Burlington Animal Services Oops-Kills Dog who had Adopter Waiting

A pit bull mix who had been held at Burlington Animal Services for six days, while a family who wanted to adopt him called repeatedly to ask about him, was oops-killed by a pound employee on Jan. 15. Brand-new pound director Jessica Arias, who started the job last month with “big ideas and hopes to improve the lives of animals here,” said that the oops-kill was caused by an employee who didn’t follow policies and that the policies would be reviewed.

The pit-bull, Si, didn’t even need to be in the Burlington pound to begin with. On Jan. 6 he had shown upon the porch of the Lassiters, the family who desperately wanted to adopt him, soaking wet and covered in what looked like paintball paint. The Lassiters took him in,  and Si fit right in with their dogs and kids. The Lassiters posted lost dog notices but no owner came forward.

Three days later, Si wandered from their yard, but Michelle Lassiter quickly discovered him inside an animal control truck parked by her neighbors’ house. She asked the officer if she could have Si back and he refused, taking poor Si to the pound.

Alamance Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Hoover said it’s their policy to take found and stray dogs to the shelter to allow original owners to find them. But state law says that it’s perfectly OK for pounds to allow pets to serve their stray holds in the home of the person who found them:

 G.S. 19A-23 Section 2 (d) (d)   During the minimum holding period, an animal shelter may place an animal it is holding into foster care by transferring possession of the animal to an approved foster care provider, an approved rescue organization, or the person who found the animal. If an animal shelter transfers possession of an animal under this subsection, at least one photograph depicting the head and face of the animal shall be displayed at the shelter in a conspicuous location that is available to the general public during hours of operation, and that photograph shall remain posted until the animal is disposed of as provided in subsection (f) of this section.

So Si could have stayed in his comfortable, loving home, the pound could have posted his photo in case his previous owners came looking, and Si could now be still alive.

Instead, Si was taken to one place where animals are least safe in Alamance County: Burlington Animal Services, which killed 72.53% of the dogs and cats who came in during 2012 (up from 70.9% in 2011). So basically, it’s a killing facility.

When Michelle Lassiter finally tracked Si down at the Burlington killing facility, staff were rude and seemed lacking in compassion, she said. And even though she had been denied the right to keep Si because he wasn’t officially her dog, they now told her that the family could only have him if she pay the standard $25 impound fee plus $5 for each additional day he was imprisoned. When the Lassiters were ready to pay that, staff then said Si couldn’t be released without documentation of his rabies shot or payment of a $50 fine.

The Lassiters were given another three days. Their family vet agreed to vaccinate Si at a reduced rate. In the meantime, Lassiter was busy acquiring kennels and dog beds for Si.

She called Wednesday to make sure there wasn’t anything else she needed to do before they picked him up and was told Si had been put down earlier that day.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the staff of Burlington Animal “Services” were bound and determined to prevent Si from leaving alive. Oh, but nobody wants to kill animals …

BAS is the same pound where, more than a year ago, staff killed a cat who had an adopter literally begging to save him.

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Filed under "Nobody WANTS to kill animals ...", Alamance County, Burlington Animal Services

Randolph County officials love gas chamber so much they return HSUS grant

In December 2011, Randolph County accepted a $3,000 grant from HSUS that included a stipulation that the gas chamber be phased out as a means of killing pets in the county pound. More than two years later, however, Randolph has neglected to actually phase out the gas chamber. Johnston County, which also accepted a grant at the same time as Randolph, removed their gas chamber about a year ago.

When HSUS asked  the county to either honor its commitment to phase out the barbaric killing machine or give back the grant money, pound officials chose to give back the grant.

Since 2011, twelve NC counties have ended the use of gas chambers to kill shelter pets. Twenty three states have passed laws against gas chamber killing.

There is no progressive sheltering agency of any scope or stature willing to philosophically embrace CO systems for euthanasia of any dog or cat. Humane sheltering is deliberately, inexorably, and philosophically moving away from mass killing as an acceptable method of dog and cat population control. ~Dr. Michael R. Moyer, V.M.D.

Animal advocates may contact MiMi Cooper, the official who oversees operations at the Randolph County pound, at MMCooper@co.randolph.nc.us. Contact information for Randolph County commissioners, who could, if they wished, decide to mandate removal of the county’s gas chamber, can be found here.

Inspiration for  letters may be found here and  here, and this sample letter may be used as a template.

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Demolish the Rowan County gas chamber!

In response to recent anti-gas-chamber activism in Rowan County, pound director Clai Martin is digging in his heels to fight the attempt to take away his barbaric killing machine.

Martin cites “employee safety” as the reason he wants to keep his gas chamber. But an essay by Dr. Michael R. Moyer, V.M.D., past Director of the Shelter Animal Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, points out the fallacy of that argument:

Some argue that gas systems are appropriate for dangerous animals because it does not require “hands on” euthanasia by staff the way lethal injection would. But this argument ignores the necessity of not just moving those animals from their kennels to the euthanasia room, but then attempting to place those animals into a small, enclosed chamber. Any animal that can be managed into a chamber could be more safely and humanely tranquilized then given a lethal overdose of pentobarbital. (From “The Wrongness of It Screams and Howls”: An Expert Report on Gas Chamber Use at Animal Shelters.)

Indeed, thousands of non-gas-chamber pounds around the United States manage to safely kill as many or more pets each year as Rowan County does. (Clai Martin and his staff killed almost 48% of the cats and dogs in 2012, plus some raccoons and opossums who were most likely killed illegally.) Not to mention that there are hundreds of No Kill communities across the country, in which euthanasia is reserved for its true purpose in ending irremediable suffering and where gas chambers are never used. The safest option for workers at the Rowan County pound would be to end the killing of healthy and treatable pets altogether.

What’s more, gas chambers present health and safety risks to humans because carbon monoxide can leak or gas can accumulate and cause explosions. Such accidents have caused injury and death to shelter staff,  including a 2000 incident in which a Chattanooga Humane Society worker died of CO poisoning while removing a dead dog from the gas chamber and a 2009 explosion in Lincoln County, NC, that injured a pound employee. Chronic exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can also cause serious health problems.

Shelter workers also report higher levels of psychological stress from having to use gas chambers to euthanize animals versus using EBI. According to the Association of Shelter Veterinarians Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters, the CO chamber “takes longer than euthanasia by injection and has not been shown to provide emotional benefits for staff. Some shelter workers have reported being distressed by hearing animals vocalizing, scratching and howling in the chamber, and by having to repeat the process when animals survived the first procedure.”

Because of the considerable and obvious suffering inflicted, carbon monoxide systems desensitize animal shelter workers who use them to kill dogs and cats. Indeed, only a desensitized person could put animals into the device, close the door, push the button, step back and watch—knowing what is about to happen inside. Ironically, those hired to care for animals in need are forced to inflict this cruelty upon them as a part of their job duties. (From “The Wrongness of It Screams and Howls”: An Expert Report on Gas Chamber Use at Animal Shelters.)

Twenty three states have passed laws against gas chamber killing. Many formerly gassing counties across North Carolina have taken steps toward the civilized treatment of animals; at least 12 counties have junked the barbaric death machines since 2011. Currently, there are 10 NC gas chambers still in regular use, and two counties have gas chambers for occasional use.

Animal advocates may contact Rowan County commissioners using the information below and respectfully ask them to demolish the gas chamber and adopt the No Kill Equation:

Commissioners:

All commissioners can be reached by mail at 130 W. Innes Street, Salisbury, NC 28144.

Inspiration for  letters may be found here and  here, and this sample letter may be used as a template.

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Animal advocates call for Wake Pound director’s resignation over killing of “rescued” cats

When more than 90 cats were taken from the home of Raleigh resident Carol De Olloqui earlier this month, Wake County pound director Julie Federico, DVM, decided to kill 60 of them. Now animal advocates are calling for her resignation.

Dr. Federico said the cats were suffering from upper respiratory disease, and several were emaciated and dehydrated, had ringworm and/or nails grown into their feet. All of these conditions are treatable, as Dr. Federico, a veterinarian, should know. But instead of sheltering them, Dr. Federico killed them.

In their petition, the advocates point out several other factors that they believe were not taken into account before the mass cat killing:

  • Ms. De Olloqui was physically restrained and not allowed to provide veterinary documentation to support each animal
  • Four of Ms. De Olloqui’s personal cats were destroyed
  • Four of the cats present on the property at the time of the raid were being held as a courtesy for an owner that recently lost her home in a fire
  • Several of the cats euthanized were under various area veterinarians’ care. The veterinarians were available but not allowed to present any documentation at the time of the raid
  • Several of the cats euthanized were the property of other rescues
  • Calvin’s Paws Rescue and many other rescue fosters were in route to Ms. De Olloqui’s home to retrieve animals and provide them with shelter but were turned away. Many are approved partners of Wake County Animal Shelter.
  • Ms. De Olloqui granted access to Dr. Frederico and her team into the home of her own accord
  • Calvin’s Paws Rescue is an approved partner of the Wake County Animal Shelter

Dr. Federico deflected the blame for her pound’s killing of the cats onto Ms. De Olloqui. But while Ms De Olloqui almost definitely had more cats in her home than she could properly care for, those cats were alive when Federico took them, which means they all had a chance at health and a home where they were loved. Dr. Federico took away any chance of that by choosing to kill them.

Killing is the ultimate form of violence. While cruelty and suffering are abhorrent, while cruelty and suffering are painful, while cruelty and suffering should be condemned and rooted out, there is nothing worse than death, because death is final. An animal subjected to pain and suffering can be rescued. A traumatized animal subjected to savage cruelty can even be rehabilitated, as the dog fighting case against football player Michael Vick demonstrates. Dogs who the Humane Society of the United States lobbied to have killed because they claimed they were dangerous as a result of the abuse went on to loving, new homes and some even became therapy dogs, bringing comfort to cancer patients. Where there is life, there is hope, but death is hope’s total antithesis. It is the eclipse of hope because the animals never wake up, ever. It is the worst of the worst–a fact each and every one of us would immediately and unequivocally recognize if we were the ones being threatened with it.” ~Nathan Winograd, “Animal Lovers Need Not Apply.”

This is not the first time Dr. Federico has been quick to choose death for a pet who had other options. Almost a year ago, Danielle Miller says Wake pound staff assured her they would find a home for her dog Tucker. Instead, they killed him 45 minutes after his arrival, despite having told her in two previous phone calls that Tucker was doing just fine. “I told them I was coming back to get him, and they said, ‘Don’t bother. He’s already dead.’ I said there must be some mistake.”

Dr. Federico said the 45 minutes Tucker was given to “chill out” in his scary and strange new environment was actually longer than she and her staff usually give pets before deciding to end their lives.

Also during Dr. Federico’s watch: earlier this year a volunteer who had previously been a full-time employee was charged with molesting at least four dogs at the pound after he reportedly went to a website that features bestiality and posted at least three photos of himself  having sex with dogs.
Previous Wake pound director Dennis McMichael resigned after three months on the job amid controversy, including the killing of a TV station’s Pet of the Day on the same day the dog, Sassy, appeared on the newscast.

Wake County pound staff killed almost 50% of the dogs and cats who came into during 2012.

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Lincoln County commissioners vote to adopt no-kill policy; Rowan activists protest gas chamber

Lincoln County took a step forward Monday when commissioners voted unanimously to adopt a No Kill policy at the county shelter.

According to a report in the Charlotte Observer, the initiative to push Lincoln County to adopt the programs of the No Kill Equation was led by a group of animal advocates who say they have committed more than 1,000 volunteer hours to the effort. The county will seek donations, grants and sponsorships to fund the initiative.

If Lincoln County succeeds it will be the second No Kill community in North Carolina. North Carolina has a very successful No Kill community in Polk County. The Foothills Humane Society, which holds the animal control contract for Polk County (and parts of northern Greenville and Spartanburg counties of South Carolina), had a 98.95% save rate in 2012, up from 96.55% in 2011. The Lincoln County shelter had dog and cat kill rates of 55.23% in 2012 and 52.93% in 2011.

In Rowan County Monday, dozens of animal advocates demonstrated against the use of of carbon monoxide to kill the county’s shelter pets. Advocates also presented a petition with more than 9,000 signatures to county commissioners and spoke during the public comment period of the commissioners’meeting. The Rowan County pound had a dog and cat kill rate of 47.81% in 2012, which was significantly lower than the 2011 kill rate of 76.47%.

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What she said!

Screenshot from the Facebook page of a friend who is not even a No Kill activist (click to view larger photo):

This is so very sad BUT I find a shelter posting this kind of emotional blackmail truly disgusting. He HAS to be out by tonight?? BUT he will only be released to a rescue?? Rescues are manned by volunteers, most of whom work full time jobs and cannot drop their entire loves and go pull an emaciated dog that needs special care and cannot just go to ANY home! I can only hope and pray someone was able to pull him before they killed him!

Fortunately, in this case, a rescuer was able to get to the pound by closing and Brutis is safe.

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Filed under "Nobody WANTS to kill animals ...", cruelty, Things that are NOT No Kill

Alexander County eliminates gas chamber

Alexander County has ended the use of CO gas to kill animals and its gas chamber has been destroyed, according to an HSUS press release (complete with photographic proof of the junked CO chamber).

Alexander is the twelfth NC county to end use of the barbaric gas chamber since 2011. Counties that still use gas chambers as the primary means of killing shelter pets are: Beaufort , Cleveland, Davidson, Granville, Martin,  Randolph, Rowan, Union, Wilkes and Wilson. Gaston and Nash counties primarily use lethal injection but still use gas to kill some animals.

NC Gas Chamber Counties Oct. 2013. Click map to view full size

Click map to view full size

Animal Advocates may find contact information for officials of gassing counties here. A sample letter to officials can be found here, and plenty of inspiration for what to write in your own letter can be found here.

Remember: The debate does not have to be between killing animals with CO and killing them with lethal injection. Counties can end the killing of healthy and treatable pets altogether and turn their pounds into bona fide shelters, where animals’ lives are protected.  More than 160 communities across the US have ended the debate over the best way to kill healthy and treatable shelter pets by SAVING THEM through implementation of  a cost-effectiveproven program for lifesaving success.

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