The No Kill Advocacy Center launched National Animal Shelter Reform Week this week in direct response to HSUS’s National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week.
Inga Fricke of HSUS:
“A shelter is a safe haven for animals, and a great place to adopt a new family pet. Shelters also provide critical services like investigating cruelty and neglect, reuniting lost pets with their families, teaching kids to care about animals, and providing spay/neuter services to help reduce pet overpopulation in their communities.”
No Kill Advocacy Center:
National Animal Shelter Reform Week is designed to confront the tragic truth about how most shelters in this country operate and to increase public awareness about how animal lovers can fight back. Despite the uphill battle many shelter reformers face, they are succeeding through ingenuity, perseverance, and because the American public loves animals.
HSUS says we should use this week “to honor animal shelters and the dedicated people who work to protect animals”. The No Kill Advocacy Center counters that this week is dedicated to animal lovers who are fighting back against shelter abuse and that we should “support their reform campaigns and honor their tireless efforts”.
The No Kill Advocacy Center gives some examples of shelter abuse but the HSUS press release is notably lacking any examples of the “safe havens” deserving of our reverence. Since posting stories of abuse at animal shelters has become a focus of this blog, please allow me to provide some specific examples of a larger pattern that concerns me:
The Coweta Co Animal Control shelter in GA was no “safe haven” for an impounded dog with severe injuries who was left without veterinary care to suffer on the cold cement floor. Small kittens – even healthy, friendly ones that the public will often readily foster or adopt – are killed at the county shelter in Anne Arundel, MD because they might get sick. At the Marshall Co Animal Shelter in WV, the director goes on TV and advertises her Friday night kitten killing spree – while blaming the public for being irresponsible.
A “culture of fear” at the Dallas Animal Shelter kept workers from bringing concerns about a cat, trapped in the shelter wall and left to die, to superiors. In that case, a grand jury indicted the shelter manager, who allowed the cat to die an agonizing death, on felony cruelty charges. Taxpayers continue to pay his salary while he’s on “administrative leave”. I have trouble reconciling the terms “culture of fear” and “safe haven”.
Many people already know that a shelter is “a great place to adopt a new family pet”. In fact, sometimes people try to adopt pets, but shelters kill them instead. Mark and Anita Painter desperately wanted to adopt a dog at the Gaston Co AC shelter in NC and made repeated calls to the shelter to make sure the dog was not accidentally killed during the required holding period. The shelter killed the dog anyway. The Memphis Animal Shelter in TN has killed several dogs with adopters waiting in just the past year. L.A. Co shelters in CA have killed both pets with adopters waiting and those with owners attempting to redeem them. A woman in Craven Co, NC wanted so badly to adopt a puppy she had fallen in love with at the shelter, she contacted a local politician to intervene. The shelter killed the puppy anyway.
The so-called “dedicated people who work to protect animals” at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control in NC apparently drugged some shelter cats, posed them for offensive photos and then posted the pictures on Facebook. The director at Miami-Dade Animal Services in FL describes killing healthy, friendly pets as “what we all do to our best friend” while the director of the Walter Crowe Animal Shelter in SC says, “We kill our friend every day”. Dedicated people protecting animals?
As far as providing “critical services”, HSUS may be unaware that many shelters end up investigating themselves for cruelty and neglect. Among them, the Abbeville Animal Shelter in SC where a whistleblower exposed dogs living in their own waste – some without water and others with buckets of green water. In NC, animal advocates took it upon themselves to document and expose evidence of neglect and cruelty at the Robeson Co Animal Shelter. In response, the bureaucrats in charge severely restricted the public’s access to their own shelter.
HSUS says that shelters reunite lost pets with their families. They may have missed the story of Tyson who was lost in Providence, RI. His family and friends began looking for him immediately while ACOs at the shelter repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the dog. When the truth was finally uncovered by those who cared about Tyson, the ACOs admitted they had impounded and killed him the day he went missing and that the entire time searchers were pounding the pavement, Tyson’s lifeless body was in the shelter’s freezer.
In the case of a tragic death of one dog and injuries to several others at the Forrest City Animal Shelter in AR, HSUS was most certainly aware of the circumstances of the incident and even sent a representative to defend the ACOs responsible for the needless death and injuries.
As far as “teaching kids to care about animals” – sure the Walker Co Humane Society in AL offers to do that but seeing as the shelter director was caught killing someone’s pet upon intake and then lying about it afterward, I’m not sure that’s such a great idea. When you excuse the killing of 97% of the pets that come in your door, what could you possibly teach a child about caring about animals?
Of course there are truly good shelters out there and I do appreciate them. And even within public kill shelters there are individual staff members and volunteers trying to save pets. But let’s be clear: As things stand, most of our public shelters kill the pets we pay them to protect and then blame us, the public, for the killing. I don’t appreciate that. And so long as the need remains, I will continue to support those working towards reform.
So here is to you reformers! :::clink::: Please know that while HSUS with its massive political power and obscene bank account chooses to honor those who do the killing, we little people who love our pets and want to see a no kill nation in our lifetimes, honor you. We appreciate all your hard work, done without fanfare on shoestring budgets in your homes and apartments. You are making a difference. You are our heroes. And we’ve got your backs.
We are the real humane society – small h, small s. Join us.