Kern Co Pound Exporting Sick Dogs

The UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program consulted on the troubled Kern Co pound in CA in 2008.  At that time, a report was issued which detailed, among other problems, lack of leadership and rampant disease at the shelter along with recommendations for how to reduce and prevent it.  Standard protocols such as the quarantine of new arrivals and examination/vaccination by vet staff upon intake were on the list.

Fast forward to 2015 and it appears as if disease is still rampant at the Kern Co pound and that few, if any, of the 2008 recommendations from Koret have been implemented.  A group that flies shelter dogs from the area to rescues elsewhere along the west coast recently suspended its partnership with the Kern Co pound after a number of the facility’s dogs were found to be sick upon arrival.  Despite all the dogs having health certificates from the pound’s vet, interim director Nick Cullen admits in an email that in fact some of the dogs had never been vaccinated “due to reported behavioral concerns”.  Three of the sick dogs died.

In response to the rescue’s refusal to take more sick dogs labeled healthy from Kern Co, Cullen has asked Koret to come around for another consult.  I guess he wants a current report to ignore because you know, ignoring the old one is so 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014.  Cullen also wants to reassure taxpayers that a cleaning chemical used for disinfection at the pound is being diluted correctly.  He had a consultant in on that one too.  So the disinfectant is being diluted correctly and apparently used to clean cages housing sick and/or unvaccinated dogs next to healthy ones.  Pound workers who are not on the vet staff are “examining” the animals and deeming them fit for transport, even if they are deemed unfit for vaccines due to behavior.  The vet is signing the health certificates and then the dogs are loaded onto planes and arriving with symptoms of serious illness.  It sounds shoddy, at best.

Like his predecessor, Cullen blames the public for the pound’s failures:

We are seeing an inordinate amount of illness in animals originating from Shafter, Mcfarland, and Arvin areas. Much of that is due to those communities being less involved in vaccinating animals with core vaccines.

Gee, if only there was some kind of magical way to make sure animals coming into the pound were vaccinated, even if their vaccine history is questionable.  If only there was someone at the pound who would take responsibility for that, somehow.  If only Koret would have told Kern Co about this in 2008 DOT DOT DOT.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Newkirk, OK: Shotgun Pound

The city of Newkirk, OK used taxpayer money to build a pound on property belonging to a veterinarian.  The facility is under the police department and is not open to the public.  Pets without collars are held for 3 days and, if unclaimed, are blasted with a shotgun, leaving behind a “bloody mess” according to the former city manager.

The only way for Newkirk residents to see if a lost pet has been impounded is to get hold of the ACO and make an appointment to look at the animals.  Brenda O’Neill, a local animal advocate, tried for a year to talk to the ACO and the police chief about being let in to the facility to photograph the animals for networking online.  She’s still trying.

And if that all sounds depressing, the new city manager says changes might be coming.  Not because Newkirk is doing anything wrong mind you, but just because some modern day people are kind of whiny:

“What we’ve done for the past couple of decades isn’t exactly accepted now,” said Jason Orr, the Newkirk City Manager.  Orr said many people living in rural Oklahoma accept the practice of shooting unwanted animals.  “People have their different opinions especially in rural Oklahoma still view shooting animals a humane way to dispose of animals but however moving forward in the modern day and age there are a lot of people that don’t agree with that,” Orr said.

Some modern day people at the local news station wanted to see the animals and conditions at the pound but no:

The animal control officer told Fox 25 the building’s owner did not want anyone new to visit the shelter and we were denied a look at the conditions of the animals being held at the shelter.

I think they must mean the property’s owner because if taxpayers paid for the building, the city owns it and the public should not be locked out of a facility it financed.  Plus what kind of creepy vet is so ok with pets being shot to death on his property that he’s willing to hide the bodies for the city?

Ms. O’Neill would like to see a new shelter built on one of the many vacant lots already owned by the city.  The city manager is all, you go somewhere away from me and get that done:

“I would rather see citizens come together to initiate projects of this nature because I think that’s where it is handled the best is at that grass roots level,” Orr told Fox 25.

In the absence of city employees actually doing their jobs, Ms. O’Neill is trying to get some dogs out of the pound and adopted into homes but is extremely limited in how much she can help due to the city’s 3 dog limit.  Add that to the list of outrageous city policies which need to be smote in Newkirk.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Weekend Jade

Happy Mother's Day to everyone, including you over there.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone, including you over there.

Open Thread

Post anything animal-related in the comments, anytime.  New Open Threads are posted weekly.

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[x]

Adopters at Miami-Dade Shelter Say They Witnessed Workers Abusing Dog

Lisa Merkin and her son were at Miami-Dade Animal Services last week looking for a dog to adopt.  She says they saw a worker outside with a dog on a chokepole.  When the dog refused to move, she says a second worker began ramming him repeatedly with a cart, bloodying the dog’s face.  She screamed at the workers to stop and whipped out her cell phone to film what was going on.  That seemed to shut things down.  Ms. Merkin says she pleaded for the dog’s life, offering to adopt him on the spot but workers killed the dog for “aggression”.

Ms. Merkin contacted the local news and a reporter went to the shelter manager who offered a rather different version of events:

“The dog was never struck with the cart,” said Kathleen Labrada, the Miami-Dade Animal Service manager. “The cart was used inappropriately to encourage the dog to move forward.”

As evidence, the reporter was shown surveillance video showing the worker making one pass at the dog with the cart.  No contact is made during that one pass.  But that video snippet does not show what happened before or after that one pass and does not mesh with Ms. Merkin’s account:

“I took my camera out for a reason, and the reason was they were ramming (the) cart into the dog,” Merkin said.

In addition to Ms. Merkin and her son, there was another witness who says he saw the same thing:

“We were looking at the dogs — the big dogs — and we turn around and we see the people hitting and ramming the dog with the cart,” said Tyler Visnich, a witness to the alleged abuse.

[…]

The Merkin family and Visnich are adamant that the dog was hit with the cart six times and suffered a bloody face.

The puzzling part:

“They didn’t strike the dog, but the manner in which they encouraged the dog to move is absolutely unacceptable,” Labrada said.

Labrada said the employees broke protocol simply by the way they were treating the dog. For that reason Jose Rodriguez, the man holding the pole, was terminated.

Yosmiel Rivero, the man with the cart, has been placed on administrative leave.

While I want to be clear that I am not in any way endorsing ramming a dog with a cart and that I would prefer to see a dog who refuses to move handled in a different manner from what’s shown in that surveillance video snippet, I would add that I don’t consider the one pass shown on that video to be a firing offense.  I consider it to be more along the lines of an opportunity for improvement.  If the manager’s version of events is true – that the worker made one pass at the dog with the cart without making contact in an effort to encourage the dog to move – it seems to me that both workers should be offered guidance on how to better handle similar situations in future.  Taking them off the job seems extreme, which is why it’s hard for me to believe that the manager’s version of events is accurate.

If there is surveillance video that shows the complete period of time the dog was on that chokepole, that should obviously have been made public in order to address the abuse allegations.  The brief snippet of video and the manager’s statement do not seem to jive with the disciplinary action taken.  If the rest of the video shows what the eyewitnesses say they saw – the dog being rammed with the cart until he bled – then criminal charges would seem to be in order.

Anyone at the Miami-Dade shelter interested in getting to the truth and seeking justice?  If not, it will once again be up to taxpayers to demand transparency and accountability from their public servants.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Treats on the Internets

A long time volunteer at the Ewing Animal Shelter in NJ says she was walking a shelter dog when a health officer called her into the office, advised her that she would no longer be allowed to take dogs out, that “drastic changes” were afoot, and that if the vol didn’t like it, she could vote with her feet.  When the vol asked about the policy changes, the health officer threatened to call the cops on her.  The vol is concerned the shelter is going to abandon its no kill policy but the mayor says that’s a big fat lie.  Oh and he really appreciates the volunteers:

“They think they can come and go into the shelter whenever they feel like it and go into the cages,” [Mayor Bert] Steinmann said. “That’s going to stop. It’s a liability on the town.”

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

***

Case Update:  The whistleblower at the Bullitt Co Animal Shelter in KY whose secretly recorded video resulted in the suspension of the director is now being investigated by the state police.  Cops showed up at her house this week with a search warrant, seizing her cell phone, computers and other items.  Sounds legit.  (Thanks Clarice.)

***

A public safety officer in Pike Co, PA reportedly ran down two loose dogs with his vehicle, killing one, then shot the other one to death while he was trying to crawl away.  The sheriff said the dogs had attacked some people, although he did not know the identities of any of them, and that the public safety officer “did the right thing” in killing the pets.  The heartbroken owner who raised both dogs from puppyhood describes them as “sweet” and says they had never attacked anyone.  (Thanks Arlene.)

***

Wyckoff, NJ – A cop showed up at the wrong address to investigate a burglary and ended up shooting the family dog to death.  The police chief says the dog jumped out an open window and latched onto the officer’s boot.  The officer fired 4 times, with 2 bullets hitting the dog.  Neighbors who witnessed the killing say they were trying to tell the cop he was at the wrong house when he shot the dog from a few feet away then walked up to the wounded pet and shot him in the back at close range.  The police chief is shielding the officer from the media.  No disciplinary action was taken as a result of the killing.  (Thanks Clarice.)

***

A super photo for a shelter cat being advertised for adoption on Facebook.  (Thanks Casey.)

Name That Animal

Plot Twist: Researching allowed! And: I don’t know the answer to this one.

Standing room only.

Standing room only.

These four baby birds have been growing up very fast in a nest their mama made on our front porch. My ability to identify birds ends at the duck-cardinal-swan level. I don’t know what kind of birds these are. I thought someone here might have a guess based upon the appearance of the nestlings and/or the nest itself. (We never saw the eggs due to the height of the nest and not wanting to disturb mama so I can’t describe those.)  The babies look exactly like mama.

Since I don’t know the answer, I am going to play too and guess that these are Carolina wrens. I Googled and found this is our state bird here in SC.  So I know at least we have this kind of bird somewhere in this state and it’s not impossible that some might be on our porch.  More daring and/or more knowledgeable guesses are also welcome.  Anyone guessing duck, cardinal or swan gets partial credit, out of sympathy.

The Irresponsible Public Comes Through When Pound Manager Fails to Protect the Human-Animal Bond

Last year the Everett Animal Shelter in Washington “rescued” 110 cats and kittens from a 32 foot trailer and killed them all.  And the response to panleukopenia at the facility has been mass killing.  It’s not a good place for cats.

Kali, as pictured on the website of the Everett Herald.

Kali, as pictured on the website of the Everett Herald.

Lisa Shelly, an area resident, has been struggling to keep her family together.  Her husband suffers from some very serious medical issues and she has been unable to find work.  The family lost their apartment 2 years ago along with most of their personal possessions.  They’ve been living in week-to-week motels and do not have a car.  At Christmas, all Ms. Shelly’s 9 year old son Ronan wanted was a kitten.  His Christmas wish came true and he named her Kali.

Kali recently got out through an open window and Ms. Shelly began looking for her immediately.  She eventually learned that Kali had been impounded by the Everett Animal Shelter.  Ms. Shelly went to the pound to reclaim Kali but was told she’d have to pay $205 to get her pet back.  She didn’t have the money:

“I had to come home without her,” Shelly said, and tell her son she couldn’t get Kali back. “He cried so hard.”

When contacted by the local paper, the pound manager was all about the law:

Dee Cordell, the operations coordinator for the Everett Animal Shelter, said $165 of the fee is charged by Snohomish County, because Kali came from an unincorporated part of the county. The remainder covers the shelter’s costs of getting the cat spayed, vaccinated and tagged with an identification chip.

“By law cats need to be licensed. Since the cat was not spayed and not chipped, the fee is $40,” Cordell said.

A local blogger pointed out that under the Everett municipal code, the manager is “authorized to reduce or waive any fee” except the licensing fee.

But since the manager was apparently uninterested in getting Kali back with her boy, Ms. Shelly enlisted the help of a friend to set up a donation page for the redemption fee.  After the story ran in the local paper, people began donating.  And they continued to give, long after the $205 was raised.  Because irresponsible public.

Thank you once again to the unwashed masses for protecting the human-animal bond, getting a beloved pet reunited with her family and for generally being an alright sort.  Now if Everett taxpayers had some people like that working at the shelter, the community might really shine.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Detroit AC: Quit Focusing on the Dog You Love and Just Get Some Other Dog

Detroit ACOs, whom you may remember from such exploits as Dragging Dead Dogs Whose Guts are Falling Out in Front of Neighborhood Children, are once again dazzling the kiddies with their animal handling skills.

Jenga, as pictured on freep.com.

Jenga, as pictured on freep.com.

Last week, local media reported that a friendly stray dog who was beloved by children and teachers at the school where the dog had been hanging out, was captured and hauled away by Detroit ACOs while the kids pleaded for the dog they named Jenga to be spared.  The incident was so upsetting to everyone who witnessed it that a fifth grade class is writing a letter to Detroit AC to express their feelings.

Teachers at the school immediately began making calls to various city offices to try to keep Jenga from being killed but all they got was the runaround.  One teacher offered to adopt Jenga outright or at least place her name on the dog as an interested party but AC refused, citing the 4 day holding period.  And she won’t be allowed to adopt Jenga from the pound after the holding period either:

[Harry] Ward [head of AC] said the department must keep stray dogs without identification for four business days. If they are unclaimed, animal control evaluates the dog. Dogs fit for adoption are made available to the Michigan Humane Society; the rest are put down.

The Humane Society visits Detroit Animal Control weekly and decides which dogs to accept into its adoption program, Ward said. The animal control department does not run an adoption program, he said, conceding that an outdated website says otherwise.

Oh swell.  Also, shame on those kids and their teachers for falling in love with a stray dog and caring what happens to her:

Ward suggested those concerned about Jenga’s fate adopt a dog from the Humane Society to make room for more dogs in the adoption program.

“Do something for all the dogs, instead of getting focused on the one dog,” Ward said.

[…]

“I know to the world this one dog is important. I want the world to know there are 38 other dogs that will come in over one or two days,” Ward said. “People need to pull back and look at the bigger issue.”

The bigger issue is that the head of Detroit AC doesn’t understand that dogs are not interchangeable widgets.  Pets are family.  Humans bond with them.  It’s actually the kind of thing AC should be encouraging, especially with children.

Unfortunately for Jenga, her only hope at this point seems to be a transfer to another pet killing facility.  Perhaps media attention will help save Jenga from the fate of so many other stray dogs in Detroit whom rescue groups say they try to help but must battle AC in order to do so.

(Thanks Clarice and Karen for the links.)

Weekend Jade

When one of us leaves the house, Jade keeps watch at the window.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ― A.A. Milne

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
― A.A. Milne

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