Tiny Dog Dies at Coffee Co Pound, Mayor Produces a Thermometer

Nicky Bandy wanted to adopt a Chihuahua at the Coffee Co pound in TN.  The pound has indoor/outdoor concrete runs and Ms. Bandy was concerned about the temperature of the concrete floor – the only surface on which the dog could stand or lay.  She says she offered a blanket for the dog’s run but the director refused to accept it.  She was so concerned the dog would freeze to death on the concrete, she returned to the pound daily to check on the pet.  Last Friday, Ms. Bandy was told the dog had died.

Local animal lovers complained to the mayor and he reportedly visited the shelter personally on Monday to determine the temperature of the inside portion of the run in which the dog died.

“At 7:30 this morning I rolled in here, we shot another temperature – the same pen that the little animal was in. It was 62.6 degrees. It was 28 degrees outside,” said county Mayor David Pennington.

I am guessing the mayor checked the temperature of the air while standing in the kennel.  This would not be the same temperature as the concrete on which the short-coated toy breed dog was sleeping.  This should be obvious to someone smart enough to run a county.

Chihuahuas are not farm dogs, sled dogs nor any of the other types of dog who are equipped to survive winter temperatures without protection.  They require human intervention if they are to survive such conditions and any shelter director should know that.  But the director at the Coffee Co pound offered this keen insight:

“I don’t know who made the statement the dog was froze to death, but it was not,” said Coffee County Animal Control Director Kevin Brown. “I really don’t know why it died other than old age.”

Well it’s not impossible, although it seems highly unlikely to me.  The answer could be determined via necropsy, if anyone on the county payroll wanted the truth:

The county says it has no plans to get a necropsy to determine why the dog died.

I guess that answers the question of whether anyone pocketing their paychecks courtesy of county taxpayers wants the truth.

When a pet owner in Coffee Co is accused of allowing a dog to freeze to death, does the mayor whip out his thermometer and decide that no investigation or charges are appropriate based upon the reading?  If not, there appears to be a double standard between what the county requires of citizens and what it requires of itself.

It will be up to local advocates to push the county for reform and demand the pound be held to a higher standard than the mayor’s dog and pony show with the thermometer.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)

OMG! These two should totally be friends!

Deborah Broughton, head of Petersburg Animal Care and Control in Virginia:

“The biggest problem is that some people are holding the pound to a shelter standard.”

Commissioner Gene Buckner, head of the Mercer Co pound in West Virginia:

“We’re not here to euthanize animals. These no-kill shelters are forcing us to do that.”

(Thanks Clarice and Vicki for the links.)

NM Shelter Still Functioning Primarily as Pet Killing Facility

From an article in the Las Cruces Sun-News titled “Report: Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley kill rate drops in 2012“:

The center took in more than 13,000 animals last year and just over half were euthanized.

The number is a 17 percent decrease from 2011.

Although the title of the piece specifically references a drop in the shelter’s kill rate, the “17 percent decrease” cited is reflective of actual numbers, irrespective of intake, which is misleading.  In fact, the actual kill rate at this facility decreased a mere 5% from 2011 to 2012.  (See page 13 of the shelter’s annual report for 2012.)  The stunningly minor decrease in killing makes the director’s enthusiasm all the more confusing:

“Finally the programs that were implemented in 2008 are starting to bear fruit,” said center director Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock, who took the helm in 2008. “You can see the euthanasia numbers are really, really dropping. It’s finally coming together.”

I was unable to locate any 2008 stats for this facility but on page 10 of the 2010 annual report, it says the 2009 kill rate was 60% and the 2010 kill rate was 56%.  In 2011, the kill rate was 57% and in 2012 it was 52%.  So taking into account the publicly available information for the kill rates in the years 2009 through 2012, there is an 8% decrease.  The suggested 17% decrease in kill rates does not exist anywhere.  The main thing happening at this facility is dog and cat killing – same as it ever was.  It’s been 5 years.  How many more years are needed before the staff start doing their jobs and stop killing pets?

In 2012, Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley killed more than 3100 animals for being feral or timid.  Over 1200 animals were killed for space with the vast majority of them being Pitbulls.  A greater number were killed for treatable medical conditions such as coughs, colds, ringworm, and tragically – pregnancy.  (See page 11 of the 2012 annual report.)

“It’s finally coming together” would probably be the last words that spring to mind in describing this pet killing facility.  More like, it’s continuing to come apart.  I guess I see why the director attempted to spin the numbers to fool taxpayers and donors.  It’s not like telling the truth would be a good option if all you had to show for your years of work was a landfill bursting with tens of thousands of dead dogs, cats, puppies and kittens.  Assuming you wanted to keep your job killing animals, that is.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Shelter Reform Group Goes All Advocacy on City Council

California – Five volunteers who say they were fired from the Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Adoption Center in retaliation for speaking out against the shelter are part of a local advocacy group working to bring about reform.  Several members of the group spoke out at a recent city council meeting.  They would like to be reinstated and to put an end to the killing:

“The city needs to have a director who is supposed to be doing what the city said they would do in 2005,” said Susan Keithly, a shelter volunteer who was dismissed in November. “We are saying they need a confident, committed director who can achieve “no kill” now.”

The city manager, John Gillison, supports the current shelter director, both of whom are sailing aboard the S.S. We’re Doing the Best We Can with weekend excursions to the port of We All Want the Same Thing.

The city is apparently bragging about an 80% adoption rate but attorney Marla Tauscher, also a group member, set the record straight at the meeting:

She projected the animal shelter document she was given by the city on the view screen at the council meeting.
“The adoptions for dogs were actually 47 percent and for cats it was 31 percent for a combined average of 39 percent, which is about half of 80 percent,” Tauscher said.

Oops.  Nothing like having your lies exposed by your own records.

Shelter employee Jesse Kreider spoke to the council about a sign for a local political candidate, endorsed by shelter reformers, being used for target practice by management at the shelter.  Mr. Gillison didn’t want to talk much about that.  And despite saying at one point during the meeting, “There may be a disagreement about the current administration of the center and how the programs are being run, and that’s a fair topic for public conversation,” Mr. Gillson later “said he would not engage in a point, counter-point debate with the issues raised by the speakers, nor could he not speak to personnel matters related to the dismissals, or the issues raised by Kreider.”

So much for fair topics of conversation.  And so much for fair in general, as Mr. Gillison complained about the reform advocates:

“They have made these allegations to anyone who will listen.”

Yeah, what kind of decent advocacy group goes around spreading their message whenever they can?  That’s just annoying.  They should have quietly written down their complaints and stored them “in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”  I mean, be reasonable.

We all want the same thing – but some need dessert too.

At a public meeting last month, Kim Alboum, the NC director for HSUS, told a group of Person Co citizens concerned about the fact that the local pound was gassing roughly 7 out of 10 of the pets in its care:

“I can’t tell you just how far it goes to just stop at the shelter with some cupcakes or cookies if you have an issue and say ‘let’s just chat’.”

Totally.  Because people who stuff puppies, kittens, dogs and cats into a gas chamber hand over fist instead of doing their jobs should be rewarded with baked goods and social activity.  Then, when they hear your ideas on how they could stop killing pets and start saving them whilst downing your culinary delights, they reform themselves.

Maddie’s Fund seems to have jumped on the idea of advocacy through confections and has this tip for those wanting their local shelter to stop killing community cats:

Email or call the animal control director and ask if you can come by for a short talk. He won’t answer your call or email? Stop by with a couple dozen donuts and see if you can catch him in his office. If you get to talk to him, great; if not, leave your business card with your cell phone number asking him to call you. Leave the donuts and spend some time talking to whoever you can, taking care not to get in the way of their work.

Yeah, don’t get in the way of their work and make sure you are not blocking the aisle in front of the gas chamber because that is a heavy traffic area.

If you are wanting to save the community cats currently being killed by your local shelter director and he refuses to even reply to your e-mails or take your calls, you should definitely run right out and get a couple boxes of Krispy Kremes to personally deliver to the pound.  But why stop there?  Wouldn’t a bouquet of daisies be really sweet?  How about a heart shaped box of assorted chocolates?  Because remember, you are really asking a lot from your paid public servants here.  You are asking your shelter director to start doing his job when he’s already clearly indicated to you that he is not interested in what you have to say.  But of course a box of savory deep-fried pastries will have him reforming the pound in no time.

(Thank you Ryan for the link.)

Representative Steve King Derails the Crazy Train

One of our many Congressional nutters here in the U.S. is Rep. Steve King (R-IA). During a recent tele-town hall, he made a comment about dogfighting that naturally got picked up by various media outlets. This is what he said:

When the legislation that passed in the farm bill that says that it’s a federal crime to watch animals fight or to induce someone else to watch an animal fight but it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting, there’s something wrong with the priorities of people that think like that.

In fairness, I don’t think he intended to indicate support of legalized dogfighting, as some have interpreted the remark.  Rather, I chalked it up to yet another asinine comment from a moronic hater.  I didn’t intend to blog about it DOT DOT DOT

But then he came out with this “clarification” of the animal fighting remarks and I just sort of didn’t feel like giving him a pass anymore:

By the way, in case any kiddie rapists are paying attention, what Rep. King says is “not against the law in the United States of America” is in fact totally and completely against the law in the United States of America. I would not recommend anyone use the Steve King Defense at trial.

Lewisburg City Officials Bring The Stupid

Reader Salette Andrews took action in response to the killing of dogs slated for rescue at the Lewisburg pound in TN.  She wrote city leaders to express her views regarding the city blaming volunteers for not being quicker than the ACOs in the kill room and to educate them about no kill.  In response, she heard from Lewisburg City Manager Tommy Engram and Mayor Barb Woods.  I’m posting their responses below, the bolding is mine.

From: Tommy Engram <teengram@bellsouth.net>
Date: Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 5:20 PM
Subject: Re: Lewisburg’s Image
To: tengram@ctyoflew.com, Salette Ann Andrews
Cc: woodsba2@gmail.com, sthomas@cityoflew.com, hdavis@cityoflew.com, owhitehead@cityoflew.com, rmcrady@cityoflew.com, rminor@cityoflew.com, cforbis@ctyoflew.com, sbroadway@fpunet.com, jbl@marshallcountytn.com, annamay1955@yahoo.com, johnchristmas_108@yahoo.com, john9962@bellsouth.net, ewhill@marshallcountystone.com

Dear Ms. Andrews,

I agree that I am a servant of the people. I do not agree with your other statements.

As a former member of a governing body, you should know how to read a city code. Lewisburg does not now nor has it ever provided a zero kill shelter. That is not in the city ordinances and it is not in the city budget.

I am not a former council member. I have been on this job for three weeks. I have no authority to change either the laws or the budget. In fact, I have changed absolutely nothing relating to animal control and we did not grow this problem during the past three weeks.

Also, you surely realize that volunteers who are spending their time organizing a protest are not spending their volunteer hours finding homes for dogs. That is what will cause more dogs to die. I do not appreciate your effort to twist my words to suit your purpose. You present yourself as a professional. As a professional, you should hold yourself to a higher standard.

Thank you for sharing your opinions.

Tommy Engram, Ph.D.
City Manager
Lewisburg, Tennessee
931-675-9424

***

From: Barb Woods <woodsba2@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 2:07 PM
Subject: Re: Lewisburg’s Image
To: Salette Ann Andrews

The city manager had barely been on the job 2 weeks when the “volunteers” called in the tv cameras and held an unannounced camera event. Oddly There had been no crisis worth tv coverage for the 4 months prior when there was no city manager.

You may want to find out why when volunteers knew the vet would be there to euthanize at 10:00a.m. on Wednesday no one came before that time to get the dogs??? Maybe have been an oversight or could it have been planned?

***

So there you have it folks.  The Lewisburg ACOs who killed dogs knowing rescuers were on the way to save them aren’t to blame.  It’s the volunteers who, instead of spending “hours” of their own time doing the shelter staff’s job for them, are exercising their rights as Americans to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  Plus, the killings were all part of an evil plot by the volunteers to have dogs die so they could be on the tee vee machine.

Let’s suspend logic for a moment and suppose the city pols make some valid points.  If Mr. Engram truly believes that volunteers should stop protesting in order to spend time rescuing dogs from his pound, he should ask himself what motivation any rescuer would have to do so knowing that the dogs they work so hard to save will be killed anyway.  As for the theory posited by Ms. Woods, that the volunteers were allowing dogs to be killed for a television publicity stunt, isn’t it a tad embarrassing that a group of dog lovers can outwit an elected mayor on the media front?  I mean, shouldn’t the mayor be able to manipulate the tv cameras better than ladies who scoop poop and pick ticks off dogs for free?

I hope the volunteers of Lewisburg will continue to speak out for the dogs at the pound and to hold the city accountable for its failure to protect pets from harm.  We are with you.  Let us know if you need help.

 

Thank you Salette Andrews for writing on behalf of the dogs at the Lewisburg pound and for sharing the responses you received.

I just snorted milk out my nose.

Set your anaLIEzers to stun and see if you can count how many nose lengthening statements there are in this quote from MAS interim director James Rogers, regarding a puppy who was saved from a storm drain by a police officer and turned over to the pound:

“A puppy like this, we pick it up, we care for it. We vet it, we make sure it’s cared for and then make available for adoption,” Rodgers [sic] said.

 

Oops

Since Thursday came and went with no response from the city of Memphis regarding the missing video from our FOIA request, an additional e-mail was sent today to follow up.  The city replied that, due to our “rather extensive” video request (it was less than half of the prior request), “the operator missed some of the files” (this would be the operator who gets paid $50 an hour to copy DVDs I assume).  Lo and behold the city has an additional 33 discs for us!  Once the discs are in hand, I will of course review them and let everyone know if they cover the missing video.  Stay tuned.

City of Memphis Fails Another Public Records Request

Many of you have asked about requesting additional security camera footage from MAS.  Some suggested specifically the day after The Compassionate Chokepole training class.  I thought this was a good idea – a chance to see the immediate effects with animals hopefully being handled humanely.  The request was filed but unfortunately, the city failed to respond within the time allowed by law.  The city also failed to respond to follow up requests.  By the time the city did respond (today), we were advised that the footage had been overwritten.

This is not transparency.  This is not accountability.  This is not integrity.

We will of course continue to pursue these public records in an effort to hold MAS accountable.  I will keep you updated as things develop.

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