Monthly Archives: December 2012

Sampson County hires new pound director

Lori Baxter announced on the Sampson County pound Facebook page (screenshot here in case the post gets deleted) last week that she was not offered the permanent director position and that her last day would be Friday, Dec. 21. According to an article in the Sampson Independent, the new pound director will be Alan W. Canady, currently the lead officer with Cumberland County Animal Control.

It’s not clear what this means as far as the demise of the Sampson County gas chamber. In a comment on her farewell Facebook post, Baxter said the county is waiting for “the second part” of the license required to possess the drugs required to kill by injection.

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Johnston County to sort of maybe kind of end use of gas chamber

The Raleigh News and Observer reported today that Johnston County pound employees will begin using lethal injection instead of the gas chamber for most of the killing they do beginning in 2013. However, pound director Ernie Wilkinson insists on keeping the gas chamber active for use on “vicious” animals. The article did not say who will decide which animals are “vicious” or what criteria they will use to make that determination.

According to the article, Wilkinson doesn’t get why people care how he kills animals and “wishes people would focus instead on helping shelters fight pet overpopulation through spaying and neutering education.” Johnston County does not participate in the state’s spay/neuter program.

The Johnston County pound killed 4,850, or 75.36 percent, of the dogs and cats that came in during 2011.

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Lies, hypocrisy and death

There is a great hypocrisy in the humane movement. While shelters decry the public’s irresponsibility, shelters reject responsibility for the animals in their care. And while they tell the public not to treat the animals as disposable, they treat animals exactly that way by killing them-and literally disposing of their bodies in landfills. In fact, they will even deny that they are killing. The Humane Society of the U.S. held a workshop on “euthanasia” at their national sheltering conference in March of 2006. According to the speaker,

“We’re not; we’re not killing them… in that ‘kill’ is such a negative connotation. It’s… we’re not killing them. We are taking their life, we are ending their life, we are giving them a good death, we’re humanely destr- whatever. But we’re not killing. And that is why I cannot stand the term ‘No Kill’ shelters.”

Animal shelter professionals from coast-to-coast applauded in agreement, but more disturbing is the nation’s “euthanasia” expert professing an Orwellian logic: killing is not killing, killing is kindness. And when you deny all responsibility, the impetus to change your own behavior disappears. ~ Nathan Winograd, Irreconcilable Differences

An animal facility that kills a significant portion of the animals that come in is not a “shelter.” It’s not a “humane” society or an animal “protection” society, nor is it preventing cruelty to animals. It’s a pound.

If your local pound’s kill rate is higher than its live-release rate, then make no mistake, it’s primarily in the business of pet killing. It’s a pet-killing facility. North Carolina has a lot of pet-killing facilities.

When organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and the North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare give “Shelter We Love” awards to pounds that kill more animals than they protect, they are saying: “We love pet killing facilities.”

Some of these pet-killing facilities shove the animals into a metal box designed to suffocate them to death, in which, according to accounts, they “gasp for breath, their insides burning. They claw at the floor and throw themselves against the walls of the chamber in an attempt to get out.” When the HSUS and NCVAW give “Shelter We Love” awards to  such pet-killing facilities, they are saying “We love gas chambers.”

The pet-killing facilities and their defenders try to make you to believe that they have no choice but to kill massive quantities of animals. They eagerly propagate the myths that “pet overpopulation” and the “irresponsible public”  “force” them to kill pets.

Oh, except we are not supposed to call it killing. They want folks to think that what they are doing is merciful and kind, so they say they “euthanize” the pets, or “put them to sleep.” Because killing animals would be bad.

Euthanasia means “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.”  Killing healthy and savable pets, i.e. at least 90 percent of the animals that enter shelters each year, is not euthanasia.

And it’s completely unnecessary. Currently, at least 83 communities (and counting) in the United States have ended the killing of healthy and savable pets in their shelters. (Seven of these communities are just to the north of us in Virginia: Albemarle County, Arlington, Charlottesville, Fluvanna County, King George County, Lynchburg and Powhatan County have all achieved No Kill success.)  They did it by implementing programs and partnerships that keep animals out of the shelters in the first place or get them out (alive) as soon as possible after they come in.

In the face of the growing success of life-saving shelters, how can anyone justify the killing that continues in almost all NC pounds?*

It’s quite simple: they lie. They falsely claim that open-admission and animal-control shelters cannot be No Kill. An example from the FAQ on the APS of Durham (2011 kill rate: 68.23 percent) web site: “Many no-kill (or limited admission) shelters sharply limit the number and type of animals they will take. If they’re near capacity, they’ll refuse to take in additional animals, forcing the owners to find another place for the animal.”

Open-admission No Kill shelters do have pet-retention programs designed to keep pets in their homes whenever possible. Or some, like the Lynchburg Humane Society, ask pet owners if they can wait for an open space before surrendering their pets. But open-admission No Kill shelters don’t flat-out refuse to take owner surrenders. Makena Yarborough, director of Lynchburg Humane Society wrote: “No, not everyone waited and honestly not everyone could wait. There were situations where, for the sake of the pet or due to a lack of options, we couldn’t ask the pet owners to wait.”

The claim that open-admission shelters cannot be No Kill is just a bald-faced lie.

Another popular lie, which you can see in action at the FAQ section of the Person County pound’s web site, is “There is no such thing as a No Kill shelter. We do have to humanly euthanize animals due to overpopulation, sick, injured, and unsocialized and aggressive dogs.” So how exactly is it that in 2011 the Person County pound “had” to “euthanize” almost 68 percent of the pets that came in while in the Foothills Humane Society, the open-admission animal control shelter serving Polk County, only had to practice TRUE euthanasia on 3.4 percent of their pets?

Considering the population of each county, the FHS actually took in MORE animals per capita (1 for every 9 people) in 2011 than Person County did (1 for every 16 people). So there’s no claiming that somehow “pet overpopulation” exists in Person County while it does not in Polk County. Is there something terribly, inherently wrong with the pets in Person County that’s not a problem in Polk County? Did all of the responsible, conscientious pet owners move to Polk County, leaving places like Person County stuck with nothing but the irresponsible, neglectful ones?

The real difference is that the leadership and staff of the Foothills Humane Society decided not to blame the public and pine for some magical day when everyone would spay and neuter and no one would ever relinquish a pet.  With the help of their community, they did the hard work of implementing the programs and services necessary to protect and save the lives of shelter pets.

It’s time for the rest of North Carolina’s so-called “shelters” and groups like HSUS and NCVAW, which pass themselves off as the vanguard of the “humane” movement, to ditch the blame and the lies and follow suit.

Even if we were to assume for the sake of argument that they are right, if we assume that not a single No Kill community exists, what difference would that make? None. Instead of fighting efforts to create one, they should be dedicating themselves to figuring out how to bring them into existence.~ Nathan Winograd, Their Own Worst Enemies

*The notable exception being the Foothills Humane Society in Polk County, which has a 2012 year-to-date save rate of almost 99 percent.)

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Filed under HSUS, NC county/municipal pounds, No Kill, North Carolina Voters For Animal Welfare, Polk County

Foothills Humane Society is a shelter to love

The Foothills Humane Society, which holds the animal control contract to take in all strays for Western NC’s Polk County as well as northern Greenville and Spartanburg counties of South Carolina, is proof that animal control in North Carolina doesn’t have to be about killing. FHS did not kill a single pet during the month of November 2012, and the year-to-date live release rate is 98.96%. (The 2011 FHS live release rate was 97.8%.)

Not only that, but unlike every other animal control facility in North Carolina, FHS has a live-release rate for cats that is as good and often better than the rate for dogs. While pounds all over the state are rounding up and killing feral cats by the thousands, FHS is saving them through its Po’ Kitties TNR program.

Seems like a shelter folks could love, right? That’s why I nominated it for a “Shelter We Love” award, given annually by HSUS puppet group NC Voters for Animal Welfare.

I heard back right away from NCVAW Secretary and HSUS NC director Kim Alboum, who wrote: “The Shelters We Love Program does not focus on euthanasia rates.  If it did we would be unable to provide awards for our open admission shelters that cannot turn animals away.”

So much for standards, I guess. Wouldn’t it be a worthwhile goal to encourage these pounds to put in the hard work to change from pet killing facilities to lifesaving shelters? Instead, HSUS and NCVAW prefer to peddle the worn-out lie that saving pets is impossible at open-admission shelters, which is repeatedly being proven false with increasing regularity. Currently, open-admission shelters in at least 83 (and counting) communities across the country have proven it’s possible to save all healthy and treatable pets that come in each year, reserving euthanasia only for its true purpose of ending irremediable suffering.

But it’s as if Kim Alboum and colleagues stick their fingers in their ears and sing “Mary Had A Little Lamb” at the top of their lungs any time it’s mentioned so they can pretend it’s not happening. Meanwhile, they give awards every year to some of the worst kill pounds North Carolina has to offer.

Winners in 2012 included the very high-kill Davidson County pound, a house of horrors where in 2011 almost 88% of the pets taken in were gassed to death.  Also honored in 2012 was the Randolph County pound, where the gas chamber kill rate actually went UP from 2010 to 2011.

Randolph County

The gas chamber at the Randolph County pound, an NC Voters for Animal Welfare  “Shelter We Love.”  (Photo by Flickr user NCCHE).

Winners for 2011 included the Johnston County gas chamber pound (2010 kill rate: 76.8%; 2011 kill rate: 75.36%), Charlotte-Mecklenburg pound (2010 kill rate: 63.27%; 2011 kill rate 64.31%) and the Guilford County pound (2010 kill rate: 42.06%, 2011 kill rate: 47.93%).

Based on that record, I predict the 2013 awards will go to Montgomery, Ashe and Surry counties.

But if FixNC had an award to bestow (maybe someday),  it would go to Foothills Humane Society, who have thrown away the excuses and blame-the-public mentality and proven that No Kill animal control is possible in rural North Carolina.

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Sampson County pound holds man’s dog for $65 ransom

On Dec. 4, 2012, the Sampson County pound took in two “strays,” Rebel and Sheba. Their owner had let them out to relieve themselves* and a neighbor called animal control to pick them up, according to a comment posted by the owner’s daughter, Samantha.

Samantha contacted the pound and was told that the dogs were safe there for three days and would not be put up for adoption, but without proof of ownership it would cost the family $195 to get them back.

Meanwhile, however, Samantha saw Rebel, renamed “Levi,” posted for adoption on the Sampson pound’s Facebook page:

Rebel, renamed Levi and posted to the Sampson pound's Facebook page despite the fact that his family already notified the pound that they wanted to get him back.

Rebel, renamed Levi and posted to the Sampson pound’s Facebook page despite the fact that his family already notified the pound that they wanted to get him back.

Samantha said the Sampson pound staff kept deleting her comments off of the page.

I contacted Sampson County pound director Lori Baxter on Friday morning, Dec. 7. She said “I can tell you that both dogs are at the shelter and safe. We have spoken with the owner and they are planning to pick them up when we open at 1:00 this afternoon.”

But as it turns out, for lack of $65, Samantha’s dad was only able to reclaim one of his dogs. Samantha wrote in an email to me:

My dad took $130 with him and we ask to work out something so that his mother Sheba could be brought home Monday. She said she (Lori) couldn’t promise anything, then I said how come, I mean we are here to claim them but we are lacking $65, we want them both home. My dad told Anna he was financially embarrassed and that he has shed tears over his dogs since they’ve been gone. So then she said as long as we are in contact with her she would be there Monday for pick up. So we get to worry all weekend if something will happen to her, these people are too wishy washy. These animals belong to someone and it shouldn’t be this way when trying to reclaim your animals.

Lori Baxter “couldn’t promise anything” even though as pound director it is completely within her power to give Samantha’s dad his dog back. If she wanted to, Lori Baxter could say “Hey, I love empty kennels, you want your dog back, and sending a dog back to her home is a life-affirming way to make space for another dog. So why don’t I just waive the $65 and let you have your dog? That would be a win for everyone.”

So why doesn’t she? After all, earlier this week she posted that a lot of dogs were “out of time” because she was “out of space” (which doesn’t actually mean all the kennels are full, because Lori Baxter maintains half of the Sampson pound kennels empty at all times).

outoftimedogs

Following is an excerpt of an email I sent to Lori Baxter:

In a previous correspondence, you told me you use the gas chamber “as little as possible.” You wrote: “If you follow our page, then you know that I am forever begging for rescues to save them.”

I do follow your Facebook page, and I also see that you are always writing about how you must “make space” in your pound. Meanwhile, rather than work out a payment plan or, heaven forbid, actually waive $65 in reclaim fees in the interest if reuniting a dog with a family that desperately wants her back, you have chosen to hold that dog in your pound over an entire weekend, taking up the space that you claim is so scarce.

I wonder which dog you killed in order to house Sheba, a dog who already has a home and family?

On your Facebook page, you make it appear as if your main goal above all else is to get pets out of your pound alive. Sheba is a dog who would be very easy to send home to a family who wants her back, yet you refuse. It almost appears that your motivation is not to protect animals or save their lives, but to vindictively punish a man for not having enough ready cash to redeem his dog. Or worse, could it be that you love demonstrating your powers of life and death over people’s beloved pets? Whatever your motivation, you are doing the wrong thing.

I urge you to do the right thing: waive Sheba’s fees and return her to her family now.

Sampson County pound director Lori Baxter can be reached via email at lbaxter@sampsonnc.com and the pound’s phone number is (910) 592-8493. Sampson County manager Ed Causey can be reached at (910) 592-6308 or ecausey@sampsonnc.com. Sampson County residents who would like to discuss animal shelter issues with county commissioners can schedule “Citizen/Commissioners Conferences”  to meet with representatives of the county Board of Commissioners and appropriate county staff members on the third Monday of each month immediately preceding the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting. Conferences must be scheduled in advance by calling the Office of the County Manager: (910) 592-6308.

*Yes, people would be wise to confine or leash their dogs and keep identification on them, as well as up-to-date rabies tags. (I triple ID mine with microchips, rabies tags and “Boomerang” collar IDs.) But the focus of FixNC is shelter reform. Regardless of how dogs end up at the pound, what happens to them once they are there is the responsibility of the pound director and staff. So I will not be publishing any comments on this post about what is or is not responsible pet ownership because the point of discussion here is what happens to pets after they get to the pound. There are lots of free blogging platforms where you can start your own blog and discuss whatever you want there.

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Guilford County pound holds woman’s dog for ransom

So somehow my dog Trixie got out of the gate today while we were downtown at the Christmas Parade. When we came home, we found out from the neighbor that she had been picked up by the pound. I called down there to see if she was there, and what's the procedure for getting her back. Guilford County Animal Shelter [OFFICIAL] tells me it's a $30 fee for first timers, which in itself is ridiculous for a "first timer", but whatever. So I go down to get her with my Drivers License, and a copy of her rabies vaccine info and tag, with my matching address on it, only for them to tell me, that since she has a microchip from the person that gave her to me NEARLY 2yrs ago, they could not release her to me. They have the right to hold her for 72hrs (all the while charging me by the day), and then If she doesn't come up there and verify she transferred ownership to me, I have the "choice" to adopt her, fees and all! Are you kidding me!? The lady lives in Fayetteville, I don't even know her name, and of course they can't get in contact with her via the "microchip" number that's on file. I think it's piss poor, that the Greensboro Animal Shelter would deny me a dog that I've owned for 2yrs, because a previous owner is on the microchip, but I have 2yrs worth of vaccines in my name. Not to mention, she adopted her from a shelter, and only had her a couple months before she gave her to me. They would rather euthanize a dog, or let some strange family adopt her, than give her to her rightful owner. This is probably one of the dumb and stupid reasons that the shelters are so full, and pets are put to sleep daily..because either they have ridiculous protocol that doesn't even make sense on paper, yet alone in the real word, or they are stacking fees on top of fees daily before people can even muster up the money to pay the retrieval fee. How is that helpful to anyone, especially the pet? I don't see how this process is considered Humane in any way, shape, form, or fashion. If even one of those people down there had ANY common sense, they would realize that this was insane..and they are doing way more harm than good to all parties involved.Devyn Gordon’s dog Trixie escaped from her yard Saturday while the family was at the downtown Greensboro Christmas parade. A neighbor told Devyn that the dog had been taken to the Guilford County pound, so Devyn went there Saturday with her driver’s license and copies of Trixie’s current rabies records and tag, which are in Devyn’s name and current address.

The staff at the Guilford pound refused to release Trixie to her current owner, however. Unbeknownst to Devyn, Trixie has a microchip registered in the name of a previous owner. Trixie came to Devyn through a friend of Devyn’s brother. The friend had been planning to surrender Trixie back to the shelter where she had gotten her. “She gave her to my brother, who gave her to me, almost two years ago,” Devyn said in a comment on Facebook.

In addition to the rabies records, Devyn has 2 years of records for vet checkups and other vaccines, as well as photos and grooming receipts.

Pound staff told Devyn that they have the right to hold Trixie for 72 hours. If the woman whose name is on the chip (who lives in Fayetteville as far as Devyn knows) goes to the Guilford pound  and verifies that she transferred ownership to Devyn, then pound staff will allow Devyn to reclaim her dog after paying additional daily boarding fees on top of the $30 reclaim fee. If not, then after Trixie’s 72-hour hold is up, pound staff will allow Devyn to adopt her own dog at the full $95 adoption fee.

Devyn went back to the Guilford pound on Sunday as well, still trying to get her dog back. The pound staff told her that since the number associated with the microchip has been disconnected, they are putting Trixie up for adoption.

“They would rather euthanize a dog, or let some strange family adopt her, than give her to her rightful owner,” Devyn wrote in a Facebook post. “This is probably one of the dumb and stupid reasons that the shelters are so full, and pets are put to sleep daily..because either they have ridiculous protocol that doesn’t even make sense on paper, yet alone in the real world, or they are stacking fees on top of fees daily before people can even muster up the money to pay the retrieval fee. How is that helpful to anyone, especially the pet?”

Devyn plans to be back at the shelter first thing Monday morning to try to get her dog back.

The Guilford County pound can be reached at  (336) 297-5020. You can email director Marsha Williams at marsha@guilfordcountyanimalshelter.com. The Guilford County Manager’s office can be reached at (336) 641-3383. Contact information for the Guilford County Commissioners can be found here.

UPDATE 12/03/12: Trixie is back home with her family now! Devyn wrote this comment on a Facebook post:  

“I went back down to the shelter this morning, and they told me If I didn’t have an appointment I wouldn’t be able to see the director, and that they didn’t open until 12 anyway. I told them I would wait, and that’s what I did. I guess they got the picture I wasn’t leaving, and called her on the phone. She obviously has gotten calls, emails, and posts, because the first thing she said was ‘I’ve been getting emails, posts and such about your situation, and I want you to know we are not trying to keep your dog from you etc..’”

At 5 pm, after the hold was up, Devyn was able to reclaim Trixie by showing her vaccine records and paying $45, which included transferring the microchip registration. Devyn said she still plans to follow up with officials about the policies.

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