Nobody WANTS to Kill Animals: Monroe Co Edition

Monroe Co, FL contracts with three animal shelters for services. Here are the 2014 kill stats for each:

Humane Animal Care Coalition (aka Upper Keys Animal Shelter)

Cat kill rate: 81%
Dog kill rate: 43%

Safe Harbor Animal Rescue of the Keys

Cat kill rate: 31%
Dog kill rate: 18%

Florida Keys SPCA

Cat kill rate: 47%
Dog kill rate: 18%

While none of these shelters is no kill, one is clearly failing worse than the others.  Local media sought an explanation:

Marsha Garrettson, director of the Upper Keys Animal Shelter, offered little explanation as to why the euthanasia trends in the Upper Keys were far above the rest of the island chain.

She told the Free Press her nonprofit organization is financially sound and can afford to provide surgeries and healthcare to any animal brought it. Her shelter also provides free spay and neuter services, which she says has reduced overall intake of cats and dogs over the years.

“This was never about the money,” Garrettson said. “It never has been.”

M’kaaay, so money is not now nor has it ever been a problem.  Upper Keys can pay for veterinary care for any animal at the facility.  But the staff is killing them instead.  Why?

[Garrettson] said her shelter never euthanizes an adoptable animal. With the exception of feral cats, every cat or dog put down is either too sick or aggressive for adoption, she said. However, she acknowledged that the higher euthanasia percentages in the Upper Keys do not indicate that animals there are sicker or more aggressive than those elsewhere in the county.

Wait, what?  Money to pay for vet care is no object yet 81% of cats and 43% of dogs impounded were killed for illness or behavior?  How is one county facility being allowed to fail so miserably while stats from its two neighboring shelters show that less killing is achievable?

Meet Enabler Number One:

 Monroe County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy said she was not concerned by the difference in euthanasia percentages.

“I’m perfectly happy with the services at the clinic,” she told the Free Press.

Murphy reiterated that the Upper Keys shelter only euthanizes ill, diseased or aggressive animals.

To be clear, the “service” most animals at the Upper Keys facility receive is killing.  Which this elected official is perfectly happy with.

And Enabler Number Two:

Tammy Foxe, director of the Key West shelter, declined to speculate why percentages were lower in her region.

“I think the three county shelters are working very hard for this community,” she said.

There are hundreds of open admission shelters all over the country saving 90% and more of their pets.  Those shelters are working very hard for their communities.  These three, not so much.  And one of the three is lagging way behind the other two, clearly disproving the notion that all three are fabulous.  It almost sounds like this person is ashamed of her work saving lives.

Mercifully, there was a quote at the end of the article from the token Regular Person Who Says What I Am Thinking:

Nancy Warner, a member of Forgotten Felines of the Florida Keys, said she was appalled by the euthanasia data.

[…]

Warner said the county should find someone else to run the Key Largo shelter.

“It would be better for people to let their animal run out the door than take it to the shelter,” she said.

Thank you.

The Upper Keys shelter has the financial means to treat every animal under its roof.  But they are putting most of the animals into garbage bags.  What’s the money being spent on – Fatal Plus?  Compassion fatigue counseling for the staff?  Cheery posters for the kill room?

I hope Monroe Co taxpayers stand up and demand accountability from their shelters and elected officials.  Get rid of the pet killers and their enablers and put people in place who are willing to do their jobs, even when – and especially when – it means ruffling feathers. That’s why they call it work.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

MO Shelter: Rescues Down, Adoptions Sluggish, Killings Up, Director “Happy”

The city of Chillicothe, MO contracts the Livingston Co Humane Society (LCHS) for animal control services.  LCHS manages the Forest O. Triplett Memorial Animal Shelter, aka the Chillicothe Animal Shelter, which is run by Lesley Patek.

In 2014, the number of dogs and cats transferred from the Chillicothe shelter to rescue groups dropped markedly from the previous year:

In 2013, 276 dogs were sent to rescues, and in 2014 158 dogs went to rescues.

[…]

Rescued cats decreased from 10 to zero[.]

Adoptions remained stagnant while cat intake numbers increased.  Cat killings also increased in 2014 with Chillicothe killing 64% of its cats.  In summary, a dismal performance for the year which any shelter director should be working furiously to turn around for fear of losing her job, if nothing else.  But:

Lesley Patek, shelter guardian, said she is happy with the numbers. “I think we do an excellent job, but we can’t save the world,” she said.

[…]

“We had to put down litters and litters of kittens this year,” Patek said.

[…]

[The killing of pets at Chillicothe] is no fault of the animal’s or of the animals shelter’s, but more so a fault of irresponsible animal owners, Patek said.

If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it – and this person clearly can’t own it.

I checked the facility’s website to get some insight into the excellent job they do there.  Chillicothe doesn’t disclose what they charge to adopt pets but it sounds like adoption fees are set on a whim:

A pet’s adoption fee will sometimes be higher due to veterinary costs for illness or injury, or due to the fact that it’s a “popular” breed.

There are 8 pets listed for adoption on that page:  3 adult cats, 2 American bulldogs, 1 miniature poodle, 1 papillon mix and 1 chihuahua mix.  I’m guessing the cats all had vet expenses and the dogs are all “popular” breeds.  New pets were last added to the listings on October 10, 2014.  They’re doing the best they can, probably.  I hate that the irresponsible public keeps forcing them to kill animals instead of marketing them for adoption.  And we all know why there are no kittens for adoption at a place that kills “litters and litters of kittens”:  irresponsible pet owners.

Potential adopters are required to sign a contract which states that the adoption fee isn’t really an adoption fee but rather a “gift” so they can’t get their money back if they return the pet.  And the adopter will be required to return the pet at any point during the pet’s life if someone from LCHS conducts an inspection and determines “the animal’s condition and/or living conditions is/are unsatisfactory or that I have violated one or more terms and conditions of this contract.”  So you’re not actually buying the pet and your right to keep your family member is subject to the whims of the LCHS representative’s idea of “unsatisfactory”, whenever.

Aaaaaaanyway, excellent job there Chillicothe, doing your best to get animals into homes.  You can’t save the world.  Or even one kitten, apparently.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Case Update: Former Pound Director Charged with Felony Cruelty

Pete Brock, the recently fired director of the Martin Co pound in NC, has been arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty.  This is in addition to the charge he was already facing regarding alleged threats made to a former co-worker.  The new charge was filed as the result of an investigation stemming from a February 12 euthanasia inspection in which the facility received only one “acceptable” rating and twenty-two “not acceptable” ratings.

On that date, the state inspector found impound paperwork for nine cats.  Although the drug log only showed that six cats were killed, there were eight cat carcasses in the freezer and one cat was in distress in a trap.  ACO Beck explained that then-director Brock had injected the cat with a euthanasia drug before leaving for the day, telling him to check on the cat later.  If the cat wasn’t dead, ACO Beck was to re-kill the cat.  ACO Beck is not certified to kill animals and asked the inspector if she could kill the cat.  The inspector instructed ACO Beck to take the cat to a local vet clinic.  The vet at the clinic determined the cat had been injected with something that failed to kill him.  The cat was re-killed by the vet.  A technician called the state inspector to report on the cat and said that this wasn’t the first time this had happened.

The technician told the inspector that one week prior, ACO Beck had shown up at the clinic “in a panic” with a kitten who had been injected by Brock and left in the freezer overnight.  ACO Beck found the kitten alive in the freezer with icicles on her ear tips, whiskers and fur.  The tech described the kitten as “hypothermic, wobbly, showing signs of neurologic compromise, thin, hungry and had frostbite damage to the eartips.”  The kitten was saved and has been adopted.

Drug logs at the Martin Co pound were either incomplete or non-existent according to the inspector’s report.  Controlled substances were left unsecured, both inside the facility and in Brock’s county issued vehicle.  Brock was allegedly killing trapped cats immediately upon impound with improper documentation.  ACO Beck had never seen Brock sedate an animal prior to killing and trapped cats were being jabbed at random spots on their bodies through the spacing in the wire traps.  The inspector found no euthanasia manuals on the premises nor was there a stethoscope to verify death.

On March 11, the state permanently revoked Brock’s kill license.  That document details the two botched cat killing attempts as well as an incident with a dog at the pound.  The dog was slated to be killed on December 3, 2014 and ACO Beck reportedly witnessed Brock use the county’s tranquilizer rifle to shoot the dog with several darts filled with euthanasia solution.  The dog was in his cage while Brock repeatedly shot him in the shoulder.  After the dog collapsed, Brock went into the run and injected him with more drugs.

And in case anyone was thinking that these taxpayer-financed violent crimes against dogs and cats are indefensible, hold up:

The county manager says they recently started lethal injections on animals after receiving grant funds to do away with the gas chamber.

David Bone says, “This was a new program we started recently, so anytime you start something new, there can be challenges.”

Bone says the State Department of Agriculture came to the shelter for a routine inspection to check on how they put down animals.

He says, “Part of that process was when they found some discrepancy about the records.”

[…]

Bone says, “He’s had a good career, unfortunately these circumstances came up and so we’re dealing with them .”

Ah, circumstances.  Records discrepancy.  Challenges.  And for some additional context, I refer again to the state inspector’s February 12 report, in which she states she met with county manager David Bone to detail her findings:

During this session it was clear that Mr. Bone had not known of any of the improprieties and showed much shock and surprise.

*slow clap*  What a performance.

This is what enabling looks like.  This is why we have animal cruelty happening in our broken shelter system.  This is why re-training, moving to a new building, and juggling numbers do not solve any problems.  We need systemic reform, now.

As for Brock, he is reportedly out on a $500 bond and due in court on March 30.  Watch this space.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Weekend Jade

THIS weather is more like it!

THIS weather is more like it!

Open Thread

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

cartersinkad

Owned Cat Trapped by Police, Taken to Cat Killing Facility

The most recent yearly report posted for Baldwin Co Animal Control facility in Alabama is 2012.  That year, the county took in 2526 cats, killing 2304 of them – a kill rate of 91% for cats.  Clearly killing is the default for cats at the Baldwin Co pound and it is a rare event for any cat to leave the facility outside of a garbage bag.

Kiki, as pictured on al.com.

Kiki, as pictured on al.com.

Tragically, as if there aren’t enough cats already being killed at the facility, the Foley police department traps cats upon request and takes them to the Baldwin Co pound.

Foley pet owner Diana Rohe thought her 10 year old cat named Kiki had gotten lost in January.  She searched the neighborhood for weeks and offered a $1000 reward for Kiki, whom she had rescued as a kitten.  It turns out, Ms. Rohe’s neighbor had complained to the Foley police about cats getting into trash cans and requested that traps be set.  Kiki was caught in one of the traps, taken to the county pound and killed for “erratic behavior” although obviously her chances of being killed there were extremely high, all behavioral considerations aside, since she was a cat.  The neighbor stood by in silence as Ms. Rohe searched for her pet.  Ms. Rohe was unaware that traps had been set on the property.

This week, Ms. Rohe spoke before the Foley city council about the needless killing of her beloved pet:

“My cat lost her life because there is no warning from the city. There’s no kind of sign, there’s no kind of phone call, there’s no notice on the Internet, on a website or something to say, ‘We’re going to be setting traps in your area,'” Rohe said.

Rohe described her cat being “lured and tricked like a little kid with candy.”

[…]

“I’m just telling y’all my life has changed,” Rohe said emotionally. “I’m devastated over what she went through … They put her to sleep because she was so traumatized.”

Foley police chief David Wilson said that the officers will start putting up signs to notify residents when they have set traps for cats:

“I’ve apologized to her that her Kiki was put down like that,” he said. “You couldn’t have made this up. And we’re going take measure so it doesn’t happen again, at least like that.”

Maybe not exactly like that, but the pound’s statistics show that any cat brought in will most likely be killed.  Putting up trapping signs for cat haters to rip down won’t force the county shelter to start doing its job.  As it stands, the county is operating little more than a pet killing facility with regard to cats and the city of Foley should either demand that cats actually be sheltered or terminate the relationship with the pound.  If Foley insists on trapping cats, the city has an obligation to take them to a safe place and the Baldwin Co pound is not safe for cats.

(Thank you Anne for sending me this story.)

Denver Animal Shelter Adopts Out Well-Loved, Lost Dog Despite Owner’s Attempts to Reclaim

Chewie and Korey, as shown on youcaring.com.

Chewie and Korey, as shown on youcaring.com.

Korey Wetherell left his beloved pet Chewbacca in the care of roommates when he went out of town at the beginning of the month.  The dog was accidentally lost and a roommate began searching for him after notifying Korey, who immediately posted a lost dog ad on Craigslist.  After learning that Chewie had been picked up by the Denver Animal Shelter, Korey called and emailed the facility, explaining that he wanted to reclaim his dog but was out of town.  He sent a friend to pick up Chewie but the friend was turned away because he could not prove ownership.

When Korey arrived home, DAS was closed.  He then had to go out of town again before the place re-opened.  He called the city’s 311 line to explain the situation and reiterate that he wanted his dog back, he just wasn’t able to get there in person to reclaim him.  Worried with concern for Chewie, Korey again sent a friend to DAS to try to bail the dog out, asking the friend to have staff call him on the phone and/or do whatever was necessary in order to prove ownership.  When the friend arrived, he was told DAS had adopted Chewie to a family:

“Because animals are considered property, that animal was considered abandoned,” Jill Brown with the Denver Animal Shelter said.

The shelter said the 5-day window for owners to retrieve their lost pet had passed, so Chewbacca went to a new home.

There is clearly no excuse for this egregious betrayal of the human-animal bond by the Denver Animal Shelter.  A hold should have been placed on the dog and/or an arrangement made to release the dog to the owner’s representative.  DAS knew Chewie was owned and loved, that the owner wanted him back but was out of town, and that he had sent someone to try and reclaim the dog on his behalf.  They sold him anyway then, when confronted by the local news, refer to the pet as abandoned property.

DAS contacted the people who adopted Chewie but that family has declined to return the dog.  Korey is heartbroken and made an appeal to the family on the local news:

“You’re doing a great thing adopting a dog, but help a dog who really needs it; because Chewbacca doesn’t need a new set of arms to hold him. He has that here,” he said.

He is also posting on Facebook and Craigslist, hoping the family who has his pet will let him come home:

If you are the person, or know the person who has him, please contact me. He has never been to the shelter before, and he got out while I was out of town. Had I known the City of Denver could and would do this without notifying me, I would have crossed heaven and hell to get him back. He is an amazing dog and I want the best for him, but we have 4 years together and I don’t think anyone knowing the circumstance would do this to somebody. Please contact me if you know any information.

I asked Jill Brown (quoted above) and DAS executive director Alice Nightengale why Chewbacca wasn’t placed on a hold after the owner contacted DAS and said he wanted to reclaim his dog but was out of town.  Neither immediately responded.  I will update this post if I receive any response.  DAS has not responded to my queries regarding their mistreatment of animals in the past and the staff seems particularly wrong-headed but we’ll see how long they feel confident hiding behind their “abandoned property” defense on this one.

Denver taxpayers deserve better.  If the shelter isn’t a safe place for lost pets whose owners are known to the staff, it certainly doesn’t bode well for how stray pets of unknown ownership and feral cats are handled.  I hope DAS starts doing its job to protect lost and homeless pets and that Korey is reunited with Chewie very soon.

(Thanks Davyd and Clarice for sending me links on this story.)

Treats on the Internets

The director of the Rowan Co pound in NC says the facility can never become no kill.  An enabler explains that Rowan Co is in the stupidsouth while in utopianorth, they have no problems because magical spay-neuter.  (Thanks Lisa for the link.)

A veterinarian at the Cherryland HS in MI says the unlicensed employee who injected a kitten with Fatal Plus and put him in the freezer did everything right, despite the lack of license and the fact that another employee found the kitten alive inside a bag.  The vet blames the state for not telling him he needed to have his kill techs licensed.  (Thanks Clarice for the links.)

A complaint filed with the Oregon Department of Justice alleges that a pet charity has been fundraising for abused animals it doesn’t have, including in one case, a deceased puppy.  The charity’s founder says the complaint was filed by someone who is just jealous because she created National Cat Day (Alert:  There is a National Cat Day, apparently.)  Also:  stalking, smear campaign and stuff.  (Thanks Jan.)

Some dumbass brought his dog to a skate park in Beaverton, Oregon and let him run loose.  When the dog failed to respond to a voice command, the guy hurled the dog 15 feet onto the concrete pad, causing him to go lame.  Police charged him with abuse and say he works at a doggie daycare, but they don’t know which one.  I’m totally huh because I thought only animal lovers get jobs working with animals.

A carpenter at a San Francisco construction site took a raccoon who had been trapped by exterminators and set him free.  The employer wanted the raccoon killed and fired the carpenter for stealing.

A special agent from the DEA testified to a Utah senate panel that if the state approves medicinal use of marijuana for patients meeting certain guidelines, bunnies will get baked.  (Thanks Nathan.)

Rescue Group Denies Foster Family’s Request to Adopt

Kaiya at home with her family, including her photobomb cat, as shown on the WOWT website.

Kaiya at home with her family, including her photobomb cat, as shown on the WOWT website.

Most readers are probably familiar with the term “foster fail”, used to describe the situation which arises when an owner intends to provide a temporary foster home for a pet in need but ends up falling in love with the animal and deciding he can’t part with the pet.  It happens a lot, primarily because foster owners tend to be compassionate animal lovers and the heart doesn’t always fall in line with the head.  It’s a win for the pet since, instead of adjusting to a foster family then being placed in a strange home environment with a permanent adopter, she gets to stay with the family to whom she has already grown attached.  And it’s a win for the rescue group since it’s one less pet in need of advertising, transporting to adoption events and screening applicants for, potentially opening up a space for another animal in need.

The Wilson family in Omaha began fostering a senior dog named Kaiya for Golden Retriever Rescue in Nebraska (GRRIN) one year ago.  They opened their home and hearts to Kaiya and recently decided the bond they’d developed with her was too precious to break.  The family let GRRIN know they wanted to go ahead and officially become Kaiya’s permanent family.  But GRRIN denied the family’s request, without providing any reason, and the group’s president came to the Wilson’s home to take Kaiya away:

Roger Wilson even told the President he was filming a recent interaction when the President came to the Wilson home. The President can be heard on camera telling Wilson, “I’m not going to talk to you about this on camera, I’m here to transport Kaiya.”

The Wilsons had taken Kaiya to their daughter’s home ahead of the president’s visit in order to protect her from being taken.  They are vowing to fight for Kaiya:

“I’m not going to give her up,” said Wilson. “I’ll fight tooth and nail all the way to the end. The dog belongs with us.”

GRRIN’s president told WOWT that an 11 person volunteer board will hear an appeal regarding the adoption at some unspecified future date.  He refused to comment on any legal action the group might take to gain custody of the dog.

GRRIN’s online listing for Kaiya has been removed from its website but the cached version indicates the page was posted in May 2014 and reads:

I am a 7 year old sweetheart. Yep that’s me. I love to hang out, play a little, and cuddle. I do like to play with a ball or a toy, but mostly I like snuggling up. I have terrific house manners and have been trustworthy in the house. Sometimes I get a little frightened but you know how it is when things are new, they can be a little scary. I get along great with cats and am learning to like my foster dog buddy, and I might be ok around much older children. Fast movements can scare me a little. If you like to snuggle, I might be the girl for you.

GRRIN seems to acknowledge that Kaiya was frightened in the first few months while adjusting to her new home environment.  This would not be unusual for any foster dog, especially a senior.  The video accompanying the WOWT story clearly shows how comfortable Kaiya now is with the Wilson family.  But GRRIN apparently thinks it’s in Kaiya’s best interest to take her safe and secure home away from her and place her in another strange environment.  And they won’t say why.

It sounds like another case of a rescue deeming a home good, but not good enough.  In this case it’s particularly bizarre since GRRIN obviously believed the Wilsons were fine as a foster family for an entire year.  Does the group place foster dogs with people they feel are unsuitable to own pets?  Why was Kaiya’s adoption denied?  Is GRRIN one of those groups that believe that good homes need not apply to adopt pets?  A rescue group that doesn’t rejoice at a foster fail is puzzling, to say the least.  How many people, probably including the Wilsons, are learning about Kaiya’s story and deciding fostering is a terrible idea?

Further, this story is yet another illustration of why it’s so dangerous for pounds to send cats to rescuers without holding them first so their owners can reclaim them.  There is little to no legal accountability for rescue groups regarding adoption screening.  They can deny anyone a pet, anytime, for any reason – or as in Kaiya’s case, for no reason at all.  They can deny someone who has clearly been providing a loving, long-term home to a pet while refusing to discuss the matter. This is not what rescue is supposed to be.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

St Johns Co Oops-Kills Beloved Lost Cat Upon Intake

Tails having a birthday with his boy, as shown on the News4Jax website.

Tails having a birthday with his boy, as shown on the News4Jax website.

A neutered and declawed indoor cat named Tails became lost last week while the owners were having work done inside their Florida home.  Owner Chelsea Santoro began putting up Lost Cat posters around the neighborhood.  Unbeknownst to anyone, Tails had climbed into the engine compartment of a neighbor’s rental car.  Miraculously, Tails was unharmed despite riding on the engine for 12 miles while the neighbor returned the car to the rental agency. A worker there found the cat.

Before anyone knew who Tails belonged to, and believing the St Johns Co pound was the safest place to bring the pet so that he could be reunited with his owner, an employee at the rental car company contacted AC to turn Tails over.  Once the company connected the dots and determined Ms. Santoro was the owner, they let her know the good news about Tails:

Santoro was ecstatic.
“They told me stories about how they were cuddling with him, and playing with him, and how they made him a little bed.”

Ms. Santoro immediately called the pound to reclaim her pet.  But she was told that pound staff had killed Tails.  The impounding ACO, on the job for two years, wrongly listed Tails as an unneutered stray male cat.  Tails was killed upon intake.  Oops:

“Our initial inquiry into this incident indicates that the county’s policies and procedures were not followed, and there was no justification for the actions that occurred, said Michael Ryan, St. Johns County’s communication manager. “The issue is currently under investigation and the employee in question has been placed on administrative leave. Appropriate measures will be taken to prevent this from occurring again. The loss of a pet under any circumstances is tragic and our condolences are extended to the family.”

Ryan seems to have learned a thing or two since St Johns Co killed an owned, lost, microchipped dog named Baby Girl a few months ago.  At that time, he was all blame-the-filthy-owners-for-not-finding-their-dog-that-we-didn’t-bother-to-scan.  Now he’s singing the “it won’t happen again” tune although to be accurate, he should be saying “it won’t happen again, again” but that’s just me being picky probably.

Tails and his boy, as shown on the News4Jax website.

Tails and his boy, as shown on the News4Jax website.

Anyhoo, don’t criticize because we all want the same thing and if cat owners actually loved their pets then shelters would have a higher RTO rate and if only people would spay and neuter – oh, uh… never mind.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 957 other followers