Monthly Archives: September 2012

Humane Society of Richmond County may continue to run high-kill pound

According to a report in the Richmond County Daily Journal, the Humane Society of Richmond County may change its mind about turning the animal shelter over to the county at the end of October, which they voted to do last week.

Some animal advocates believe that turning the pound over to county would be a bad thing. One wrote in the comments of a previous post here:

When city/county/state government is in charge of “shelters” you can bet deaths will be their top agenda. Their idea of “efficient” means killing more, less work for them. There is no compassion in any government run “shelter” I’ve ever seen. They are not shelters, but a place to cage cats & dogs until they kill them.

The Humane Society running that shelter may not of saved as many lives as possible, but when the local government takes over you’ll see the killing increase greatly. I’m just so sorry for dogs & cats that ever get involved with “shelter/pounds”. There’s gotta be a better way.

But a look at HSRC’s killing record casts doubt on that view. In 2011, slightly more than 70 percent of the “furbabies” that came into their pound ended up in the dumpster. Even county-run pounds not known for trying very hard can manage a better live outcome rate than that:

Heck, even the Granville County pound, whose director purposefully doesn’t put pets up for adoption because she would rather kill them has a kill rate only slightly higher than the HSRC’s (77.75 percent).

A look at the stats over the last 10 years shows that the pound has always been high kill. The best year of that whole period seems to be 2004, when the adoption rate was up to just over 28 percent and the kill rate dipped to just under 64 percent.

Being run by a non-profit group instead of a city or county does not at all guarantee that a pound will be better run or kill fewer animals. The late not-so-great Johnston County SPCA was a stinking example. The Durham County Animal Shelter is run by the very well-funded non-profit Animal Protection Society of Durham, and its kill rate was more than 68 percent in 2011.

What determines the success of a shelter is the dedication of it’s leadership.  A look at the ever-growing list of No Kill communities shows a mix of  shelters run by cities/counties and by non-profits, all with save rates of more than 90 percent. What they have that kill pounds don’t is leadership that rejects the “save a few, kill the rest” approach, is committed to implementing the programs necessary to stop the killing and is dedicated to working with their community instead of blaming them.

HSRC director Valerie Davis, on the other hand, gets defensive, calls her community irresponsible and tells them to just shut up. Instead of being inspired to help at Davis’ pound, some volunteers feel driven away. Here are some excerpts from a comment left at the FixNC facebook page:

There are some really good people that truly want to help animals but they are outnumbered or overpowered by the people that don’t have a clue what they’re doing and as you can see, refuse to listen to feedback to make improvements.

They had some fabulous volunteers and people working for no-kill (which only lasted a few months), but many have become fed up or were run off. The doors are often locked early but they blame people for not coming in. I’ve shown up with 250 lbs of food when a facebook request went out (by the way, Valerie made a post on FB to refute their being out of food and defending their practices rather than clarifying and showing appreciation) because they were so low, and the shelter was closed 30 minutes early. Another person from out of town was trying to donate an SUV full of cat items after her pet passed away, a third person had a large bag of food, and two families coming to adopt left because they couldn’t get in. I waited until someone was leaving and caught the door and carried everything in, with the help of that one person leaving, without so much as a thank you from Valerie and Cindy who were talking at the desk no more than 2 feet away.

The shelter smells so bad it’s horrible even though the local mercantile has donated cleaners. The building is not properly ventilated and the only response you get is “it’s a shelter, what do you expect.”

My fiance went to HSRC for the first time so we could fill out adoption papers for 3 dogs my Mom and I fostered and when a couple weren’t even spoken to and were about to leave, he jumped in and showed them around by following the pawprints and guessing, talked about the benefits of pets, and helped them find a dog that would fit their lifestyle so they became adopters that day without ever speaking to an actual employee until signing the adoption papers.

We’ve fostered, adopted, donated money and hundreds of pounds of food, and taken treats and toys to the animals but I don’t even read the FB page or walk in any longer because it’s so frustrating and breaks my heart that so many animals die via heartstick while blaming the community instead of finding ways to home or foster pets and educate the public.

If the employees seem to hate the place, what are potential adopters supposed to think? I thought having some brochures that would help people find animals that would best fit into their homes and lifestyles would be a help in adoption and preventing returns to the shelter but never heard a response.

I suggested having a program to get local businesses to partner with the shelter to become their “pet partner” or “partner in paws” for the month. The business makes a donation and for that month the shelter puts up a flyer and info on facebook about that business. I gave the example of working with an autoparts store and in exchange for the donation, the flyer would describe a suggestion for preventing accidents when animals run into the road by replacing windshield wipers or headlights and have the store include coupons for just 5-10% off those specific items. People would come into the shelter to get the coupon and have a chance to see animals and the business benefits by increased exposure and customer traffic. Small coupons won’t cut into the profit margin but will draw customers so everyone benefits. I even offered to go with an employee to help pitch the idea but didn’t get so much as a “no thank you.”

If they worked as hard on changing their image as they do blaming the public, maybe so many people wouldn’t be driving to Scotland and Moore Counties to adopt and volunteer instead of the 5-10 minutes across town to their own shelter.

Having the county take over the management of that pound would probably be a good thing. It certainly couldn’t be much worse.

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Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Richmond County

“Shelters in NC are not doing the job entrusted to them”

 

Nathan Winograd posted to his Facebook page yesterday  an infographic debunking pet overpopulation that stimulated a lot of debate and questions. The whole exchange is worth reading (particularly if you have questions or doubts about No Kill), but I thought Nathan did a great job of replying to one comment in particular.

Commenter:

Trying to get behind this — but hard to here in NC when I have 7 dogs at my house alone. I’d be happy to drive a couple of them somewhere where there aren’t enough dogs.

Nathan’s reply:

You have seven dogs because shelters in NC are not doing the job entrusted to them. They are killing in the face of lifesaving alternatives. They are causing unbelievable torture by gassing them. Many of them, like Davidson County, do not even try. In fact, they want to kill, putting cats and kittens in the gas chamber with raccoons in order to sadistically watch them fight (while laughing) before turning on the gas. And you have a Dept. of Ag which has declared war on rescue groups with the blessing of the pro-kill Humane Society of the United States office there, limiting the amount of animals who can be rescued from those “shelters.” That is a very different problem.

(Thanks so much to Alison for alerting me to the comments! Also, I hope Nathan Winograd doesn’t mind that I feel I’m on a first-name basis with him even though we have never met!)

 

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Filed under gas chamber, HSUS, NC county/municipal pounds, No Kill

Humane Society of Richmond County to cease running shelter

 

Citing insufficient county funding, the Humane Society of Richmond County voted Thursday to cease running the county animal shelter, effective October 31. Shelter operations will become the responsibility of the county.

County Commissioner Thad Ussery said that if the HSRC pulls out  shelter, the county will take over operations and “run it more efficiently.”

The HSRC posted on their Facebook page that they will “use our time, funds, and energy towards education and public outreach on neuter and spay programs, pet rescue and adoption events, and vaccination clinics. “

They are also adopting out all existing animals in exchange for a donation and a promise to spay/neuter, and have shortened their open hours to Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 3 p.m.

HSRC FB post 9/22/12

HSRC Facebook post Sept. 22, 2012

 

 

 

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Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Richmond County

Adoptable pet of the day: Senior bichon girl in Person County pound

Senior Bichon in Person County Pound

This 12-year-old girl, let’s call her “Tilly,” needs out of the Person County pound ASAP. Email rhonda.beach@yahoo.com if you can help.

I don’t know the name of this little bichon frise in the Person County pound, but every dog needs a name so I will call her “Tilly.”

Tilly is estimated to be about 12 years old, and she needs a rescue or adopter soon.

If you can help Tilly, email Ronda Beach at rhonda.beach@yahoo.com.

CORRECTION: Tilly could be a poodle. I have no idea … she’s a little old fluffy white dog who needs out of that pound is all I know.

UPDATE: Tilly is safe and in foster care!

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Filed under Adoptable pet, Person County

New Wayne County policy gives pets a maximum of 14 days before killing

The Wayne County pound in Goldsboro notified its “friends” group last week that there will now be a 14-day maximum hold policy at the pound. Pound staff will now kill all animals without exception (including puppies and kittens),  after 14 days.  If the shelter is full, that time can be shortened.

The Wayne County pound actually has more space than other pounds in surrounding counties, with 162 primary enclosures, according to its NCDA&CS inspection report. For comparison, much larger Sampson County has only 95 primary enclosures in its pound, and the pound in more populous Johnston County has 128 primary enclosures.

The Wayne County pound killed more than 80 percent of the cats and almost 32 percent of the dogs who came in during 2011, for a combined kill rate of almost 57 percent.

People who would like to (politely and respectfully) let the animal control director and county manager know that the No Kill Equation, which has been proven to work in open-admission shelters in at least 54 communities,  presents a positive, life-affirming alternative can contact them as follows:

Animal Control Director Vicki Falconer
Vicki.Falconer@waynegov.com
1600 Clingman Street
Goldsboro, NC 27534
Phone: (919) 731-1439
Fax: (919) 731-1381

County Manger Lee Smith
County.Manager@waynegov.com
P.O. Box 227
Goldsboro, NC 27533
Phone: (919) 731-1435
Fax: (919) 731-1446

You can also write or call the Wayne County Commissioners.

A great idea would be to  email or print and mail copies of “No Kill 101,” “Dollars and Sense” and the Cliff Notes version of Redemption.

If you are a Wayne County resident, you may also speak for a few minutes during the public comments portion of a future Board of Commissioners meeting. Here’s a great example of such an address.

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Filed under "Nobody WANTS to kill animals ...", NC county/municipal pounds, Wayne County

Granville County pound is low on adoptables because it’s easier that way

Volunteers and animal advocates in Granville County have long begged animal control chief Cathy Hartley to increase the number of dogs she releases for adoption from the Granville pound. There are typically only a handful of dogs labeled “adoptable” at any given time regardless of how many are currently in there or what type of dogs there are. (There seem to more cats available on a regular basis).

At my visit to the volunteer orientation there in July, I asked some of the volunteers what the criteria are for determining adoptability, and no one knew; they all said it was at Ms. Hartley’s discretion. Thursday evening at the quarterly meeting of the county’s animal control advisory board, I discovered the answer to my question: the Granville pound’s standards for classifying dogs as adoptable or unadoptable depend on what’s easiest and most convenient.

The topic arose when one of the board members said “It seems like there aren’t many dogs out there for adoptions on Saturdays” (which is the busiest day for adoptions at the pound because its the only time most working families with kids can actually get there during open hours).

“Well that’s a discussion that we’ve already had over and over and over,” Ms Hartley said. “We have a constant need for space, and if we have 15 dogs for adoption, that’s 15 runs that are full.”

“If we’re running out of space and it gets down to it, you could still euthanize a green [adoptable]1 dog,” the board member said. “That would give the public more dogs to pick from when they’re out there instead of having three to pick from, maybe have nine to pick from.”

“It’s been very difficult to do that [kill adoptables] recently without a lot of criticism,” Ms. Hartley said.

So to put it bluntly, adoptable dogs are scarce at the Granville pound because they take up space and can’t be killed without the volunteers and other animal advocates (rightfully) getting upset.

This also explains why volunteers are not allowed any contact with “yellow” card dogs at the pound (those whose holds have expired but who have not been cleared for adoption): If people were allowed to walk and pet them, they’d likely not want them to be killed, either (and it would also probably demonstrate the falsehood of their “unadoptable” classification).

Another board member, who said it was very frustrating to convince people to go look for a dog to adopt at the pound only to have them report back that “the place was completely empty,” questioned the need for pre-emptive killing. “Lets say we have 23 dogs and nothing else comes in, there’s no reason to go from 20 to 5 unless you actually have more coming in,” she said

“Well, we have more coming in pretty regularly,” Ms. Hartley said. “We empty it out three days a week at minimum. And then they fill back in.”

Granville County gas chamber, Oxford NC
Granville County gas chamber, Oxford NC by carolinaonmymind, on Flickr

Just to be clear, when Ms. Hartley says “empty it out,” she means killing everything possible (probably in the pound’s gas chamber.). One of the kill-pound defenders’ favorite cliches is “nobody wants to kill pets,”  but the practices at the Granville pound seem to contradict that. The fact that little effort is put toward  the things proven to increase adoptions (adoption hours friendly to working people and families with kids, greater visibility in the community, marketing, offsite adoptions, special events, adoption incentives, foster care program, a fun and friendly shelter environment, and a good public image, among other things), indicates that Ms. Hartley seems to prefer “emptying out” her pound via the dumpster. She is choosing to kill pets by not doing the kinds of things necessary to get them out of her pound alive, things that have been proven successful at saving more than 90 percent of the pets that come in to open-admission shelters in more than 54 communities across the country.

Opening up kennel space in a pound by killing is less work for someone like Ms. Hartley than doing it via adoption or rescue (and less paperwork, too). Killing pets simply makes her job easier. Because she can’t kill the pets still on mandatory hold and volunteers (rightfully) get upset when she kills the animals lucky enough to be called “adoptable,” Ms. Hartley has a big incentive NOT to change many dogs’ status from “yellow” to “green” because it keeps her job as easy on herself as possible.

I wonder how the taxpayers of Granville County would feel about their taxes paying the salary of a sheriff or a fire marshal who approached their job the same way?

Conversely, how would the taxpayers of Granville County feel about having a shelter director dedicated to actually protecting the lives of the animals that come into her shelter? If the experiences of communities around the country that have gone No Kill are any indication, local residents love it and often turn out in support of their shelter in numbers greater than ever. In fact, because No Kill boosts adoptions, attracts and retains more volunteers, improves staff morale and generates more funding, among other things, a commitment to saving lives instead of killing would probably end up making Cathy Hartley’s job much easier in the long run.

Another issue that came up at Thursday’s meeting was vaccination on intake, and it appears shelter policy is being dictated by misinformation, namely that they aren’t allowed to vaccinate incoming strays. Board members were discussing the duties of a new vet tech who has been hired at the pound when one board member (a veterinarian), said, “Please, please, please let them be vaccinated on intake and not two weeks later. When you guys are rolling your truck in, she [the vet tech] should be standing there with vaccines all ready.”

Another member said “But we don’t know who’s staying and who’s not at that point.” (Translation: we don’t know who’s going to be allowed to live and who’s going to end up in the dumpster.)

“But isn’t it better to vaccinate everybody, before they even step foot in there?” the vet (very correctly) said.

“We never have. It’s not protocol,” answered the other.

“We never could, practically, moneywise … it just doesn’t make sense,” Ms. Hartley said.

The money argument doesn’t hold water. Necesary vaccines for dogs and cats can cost as low as $2.10 each (if purchased from a vendor who provides shelter pricing discounts). Considering that adoptions are revenue-producing, vaccines save lives and killing animals costs money (a 2009 American Humane Association study estimated lethal injection killing costs at around $2.29 per animal and gas chamber killing costs at around $4.66 per animal), it actually makes much more cost sense to vaccinate every animal at intake … and to push adoptions as a priority over killing. And if money is an issue, there are many volunteers at the pound who would help solicit donations of vaccines or the money to buy them if it means more animals getting out of that pound alive.

But Ms. Hartley had more misinformation behind her failure to vaccinate: “If they’re strays, then they are not legally our animal,” she said, giving as an example: what if we give a vaccine “and one reacts and has a problem and then the owner shows up and we’re in trouble again.”

That is a false premise and a red herring to the real discussion of sound vaccination practice. Legally, it’s unlikely a shelter would be held liable unless the animal was wrongfully seized by animal control or the shelter had refused to relinquish it when the owner tried to reclaim. What’s more, the possibility of an adverse reaction to a vaccine is miniscule, and far, far less of an issue than an unvaccinated pet picking up a potentially fatal disease like parvovirus, canine distemper, panleukopenia or calicivirus in a shelter.

Furthermore, there is no law in North Carolina that prohibits shelters from vaccinating any dog on intake, and many shelters across the state do it. So unless there is a Granville County ordinance prohibiting it (I could not find their ordinances online to check), there’s no legal barrier to immediate vaccination of strays. In fact, the advocate group for the Bladen County pound (2011 dog kill rate: 10.61 percent, cat kill rate: 63.71; compare to Granville’s dog kill rate of 70.75 percent and cat kill rate of 85.87 percent), proclaims their sound vaccination policy on their Petfinder page: “In an effort toward disease prevention, Bladen County Animal Control now gives Core Vaccinations to all pets on intake.” Vance County, which had a 35 percent kill rate last year (less than half that of next door neighbor Granville County) also vaccinates all pets on intake at its pound.

(UPDATE: Thanks to a wonderful reader who sent me a link, I have read the Granville County animal control ordinances, and there is no prohibition on vaccination of strays. An AC officer is, however, allowed to “use his discretion to waive the minimum holding time and to destroy the animal immediately or at such time as deemed appropriate” in the case of “animals that are badly wounded or diseased or afflicted with a highly contagious disease such as distemper or parvo.” A change in the county ordinance to allow vaccination would probably be enough to mitigate any potential for legal problems.)

In reality, it just doesn’t make sense not to vaccinate all pets on intake, unless one is looking for MORE excuses to kill animals. (Pounds like Robeson, Duplin and Ashe have found distemper and parvo outbreaks to be quite handy in that respect.)

The good news from Thursday’s meeting is that, as mentioned, the pound has hired a new vet tech, as well as an additional shelter attendant. The board is also trying to streamline its policies and procedures for rescue groups to pull from the pound, and implementing a low-cost spay/neuter voucher program that will take advantage of the NCDA&CS reimbursement program.

1The Granville pound uses a colored card system to mark the status of the pets. Yellow means the animal is past the hold period but not available for adoption. (The animal may or may not be available to rescue groups, at Ms. Hartley’s discretion). Volunteers are not allowed to walk, pet or interact with “yellow” pets. Pets with green cards are available for adoption. Volunteers may walk, pet and interact with those pets, and the “green” dogs are allowed to spend time occasionally in one of the outdoor pens. Back

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Filed under "Nobody WANTS to kill animals ...", gas chamber, Granville County

Adoptable Dog of the day: Sprocket

Sprocket in Sampson County pound

Save Sprocket from the Sampson County gas chamber.
ID #: 12-D0246; Age: 6m; Weight: 32 lbs; Sex: male; Date of Intake: 8-17-12
Sampson County Animal Shelter: (910) 592-8493 or lbaxter@sampsonnc.com
168 Agriculture Place, Clinton, NC. We are open for adoptions M-F 1-4 pm

Sprocket has been in the Sampson County pound for 27 days. He’s a medium-sized (32 lb.) something mix (he’s black, so everyone will say “lab”) with an awesome name. If he doesn’t get adopted or rescued, he will most likely be killed in the Sampson County gas chamber.

Sprocket has been described as “full of energy and ready to run!” He has $135 in pledges to an approved rescue, according to a post on the pound’s Facebook page.

The Sampson County pound is located at 168 Agriculture Place in Clinton, NC. They are open for adoptions only 15 hours a week, Monday through Friday from 1 to 4 pm, when most potential local adopters are at work. The adoption fee for dogs is $25, plus local adopters are required to purchase a spay/neuter voucher at the time of adoption. Vouchers are $55 for male dogs and $85 for female dogs. Non-local adopters are not required to purchase a spay/neuter voucher but are required to get the animal sterilized and provide proof of surgery to SCAS. More policies can be found here.

UPDATE: According to this post, Sprocket has been “reserved,” which appears to mean he will be going into rescue. Good for Sprocket!

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Filed under Adoptable pet, Sampson County

Person County AC Director Ron Shaw shares the secret to reforming pound

Little Boy BlueI’m in the middle of (well,  33 percent through, according to my Kindle) a new book that exposes the underbelly of the “shelter” system in the US and the horrors of the gas chamber. I intend to write about it when I’m done, but for now I’ll just say that even if you’ve been making it your business to know the realities, Little Boy Blue by Kim Kavin seems worth a read.

What does this have to do with Ron Shaw? The Person County Animal Control director makes an appearance in the book, because Blue was rescued from his pound in 2010.

This interview, which aired on CNN Saturday morning, prominently features a quote from Ron Shaw about the planned “phase-out” of the Person County Gas chamber:

The gas chamber’s not cruel, but animal activists don’t agree with it. And I’m fed up with dealing with it.

Animal advocates also don’t agree with killing healthy and treatable shelter pets when the No Kill Equation is a proven way to stop it. Gosh, I wonder what it takes to get Ron Shaw “fed up” enough to embrace programs that will end the killing? Animal advocates who would like to (politely and respectfully) share their views (and maybe some good reading) with Mr. Shaw can use the following contact information:
Phone:(336) 597-1741
Fax:(336) 597-3319
E-mail: rshaw@personcounty.net
2103 Chub Lake Road
Roxboro, NC 27574

You may as well include Person County Manager Heidi York and the county commissioners in the conversation as well. Heck, send ‘em all cupcakes!

If you’d like to know more about Little Boy Blue but don’t want to wait for me to finish reading it, you can read some Amazon reviews.

And if you’re near Person County and would like to help Chance’s Angel Rescue and Education, one of the groups that pulls from the Person County pound (run by Rhonda Beach, the woman who actually pulled Blue), you can attend Concert for A Cause Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, at Mayo Park Amphitheatre in Roxboro starting at 3 pm.

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Filed under gas chamber, Person County

Kim Alboum of the HSUS says take cupcakes to your pound

 

“The general public, they don’t understand all the issues,” said Kim Alboum, NC director of the Humane Society of the United States, to about 40 people, most of whom were members of the general public (the rest were Person County Animal Control employees or county administrators), who gathered for a meeting Thursday evening in Roxboro, NC.

The event was billed as a “grassroots meeting on animal welfare,” by HSUS and its front group, North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare. Many of the attendees were Person County residents who expected to discuss issues surrounding the Person County pound, a gassing facility where 67% of the pets who came in were killed during 2011. (The gas chamber will reportedly be “phased out” over the next year. If you’d like to know why it takes a year to get rid of a gas chamber, email Person County Manager Heidi York at hyork@personcounty.net and ask her.)

“The reason I’m here tonight is that we have got to get our commercial dog breeder bill passed,” Ms. Alboum said. She also had much to say about farm animals and spent a lot of time telling attendees what kind of meat to eat (local, sustainable and certainly not veal), discussing tail-docking of dairy cows and opining about the life of pigs on a small-scale farm: “These animals live a good life and the worst day of their life is they day they get slaughtered,” she said.

How about the worst day in the life of a dog or cat in an NC pound? Well, Ms. Alboum didn’t have much to say about the animals in the state’s so-called “shelters,” because she was much more concerned with protecting the delicate feelings of the people who work in them. In fact, Ms. Alboum thinks the staff at your pound (you know, those people posing drugged kittens with cigarettes in their mouths for fun Facebook photos?) should be exempt from the expectations placed on other public employees, namely that they perform their paid duties conscientiously even in the face of challenges.

“We cannot treat our shelter staff badly and expect them to be their best and care for the animals. It’s not fair,” Ms. Alboum said. So, if your pound staff is callous, uncaring, negligent or even downright cruel to the animals that have been entrusted into their care by taxpayers, its because people aren’t nice to them. They have every right to take it out on the animals, says Ms. Alboum of the HSUS.

“I can’t tell you just how far it goes to just stop at the shelter with some cupcakes or cookies if you have an issue and say ‘let’s just chat,’ ” Ms. Alboum said. So if your shelter is needlessly killing healthy and treatable animals while blaming the “irresponsible public” for their failure or hiding behind the myth of “too many animals, not enough homes,” just take them some cupcakes! Just be sure to include several copies of “No Kill 101,” “Dollars and Sense” and the Cliff Notes version of Redemption. While you’re at it, take some to your city council members or county commissioners, too.

But back to the worst day in a shelter pet’s life. Ms. Alboum seems to think that for some it would be the day they go out the door (alive) with an “uncredentialed” rescue,1 calling that “terrifying.” Alboum is obviously of the same mindset as “catch and kill” sheltering pioneer Phyllis Wright, who famously said, “I’ve put 70,000 dogs and cats to sleep… But I tell you one thing: I don’t worry about one of those animals that were put to sleep… Being dead is not cruelty to animals.”

“It’s great whenever your euthanasia numbers are incredibly low,” Ms. Alboum said. “But we have a shelter in North Carolina where the euthanasia rates are one of the lowest in the entire state and they cannot tell you where one of these animals have gone from that shelter. Not one. There’s one group that solely pulls from that shelter and distributes them away. Thousands of animals.”2

I can tell you one place where those animals have NOT gone: into that pound’s dumpster.

What is Ms. Alboum really saying here? Some NC pounds can’t even keep track of the animals that are currently inside the shelter. Who actually expects them to know the location of all the ones who left alive? What pound has any idea where any pet goes after it is released to a rescue group? I have a foster dog pulled from my local high-kill pound through a rescue, and they really don’t care where he is unless he shows up there again. And what pound has staff who have the time or are willing to follow-up and track down animals who made it out? And why would they?

What Ms. Alboum is really doing with all her talk of “uncredentialed” rescue groups is creating a smokescreen to divert attention from the fact that HSUS really doesn’t care about the killing of shelter pets. Shelter killing is the leading cause of death for healthy pets in the United States, but HSUS and other “humane” organizations spend much effort and energy fighting against legislation that would end it. So Ms. Alboum’s job, as a representative of a group committed to defending pounds and their killing, is to direct people’s outrage away from the issue of killing and onto something else, like the rescue groups that are saving many of the animals.

Kill proponents like Ms. Alboum like to talk about all the scary bad things that COULD POSSIBLY MAYBE happen to a pet after he leaves a shelter. They cultivate the false notion that “killing is kindness” and perpetuate the fallacy that there are “fates worse than death” to try to justify the needless killing of healthy and treatable animals. Then after the animals are dead, they say, “He’s in a better place now.” Really? Did you ask him? Terrible fates could befall any of us at at any time. How many people would actually choose to be killed in order to avoid the future possibility of something bad happening to us?

Sure, there are a few unscrupulous groups who call themselves rescues and some well-meaning rescuers who over-extend themselves and end up not being able to honor their commitments. That’s not a good thing. But did any of their actions result in the deaths of at least 226,199 dogs and cats in 2011? Because that’s (at least) how many pets were killed by the staff of North Carolina pounds last year. The statewide kill rate was almost 65 percent. Many of the pets who escaped being killed did so thanks to the tireless work of rescue groups.

During the question period, a member of a breed rescue group said he’s tried to rescue dogs from many shelters who tell him “we don’t deal with rescues.” Ms. Alboum said that’s the rescue groups’ fault because they aren’t nice enough to shelter staff. “I am not going to argue you on that point. Many of our shelters have been burned. Breed-specific rescue groups will go to our shelters and treat them like they’re useless and have no knowledge about animals. And so a lot of our shelters have said, you know what, I’m not working with any of you.”

And Kim Alboum of the HSUS thinks sacrificing the lives of shelter pets to protect the delicate egos of pound staff is just fine. An organization that takes millions of your dollars every year ostensibly to protect animals is far more concerned with protecting the feelings of the people who choose to kill them (and in some cases, abuse them horrendously first.)

Ms Alboum also defended shelters who don’t allow volunteers. “One thing I have seen is that animal advocates want shelters to have a volunteer program.” Yes, indeed, because at some shelters (Granville County pops immediately to mind), volunteer efforts are the only way anyone ever sees photos of the adoptable pets in the pound or strays who may have someone looking for them. If it weren’t for at volunteers at some NC pounds, many would be tied for last place with Montgomery County, which adopted out just 12 of the 1,199 pets who came in during 2011 and had a 99 percent kill rate.

“A lot of shelters are reluctant to have [a volunteer program],” Ms. Alboum said. “There are many reasons why. Sometimes county attorneys don’t want volunteers there, sometimes the shelter director has too much on their plate and they can’t manage volunteers.” Sometimes the pound director just wants to be left alone to kill animals in peace. Ms. Alboum thinks that’s fine, and told her audience that people should volunteer in ways that involve staying away from the pound, like applying for grants or helping to “credential” rescues.

“There are so many things out there that they need that don’t involve handling the animals.” Ms. Alboum said, completely missing the point about why people want to volunteer at pounds (A CLUE: it’s because people care about the animals and would like to give them some actual attention and affection and hopefully help get them the exposure they need to get out alive). She says stay out and hands off. Unless you’re bringing the pound workers cupcakes, of course.

And so, having pretty much delivered a smackdown on anyone who thinks shelters should be saving more animals and has ideas about how that can be be done, Ms. Alboum said, with a straight face, “We all want the same thing.”

Really?

“Really. Everybody wants the same thing,” Ms. Alboum said. “The No Kill movement, the, you know, adoptable only movement,3 our shelters, our animal advocates. We all want to euthanize less animals and get animals out the front door.”

Then why do you keep standing in the way?

1  I don’t really know what this means. Ms. Alboum kept talking about “uncredentialed” rescues and an HSUS “credentialing packet” that’s available for shelters to use to make sure rescues are legitimate. She didn’t say what it entailed except that it requires tax-exempt status and reference checks. Back

2  Ms. Alboum did not name the pound, but I’ll go out on a limb and guess she means Bladen County, which had a dog kill rate of just under 11 percent in 2011. Their cat kill rate, however, is almost 64 percent, bringing their overall kill rate to 33 percent. That’s really not exemplary, but the bar is set so low in NC it makes Bladen possibly the sixth lowest kill rate in the state (hard to say because our reporting system is haphazard and unenforced).

If she’s talking about Bladen, then the group Ms. Alboum is eager to paint as possibly shady and “uncredentialed” is a 501(c)3 organization called “A Shelter Friend,” which would probably pass any “credentialing” program that required non-profit status and references from veterinarians and such. A Shelter Friend is the only way most of the pets make it out of the Bladen County pound alive. ASF provides temporary foster care, quarantining and veterinary care for animals before transferring them to other rescue groups. In 2010 they partnered with Elizabethtown Veterinary Hospital, the Bladen County Department of Social Services and Columbus Humane Society to start a low-income spay-neuter project, the first in their area. (My issue with ASF is that while posting non-stop urgent pleas to rescuers on Facebook, they don’t push for reforms at the pound itself–like adoption of the No Kill Equation–which would reduce the constant urgency that burns out rescuers.) Back

3  I have no idea what she is talking about. Back

 

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Filed under "Nobody WANTS to kill animals ...", cupcakes, gas chamber, HSUS, North Carolina Voters For Animal Welfare, Person County

Robeson adoption rate “less than half” of pre-distemper levels

The Robeson County pound killed 1,035 pets during the months of March, April and May 2012 because of a distemper outbreak (which was at least the third large distemper outbreak there in a little more than a year), and now adoptions are less than half of what they were before the outbreak and the kill rate has “barely decreased,” according to an article in The Robesonian.

The shelter reopened on May 23 after being closed since Feb. 29. In June and July combined, 1,001 dogs and cats were euthanized, 152 animals were adopted or rescued and 35 pets were reclaimed by their owners — an average survival rate of 16.5 percent for dogs and 9.5 percent for cats. August statistics were not available for this story.

Oh, but rest assured, it’s not their fault! Former director Lori Baxter (now employed blaming others for the failure of the Sampson County pound) and former adoption coordinator Sara Hatchell stole the pound’s “customers,” (i.e. rescue groups) when they left to take jobs at other pounds, according to Robeson County Health Director Bill Smith. “It’s much the same as any employee who leaves an employer, they sometimes take customers with them,” Smith said. “… Somebody else gained, and we lost.”

(Meanwhile, Robeson pound’s adoption coordinator Wanda Strickland might not be endearing herself so much to the rescuers who do choose to work with her.)

Actually, it’s pretty nice of Smith not to blame Baxter for the distemper outbreaks to begin with, since they happened during her tenure as manager (as did a “dip” in adoption rates and a spike in kill rates, despite ballyhoo about how she “turned the shelter around”). But wait, as her boss, Smith is probably the one who holds the purse strings, so it may have been his decision not to administer vaccinations upon intake, which are “vital lifesaving tools that must be used as part of a preventive shelter healthcare program.”

Smith also assigns some blame for his shelter’s failure to … wait for it … “poor treatment by county residents of their animals.” The Irresponsible Public! But again, wait … who is it that interim manager Bryon Lashley says will soon be coming in greater numbers to adopt and are currently bringing “donations of puppy food, dog food, cat food and toys coming in and helping us out”? The article says it’s local residents … yes, the Irresponsible Public to the rescue again.

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Filed under "irresponsible public", Distemper, Robeson County