St Johns Co Kills Lost, Microchipped Service Dog Without Contacting Owners

In December 2014, St Johns Co Department of Animal Control in Florida reports on its website that the facility took in 322 animals, killing 225 of them. Here are a couple of screengrabs from the full report:
stjohnsco intakesstjohnsco outcomes

Babygirl, as shown on actionnewsjax.com.

Baby Girl, as shown on actionnewsjax.com.

One of those killed that month was a lost, microchipped pet named Baby Girl whose owners were looking for her.  When Baby Girl’s owners went out of state, they left her in the care of a friend but the dog became lost and was taken to St Johns Co AC.  JoAnn and Brian Williams went door-to-door, searching for their dog.  Baby Girl was a registered service dog who helped the couple by alerting prior to seizures and providing comfort during episodes of bipolar disorder.  When they found out Baby Girl had been at the county pound, they called and were told that pound workers had killed her:

Brian Williams said their dog had a microchip inside of her but said they were never contacted by animal control.

“They said evidently our chip machine wasn’t working that day, like ‘oh my bad, we killed your dog!’” Brian Williams said.

Action News went to Animal Control for answers but we were turned away and told to contact county spokesperson Michael Ryan regarding this issue.

Mr. Ryan issued a statement indicating Baby Girl had “no identification” and which concludes:

After being housed for three additional days past the standard holding period, the dog was euthanized in accordance with county ordinance. While the loss of any pet is tragic, facility space limitations prevent us from housing stray animals indefinitely, and unfortunately we were not notified of the missing dog until 34 days after an animal with similar characteristics was received.

So “no identification”, because microchips only count when AC can use them to blame the owner for failing to have them on their lost pets, and the owners took too long to find out where their pet had been taken so they must be horrible people and oh yeah, the county kept the dog alive for 3 days longer than it legally had to so obviously sainthood is imminent.

The family asked for Baby Girl’s body and collar but have received neither.  They were told the remains were hauled to a Georgia landfill along with a truckload of other pets killed by the county.

Action News reached out to county officials, who said, “The body was disposed of according to county policy and procedure.”

Everything is legal therefore it must be all good.  No need to explain how or why the microchip was missed or offer an apology for killing a beloved pet and service dog or figure out how to prevent killing other owned pets in future.  Just hide and refer all questions to the county Procedures Were Followed guy.  No one in St Johns Co need lose any sleep over the fact that its procedures led to the needless killing of a family member.  Procedures=good.  Everything else, up to and including county employees failing to do their jobs=meh.  Evidently the chip machine that detects humanity in parts per million isn’t working in St Johns Co either since it hasn’t beeped in years.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

SC Pound Kills Microchipped Lost Dog Without Contacting Owner

Mocha, as shown on the WBTV website.

Mocha, as shown on the WBTV website.

On New Year’s Eve, a 10 year old chocolate Lab called Mocha got lost in York Co, SC.  Her family searched for her for 2 days, calling AC numerous times and posting fliers in the area.  A York Co pound worker finally told owner Mike Cunningham that Mocha had been brought in on December 31 and killed due to severe injury.  The county says Mocha had been hit by a car, “was barely breathing and was euthanized on the recommendation of a veterinarian.”

The Good Sam who found Mocha on New Year’s Eve painted a rather different picture, telling the owner Mocha did not appear to be seriously hurt and just had a “spot” on her hip:

“To listen to a story of a man that I don’t know tell me that he picked my dog up and he pet my dog and my dog was moving her head and was responsive. And then to be told that she was squashed like a grape. I find it hard to believe that there could be that big of an inconsistency in stories,” Cunningham said.

Even if we were to set aside the differing stories and the failure of the pound to tell the owner what they had done with his dog the first several times he called, Mr. Cunningham says Mocha was wearing a collar with identification and was microchipped.  So why didn’t York Co AC contact him?  On top of all this, Mr. Cunningham requested Mocha’s remains and was given a cardboard box filled with ashes of all the dogs the pound had killed and cremated at the same time they did Mocha.

Had the county done its job and contacted the owner off the ID tag or the microchip when she was brought in, the owner could have taken Mocha for veterinary treatment.  Had the county at least contacted the owner immediately after killing Mocha, the owner could have gotten the dog’s remains back and seen the extent of the injuries himself or had a necropsy performed by a vet. Failing both of these, had the county admitted to Mr. Cunningham they had killed Mocha when he first called, it’s still possible he could have obtained his pet’s remains.

Now I’m wondering about the other ashes in that cardboard box.  Were any of those pets owned and loved, wearing ID and microchipped when York Co killed them?  Are their owners still searching for them?  How long has this been going on in York Co?

York Co says it will investigate itself in the matter.  The owner says he plans to sue.  I hope he does.  There is no excuse.

(Thanks Clarice and Arlene for sending me this story.)

UPDATED: Oklahoma ACO Lies to Owner about Fate of Missing Dog

Major, as shown on the KSWO website.

Major, as shown on the KSWO website.

A 10 year old German shorthaired pointer got lost in Elgin, OK last month.  While searching for her pet, owner Teri Bartosovsky received a response via social media from someone who said she had found Major and taken him to the local ACO’s home.  Ms. Bartosovsky contacted the ACO, Daniel Linthicum, about getting her dog back:

When first confronted by the dog’s owner, the animal control officer said he never had the dog. After being pressed further, he admitted the dog was taken to the shelter, but that he had escaped or was stolen. It turns out that was a lie too.

Ms. Bartosovsky grew suspicious at the changing stories and felt the ACO knew where Major was but was keeping that information from her.

“I told him if my dog was dead, he needed to tell me that,” said Bartosovsky.

She says Linthicum told her that her dog Major wasn’t dead, and that he was making it a priority to find him.

Ms. Bartosovsky decided to go the Elgin pound herself on Christmas Eve.  Outside, she found a pit filled with dead squirrels and other animals, empty kibble bags and a number of black plastic trash bags.  It disturbed her and she couldn’t stop thinking about the pit, even while on her family’s vacation.  The family decided to come home early in order to look inside the trash bags in the pit.  That’s when they discovered the remains of their pet, covered in bloody wounds.

The ACO then came up with another story:  that Major had been brought to the shelter too weak to walk, left in a kennel, and found dead the next day – the victim of an attack by a pitbull.  The ACO says he lied to the owner in order to spare her the knowledge of her pet’s violent end.

The story didn’t add up to Ms. Bartosovsky.  Although Major’s body was torn up, he had no wounds on his neck and his ears appeared to have been cut off, not torn as if by an attacking dog.  She has sent Major’s remains to a vet school for a necropsy, hoping to get more information.

For the time being, Bartosovsky says Linthicum’s lies are inexcusable and that he needs to be removed from his position, and may get her wish. Linthicum says after this incident, he plans to step down from the job after he was made out to be a monster.

A couple of basic questions I think need to be answered are whether the finder who took Major to the ACO verifies that the dog was too weak to walk and how the alleged attacking dog was able to access a dog in such a state at the pound.  If the ACO isn’t taking reasonable steps to at least protect defenseless dogs from further harm while at the pound, what other basic protections might he be neglecting?  How many other owners of lost pets have been lied to in order to spare their feelings?  Is the case being investigated for possible criminal wrongdoing?  Because it’s incredibly hard to imagine a private citizen offering up these various lies over a dead dog covered in blood and being allowed to walk away.

KSWO reports that the ACO has not resigned but is not currently working.  The next city hall meeting is scheduled for January 13 and the pound is on the agenda.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

UPDATE, added January 7:  The city of Elgin has closed the pound.  The Department of Environmental Quality has ordered the dead animal/trash pit to be emptied and not used again.  The city is going to look for a new ACO.  The current ACO’s contract is “on hold”.  The pitbull who allegedly attacked and killed Major got in through a hole in the fence.  The article references “broken fencing surrounding each kennel” which is to be repaired.  There are still 3 dogs at the pound but the city is working on getting them into homes.  No more animals will be brought in until the city gets the situation sorted.  Zero on the criminal investigation front.  Because I guess you know, it’s just a pit of dead animals, a rogue mystery pitbull who specializes in sneak attacks under cover of darkness, a lying city employee and whatever.  Prolly everything’s fine legal-wise.

I love that no one in the city was aware of what the hell was going on at this place until a citizen dove into the pit to find her lost pet and the news did a story on it.  Well done, Elgin.

(Thanks Clarice for the update link.)

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.)

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.

(Red font added for emphasis.)

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.)

Lapeer Co Pound Sells Family’s Purebred Dog “to the Highest Bidder”

Daisy, as pictured on the WNEM website.

Daisy, as pictured on the WNEM website.

Too many animal shelters seem to be engaged in a war against pet owners – insistent upon breaking families apart while demanding to be called “compassionate” and “humane” by critics.

Like many pet owners, Steve and Kathy Foster of Lapeer Co, MI consider their dogs family.  They have pictures of their dogs on the family portrait wall in their home.  And when they found a stray border collie in rough shape last month, they were willing to help.

The Fosters took the dog, whom they named Daisy, to the vet to get her the care she needed, including vaccinations and spay surgery.  But then Daisy got lost.  The Fosters searched the area, called neighbors and local vets and posted about Daisy on social media in an effort to find her.  After a week, they learned Daisy had been impounded by Lapeer Co Animal Control.  Kathy Foster called the pound and asked what she needed to do in order to redeem her dog:

She said she was told she had to pay $180 and she didn’t have much time. That’s because the shelter had two people ready to adopt Daisy.

Having just paid the vet $420 to fix Daisy up, the Fosters didn’t immediately have $180 to bail her out of the pound:

“I said I don’t have $180 right now. And she said well that’s the only way you can get her back,” said Kathy Foster.

Lapeer Co AC reportedly sold Daisy just minutes after Kathy Foster called and said she didn’t have the cash. Local news station WNEM asked the Lapeer Co pound director why Daisy wasn’t allowed to return to her family. The director cast blame on the Fosters, indicating they were at fault for failing to report the stray dog and failing to immediately license her. And steel yourself, because this next part is jarring:

TV5 spoke to Carla Frantz, the Lapeer County Animal Control chief, over the phone on Monday evening. She said the dog exhausted the county’s four day stray hold policy, and once it does that, it becomes county property. Because the Foster’s could not come up with the money, Daisy, who now goes by the name Bella, was adopted out to the highest bidder.

It sounds like the Lapeer Co pound saw dollar signs when they looked at freshly vetted, purebred Daisy. And they were so eager to collect those dollars, they wasted no time selling her “to the highest bidder” when they got the call that Daisy’s family couldn’t immediately pay the ransom.

The Fosters are heartbroken and want the pound to change its policy about breaking up families for profit. It’s too late for their family, but they hope to spare another family the same pain in future.

The Lapeer Co pound killed roughly half its animals last year. The state of Michigan does not require them to disclose how many families they broke up while auctioning owned pets so that number is unknown. But this year, we know it’s at least one.  Oh and remember – don’t criticize, it’s a hard job and we all want the same thing and DOMFL.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Philly Pound Oops-Kills Microchipped Lost Dog Whose Owner Filled Out Lost Dog Report

When Cailin Mulvihill’s 15 year old microchipped chihuahua named Rhonda accidentally wandered out of her yard, she immediately began searching for her.  She put up flyers around the neighborhood and went to the Philadelphia Animal Care & Control Team where she filled out a lost dog report.  One day later, a Good Samaritan saw Ms. Mulvihill’s flyer and called her with good news:  Rhonda had been found just a block from home and taken to the pound.  Ms. Mulvihill immediately went to reclaim her pet but the pound had killed her upon intake.  Oops.

The devastated woman asked for an explanation from ACCT’s staff, who initially told her they had scanned Rhonda’s microchip but it didn’t work, Mulvihill explained.

Ms. Mulvihill didn’t buy it. She drove Rhonda’s body to her veterinarian, Dr. Judith Tamas, where the pet was scanned three times and the chip was located three times. (There is a video of Rhonda’s body being scanned at the link but her face is not shown.)  So the pound staff had lied.

“This is the worst kind of negligence [and] laziness,” Dr. Tamas said.

I was thinking that too but pound director Sue Cosby seems to be of the mind that the
rush to kill Rhonda was a kindness:

“I believe the expediency was based on concern for the condition of the dog. It was not callous,” says Cosby, “but policy was overlooked.”

Policy being to scan every animal for a microchip – twice. Staff failed to scan Rhonda even once in their rush to kindness her. Then they lied about it to the owner in an effort to cover up their wrongdoing. I never thought “expediency” could be made to sound so creepy.

Rhonda’s vet said her health was that of a typical elderly dog and that she suffered from sporadic seizures – something which could have been quickly clarified by the pound staff had they done their jobs and gotten the owner’s contact info off the chip. Or failing that, checked their own lost dog reports to find the owner’s info. Or you know – kill, lie, whatever.

After admitting the error, the ACCT put the staff member responsible for the euthanization on unpaid leave while the agency decides what steps to take next, Cosby said.

Maybe a roundtable discussion on expediency and the value of life? Just a suggestion.

The director is refusing to release the name of the employee. But we should just take her word that there is someone on unpaid leave and the pound is taking this seriously, I guess.

Meanwhile Ms. Mulvihill grieves for the loss of her family member and gave the local NBC affiliate a message for her beloved pet:

“I love you Rhonda and you are perfect in every way.”

We have tragically seen callous pound workers fail to protect the lost pets in their care and kill them instead of returning them to their owners countless times. Often, they blame the owners for failing to microchip their pets. Except when they kill chipped pets like Rhonda, in which case – uh, lie.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

TZI Recommends Shelter Should Not Let You Have Your Lost Cat Back

Cleo, a feral cat who has been vaccinated and neutered, and whose caregiver loves her.  (Photo by Casey Post)

Cleo, a feral cat who has been vaccinated and neutered, and whose caregiver loves her. (Photo by Casey Post)

In August 2013, the Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine Program issued a summary of recommendations to the Hillsborough Co pound in FL following a consultation.  The recommendation regarding stray cats was particularly troubling to me since it threatened the bond between people and their lost pets.  From the report:

Eliminate the required hold period for stray cats. Stray cats lacking identification are extremely unlikely to be reclaimed by owners and are at high risk for shelter – acquired disease and euthanasia. Eliminating even a few days in the shelter may be the difference between life and death for them. The shelter can simultaneously have an option for immediate live release paired with a required hold period of 3 days prior to euthanasia.

Not only is Maddie’s Fund failing to attribute a low return to owner rate to its proper source – the pound, it fails to acknowledge one of the primary purposes of municipal shelters:  to reunite lost pets with their owners.

The No Kill Advocacy Center weighed in on the elimination of stray holding periods when HSUS suggested it in its 2013 white paper on California shelters:

[I]f a dog or cat comes in as a stray, and he does not have identification, he can be adopted to someone else immediately without giving his family any time to reclaim him. This is unfair to families who deeply love their animal companions. […] Accidents happen; animals get lost and end up at shelters. Since the choice presented — immediate adoption or sickness/death — is a false one, breaking up families by having them lose all rights in their animal with no reclaim period of any kind appears draconian.

I am deeply opposed to the elimination of holding periods for any pet whose owner might be looking for him. It’s the shelter’s job to treat the bond between pets and their people as sacrosanct. Which is why I was shocked to read that the Target Zero Institute, in its recommendations to the troubled Amarillo pound in TX, has taken the travesty even further. TZI not only recommends eliminating the holding period for stray cats lacking identification but for all cats found outside – including friendly, possibly microchipped pets who may be wearing collars and/or tags and whose owners are searching for them:

The TZI recommends returning outside cats back to their original neighborhoods following sterilization, rabies vaccination and ear tipping. […]TZI recommends returning cats to their ‘outside home’ where they have a food source as evidenced by a healthy body weight. These may be feral cats that cannot be handled or friendly cats found outside.

If Amarillo, or any other municipal shelter, adopts TZI’s barbaric recommendation regarding cats found outdoors, your pet could be turned into the shelter by a cat hating neighbor or anyone at all, or he could simply be trapped by an ACO and, so long as he appears to be “visually healthy”, he would be immediately vaccinated, neutered, ear-tipped and put back on the street. This would happen as a matter of policy – even if you were actively searching for your pet, even if you had microchipped him and even if you had placed a collar and an ID tag on him. If he’s found outside, TZI wants him immediately anesthetized, put through surgery and turned loose in the area where he had gotten lost (or presumably where the cat hating neighbor says he was found).

TZI says in its report that this practice will save money by reducing the number of cats who “have to be cared for, fed and ultimately [killed] in large numbers” at the pound.

No cats “have to be” killed.  Full stop.  If you don’t get that, get out of the shelter consulting business.

All cats impounded by shelters should be immediately – in the field whenever possible – scanned for microchips and checked for ID tags.  No exceptions.  A chip or ID tag should equate with a free ride home from the ACO.  Those cats lacking identification should be photographed and posted online by the facility immediately.  Anyone visiting the shelter looking for a lost pet should be shown every pet in the place as a matter of course.  Reuniting families is part of the job.  It seems to me to be one of the best parts, by the way, and I can’t imagine why anyone who supposedly cares about shelter pets would want to eliminate it.

Now that Maddie’s Fund and HSUS have opened this awful door and TZI has barreled through it with a bulldozer, I can’t help but wonder what’s next.  Will some consultant recommend that shelters stop housing all dogs found outdoors too?  Gee but we can’t turn dogs back out onto the streets, can we?  So what will “have to be” done with them?

I’m not a shelter consultant, just someone who loves pets and believes dogs and cats have a right to live, regardless of their status in the community.  I don’t get paid for my ideas nor do I have any big money backing me behind the scenes.  Here’s my unsolicited recommendation to shelters and their staff, for what it’s worth:  Do your jobs.  Stop looking for ways to avoid the hard work of sheltering by bringing in big money consultants.  You are accountable to the local taxpayers who pay your salaries and who love their pets.  Start acting like it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Greenville Co Illegally Kills Lost Dog Whose Owner Wanted Him Back

Kalel (Photo by Mandi Nalley)

Kalel (Photo by Mandi Nalley)

Kalel was a five year old Siberian Husky whom owner Mandi Nalley describes as “my heart, my son”. Kalel was temporarily living with a trainer in the Greenville Co, SC area in July 2014 when he became lost. On July 30, the trainer notified Ms. Nalley that Kalel was missing. She immediately filled out a lost pet report on the Greenville Co pound’s website and included photos. The next morning, she received an e-mail from someone affiliated with the pound that Kalel had been impounded on July 24 and instructing her to bring in proof of ownership, a leash and $85 in order to reclaim him.

Ms. Nalley went to the pound but did not see Kalel. She asked an employee at the desk to look up the dog’s ID number. The employee advised her Kalel had been killed 2 days ago due to heartworms and a leg injury. Ms. Nalley burst into tears and was unable to compose herself for further conversation so she left. She asked a friend to go in and retrieve Kalel’s body. Upon arrival, the friend says she was told Kalel was alive. Then the director came out and explained that not only was the dog not alive, his body had already been sent to the landfill. And that he’d been killed for aggression.

Greenville Co pound records obtained via FOIA request indicate Kalel was impounded on July 24 and killed on July 29 for “heartworm positive/aggression/space”. The behavioral section of his profile is blank. There are no records indicating his temperament was ever evaluated. There is one handwritten note on his records that reads: “Have to be muzzled to touch mouth or do medical. Otherwise he’s good.” The supposedly injured leg was x-rayed and found to be sound, aside from some inflammation which was treated with medication.

Kalel (Photo by Mandi Nalley)

Kalel (Photo by Mandi Nalley)

Because too many so-called shelters were ignoring the state law regarding the mandatory holding period for strays, the attorney general’s office for the state of SC issued a clarification for all municipal facilities accepting stray animals. In the November 2013 release, the AG’s office clearly states that stray animals must be held for five days. In calculating the five days, the day of impound must be excluded, as must weekends and holidays.

Kalel was impounded on Thursday, July 24. Day One of his five day hold was July 25. Day Two was Monday, July 28. On Day Three of his five day hold, Greenville Co killed him. When his owner came to reclaim him on July 31, he was still within his five day holding period. Greenville Co appears to have violated state law by killing Kalel before his mandated holding period expired.

The letter from the state AG’s office seems perfectly clear. And yet public shelters such as Greenville Co continue to kill at will, disregarding the law and tearing families apart in the most violent and permanent way possible. What will it take to get Greenville Co and other kill-because-we-can pounds to comply with the law?

Kalel and owner Mandi Nalley  (Photo by Mandi Nalley)

Kalel and owner Mandi Nalley (Photo by Mandi Nalley)

A lost dog who needs to be muzzled to be examined in a pet killing facility but “otherwise he’s good” is hardly a threat to public safety. There is no information in the records indicating Kalel bit, tried to bite or even growled at anyone at the pound. Heartworms are a treatable medical condition and in fact, Kalel’s owner was already giving him medication under guidance from her veterinarian. Space is not a justification to kill a shelter animal under any circumstances and when it’s done during the five day holding period in SC, it’s illegal.

Shame on the Greenville Co pound for needlessly killing a lost pet whose owner loved and wanted him. There is no excuse. Will there be any justice?

Sonoma Co Shelter Decides to Stop Blaming Owners, Start Reuniting Families

Cat ID #309183 at Sonoma Co Animal Services, as shown on PetHarbor.  (Click link to read the fabulous bio.)

Cat ID #309183 at Sonoma Co Animal Services in CA, as shown on PetHarbor. (Click link to read the fabulous bio.)

Instead of shelter directors and staff continually spewing the tired old mantra that the public is irresponsible and if their lost pet got loose, they don’t deserve to have him anyway so let’s not bother doing our jobs, how about this?

“It’s moving away from that old-school thinking that owners are irresponsible,” [Sonoma Co Animal Services director Brigid] Wasson said. “Every grieving pet owner who is looking for a lost pet deserves the same level of high customer service.”

*sits up straight, pays attention*

“Why would we want to find a new home for an animal that already has a good home?” Wasson said.

Hey, yeah… that.

Sonoma Co reportedly returned 55% of its stray dogs and 20% of its stray cats to their owners in the 2013-14 fiscal year which is not too shabby.  And Wasson wants to do even better.  She has instructed her ACOs to spend more time scanning for microchips, making phone calls and knocking on doors around the neighborhood when they find a stray pet.

In addition to doing their jobs to return lost pets to their owners, Sonoma Co ACOs are re-examining their own biases against the public which typically lead to unnecessary impounds:

[ACO Shirley] Zindler said officers tended to assume the worst about people who didn’t make an effort to find their missing pets, which in turn often resulted in the animal being whisked away to the shelter. But she said that attitude is changing.

“Some people don’t realize their animal’s gone yet,” Zindler said. “They’ve been at work, the animal dug out. Certainly every effort would be made to return the animal in the field.”

More, please.

(Thank you Daniela for the link.)

 

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