Category Archives: NC county/municipal pounds

Commercial breeder bill needs last-minute push

NC puppymill Boston terrier

Jojo, a deaf Boston terrier rescued from a high-volume NC breeder who is subject to no standards of humane care whatsoever.

The NC Senate is planning to work through this coming weekend to wrap up business before the 2013 legislative session ends. One bill still on the table is HB 930, which provides humane standards for dogs in commercial breeding facilities. Currently in North Carolina, there are no standards for any breeders regardless of how many animals they keep. Meanwhile, animal rescuers who house more than 10 pets for adoption are supposed to get licensed and meet all of the same standards as an animal shelter. Fair? Not at all

Contact your state senator and ask him or her to make passage of HB 930 a priority before the end of the session. If you know your district or senator’s name, get his or her contact info here. Don’t know your district number? Find out here.

Also in legislative news today, the NC House passed a bill that gives emergency responders permission to break into hot cars to free dogs. That provision was part of a much larger bill that provides several improvements for shelter pets.

The first improvement represented by the bill, SB 626, is that enforcement of previously existing legislation regarding shelters has been moved from the NCDHHS, which had no inspection or enforcement abilities, to NCDA&CS, which currently inspects animal shelters. Secondly, it mandates scanning for microchips (if staff have access to a scanner, which unfortunately is not manadatory) where before the law said staff “may” scan.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the new law removes permission for animal shelters to sell animals to USDA-licensed dealers. So, assuming the law as amended is passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, the widespread selling of dead cats to become dissection kits will come to an end in NC.

2 Comments

Filed under Legislation, NC county/municipal pounds

NC animal shelter statistics finally released

The NCDA&CS finally released the 2012 animal shelter statistics. Virginia releases theirs on March 1 every year like clockwork, but down here in Cackalacky things move much more slowly. The NC numbers come out whenever they come out (last year they were out on April 23.) You can get the reports at the NCDA&CS website in PDF and Excel format. You may also find a formatted version with further calculations, such as kill rates, added in here, and a spreadsheet that compares 2011-2012 dog and cat statistics here.

Many counties did not bother to report, and some of the numbers look obviously bogus. For example, the Pender County pound reported the exact same numbers of intakes, adoptions, reclaims and kills for cats as they did for dogs:

Pender County Animal Shelter's bogus statistics

The cat numbers shown above are clearly a complete fabrication because according to receipts obtained through a public records request, the Pender County pound sold 660 dead cats to LBS Biological Inc. for $4 each between June 26, 2012, to Jan. 31, 2013,  or slightly more than seven months. What’s more, records obtained show that the Pender pound killed almost that many cats and dogs from Aug. 1, 2012 to Jan 31, 2013 alone, so the real number is certainly much higher.

There is no auditing or verification of any of the numbers in the report, so they could all be complete hogwash for all anyone knows.

13 Comments

Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, statistics

Iredell County investigating animal control director

Iredell County officials are investigating allegations that Animal Control Director Chris Royal killed animals she shouldn’t have and sold animals for personal gain.

According to an article at wsoctv.com, someone sent an anonymous letter to county commissioners last week that was so detailed officials believed it may have come from someone inside the department.

One commissioner said the letter accused someone in animal control (presumably Royal) of seizing livestock and selling the animals. It’s not clear what is meant by the allegation that she killed animals she shouldn’t have (especially considering that almost every public “animal shelter” in the state is killing healthy and treatable pets they shouldn’t be killing …)

Iredell is one of the North Carolina counties still using a gas chamber.

2 Comments

Filed under Iredell County, NC county/municipal pounds

“Nobody wants to kill animals” — Guilford County edition

NOTE: Amanda Liston provided the information and opinions attributed to her in the following post while she was Carolina Care Bullies president. I have since learned that she resigned from the rescue a few days before the post was published.

The next time someone says “Nobody wants to kill animals” to defend the killing of shelter pets, remember Coco. Robin Meadows, a volunteer for Carolina Care Bullies rescue, expended a lot of effort trying to save Coco from the very first day the dog landed in the Guilford County pound, a pet-killing facility where almost half the animals ended up dead in 2011 ¹. Despite days of effort by Meadows and other CCB rescuers, the staff of the Guilford County pound killed Coco anyway.

Coco was a friendly, young pit bull belonging to a boy who lived near Meadows’ sister. On Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, the boy arrived  home from school to discover that his stepfather had surrendered Coco to animal control. The boy told Meadows, who knew Coco had a wonderful disposition and got along well with her dog Skyleigh (adopted from Carolina Care Bullies). Knowing that Coco was definitely adoptable and that at best she could give Coco a forever home herself, Meadows called the Guilford County pound that very day to ask what she needed to do to get Coco out of there.  (The Guilford County pound refuses to adopt dogs they identify as pit bulls directly to the public, so rescue pulls are generally the only ways such dogs get out of that pound alive.)

Meadows gave pound staff a detailed description of Coco and told them where and when she had been taken by animal control. “At first they told me they weren’t sure what dog I was talking about and they would have to see if they had her,” she said. Then they told her she could pull Coco if she brought along the owner who had surrendered her and paid about $60 in reclaim fees. Meadows posted the situation to the CCB forum, and another volunteer offered to put up the money for the fees. On Thursday Meadows went to speak to Coco’s former owner, who agreed to meet her at the pound Friday afternoon.  She said she called the pound three times on Thursday to make sure that she was making the correct arrangements to save Coco.

The former owner stood Meadows up late Friday afternoon, shortly before the pound closed. Frustrated, she turned for help to CCB president Amanda Liston. Pound staff told Meadows that in order to pull Coco under CCB, Liston would have to speak directly to pound director Marsha Williams on the following Monday.

Liston called the pound Monday morning. “The shelter manager told us that she was expecting our call,” Liston said  “She also informed us that she would in no way release the dog to Robin, that myself and [CCB vice president] Terry [King] would have to pick up the dog personally. We explained that Robin was a local Greensboro volunteer that wanted to foster-to-adopt the dog, and that we lived 45 minutes away, there was no reason for us to come from Hillsborough to pick up a dog.”

Liston said that Meadows is a trusted CCB volunteer and is just as much a part of  the organization as anyone else. “CCB is not one or two people, we are a large network of volunteers, and myself and the vice president can not be expected to do every rescue errand. However, we would have been glad to if that was the last resort,” she said.

“Half a day later, our Vice President Terry King received a voicemail that the dog in question was euthanized early that morning because of inability to identify the dog based on no owner information.”  Liston said. “They played games and stalled us over an entire weekend, telling us we couldn’t get permission to release the dog until Monday—well after they planned to euthanize the dog,” Liston said. “They said they tried to identify the dog and were unable to do so—but they didn’t need to—Robin could point out the dog and provide all the owner surrender information for them.”

Meadows was devastated. “She survived the weekend just to have them kill her the day I was going to pick her up.”

“Five minutes of Guilford County’s time would have confirmed that allowing Robin to pull the dog was a far better alternative than euthanasia for Coco,” Liston said.

“I find it impossible to believe that they were unable to identify this one dog with the level of Robin’s description in addition to the information she was able to provide about the owner, ” Liston said. “The only foreseeable way this could have occurred is if they throw every pit bull that comes into the shelter in a large, multi-dog holding pen with no ID, and I know that to not be true.”

A public records request for Coco’s records was sent to Guilford County pound director Marsha Williams and the county attorney, who forwarded it to Guilford County Animal Control. Animal control responded promptly with their paperwork on Coco, showing where, when and how she was surrendered by her owner and picked up.

Williams, however, did not respond until a second request was sent, when she refused to comply. “I have spoken to the board of Directors and the United Animal Coalition attorney and they have advised me to inform you that The United Animal Coalition that operates the shelter is a private organization and therefore does not fall under your public records statute any information you requested for Coco that falls under that statute can be provided by animal control and the county attorney’s office whom you cc’d on your previous email and this one,” she said.

Williams and UAC seem to have no problem collecting more than $1 million of taxpayer money from the county to operate a de facto government agency “for the mutual benefit of the Parties and for the citizens of GUILFORD COUNTY” in a building and on property owned by Guilford County. But when it comes time to be publicly accountable for what they do with the community’s shelter pets, they want to hide behind non-profit status and claim they don’t have to tell anyone what goes on in their pound.

According to the NC Attorney General’s office, whether a non-profit operating a government service is subject to public records disclosure is “a matter of legal opinion.” There exists legal precedent of courts upholding that municipalities can not hide records from the public by contracting with a non-profit.

In fact, the contract between Guilford County and UAC is very similar to a scenario that UNC Professor of Law and Government Frayda Bluestein sets forth as an example of when a non-profit WOULD probably be subject to transparency laws. She describes a scenario in which a city contracts with a non-profit group that promotes arts:

If not for this contract, city employees would carry out this function. The city appoints three of the five members of the nonprofit board. The city owns the property the nonprofit uses for its offices, and leases it to the nonprofit for nominal consideration. The nonprofit receives most of its funding from the city. Is the nonprofit organization subject to the transparency laws? The answer is probably: yes.

The UAC leases its building and land from Guilford County for $1 per year. The Guilford County board of commissioners has the right to appoint a county commissioner to serve as a fully participating member of the UAC board of directors. The UAC receives most of its funding from the county. In addition, the UAC must obtain written approval from the county manager before it is allowed to change any fees, hours of operation, policies or procedures affecting the public.

The claim of exemption from public records laws by Williams and the UAC is pretty much begging for a legal opinion.² Essentially, Williams and UAC are claiming the right to kill their community’s pets completely in secret. Meanwhile, the Guilford County taxpayers are footing the bill.

Consider the implications: Suppose you live right on the county line between Guilford and Alamance. One day, your dog bolts through the door and takes off. If he heads east, gets picked up by Alamance County animal control and taken to the pound in Burlington, you would have every right to find out exactly what happened to him if he died in kennel or was killed there. But if he were to head west, get picked up by Guilford County animal control and end up in the Guilford county pound, his fate could remain a complete mystery to you. Marsha Williams and her staff claim that you would have no right to find out what happened to your beloved family pet during his last days or hours in their facility.

Despite replying to the public records request by claiming she doesn’t have to send any records, Williams did send one record: a photo of part of a document she says was all her pound received from animal control with Coco:Photo of alleged animal control form for Coco

Williams says that because the form from animal control identified Coco as a stray, no one at GCAS could figure out which dog Meadows and CCB were trying to save until after pound staff had killed her.

“The lack of proper information did not allow the shelter staff to locate Coco in time to transfer her to CCB,” Williams said. Were they in such a hurry to kill Coco that they couldn’t be bothered to take a few minutes to see if maybe the small female pit bull pup marked “stray” who came in from Cotswold Ave. on the morning of Feb. 6 could possibly have been the same small female pit bull pup brought in from Cotswold Ave. on the morning of Feb. 6 that Robin Meadows so desperately wanted to save?

As director of that pound, Williams has the power to decide NOT to kill pets, at the very least for long enough to sort out which dog a rescuer wants to save. It’s not as if there is an unstoppable killing machine conveyor belt that pets are put on as soon as they enter the pound (as much as Guilford’s kill rate makes it seem as if there could be). Williams runs that pound and can decide which pets live, which pets die, and how much time they are given before she or her staff inject them full of death syrup.

Williams and her staff kill more than 6,000 dogs and cats per year. Assuming 260 business days in a year, that means they kill, on average, more than 23 pets per day. Perhaps, given the sheer magnitude of killing they do there, no one at the Guilford County pound saw the point of taking any extra time to kill one fewer healthy and adoptable pet.

What does the fact that Williams sent a record she believes vindicates her and her staff imply about the records she is withholding? Her refusal to release Coco’s records might reasonably lead folks to wonder what is there that she does not want to reveal. Was there more to the runaround Meadows and Liston were given than just disorganization or disinterest on the part of Williams and her staff?

“Were they hoping we would give up before we discovered that the dog was already euthanized?” Liston said. She believes the claim that Coco could not be identified “in time” was an excuse given “when there was nothing else they could say to deter us from rescuing the dog.”

“The dog didn’t have to be euthanized. And had any other shelter manager in the state been in that place, at least the ones we have had experience with, that dog would have lived,” Liston said.“I want the public to know that Guilford is not the amazing shelter that they are often hailed as. They treat pit bulls as criminals, they treat those that want to rescue them as suspicious, and would rather kill these dogs than give them a chance at a new life.

“The glaring difference between this shelter and others I have worked with, no matter how small-staffed or how large their intake is, is that other shelters can easily identify dogs based on even a mediocre description,” Liston said. The larger facilities such as Orange County Animal Services or Wake County Animal Center will mark kennel cards  “rescue hold” or “rescue interest” as soon as CCB calls, she said. “Its uncomplicated. We call, they send a volunteer to mark their kennel card, if they can’t do it themselves.”

“Guilford has made clear to us in the past we are not to try to advertise dogs in their shelter that need homes,” Liston said. “I’m confused about this, as they advertise them on their own FB page, so I don’t know why we cannot. We have also asked them to email us photos of pit bulls at their shelter and we will try to find foster homes. Unsurprisingly, we have never received a single photograph or even personality description of any dog in their shelter. Despite the non-response on their end, we were expected to provide a list of past adopters, references, adoption policies and a copy of our application, all of which we worked hard to compile and provide to them.” Liston said CCB never heard from Guilford again after supplying that information.

“As we have grown, understandably we have had many volunteers want us to help pit bulls in their shelter,” Liston said. “I try to explain what happened, and they insist the shelter manager tells them ‘We would love to work with CCB!’ It’s true, the shelter manager does repeat this, over and over to compassionate pit bull lovers and visitors to their Facebook page. But, it is 100% untrue. They go out of their way to make sure no pit bull leaves their shelter, unless it is in secret, unless we somehow magically find a foster without advertising for one, unless we agree to take a dog we’ve never met or seen.”

Liston said Williams has claimed policies dictated by the Guilford County Commissioners are the reason it’s difficult to extract pit bulls from that pound.  “I know this to also be false, as other counties with similar ‘no public pit bull adoption’ policies have no trouble allowing rescues to share photos, meet dogs, secure foster homes and use their volunteer-base to pick up dogs for their foster homes,” Liston said.

Liston said she suspects a personal prejudice against pit bulls may possibly be what makes it so hard to save them from the Guilford pound. “Why else would one person guarantee the death of so many dogs that have other options?”

Folks who wish to discuss the Guilford County pound or its pit bull policy with the Guilford County Commissioners may find their contact information here. A sample letter regarding anti-pit bull policies can be found here.


A NOTE REGARDING THE COMMENTING POLICY ON THIS POST: Because free and open discourse is only possible when there is full access to information, all comments defending the UAC/GCAS etc. will be held in moderation until such time as Williams and the UAC release Coco’s records. If they never release them, the comments will never be published. Anyone bothered or inconvenienced by this policy may contact Marsha Williams.

¹2011 numbers are the latest available for the Guilford County pound, which is not transparent enough to make their statistics available on their website. Back

²In NC, this will most likely require a lawsuit. Animal advocate Holly Nielsen filed suit last year against the Johnston County SPCA, which received funds from the town of Clayton, over the same issue. The case never went to court because the JCSPCA board voted to dissolve itself immediately after the suit was filed. If you are interested in helping bankroll or helping find pro-bono or contingency legal representation for a potentially precedent-setting lawsuit against The United Animal Coalition, please email me. Back

7 Comments

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

What is your county’s “rabies alert area” policy?

NC statutes specify that  an animal control or peace officer can, after reasonable effort has been made to apprehend animals who run uncontrolled in areas under rabies quarantine the animals, “destroy” those animals “and properly dispose of their bodies.” In Person County, they interpret this to mean that they can and should kill all the pets that they apprehend from such areas, even if there is no evidence the pet had any contact with a rabid animal.

When a case of rabies is confirmed in Person County, the area is declared under “rabies alert” for the next six months. Per the Person County animal ordinance, animals from rabies alert areas “will not be adoptable for a period of six (6) months, unless that animal has been vaccinated against rabies prior to custody at the shelter.”

So Person County pound policy is to kill them, even if they are too young to be vaccinated for rabies and have never been at-large or in a situation likely to expose them to rabies. Such as, for example, the 6- to 8-week-old puppies pictured below, who were surrendered by owners who happened to live in Flat River Township. That area is under a “rabies alert” until July 2013 because a rabid raccoon was found there in December 2012. The puppies pictured were all killed on Feb. 13, 2013.

Puppies killed at Person County pound

These 6 to 8-week-old owner-surrendered shepherd mix pups were killed at the Person County pound on Feb. 13, 2013, without being made available for adoption because the surrendering owners happened to live in a township where a rabid raccoon had been found two months previously.

Puppies need to be 12 to 16 weeks old before they can be vaccinated against rabies. Since the Person County pound refuses to release animals from “rabies alert” areas without proof of vaccination, the policy is an automatic death sentence for puppies. And it’s a death sentence for most of the other pets picked up from the quarantine area as well. In 2012, Person County pound employees killed 86 cats and 28 dogs because they came from a rabies alert area. Below are just a few of the dogs killed during the past year by Person County Animal Services as a result of the rabies alert area policy.

Does your county have a policy for pets that come in from a “rabies alert” or quarantine zone? If you know, please post it in a comment. If you don’t know, you can find out by filing a public records request. (You can read more about North Carolina’s open government laws here.)

1 Comment

Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Person County, Rabies

Davidson County pound killed almost 10 times more pets than were adopted out in 2012

According to this article, the Davidson County pound adopted out 669 animals last year, “which is up from the past two years.” Yes, it’s 42 more pets than the 627 they adopted out in 2011. (The 2011 number is 132 pets more than the 495 they adopted out in 2010).

The Davidson pound killed  6,591 animals in 2012, which is 417 fewer than they killed in 2011. It’s also 9.85 times more animals than they adopted out in 2012. Without knowing the total intake for 2012, we cannot calculate if the actual kill rate went up or down from the 87.12 percent killed at the Davidson County pound in 2011.

One small tiptoe toward progress is that fewer of these animals died in the barbaric gas chamber (2,341) than by relatively more humane lethal injection (4,250). However, given that more than 90 percent of the killing at shelters is unnecessary and completely preventable, it’s very small consolation.

3 Comments

Filed under Davidson County, gas chamber, NC county/municipal pounds

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.)

7 Comments

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