CA Police Officer Attempts to Shoot Dog in His Own Fenced Yard, Shoots Self Instead

On this blog, we have long lamented police officers whose sole tool in the toolbox when encountering a dog is GUN.  We’ve seen dogs shot while restrained on chokepoles, while locked inside animal shelter cages, while chained in their own yards, and while fearfully cowering in the bushes after fleeing police.  The shootings are typically explained away as the officers being afraid for their lives and/or protecting the public, the police department investigates itself, and Bob’s your uncle – no wrongdoing found.  But this is a first – and not in a good way.

Last week, a CA deputy was so eager to shoot a dog who barked at him as he approached the dog’s fenced yard, he drew his gun and forgot to aim at the dog, shooting himself in the leg.  The deputy was apparently attempting to serve an eviction notice AT THE WRONG HOUSE in Riverside Co when the resident pet barked at the officer.  (Note for any I-just-like-to-shoot-pets police officers who may be reading:  Barking is the thing that dogs do when strangers approach their home.  It’s one of the primary reasons people have dogs.)

The sheriff’s office said the dog was a giant mass of seething hate who intended to eat the officer for an afternoon snack.  In order to save his own life, the officer was forced to draw his weapon and fire.  The deputy shot himself in the leg and was taken to the hospital for treatment of “non-life threatening injuries”.

Screengrab from a video posted on the KNBC website.

Screengrab from a video posted on the KNBC website.

But when a local TV news crew arrived on the scene, they found a medium sized dog named Precious playing with his kids inside their fenced yard.  They filmed Precious shuffling about the place, tail wagging, tongue lolling out like a goofball.  In the video, he looks as if he’s already had his afternoon snack but wouldn’t turn down a Happy Meal.

The sheriff’s office has an explanation for the discrepancy:  The sound of gunfire transformed Precious from an eat, swim, make little sharks eating machine to an ambling BFF.  Talk about your Magic Bullet Theory.

Precious was not taken into custody by the pound.  No word on whether the sheriff’s office ever figured out the right house to serve the eviction notice.  Or anything else.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)

Cruelty Allegations against Franklin Co Dog Pound

The Franklin Co dog pound in Ohio killed more than 40% of the dogs in its care in 2012.  Among the thousands killed by the pound each year are dogs who don’t pass a behavioral test administered by the staff.  The pound’s assistant director, Deborah Finelli, e-mailed a local reporter regarding the process:

“To be selected for adoption, all dogs 6 months and older must pass a behavior assessment, which evaluates the dog’s ability to be safely handled, reaction to people and other dogs and any situations that might provoke aggressive behavior,” she wrote.

“No dog that is perceived to be a threat to the safety of other dogs or humans will be permitted to be sent to rescue and/or foster, or placed on the adoption floor.”

If this place was truly following this absurd rule, presumably no dogs would be made available for adoption since ALL DOGS BITE. Some bite people, some bite other dogs, some exhibit incredible restraint, some exhibit no restraint – and there are as many variations on these parameters as one would care to contemplate.  But the bottom line is that all dogs represent a potential threat to the safety of people and other dogs, even though that risk is small in the vast majority of cases.

Testing a dog in a pound environment is of very little value since the dog is not behaving normally due to severe stress.  Franklin Co’s statement that they test dogs for “any situations that might provoke aggressive behavior” suggests to me a pokey-in-the-face-with-a-plastic-hand-on-a-stick type deal or a take-food-away-from-a-hungry-stressed-out-dog-while-he’s-eating-it or maybe both monstrosities.  Whatever the tests, they should not be used as a justification to kill dogs.

To make matters worse, there are allegations that Franklin Co pound veterinarian Vincent Morton intentionally mistreats dogs in order to fail them on the behavioral tests and runs needless medical tests for the purpose of failing dogs he couldn’t sufficiently provoke to fail on behavior.

One complaint submitted in August 2013 says Morton would “purposefully be rough with them almost like he was trying to get them to growl or bite.”

Another complaint says Morton made fun of one employee for being gay and another for being Mexican. “Dr. Morton is very rough on the dogs and is rude to the employees and belittles them,” the complaint states.

But wait, there’s more!  There are allegations of oops-killings of dogs who had adopters waiting, dogs left to suffer without vet care for days, and dogs killed for behavior who had never been touched or let out of the cage.  And, despite employing a full time volunteer coordinator, Franklin Co has allegedly been shutting out volunteers.  Because volunteers, so complainy.

Local advocates voiced their concerns to the county commissioners this week and were told basically that their complaints weren’t going to be addressed as the county was already conducting its own investigation.  So tattle your tales elsewhere because we already know everything and you didn’t even know about our ultra secret investigation that is totally happening as we speak so sit back down, I guess.  Neither the vet nor the director have responded to the allegations at this time.

(Thanks Jan and Clarice for the links.)

#DeadDogLulz in Maricopa Co

As we are so often told about people who work in pet killing facilities:  Nobody WANTS to kill animals.  But apparently when they do get to kill them, it’s too fun not to gloat about it on social media.

A Maricopa Co dog called Mickey was reportedly minding his own business in his fenced backyard one day last month when someone let their 4 year old child wander into the yard.  When the child took Mickey’s bone, the dog bit the child in the face causing a severe injury.  Mickey was seized by the Maricopa Co pound and his family is fighting in court to keep him alive.

A Facebook group in support of saving Mickey’s life has more than 32,000 likes.  Vanessa Martinez, a Maricopa Co pound employee, visited the page and taunted those hoping to save Mickey:

“This is stupid… you guys doing all of this won’t help any. He’s going night night.”

Ooh, burn.

The pound’s director has defended Ms. Martinez’s comments as free speech.

A judge is scheduled to make a determination on Mickey’s fate by March 13.

A spokesperson for MCACC says Martinez is still employed. A petition is circulating on the Internet calling for Martinez to be terminated.

That petition and 5 pennies will get you a nickel and someone who likes killing animals.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Happy New Year!

What is the best animal-related thing that happened in your life in 2013?

For me, it was adding Wendy to the family.  It was a bumpy start dealing with her myriad medical issues and her repeated escapes though.  The vet knocked out all her medical problems one at a time and she’s been in good health ever since.  Project Runaway was a horse of a different color.  It’s not something I’ve dealt with before and at first it was perplexing.  She would be out in the yard, seemingly fine and then POOF – she was gone.  We added additional fencing but that was just a little exercise for Billy apparently.  What ended up working for us was a combination of limiting her outside time to direct supervision in a small portion of the yard and taking her for leashed walks.  When she needs to go out for a potty break or wants to have a bone, we put her on a tie-out (only when we are home and can see her out the window if we are indoors).  She loves her tie-out and took to it like a duck to water.  My vet guessed that perhaps she had been on one previously and it represented something familiar for her.  Whatever the explanation for why it works, I am just happy that it does.  We haven’t had an escape since we started using this system and she seems very content.

Wendy was shot at some point before we got her, as evident by the small game shot visible throughout this x-ray.

Wendy was shot at some point before we got her, as evident by the small game shot visible throughout this x-ray.

The trigger for Wendy that causes her to run away is gunshots.  We did not realize this for quite awhile.  We were aware she was afraid of gunshots (and firecrackers and thunderstorms) but had no idea this was what was putting her into a state of panic.  Then one day Billy was outside with her in the small portion of the yard where she gets her freedom under direct supervision and she happened to be on the back deck when a gunshot was fired in the area.  Being on the back deck, she could have either come to the back door and scratched to be let in or gone down the stairs to get down to the yard.  Instead she immediately began attempting to hurl herself over the side of the deck.  This would have resulted in a fall down to the back yard and accomplished nothing from a practical point of view.  In other words, she still would have been outside and within the small fenced portion of the yard.  Billy intervened quickly and brought her inside.  But the behavior was revealing.  Apparently hearing a gunshot outdoors sends her into such a state that all she can think is to hurl herself over the nearest barrier, without rhyme or reason.  I guess this would be described as an extreme fear response and it would explain why and how she escaped several times in her first weeks with us.  We live in a rural area where gunshots are common and it’s possible that she exhibited this same extreme response then, which resulted in repeated yard escapes.

Now that we have the routines in place to keep her safe and know that if we hear a gunshot when she is outside we need to run, not walk, to carry her indoors – it’s all good.  The only problem now is that Billy has stolen her from me – just like he did with Graham.  The man is obviously not to be trusted.

Beagle thief and his loot.

Beagle thief and his loot.

Seven People Apply to Save “VERY FRIENDLY!” Pitbull from Memphis Pound

Dog #259497 as pictured on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook, October 8, 2013.

Dog #259497 as pictured on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook, October 8, 2013.

Dog #259497 was impounded as a stray by the Memphis pound on September 25, 2013. A note appears on his cage card: VERY FRIENDLY!

259497 MAS cage card

MAS records for the dog, obtained via FOIA request, indicate a member of the public expressed an interest in adopting this dog on September 28 and gave his name and phone number. Records state that a few months prior, the potential adopter had passed the background check and fence inspection required by MAS. I assume he was not allowed to take the dog home that day because the holding period had not expired.

On October 1st, both a member of an approved rescue group and a second member of the public placed their names on this dog.  MAS conducted the background check on October 2 for this second potential adopter but the yard check had still not been completed by October 8 when the applicant informed MAS he had found another pet.  There are no notes indicating why the dog was not released to the first applicant or the rescuer, both pre-approved, after the holding period expired on October 1st.  For whatever reason, the dog was forced to continue living in a cage at the pet killing facility.  And people continued to fall in love with him.

On October 12, a third member of the public applied to adopt this dog.  MAS completed the background check for that potential adopter on October 15 – the same day a fourth person submitted her information in hopes of taking this dog home.  The background check was completed for the fourth applicant on October 16.  MAS never conducted the fence inspections for either of these applicants according to the records even though both passed the background check.    There are no notes indicating why the dog was not released to the first applicant or the rescuer, both pre-approved, after the holding period expired on October 1st.  For whatever reason, the dog was forced to continue living in a cage at the pet killing facility.  And people continued to meet him and fall in love.

On October 19, a fifth person submitted information in hopes of adopting this dog.  MAS completed this applicant’s background check on October 22.  MAS never conducted the fence inspection for this applicant according to the records even though he passed the background check.    There are no notes indicating why the dog was not released to the first applicant or the rescuer, both pre-approved, after the holding period expired on October 1st.  For whatever reason, the dog was forced to continue living in a cage at the pet killing facility while MAS staff did nothing to get him out alive.  Meanwhile, this note appears in the dog’s records on October 21:

mas note 10 21 13

To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Coleman is not a behaviorist.  There are no notes indicating a behaviorist ever saw this dog.  There are no notes indicating this dog was ever walked and no behavioral notes beyond the one above.  The dog who was “VERY FRIENDLY!” may have started going kennel crazy inside the pet killing facility, I don’t know.  With two pre-approved safe places to go and several other applicants just waiting for MAS to complete the fence inspection, this dog could have been released long before this date.  Meanwhile,the dog continued to be housed in an area visible to the public and people continued to meet and fall in love with him.

On October 24th, a sixth person applied to adopt this pet.  There are no notes indicating MAS conducted either the background check or the fence inspection for this applicant.  On October 25th, the records contain this note:

mas very friendly

Despite having 6 members of the public plus an approved rescuer who each offered to save this “VERY FRIENDLY!” dog, MAS killed him on October 26, 2013.

MAS dog #259497 as pictured on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook, October 22, 2013.

MAS dog #259497 as pictured on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook, October 22, 2013.

Adoption applicant #1 was pre-approved.  The rescuer was also pre-approved.  Why didn’t MAS send this dog home with either one of these people as soon as the hold period expired?

Applicant #2 waited for MAS to do a fence check for more than a week and finally adopted another pet.  Another missed opportunity to save this dog’s life.

Applicants #3, 4 and 5 each passed a background check but MAS could not be bothered to perform the fence checks for any of them.  Three more opportunities wasted.

Applicant #6 did not have either check performed by staff and MAS killed the dog two days after the applicant’s information was submitted.

The Memphis pound requires Pitbull adopters to jump through special hoops in order to save pets from their kill room.  But MAS can’t be bothered to perform the inspections they themselves require.  Even when a pre-approved applicant and a pre-approved rescuer were willing to save this dog, MAS couldn’t be bothered to release him.  Why?

This pet had seven chances to get out of MAS alive and MAS dropped the ball seven times.  And instead of finally doing right by the dog, they sent him to the kill room where he was probably tortured in the squeeze device on the wall before ultimately being dropped in a garbage bag.  Seven people fell in love with this dog while one vet with a notorious track record made one negative behavioral note and that trumps everything?  Nobody WANTS to kill animals?  Seriously MAS, you people are creeping me the math out.

How Would Your Pet Fare If Impounded by Putnam County Animal Services?

The sheriff’s office runs the pound in Putnam Co, Florida. The website states “the shelter is on N Highway 17, at the landfill.”

I reached out to the sheriff’s office for comment after seeing this photo posted on Facebook:

Photo posted on  Facebook of a sign at the Putnam Co pound in Florida

Photo posted on
Facebook of a sign purportedly displayed at the Putnam Co pound in Florida

I haven’t yet received a response from the sheriff’s office but if I do, I will update this post.

In researching this facility, I found… enablers!

Facebook posting in which a member of the public advocates for the lives of pets at the Putnam Co pound and gets swatted down by their "Friends".

Facebook posting in which a member of the public advocates for the lives of pets at the Putnam Co pound and gets swatted down by their “Friends”.

We so often hear from killing apologists that “Nobody wants to kill animals.” Since it is impossible to accurately assess temperament in ANY dog or cat upon impound at a shelter, the sign at top is instructing pound employees to ignore standard protocols, pretend to assess all animals upon impound and then, based upon the false assessment, kill all “feral” and “aggressive” animals whom the state does not mandate be held. And their “Friends” blame the public for the killing – the very people they demand rescue, donate and adopt from the shelter.

These people want to kill animals.  Or to put it more accurately, these people really want to kill animals.

How would you expect your pet(s) to score in an assessment administered immediately upon impound at a pet killing facility by people who want to kill animals?  I imagine most of mine would fail.  In which case I’d be relying on the state of Florida statute requiring a mandatory stray holding period to save their lives.  Assuming someone didn’t trap and falsely “owner surrender” my lost pet or that no one at Putnam Co put an X in the wrong box somewhere or DOT DOT DOT.  Gee, it seems like evaluation and killing upon impound is not the swell idea it’s made out to be.  I don’t suppose anyone in Putnam Co would be interested in scrapping that plan in favor of doing their jobs to shelter animals?

(Thanks Bonnie for the link to this photo.)

Humane Society of New Braunfels Area Claims Puppy is Possessed, Kills Him

From the mission statement page on the website of the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area in Texas:

We house animals for Comal County and the City of New Braunfels.
[...]
Through the ceaseless efforts of our professional staff, our primary goal is to awaken the true humanity and compassion of the citizens in our communities to the needs and rewards of caring for and respecting animals.

It seems like the citizens of Comal Co are good on the humanity and compassion thing. The staff of the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area? Not so much.

Anyone who has ever spent time with puppies will tell you:  puppies bite.  Their baby teeth are needle-like instruments of pain which they wield with reckless disregard.  They bite shoelaces, hair, hands – anything within reach.  And they bite hard.  As soon as their teeth start coming in, the mama dog will start teaching them about bite inhibition.  They also learn from playing with their littermates, often times too aggressively, until someone gets told off.

As compassionate caregivers, it’s our job to take over teaching duties once pups are weaned and ready to begin their lives as pets.  In the absence of a mama dog and littermates to do the telling off, it falls to us to teach the puppy that biting hurts and is not an acceptable behavior.

One of the humane ways we help puppies become good pets is by continually redirecting their bitey behavior and encouraging alternatives:  Here, chew this toy instead of me.  Hey, let’s play ball instead of biting my hands.  And so on.  It seems like these redirections are necessary about a million times before the puppy either catches on or finally stops teething.  It’s part of the deal with puppies and certainly anyone in the animal sheltering business knows this.

But when the the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area got an 11 week old Dachshund-Chihuahua puppy named Baby George, they were apparently aghast that he was bitey.  In fact, they decided he was possessed (yeah, by demons) and killed him for his normal puppy behavior.  Then they posted about it on Facebook:

The Facebook post read: “The pup is now free; free from whatever unknown demons were causing the aggression.”

The shelter’s executive director, Billie Zercher, defended the killing to the local news outlet:

[T]he animal did show aggression to our staff members on a couple of occasions. And because of that, we cannot put it up for adoption.”

I’m sorry, what?  An 11 week old puppy showed “aggression”?  Check.  Normal.  Expected.

But let’s be clear:  Any “aggression” displayed by an 11 week old puppy is simply the offering of a behavior which needs to be modified by the humans in charge so the puppy learns it’s not desirable.  It’s not in any way equivalent to an adult dog who has displayed aggression toward people, undergone extensive behavior modification with trained canine behaviorists and tried veterinary drug treatment but still failed to modify the behavior.  Eleven weeks isn’t long enough to determine whether rehabilitative efforts have been successful in an adult dog with human aggression issues.  Baby George had only been ALIVE for eleven weeks, let alone had any chance to modify his normal puppy behavior.  No judge in the country would have deemed Baby George a threat to public safety and ordered his killing.  But the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area – the very agency which should have been protecting him – did.  And blamed it on demons.

Will the real demons please stand up?

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Discussion: Dog Fights Breaking Out in Shelters

A worker at the DeKalb Co Animal Shelter in Georgia was seen on video repeatedly striking a dog with what appears to be a metal bowl.  There were reportedly three dogs in the cage, it was feeding time and a fight had broken out.  Although it’s not shown on the portion of the video released to the media, the worker also reportedly kicked the dog later.

That man, Calvin Battle, 26, was arrested and charged with one count of misdemeanor cruelty to animals.

Police said it was a sergeant in the Animal Cruelty Unit who saw Battle, on video, inside the DeKalb County shelter Wednesday morning repeatedly beat the dog.

Battle worked for LifeLine Animal Project, an organization contracted to manage DeKalb County Animal Services.

Rebecca Guinn, executive director for Lifeline, told the local news that Mr. Battle will be fired.  Police are investigating to determine if he was involved in any additional incidents.  The three dogs in the cage have been taken to a vet for examination.

Anytime multiple dogs are placed in the same cage at a shelter, there is the possibility of fighting.  Shelter environments are extremely stressful for dogs and living in a very small space with other dogs may increase the anxiety level for some individuals.  Feeding is a common catalyst for dog fights.  What should shelter workers do if a fight breaks out?

“They’re supposed to use a hose actually to separate the dogs. They’re supposed to use water, call for help,” Guinn said.

Has anyone ever successfully stopped a dog fight with water?  As far as calling for help, there is clearly another person standing behind Mr. Battle in the video.  What could that person have done to help stop the fight?

Let me be clear:  I am in no way encouraging anyone to beat dogs with metal bowls or any other implement.  I am hoping to have a discussion on how shelter workers can manage dog fights in general and specifically, how this incident involving three dogs and two humans at feeding time could have possibly been handled differently or potentially prevented altogether.  Please weigh in with your thoughts.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Prospect of Killing Fewer Pitbulls Gives Nashville AC the Shakes

Metro Animal Control in Nashville has been killing every Pitbull they touch for 15 years.  Pet advocates have been pushing for reform of this nonsensical excuse for killing and indeed have achieved something.  Kind of a lousy, stinking something but um, yay I guess.

Here’s the deal:  Metro AC has decided to end the policy of killing all dogs deemed “Pitbull” simply because they’ve been labeled that by Some Guy.  It could potentially mean a lot less killing since they take in so many Pitbull type dogs every year.  But apparently they can’t just go cold turkey on the less killing thing – they have to wean themselves off slowly.  So Metro AC has set up a weaning program for their pet killers.  They’re going to kill every Pitbull puppy they get their hands on until June 1.  It’s going to be hard to stop killing Pitbull puppies though so to ease the pain, they’ll keep killing all adult Pitbulls until September.

Come September, they’ll only kill Pitbulls who have “behavioral problems”.  Determining that is about as easy for an ACO as determining which dogs are Pitbulls because:

  1. No dog behaves normally in a pet killing facility and no single behavioral assessment should ever be used as an excuse for killing a dog.
  2. “Pitbull” is not a breed of dog and it is impossible to determine genetics on mixed breed dogs based upon body shape.

So I assume even after they wean off killing everything that looks like a Pitbull just because Some Guy said so, Metro AC will still be killing plenty of Pitbulls just because Some Guy said they look like a Pitbull and have a behavioral problem.  Win?

Here’s your money quote from Metro Animal Services manager Billy Biggs:

“Hopefully it’s going to be a big reduction in euthanasia here. Nobody here likes to euthanize things.”

There is a sweet Pibble type dog – I mean thing – in a red harness wagging her tail off in the video of Metro AC at the link.  I guess they’ll be killing her and all the other dogs shown because they got impounded during the weaning phase.

Nashville, you know the public believes killing dogs based on body shape is wrong.  That’s why you are changing your policy.  Don’t be a bunch of whiny asses who need to wean off killing.  Just stop it.  Today.  Right this second.  You know, since you don’t “like” doing it anyway.  And let that waggy dog in the red harness out of your pet killing facility.

(Thanks Devry for the link.)

Responsibility on the Back of a Milk Carton at CA Pound

Remember when Kern Co pound director Jen Woodard noted in a report that one of the problems in the community is ignorance of “basic pet responsibility” which she attributed to the notion that “much of the community is uninterested in hearing this message”?  Now hear this:  Last week at the Kern Co pound, one dog killed another when they were left together unattended in a cage.  Pairing animals is apparently a common practice at Kern Co:

Woodard says with up to 100 animals coming in each day to the shelter, separate kennels for all is impossible. But, officers evaluate every dog individually before it’s paired with others of comparable size. In this case, Woodard says neither dog had acted aggressively before.

Here is my concern:  With up to 100 animals coming in daily, are officers being given sufficient time to evaluate dogs and are the dogs being given sufficient time to settle in at the pound before being evaluated?  Of equal importance, are the officers trained as behaviorists?  Or are the people doing the evaluating just winging it in between killing puppies with adopters waiting and hiding from the media?

I am all for pairing up pets to save lives if necessary but as with all things, there are ways to do it responsibly and ways that are going to result in dogs being mauled to death in the night.  If Kern Co is pairing up animals responsibly to save lives, it’s not evident to me in this article.  Especially when I read this bit near the end:

Woodard says since no one was there to witness what happened, they’ve scheduled a necropsy on the dog that died.

Way to dodge.  The dog that died reportedly had bloody neck wounds consistent with a dog mauling.  But yeah, maybe he had high cholesterol or aliens experimented on him or something.  Doing the necropsy might have some value, except they already killed the other dog in the cage.  Apparently Kern Co doesn’t require witnesses for that.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

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