Calling All Marion Co Trolls

trollWhen I’ve posted in past about Paws to the Rescue (PTTR), the group contracted to run the Marion Co pound in SC, it’s been like ringing the troll dinner bell, an hour late.  The reason I’ve posted about them in past is because the group appeared to have serious transparency issues, which is always a red flag for me, as well as some dubious policies in place.  And the group’s defenders talked attacked in circular gibberish while leaving so much virtual spittle.  So much.

PTTR reportedly took in more than $200,000 in the first six months of 2014.  But when the county requested an audit last year, the group failed to produce one.  And when the county asked a second time, giving a January 15, 2015 deadline, PTTR again failed to comply with the audit.  The county finally kicked PTTR to the curb:

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, Marion County took over the operation of the Marion County Animal Shelter and terminated its partnership with Paws to the Rescue to run the shelter, according to Tim Harper, the Marion County Administrator.

The shelter will be closed to the public until Jan. 20 while the county inventories supplies and equipment, and conducts an evaluation of the animals and records, Harper said.

An attorney for PTTR issued a statement calling the county’s actions “illegal” and “reckless” and stating the the lives of the animals in the shelter are now at risk.

PTTR has its usual array of excuses and chatter which appears designed to distract and confuse, including this letter from director Jen Nall, dated January 10, in which she states:

PTTR receives an operational stipend of $53,000 per year from Marion County. This is certainly not all the money we receive, and I never intended to imply that it was. We are also very grateful for our private donors, corporate donors,monies raised from adoption fees, and in-kind donations of food and supplies.

Compare that with this 2012 Facebook post from Kristin Kucsma, an economist affiliated with PTTR:

The County of Marion provides Paws to the Rescue (PTTR), the 501(c)(3) organization that manages the shelter, $53,000 per year to run the shelter. The shelter took in approximately 3,000 dogs in 2011. That breaks down to $18 per dog – not $18 per dog per day – $18 per dog PERIOD.

Although this is just one of the many concerns raised by donors and animal lovers regarding PTTR, it gives you an idea of the kind of trouble that’s been brewing. And it underscores the importance of a publicly available audit, beyond the normal financial transparency standards to which all shelters should adhere.

To be clear, the county taking over pound operations is likely not an improvement, although possibly for different reasons.  The pound made national news in 2008 due to a state senator receiving special treatment when adopting a dog then abandoning her after he’d allowed her to become pregnant while roaming loose.  The poor conditions at the pound were on display and the county sought a private group to take over operations.  Enter PTTR and the ensuing years of controversy.  I wonder fear what’s next for the lost and homeless animals of Marion Co.

Trolls, start your engines.

(Thanks Lisa 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.)

SC Pound Director Suspended After Cat Suffers Botched Surgery

Sylvester, as depicted on the WIS-TV website.

Sylvester, as depicted on the WIS-TV website.

After seeing a story on the news about overcrowding at the Lee Co pound in SC, 12 year old Luke Giddings began volunteering at the facility.  In the course of caring for a cat named Sylvester, the pair became best friends:

“Really, we bonded when I was giving him his medicine,” Luke said. “He was mad at me. Then, he just finally got over it and he was one of the most loving animals to me.”

The Giddings family decided to adopt Sylvester but the Lee Co pound director, Doris Winstead, said he had to be neutered first.  After the surgery, Sylvester stopped eating and using the litter box and was very lethargic.  Ms. Giddings contacted Doris Winstead to ask for details about the surgery.  She says Ms. Winstead advised that Sylvester had been taken to a local vet, Dr. Ken Currie, and a tumor had been found and removed during the neuter.  Ms. Giddings called Dr. Currie’s office to let them know she was bringing Sylvester in right away for a post-op check as he appeared to be very sick.  Dr. Currie said he’d never seen Sylvester before, let alone performed neuter or tumor removal surgery on the cat.

Dr. Currie did examine Sylvester and was unable to definitively determine whether the cat had been neutered as the swelling was so great.  Sylvester had a gaping wound which was infected and still bleeding.

Ms. Giddings says she asked Ms. Winstead again who did the surgery on Sylvester but she refused to say.  Ms. Giddings filed a report with the police and the SC Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is investigating.  Ms. Winstead has been suspended from the Lee Co pound.  Media outlets have been unable to reach her for comment.

I hope SLED not only looks at Sylvester’s case but every other animal who has been “neutered” and/or shipped up north by the Lee Co pound under Ms. Winstead’s direction.  If crimes have been committed, I hope the issue isn’t swept under the rug as we so often see in cases involving “just animals” and the “good people who do a hard job” who abuse them at so-called shelters.

Twelve year old Luke has been crying over his beloved cat who was needlessly butchered.  I wonder if he’ll ever volunteer at a pound again or adopt another shelter pet.  I hope Sylvester is able to fully recover in the care of his family and that no more pets will meet this same fate in Lee Co.  I hate to think of the ones who went before.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

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?

Discussion: Letter from Greenville Pound Vet Responsible for Kitten Killing Policy

In the past week, since I posted about the Greenville Co pound’s horrific policy on kitten killing, readers have been sending me e-mail exchanges they’ve had with the pound’s veterinarian, Teri Worl.  Dr. Worl is the person reportedly responsible for the decision to take newborn kittens of certain weights away from their mothers to kill them.  I am sharing one exchange here, sent to me by Diana Riglet, director of Foster Paws Rescue.

Ms. Riglet told me she forwarded an e-mail she had received from Austin Pets Alive celebrating three years of no kill and wrote her own letter along with it. This e-mail was sent to Paula Gucker, assistant county administrator, Shelly Simmons, division manager of the Greenville Co pound, and board members of Foster Paws Rescue. The e-mail was then apparently forwarded by someone to Dr. Worl. Here is Ms. Riglet’s original e-mail:

On Thursday, February 20, 2014 11:14 AM, Diana Riglet wrote:

Hi Paula:

As you can see GCAC doesn’t have to “reinvent the wheel”, but simply model their life saving efforts after a successful shelter.

When I see a situation unfolding at the shelter as I write this e-mail I wonder how dedicated to No Kill GCAC actually is. The cat sick hold kennels are full and there are several cats with ringworm. Rescue groups have been advised to pull these cats or they will lose their lives. I don’t understand why the shelter isn’t also reaching out to the cat loving public for help. I posted on the shelter FB pet rescue page, not the shelter, me personally, for foster homes for these cats. I also posted on Foster Paws Rescue FB page. So far this week my group has pulled seven cats and we are trying to secure foster homes to pull more. FYI four of the sick hold cats we thought well enough to go into the adoption center at Pet Smart. Why then were these cats not in the adoption kennels where they could be seen and possibly adopted by the cat loving public?

Why doesn’t the shelter have a ring worm ward and a URI ward? The cat loving public will adopt these cats!

The question also begs to asked, if the shelter is vaccinating on intake and has revamped its cleaning and medical protocols why are we still seeing so many cats with URI and ring worm?

Finally it seems that some momentum has been lost in terms of moving toward increasing the live save rate at the shelter. I’ve seen your 2013 stats. If accurate, a 50% live cat save rate is unimpressive. If all the programs and services of the No Kill Equation had been implemented with gusto you would have a 90% or better live save rate by now. Many shelters have achieved just such a live save rate within a year or sooner of implementing all the programs/services. It doesn’t take five years! In fact those who say they’ll be No Kill in five years never achieve No Kill.

Diana Riglet

This is the response she received from Dr. Worl who, to reiterate, was not one of the intended recipients:

On Friday, March 7, 2014 8:39 AM, “Worl, Teri” <> wrote:

Dear Diana,

I would love to respond to your concerns regarding the veterinary care of our animals. It would be much easier for me to do that if you would direct your questions to me, a veterinarian, rather than asking someone without veterinary training to comment on veterinary questions. With that said, I will address each of your points.

A question I would like answered about the “successful shelters” to which you are referring is how many healthy cats do they have awaiting adoption? While we would love for all of our cats to find loving homes it is very difficult to justify using more resources to rehome sick cats when healthy cats are being euthanized due to space constraints.

But more to the point, we do reach out to the public for help rehoming sick animals. In fact, all you have to do is walk around our shelter to see signs pleading for foster homes for sick animals. There are hundreds of animals in our foster care program, most of them there because they are ill. We don’t, however, adopt out sick animals to the general public as that would not only be very irresponsible of us, but sick animals cannot undergo surgery and should not receive vaccinations. Instead, we encourage customers to foster-to-adopt, as many of them plan to adopt the animals when they return to health. The foster-to-adopt program has been very successful; in fact nearly 100 cats have been saved by it in just the last two and a half months that might otherwise have had to be put to sleep. This is in addition to our regular cat adoption efforts.

The four cats in sick hold to which you referred were not on the adoption floor because a trained veterinarian had examined them and determined that they were not yet healthy enough to return to the adoption floor. There are many very subtle signs of illness displayed in cats and dogs which typically go unnoticed if not specifically checked for. In addition, if full courses of medications are not completed the animal is at higher risk of relapse. Furthermore, cats continue actively shedding viruses beyond resolution of clinical signs so we take extra precautions in our sick animals. Taking an animal straight out of sick hold and putting them into a stressful environment such as PetSmart is highly unadvisable as it increases viral shedding by 60% and puts other animals at risk.

We would love to have specific wards for different illnesses. But we do not even have enough wards to house all of the healthy animals we have here, much less the sick animals.

Illness in cats is a multifaceted issue. It takes several days for a vaccine to prime the immune system of an animal. Generally speaking, it is a minimum of 5 days before a vaccinated animal would respond well enough to a vaccine for it to be effective. Depending on age, an animal may require between 1-3 booster vaccines given every 2-4 weeks to be considered immune to the disease against which we vaccinate. This is best case scenario and assumes a healthy animal. Cats and dogs are vaccinated prior to entering the general population, however, since the vaccine will not be effective for several days the cats may still be susceptible to any disease to which they are exposed. Unfortunately, this is the least of our challenges with cat illness.

While vaccines are important in preventing illness in cats stress reduction is infinitely more important. About 60-75% of cats coming into the shelter will already be harboring viral diseases. This is the same percentage of cats harboring illness in the community. They are in carrier states. However, they do not shed these viruses consistently and do not show signs of illness until and unless they become stressed. Stress suppresses the immune system and allows secondary bacterial infections to take hold. This is when cats start to show signs of illness.

The same is true for ringworm. Many cats will be in a carrier state and never show clinical signs of the disease. But when they become stressed they may start losing hair. Once ringworm spores are shed an entire room can be quickly infected. To give ringworm the opportunity to spread in our shelter by keeping infected cats in adoptable areas would not only be unfair to unaffected cats but, as a zoonotic disease, is also a public health risk to those individuals entering our facility. Should we someday have a ringworm ward, where special precautions can be made when entering/exiting the area to protect healthy cats as well as people visiting, adoption opportunities may then be a conceivable option.

We have taken many steps to help reduce stress in our cats. In my last correspondence with you I invited you to come in and discuss the efforts we have made but you did not respond.

Finally, I will leave you with the following:
Animals being euthanized in shelters indicates a problem in the community.

In the two emails I have read from you there has been considerable criticism and negativity. Constant badmouthing by rescue groups and other individuals in the community is not only detrimental to the shelter but it directly harms the animals you say you want to help.

The animals here get sick because we are overcrowded. Not because we don’t care properly for them. If you want to save the cats then help us get the healthy cats out of here BEFORE they get sick. Pull healthy, highly adoptable cats quickly and get them into homes. It is a chain reaction. If you take a healthy cat you will get it rehomed much more quickly and use fewer resources. Once that cat is rehomed then pull another cat and do the same. If you can place two cats in the time that it would take you to get one cat healthy enough to adopt then you have saved double the number of cats. And if you’ve pulled double the number of cats from the shelter then that reduces the number of cats in the wards which, in turn, lowers the level of stress and illness in the cats and fewer cats are at risk of euthanasia due to illness or space constraints.

Every person in this shelter is here because they love animals. We have the same goal that you do: to save the lives of these innocent animals! So instead of criticizing us why won’t you get behind us and listen to some of our ideas about how to help? We could certainly use your help.

Dr. Teri Worl
Shelter Veterinarian
Greenville County Animal Care Services
328 Furman Hall Rd
Greenville, SC 29609

Ms. Riglet states that she replied by e-mail that she would be happy to meet with Dr. Worl. Further, she says she stopped by the pound one day and asked to see Dr. Worl but was told she wasn’t there. Ms. Riglet says she left a greeting card with a note requesting a meeting, plus a bound copy full of material on no kill. She never received a response.

I am opening up the floor for your impressions. Does reading this letter from Dr. Worl make you feel better, worse or the same about her policy to take newborn kittens of certain weights from their mothers to kill them? If you are a rescuer, foster, or other shelter pet advocate, how does Dr. Worl’s letter make you feel as far as partnering with her to save lives? Based upon this letter, what do you believe is the likelihood of the Greenville Co pound achieving no kill under Dr. Worl’s leadership? If you were advocating for no kill in Greenville Co, what might be your next steps?

SC Pound Policy: Take Newborn Kittens Away from Nursing Mothers and Kill Them

Mama cat and newborn kittens, saved by a member of the public.  Because kittens.  (photo by Casey post)

Mama cat and newborn kittens, saved by a member of the public in Ohio. Because kittens. (photo by Casey Post)

The Greenville Co pound in SC has implemented two new policies concerning cats:

1. Kittens born at the pound who weigh less than 100 grams will be taken from their mothers and killed immediately.  The reason, as stated in an e-mail written by Susan Bufano, the community relations coordinator for the Greenville Co pound, in response to a concerned citizen:

It is not a normal, healthy birth weight and our vet has determined that they will probably not survive.

“Probably not” indicates to me an inherent admission that there is some hope for survival. And I think that hope is very reasonable, considering the following:

  • The ASPCA says 100 grams is “an average birth weight for kittens… depending on breed and litter size.”  Average means some kittens will weigh a little more than 100 grams, some a little less.  Size of the mother cat and number of kittens in the litter must be taken into account when evaluating birth weight of each individual.
  • This government study which looked at newborn kitten weights in five different cat breeds found that only two breeds, Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat (both large cats), had kittens which averaged more than 100 grams at birth.  The other three breeds studied – Birman, Persian, and Siamese/Oriental Shorthair – all had kittens whose average weight at birth was between 82 and 97 grams.
  • A random veterinarian I found via Google wrote: “Kittens have a normal birth weight of 100 ± 10 g (3.5 ± 0.35 oz). Kittens with a birth weight of less than 90 g (3.2 oz) have poor survival rates.”

Given this information, it’s not at all clear to me that the Greenville Co pound policy is based in science.  That is, the notion that kittens weighing less than 100 grams at birth “will probably not survive” appears dubious, at best.  And to be clear, taking newborn kittens of any weight away from their nursing mothers in order to kill them is something only monsters would do.  Kittens have a right to live and their mothers have the right to care for them.  No animal “shelter” policy trumps those rights.  Any “shelter” staff members who do not recognize that fact should resign immediately, before any additional animals are harmed due to their failures.

The other new policy at the pound:

2. Orphaned kittens under one pound are deemed “rescue only” and must leave the shelter within three hours. The reason, per Ms. Bufano’s e-mail:

We want our fosters to focus on the animals who have the highest likelihood for survival[.]

It was so hard on wonderful, loving fosters to take these neonate kittens home only for them not to thrive (and, the small weight also ended up indicating illness in the mothers) and pass away, regardless of how hard they cared for them. I witnessed the agony of many fosters who blamed themselves, when we all know that some kittens just don’t make it. They will be fine one day and die the next.

So, the decision was made to save the animals that had the most chance at survival. In doing so, we are anticipating more life saving, not less.

Wow, apparently it takes a whole mountain of bullshit to allow monsters to sleep at night.

By branding pets “rescue only”, shelters shut out an enormous pool of potential help:  the general public.  It’s not a good strategy to increase lifesaving.  Also bad:  using phony we-care-about-rescuers’-feelings as an excuse for killing kittens.  How did someone even think this twisted thing up?  Also also bad:  requiring rescue groups, typically operated out of people’s homes on shoestring budgets, to somehow get orphaned kittens out of the Greenville Co pound within three hours of arrival.

Rescuers often have day jobs, families, and other pets in need of care and will rarely be in a position to drop everything in order to quickly snatch kittens from the kill room at the pound.  That is, assuming the pound has promptly notified rescue contacts by mental telepathy since e-mail or voicemail obviously won’t suffice in these situations.  How would you like to be the rescuer who checks her e-mail at lunch or after work and finds out a litter of orphaned kittens you would have been willing to save was killed by Greenville Co because you didn’t check your messages sooner?  How is threatening to kill newborn orphaned kittens consistent with the county’s purported concern for rescuers’ emotional well-being?

While those who kill shelter pets instead of doing their jobs often blame the so-called irresponsible public for the killing, it is the shelter staff, following antiquated and inhumane policies designed to kill pets instead of helping them, who are to blame for the killing.  In fact, no rescuers, fosters, adopters and no one outside of the Greenville Co pound should blame themselves for the needless killing being done there.

Greenville Co pretends to be interested in lifesaving and pretends to care about the emotional toll taken on the compassionate public willing to help shelter pets, all the while implementing policies so cruel and archaic, no one with a conscience need perform more than a cursory examination to determine how heartless and inconsistent with animal sheltering those policies are.  Shame on Greenville Co for pretending to care.  There are few worse things in this world.  And they do those there, too.

Added, April 19, 2014:

Bringing up from the comments, from spaycritter, for those wanting to know who to contact about the needless killing of kittens at the Greenville Co pound:

Just an FYI– emails/calls to GCACS will be spun into gold.. Seriously , they will be said to “create drama , and take away from the staff’s ability to care for the animals in our facility”… at least , that’s what has been said on past attempts to shine a light. A better tactic is to contact the bosses of the boss..Here is contact info for those interested
Go to the county admin and county council..And since Greenville County contracts with Spartanburg County, contacting the same offices of S’burg county would be good..



Advocates Allege Animal Neglect and Death at Montgomery Co Pound

The Leaf Chronicle reports on a couple of incidents which happened in May at the Montgomery Co pound in Clarksville, TN:

A litter of kittens was found rolling around one of their dead siblings, which had been there for hours if not days. The full litter and their mother had to be put down.

Also in May, a litter of “four puppies were found sitting in the drain covered in fecal matter.”  One of the puppies died.

Local advocates say these are not isolated incidents but part of a pattern of neglect at the pound.  The director, Tim Clifton, defends the pound’s care of pets:

“This is not a 5-star doggy hotel,” Clifton said. “We’re an animal control facility.”

Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers has indicated that she would investigate claims of neglect but stands by Clifton, on the job for the past year, and says he’s improved things greatly.  She specifically notes that the kill rate is down 25% and all 9 full time staffers are now certified to kill animals. Both contend the care provided at the pound is more than adequate.

Volunteers and advocates claim otherwise.  They say that staff hoses down kennels with dogs inside as well as numerous other violations of the county’s animal shelter manual.

One advocate e-mailed Clifton about the dead kitten incident which happened in May.  His response, in its entirety:

“I will not dignify that absurd slanderous lie with a response. If you would like to come down, we will talk about it, or better yet come take some animals,” Clifton wrote[.]

But in fact Clifton acknowledges the kitten did die and the entire family was killed after discovery.  At issue is what volunteers claim they saw:

Shawna Lund, Wendy McKay and Raven Gutierrez, three volunteers, found the dead kitten.

“Raven got Shawna because she noticed there was a really weird smell in the cat room,” McKay said.

The volunteers say the kitten had been dead long enough to go into rigor mortis and expose the other kittens to infection, giving the full litter of kittens a green eye excrement.

“When she pulled it out, the cat was stuck to the edge of the bed, and we literally had to pull him out,” McKay said.

The volunteers tried to clean the eye excrement off of the other kittens, in one case to horrible effect.

“We were putting warm compresses on it,” McKay said. “Shawna kind of rubbed too hard, one of the eyes just exploded out.”

The full litter and its mother had to be put to sleep because of exposure to the dead kitten, which the volunteers say lasted many hours and possibly days, a time span Clifton denies.

Clifton denies the dead kitten was stiff or stuck to the bedding.  He says he watched an employee clean the cage that morning and that cages are cleaned several times throughout the day as well.  And:

“A kitten did die, but it was a brand new litter of kittens,” Clifton said. “Brand new kittens can die.”

No one seems to be advocating for the fact that the surviving kittens and mother had a right to live, which is troubling to me.

The Animal Control Committee has been hearing concerns from local advocates but doesn’t plan to address them in any meaningful way until the October 24 meeting.  Until then, kittens can die, I guess.  Oh and yay for 9 people killing animals at the Not 5 Star Doggy Hotel.

On a side note, I was horrified to see a Facebook posting from the pound in Lee County, SC indicating they were sending 27 dogs to Clarksville, TN.  Rescues there clearly have their hands full already.  How can Clarksville rescue groups justify importing dogs from out of state while pets are suffering and dying at their own pound?

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Kershaw Co: More Pet Killing, More Reporting Problems, More Excuses

These are the 2012 stats for the Kershaw Co pound in SC:

  • Total Intake:  3851
  • Total Killed:  2858
  • Kill Rate:  74%  (not included on report)

But a closer look reveals that once again, the math does not add up.  If you take a look at this portion of the report which tallies the animals killed, you’ll notice that the months of January and February are missing entirely:

Portion of annual report from the Kershaw Co pound in SC, obtained via FOIA request.  (click to enlarge)

Portion of the 2012 annual report from the Kershaw Co pound in SC, obtained via FOIA request. (click to enlarge)

And in this portion, February and August are missing:

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

I guess we’re just supposed to take them at their word that the TOTAL column figure is correct.  Although there is apparently no way of knowing for certain from this report how many pets Kershaw Co killed in 2012, the fact that so many animals were killed for behavior and for being sick is revealing.  The number of animals killed annually by any shelter for behavior should be zero or in the case of special circumstances, some number extremely close to it.  Illness is not a reason to kill a pet unless a veterinarian determines the pet is medically hopeless and suffering.  The percentage of animals killed due to illness should be very small, definitely in the single digits with regard to percentage of total intake.  “Orphan” is not a medically hopeless condition and the number of animals killed for that reason should be zero.  Space is yet another excuse for needless killing and an outright admission that the shelter is failing to do its job.  The number of animals killed for space should be zero.

The portion of the report tallying intake numbers is also missing January and February so the totals do not add up here either:

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

The above portion from 2012 includes a comparison figure from 2011 which also fails to match up.  The 2012 report indicates that 4211 is the total intake number for 2011 but the 2011 report said that number was 4328.


Portion of the 2011 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

It took me months to get the 2012 records from the county.  I guess now I know why.  In between the pound’s rigorous pet killing schedule and categorizing of excuses, someone was attempting to learn math.  Unfortunately for the dogs and cats in Kershaw Co, it looks like the pound is more successful at killing than anything else.

SC Shelter Attempted to Cover Up Killing of Family Dog

Bodey, as depicted in this image on the WECT website.

Bodey, as depicted on the WECT website.

Bodey was a 2 year old Lab belonging to Christopher and Desislava Mertens of Horry Co, SC.  He had been raised from puppyhood and was a beloved family member.  When the Mertens were overseas on vacation recently, they found out Bodey had gotten lost.  They made every effort to find him:

“We did Facebook, Craigslist, every page we could think of as far as spreading the word,” said Christopher Mertens.

They enlisted the help of friends and local shops, putting up posters and online posts every day.

The Mertens also called the Horry Co Animal Care Center but were told there were no records indicating Bodey was there.  Having heard that a neighbor may have called AC regarding Bodey, the owners pressed on, eventually tracking down the ACO who had impounded him.  That ACO finally told the couple that Bodey had been adopted.  They asked if they could leave their information for the new owners so they might be able to see Bodey and know he was safe.  The pound refused.  The family continued to worry and ultimately contacted the local news for help.  A WCET reporter obtained records from the county showing Bodey had been impounded, held for 7 days, and killed.

The Horry Co pound initially told the family that Bodey wasn’t there and never had been.  That was a lie.  Then they said Bodey had been adopted.  That was another lie.  Only when the reporter got involved and demanded the public records was the truth known.  I wonder if the county would have ever told the truth about killing Bodey.

The couple was devastated:

“If you pick up a dog and you give that dog five days to live, but you don’t post a picture of him, or put up anything notifying anyone of that, you’re not giving that animal a chance, period,” said Mertens.

The county, despite having been exposed as liars, admits no wrongdoing in the attempted cover up:

The sad reality, the county says, is thousands of animals are brought to the Animal Care Center every year. The decision to put an animal down is based on the animal’s health, the potential to be adopted, and the amount of space in the shelter.

Whatever lets you sleep at night, Horry Co.  It’s monsters like you that keep me awake.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

SC Shelter Turns Away Rescuers and Their Cameras

Lancaster Co AC in SC kills 80% of its dogs and 90% of its cats.  The numbers alone are horrifying but recently shelter director Joel Hinson put up some roadblocks for rescuers who were previously saving some of the pets from the dumpster – for the protection of the animals, natch.  Specifically he has disallowed shelter pet photos by rescuers (photos are now allowed only by staff) and is turning away any rescuers who don’t have a federal 501(c)3 status:

[R]ecently, he said, it has been difficult to distinguish between legitimate nonprofit rescue groups and “people looking for a cheap animal to sell and make money off of.”

He explained his reasoning for the added requirement to the local paper:

“When you apply for these credentials they have to have a mission statement. They’re saying they’re going to get them sterilized, get them their shots and get them to a good home,” Hinson said. “We think if you take your time to spend the money, and do the paperwork through a lawyer, to get your 501, they’ve taken the time and commitment to make this all happen.”

Whether you agree, disagree or remain undecided about the idea that IRS status is a good indicator of rescuer behavior, I think we can all agree that any shelter director killing more than 80% of the pets in his care should be looking for ways to increase the live release rate, not winnow it down further.  Sure it sucks if there are some rescue groups going into the Lancaster pound “looking for a cheap animal to sell and make money off of.”  But you know what sucks worse?  Killing those animals instead.  Although Mr. Hinson doesn’t see his new rules as negatively impacting the number of pets who get rescued:

“If people really care about the animals, the same people can still pull the animals as long as they are affiliated with a 501(c)3,” he said.

Got that rescuers?  If you really care about the animals, you will come up with $1000, get a lawyer and invest the time needed to acquire federal non-profit status.  If you don’t have the money, or the lawyer or the time – apparently you don’t really care about the animals.  Unlike say, Joel Hinson, I guess.

Animal control has also stopped letting rescue groups take photos of the animals in the shelter because, Hinson said, some groups would post the photos with inaccurate information about when the dog or cat would be euthanized. The photos would create uproar on Facebook and prompt dozens of calls to animal control begging them not to kill the dog or cat, Hinson said.

Yeah, I bet that’s annoying.  Callers begging to save the lives of pets and they might even have the kill date wrong!  Sounds too much like work.  The solution is of course to bar all rescuers from photographing animals at the pound.  Then no one will post any erroneous information on Facebook ever.  And surely the staff at the pound has nothing else to do besides getting good quality photos of the animals and promptly posting them online with accurate info.

And then there’s the concern from rescuers that if they spend $1000 on getting a 501(c)3 status, they won’t be able to afford parvo treatment for the puppies they save from Lancaster pound.  Mr. Hinson has a solution for that too.  You’re probably thinking it’s vaccination upon intake for all animals, right?  Oh but you are so wrong:

The biggest help preventing the spread of diseases, he added, would be a larger shelter that allowed officials to separate puppies from dogs and keep the animals away from people during the quarantine period.

Keep the animals away from those filthy, parvo-carrying people.  Dang, I hate people.  Especially the kind that complain about pet killing with the wrong dates in mind and the ones who have no 501(c)3 for their rescue group.  They don’t really care about the animals.  They just want to come in and touch them with their grubby little hands and take their pictures to post online.  It’s gross.

(Thank you Stella for sending me the link to this story.)


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