The War on Cats: Hawaii Edition

You don’t have to be nationally recognized as a feline behavior expert to know that if you box up a cat, take him to a pet killing facility and leave him surrounded by the smells and sounds of despair and death, the cat is not going to be in the mood to play tea party.  Any cat owner could tell you this.  So one would think that people working in an animal shelter would know this fo shizzle.  And yet DOT DOT DOT.

A good Samaritan named Alexis Boyett took in a stray cat, named her Pesh, fed, tamed, played with and loved her for six months and had her spayed.  When Ms. Boyett felt Pesh was ready for a permanent home, she called the Hawaii Island Humane Society in Keaau to inquire about surrendering a cat for adoption. She felt reassured after speaking with shelter staff and made the very difficult decision to take Pesh to the shelter so she could get the permanent home she deserved.

Ms. Boyett says she made it “very clear” to shelter staff that there was no way she wanted Pesh to be killed. If killing became a consideration, she told them to call her and she would pick Pesh up. She tearfully said goodbye, leaving Pesh’s favorite toys with her, believing Pesh would be sheltered.

Shortly after Ms. Boyett left, staff at the Hawaii Island Humane Society killed Pesh. No one bothered to call Ms. Boyett. In fact, it was she who called the shelter the next day to find out how Pesh was doing only to find out the cat was dead. She was given no reason for the killing. Then the local paper got involved:

In a statement to the Tribune-Herald, HIHS Executive Director Donna Whitaker said Pesh’s “behavior did not meet socialization standards.”

HIHS evaluates and tests arriving animals “as soon as possible,” Whitaker said in the statement, and feral cats and “cats that are not socialized” are euthanized “as soon as practicable,” contingent on staff availability.

So basically, despite all standards of care and common sense, the Hawaii Island Humane Society forces newly impounded, scared cats out of their cages as soon as a cat death sentencer becomes available, requires the cats to play tea party and when they don’t, kills them as soon as a cat killer becomes available.  And going by the stats, a cat killer seems to be available pretty regularly:

Statistics show HIHS, an open-admission shelter that accepts all animals regardless of breed, age or other factors, euthanized about 80 percent of its 6,568 cats in 2015.

But(t):

[A]t least 75 percent were feral or “unhealthy,” the society reports[.]

Like Pesh, I guess.

The Hawaii Island Humane Society holds a nearly $2 million AC contract with the county.  That contract reportedly does not specify any holding period.  So it’s a pretty sweet get cat/deem feral/kill/collect $2 million scam they got going there.  I wonder how the local taxpayers enjoy being defrauded by this “humane society”.

Speaking of which, the newspaper reached out to Inga Gibson, Hawaii state director of the Humane Society of the United States, one of the major players trying to reduce/eliminate holding periods for shelter cats nationwide:

She thinks Boyett’s incident could be a learning opportunity and a chance to make changes.

“We need public trust and confidence in the local shelters,” Gibson said. “So we encourage shelters to always be evaluating and reevaluating their policy or protocols. Regardless of the details, should something have been done different to prevent this?

Just to be clear, the “details” of this case, which Gibson so readily dismisses, involve the needless killing of a loved cat who had a safe place to go. But yeah, let’s have a beer summit and discuss whether something should have been done differently. Because I mean, the place is killing 80% of its cats as quickly as they can get them from the front door to the kill room so you know, it’s a head-scratcher.

And while yammering rhetorical, Gibson takes time to spank the good Samaritan:

And Boyett relinquished her legal rights to Pesh when she surrendered her, Gibson said.

“It’s standard practice. When someone surrenders, they won’t be contacted,” she said. “That’s why (surrendering) is a pretty serious decision.”

Yeah I hate the way that lady took in a stray cat even though she couldn’t keep her long term, got her spayed, took care of her and taught her that human beings are nice then flippantly made a call to the shelter to verify the cat would be put up for adoption, packed up her toys and brought her to a place she thought was a safe haven so she could find a permanent home. Only a terribly insincere person would do all those things.  Thanks for pointing that out, HSUS.

(Thanks Anne for posting this link in the Open Thread.)

Nobody Wants These Animals: NYC Edition

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

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

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

promise

Promise, as shown in a video posted on Facebook.

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

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

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

[…]

RIP Promise. We loved you already.

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

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

(Thanks Nathan.)

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.)

Merry Christmas!

Celebrating the human-animal bond with photos and captions submitted by readers:

xmas anne s

This is a photo of my daughters and our pit bull Trixie, having a sleepover in the living room. Trixie was a stray living in a vacant lot. Wiley, she was able to evade all efforts to capture her until she spotted my husband with the word “sucker” written across his forehead and trotted right on up to him. And that’s how we got a third dog. – Anne S.

xmas amd.JPG

This is of happier times. Left to right Kathryn with Roxie, Paul with Sidewinder, Shane with Paige (daughter) and Beethoven. – Anne Marie

xmas lisa

Lisa and Sir Digby Chicken Caesar. Digby came from the Rowan County, NC, pound. He’s the kind of impulsive, over-exuberant dog who jumps all over potential adopters and gets labeled a “behavior problem” at many pounds. Fortunately for Digby, he ended up jumping on the right person, and now he’s in training to be an agility and flyball dog. – Lisa

xmas cr

A girl and her dog. R.I.P., Rosie, May 8, 2002-March 23, 2015. A very good dog. – Claire

xmas leslie

Gladys, a 15-year-old deaf cat owner-surrendered to the shelter, embracing my arm shortly after joining my family in August. Any time I pet her, she grabs my arm like this. – Leslie in San Lorenzo, CA

xmas susanne

Harry whom I rescued from certain death at Worcester County Animal Control, is the most lovable and dignified soul. He loves to snuggle and be carried around in a sling while you do chores. I love him so much. – Susanne

xmas susanne2

My son Zak and my rescued pit bull type dog Jenny. I pulled Jenny from animal control where I vol to save her from being killed in July 2011. I intended to foster her but failed as a foster and adopted her myself. She is one of the loves of my life! – Susanne

xmas jenn

Here is a photo of me saying “see ya later!” to a shelter dog on his way to a rescue foster home. I put out a call for help (as a shelter volunteer) for this little guy, now named Rocco, as he was getting overlooked at the shelter and his spirit was dying. Rocco was adopted by his foster family because he immediately deeply bonded with the husband. They adore him and send me pictures of him often. I love this picture of us! – Jenn

xmas stacey

SPCA of Brazoria County (Texas) shelter employee Sam feeding an orphaned kitten. – Stacey

xmas bobbie

This is Justus, a would be Black and Tan Coonhound, probably Doberman mix, and I think he has Poodle in there somewhere. When his rescue didn’t want to keep him because he wasn’t a B&T, I adopted him at cost. He is my traveling companion and my big bud. He is a “Whineramer,” because he whines, and a Guy Magnet, because when my girlfriend kept him while I was in the store, 4 guys came up to see him…..Justus also still considers himself a lap dog. In this photo, he is lending support to my back. – Roberta

xmas eu

Bertie Woofster & Eucritta in Northern California.

xmas jane

This photo is of my son, Zach with former foster dog Milkshake. – Jane

xmas karen

Vera at her nursery in Seattle with Bruce. – Karen F.

xmas danielle

Sometimes Indy insists on holding hands when we snuggle. – Danielle S, GA.

Thank you to everyone who sent in these truly lovely photos for this post. And thank you to all my readers for sharing part of your day here all year long. I appreciate you and everything you do to help animals in need. Pets are family.

PETA Can Shove Its Fruit Basket Up Its Walk-In Dead Pet Freezer


When PETA got caught on surveillance camera trying – and failing – to lure an owned Chihuahua named Maya off her porch last year, ultimately stealing and killing the beloved pet, the group sent the cranks back to the scene of the crime.  They knocked on the door, told the family they had killed their dog and gave them a fruit basket.

As it turns out, the heartbroken owners didn’t feel PETA’s basket of crazy was fair compensation for killing a member of their family.  Wilber Zarate and his daughter Cynthia are now suing PETA and the two screwballs, seeking more than $9 million:

Cynthia was distraught after Maya was killed, Zarate said of his daughter in the lawsuit.

“She cried for weeks, became lethargic, lost sleep, refrained from eating and lost weight,” he said. “Maya was irreplaceable.”

Apparently a fruit basket did not make it all better.  So weird.

Before anyone has a sad because PETA may have to cough up $9 million, let’s remember that PETA collects that amount many times over every year from donors.  Some donors are probably honestly duped into believing the group does the opposite of things like operating a pet slaughterhouse, others are willfully ignorant but eager to congratulate themselves on their charitable giving.  I tend to toss celebrities with deep pockets and small brains into that latter category.

The money won’t be a problem for PETA.  The lawsuit, and the media attention it will hopefully attract, will be.  Look how many people had their eyes opened by the press coverage of PETA’s 2007 Piggly Wiggly dumpster trial.  Any opportunity to shine a light on PETA’s pet killing is worthwhile.  Nothing can bring Maya back, but by suing for such a large sum of money, her family is sending a clear message bound to garner widespread attention:  Pets are family.  PETA kills pets.

(Thanks Laura.)

A Sense of Belonging

Some of you may remember the story of a Boston man who was walking his dog in January when he was struck by a school bus.  The dog was killed and the man was seriously injured.  Many people were touched by the tragedy and the students on the bus were met by counselors when they finally arrived at school that day.

Today, the Boston Globe reported the rest of the story including background on the man, Jeff Schwartz, his dog Buddy, and the numerous obstacles Jeff has faced since losing his leg in the accident.  You might be tempted to skip the article for fear of it being too depressing but I would encourage everyone to read it.  It is a harrowing tale to be sure but it is peppered throughout with inspiration and hope, revolving around the special bond we share with our pets.

Pets are so many things to us.  Pets are our motivation to battle adversity, our source of comfort, and our sense of home.  When Jeff awoke from his month-long coma, he was unable to speak but could hold a pen, although writing was difficult.  He wrote down two questions for his wife who was at his bedside:

Where do we live, and did Buddy survive?

In that moment, Jeff’s sense of home was so limited that he could not even remember where he lived.  But he remembered Buddy.  Perhaps it was because memories can be dodgy in patients who awake from a coma but possibly there was something more at play:  a house is a physical structure which keeps the wind off, a pet is part of your identity.  A missing limb can be inquired about later.  Pets are family.  We belong.

Due to the physical limitations and setbacks which occurred during Jeff’s lengthy recovery, he was unable to care for a new dog as soon as he wanted one.  Amidst progress and despite the challenges, he and his wife recently decided to go ahead and adopt a dog from an area rescue which pulls pets from southern pounds.  Her name is Mandy.  Jeff has a walking partner again.  And so much more.

Mandy is reportedly shy and doesn’t like most men.  She would make a likely candidate for killing at many pounds based on those traits alone.  Or she might have been killed for space or because her mandatory holding period had expired or any other arbitrary reason.  But it is Mandy’s natural birthright to live.  And it was her destiny to help provide a sense of identity to Jeff.

For anyone working in a so-called shelter to violate Mandy’s right to live and rob her of her destiny should be a crime.  Instead it’s standard operating procedure at far too many public facilities.  That needs to change.  Lives are at risk – precious lives of all varieties interwoven with one another.  The fact that these needless killings are happening by the millions each year diminishes our collective identity.  The sense of loss is palpable.  What is needed though, in spite of the horror, is for it to be motivational too.  Start here.

Lost, Microchipped Pets – Emphasis on LOST

In theory, microchipping your pet is an excellent way to help get him back home should he ever get lost.  In reality, microchips are useless if the organization taking in lost pets doesn’t scan for them or contact the registered owner (and the alternate contacts, if necessary).  There have been a spate of stories recently involving microchipped lost pets being found and the owner not being contacted.

A Pennsylvania family who left their microchipped German shepherd Sophie with a relative while they went on vacation this month only found out she had gotten lost on July 4th after they returned home on the 13th.  They immediately called the HS of Westmoreland Co and learned their pet had been impounded on July 6 and adopted to a new owner six days later.  The HS says it tried to reach the registered owner (whom the family obtained the dog from) listed on Sophie’s microchip but the voicemail at that number was not set up.  After the 48 hour holding period elapsed, they offered the dog for adoption.  The original owner disputes the shelter’s claim about her voicemail.

Either way, if a chip’s first phone number doesn’t yield results, there are always the alternate contacts as well as registered mail and good old knocking on door.  But I guess that sounds like work.  The HS claims the adoption is legal and that the family never legally owned Sophie anyway because they hadn’t licensed her.  So stuff it, basically.

***

In Sonoma Co, CA, a lawsuit has been filed by the original owner of a 10 year old tuxedo cat who was microchipped at the time he went missing several years ago.  The current owner, who says she bought the cat 5 years ago from a rescuer she met through her veterinarian, only found out the cat was chipped last year when she took him to a new vet who scanned him.  She attempted to register the chip in her own name, prompting the chip company to contact the original owner.  The original owner says she bottle fed the kitten from birth, searched for him extensively when he got lost and still wants him back.  The current owner loves him too and doesn’t want to give him up.

Had either the rescuer or the first vet scanned the cat at the time he was found, he could have been returned to the original owner.  Now two people are heartbroken over the matter and a cat is caught in the middle.

***

The city of Alton, IL recently eliminated funding for its ACO position, turning those duties over to police.  This week, Alton police responded to a call about an injured dog in a store parking lot.  The 15 year old dog, called Buster, had wandered away from home and apparently hurt his rear leg.  His owner had filed a missing pet report with the police department including a description of Buster and his microchip information.

A witness says she saw police coax him into their car with bologna.  State law requires the officers to take the dog to a vet’s office to be scanned for a microchip.  Once the chip’s information had been read, the owner could have been contacted.  Instead, the officers reportedly drove the dog to the AC facility where one shot him twice with a .12 gauge shotgun and the other put two bullets from his .40 caliber Glock 23 into the pet.  After Buster was dead, a chip scan provided his owner’s information and the owner was notified of his pet’s killing.  Oh and the police love animals:

“We know what our protocol has been up to this point,” said Emily Hejna, public information officer for the Alton Police Department. “We were presented yesterday with some law saying something that might contradict what what we have been using as practice.”

Rather than task the police department with figuring out how to work compliance with some law into their protocol, the city voted to reinstate the ACO.  Hopefully the ACO has – and uses – a chip scanner.  While animals are still alive.

***

(Thanks to everyone who sent me links for this post.)

Shelter Sold Owned, Microchipped Lost Dog to Strangers While Owner Searched

Jingle and Toby, a pair of Schnauzers owned by Anita Sloan in Bedford, Texas, wandered away when someone accidentally left a gate open at the family’s home.  Ms. Sloan raised the pair from pups and considers them family.  She began searching for them immediately, hoping the microchip she had implanted in Jingle would help the family get reunited.

Ms. Sloan visited Bedford Animal Services but did not find her pets.  She was given a lengthy list of shelters to search.  She dutifully visited each one although there was some confusion about the two shelters in Keller:

Sloan explains she visited all but one shelter in Keller. The number printed for the shelter on the list she has, got her nowhere.

“The person you are trying to reach is not available,” a recording says when she dials the number.

The city apparently has two shelters:  Keller Animal Services and Keller Regional Adoption Center.  As it turns out, Jingle and Toby had been picked up by police and left at Keller Animal Services.  The city says it checked both dogs for chips but found none.  After the mandatory holding period, the dogs were transferred to the Keller Regional Adoption Center which is run by the HS of North Texas.  Staff there did detect Jingle’s chip but sold the dogs to a new owner anyway.  Because it’s not their job to return dogs to owners:

“At that particular facility we don’t handle lost and found animals. We just handle adoptions,” says Whitney Hanson, Director of Development & Communications.

Hanson explains that the facility would have only been looking at finding homes for the pets since Keller Animal Services had already processed the animals.

[…]

The Humane Society of North Texas says there is no existing system that allows all municipalities to communicate.

There is no existing system which allows all municipalities to communicate.  Fair enough.  But the HS knew Jingle was chipped.  Finding that chip should have prompted the HS to check the transfer paperwork and see if Keller Animal Services had followed up on the chip and what the outcome was.  The HS had an obligation to verify that the chip was a dead end before proceeding.  A statewide communication system is not required for that – just a phone call or email to Keller Animal Services to ask about the chip’s status.

And while it may not be the Humane Society’s job to return animals to their owners, common sense would dictate that a pair of schnauzers, typically a professionally groomed breed purchased from a breeder, aren’t walking the streets because they are homeless and just happened to meet each other in an alley and decided to pal around.  There would be every reason to suspect Jingle and Toby were owned, likely by the person who registered the chip, whom the HS never bothered to call.

Jingle and Toby are now living with people in Houston.  The HS of North Texas says that “according to Texas law, the schnauzers are the legal property of their new owners”.  The situation has been explained to the new owners and Ms. Sloan has offered to reimburse them for any expenses if they would return her family members.  They are reportedly considering what to do with the dogs.

Keller Animal Services failed to detect a lost dog’s microchip.  The HS of Texas detected the chip but made no effort to find out if Keller Animal Services had attempted to reach the registered owner.  The city says no one is at fault.  The situation looks bad.  It looks like the first shelter is either incompetent or lying and the second shelter is a money-grubbing doggie retail outfit where no one could be bothered to slow down in the rush to sell a bonded pair of little purebred dogs.

It’s 2015, Keller.  Time to step outside the Only This Thing is My Job and I Do Only This Thing box.  You may not have a statewide shelter communication system but I’m guessing there is such a thing as phone service in Keller.  Shame on everyone involved in the needless break up of this family because apparently no one at either shelter knows what the right thing to do is when it comes to pets.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Discussion: How Have Pets Helped Make Your Community Better?

SnoopyA recently published study in Australia found that pets help connect people within communities:

“We found that people who had a pet were more likely, than those who didn’t own a pet, to get to know people in their neighbourhood that they didn’t know before,” says [Associate Professor Lisa Wood from the University of Western Australia’s School of Population Health], adding that people from all walks of life were brought together.

“The great thing about pets is they are a really great leveller.”

And it went beyond pets breaking the ice and leading to a simple wave or a chat.

“Having a pet can actually lead to more meaningful relationships between people,” says Wood.

She and colleagues found 42 per cent of pet owners received practical or emotional support from others they had met through their pets.

And a more tightly knit community benefits everyone:

If you’ve got a street where dog owners help each other, they may be more likely to keep an eye on others in the street as well, whether they own pets or not, says Wood.

“There seems to be a ripple effect.”

What are your experiences?  Have you received support from someone in your community whom you met via a pet?  Do you perceive a ripple effect within your community stemming from relationships established via pets?  What other community benefits have you observed which you believe originated from the presence of pets?  Does your local shelter maintain a strong presence in the community in order to protect and promote animal welfare and the subsequent benefits to people?

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