Martin Co Pound Director Fired and Arrested

Martin Co Animal Control on Landfill Road in Williamston, NC is open from 8:30 – 10:00 am and 3:30 – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.  The website says, with a straight face:

The Martin County Animal encourages animal adoption. […] Please come by during the hours above to consider pets for adoption.

There do not appear to be any listings for lost or adoptable pets on the website.

In 2013, Martin Co AC took in close to 1400 dogs and cats, killing 67% of them. That year, Henley “Pete” Brock was promoted by the county from Lead ACO to Director of the pound.

On February 9, 2015, Brock allegedly attempted to kill a cat then placed the pet in a freezer. The animal was found alive the next morning. Three days later, Brock allegedly attempted to kill another cat then left the facility. An ACO found the pet still alive and brought the animal to a vet where he was re-killed. The first cat is reportedly still alive. The NC Department of Agriculture has suspended Brock’s kill license while it investigates.

An agriculture department spokesman said they have also notified other authorities of possible missing narcotics at the animal shelter. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office referred questions back to the county manager on whether they were also conducting an investigation.

Based upon Brock’s alleged failure to lock up and account for the controlled substances used to kill animals as well as the two botched attempts at cat killings, Martin Co fired Brock. Sounds like he took it well:

WITN News has learned that Brock was arrested today by deputies on a charge of communicating threats. The victim was a former co-worker of Brock’s, according to deputies.

Brock has bonded out of jail. I hope once the state’s (and possibly the county sheriff’s) investigation is complete, all applicable criminal charges related to Brock’s activities at the pound will be brought. Right now, he is not charged with any animal-related crimes.  And I’m not holding my breath while waiting.

Respectful letters demanding a complete and transparent investigation into all possible criminal activities at the Martin Co pound may be sent to:

Do better, Martin Co.  On everything.

(Thanks Clarice and Lisa for the links.)

Weekend Jade

In the huddle.

In the huddle.

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S’cold.

Vote Watch: Virginia

Bill 1381 in Virginia is aimed at stopping PETA from hiding its massive pet killing facility in Norfolk behind the name “shelter”:

The bill would amend section 3.2-6500 of the Code of Virginia, adding language stating a private animal shelter “means a facility operated for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes and facilitating other lifesaving outcomes for animals.”

PETA kills almost all of the animals it gets its hands on and in 2014, had just a 1% adoption rate.  So while PETA’s pet killing facility clearly doesn’t qualify as a shelter by any stretch of the imagination, it continues to operate as one legally in VA.  Bill 1381 will change that.  The bill has already passed in the State Senate and the House is scheduled to vote on it today.

Why it matters:  If PETA can no longer dupe the public with claims that their surrendered animals are being taken to a “shelter” and will be rehomed when in fact the animals will most likely be killed, that’s a win for animals and a win for public awareness.  If the bill becomes law, it seems highly unlikely PETA would apply for a license to operate a slaughterhouse, which is basically the business they have been running there for homeless dogs and cats.  So unless PETA wants to begin actually doing the hard work of sheltering animals by finding them new homes, the group will presumably be forced out of the pet killing business.  Again:  a win for animals.

If you are a Virginia resident, contact your delegate in the House to voice your support for Bill 1381.

As soon as anyone sees news about the vote, please leave a comment.

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.)

Discussion: Will Big Food Protect Our Pets from Toxic Ingredients?

Charlie enjoying a homemade treat.

Charlie enjoying a homemade treat.

One of the revelations resulting from the massive 2007 pet food recall was that many different brands of dog and cat food are made by a few large corporations.  When news first broke that Pet Food Brand A, found to be contaminated with melamine, was sickening and killing family companions, many owners felt their pets were safe because they were feeding Pet Food Brand B or C or whatever.  As the facts slowly escaped, despite a massive cover up effort by pet food manufacturers, consumers learned that the melamine used in A was also used in making B, C, and a host of other brands.  Then no one felt safe.

Since then, the corporations have tightened their grip on the market.  J.M. Smucker announced this month it was purchasing Big Heart Pet Brands (formerly Del Monte Foods) whose products include Meow Mix and Kibbles ‘n Bits. And it’s big business:

The nation’s pet-food sales have nearly doubled since 2000, to more than $22 billion last year, American Pet Products Association data show.
[…]
Smucker expects pet food will contribute more to its bottom line than Jif, Pillsbury, Crisco and its namesake jams and jellies, combined.

Iams and Eukanuba were bought by Mars in 2014.  (Iams was key in forcing news of the massive melamine poisoning in 2007 to go public.)  While there are some smaller companies left, they represent a tiny portion of the market:

About 93 percent of the mid-priced dog and cat food sold in North America goes to only three companies: Big Heart, Mars and Nestle, the giant behind Purina, Dreyer’s ice cream and Hot Pockets.

If you buy mid-range pet food, chances are very high that it is manufactured by one of these three megabrands.  Do you feel confident that Smucker, Mars and Nestle are making the health and safety of your pet a high priority?  Do you trust these corporations to swiftly issue a recall when faced with sufficient evidence of toxic ingredients in their pet foods?  Do you feel consumers are in a better position to protect their pets from poisoned pet food today than they were in 2007?

Treats on the Internets

A document obtained via FOIA request from the city of Maryville, TN shows that in 2014, the shelter had a 99% save rate. Well done!

The state of CT has created a task force for the purpose of  improving conditions for animals in public shelters.

Haters gonna hate.  But if you check out the comments on the linked article it looks like this private shelter in MT, which saved more than 1100 animals last year, has strong support within the community.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Arizona – A USDA employee who disliked his neighbor’s dog set two steel coyote traps and baited them with lure paste in order to trap the pet.  The dog lost 17 teeth trying to free herself.  The employee was charged with animal cruelty.  The USDA submitted a letter to the court stating the employee acted lawfully.  (Thanks Clarice.)

This article debunks some of the myths surrounding homeless people who own pets.

Klein Animal Shelter in Jacksonville, TX: Priorities

Warning: Disturbing photos

clean truck

Screengrab from Facebook

This screengrab from Facebook appears to show a 2013 posting from Klein Animal Shelter director Angela Wallace who was charged with felony animal cruelty this year.  The caption indicates that her staff at the shelter “finished up early” and had time to wash her truck for her.  We now know from state documents and photographs that what the staff finished up early was neglecting and torturing animals.

Cats in a filthy cage at the Klein Animal Shelter.

Cats in a filthy cage at the Klein Animal Shelter.

State documents indicate that dead animals were left to pile up in cages at Klein because none of the employees wanted to risk soiling their vehicles by driving the remains to the dump for disposal.

Waste trough at Klein Animal Shelter.  A pair of animal legs is visible hanging out the back of a cage into the trough.

Waste trough at Klein Animal Shelter. A pair of animal legs is visible hanging out the back of a cage into the trough.

Animals suffering in filth. Dead animals piled up in cages. But the staff had time to wash the director’s truck.

The city of Jacksonville, along with several other cities, paid Klein for sheltering services for years. If you are a taxpayer in one of these cities, you paid for this.

(Thanks Stephen Pope for sending me these photos.)

Weekend Jade

Jade thinks every day is Valentine's Day.

Jade thinks every day is Valentine’s Day.

Open Thread

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Happy Valentine's Day [x]

Happy Valentine’s Day [x]

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