Florida Pound Oops-Kills Pregnant Dog Tagged by Rescue

Rosie, as pictured on Facebook.

Rosie, as pictured on Facebook.

A rescue group had committed to saving a pregnant dog called Rosie at the Sumter Co pound in Florida this week.  But pound staff killed her because of a clerical error.  She was supposed to be on the save list but got put on the kill list instead.  Oops:

A mistake was made by a very good employee,” Sumter County Public Works director Richard Baier said.

Gee, I hope they don’t have any really super good employees there.

It’s wrong to kill healthy/treatable dogs.  That right there should have been the staff’s first clue that a mistake was being made when Rosie was walked into the kill room.  It’s also wrong to kill pregnant dogs, causing their unborn pups to suffocate inside the mother’s belly.  That would have been a second clue for the staff that Rosie should not be killed.  But apparently staff at Sumter Co are accustomed to killing healthy pets, including pregnant dogs, and no one even hesitated when killing Rosie.

This is the problem.  It’s why we need systemic shelter reform in this country.

Rosie’s would-be rescuer shared her heartbreak on Facebook.  The county says it will institute a system of cross-checking in order to minimize oops-killings in future.  I guess this is where we’re supposed to be all yay.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)

Shelter How To: Identifying Feral Cats and Reuniting Lost Cats with Owners

Elimination of the mandatory holding periods for stray cats impounded by shelters is part of what I refer to as the war on cats.  Cats deserve the same protections as are provided to dogs at shelters, including a mandatory holding period so their owners can reclaim them.

Groups who participate in the war on cats by promoting the absurd notion that shelters should immediately dump adoptable stray cats back on the streets instead of sheltering them attempt to justify this betrayal by claiming that sheltering cats is hard work.  Granted, reuniting lost cats with their owners is hard work and identifying truly feral cats among the many scared cats at a shelter is also hard work.

I think it’s reasonable to ask how the people actually doing this hard work manage to avoid throwing up their hands and dumping all their stray cats back on the streets.  So I did.  Specifically, I asked three directors of shelters where lifesaving is the priority how cats are determined to be feral vs. socialized and how cats are reunited with owners.  Their responses are below.

Mason, an adoptable cat at UPAWS

Mason, an adoptable cat at UPAWS

Lareina Van Strien, Manager at Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter (UPAWS) in Michigan:

At UPAWS this is not a black and white answer, although it used to be. In the past, if a cat reacted in ways such as climbed the walls of his kennel or the room, refused to use the litter box, charged anyone that came near, avoided touching at all cost, etc, that cat would have been considered feral or semi-social. But we have learned that this black and white categorization does not hold true. We have seen cats that come from loving homes act feral when they arrive, climbing the ways, refusing to be touched for weeks on end and we have seen cats that we know were born outside, that were never touched by a human, that were never fed by a human decide after a few weeks of socialization with staff that they don’t mind humans so very much. So at this time at UPAWS deciding if a cat is feral vs. socialized takes time. We give the cat time to settle in, to adjust, to learn that humans bring food and cookies, we let them get used to our smells and our presence. How long we will do this will depend on the individual animal, their history and their progress. Our decision to label a cat feral, semi-social or socialized is an individual decision, because these cats are individuals. If, after time, we decide a cat is truly feral and will never enjoy the company of humans, we work hard to find that cat placement at a barn or safe environment so that cat has a chance at life in a way that makes that cat happy.

P.S – I happened to have adopted a ‘feral’ kitty for my barn two years ago. This cat we knew for sure was born outside and living in an abandoned building. She stayed at the shelter for over 2 months, getting socialized and used to people, but she was never comfortable and terribly unhappy. So I placed her in my barn. She lived out there all summer and was doing great. But winter came, and it was a horrible winter, so I live-trapped her again and brought her inside. She climbed the walls and hid under the floor for two weeks. But, after talking to my other cats, I guess she decided to come out. And now that summer is here I can’t seem to get her back outside! :) She is a very happy indoor kitty.

We have a variety of ways that we try to reunite cats with their owners. Social media is hugely successful in getting pets home. We try to build our facebook following to make sure we are reaching as many people as possible. We take clear pictures of the newly arrived stray and post it on facebook right away. We ask people to share share share! We also have a wonderful group in the community that runs a facebook page called Lost Paws of the U.P. They work very hard to reunite owners and pets. They follow lost ads on craigs list, social media and in the paper and they work to match them up with found pets. They are hugely successfully and very diligent. At UPAWS we also take lost reports. We make sure to get as much info as possible and we look at ever stray animal and compare it to those reports. We encourage owns to be sure to come into the shelter and look, to make posters for their area, to post on social media and to look for their cat frequently. We report all our strays to the local paper ever night and we also make sure to post our strays on our website. We also microchip all our cats that are adopted and leave UPAWS and we send all our adopted cats out with break-away collar.

Daytona, an adoptable cat at the HS

Daytona, an adoptable cat at the HS of Fremont Co

Doug Rae, director of the Humane Society of Fremont Co in Colorado:

We treat all animals as individuals. This applies to cats, dogs, bunnies, hamsters, ferrets, birds, whatever we get. Just as we work to make dogs safe that appear “aggressive” in appearance, we do the same for cats. It’s been my experience that some cats are overly stressed when entering a shelter (living in a small cage maybe for the first time in their life), meaning their immune system becomes compromised, making life even worse for a scared kittie. So we give cats the necessary time to become accustomed to the shelter, to our staff, and to our volunteers. It might be a day or two, it might be a week, it might be longer. Like dogs, we give cats the time and space they need to feel safe so we can see who they truly are.

If the cat is not responsive to the time and space we give them or to our efforts to socialize with them, then we have a much better idea on the cats temperament. But again, that determination is never made on intake. Not even with a cat that appears feral on intake. To tag any animal as being this or that, or to place an animal into a black or white temperament test on intake, is not fair to the cat or to our life-saving community committed to saving lives.

We have a lost and found Facebook page that received intakes (dogs and cats) are posted on to try and have the cat reclaimed by it’s owner. This posting happens at the time of intake.

An adoptable cat at the Allegany Co Animal Shelter, as pictured on Facebook.

An adoptable cat at the Allegany Co Animal Shelter, as pictured on Facebook.

Peter Masloch, director of the Allegany Co Animal Shelter in Maryland:

It is not always easy to determine by intake if a cat is feral or not. Many cats are scared when coming to the shelter. We had several cases where we thought a cat was feral but then after several days it turned out the cat actually was very lovely. I know that many shelters are doing so called “behavior tests” on cats. We don’t do that. The most important factor is time. If we receive a new cat and we are not sure if it is a feral cat or just a scared cat, we just give the cat time to adjust. Usually after 3 or 4 days we can tell if a cat is truly feral or not. If she is feral, we get her spayed/neutered and then out of the shelter as soon as possible.
There just is no “one fits all solution”, at least not for us. Pets are individuals and every pet reacts different when entering the shelter

The Allegany County Animal Shelter has 3 different Facebook pages:

Usually we post all stray animals we take in on our Lost & Found Facebook page. People from our community also can post to our page if they lost their pet or even found a pet. This page has become extremely helpful to re-unite pets with their owners.

However, the owner return rate for cats is much lower than the owner return rate for dogs. In our County cats are considered free roaming animals and people often don’t come and look for their cat if she doesn’t come back home. But we also had some nice success stories with cats.

It sounds like the recipe for success here is patience, effort and community partnership.  There is no reason any facility accepting cats couldn’t follow the models of those that successfully shelter cats.  And there is no excuse for shelter staff dumping adoptable cats back on the streets instead of doing their jobs.  Mandatory holding periods are a necessary protection for all stray shelter pets and cats are no less deserving of this protection than dogs.

(Thank you Lareina, Doug and Peter for sharing how you help cats at your shelters.)

Update on Greenville Co “No Rescue/No Adopt” Dog

Beanie

Millie (fka Beanie)

The dog at the Greenville Co pound who was labeled “No Rescue/No Adopt” by the vet was released last week.  A representative from SNARR pulled her.  I contacted SNARR for an update yesterday and received this response:

Millie (Beanie) is doing well! Other than being really arthritic and having a heart murmur and being blind and super old, she is a sweet sweet girl :-) Millie is very affectionate and loves to be held. Our biggest immediate need for her is a HOME ; whether it be a foster or an adopter. She is currently still in Greenville SC but we can easily bring her up North if need be. So if you know anyone who might be interested please have them contact me ASAP.
Courtney@snarrnortheast.org
Thank you !

Thank you irresponsible public, once again.

Police Department in CT Leads by Example

Zeus, as pictured on Facebook.

Zeus, as pictured on Facebook.

There have been far too many tragic stories on this blog where police officers needlessly kill pets and are not held accountable by their own departments despite the irreversible damage they have inflicted upon families in their communities.  But there are occasional stories where police do right by pets and I like to bring attention to those too.  In this case, Ridgefield police are doing right by one of their own.

Zeus is an 11 year old German shepherd dog who served in the department’s K-9 unit from 2006 – 2014.  He had to be retired from duty last year due to a severe hip disorder and went to live as a pet with the officer who was his handler on the force.  Zeus had an impressive career:

Zeus assisted with 250 narcotics arrests, tracked 50 missing or wanted people, located six people in life-threatening situations and found six suspects on the run after crimes, police said. He also helped police discover 10 pounds of marijuana in 2006. The department also did many demonstrations with the police dog for members of the public.

Zeus’s health has declined greatly this past year and he is scheduled to be euthanized today.  Many pet owners who make that difficult decision like to do something special with their beloved family member on that last day.  And in keeping with Zeus’s years of public service, the Ridgefield police department has announced a final ride for the dog:

Retired Police K-9 Zeus will be honored on Wednesday April 15, 2015 with his final ride. The ride will began at Police Headquarters at 4:45 pm and take the following route: West on Governor Street, North on Rt. 35/Main Street, North on Rt. 7, ending at Ridgefield Veterinary Hospital. Ridgefield officers will be joined by local law enforcement agencies to pay tribute to Zeus during this final ride.

Members of the community are asked to gather on the sidewalks of Main Street along the route if they wish to pay tribute.

This is leading by example.  This is how police engage the community and show that pets are family, deserving of respect and love in life and in death.  This is a police department giving recognition to the human-animal bond and the role it plays in our communities.  Well done.

I am grateful for Zeus’s service and for the fact that I know he feels loved today, just like every other day.  More police/pet stories like this please.

Anderson Co ACOs “Rescue” Dogs from Rescue

In 2014, authorities seized 92 dogs and 28 cats from Golden S Rescue in Anderson Co, SC.  Charges brought against the rescue’s owner were dropped in exchange for surrendering the animals and an agreement to allow random inspections on the property in future.  Last month, Anderson Co ACOs were conducting such an inspection when they discovered 53 dogs and 7 cats allegedly being cared for improperly.  The rescue’s owner has been charged with 60 counts of ill treatment of animals, 54 counts of failing to provide proof of rabies vaccination and a charge relating to the possession of methamphetamine. Let the uh, rescuing begin:

Anderson Co ACOs appear to be mishandling a dog in this photo circulated on social media.

Anderson Co ACOs appear to be mishandling a dog in this photo circulated on social media.

Anderson Co ACOs appear to be mishandling a dog (who looks pregnant) in this photo circulated on social media.

Anderson Co ACOs appear to be mishandling a dog (who looks pregnant) in this photo circulated on social media.

Anderson Co ACOs appear to be mishandling a dog in this photo circulated on social media.

Anderson Co ACOs appear to be mishandling a dog in this photo circulated on social media.

After seeing the photos online, many people contacted the Anderson Co sheriff’s office to request an investigation into the handling of the dogs by ACOs.  But it doesn’t sound like that will be happening:

Lt. Sheila Cole, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said she thinks people react to the photos without knowing anything about the case. “I think once we have explained to people that our officers were dealing with aggressive, unvaccinated dogs, they have been understanding of why they handled them the way they did,” Cole said in an interview.

If these ACOs received official training that instructed them to handle unvaccinated, aggressive dogs as is depicted in these photos, I’ll eat my hat.  I don’t need to know anything about the case to know that what’s happening in those photos is wrong.  The fact that it isn’t obvious to Anderson Co authorities is troubling. (Thank you to everyone who sent me links on this story.)

Treats on the Internets

Animal control in Roswell, NM picked up a stolen, microchipped dog whose owner was looking for her but failed to contact the owner.  Instead, AC put the dog on the kill list.  The owner, who lives 200 miles away, was able to redeem her pet thanks to rescuers who posted the dog’s photo on Facebook.  (Thank you Clarice for the link.)

The manager of the Hawkins Co Humane Society in TN is seeking forfeiture of 16 dogs and 2 birds after staff “rescued” them from their home.  The owners were critically injured in a car accident and have been hospitalized.  Now their animals are being stolen.  (Thanks Adrianne.)

BSL in Salina, Kansas trying to break up another family as owner vows to fight for all local families that include pitbulls.  (Thanks Lis and Anne for the links.)

Case Update:  The vet at the Franklin Co pound in Ohio who allegedly mishandled dogs in order to fail them on behavioral tests so he could kill them has quit his job.  (Thanks Clarice.)

The irresponsible public wanted to help a lost, starving dog in the Washington mountains but had to think outside the box when hot dog lures failed.  They were successful and are now trying to find the dog’s owner.  (Thanks Mary.)

How dogs sniff and why they get so much information from it.

Weekend Jade

Blockhead noms.

Blockhead noms.

Open Thread

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

sideeye

NC Dog Owner Files Lawsuit for Return of Her Pet Sold by County Pound

Bobo, as pictured on the WRAL website.

Bobo, as pictured on the WRAL website.

A lawsuit has been filed by a dog owner against Cumberland Co and the couple who bought her dog from the county pound, despite all parties knowing the dog had an owner who wanted him back.  The lawsuit provides a detailed timeline of events but I’ll provide a summary.

Bobo the golden retriever wandered away from his home on January 21, was found by a Good Sam and taken to the Cumberland Co pound.  The Good Sam said he would take Bobo back after the mandatory 3 day holding period if no one claimed the dog because he felt certain there was a local owner due to Bobo’s excellent condition and manners.

Meanwhile Bobo’s owner was physically searching for her family’s lost pet and networking with neighbors, including the local fire department.  Through the owner’s efforts, the Good Sam was made aware of her name and address while he was on his way to pick up Bobo from the pound on January 26.  He stopped by the owner’s residence but she was not home at the time.  He left his card and called the pound to advise he was on his way and to provide them with the owner’s name and address.  The staffer he spoke with told him if he didn’t arrive within the next 10 minutes – when the 3 day holding period expired – the dog would be sold to someone else.  The good Sam arrived at the pound 12 minutes later and found a man there in the process of adopting Bobo.  The Good Sam explained again to pound staff that the dog’s owner was known and told the potential adopter as well.  The adopter said he could provide a better home for Bobo than the actual owner and decided to move forward with the adoption, which the staff agreed to process.

State law and Cumberland Co code require pound staff to make reasonable efforts to contact the owner of an impounded pet, which the lawsuit alleges the county did not do.  And:

Like many shelters, Cumberland County gives owners three business days to claim a pet from the shelter. A county ordinance requires that timeline be extended another 72 hours “if the owner is known.”

The lawsuit alleges that the county only held Bobo for the initial 3 day period then ignored information regarding the owner’s identity and sold him improperly.  Bobo’s family is heartbroken and tried to get their dog back without resorting to legal action but both the county and the couple who bought Bobo ignored communication from the family’s attorney.  The couple reportedly stated in an email to WRAL that they had narrowly missed out on some previous attempts to adopt other rescue goldens and so placed their name on the list for Bobo.  They further stated that they could not return Bobo to his family “in good conscience” because it’s not in the dog’s “best interest”.

While the buyers seem to vaguely allude to some perceived lack of fitness upon the part of Bobo’s owners, the county was more specific, and in typical fashion, and put the blame for Bobo’s loss on the family:

“Cumberland County Animal Control followed its procedures in dealing with the stray dog dropped off at the Animal Shelter with no identifying tags or microchip. The impounded animal was not claimed by its owner after the required three-day holding period and no owner’s name or address was provided to the department. The dog then became available for adoption and we followed our procedures for that process.

“It is upsetting to lose a pet and we sympathize with the Davis family. We encourage pet owners to have their animals microchipped. All pet owners should make sure their pets are wearing proper vaccination and identifying tags. Should your pet go missing, contact or visit Animal Control immediately.”

Although it’s not 100% clear to me, it sounds as if the county may be denying the Good Sam provided Bobo’s owner information over the phone within the 3 day holding period and that when he arrived at the pound to provide it again, he was 2 minutes past the holding period and the county was within its legal rights to sell the dog.  And despite the county’s obvious attempt to smear the owners, the worst they could come up with is an implication that the owners failed to have tags on the dog (which is denied in the lawsuit).

It seems obvious what the right thing is here.  It should have been obvious to both the county and the buyer at the time the adoption was being processed.  Cumberland Co killed 63% of the dogs and cats it took in last year so perhaps it’s not surprising to learn that staff failed to do right by a pet in its care.  I don’t know what the buyers’ excuse is except for the fact that they didn’t get some previous rescue goldens they wanted and were apparently determined to get this one, even if he didn’t need rescuing.  The pettiness and mean-spiritedness from both the county and the buyers is shameful.  And poor Bobo has been needlessly separated from his family all these months.

Bobo’s owner is seeking his return in the lawsuit.  If the court rules in her favor, perhaps Cumberland Co will think twice next time about breaking up a family.  One hopes anyway.  Watch this space.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Shelter Pet of the Day

Dog ID #276292 at the Memphis pound, as shown on Facebook.

Dog ID #276292 at the Memphis pound, as shown on Facebook.

This pet was submitted by Jody Fisher.  She says he is 8 years old and heartworm positive.  He appears to have a skin condition which needs to be treated.  He has until 4:45pm on Saturday, April 11.

Dog ID #276292 at the Memphis pound, as shown on Facebook.

Dog ID #276292 at the Memphis pound, as shown on Facebook.

Memphis city pound
2350 Appling City Cove
Memphis, TN 38133
(901) 636-PAWS (7297)
MAS@memphistn.gov

The Memphis pound had a 50% kill rate in 2014.

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