A Tale of Two Drain Dogs in Memphis

On April 5, 2015, Memphis firefighters rescued a dog who had been trapped in a drainage ditch for several days. The media was on hand to cover the story and the dog was taken to Memphis Animal Services. The publicity generated significant interest in the dog and pound director James Rogers indicated that the dog would be given preferential treatment and not be killed – the fate of most animals at MAS. When the dog was adopted, that made the news too:

The dog could have technically been euthanized last week but MAS promised not to kill the dog due to the high interest from the public.

MAS administrator James Rogers said, “The interest shows and the successful rescue and adoption of this pet reflects our community’s and MAS’ care and concern for the wellbeing of our pets.”

Gee, that sounds swell.  But in fact this is what MAS should be doing for every dog who comes into the facility and not just the rare pet whose impound gets shown on TV.  And if you’re thinking that sounds harsh, consider what happened to another dog who was trapped in a drain and impounded just 2 days after the first dog – only this time there was no media on hand to publicize the story:

Obtained via FOIA request, this is a portion of the Memphis pound records for dog ID #276411.

Obtained via FOIA request, this is a portion of the Memphis pound records for dog ID #276411.

Obtained via FOIA request, this is a portion of the Memphis pound records for dog ID #276411.

Obtained via FOIA request, this is a portion of the Memphis pound records for dog ID #276411.

Obtained via FOIA request, this is a portion of the Memphis pound records for dog ID #276411.

Obtained via FOIA request, this is a portion of the Memphis pound records for dog ID #276411.

This dog, like the first, was saved from a drain but arrived at the pound in rough shape. The MAS vet examined the dog and determined that he was unconscious and extremely pale and it would be preferable to kill him rather than try even one thing to see if the pet responded. No warm IV fluids, no medication, just nothing.

If this had been my dog and I saw that he had been rescued from a drain only to be killed upon arrival at the Memphis “shelter”, I would be devastated. Just because a dog is non-responsive upon impound does not automatically mean no treatment will help and there is no hope. That can only be determined after standard lifesaving protocols have been attempted and there is no positive response. There is no way to know that this dog was medically hopeless because not a single medical treatment was offered.

If the MAS vet wasn’t going to help, at least cover the dog with a blanket and give him a quiet place to rest while issuing a plea to the public for emergency assistance. But apparently doing anything at all for this dog was too much to ask. He didn’t have any camera crews filming his rescue or reporters following up on his story. All he got after being “rescued” and brought to MAS was a shot of Fatal Plus.

MAS chose to allow the first dog to live because the publicity garnered by the dog’s rescue prevented them from the usual outcome for their pets – killing.  MAS chose to give that dog special treatment.  MAS chose to kill the second dog whose story had received no publicity.  But both of these dogs had equal rights to live.  And as the publicly funded “shelter” in Memphis, it’s MAS’s job to protect both of these dogs from harm, along with every other animal in their care.  It should not be considered a matter of choice.

It’s not enough to choose to do your job when the TV cameras are on.  It’s what goes on behind closed doors that reflects MAS’s care and concern for the well being of their pets – to paraphrase some trifling bit of nonsense I read.

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

Yellowstone Co AC in Need of Reform by Way of Gasoline and a Match

The Yellowstone Co Sheriff’s Office in Montana supervises the animal control division for the county – which is not something I’d disclose on a resume or while being waterboarded, even.  Yellowstone Co’s AC is a putrid pile of slack-ass fraud designed to kill animals while putting forth the least possible amount of effort – all on the taxpayer’s dime.

John Fleming, the county ACO, picks up lost and homeless animals – that is, when he’s working, which is just 7am – 2pm Monday through Friday.  People looking for their lost pets or needing help with animals at any other hour are referred to the sheriff’s office.  This is the scam that the county has been running, reportedly for years:

Dogs are picked up by the ACO and taken to a local vet/grooming/boarding facility.  The ACO fills out some sort of DIY spreadsheet with info on each dog (where found, gender, whether the dog was killed or adopted, etc.) that possibly no one else knows how to read.  Oh and this is when he gets around to it, which might be several days after impound or after he’s already killed the dog.  And the spreadsheet is full of holes where he fails to document basic information such as whether the dog was wearing a collar and what exactly happened to the pet.  Photos are not taken, nor are animals networked online, despite having volunteers with a proven record of success willing to perform these tasks.  ACO Fleming said in an interview:

“I think it would be more of a hindrance to put dogs online… . We don’t run a humane society or an adoption agency.”

Aaaaanyway, when owners call the sheriff’s office to ask if their lost dog has been picked up, they are generally told no since the documentation is either non-existent or contains erroneous and missing data on the spreadsheet (which it’s unclear if anyone can read).  Owners may know that impounded dogs are taken to the local vet facility but the vet there, who gets paid $17,000 a year by the county for use of his facility, won’t allow people to come in and look for their lost pets because he’s running a business and they are not paying customers.  But if an owner is willing to pay an “estimated boarding fee” at the sheriff’s office, they could take the receipt to the vet facility, be allowed to look at the impounded dogs and if their pet was not among them, drive back to the sheriff’s office for a refund.

That’s the thumbnail version of the fraud being perpetrated by the county with regard to dogs.  Who are lucky when compared to the hundreds of cats picked up in Yellowstone Co every year:

Fleming, in an interview with Last Best News, said there was no county ordinance on cats, and that “we don’t allow impoundment of cats.”

“They’re treated no differently from skunks, raccoons, coyotes—a nuisance animal,” Fleming said. With rare exceptions, he said, when he picked cats up they were taken to a small shed behind the county shops, just west of the jail, where he would euthanize them.

Even cats whom rescue groups offered to take were reportedly killed instead of live released.

Although Fleming may have been certified to kill animals at some time in the past, he is not now and, after being questioned by the local news about it, reportedly stopped killing animals in January.  Apparently that took all the fun out of it because after 24 years as an ACO, Fleming put in for a transfer within the sheriff’s office and will be working as a process server as soon as the county hires a new ACO.

Animal advocates say they met with County Commissioner John Ostlund 3 years ago to discuss their many concerns over the needless killing of owned and homeless pets by Fleming.  Changes were promised but never materialized.  After the recent local investigative reporting on Fleming’s abuse of power went public, Ostlund claimed he was shocked, shocked I tell you, to hear such things:

“I have been under the impression that he (Fleming) is doing a bang-up job,” Ostlund said. He said he hadn’t heard any new complaints about the division, and “complaints and compliments are the only way we have of getting a grip on what’s going on.”

Right.  Because it would be completely impossible for anyone to actually check.  Like, look at the county records or ask some questions or something, especially after complaints were recorded.  Nope, the default position is apparently assumed excellence.  Nice work, if you can get it.

Yellowstone Co is paying a guy who for 24 years was picking up cats and literally taking them to the woodshed for killing.  He’s been impounding dogs, leaving a paper trail that any 3rd grader would be embarrassed to turn in, stashing them in a vet’s office under some kind of pay-to-play scheme then killing them based upon his unqualified behavioral assessments while lacking the appropriate certification.  The county pays a vet $17,000 a year to house lost and homeless dogs while allowing the vet to turn away anyone and everyone who might be interested in getting the dogs out alive, including their owners.  The county commissioner, who has known about the problems for years, now says he assumed everything was pie in the sky because hey, everybody likes pie.

Taxpayers in Yellowstone Co deserve better and so do their pets.  They need to stand up and demand it, publicly and loudly and immediately.

(Thanks to the reader who sent me this link.)

Arkansas Pound Kills Dog Whose Owner Tried to Reclaim

Muneka and her boy, as shown on the FOX 16 website.

Muneka and her boy, as shown on the FOX 16 website.

Two dogs belonging to Yadria Dorantes jumped their fence and were picked up by Beebe Animal Control on March 13.  Ms. Dorantes says she contacted AC to reclaim her shar pei/lab mix Muneka and her other dog.  Ms. Dorantes says AC told her that because the dogs kept jumping her four foot fence, she would need to put up a taller one before picking them up.  AC reportedly gave her two weeks to get the new fence installed.  Ms. Dorantes spent $1200 to get the much taller chain link fence put up then took her children to the pound to pick up their pets within the two week time frame, as agreed.  Upon arrival, Ms. Dorantes was shown a pile of dead dogs who had been killed at the pound.  Muneka’s body was in that pile.

“The guy told me that I could not get the shar pei back because she was really aggressive and that they were going to put her down. I asked ‘are you going to put her down or have you already?’ and he didn’t say anything,” Dorantes said.

Ms. Dorantes is understandably heartbroken and it’s clear in the video interview with the FOX 16 reporter that Muneka was family.  The tall fence is shown in that clip as well as a neighbor who says that the dogs were friendly.

The city of Beebe released this statement regarding the killing:

“On or about March 13, 2015, Beebe Animal Control personnel and Beebe City Police personnel responded to a report of “at large” dogs at or around the 600 block of N. Fir in Beebe. Two (2) dogs were impounded on that date; one (1) of the dogs was aggressive and both dogs did not have tags and there was no proof that the dogs had required vaccinations. Animal Control personnel were able to locate the owner of the two (2) dogs and that owner has had multiple dogs impounded by Animal Control on prior occasions. At the time the two (2) dogs were impounded on March 13, the owner was given verbal notice that the dogs were being impounded and the owner responded, “…take them.” On or about March 23, 2015, the aggressive dog was destroyed as authorized by the attached Beebe City Ordinance (6.04.15). Before the aggressive dog was destroyed, the owner made no attempt to seek release of this dog. After the aggressive dog was destroyed, the owner appeared and requested release of the second dog, which was granted on conditions that the dog be tagged and properly vaccinated. The owner has still not complied with those conditions as of the time and date of this press release.”

I guess the typewriter must have run out of ink before they got to the “Sorry for your loss” part.  But at least we know the owner is a no-license-no-proof-of-vaccines scumbag who doesn’t care about her pets.  It’s exactly these sort of heartless slackers who come up with $1200 on short notice to save their dogs from the pound.  The city should totally kill their dog, who no doubt was evaluated by a qualified behaviorist and given every opportunity for behavioral modification in an appropriate setting over a period of months.  Also, nice touch with the whole you-can-reclaim-your-beloved-family-member-from-this-pile-of-carcasses.  Stay classy.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

State Report: Lawton Pound Sucks but More Importantly, Facebook Sucks Worse

The Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners conducted an investigation into allegations of neglect and other wrongdoing at the Lawton pound at the request of the city manager.  The 464 page report starts out with a page titled “Conspiracy and Connection of Defendants”.  On one side of the chart featured on this page is a local spay-neuter clinic and on the other side is a Facebook page with various uh, conspirators named below each.  Yes, that says Facebook page.

The Facebook page is administered by a group called Lawton Citizens for Humane Treatment of Animals.  On that page, which I have not visited, people apparently post complaints regarding the mistreatment and killing of animals at the Lawton pound.  I know this because the board’s lead investigator has screencapped a ton of inflammatory posts from that page and included them in the report.  To show that some people act like dicks on Facebook, I guess.

If you are interested in reading a bunch of trash talk and the investigator’s wagging-finger-o-shame responses, knock yourself out.  The gist of the report, in my interpretation, is that oh sure, animals were being neglected and starved to death at the Lawton pound but you know, Facebook is terribleawfulsuperblech.  And the employees are doing the best they can.

Here are a few items I fished out of the muck and summarized that don’t have anything to do with Facebook:

Page 27, Item 69: Employees complained to the investigator that neither the kennel staff nor the ACOs had been properly trained; kennel staff refused to do their jobs and refused to follow instructions from supervisors; male staff refused to wash bowls or do laundry because it’s “woman’s work”; sick and injured animals were left to suffer without veterinary care.

Page 28, Item 70 and 72:  If the rescue group trying to pull a pet was not liked by the employees, they would kill the animal in retaliation.

Page 28, Item 73:  A dog was placed in a kennel with a dog who was known to be a resource guarder so that workers wouldn’t have to clean an additional cage.  (This was reportedly not an uncommon practice.)  The resource guarder prevented the other dog from eating and the dog starved to death after 3 weeks.  One of the employees responsible for the dead dog’s feeding and daily care has since transferred to the Lawton police department.

Recommendations, Pages 39 – 40:

  • Rotate animal killing shifts among the entire staff so that each person gets a longer break between killing shifts.
  • Ban all the people who talk smack on Facebook.
  • Sharing information and photos from inside the facility should be “strictly prohibited”.
  • The city needs to re-evaluate the practice of allowing animals discovered to be pregnant during spay surgery to give birth.
  • Staff should be trained in areas such as basic animal care.
  • A fresh coat of paint!

The city manager says that by July 1, all the violations noted in the report will be brought into compliance.  I would note that one of those violations was starving a dog to death.  But yeah, let’s silence the critics, start killing unborn puppies and kittens, slop some paint on the place and call it good.  The Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners must be so proud.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

The War on Cats: Chicago Edition

Cat ID #A125956 at the Chicago pound, kisted as lost, as shown on PetHarbor

Cat ID #A125956 at the Chicago pound, listed under “Lost Pets”, as shown on PetHarbor.

In November 2014, the Chicago city council approved an ordinance which reduced the mandatory holding period for stray animals at Chicago Animal Care and Control. Stray dogs of unknown ownership now only get three days for their owners to find them. Stray cats of unknown ownership now get zero days. Litters of puppies aged four months and younger of unknown ownership (as well as their dams) also get zero days. Here are two relevant snippets from the ordinance, which can be read in full here:

chicago ordinance1

chicago ordinance2

At that time, Brad Powers, the assistant director at CACC, used the word “perfect” in describing the ordinance to local media:

“Based on analysis of best practices, and recommendation from a variety of shelter experts we think this ordinance strikes the perfect balance between giving a pet owner enough time to look for their lost pet, and giving the stray animal a better chance to be rescued or adopted,” Powers said.

To clarify, when it comes to lost cats, he’s saying that zero days is the perfect amount of time to give owners to find their family members. Now you know where you stand, cat owners.

But assurances were reportedly given that despite the language within the ordinance, animals would not be killed before five days:

When the city initially reached out to PAWS Chicago, one of multiple humane groups it consulted, about the change, founder and chair Paula Fasseas said the rescue organization’s first concern was that this move not increase or speed the number of animals being euthanized by the city, a concern that had been echoed in earlier city hearings on the matter. Those rules—that an animal brought into CACC cannot be euthanized for at least five days—Fasseas was assured, would not be changed.

Sounds like a slippery slope to me.

And a final GFY to cat owners from Fasseas:

For pet owners concerned the shorter hold could mean their lost animals would be at risk of being adopted by another family, Fasseas says the ordinance’s passage has the added benefit of encouraging microchipping, a practice she calls “critical.”

“[I]f owners are upset because the cat’s not being held for five days, then they should microchip their cat.”

And if you don’t like being poor, you should get a job as a banking executive you slouch.

In its recent newsletter sent to rescuers, CACC states that stray cats won’t be held:

Portion of the Chicago ACC newsletter that was recently sent to rescue groups.

Portion of the Chicago ACC newsletter that was recently sent to rescue groups.

CACC makes no mention of the promise that cats of unknown ownership won’t be killed before five days.  Slope, so slippery.

Chicago is the latest city to treat cats like second class pets by refusing to grant them equal protections as are provided to dogs.  And by extension, cat owners are treated as second class citizens with so-called animal welfare experts decreeing they must not love their pets as much as dog owners love theirs.  This is an unconscionable view and all those promoting it are diminishing pet owners’ rights.

The city employees at the Chicago pound need to do their jobs and protect lost pets from being harmed while their owners look for them – including the harm caused by breaking up families.  Shame on the city of Chicago for enacting this destructive ordinance and shame on CACC for failing to advocate for the lost pets in their care.

(Thank you Susan and Mary for sending me info on this story.)

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.)

Case Update: “Peanut” Kilby Asks Judge for Reduced Sentence

Atlanta’s Fox-5 reporter Randy Travis will forever be a hero to me for jamming himself in the doorway of a fake “no kill” shelter he was exposing while a board member tried to shut him out.  The director of the facility he exposed, Lowanda “Peanut” Kilby, was found guilty on 60 counts of racketeering and theft charges in connection with the pet killings she conducted in secret.

This week, Kilby’s lawyer asked a Rabun Co superior court judge for a reduction in the 25 year sentence on the grounds that it was unfair and had been influenced by Randy Travis’s public expose on the news.  The judge refused.  Kilby had previously been heard on a jailhouse phone call attempting to cheat justice by suggesting a favor be called in from a judge she said owed her.  That didn’t work either.  She’s now requesting a new trial.

While it’s Kilby’s right as a citizen to work the court system to the best of her lawyer’s abilities, I just hate that she still has hope she’s getting out of this.  Through her “Lucky Dog” program, she snuffed the life out of countless pets whose sponsors thought they were being rehomed.  She showed no mercy.  She took all hope away from those animals.  She needs to serve her time and feel “lucky” it’s not yet a crime to needlessly kill healthy, friendly pets because if it was, she would have been prosecuted for much more than racketeering.  She’s in her own Lucky Dog program right now and should be thankful that there isn’t someone like her in charge of it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

No One Minding the Store in Dolton, IL as Stray Pets Suffer and Die

The Village of Dolton, IL indicates on its website that it uses Cook Co for its animal control services.  It’s not clear that either the village or the county has a facility to shelter animals.  But the ABC affiliate in Chicago reports that Dolton pays a private vet clinic, the Dolton Animal Hospital, to care for strays:

The Village of Dolton has had a long-time agreement with the hospital to drop off strays, even when the facility is closed. The hospital gets a fee from the village to take care of the strays.

On Sunday, a Dolton police officer was dropping off a stray dog at the vet clinic and observed conditions reflecting serious neglect.  Four of the dogs in the hospital were dead in their cages, urine and feces were everywhere, and nine other dogs and one cat were starving to death.

Dep. Chief Michael Anton of the Cook County Sheriff’s Police said the animals “were very close to dying” at the time they were removed by authorities on Sunday.

“As far as we know, we have not had any complaints here,” Dep. Chief Anton said.

That does not appear to be the case, per reporting form the CBS affiliate in Chicago:

Tina Robinson says her dog Duke was like a member of her family when she boarded the dog at the hospital for a week back in July. It that was the last time she saw her beloved pet alive.
She said the dog was healthy.
Robinson says she notified village officials about her concerns but was told nothing could be done about the hospital.

The Cook County sheriff’s police are investigating the clinic, which has been ordered closed, and have questioned an employee. No arrests have been made at this time. The CBS reporter got a brief moment to speak with the clinic’s owner on camera, but he seems lackadaisical about dead dogs rotting in his hospital, noting to the reporter that they were all strays, so pfft:

“It’s a sad situation, but we’ll look into it and get back to you if there’s anything more,” said Dr. Amardeep Sangha, describing what happened inside his hospital.

Sangha says he’s been in business for 20 years. He says some of the animals are strays brought to him by the village in many cases already sick and dying.

He says the four dead dogs had all been abandoned to the streets.

“Those are all stray dogs.”

Gee, if only there was someone who went to vet school who was getting paid to take care of these animals. dot dot dot

Cook Co AC took the surviving animals away to an unnamed shelter. No word on whether those animals are now being cared for properly or if they’ve been killed.  The vet reportedly hasn’t been seen since his interview with the TV news and police have not spoken to him.

It seems hard to believe this kind of squalor developed in a vacuum. What about the previous dog who was left by police officers or ACOs at this place – did anyone notice anything wrong then? Or the pet before that? Or anyone, anytime, anything?  Did Dolton officials simply keep handing over checks to Dr. Sangha, asking no questions?  Did they communicate with the officers who dropped off stray pets at the hospital?  What about the lady whose healthy dog died while being boarded there – was her complaint filed in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’? How deep does the incompetence run in Doltsville Dolton?

(Thank you to everyone who sent me this story.)

NJ County Threatens Caretaker and Her Colony of Cats

Image from the header of the Gloucester Co AC webpage.  The header.

Image from the header of the Gloucester Co AC webpage. The header.

A compassionate person in Gloucester Co, NJ has been feeding community cats on her own property for years.  Sandra Leady has caught many of the cats and had them vaccinated and neutered at her own expense, since the Gloucester Co pound doesn’t do anything for free living cats except kill them.  There are an estimated 18 cats in the colony she’s feeding today.  But a cat hating neighbor recently called animal control to report her and the AC director used Ms. Leady’s kind acts against her:

The medical care she provided made her legally responsible for the animals, according to Gloucester County Animal Shelter Director Bill Lombardi.

After a warning notice from the animal control office, Leady has few options: Build a pen for the feral felines or let the county set cat traps in her yard.

I am not an attorney but does the county have the right to trespass on private property to set traps when the property owner doesn’t consent?  This seems wildly illegal to me.

The reason Ms. Leady is so distraught over the notice is because the Gloucester pound traps community cats, tosses them into cages for a week then kills them.  The director likes to emphasize how humane the whole thing is but it sounds more like torture to me:

Euthanasia is a “humane death” compared to what a feral cat faces in the elements, Lombardi said[.]

[…]

The wire cages are set on Sundays and retrieved on Fridays.

This week’s traps were empty, but the shelter’s “feral room,” a death row for wild felines, was full from previous collections.

So a cat trapped on a Sunday would be stuck in the trap, presumably without food, water or shelter from the elements until Friday.  Then left on death row for another seven days at the cat killing facility.  Then, for any lucky survivors, death.  My humane is tingling.

In 2013, the Gloucester Co pound killed roughly 80% of the more than 3500 cats taken in.  And the director wants the legal authority to steal more cats:

Fifteen of the county’s 24 towns have ordinances concerning cat licensing and felines at large. […]

“I’m for cat ordinances,” Lombardi explained. “It gives us a better grip on handling the problem in a lot of towns that have cat problems.”

Punitive legislation does not work.  Making criminals out of compassionate citizens is the opposite of what animal control ought to be doing, especially if they want to reduce the community cat population humanely and protect public health via neuter and vaccination.  But everything is justified because rabies:

“Rabies is the biggest concern and the reason why we trap,” Lombardi said Friday morning.

Rabies.  Because 20 cats have tested positive for rabies in Gloucester Co in the past 26 years.  So it’s an uncontrolled plague basically.  And cats must die.

I guess rabies vaccines for cats must not work in Gloucester Co.  Because if they did, surely the pound wouldn’t be killing cats by the thousands, using rabies as a weak sauce excuse:

“People think we get a kick out of doing this,” Lombardi noted. “It’s very emotional on our employees.”

Cat killer has a sad.  I wonder how “emotional” it is on free living cats forced to suffer in a trap for a week, tossed on death row for another, then injected with poison before they get sent to the landfill.  All of which is needless cruelty, inflicted by those paid to protect animals from harm, when proven alternatives such as TNR are available.  Not that anybody WANTS to kill animals, natch.

In the meantime Ms. Leady, who can not afford to build a pen such as the county is requiring, is worried for the lives of her colony cats:

Animal control officers need her decision soon, or she faces penalties, according to Leady, who claims she has not been informed of the exact penalties she faces.

“I’m an animal lover,” she insisted. “I won’t turn my back on them.

“I don’t care if they put me in jail. I won’t turn my back on an animal.”

Attention Gloucester Co:  This is what the person you pay to “shelter” animals should be saying.

There. I’ve identified your problem Gloucester Co. Fix it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Sonoma Co Fires Director Who Implemented Lifesaving Changes at Shelter

Remember that one time we had good news about the Sonoma Co shelter in CA?  Well hold on to that memory like a clip-on koala stuffy because it may be all you get.

Brigid Wasson, the shelter’s director for the past 11 months, was fired without reason by Sonoma Co last week, one month prior to her probationary period being fulfilled.  She describes her termination meeting with the county:

My boss and her assistant came to my office at three in the afternoon, announced their decision, then watched me as I packed my personal belongings and was escorted off the property like a criminal. I was shocked and devastated.

Ms. Wasson, who says she moved to Sonoma Co for this job, is credited by the county with increased rescue placements, establishing social media marketing, improved record keeping and the robust return to owner program for lost pets I blogged about previously.  The bottom line:

The shelter’s live release rate is now at 85 percent, up from 59 percent in 2008, according to the county.

In fact, Ms. Wasson told me she had calculated the year-to-date live release rate at 88% just days before being terminated.  And that she was working on a number of other programs:

  • The community cat program which had already reduced cat euthanasia by 75%
  • The Sonoma County animal related ordinance revision which included bringing the ordinance up to state code (it currently isn’t), adding TNR/cat-friendly language, removing breed-specific language (restrictions to Pit Bull type dogs), and reducing pet limit restrictions
  • An expanded coalition including shelters in our county as well as in neighboring counties.

A Sonoma Co ACO will temporarily run the shelter while the county seeks a permanent director.  The ACO will be the third director in 14 months.  It’s unknown what will happen to the changes and protocols instituted by Ms. Wasson at the shelter.  But the county’s message seems clear enough:  saving the lives of pets at the shelter is not the direction the county wants to go.  What type of applicant will be attracted to the position knowing that the previous director increased lifesaving and was fired by the county?  What will happen to the lost and homeless pets in Sonoma Co going forward?

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