Victoria Co Pound Has a 6% Adoption Rate, Zero Tolerance for Rescues

romo victoria co romo info

The Victoria Co pound in Texas, where a dog who had an adopter waiting was recently oops-killed because not killing is hard, is back in the news:

Since November 2014, 3,515 dogs and cats have entered the shelter, according to records. Of those, 238 were adopted.

238 adopted. *sound of balloon deflating*

Glass half full: That number is 30 more than the 208 pets who fell over dead in their cages during that time period. And way more than the 54 animals who went “missing” from the place. You run, Fluffy. You run and don’t ever look back.

Aaaaaaanyway, they don’t need help, especially not from people who ask questions like Why are the animals forced to live in filth? and such:

Victoria County Animal Control has cut ties with a foster group it has been working with for almost three years.

County officials say the group was given the boot for “bullying and unprofessional behaviors.”

However, Kim Cole, the administrator of the foster group Shelter Pets, said the real issue is her attempt to hold the department accountable for what she considers to be inappropriate and inadequate treatment of animals housed at the facility.
Before receiving the letter, Cole said, she had a meeting with Animal Control and the Victoria County Public Health Department, where she brought up issues including the condition of kennels filled with animal feces.

How unprofessional. Bully.

The Victoria Co pound is doing the best they can, probably. But haters gonna hate.

28261872 victoria co28261872 info

It’s a glove. And a kitten. In some sort of cylinder. That’s my best guess. Can I use a lifeline?

(Thanks Clarice.)

Dallas Animal Services: Skanks Gonna Get Themselves Locked Up If They Don’t Step Off

You may remember Dallas Animal Services from such knee-slapping exploits as oops killing a bucket of kittens while a foster home was being arranged, secretly killing 4 dogs slated for rescue and leaving a cat trapped inside the pound wall to suffer and die.  Now, more hilarity as compassionate citizens who care for strays at an area well known as a dumping ground for dogs who appear to have been abused are painted as criminals:

Are volunteers who feed stray dogs committing a crime? Public statements from the city’s own animal shelter agency and an officer in the Dallas City Marshal’s Office suggest that the volunteer group is breaking the law and possibly harming the animals. “You cannot feed in the city of Dallas,” an officer says in a recording taken by volunteers Marina Tarashevska and Leslie Ysuhuayles. He cites an unspecified “ordinance,” an ordinance that CBS-11 was unable to find when they followed up with a story on volunteers’ encounter with the marshal. Afterward, the city’s animal shelter and animal control agency weighed in. Dallas Animal Services posted a “clarification” on its Facebook page, defending the marshal. While there are no ordinances that actually ban people from feeding loose dogs, the shelter acknowledges, the volunteers may be guilty of littering. Dallas Animal Services also says that people who feed loose animals without doing anything else to help are doing more harm than good. “#IfYouFeedItFixIt,” the posts ends, implying that the volunteers confronted by the marshal were only “feeding” and not “fixing.”

Turns out, the people doing the feeding are also capturing, neutering and adopting out the dogs –  things DAS apparently knows little about.  In fact, DAS is more concerned with outsourcing the killing of its pets in order to “maintain stable workforce” than having its employees actually shelter animals.  (No takers so far, which is weird.)

But just so we’re straight:  The Dallas pound wants to clarify that, while there are people out there tying dogs’ legs together and dumping them (some dead, others still alive) at this one site, it’s the people feeding the dogs who are, in OJ terms, The Real Killers.

(Photo by Casey Post)

(Photo by Casey Post)

Blaming local rescuers, especially Ms. Tarashevska – an outspoken critic of DAS, is standard fare. The pound’s social media coordinator, Rebecca Poling, appears to get a paycheck for it:

In September, Poling shared [on her personal Facebook page] a screenshot of a post that Tarashevska had written that cites the Observer story and criticizes the way Jones runs Dallas’ animal shelter. A group of other rescuers responds with name-calling. Stacy Smith, a co-founder of the Humane Society of Flower Mound, writes of Tarashevska,”#rescuebarbie.” Kate Larkin, who operates a rescue group called Rag Tag Rescue in East Texas, follows with the short and simple “#bitch.”

Erin Schults, who operates Mazie’s Mission animal rescue in Frisco, writes in the thread that Tarashevska will “eventually fade away. When her face is chewed off by a dog she is ‘saving.'”

Others pounce on Tarashevska’s appearance.

Poling, for her part, doesn’t resort to name-calling, but she doesn’t discourage it, either. “Are people still listening to this skank?” Shults writes in another comment in the thread, to which Poling replies, “Unfortunately, yes.”

Neither Poling nor city spokesman Jeffrey Clapper have responded to an email requesting an interview about Poling’s social media strategy.

Social media strategy. #LOL #YouPeopleSeemNice

If I lived in a city where freaks were abusing dogs and dumping them in plastic bags, I’d be kinda worried.  And if it was my job to investigate animal cruelty in that city, I guess I’d get right on that start waving something shiny to distract the public and blame rescuers demanding I do my job for kibble littering.  Which is in fact, a gateway crime.  Every time someone gets their face chewed off, you can always trace it back to skanks putting out kibble.

Never change, DAS. You keep on trying to find someone to kill your animals for you and blaming the public for all the things and social media strategizing.  Your cultural blend of 1940s sheltering philosophy, criminal laziness and Texas sized hate is so uniquely you and becoming harder to find as the rest of the nation progresses unabashedly toward 2016.

(Thanks Nathan and Mike.)

San Diego Co Pound Volunteers Go Public with Concerns

Dog ID #1683976 pictured on the County of San Diego Animal Services website.

Dog ID #1683976 pictured on the County of San Diego Animal Services website.

More than a dozen current and former volunteers with the County of San Diego Animal Services recently shared some concerns with The San Diego Union-Tribune. Among the volunteers’ complaints are needless killings, poor conditions, and retaliation against volunteers who speak out. The allegations mirror some of those made in lawsuits filed by former vets at the facility.

Former pound volunteer Bonnie Kutch quit after years of service and now volunteers with a different shelter. She says of the county pound:

“They were euthanizing perfectly good dogs to make space for other dogs coming in, and not devoting enough effort to getting the existing dogs adopted,” she said.

Additional problems noted by the group of vols:

Not only are officials too quick to put down pets, volunteers say, they resist practices that could lead to more adoptions, such as opening on Sundays like many shelters do so more animals can be adopted out at a time convenient to the public.

The volunteers say many shelter animals languish in cages for days or even weeks at a time without walks, making them “kennel crazy” and lessening their chance to be adopted.

Vols who asked if they could walk dogs say they were told to wash dishes instead or were kicked out.

Longtime pound director Dawn Danielson killsplained all the things to the Union-Tribune, including claiming that the county has maintained a 0% kill rate for dogs deemed healthy and friendly for the past 6 years. (Never you mind about the 6600 pets killed last year. They were all unhealthy and unfriendly, it says so right here in this note I just typed.) And as for those pesky vols wanting to get dogs out of their cages for walks, this ain’t no doggie day spa:

“It’s nice to get the dogs out, but it’s not required,” Danielson said. “We want them to be able to urinate and defecate in their kennels” because it helps prevent infections.

Right. Ask anyone in the business of trying to prevent infections. They’ll tell you the first thing you want to do is shit on the floor you eat off of.  That’s Hygiene 101 right there.

She said her priority with adoptable dogs is to promote “kennel enrichment,” spending quiet time with the animals inside their cages so they learn to be calm when potential adopters arrive.

Quiet time – good one.  I imagine the line to sign up for squeezing into cages with unexercised shelter dogs so they can jump on you with their poopy paws while pleading “Let me OUT!” in the most dramatic way they can manage is probably super long.  Any vols still have their front teeth?

Anyway, the director isn’t asking for much:

“All we ask of our volunteers is to follow the rules and to work with us and follow our philosophy.”

The philosophy apparently being Suck.  And Kill.  And also Suck.  Who wouldn’t want to get on board with that?

(Thanks Clarice and Teresa for the link.)

San Diego Co Shelter Vet Files Whistleblower Retaliation Lawsuit

Dr. Bruce Cauble, a California veterinarian who worked at San Diego County’s three shelters since 2002, has filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against the county.  Named in the lawsuit is deputy director and medical operations manager David Johnson, a registered veterinary technician who oversees the medical portion of the three county shelters.  The lawsuit alleges that Johnson’s mismanagement resulted in a number of serious issues and when the three county vets, including Dr. Cauble, spoke out about the problems, they were each transferred to the shelter farthest from their homes.  The allegations include:

  • Dogs housed in unheated concrete kennels where the temperature sometimes dropped below 50 degrees.  A boiler that was supposed to provide heat for the floors was often broken and management failed to have it repaired in a timely manner.  Staff referred to these chronically cold dogs as “ice puppies”.
  • Staff hosed down the ice puppies’ kennels with the dogs still inside, wetting down the pets and any towels that had been given to them for warmth.
  • Management failed to provide an adequate supply of pain medications and food for the animals in the medical ward and Dr. Cauble witnessed suffering as a result.
  • None of the three shelters’ x-ray machines were properly inspected or licensed, as required by law.  The staff did not have radiation monitoring badges.  When Dr. Cauble brought these issues to the attention of Mr. Johnson, he responded by threatening to shut down all x-ray activity but in fact, directed staff to continue using the unlicensed machines.
  • Two of the county’s three shelters lacked premise permits and were operating illegally.  As a result the state veterinary board advised that some animals had to be transferred to the only shelter with the required permit for treatment.  This caused animals to suffer because their veterinary care, including pain medication, was delayed.
  • Mr. Johnson stopped pain medications on animals who had been prescribed them by county vets.
  • After complaints were filed regarding the above issues by the veterinarians, all three were transferred to inconvenient work locations by Mr. Johnson.  As a result, none of the three veterinarians remained on the job and shelter animals suffered from lack of qualified and consistent veterinary care.

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Dr. Cauble expressed his frustrations with the county bureaucracy:

Cauble said non-veterinarian bureaucrats often prescribe medications or perform other tasks that are required to be performed by veterinarians. He said more than once, he was told to stay away while television news crews interviewed administrators who portrayed themselves as licensed veterinarians.

“We do have a number of animals die from secondary pneumonia and respiratory diseases” that are preventable, Cauble said. “The problem is, we have six or seven paper pushers-who make $700,000-plus between them, but they can’t seem to find $30 to replace a simple boiler part.”

Dr. Cauble also spoke with 10News about the ice puppies:

Cauble said five years ago he started complaining about the boiler to his bosses, but they refused to get a new one, instead making repairs. He said the boiler broke down about five times every year, leaving animals in the cold for at least a week.

“The dogs would get hypothermic. We would wrap them in towels, but the towel would get wet. The dryer was sometimes broken, so we’d run out of towels,” said Cauble. “The conditions left them susceptible to more problems, like kennel cough, pneumonia and distemper.”

San Diego Co’s official response to the lawsuit:

The Department of Animal Services’ number one priority is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the animals in its care. The County is reviewing the claim that has been filed and isn’t able to comment on pending litigation but will continue to provide the best care possible for all of the animals in our shelters.

Raise your icy paw if you feel reassured.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Genesee Co Pound and Director Named in Whistleblower Lawsuit

The long troubled Genesee Co AC pound in Flint, MI took in 5168 dogs and cats in 2013, killing 3246 of them – a kill rate of 63%.  (The 2014 reports haven’t been posted yet.)

In early January 2015, the county hired Paul Wallace as pound director and Karen Dombrowski as deputy director.  Ms. Dombrowski was fired by Wallace one month later.  This week, she filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the county, the pound and Wallace.

The lawsuit alleges that Ms. Dombrowski observed numerous instances of illegal activities while employed by Genesee Co, that she reported these to Wallace who dismissed her concerns, and that she went over his head to report them to county commissioners.  She was fired shortly thereafter.

Among the allegations in the lawsuit:

  • Animals were not receiving food, water, and clean cages on a daily basis.
  • An emaciated dog did not receive proper care at the pound.
  • A dog had been in a cage for seven months without adequate food, water or exercise.
  • A small dog experiencing pain was left unattended in a cage in a cold garage at the pound for several hours.  He was later euthanized.
  • A dog with a bone sticking out was left unattended for several hours.
  • A mother dog whelped a litter of puppies in a cage in the pound’s garage and no one at the pound provided any sort of box for the family.  As a result, the puppies repeatedly fell down the drain hole.
  • Wallace refused to allow an investigation into the finding of a deceased dog who appeared to have been used for fighting.
  • Dogs were seized from an owner’s home without due process.
  • A dog who had been “euthanized” by an ACO was found alive and suffering in the cooler the next day.
  • Expired drugs were used to kill a dog named Ana.  She was left in a cage.  When she woke up later, she began thrashing and injured herself.  The ACOs had already gone home when Ms. Dombrowski found her.
  • Dogs were killed via heartstick while fully conscious by untrained employees.
  • Feral cats were being killed in a gas chamber.

Ms. Dombrowski can be seen along with Ana, the dog she saved from the Genesee Co pound, in a video accompanying this news piece.  Additional reporting here.

(Thank you Clarice and Davyd for the links.)

Video Shows Dog Being Abused at Hesperia Pound

A video posted online shows a whimpering dog being dragged by a leash around the neck at the Hesperia pound in CA:

The video was reportedly taken by a member of the public who was looking for her lost dog at the pound when she saw what appears to be one staff member dragging a dog behind her like a bag of trash while two other city employees have a chat.  But I guess they are all talked out now because they have nothing to say to the local news:

Victor Valley News reporters reached out to the Hesperia Animal Shelter staff, the operator simply said, “The department is aware of it and investigating it”. A message was also left for Cheryl Lewis, a shelter supervisor, who is not yet available for comment on this matter.

Gosh, I wonder how long before Ms. Lewis becomes available for comment:

A past shelter employee, who asked to remain anonymous for legal reasons has identified the alleged people in the video. Victor Valley News will withhold from publishing the name of the person seen dragging the dog until the investigation is complete.  The former employee alleged the two other’s who stood by in the video are Officer Osvaldo Montes and Supervisor Cheryl Lewis. The former employee, also shared that she was let go from her position only after speaking out about some of the happenings at the shelter.


The Hesperia pound reportedly will only allow rescuers to save animals from being killed if they sign an agreement waiving their First Amendment rights with regards to speaking up about abuse at the pound.  That has kept many from going public with their concerns.  In spite of the threats against rescuers, 60 people showed up at an emergency city hall meeting last night.

When the city council was asked about the legality of violating the Constitutional rights of rescuers, the city attorney responded, “This might not be satisfactory” and said he’d look into the matter.

The meeting went four and a half hours, with most of the speakers advocating on behalf of the shelter pets:

Stephanie Lonsdale, an animal advocate that is known in the community for speaking up for the well-being of animals mentioned that the Hesperia Animal Shelter currently has a 70% kill rate. The 70% kill rate equals 7 out of 10 animals entering the shelter being euthanized rather than reunited or adopted. “The shelters do not utilize the free sites that are available to them to place these animals,” said Lonsdale.

Of course there’s one in every bunch:

“I believe it was misjudgment, not abuse. Ideally the dog would not be there or the dog would have been socialized,” said Lisa Wilson.

Yeah, the slutty whoredog was prolly drunk and asking for it and the owners are all the suck too.

Oh and the unwashed owners, who have since irresponsibly reclaimed their pet, showed up to speak for their dog:

Of all the speakers, the most touching, bringing tears to the speaker as well as, much of the crowd was the dog’s owner, Tracie Carpenter.

“I don’t have fancy things to tell you, like a lot of the people here. I am not going to use crazy big words or rescue terminology. I am here on behalf of Mia, who is my dog.  She is not a 60 pound dog that can not be carried, she is 47 pounds. She is not unsociable, she is a beautiful girl and very lovable, she was scared, the floor was slippery,” said Carpenter with her voice cracking due to her emotions on the treatment of her dog.

“She was in the shelter for just over 24 hours and I have no idea how the rest of her stay was there. If it is going to happen to a dog that belongs to somebody, that is loved, that has a good home, that has someone to care for them, it can also happen to the ones that have no one to speak for them, the dogs that are being euthanized, the ones that are being put to sleep, the ones you don’t hear anything about, the ones who do not have anyone to come here and stand before you gentlemen to explain that they do not have any behavioral issues, it was a good dog, she is a wonderful dog.”

Any questions as to where the haters can stick their “misjudgment”?

The city council says they love animals and will take the matter seriously and blah:

The city is encouraging anyone with concerns to email

Right.  Funnel all the concerns to one faceless email account where they can sit and rot.

OR, you can contact the Hesperia city council members directly and ask that a complete and transparent investigation be conducted and all applicable criminal charges filed:

Eric Schmidt, Mayor; email
Bill Holland, Mayor Pro Tem; email
Russell “Russ” Blewett, Council Member; email
Mike Leonard, Council Member; email
Paul Russ, Council Member; email

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Police Officer Fired after Standing Up to City Officials and Refusing to Shoot Loose Dogs

Walker Co, AL used to have a pound but the place closed a few years ago after it was exposed as a dog killing hole.  Since then, the city of Carbon Hill in Walker Co has apparently been trying to avoid the issue of homeless pets on the streets.  That brilliant plan did not work out for some reason and this month the city attempted to address the issue:

Carbon Hill City Councilor Billy Jenkins says the dog problem there is out of control, and people are complaining.

He thinks it’s time the city revisited an ordinance that was passed in 1991 but never enforced.


The ordinance references the responsibilities of a dogcatcher, but Carbon Hill Police say the city doesn’t have a dogcatcher and officers feel they’re being pressured to shoot strays because of Section 8 of the ordinance.

“It says the police department shall have the authority to destroy any stray domestic animal running at large within the city limits of the city. When in the opinion of the (Carbon Hill Police Department) such animal constitutes a public nuisance or is a danger or a menace to the life or health of the citizens of the city,” said Jenkins.

While Jenkins specifies that the city is not asking officers to shoot dogs on the streets, the police chief says his department has no resources to catch and transport dogs, even if a new Walker Co shelter opens as planned next year.  He says lethal force against a dog is only a last resort:

“We just don’t go around firing our weapons off in town. You know I mean if our weapons are ever then it’s a threat to us or to someone else, you know someone’s life. We’re just not going to go out and shoot a dog for no reason just because it’s a stray,” said Chief Jason Richardson, Carbon Hill Police Department.

“Things have changed since 91 this is 2014 fixing to be 2015. There’s a lot of things changed. You just don’t go around, you don’t go around killing dogs,” said Richardson. “In my eyes that’s animal cruelty.”

Well say, that’s refreshing.  And it looks like the chief isn’t the only one with that attitude:

Carbon Hill’s mayor says alleged statements from city leaders that stray dogs should be shot to eliminate the problem are not true.

However, the city’s acting assistant police chief tells Alabama’s 13 city leaders did make such statements[.]


[A]cting assistant police chief Johnathan Yerby says he notified city leaders last week that state law prevents officers from shooting stray dogs. A week later, he’s out of a job for what the city says is budget cuts, but Yerby says the timing is no coincidence.

“I was the one chosen to be laid off because I’m the one that stood up and printed out the state law and told them that we couldn’t shoot dogs,” Yerby explains.

The police chief is reportedly very upset at Yerby’s firing and the mayor has no comment.  The mayor did however offer this greatly comforting reassurance:

“There ain’t going to be no dogs shot,” Mayor Chambers stresses. “We’ll catch them and try to give them away, adopt them out, or do whatever we got to to please everybody.”

Sounds like a well thought out plan of action there.  I can’t imagine how it’s not going to succeed, especially when the police officers charged with the catching and the giving away or the doing whatever say they lack the resources for the job and now they’re down an officer.  Stay tuned for success, I guess.

(Thanks Clarice for the story.)

Rotting from the Head Down: How the Neglect of a Dog at the Louisville Pound Went Public Despite a Political Cover-up

Sadie, as shown on the WHAS website.

Sadie, as shown on the WHAS website.

Regular readers may remember the tragic story of Sadie, an injured dog who suffered for months at the hands of Louisville Metro Animal Services before finally being euthanized by rescuers.  Heather Adkins, an employee at LMAS during the time Sadie was there who later became her foster owner and advocate, was smeared by the city of Louisville after she went public with Sadie’s story.  Due to public outcry, the city appointed an ad hoc committee to investigate what happened with Sadie.  The committee’s report was released Wednesday and can be read here.

Terrible:  The committee found “that by the clear and convincing evidence made available, the LMAS Department did knowingly neglect Sadie by failing to provide proper health care for the animal in a timely fashion”.  Despite the finding, there is no recommendation that the appropriate authorities should determine whether criminal charges should be brought in the case.

Also Terrible:  The committee was not only denied access to records and certain personnel involved with Sadie’s case by Mayor Greg Fischer’s office, it also found that the administration lied to the public in an August press release in an attempt to whitewash the neglect.  Despite the corruption and fraud apparent throughout the office, there is no recommendation that the appropriate authorities should determine whether criminal charges should be brought against anyone in the administration.

More Terrible:  After the city retaliated against Ms. Adkins for going public with Sadie’s story and she ultimately left her job, the Fischer administration stamped her personnel file with the words DO NOT REHIRE, while promoting and shielding those who were instrumental in Sadie’s neglect.  The committee recommended that Ms. Adkins’ personnel file be corrected, exonerating her of any wrongdoing, and that the mayor’s office issue a public statement clearing her name.  The committee also recommended that the city enact a whistleblower protection ordinance and that there should be more oversight into LMAS donations.

Cherry on Top Terrible:  At the same time the committee was scheduled to release its report, Mayor Fischer “abruptly called a news conference” to announce that he does not back a $10.10 proposed minimum wage and that poor people need to learn how to live on $8.75 an hour – the most he’s willing to back.  Some noticed the uh, coincidence:

A Democratic council member said the mayor was trying to “distract” from the findings, while a Republican called the timing “unusual.”

Astonishingly, Mayor Greg Fischer later e-mailed a response to the media regarding the report:

“The council found some weaknesses during its review and we’ve already responded with improvements to our donation and open records policies,” Fischer said in a statement. “It’s very unfortunate what happened with Sadie. We remain committed to moving forward and helping save as many animals as we can.”

Found Some Weaknesses.  I like that.  Although I’d like it better if it was the name of a prison wing housing everyone guilty of neglecting Sadie, smearing her advocate and shielding her abusers.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride as the Fischer administration moves forward, what with all those bodies under the bus.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

OK Mayor Bans Shelter Volunteers, Rolls Around in Pile of Tax Dollars

Volunteers at the city pound in Pryor, OK have been banned.  And in a classy way:

“Lisa and I showed up on Sunday morning to walk dogs and they just said that we weren’t needed anymore, that they were going to have two part time employees and another full time employee and that our help was no longer required,” [volunteer Kathy LaValle] said.

Ms. Lavalle has volunteered at the city pound since 2011, heading up adoption events and networking pets online.  She’d like to know why she and the other volunteers are being turned away suddenly:

Kathy Lavalle is exhausting her resources trying to find out why she is not allowed to help out at the shelter anymore.

“I have texted, I’ve called, emailed,” Kathy Lavalle said. “I can’t get an answer.”

Pryor mayor Jimmy Tramel says the vols should quit harshing his mellow:

[Y]eah we could’ve done a better job, but that didn’t happen,” Tramel said.

Mayor Brozilla told the media that the reason for the suspension of the volunteer program is that the city needs “to put a procedure in place” outlining the terms to which volunteers must agree in order to donate their time at the pound.  He needs 30 – 45 days to come up with the terms.  Ms. LaValle said the volunteers met with the city to discuss these terms a year and a half ago and the matter is long settled.

While the mayor is reinventing the wheel for 45 days, taxpayers will be shelling out $3000 to pay the pound staff overtime as they compensate for the free labor normally performed by vols.  The mayor is totes chill with this too:

“Sure it’s tax money, but for the safety of the volunteers, the safety of the employees and safety and well being of the animals, it’s going to cost us some money,” Tramel said.

Hey, it’s only tax money.  So FREE CASH basically.  Woohoo!

Volunteers are worried that without their free help, more pets will be needlessly neglected and killed at the pound.  I imagine the mayor’s response to that concern is something along the lines of “Coulda, woulda, shoulda!”

You know who I would like to shake hands with?  Mayor Rice-A-Broni’s campaign manager.  You sir, are a genius.  A magical genius who somehow managed to put ALL THE LIPSTICK on a pig, sufficient to win an election.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

ACLU Stands Up for First Amendment Rights of Animal Advocates in Baltimore County

Dog ID #04167 at the Baltimore Co pound, as pictured on Petfinder.

Dog ID #04167 at the Baltimore Co pound, as pictured on Petfinder.

The troubled Baltimore Co pound in MD has banned the public from photographing pets in the facility and the ACLU has written to county officials condemning the ban:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland says Baltimore County officials violated free-speech rights by banning photography at the county-run animal shelter, a move the ACLU describes as an effort to stifle critics.

The letter describes the photo ban as showing “a government agency endeavoring to limit its exposure to criticism and public accountability, and to stifle any perceived criticism that does arise, even where the agency’s purpose of serving the animals of Baltimore County is undermined as a result.”

County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler says the complaint is baseless and stems from a small group of pesky do-gooders:

“This is a story manufactured by a handful of advocates who were disrupting shelter employees from doing their jobs,” Kobler said.

Don Mohler, chief of staff for the County Executive, also has excuses:

“[The animal advocates] wanted to manufacture a crisis, and they would wait around until a dog soiled the cage and immediately take a picture and post it — inferring that the dog had been living in those conditions for a period of time, and that’s not true,” Mohler said.

Such dedication.  Waiting around for a dog to pee in his cage so they could snap a photo.  But in case you don’t buy that, he’s got another good one:

“This is not about photography,” Mohler said. “This is about the fact that there is a group of advocates who really want Baltimore County to release wild cats into the community.”

The county apparently has a kill policy for cats it determines to be feral.  And pesky do-gooders, along with the overwhelming majority of the general public, think that’s wrong.

Not to be outdone, Kobler also offered a back-up excuse for the photo ban to the newspaper:

“For some animals, the shutter click and the flash can frighten animals that are already nervous in a shelter environment. So sometimes, the staff members might ask people not to take an animal’s picture,” she said.

Both Kohler and Mobler said that the public is generally allowed to take pictures of the animals.  Except when they’re not.  But that’s because reasons.

So to recap, it’s not that Baltimore Co is trying to silence critics and violate their Constitutional rights, it’s assorted other things:

  • Volunteers photographing shelter pets are disruptors who prevent the staff from doing their job of killing more than 60% of the animals in their care.
  • They wait around all day for a dog to lift his leg in the cage just to capture the puddle on the floor.
  • They actually don’t care about photographing animals, they just want the county to stop killing feral cats and start doing TNR like other progressive shelters.
  • The flash from the camera scares animals and the county officials just aren’t going to stand by and let shelter pets be frightened.  After all, there’s killing to be done – lots of it.  Calm, friendly killing – not like the flash of a camera.

If for some insane reason you are still not feeling reassured, I got you:

County Councilman John Olszewski Sr., a Dundalk Democrat, said the shelter has made strides in overcoming past issues. He trusts it’s being run well.

“Every time there’s a policy, there’s a reason,” he said.

So there you go.  There’s some reason for the photo ban.  This guy apparently doesn’t know what that reason may be but strides have been made and everything is fine, probably.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)


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