Discussion: Pet Leasing

charlie

Charlie, an adoptable dog in Ohio (Photo by Casey Post)

Pursuant to yesterday’s post on the pet leasing company that reportedly killed dogs in violation of the agreement it made with the dogs’ shelter of origin, I thought a separate discussion was warranted on the whole pet leasing issue.  I think there are many points to be made regarding the topic but I will limit my input to a few points with respect to shelters:

  1. Everyone likes the idea of saving a shelter pet and, provided the pet leasing company is sourcing its animals from shelters, it makes people feel good to give a home to a shelter animal.
  2.  Pet leasing companies claim they provide a safe place for a pet to go if, for whatever reason, the owner is unable to keep the pet for life.
  3. If the owner must return the pet, he need not fear being shamed for his actions.
  4. A pet leasing company is a business – they provide the services, you provide the cash.  And while they are hopefully at least doing minimal screening (such as checking applicants for animal cruelty convictions) they presumably accept most paying customers with few questions asked.

All of these factors may be in stark contrast to an adopter’s previous (or anticipated) experiences with area shelters or rescues.  For example, the adopter may want to save a shelter pet but can not get to the shelter due to it being closed to the public, having limited hours or being in a remote location.  Some adopters don’t want to go to shelters simply because many are depressing places where you are forced to look at animals knowing they will likely be killed if you don’t take them home.  The leasing company probably has an easily accessible location, convenient hours and may even offer home delivery.

Life happens.  Circumstances change.  While an adopter’s intention may be to keep a pet for life, that’s not always possible or even advisable in some cases.  Having a safe place to rely upon where the adopter knows the animal will be rehomed and not killed provides a sense of comfort if such a need were to arise.  And making the difficult decision to return a pet more of a business type transaction eliminates the fear of being shamed by shelter staff.

The adopter may have previously applied for a pet with a rescue and been subjected to intense questioning and harsh judgment.  They may have been made to feel very uncomfortable or even unworthy.  Applying to a pet leasing company is likely a more straightforward process where one would not expect to be severely scrutinized.

So while I don’t like the idea of pet leasing, I can understand part of its appeal, at least regarding this aspect.  The sad fact is that local shelters and rescues could make themselves equally as appealing (and even more so) in this regard but too many choose not to, driving away potential adopters.  As I have often said, people who are turned away or just plain turned off by shelters and rescues are going to get pets from somewhere.  And we may not like the somewhere.  A savvy businessman saw a potential market and hung out a pet leasing shingle.  Cha-ching.

Please add your thoughts on pet leasing, including some of the other considerations I did not touch upon in the post.  How might the people and the animals be affected by a leasing agreement?  Would you ever consider leasing a pet?  If you run a shelter or rescue, would you ever consider giving a homeless animal to a pet leasing company?

Pet Leasing Company Kills Shelter Dogs

pipkelsocharliebear

Pip, Kelso and Charlie Bear, as pictured on the KGW website.

Apparently pet leasing is a thing.  Veterinarian Scott Campbell founded a pet leasing company called Hannah the Pet Society in Oregon after running Banfield (the vet clinics inside Petsmart stores) for 20 years.  People pay to lease a pet, obtained from a shelter, and Hannah provides the food and veterinary care.  If the pet doesn’t work out in the home for whatever reason, Hannah will take the animal back and find him another home.  Or not.

At Thanksgiving last year, Campbell reportedly ordered the killing of 3 dogs, Pip, Kelso and Charlie Bear, who had been leased and returned.  Hannah had obtained Kelso and Charlie Bear from the Columbia HS, which had provided a number of other pets to the company in past.  The standing agreement between the organizations stated that the dogs would be returned to the Columbia HS if they didn’t work out in a home with a Hannah customer.

Instead of returning the dogs, Hannah killed them without informing the Columbia HS:

“You can’t print our reaction because it’s profane,” said Lori Furman, board president at Columbia Humane. “We were very unhappy. They didn’t call us to take the dogs back.”

Hannah claims all three of the dogs were so aggressive, they had to be killed:

“Dr. Campbell, a licensed veterinarian with decades of experience, worked in consultation with members of his team to reach the conclusion that euthanasia was the only option in this case,” said Kara Hansen, a spokeswoman for Hannah the Pet Society. “The dogs that were euthanized had multiple documented instances of aggressive behavior, including biting. The company stands by the decision to put them to sleep rather than return them to a shelter, where they could face years of re-adoption and return and could hurt people.”

Hansen said there is documentation showing aggression, but it’s considered confidential medical and proprietary information and they do not plan to release it.

If Hannah’s only supposed evidence supporting why the dogs had to be killed instead of being returned to their original shelters is on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of The Leopard”, I’m going to have to put on my skeptical face.

Then there’s the Hannah customer who returned Kelso – not for aggressive behavior, but because the other dog in the house kept picking on him:

“He was floppy and sweet,” she said. “He was wonderful.”
[…]
“He was great, it was just our Boston terrier was so alpha female and wouldn’t allow us to have another animal in the house,” she said. “She was very protective of her domain.”
[…]
She said Hannah told her Kelso was previously returned to the company, but not because of any aggression issues. The previous owner just didn’t have time for a puppy.

Even the employees were at a loss to explain why the so-vicious-all-we-can-do-is-kill-them dogs were allowed to interact with the public at the Hannah stores and then suddenly killed:

“We were all pretty shocked,” said a current employee, who asked not to be named for fear of legal retaliation, citing a nondisclosure agreement. “Vicious would not be how anyone would describe them.”
[…]
Current and former staff say they are not sure why Hannah would euthanize the dogs instead of give them back to shelters. They said if the company had offered the dogs to employees, as they have in the past, the dogs would have been adopted in a heartbeat.

Hannah has received backlash from the public over the killings but has doubled down on the take-our-word-for-it strategy:

“The company does not plan to start releasing confidential medical and proprietary information to the general public,” said Hannah CEO Fred Wich. “We hope you can understand why setting that type of precedent could be bad for the company, for our members and pets – this is private medical and proprietary information.”

Uh, the media is not seeking to publish the name of a rape victim who had an abortion here.  The company is being offered an opportunity to explain, with documentation, the killings it claims were so righteous.

You know what precedent is definitely bad for the company?  Failing to honor the agreements made with shelters they get pets from, killing dogs who appear to have been easily adoptable and then claiming they will make their last stand protecting the privacy of the dead dogs’ records because for the love of ponies, Fluffy’s name will not be dragged through the muck while there is breath in my body.

The Columbia HS has terminated its agreement with Hannah and taken all their pets back.  Every other group that gave animals to Hannah will hopefully do the same.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

I Do Not Care

Judgmental cats sees all. (Photo by Casey Post)

Judgmental cat sees all. (Photo by Casey Post)

A shelter’s job is to shelter animals.

Animals have a right to live.

These two things trump all the excuses offered by killing apologists.

Therefore, I have zero fucks to give about the following:

  • An owner didn’t microchip a lost pet.
  • An owner didn’t see his lost pet’s photo on the shelter’s website as soon as it was posted.
  • An owner let a cat outside.
  • An owner accidentally left a gate open, had a hole in the fence, whatever.
  • An owner couldn’t come up with the cash to pay the shelter’s ransom for a lost pet.
  • An owner didn’t neuter and/or vaccinate a lost pet.
  • An owner didn’t have a collar and/or ID tag on a lost pet.
  • An owner was unable to physically visit the shelter during its open hours throughout the holding period to look for a lost pet.
  • An owner failed in some other way to meet the standards set forth by people who defend pet killing.

Nothing eclipses an animal’s right to live or mitigates a shelter’s obligation to shelter.

And while I would not condemn an owner for any of the above, I want to make myself perfectly clear so let’s just take this all the way.  I don’t care if the owner was on crack and punching baby pandas in the face when he lost his intact, unvaccinated, unmicrochipped pet from his unfenced yard and didn’t sober up enough to look for him for 2 weeks.  And when he finally staggered into the shelter, he was holding a neon sign that said KILL MY PET! and announced he was willing to sign any waiver the shelter had for him so long as they killed his animal.  Because even if – IF<—-get this! IF the owner is a total jerk who doesn’t deserve to have a pet, that’s for a court to decide and has absolutely no bearing on whether the animal has a right to live or whether shelter directors must do their jobs to protect animals from harm.

Killing healthy/treatable shelter animals is never, ever, under any circumstances, the fault of anyone but the people killing the animals.

I don’t like victim blaming.  Pet owners, along with their animals who were needlessly killed at shelters, are victims.  I put up with it on this blog to some extent in order to educate and hopefully change wrong thinking.  But if you’re new here and just popped up to blame the victim and defend people who kill shelter animals, don’t take your coat off.

 

 

Oklahoma Pound Tossing Dogs in a Hole, Shooting Them

FOX 23 in Oklahoma reports that the pound in Bristow shoots pets for convenience and that the mayor is aware of the method being used to kill the animals. Local animal advocates told The Daily Beast that a city employee digs a large hole behind the water treatment facility (where the pound is located) and the ACO drags dogs from the pound, throws them into the hole then shoots them with a small caliber pistol.  When the pit gets filled with dogs, the worker covers it over and digs a new one.  The ACO reportedly has sole discretion on which dogs he chooses to kill and how long they get to live before he does.  The mayor says that shooting dogs is legal under OK law and he is utterly baffled as to why anyone cares:

When reached by phone Wednesday, Bristow’s mayor Leonard Washington admitted the city—some 33 miles southwest of Tulsa—was dragging poor pooches to the back of the water treatment plant and shooting them.
“This is something that’s been a practice for 40 years,” Washington told The Daily Beast. “I don’t know why it’s a controversy … why such outrage now?”

Well gee, if it’s been going on for 40 years, it must be ok. Because no wrong thing has ever happened for any length of time and finally had to be changed because it was so obviously despicable. That’s what they taught us in American history class – everything was swell since ever and that’s why our textbooks are blank.

Animal advocates further allege that before the dogs are shot in the head, they suffer at the pound due to neglect and poor conditions.  They also claim the ACO hates pitbulls.  I wonder how many small caliber bullets the ACO puts into the fat heads of pitbulls before he jumps into the pit and verifies death via stethoscope, corneal reflex and other standard methods clocks out for lunch.

The mayor stressed that the main objective is to find homes for pets[.]

The Bristow pound is closed to the public. Locals offering to volunteer or donate say they have been turned away. I was unable to find any online listings for pets at the pound.  I guess the main objective of finding homes is something the ACO does during the drag to the hole before shooting the dogs. Maybe a city employee who got lost might happen to see a dog on the way to the pit and run over there and want to adopt him on the spot or something. I’m fuzzy on the details there.

Anyway it’s all legal and it’s been going on for 40 years so don’t get huffy.

(Thank you Clarice for sending me this story.)

Discussion: Lost CA Sheltie Adopted by New Owners

An elderly couple whose lost Sheltie got picked up by Stockton Animal Services in December was pulled by a rescue group then adopted while the owners were still searching for her.  The new owners, who had Tipsy for around 2 weeks by the time Mr. and Mrs. Robinson found out what had happened to their pet of 8 years, are refusing to give her back.

[Sharon] Robinson was 10 days too late, and the new family was already in love with Tipsy.
“I just want… I want her back,” she said.
She’s heartbroken and has even offered the new adoptive family a refund for Tipsy’s adoption fee. They have declined.
“They’ve loved her for a little over two weeks. I’ve loved her for eight and a half years.”

Mrs. Robinson still has the pedigree that came with Tipsy when she was a puppy. She searched for her to the best of her knowledge and ability, even when she was sick. She is heartbroken and can not talk about Tipsy without crying. Although it’s impossible to know how Tipsy is feeling, it would be hard to imagine she is not missing the only family she ever knew.

Setting all this aside for the moment, I found this troubling:

We also reached out to the city of Stockton’s Animal Services. They declined an on-camera interview. The animal services department is now investigating Tipsy’s case to see if the proper protocol was followed.

The pound doesn’t know if proper procedures were followed? And they won’t discuss the case? Not good.

Back to Tipsy’s ownership:  On the one hand, Mrs. Robinson certainly presents a reasonable case that Tipsy was well cared for and loved by her family.  I don’t think the new owners would have any worries about her quality of life if Tipsy was returned.  On the other hand, the new owners had a Sheltie who died recently and found Tipsy, whom they were told was a stray and that no owner had claimed her.  They adopted her in good faith and instantly fell in love with her, something I think we all can relate to.  Getting a new pet helps some owners in the grieving process and perhaps Tipsy has been providing much needed comfort to the new owners.

What would you do if you had adopted Tipsy under these circumstances?  Mrs. Robinson says she may hire an attorney.  That might not be a bad idea, especially considering that the pound doesn’t know if proper procedures were followed (which opens up the possibility that Tipsy was not held for the legally mandated holding period and therefore not eligible for release to the rescue group in the first place).  I would hate to see a lengthy court battle in this situation, or any pet custody situation really.  What other options might exist for the Robinsons?

(Thanks Anne for the link.)

Lost Pets in Michigan Lose State Protection

The distressingly bad and wealthy Michigan InHumane has been trying for years to get legislation changed to reduce and eliminate mandatory holding periods for lost pets in shelters.  (And when MHS hasn’t gotten its way, it just blatantly ignores the law.)  Its current proposed bill is terrible.

mi hb4915

Portion of terrible HB 4915 in Michigan.

Unfortunately, the state department of agriculture recently caved on the issue and announced it will no longer enforce the law regarding mandatory holding periods in shelters.

Meanwhile, Michigan rescue groups continue to import shelter pets from the south, citing “no pressing need” to help locally.

If you are a Michigan resident, please take action to protect lost pets from being abandoned or killed by your local shelter before their owners have a chance to find them.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Ohio Shelter Oops-Neglects Sick Dog to Death

Last week, four employees of the SPCA Cincinnati transported a pitbull type dog for an adoption fair. In the freezing winter cold, they oops-neglected him to death:

Upon arriving in Sharonville between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Thursday, [SPCA Cincinnati Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Dr. Dave] LeBourveau said, four employees assigned to unload and clean the transfer van failed to follow proper unloading procedure and left the animal in the vehicle overnight.

Roughly 16 hours later, SPCA employees discovered the dog suffering hypothermia Friday around 8 a.m. The dog was not expected to survive its injuries and was euthanized.

Oops. And:

Dr. LeBourveau said the dog had kennel cough.

They were taking a sick dog to an adoption fair? Oops.

LeBourveau said the animal would have been found had the employees followed proper protocol.
“Whoever unloads the van, then they check off a roster to indicate that all the pets were there,” LeBourveau said. “The roster in this case, there was some question whether it was accurate or not.”

Oh see, that explains it. There was some question. I know at my workplace if there is ever any question, we all just err on the side of shrug, crank up the heat in our cars and head home for the night. Because question.

Pitbulls have very low tolerance for cold due to their coats, which anyone working in a shelter in Ohio should know.  This particular dog was reportedly sick and likely felt crummy.  It is heartbreaking to think of how he spent his last night on this earth.

The four workers whose failure to do their jobs resulted in the needless suffering and death of a dog entrusted to their care have been disciplined.  They all kept their jobs.

Dr. LeBourveau describe the disciplined employees as animal lovers and great workers.

Well gee if these are the great ones, I’d hate to run into the adequate ones.

And in case you were wondering:

The SPCA transports nearly 7,000 dogs a year.

No word on the number of survivors.

(Thanks Clarice and Lisa for the links.)

Some NY Shelters Hiding Their Killed Animals at Veterinary Offices

The Journal News submitted a FOIA request to the state of NY to find out how many animals are killed by shelters in the Lower Hudson Valley, along with a request for the controlled substances logs from each facility. The state sort of shrugged:

The state Department of Health, which is required by law to maintain records of all animals put to sleep at animal shelters or animal-control centers, only has a fraction of the mandatory quarterly reports it is supposed to collect. That means that, in addition to not keeping track of most animals that are euthanized by shelters, the state also has no record on how much sodium pentobarbital — the lethal chemical used to put animals to sleep — some shelters have in stock.

State health officials said they conducted “a diligent search” that lasted three months after The Journal News requested the records. But the department only produced partial records for just three of the seven active animal shelters in the Lower Hudson Valley — and no records for other types of animal-control facilities.

A spokesman for the Health Department did not reply to repeated requests for comment over the past two weeks.

Some of the shelters take their animals to private veterinary offices for killing.  Vets fall under different reporting requirements than shelters and when they dispose of dead animals, they don’t have to specify whether the pet belonged to a client or came from a shelter.  Five of the seven shelters contract with a crematory in Hartsdale, which estimates it cremates 30,000 pets a year with 1450 of those coming from area shelters.

The Yonkers Animal Shelter did have records on file with the state but the documents, which indicate only 5 dogs and zero cats were killed during a one year period, are clearly useless:

In 2015, [director of the Yonkers shelter Almira] Simpson said, 71 cats and 11 dogs from the shelter, including the five Yonkers reported to the state, were put down.

The shelter only reported five dogs to the state since the other 77 pets were killed at veterinary offices.

The Journal News, unable to obtain the actual records sought on pets killed in shelters, tried asking some of the non-compliant shelters for numbers:

[Robert] Kelly, the Mount Vernon police commissioner who acknowledged that the department had failed to file the state reports, said his city’s shelter euthanized 53 cats and 12 dogs last year.

M’kay. Not that there is any way to verify that with the state.

The Hudson Valley Humane Society said it only euthanized one animal, a dog, last year.

MMM’Kaaay. So they couldn’t fill out the form to report that ONE DOG?

The SPCA of Westchester did not return calls for comment.

Sounds legit. I checked the shelter’s website and it says:

The SPCA contracts with 13 different municipalities to accept delivery of their stray cats and dogs for return to owners or to arrange for adoption. Lost dogs and cats are held at the shelter for at least eight days before becoming available for adoption.

So 13 municipalities in NY are contracting with a facility that doesn’t follow the law by reporting to the state and doesn’t answer calls from media about pet killing.  I wonder if they take calls from owners looking for their lost pets.

But let’s definitely keep shipping our shelter animals to the magical north where everything is obscenely dandy, probably.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Microchip Saves Dog’s Life After He Gets Adopted by Total Jerk

A dog owned by Jason Dotson of Hamilton Co, Ohio reportedly attacked and nearly killed a leashed service dog who was being walked by his owner in October 2015.  The service dog was forced to retire as a result of the attack.  The court ordered Dotson to have his dog killed at the local SPCA.

Dotson instead went to the SPCA and adopted a dog who resembled his own pet then returned two days later and presented the newly adopted dog for killing under the court order.  It happened that an employee recognized the recently adopted dog and therefore scanned him for a microchip.  The chip confirmed that Dotson had just adopted the dog and he was not the same animal ordered killed by the court.

He faced the judge yesterday:

“In my 10 years as a judge I can’t recall a more cold and heartless act,” Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Brad Greenberg said in court Tuesday. “If I could give you more time, legally, I would.” Jason Dotson, 32, was sentenced to 30 days at the Hamilton County Justice Center without probation or work release. His bond was set at $50,000.
[…]
“It’s one thing for you to ignore a court order, it’s quite another thing to try to perpetrate a fraud on this court,” Greenberg said. “And you tried to have an innocent dog killed.”

The attacking dog has since been killed. The article doesn’t mention what happened to the dog Dotson tried to have killed but presumably the SPCA would have taken him back.

I’m glad in this case that a shelter employee recognized the dog and thought to grab the scanner.  A life was saved. We have far too many stories on this blog about shelters failing to scan animals for chips and the tragic outcomes that follow.  I hope this story motivates more shelters to scan ALL animals before killing – even if they’ve been previously scanned and no chip detected, even if the person requesting the killing says he is the owner of the pet, and even if the animal comes with a court order to be killed.  Things are not always as they seem.

If the shelter worker had not happened to recognize the dog Dotson brought in for killing, apparently there would have been no scan, just as there often isn’t any scan when a supposed owner takes a pet to a shelter to be killed.  Had Dotson been bright enough to get a dog from any other facility besides the one he was ordered to bring his dog to, there would have been no possibility of the dog being recognized, which is what prompted the scan.

Scanning for a microchip takes just a minute and does not require any advanced training.  Finding a chip could save an animal’s life.  There is simply no excuse for shelters not scanning every animal before killing, regardless of circumstances.

Louisiana Pound Employees Under Investigation by Police

The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations of wrongdoing by the director and three other employees of the Ouachita Parish pound in LA. The facility falls under the Ouachita Parish Police Jury:

Scotty Robinson, Police Jury President, says, “we had someone within the animal shelter come in and raise some concerns.”
Concerns surrounding allegations the director and other employees were using an inmate who had trustee status to work on their private projects, projects that the police jury’s attorney says are not allowed.
Jay Mitchell, OPPJ Attorney, says, “…constructed a barbeque grill…and also did some welding on some trailers Uh private trailers that were apparently may have been used sometimes in animal control work, But they were not owned by the parish.”

All four of the employees reportedly resigned rather than face termination by the parish.

In 2014, the pound killed approximately 63% of the animals in its care.  The only other online statistics I could find were from 2011 when the pound killed 60% of its dogs and 85% of its cats, according to a local volunteer group.  The group has a page detailing the thousands of pets needlessly killed each year at the pound along with all the standard excuses about how there aren’t enough homes, they “have to” kill every single day of the year, the irresponsible public blows, killing isn’t as much fun as it should be and smack in the middle, in boldface, is this:

ouachita parish enablers

Screengrab from a PAWS of NE LA webpage.

Oof.

So apparently this institutionalized killing for convenience has been going on for years, maybe since the pound’s inception, I don’t know, and it’s a total package complete with a band of enablers.  The director and staff don’t do their jobs to shelter animals but kill them instead while the volunteers stand ready to defend the killing and blame the public.  Maybe no one has ever done their jobs at this place, I don’t know.

But recently, “someone within the animal shelter” was moved to take action.  Not because the place is an epic fail and the bodies are really starting to pile up, not because there are proven alternatives which could be put into place to save the animals but continue to be ignored in favor of daily kill-fests – but because somebody got a grill built by an inmate.  And there was WELDING.

Enough is enough, you know?  I mean killing animals hand over fist every day of the year instead of doing our jobs is one thing but getting a grill made and having welding on some trailers Uh private trailers that were apparently may have been used sometimes in animal control work, But they were not owned by the parish – well that’s just objectionable.  There comes a time in every man’s life when he’s got to take a stand and this is that time.

But do not fear, the mission endures:

[A]lthough down four employees, Robinson says it hasn’t seriously affected the shelter.
[…]
“Our treasurer office has kind of taking over the day to day operations as far as the financial and the money and things that go on.”

Things that go on. I dread to think.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

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