Monthly Archives: May 2012

McDowell County to take back control of animal shelter

McDowell County animal shelter operations will be reverting back to county control, with the previous shelter reopening on Monday. (Read FiXNC’s previous entry on MCAO.)

The decision came after a meeting in which various local rescue groups asked McDowell County officials to take back operations of the animal shelter from McDowell County Animal Outreach, which had been running the shelter out of an old car dealership building. MCAO had been fined $1,000 by the NCDA&CS for multiple, repeated violations of the NC Animal Welfare Act after failing several inspections.

There’s no telling whether this will be a better deal for the animals of MCDowell county, but at least the MCAS had an acceptable last inspection. In 2011 the MCAS killed 79.73 percent of dogs and 94.29 percent of cats for a combined kill rate of 85.08 percent. That’s pretty terrible, and I guess the hope of MCAO was to do better. One of their state goals was to “improve the ‘all-around negative image’ about how McDowell treats unwanted dogs and cats,” but they were not doing so well on that front.

The answer for McDowell County now is to work openly and freely with all the rescue groups who have shown interest in the issue to get those animals OUT of the shelter and into adoptive or foster homes quickly (and to embrace TNR as a humane, life-affirming  alternative to killing feral cats). I’ve emailed the McDowell County commissioners and shared resources from the No Kill Advocacy Center. This could actually be a perfect opportunity for them to have their own well-run, lifesaving animal shelter.

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Filed under McDowell County, NC county/municipal pounds

McDowell County Animal Outreach fined for animal welfare violations

Thanks to Shirley at YesBiscuit! for this one, which I had missed. McDowell County Animal Outreach, which has the contract to run the McDowell County pound, has been fined $1,000 by the NCDA&CS for multiple, repeated violations of the NC Animal Welfare Act. The fine came after many violations found during a March inspection had not been corrected by an April followup.

The uncorrected problems in April included: animals kept in unapproved areas; insufficient ventilation; unsealed floors; cats stacked on top of each other in unsecured crates open to cross-contamination; crates stacked on unstable or unsanitizable surfaces such as tires, pressboard tables, wooden tables, card tables and storage tubs; no thermometers in housing areas; records lacking proper origination information, description of animals, location in facility, disposition information and vaccination status; animals lacking proof of rabies vaccination; sick cats being housed directly behind the adoptable cat area; and lack of veterinary care.

Inspectors were back at the facility on May 14, following a complaint that sickness resulting in the killing of many animals was an ongoing problem at the facility. The May inspection report was little better than the April one. Problems included, in part: an enclosure being cleaned while the animal remained in it,  food not in sealed containers ;  a “significant odor”  in the adoptable dog room; insufficient ventilation, insufficient staff for the number of animals housed;  tub full of dirty food bowls and stagnant water in the bathroom of the quarantine building; no heat or hot water in the facility; damaged and leaking ceiling; “heavily soiled” mop water, foot baths, and equipment baths; animals lacking records and proof of rabies vaccination; cat crates on unsanitizable surfaces; and potential for cross-contamination between cat housing.

One might assume that the MCAO entered into their contract with the county to run the animal shelter out of concern for the animals and because they thought they could do a better job than the county. But  Carol Ferebee, assistant director of MCAO, doesn’t make the group appear to be up to the task at all by passing on responsibilty and blaming almost everyone else:

  • The state: “None of us here have ever run a shelter before. (The inspectors) don’t let me know if they are done so I can ask questions. I feel like the state is lax in that area.”
  • The building: “Some issues with the inspection are not our fault. This building was not designed to be an animal shelter. We can’t afford and it’s not our responsibility to fix everything in the building. We are leasing it.”
  • People who don’t volunteer: “We definitely need dependable volunteers. We need people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. It can take all day just to clean the cat area.”
  • Other animal welfare groups : “We should all be partnering up to save the animals.”

The MCAO’s stated goal is to become a No Kill shelter, although they say in their FAQ that it’s “not possible presently,” which is generally shorthand for “We are paying lip service to the idea because we know it’s getting popular, but don’t hold your breath.” It’s especially impossible when you duck responsibility for running a clean, safe, humane shelter and blame everyone else for your problems. I’d love to report that they are on-track toward their stated goal of reducing the county’s kill rate (85 percent in 2011, so probably not that hard to improve upon at least a little), but I cannot find their statistics on their website. I have requested them, and if they send I will follow-up.

UPDATE HERE.

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Filed under McDowell County, NC county/municipal pounds

Crunching the NC kill numbers

PLEASE NOTE: This post was published in MAY 2012 and the numbers referenced here are the 2011 NC statistics. The 2012 stats were only just released on May 21, 2013. I’m still crunching those numbers, but you can see my worksheet with percentages and dog & cat numbers totaled here. I am also working on a comparison with the 2011 numbers, and that file is here.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released their animal shelter report at the end of April. (Available in Excel format here.) The excel report is hard to read and requires a lot of math to obtain useful information like dog and cat totals, kill rates and adoption rates, so I spent some time turning it into a slightly more user-friendly version that shows totals (dog+cat and all animal) and kill rates. Considering that most people are more interested in the dog and cat totals than other numbers, I decided to separate them out to make it easier to parse and calculate a few other things like statewide totals and adoption rates. That sheet is here.

Before I go any further, I’d like to announce that the Killingest Kill “Shelter” in North Carolina is the Montgomery County Animal Control Facility. For $78.37 per animal, they killed  98 percent of the dogs  and 100 percent of the cats that came in, for an overall kill rate of 99 percent. Of the 1199 dogs and cats that went into that pound, only 12 dogs got out alive. (They also killed 25 raccoons, 20 opossums and one coyote.) (NOTE: Several pounds commonly thought of as “high kill,” such as Beaufort, Co., Hyde Co., Martin Co. and Sampson Co., did not report, so Montgomery County may not actually be the very worst pound in NC. But given that they have worse outcomes than even PETA, an organization that STRIVES to kill every animal that comes in, it’s hard to imagine a worse pound anywhere.)

In comparison, for a similar  per-animal cost (slightly less, actually: $73.30), Bladen County Animal Shelter SAVED 89 percent of the dogs  and 36 percent of the cats that came in for a combined save rate of  66 percent. That doesn’t put them into “no kill” territory (although they are getting close with their dog outcomes), but it’s a great example of the fact that saving lives doesn’t have to cost more. To be fair, Bladen County’s success rate is almost entirely attributable to the advocacy group A Shelter Friend, which relentlessly networks the animals and raises money for medical care and transport assistance. But that’s often what it takes–saving animals is a community effort. With a feral cat TNR program, Bladen County could probably reach No Kill community status very quickly.

Curiously, the “savingest” animal shelter in NC (and it actually deserves to be called a shelter, unlike all the others) did not even turn in their statistics to the NCDA&CS this year. I had been anxiously awaiting the outcomes from Foothills Humane Society ever since reading about their progress in the No-Kill Communities blog. They did not report, however, so I emailed to ask about their numbers, and received them very quickly. (The new director was not aware of the reporting requirement, and apparently no one from the NCDA&CS contacted her about reporting.) They have achieved a total live release rate of almost 98 percent. It appears that NC finally has its first open-admission no-kill shelter!

The NCDA&CS numbers should be taken with a shaker of salt because there are huge holes in North Carolina’s reporting system. These statistics are self-reported by the shelters themselves and NCDA&CS does not verify their accuracy. The shelters could be completely making them up.

Although it’s technically mandatory for all shelters that receive any public funds to report, the only penalty for non-compliance is ineligibility to receive spay/neuter reimbursement funds. So publicly funded facilities that do not participate in the spay/neuter program can fail to report with no consequence. Twenty one facilities failed to report for 2011. (Many of the non-reporting facilities are holding facilities that may keep animals for a short period of time before they are transferred to a central facility and rarely or never kill animals.)

Another problem is that, unlike Virginia’s comprehensive statistical tracking, NC’s system is missing a lot of data breakdowns. In NC the only outcomes tracked are adoption, owner reclaim and killing. Where does a facility put the number of animals transferred to rescue groups (or, in the case of holding facilities, to another facility)? It’s not clear where these go; presumably they would count under adoptions, but are all facilities reporting this in the same way?  What about animals that escape or die in custody?  Also, there is no clarification of the numbers of animals on-hand at the beginning and end of each year, so one can only guess what it means when the in and out numbers don’t add up. Overall, the NC system leaves a lot to be desired in terms of enforcing accountability.

In contrast, the VA system breaks down intakes and outcomes to make it more apparent what actually happens to the animals, making facilities more accountable and transparent. Intake details are broken down to show exactly how the animals come in (On Hand January 1, Stray, Seized, Bite Cases, Surrendered by Owner, Received From Another Virginia Releasing Agency, Others) and outcomes are broken down to make it clear what the shelter is doing with them (Reclaimed by Owner, Adopted, Transferred to Another Virginia Releasing Agency, Transferred by Approved  Out-Of-State Facility, Died in Facility, Euthanized, Miscellaneous [includes escaped, stolen and anything else not covered by the other categories], On Hand December 31). This way the numbers always add up, and no one has to guess what the facility is actually doing with the animals.

What’s more, the Virginia system includes all organizations involved in animal control or rescue, public and private. This type of accountability provides a safeguard against groups operating in secrecy with no oversight,  such as the Johnston County SPCA here in NC.

Per these reports, public pounds in NC took in 348,089 dogs and cats in 2011. Of these,  226,199 or  64.98 percent, were killed.  Dogs generally fared much better than cats in the state’s pounds. Of the 181,907 who entered pounds, 93,880, or 51.61 percent, were killed.  Of 166,182 cats, 130,639 were killed, for a rate of 78.61 percent. As noted above, the absence of statistics from several potentially “high kill” pounds means the actual number of animals killed in NC is likely a bit higher than this.

Because there are discrepancies between the data tracking, a direct comparison of these totals to Virginia’s isn’t possible, but taking everything into account it’s astoundingly clear that Virginia does a much better job of protecting companion animals than NC does. (Keep in mind that Virginia numbers include ALL shelters and rescues, while NCs only include the publicly funded facilities that bother to report.) With a population only 16 percent lower than NC’s (in July 2011: VA = 8,096,604, NC = 9,656,401), Virginia pounds, shelters and rescues took in 177,484 dogs and cats, or 54% fewer than the NC shelters that report to NCDA&CS. Of these, 67,134, or almost 42%, were killed. (That number drops almost a whole percentage point when you subtract PETA’s numbers from the equation.)

Just to be generous, let’s add in the animals who died in custody (2,969) before we compare that to the NC shelter kill numbers. That makes total of  70,103 animals who died in Virginia shelters during 2011, or 61 percent less  than the (known) NC death toll. For still another perspective, consider this: In Virginia, shelters killed one companion animal for every 115 people in the state last year, while NC shelters killed 1 companion animal for every 43 state residents. (Many of the NC animals are dying in gas chambers, which are outlawed in Virginia.)

Fortunately, shelters like the Foothills Humane Society are demonstrating that we can achieve the sort of success at saving lives that Virginia does. Virginia currently has seven confirmed No Kill communities (and a few in progess), but they started with just one.

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Filed under Bladen, Montgomery County, NC county/municipal pounds, Polk County, statistics

NC pounds in the news

A news roundup of sorts …

The Brunswick County pound might be taken over by the sheriff’s department. If they have anyone there like Sgt. Karl Bailey, that could be a good thing. In 2011 the Brunswick County pound, a gas chamber facility,  killed  58.88 percent of dogs and 91.62 percent of cats that came in.

Cabarrus County Commissioner Bob Carruth says that after “years of work,” it’s time to “move toward” reducing that pound’s death rate.  The plan seems to involve “clarifying roles”  between animal control and the pound, hiring a couple of part-time workers to clean kennels and using some software to track the animals that come in. I wonder if it is a five-year plan? Unfortunately, none of the steps mentioned involve getting rid of the gas chamber.  In 2011 Cabarrus County pound killed  49.08 percent of dogs and 46.03 percent of cats that came in.

Forsyth County Animal Control wants feedback on their efforts to protect animals. They have posted an online survey. In 2011 Forsyth County AC killed  68.56 percent of dogs and 87.82 percent of cats that came in.

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Filed under Brunswick County, Cabarrus County, Forsyth County, gas chamber, NC county/municipal pounds

In which I engage a killing enabler …

Yesterday I placed several Craigslist ads asking for people to send me their story if they have been turned down for adoption by a North Carolina kill pound (inspired by stories I hear about my own local kill pound). In one day I’ve gotten four stories (and flagged for removal once), but I also got an email that just said “why?”

So I responded with the why. Here’s the reply the woman sent:

I don’t have a story of being refused but I have worked as a volunteer for years at my local shelter and would like to just say, sometimes people are turned away for a reason. Usually hoarders who we know have come in many times adopting, or people who’s animals magically turn up at the shelter and then 6 months later they are trying to adopt another one. I am sure this description does not fit the bill every time, and I truly wish we could save all the animals, I know the staff of a “high kill shelter” very well, they do not at all enjoy their jobs, and I have many times seen them with tears in their eyes most of them are on antidepressants suffering from physical issues from the job *usually bum legs* And just so tired, but they keep going for the animals, I have not read your blog before responding to this post, but I know many people demonize the people who work at the shelters and this is not always the case. It is not their fault that the community will not spay/neuter the animals and they are left to clean the mess. I just wanted to get this off my chest, I would much rather an animal pass away peacefully than end up in a hoarding situation, or an unsafe situation, that is going to lead to long term suffering of the animals. I hope not to offend you, I have just spent a lot of time trying to educate the public in taking responsibility for the way their shelters are run.

Not at all trying to be rude, but the way the question was posted worried me a little and I thought I would share my 2 cents.

(Bonus points to her for using the phrase that pays: “for the animals!”)

I spent a fair amount of time crafting a reply. However, all it got me from her was a confusing screed twice as long (with fewer paragraph breaks and less punctuation) spouting every anti-No Kill myth that’s ever been spewed. Oh well.

But so as not to waste all that hard work writing it, I figured I may as well post my response here …

You did not offend me, but I disagree that it’s better for an animal to be killed than to leave the pound with someone you may not think is good enough to save that animal’s life. Leaving the shelter alive is ALWAYS a better outcome for an animal than getting killed and tossed into a dumpster.

Stopping the killing is entirely possible. Did you know that there are currently 36 open-admission no kill shelters in the US? All over the United States, communities are choosing NOT to kill healthy and treatable pets and succeeding. There is an alternative to the killing. (The not-so-secret formula is here.)

And please think about it: Would you choose death for yourself over the possibility of an “unsafe situation?” If I told you I was going to drop you into the middle of a hostile war zone where there is a chance you would be shot or blown up (but there is also a chance you won’t) would you ask me to just kill you outright instead? I wouldn’t and I doubt you would either. Choosing death for a healthy or treatable animal just because there is a possibility something bad might happen to them at some point is not kindness at all. We all want to live.

Have you ever been in the kill room at your pound when they are dispatching the animals? I have been there, and it’s most definitely not a “peaceful” death as you say. The animals struggle and fight it. They do NOT want to die. They would much rather take their chances with life, even if that life is not the ideal one you would pick out for them. Pound directors and staff know this, which is why they are plagued by doubt, depression and sleepless nights over all the killing. If they really were doing such a kindness, why should it bother them? They claim they have no choice, but when they turn down adopters and then proceed to kill the animals they “can’t” find a home for, they are making a choice to kill.

So they make excuses for the killing, deflecting the blame for it onto the “irresponsible public” (a myth) who have caused a “pet overpopulation” problem (debunked). They tell us that ending the killing will be impossible until every pet is spayed or neutered (not true). Until then, they say, killing is what they have to do to “clean up the mess.”

So they treat animals like garbage, killing them and tossing them in the dumpster, all the while lecturing the so-called “irresponsible public,” that “animals are not disposable.”

If you truly have faith that the people running your shelter would rather not kill animals, then here’s a great way to help them do exactly that: present them with a perfect excuse NOT to kill animals for Just One Day. Ask them to take a pledge not to kill any saveable animals on June 11, 2012. You can find more information here.

What do you have to lose by asking? What does your shelter have to lose, besides a day of killing pets?

She said she’d pass on the info about the “no kill day” to the staff at her shelter. “They don’t like it though …”

Eh, I tried.

Meanwhile, feel free to post your story of being turned down for adoption at the kill shelter in the comments.

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Filed under No Kill

Johnston County SPCA: Little Shop of Hoarders

Johnston County SPCA

Very few people are allowed inside the Johnston County SPCA (even town of Clayton and Johnston County animal control officers had to wait outside for someone to come get the animals they were dropping off), and animal advocates say very few animals make it out alive.
(Photo courtesy of Clayton SPCA Discussion Group.)

For at least 20 years, animal advocates have been trying to shut down the Johnston County SPCA, citing deplorable conditions and a closed-door policy that allowed few people in and very few animals out alive, among other problems. Even the Town of Clayton (which previously had an animal control contract with the JCSPCA and on whose land the JCSPCA sits rent-free) recently joined the effort, terminating their contract and seeking ways to void the lease.

In early March an article in the Clayton News Star reported that Melinda Barefoot, the shelter’s director for 29 years, would be retiring and that the JCSPCA board had voted to close the shelter effective June 1. That would be a cause for celebration by animal advocates, but at this point few believe it will actually happen. Two members of the JCSPCA board at the time of the announcement, Clayton Town manager Steve Biggs and former town council member Alex Harding, are no longer on the board, having been forced off before they could sign an intent to vacate. Without the intent to vacate, the 99-year rent-free lease with the facility cannot be terminated, and town officials do not believe the remaining board members will sign it.

Because the facility eventually earns “acceptable” ratings on inspections (usually only after being given second and third chances to comply with regulations by inspectors), the NCDA&CS cannot take action. There appears to be no other authority under state or local laws that can protect animals from neglect or abuse when it occurs at such an animal “shelter.” Meanwhile, no one knows exactly how many animals are still inside (or what condition they are in).

The situation at the JCSPCA appears to be very similar to some of the private hoarding situations that are often used used to justify mass shelter killing. Animals have been observed in filth, often left with no food or water. “I literally saw dogs drinking their own urine; I never saw an animal being fed in there the entire month I was there,” one volunteer said.

No one is allowed inside, not even to look for lost pets that may have been taken there by animal control. In fact, when Clayton and Johnston County AC officers arrived with dropoffs, they were required to wait outside until shelter staff came out to get the animals. Owned pets known to be in the facility are often not returned to their homes without a fight. Animals are rarely adopted out because the adopters are deemed not good enough, or Barefoot and company simply refuse to return emails and phone calls inquiring about the animals. Many people who have tried to adopt cannot even get Barefoot to send them an application.

Animal advocates have been able to document a few things, like this cat, left overnight in a tiny filthy cage with no food, water or litter pan:

Cat with no water

This cat was left overnight at the Johnston County SPCA on March 1, 2012, with no water or litter pan in direct violation of the NC Animal Welfare Act.
(Photo courtesy of Clayton SPCA Discussion Group.)

Or this dog, left outside alone all night long:

Dog at Johnston County SPCA

A dog left outside alone all night at the Johnston County SPCA March 1, 2012.
(Photo courtesy of Clayton SPCA Discussion Group.)

When such conditions occur in private homes, the people are labeled “hoarders” and sooner or later, through various legal means, their animals are taken from them. But call yourself an “SPCA” and get 501(c)3 status, and apparently you’re now above the law and no one can touch you. In the state of NC, that’s true even when you do not comply with the regulations that are supposed to govern shelters.

Since 2008,the JCSPCA has failed to file the statistics required by the North Carolina Animal Welfare Act (§ 19A 65.)  But the only sanction the law provides against non-complying facilities is the withholding of spay/neuter reimbursement funds. So even though the JCSPCA is in non-compliance with the law and has had chronic difficulties passing inspections, NC animal welfare law is so poorly written and unenforceable that the NCDA&CS is almost powerless to close a non-complying facility. (For example, Duplin County pound.) So the JCSPCA has been allowed to operate as a secret hoarding society, with no one knowing how many animals are inside or what happens to them after they enter.

Animal advocate Holly Nielsen filed an open records request for the JCSPCA’s intake and outcome records, under the reasoning that because their facility is on Clayton land and the organization received public funds through its animal control contract, it was serving as a public agency. Barefoot ignored the request.

Nielsen filed suit in April. The JCSPCA is claiming that they do not have to comply and are not subject to open records laws because the town of Clayton has no authority over them, they answer to the NCDA&CS. And yet, for the past four years they have ignored their responsibility to file their stats with the NCDA&CS. Seems like the JCSPCA owes someone some statistics. Which is it, JCSPCA?

Meanwhile, it’s anyone’s guess how many animals are still in the facility. In March the JCSPCA released 9 dogs to the Wake County SPCA (but not their vaccination records, which it could not produce). The JCSPCA currently lists five dogs on their Petfinder page. Educated guesses on the Clayton SPCA Discussion Group Facebook page say 50-70 dogs. Advocates believe few or no cats remain inside.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the animals’ chances are good for making it out alive, even if the JCSPCA does close as promised. It appears they are far more likely to starve or end up in Melinda Barefoot’s gas chamber than be adopted or released into rescue. But the closure of the JCSPCA hoarding facility would be the best thing for the remaining animals in Johnston County.

The very existence of such a place as the JCSPCA is a compelling illustration of the need for a Companion Animal Protection Act in North Carolina.

Donations to the legal fund can be made here. This page provides details about the efforts of animal advocates and the problems with the JCSPCA.

Here is a video put together by one of the advocates for the animals at the JCSPCA:

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Filed under Johnston County, Johnston County SPCA

Open letter to Vance County commissioners about their pound’s asinine pit bull policy

smiley

Because her head is a little blocky, “sweet, loving” Smiley, who may be pregnant, is not allowed to be pulled for rescue or adopted out of the Vance County pound by anyone from North Carolina. But it’s perfectly OK for her to go to Virginia. (UPDATE: Smiley got her rescue!)

If you’re a pit bull, pit bull mix, or maybe just a mutt who bears a passing resemblance to a pit bull, and you end up in the Vance County pound, count your blessings that it’s a short trip to the Virginia state line. Because if you’re lucky, some rescuer from Virginia or points north will think you’re cute and come get you. If not, it’s the gas chamber for you.

Believe it or not, this is an improvement over the old policy, which was to gas all alleged pit bulls and mixes as soon as their holds were up. One rescuer said it broke her heart to see all the beautiful dogs grouped together on one side of the shelter with signs that said “Dangerous-Do Not Touch” on their cages, because she knew they had no chance to get out of the shelter alive.

But if these dogs are so dangerous, what is it about the state line that suddenly renders them harmless? Nothing, of course, it’s all hysteria The mandate comes from the Vance County Board of Commissioners, who must feel that there is some political capital to be gained from the policy. Obviously, the best way to change such a policy is to publicly make them aware that there is more capital in saving animals’ lives. So even though I’m not a Vance County Resident, I decided to write them a letter.

The hard part was figuring out where to send it. Apparently, Vance County commissioners are allowed to be unreachable by constituents (and non-constituents, in my case), because two of them have no contact info listed at all on the county’s official site. Only two have email addresses listed, and the others have work or home addresses and phone numbers. I was able to find a few on Freedomspeaks.com. I made do. At any rate, here is the letter I sent:

Dear Commissioner,

I am writing in regard to the anti-pit bull adoption policy at the Vance County animal shelter, under which North Carolina adopters and rescue groups are not allowed to save the lives of presumed pit bull-type dogs at your shelter.

It’s possible that you and your fellow Commissioners believe this policy is in the interest of public safety. If so, this is based on a misguided belief that certain breeds of dogs bite more frequently than others. The public perception of “pit bulls” as being any more likely to bite than any other breed or mix has no basis in fact.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “Breed-based dog bite statistics are not really statistics in that they do not give an accurate picture of dogs that bite… [T]he breed of the biting dog may not be accurately recorded and mixed-breed dogs are commonly described as if they are purebred.” This is because most breed identification is done by visual identification by the victim or responding officer.

A study by the AVMA in 2009 showed 87.5% of the dogs were identified incorrectly by vets and shelter professionals in comparison to DNA analysis. In fact, visual breed identification has proven so unreliable that the Center for Disease Control stopped using breed designation in data collection in 1998.

In addition, the primary indicator of risk regarding dog-human bite incidents is whether the dog is a “resident dog” or a “family dog”. Resident dogs are dogs maintained outside the home or obtained for negative functions like guarding, fighting, protection, breeding for financial gain. According to the Center for Disease Control, resident dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite.  Family dogs live inside the home and are afforded opportunity to learn appropriate behaviors through daily positive interaction with people.  Breed is not a factor when it comes to public safety.

In light of this, the adoption of presumed “pit bull” types and mixes into caring North Carolina families would be a POSITIVE step for the Vance County animal shelter.

Commissioners may also believe this policy protects the dogs from unscrupulous people and dogfighters in the area. If that were the case, then releasing the dogs to reputable in-state rescues and qualified adopters would serve that purpose. Individuals and groups are begging to help protect these dogs at no cost to the county, yet their help is being turned away. Meanwhile, the dogs continue to meet their gruesome end in the notorious Vance County gas chamber.

In light of these considerations, I urge you to immediately rescind the anti-pit bull adoption policy at the Vance County shelter and allow these dogs to be released to qualified adopters and rescue groups in North Carolina.

Sincerely, etc.

Feel free to adapt this letter and send your own message to the Vance Commissioners. Here’s a hint: I found the bits for this letter by googling various permutations of “sample letter,” “bsl,” “pit bulls,” “protest” and a few other terms, and copying bits I liked, adjusting and rewriting where necessary. You can do it, too!

And if you’re a rescuer from somewhere besides NC, please come get Smiley: 165 Vance Academy Road, Henderson, NC 27537; (252) 492-3136 -phone; (252) 492-0104 -fax; vancepets@vancecounty.org.

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Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Vance County