Houston Has Shipped Thousands of Shelter Dogs to Colorado

Dog ID #A1296681 at BARC, as pictured on PetHarbor.

Dog ID #A1296681 at BARC, as pictured on PetHarbor.

This week, the Houston Press took an in-depth look at the issue of transporting dogs from the city’s BARC shelter to CO.  A well funded group called Rescued Pets Movement (RPM) pulled more than 4300 dogs from the Houston city pound in 2013 and shipped them to rescues in CO.  What happened to the dogs later is unknown:

No one can say with certainty what will happen to all of this shipment’s animals, nor can every other animal transferred to the groups be accounted for.


It’s no matter, though, because neither Mayor Annise Parker nor BARC Director Greg Damianoff appears to be concerned where the animals wind up, as long as they’re not Houston’s problem anymore.

Feel notfree to ask questions:

The Press learned quickly that asking questions about Houston dumping thousands of animals on another state is a bit of a sore spot. Neither Parker nor Damianoff would talk to us for this story, and BARC delayed the release of public records for 14 days. We had asked for the names of groups RPM partners with — information we believe the public has the right to see, since the public is footing part of the bill.


If you in any way question RPM’s practices, you are branded a dog-killer.

When the Houston Press contacted one of the receiving rescues to ask for numbers on the dogs imported from Houston, they got the runaround:

[Becca] Orin said she didn’t have exact numbers at the ready for how many RPM dogs Farfel’s [Farm Rescue] received and adopted out in 2013, but that she could probably get them. But, she said, “I’ll have to talk to RPM and see what they want us to say.”

But RPM and BARC are quick to cite numbers regarding the dogs Houston has sent out of state while shining up their PARTICIPANT trophies:

On a recent Facebook post, RPM congratulated BARC — and technically itself — on a January 2015 live release rate of 80.6 percent.


The numbers are impressive. Hundreds of dogs have been saved from death row. Hundreds more will need saving next month. And RPM will transport those to Colorado. Hundreds more will need saving the month after, and the month after that.

RPM will continue to congratulate BARC on those fabulous percentages. And percentages are math — you just can’t argue with them. On paper, those percentages are damned impressive.

On paper, those percentages don’t point out the obvious: Those dogs and cats are going to Colorado because no city in Colorado is suffering animal overpopulation like Houston is. Those cities, like the cities that Rescue Waggin’ partners with, tackled those problems years ago. And they did not tackle them by sending thousands of animals to Texas or anywhere else.

While it’s true that Colorado is not killing as many shelter pets as Texas, Colorado does still kill animals.  And many of them might have been saved had resources not been directed toward animals imported from other states.

If we take a look at the 2013 statistics (the most recent year available at this time) for all of Colorado’s registered shelters and rescues, we see the state started out the year with roughly 5000 dogs already in the system.  Over the course of the year, shelters and rescues took in roughly 79,000 additional dogs and imported more than 17,000 dogs from out of state.  Of the total reported dogs in the system, about 2000 were listed as DOA leaving roughly 82,000 dogs as potentially savable, excluding those imported from out of state.  We know that not every dog is savable but there are a number of open admission shelters in the United States saving 99% of their dogs.  In comparison, approximately 9% of the dogs in the CO system were killed or died in shelter care in 2013, excluding the imports. Instead of saving 99%, CO only saved 91% of its own dogs (and that’s including roughly 4000 dogs listed as “missing, stolen, etc.”), and then imported 17,000 more from other states.

I asked Davyd Smith of No Kill Colorado how both the importation of dogs and breed specific legislation (BSL), the discriminatory practice of banning dogs based on body shape, contributes to the needless killing of dogs in the state:

Colorado imported 17,000 dogs from out of state in 2013 and killed 7,000. Now even assuming that half of these dogs were truly euthanized, that means we passed an opportunity to save 3,500 because we imported too many dogs from other states.

BSL is still a problem in Colorado. Because of BSL there are many communities, including the single metro area of Denver, where Pit Bull types are not legal. 4,800 of the 7,000 dogs killed were Pit Bull type dogs. Clearly, they are not being assessed for temperament or health to land on the kill floor.

By shipping dogs to CO, Houston will not solve its shelter killing problems, which stem not from pet overpopulation (which has been debunked), but from a failure to fully implement the proven model used by successful open admission no kill shelters all over the country.  And Colorado will presumably continue to kill its own dogs who are being displaced by dogs imported from out of state.

Colorado is in a position to help shelter pets in its neighboring states but has no right to take the lives of healthy/treatable dogs already in its shelter system while importing more.  Colorado needs to get its house in order by saving every shelter animal who can be saved statewide, regardless of body shape.  This might mean reducing the number of imported dogs in order to redirect resources toward those already in CO shelters, waiting for help.  And it most certainly means directing resources toward the elimination of breed bans.  Likewise, Houston could redirect the vast resources being spent on transport toward implementing the programs of the No Kill Equation in order to save its own shelter pets.

An unwavering commitment to saving the lives of every healthy/treatable animal in the shelter is the foundation of no kill.  Start there.

(Thank you Clarice and Davyd for the links.)

Rhode Island Pound Closed, ACOs Suspended Amidst Police Investigation

The Woonsocket, Rhode Island police department is in charge of supervising the local pound.  On Tuesday the pound was closed indefinitely and its two ACOs suspended without pay pending a police investigation:

City solicitor Michael Marcello told NBC 10 an anonymous tip in November prompted Woonsocket police to launch an investigation into allegations that food and other donated supplies were being transported out of the Woonsocket shelter to a location in Burrillville.

The “location in Burrillville” was where one of the ACOs was living.  If the city solicitor phrased it to the media as a “location”, making it seem like some mysterious place, that sounds like cover up to me.  Then there’s this, from Dr. Ernest Finocchio, president of the RISPCA:

“I guess the good news is that this has nothing do [sic] do with animal cruelty.”

And this, from Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt:

Baldelli-Hunt noted there was no abuse of animals and that the animals were cared for properly.

Yeah – about that.

There were eleven dogs and no cats at the pound at the time it was ordered closed.  Eight dogs were transferred to other facilities.  Two were killed for behavior after being housed in the cinderblock structure for up to two years.  Another dog required emergency vet care.  The police guarded the facility during the removal of the dogs and wouldn’t allow the media inside, which is always reassuring.  But yay, no animal cruelty.  No transparency either, or adequate supervision apparently, but hey, it’s all good.  Cops sitting in unmarked cars outside the pound to prevent the press from reporting the truth is a hallmark of community trust.

Remind me again how southern shelters are run by good ol’ boys who don’t take proper care of pets while shelters up north are all shining beacons of progress where all the pets are saved.  I have trouble keeping my stereotypes straight sometimes.  I’m sure the many people shipping shelter dogs up north will be interested to know ignore what’s been happening in Woonsocket.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

PA Pet Store Chain Importing Shelter Animals from the South

Philly.com recently ran an article on a PA pet store chain that, like some others around the country, is switching from selling puppies and kittens obtained from commercial breeders to selling pets obtained from shelters.  Since shelter pets are being needlessly killed by directors who won’t do their jobs, any chance at avoiding the kill room sounds great.  Nonetheless, I have questions – and just because I do does not mean I’d rather see shelter pets killed than shipped for resale.  That is a false choice and one I won’t be entertaining in the comments.

The stores have been getting their rescue animals from Kentucky and Georgia shelters that have been vetted by the Humane Society of the United States.

Pets are being killed in PA shelters as well as in surrounding states.  Why would a PA pet store chain import animals from the south to stock its stores?  Shouldn’t they help the homeless pets in their own backyard (and then from their neighbors’) before importing them from the south?  Why should dogs and cats be subjected to the extreme stress of a road trip that takes all day (or days) when there are shelter pets available nearby?  The article does indicate the chain will start getting some pets from the PA SPCA as well but it makes little sense not to get all their pets locally, since PA shelter pets are going to the landfill otherwise.

How were the KY and GA shelters “vetted” by HSUS – a lobbying/fundraising group which actually has relatively little to do with animals shelters at all, let alone vetting them?  What is the HSUS vetting process?  Is money involved?  In past, HSUS has charged shelters for evaluations.  For example the Dallas pound was charged $25,000 for a 3 day HSUS evaluation in 2010.

The store is selling neutered, vaccinated, microchipped shelter pets for roughly $400 – $500.  Who is paying for these services and for the health certificates required for shipment?  Are the shelters receiving payment for the animals?  If the financial details in this arrangement are unknown, how can prospective buyers determine whether it constitutes fair trade?  The basis for the objection to pet store puppies and kittens is that they don’t constitute fair trade – with the animals being the ones who get shorted via health and quality of life concerns.  Is it reasonable to replace something objectionable with something unknown?

Some activists have been skeptical of the wave of store conversions, questioning whether all the animals are, indeed, from shelters and checked by vets.

Are the animals sold with documentation verifying their transfer from the shelter of origin and the veterinary health certificates and services they received?  Or it is just a Believe us type deal?

Representatives from the Pennsylvania SPCA and the Humane Society said they were confident that with Pets Plus Natural, any fears were misplaced.

Mmm’kay… but is there documentation?  Just in case someone isn’t prepared to go all in on the wildly comforting Believe us thing?

Helmetta Pound Mired in Failure, Director Appears Oblivious

After receiving a number of complaints regarding the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter in NJ, the Middlesex County Health Department inspected the pound on September 26 and September 30.  The South Brunswick Post reports that the first inspection report indicated multiple problems including the importation of dogs from the south without proper health certificates, housing healthy cats in the isolation area with sick cats, failure to record identification numbers on dog and cat records, failure to record parvo test results and cages not being cleaned with appropriate frequency.

Also on September 26, a letter from the Director of the Office of Health Services for the Middlesex Department of Public Safety and Health to the Helmetta pound advised that a cat was adopted out and subsequently diagnosed with panleukopenia.  The letter indicated “that all felines adopted within the next 10 calendar days must be seen by a veterinarian and cleared for adoption prior to finalizing of said adoption.”

This lead to conflicting reports of whether the Helmetta pound was closed for adoptions or not.  Pound director Michal Cielesz further muddied the waters by making what appear to be wildly contradictory statements to the South Brunswick Post:

“We are doing our due diligence to make sure we do the right thing,” she said.
Ms. Cielesz said that there were two or three cats in the adoption room with “upper respiratory infections coming on.”

We’re doing the right thing but there are sick cats in the adoption room with healthy cats?

“The cats were checked in the morning and we had a vet here,” she said. “We were examining the kittens. The kittens were bright, alert, and responsive. We came back a half a hour later and (one had) passed away. I don’t know what happened and there was a veterinarian here.”

Bright, alert and responsive to dead in 30 minutes or less?  How does this not raise an All Hands on Deck emergency within a shelter housing 150 cats?

But this isn’t the Helmetta pound’s first rodeo.  The NJ SPCA has also issued written warnings to the facility and will conduct unannounced follow up inspections to verify compliance.  And the New Jersey State Humane Police sent a letter to the Helmetta Borough Administrator last month regarding an investigation conducted in August.  The issues detailed in that letter include “failure to supply a living animal necessary care” for 3 sick kittens and administering improper doses of medicine to animals.

The Helmetta pound kills feral cats as a matter of policy.  And not only are they importing animals from the south, they reportedly shipped a group of cats to a shelter in SC.  Gee, last I checked, we have plenty of shelter cats already in SC.  And since most of them are going to the landfill, there is no way we should be importing more from NJ.  I don’t know what brain trust was behind that brilliant plan but hopefully they’ll go back to their day jobs soon.

In the meantime, the Helmetta pound director dismisses critics because haters gonna hate:

“It’s a personal campaign,” Ms. Cielesz said. “It’s not about the animals. I don’t think this (controversy) benefits the animals.”

Well it doesn’t “benefit the animals” in the same way that housing sick cats with healthy ones does or setting up shop as an animal importer/exporter when you can’t manage to get vet care for sick kittens or even notice when one is just minutes away from death.  But yeah, it’s prolly a personal thing.  Whaddaya gonna do?

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Assistant Dog Warden Under Investigation in Ohio

The Petfinder page for the Gallia Co Animal Shelter in Ohio describes the facility as a “HIGH kill shelter”.  There are 4 pets listed as available for adoption at the time of this post.

On February 14, a group called Friends of Gallia County’s Animals posted on its Facebook page that “11 dogs were euthanized at the pound this morning because the assistant warden couldn’t wait a day for us to clean the facilities from the dogs who are leaving.”  Friends of Gallia County’s Animals appears to be referring to dogs who were pulled for transport to the New England area, where shelter dogs are also killed, for anyone keeping track.

WSAZ reports today that the 11 dogs who were killed were all vaccinated and friendly:

“There are 11 (other) dogs that we can’t help because they’re aggressive,” [Friends of Gallia County’s Animals board member Nathan] Weatherholt said. “They’re cat-aggressive, they’re food-aggressive, they’re people-aggressive. He could have picked 11 of those dogs and euthanized any of those 11 dogs. It would have still been tragic and horrible, but it wouldn’t have been the 11 dogs we were looking at.”

Never fall into this trap of saying it would be better to kill shelter dogs who don’t like cats or have some other perceived flaw than to kill animals who fit an arbitrary, subjective standard.  All shelter animals have the right to live.  Full stop.  If you aren’t advocating equally for the least adoptable animals in the place and the white and fluffies, you aren’t advocating.  What you are doing is buying into the culture of killing and bolstering the position that shelter animals have no inherent right to live.

An unnamed member of the Friends group alleges that the assistant warden killed the 11 dogs via heartstick without sedation.  Ohio code states that heartstick may only be used “on a sedated or unconscious animal”. The Gallia Co sheriff is investigating the matter and the assistant dog warden has been reassigned to a different county department while the investigation takes place.

Gallia County Commission President David Smith says the shelter is not a no-kill shelter, and it’s unclear at this point if anything wrong was done.

This is a consequence of maintaining a culture of killing.  If you believe shelter pets are born with the right to live, opt out.

(Thanks Clarice and mikken for the links.)


The Tuh Files: There is a Shortage of Dogs in Michigan

In August, Bloomberg ran a piece claiming there were 50,000 stray dogs in Detroit, MI – a claim widely disputed by various animal advocates.  (We talked about it on the blog at the time.)  Michigan Humane Society, which doesn’t hold an animal control contract but functions primarily as a pet killing facility anyway, was not one of the agencies disputing the figure at the time.  In fact, they tried to fundraise off the claim.

Regardless of the what actual number is, Detroit does have stray dogs and they are being killed at a horrifying rate at area animal shelters.  When asked about the ACOs who work in the field, rounding up the city’s stray dogs, AC head Harry Ward told Bloomberg:

“We are really suffering from fatigue, short staffed” and work too much overtime, he said in an interview.

Kristen Huston from All About Animals Rescue talked about the problem of widespread breeding among owned pets allowed to roam the streets of Detroit:

She said many dogs that appear to be abandoned actually have owners who allow them to wander. Those dogs often end up breeding with others, exacerbating the problem.

Daniel Carlisle of Detroit Dog Rescue also addressed the problem of uncontrolled breeding among stray dogs in the city:

“And the warehouses are large doghouses. They’re walking into these places, they’re bedding down in them and they’re mating.”

But while the city ACOs are working overtime to get stray dogs off the streets and into the kill rooms at area shelters, Michigan Humane is importing dogs from TN in a pretty white van with their logo on it, all shined up for the TV news crews.

Because there is a shortage of dogs in Michigan.

Because everyone in Michigan neuters their pets.

And other myths.

From WATE:

“Our centers are not full,” said Erin Campbell with the Michigan Humane Society. “We don’t often have small dogs or puppies. It seems spay and neutering has taken off so that’s why don’t have the puppies that are in the south.”

When a pet killing facility imports shelter animals from out of state, it appears they are doing it for personal profit and/or publicity.  They are obviously not doing it to save animals since they are killing pets they already have.  In the case of Michigan Humane, they are claiming to have empty space while simultaneously asking for donations to help save the supposed 50,000 stray dogs in Detroit.  And driving to Knoxville for more.  Apparently 50,000 dogs don’t stretch as far as they used to.

I hope the next time Michigan Humane sends its shiny logo van to the south to import more dogs into its pet killing facility, the local news will do a piece on displacement killing.  And fraud.  It’s always disappointing when reporters don’t lift the veil on the feel-good stories being fed to them.  All it would take is the tiniest bit of research to uncover the fact that Michigan Humane kills pets instead of saving them while bilking compassionate donors out of millions of dollars.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

An Estimated 1000 Pets Have Been Taken to L.A. Pound by BFAS

I have an update to the Best Friends post from Monday but decided to post it on its own in the interest of transparency, in order to make it as visible as possible to anyone interested.  Jon Dunn from BFAS answered the questions I had previously sent to 3 different BFAS e-mail addresses on 2 separate occasions.  The e-mail response is pasted below, in full, with my questions in regular type and the responses in italics.

My takeaways:

  • BFAS has taken 10-15 animals a week to the East Valley facility since taking over at Mission Hills in January 2012.  If I estimate 12.5 pets per week for 20 months (80 weeks), that works out to about 1000 pets that BFAS has brought to the pound.
  • BFAS does not keep track of what happens to these animals.
  • BFAS does not perform documentation or networking of any pet taken to the pound in order to help get the pet reunited with his owner (if there is one) or get seen by rescues and adopters.
  • BFAS sometimes places a hold on pets they take to the pound but since they don’t keep track, they can’t say how many.
  • Regarding the animals BFAS has pulled from the city shelter, BFAS does not pay fees to the city for these animals.  BFAS neuters and chips these animals themselves.  Some of these pulled pets have been transported to states other than CA.
  • My question, “What has happened to these pulled pets?” does not appear to have been specifically answered.  My reason for asking was to determine how many of the pulled pets may have been adopted, sent to other rescues, returned to the pound, or any other possible outcome.

Jon Dunn’s e-mail response, in full:

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: Grandpa – BFAS LA
From: Jon Dunn
Date: Tue, September 10, 2013 11:18 am
To: Shirley Thistlethwaite <eiderdown@yesbiscuit.com>

How many animals has BFAS taken to the East Valley facility since taking over at Mission Hills?

10-15 animals a week are usually brought in either as strays or owner surrenders to the Mission Hills Center. As you have likely already read elsewhere, it is illegal for us to accept animals from the public either as strays or owner surrenders (per the contract we have with the city of LA, all animals at the Mission Hills Center must come from one of the 6 LA Animal Services shelters). The animals must go to the East Valley shelter where they are held for their required hold times (dependent on microchip, etc.). It is important to note that these animals are never considered as “intake” by Best Friends.

What has happened to each of the animals taken to the city pound by BFAS?

We do not track the outcome of every animal that falls into this category. In some cases, we do put a hold and pull the animal ourselves. In other cases where we see an animal has a particular need served by one of the 65 NKLA coalition members (to whom we pay adoption subsidies), we notify that particular group. In others, one of the 190 LAAS New Hope Partners steps in and pulls the dog (as what happened with Grandpa). Best Friends is a large cog, but certainly not the only cog in the Los Angeles animal welfare system. We are thankful to the other organizations, many of whom we work with very closely, who are also working hard each and every day to contribute to the fantastic drop in shelter killing we’ve seen in LA the last two years.

When taking an animal to the city pound, does BFAS always perform documentation and networking of the pet in order to help get the pet reunited with his owner (if there is one) or get seen by rescues and adopters?

No, as we said above, the animals we re-direct to the East Valley shelter are of indeterminate status and must be held by law for the required hold period. They are never considered Best Friends animals. The hold time / owner reclamation process is wholly owned by the LAAS. Rescue work is full of tough decisions, and Best Friends and other rescues and shelters face them every day. The five million dollars committed to Los Angeles is a lot, but it is not infinite, and as such, we must make decisions on where to put our time and resources.

When taking an animal to the city pound, does BFAS always place a “hold” on the pet so that, if the animal goes unclaimed/unadopted and ends up on the kill list at the pound, BFAS will be notified to pick up the pet?

Not always. We place holds based on the same factors and pet profiles that we employ in pulling animals from the city shelters for the Mission Hills Adoption Center. We take old dogs, young dogs, black dogs, white dogs, “bad” dogs, cute, silly and all breeds including pit bulls and Chihuahuas and everything in between. We try to maintain a mix that reflects the shelter population, so we have around 50% pit bulls at any given time. That also goes for seniors and medical cases. We have a limited number of kennels/cages allotted to medical cases. Since there are always medical cases at the shelters those medical slots are usually full. We welcome anyone to come visit the Mission Hills Center and see the pets for yourself! Of course, our goal is to save as many lives as possible, and to do that right now it means moving animals out of LAAS shelters at the fastest rate possible and placing them in new homes as quickly as possible. It should be noted that in a system as large as LA Animal Services, we do not receive preferential treatment to get “first pick.” We are allowed to place holds at the same time as the rest of the groups.

How many pets has BFAS brought to the city pound and then later rescued via the previously described process?

We don’t track that particular statistic, but since taking over the Mission Hills center, we have pulled 7,075 animals from LAAS shelters. 3,149 animals in 2012, and 3,926 through the end of August 2013. All of the animals in our Mission Hills center are pulled from LAAS shelters.

Regarding the animals BFAS has pulled from the city shelter, what fee has BFAS paid to the city per animal? What has happened to these pulled pets? Have any of them been transported to rescues or adopters in states other than CA?

When we pull animals from LAAS, we do the spay/neuter surgery, and microchip the pets. The $45.50 fee New Hope Partners pay to pull, covers those same services performed by LAAS. So the city waives the fee and the associated services. Since we pull so many shelter animals at a time it would clog the system for the city to provide those services for Best Friends. Also, the operational costs of the Mission Hills Center fall entirely on us. Those costs, and our other operational expenses in LA exceed five million dollars a year. That’s a tremendous amount of value to the city, far beyond the $318,000 in New Hope fees (7,000 animals at $45.50) they have waived since the beginning of 2012.

We do offer a transport program for LA pets, known as Pup My Ride. So far in 2013, 2,011 animals have been taken to other areas. Roughly half of those pets came from LAAS, the rest were pulled from LA County shelters and other local shelters.

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.)

Chester Co SPCA Described as “Kill Factory” by Former Staffers and Vols

In reviewing the website for the Chester Co SPCA in PA, I see the shelter sells county licenses, conducts cruelty investigations and accepts stray pets. These are often attributes of a taxpayer funded shelter although the Chester Co facility does not indicate whether it is a public or private facility, which is odd.  The reason I was looking is because an article on Philly.com seems to clearly indicate the shelter is funded in part by taxpayers:

The shelter takes in stray animals brought in from the county’s municipalities, and it also has a five-year, $30,000-a-month contract with Delaware County to accept strays from 46 of its municipalities.

As such, it would appear Chester Co SPCA is subject to FOIA requests for their kill numbers.  But Philly.com reports:

The shelter will not share its euthanasia numbers but acknowledges they are climbing.

Hiding the killing is always a bad sign.  Volunteers and staffers are jumping ship with alarming frequency and many have spoken out publicly about the killing at the facility:

[T]he Chester County SPCA shelter has become a “kill factory,” say SPCA volunteers, a former board member, and ex-staff members.


More than a dozen volunteers have formed a group to push for a change in leadership and more effective programming. They are troubled when dogs are euthanized for what they see as easily corrected behavioral issues or treatable medical problems.


Volunteers say some cats are taken from the intake counter directly to the euthanasia room.

The Chester Co SPCA recently terminated a program to adopt out cats from pet supply stores, reportedly due to the “hassle” of saving cats’ lives. Some rescues are reporting trouble working with the facility.

The Chester Co SPCA sells puppies for $225 according to its website and Philly.com reports that the shelter has been importing puppies from other states which is unfathomable considering the secret killing taking place there.  A state inspection in May faulted the shelter for failing to obtain the required health certificates on the imported puppies.  Unsanitary cage conditions and pest control problems were also noted.

Board president Conrad Muhly paints critics as a few bad apples:

“I am thrilled with the people that work there. The staff does an excellent job,” Muhly said.

So excellent apparently, that the shelter has to hide the body count from the public.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Caswell Co Pound and Transport

The Caswell Co pound in NC has a website that’s rather, uh – brief.  The reason I looked it up was that a reader sent me two screengrabs from Facebook which allegedly show puppies at the Caswell Co pound just before they were loaded for transport to NJ.  The kennel appears to be wet and a patch of what looks like suds may have washed into the space from beneath the guillotine door.  Were there other dogs on the other side of this kennel and if so, were they healthy?  Is that diarrhea on the floor?  Did these puppies have health certificates for their trip?

If shelters are going to transport vanloads of puppies, it needs to be done legally – that is, in compliance with the laws of every state the dogs are being transported through; and ethically – with attention paid to the health status of the dogs (as well as those they’ve been exposed to) and with careful consideration of the local dogs being displaced by the imports.  I hope Caswell Co is attending to the legal and ethical considerations regarding the transport of any pets.

I used to be more in favor of mass transport for shelter pets but I’ve modified my view in the past couple of years.  There seems to be no shortage of transport horror stories – pets escaping en route, pets getting sick and dying after arrival, pets who don’t sell quickly being killed or warehoused in sub-standard conditions, etc.  Then there is the notion that northern shelters and rescues “need” to import high value pets such as puppies and lapdogs because the ones they have get adopted quickly and all that’s left is big, black mixed breeds, Pitbull types and others who are challenging to adopt out.  This idea goes against the most basic tenet of no kill – that every individual pet has a right to live and that right must be protected.  If some of these importing shelters and rescues won’t put in the hard work to find the right matches for the least adoptable pets in their own communities, who will?

Screencap from Facebook

Screencap from Facebook

Screencap from Facebook

Screencap from Facebook


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