined them to be medically hopeless and suffering?

Cats are second class citizens in far too many so-called shelters in this country.  It’s past time for that to change.  Oh but nobody WANTS to kill animals, it’s all the irresponsible public’s fault, spay-neuter would solve everything and [insert your favorite myth here].

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Helmetta Pound Raided and Locked Down by NJ Authorities

Photo posted on Facebook, described as living and dead kittens in the Helmetta pound's isolation room.

Photo posted on Facebook, described as living and dead kittens in the Helmetta pound’s isolation room.

Authorities have finally taken decisive action to protect the animals suffering at the troubled Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter in NJ.  Tragically, that action came too late for many animals.

Fifteen officers from the NJ SPCA along with a veterinarian and Middlesex County health officials arrived unannounced at the Helmetta pound yesterday to conduct follow up inspections and determine if the facility had been brought into compliance regarding previously issued warnings.  Those issues included mixing sick animals in with healthy ones, animals living in filthy cages, and importing dogs from the south without health clearances.  The pound director reportedly locked the doors upon their arrival, refusing to allow them inside, but ultimately relented.

Inside the facility, officials found 230 animals, mostly cats – the overwhelming majority of whom had no water in their cages.  Some animals were dying:

Three cats and one dog were removed from the shelter because they were in critical condition, [NJ SPCA chief Frank] Rizzo said. One cat died on the way to the veterinarian office in nearby Jamesburg. One animal had to be euthanized at the vet’s office. The animals that died have been taken as evidence, he said.

The county health department placed the pound on quarantine with no animals being allowed in or out until further notice.  The borough was given 24 hours to have a veterinarian assess all the animals, many of whom are sick:

“Disease control is basically nonexistent in this facility, and healthy animals are becoming unhealthy, and sickness just transfers just back and forth, so there’s just a lot of sick animals in that building,” said Rick Yocum, President of the NJ SPCA.

Gee, I wonder why the director initially locked the inspectors out.

In the wake of complaints from animal advocates who have documented neglect at the pound and made their concerns public, two communities have recently terminated their animal control agreements with Helmetta.  Helmetta mayor Nancy Martin hid from the media yesterday but last month, she clearly had zero fucks to give about the animals suffering at the pound:

“We have a vet that comes in two hours a week,” she said. “I don’t understand why people are saying things that are not true, or totally blown out of proportion.”

The mayor will have to address the issue now since there are still many communities who contract with Helmetta for AC services and they will undoubtedly be seeking answers.

Continuing updates are being posted by animal advocates on the Reform Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter page on Facebook.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

OK Mayor Bans Shelter Volunteers, Rolls Around in Pile of Tax Dollars

Volunteers at the city pound in Pryor, OK have been banned.  And in a classy way:

“Lisa and I showed up on Sunday morning to walk dogs and they just said that we weren’t needed anymore, that they were going to have two part time employees and another full time employee and that our help was no longer required,” [volunteer Kathy LaValle] said.

Ms. Lavalle has volunteered at the city pound since 2011, heading up adoption events and networking pets online.  She’d like to know why she and the other volunteers are being turned away suddenly:

Kathy Lavalle is exhausting her resources trying to find out why she is not allowed to help out at the shelter anymore.

“I have texted, I’ve called, emailed,” Kathy Lavalle said. “I can’t get an answer.”

Pryor mayor Jimmy Tramel says the vols should quit harshing his mellow:

[Y]eah we could’ve done a better job, but that didn’t happen,” Tramel said.

Mayor Brozilla told the media that the reason for the suspension of the volunteer program is that the city needs “to put a procedure in place” outlining the terms to which volunteers must agree in order to donate their time at the pound.  He needs 30 – 45 days to come up with the terms.  Ms. LaValle said the volunteers met with the city to discuss these terms a year and a half ago and the matter is long settled.

While the mayor is reinventing the wheel for 45 days, taxpayers will be shelling out $3000 to pay the pound staff overtime as they compensate for the free labor normally performed by vols.  The mayor is totes chill with this too:

“Sure it’s tax money, but for the safety of the volunteers, the safety of the employees and safety and well being of the animals, it’s going to cost us some money,” Tramel said.

Hey, it’s only tax money.  So FREE CASH basically.  Woohoo!

Volunteers are worried that without their free help, more pets will be needlessly neglected and killed at the pound.  I imagine the mayor’s response to that concern is something along the lines of “Coulda, woulda, shoulda!”

You know who I would like to shake hands with?  Mayor Rice-A-Broni’s campaign manager.  You sir, are a genius.  A magical genius who somehow managed to put ALL THE LIPSTICK on a pig, sufficient to win an election.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Michigan Humane Goes Rogue on Mandatory Holding Periods for Stray Cats Lacking Identification

The war on cats by so-called humane animal organizations continues.

Michigan state law regarding mandatory holding periods for impounded animals is clear:

Act 224 of 1969287.388 Disposition of dogs or cats; time; notice; record; exceptions.

Sec. 8.

A dealer, a county, city, village, or township operating a dog pound or animal shelter shall not sell or otherwise dispose of a dog or cat within 4 days after its acquisition. If the dog or cat has a collar, license, or other evidence of ownership, the operator of the pound or shelter shall notify the owner in writing and disposition of the animal shall not be made within 7 days from the date of mailing the notice. Each operator of a pound or shelter shall be required to maintain a record on each identifiable dog or cat acquired, indicating a basic description of the animal, the date it was acquired and under what circumstances. The record shall also indicate the date of notice sent to the owner of an animal and subsequent disposition.

This section does not apply to animals which are sick or injured to the extent that the holding period would cause undue suffering, or to animals whose owners request immediate disposal.

(Red font added for emphasis.)

On October 21, the long troubled Michigan Humane Society reportedly sent a mass email advising volunteers of its new policy for impounded cats lacking identification.  The portion relevant to the new policy:

Currently, there is no statutory hold for cats.  It has been MHS practice to hold stray cats for at least 4 days before placing them up for adoption. However, in order to save more cat lives, MHS, effective immediately, will maintain no hold time for stray cats who are immediately adoptable and do not have any form of traceable identification.

Cats with any form of traceable identification will be held for 7 days while we attempt to contact their owners.

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Despite the claim made by MHS that “there is no statutory hold for cats”, the law is clear.  Every animal is entitled to at least a 4 day holding period so their owners, if they have any, can find them.  MHS knows this.  And they know the holding period is crucial to allowing families to find their lost pets. Snipped from the MHS webpage entitled “What to do if you find a stray animal”:

Is this animal lost or abandoned?  Regardless of his appearance, start with the assumption that the animal may be a loved animal who is greatly missed by his family.  Even a normally healthy, friendly animal who has become lost may take on a “homeless” appearance and frightened demeanor.  The animal’s coat may become dirty and matted and he may lose weight rapidly or sustain injuries.  And the absence of a collar or tag does not always mean the animal left home without one.

[…]

The best chance for an animal to be reunited with his family is if you turn him in to the appropriate holding facility.

[…]

If you have found an animal without identification and wish to keep the animal:
you must make a report to the animal control organization responsible for your geographic area and you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner.

[…]

Regardless of whether you hope to keep the pet or not, you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner. This will prevent “property” disputes in the future if you do decide to keep the animal, and will give the pet the best opportunity to find his original owner whether you bring him to the shelter, or keep him at your home during your search.

[…]

FILE A FOUND REPORT ASAP with the local animal control or police in the city or county where you found the dog, cat or other animal. […] You may be given the option to keep the animal during the stray hold period; this is at the discretion of the shelter.

Despite the stance MHS has adopted on its website that lost, owned pets may not be wearing identification, that keeping them for the mandatory stray hold is legally required and that searching for the owner is an absolute must, MHS seems to have zero interest in practicing what it preaches.

Last year around this time, SB560 – a bill MHS crafted – was introduced in the state Senate.  The bill would have reduced the mandatory holding period for stray cats lacking identification from 4 days to 2 days, making it harder for families to reclaim their lost pets.  SB560 died in committee and the law mandating the minimum 4 day holding period remains.

So after failing to get the law changed to their liking, MHS has apparently decided to claim the law does not exist.  Assuming MHS has put into practice the policy change detailed in the email, it means they are putting stray “adoptable” cats who lack identification immediately up for sale.  This is a clear violation of state law.  Failing to obey the mandatory holding period law for stray cats means that families are needlessly and illegally being broken up by MHS.

The Michigan Political Action Committee for Animals is asking concerned citizens to contact the state Department of Agriculture:

[C]ontact the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and file a complaint that our state’s largest and wealthiest private shelter is violating state law by ignoring mandatory stray hold times for cats, denying owners the opportunity and the right to reclaim their lost cat.

(Thanks Clarice and Anne for the heads up on this story.)

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