Category Archives: North Carolina Voters For Animal Welfare

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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Filed under North Carolina Voters For Animal Welfare, Polk County

Seriously you guys, cupcakes are really important!

The Humane Society of the United States and its puppet groups NC Voters for Animal Welfare and Susie’s Law really, really want you to take cupcakes to your local pound for the holidays. Their “NC Shelter Project” is promoting a “12 Acts of Kindness” program for the month of December. The first item on the list sent out by HSUS NC director Kim Alboum is “Bring a gift of snacks to shelter staff cookies, cupcakes, chocolate, pizza, coffee, etc.” Because killing animals is so much more pleasant when there’s an array of goodies laid out on top of the gas chamber!

Other suggestions include:

  • Run an errand for a shelter staff member.
  • Write a positive letter to the editor about the shelter.
  • Highlight a shelter staff member on your Facebook page and ask your friends to share it.
  • Purchase a holiday card for the shelter and have all the members of your rescue sign it with a personal message to staff.

Be sure to take a photo of your cupcakes and post it to the NC Shelter project Facebook page!

 

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Filed under cupcakes, HSUS, North Carolina Voters For Animal Welfare

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

HSUS and NCVAW honor two of NC’s crappiest, killingest pounds

The Humane Society of the US and the North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare love crappy kill pounds. Last week the two groups bestowed  “Shelters We Love” awards on two of the state’s worst pounds, Davidson County and Randolph County animal shelters. Both facilities have performed worse, in terms of protecting the lives of animals, than the majority of pounds in a state with a particularly dismal animal “shelter” system.

“I think it says a lot for how far we’ve come since this time last year,” Davidson pound director Judy Lanier told a reporter. Let’s see how far you have come, Judy: In 2011, 7,008 of the 8,044 dogs and cats who entered the Davidson County pound did not get out alive, for an overall kill rate of 87.12 percent. This was a miniscule  improvement over the 2010 kill rate of 88.04%, despite the fact that the Davidson pound actually killed MORE dogs and cats in 2011 than 2010 (6,830 in 2010; 7,008 in 2011).

Davidson County Animal Shelter Outcome Statistics 2010-2011

According to a volunteer at the Davidson pound quoted in the MyFox8.com article, Davidson’s adoption rates “have doubled” at the shelter in the past year. In reality, there was a very small increase from  6.3 percent to 7.79 percent,  a whopping difference of 1.41. It speaks volumes about the concerns and expectations of HSUS and NCVAW that they think such a less-than-mediocre performance merits an award.

But the picture goes from disappointing to appalling when one considers the Randolph County pound. Its director, Leigh Casaus, claims that adoptions went up 10 percent in the past year. The numbers they reported to NCDA&CS, however, show the adoption rate at the Randolph County pound actually went down from 2010 to 2011. The adoption rate for dogs dropped from 17.42 percent to  11.33 percent, while cat adoptions dipped from  3.69 percent in 2010 to  3.21 percent, for an overall adoption rate decrease of 4 percentage points. So either Leigh Casaus is making things up or she has no idea what’s actually going on at her pound.

Randolph County Health Department Animal Shelter Outcome Statistics 2010-2011

What’s more, Randolph County’s overall kill rate increased by 4.2 percentage points, from 82.99 percent in 2010 to 87.19 percent in 2011. But the HSUS, run by a man who calls for the killing of dogfighting victims while befriending and defending their torturer, thinks Randolph County is doing a great job.

The reporter of the MyFox8.com story parroted another lump of misinformation without attribution (or fact-checking, apparently): “On average in North Carolina, only about 10% of shelter animals get adopted.” This is untrue. In 2011, at least 348,089 dogs and cats entered NC animal shelters, and at least 81,000 of these were adopted out to new homes, for a rate of 23 percent. This number can still be improved almost four-fold, (as demonstrated by the 41 open admission No Kill shelters in the country), but it’s more than twice as high as the 10 percent number cited by kill pounds that want to make their own crappy performance look almost normal.

The NCDA&CS shelter report for 2010 is here. The 2011 full report is available for download in Excel format here. I have compiled a version that includes cats & dogs only, along with totals and rates, here.

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Filed under Davidson County, HSUS, NC county/municipal pounds, North Carolina Voters For Animal Welfare, Randolph County

Ashe County also closed for distemper; NCVAW & HSUS-NC blames the public

The Ashe County pound was closed for distemper recently (although the article doesn’t make it clear exactly when or for how long, only that the pound director noticed the distemper in late March). They killed all the dogs, although again, the article isn’t specific on how many.

AC Director Joe Testerman said the outbreak “does bring home the need for county residents to vaccinate their dogs.” Yes, but does the shelter also vaccinate upon intake? The article does not say (but I have emailed Joe Testerman to ask).While not a magic bullet, “vaccination is the cornerstone of distemper prevention in a shelter.”  That’s assuming, of course, that the manager’s preferred protocol is not to just kill all the dogs and hope to start over again clean.

Ashe County did not report their 2010 outcome statistics to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. They claim a 15% adoption rate for last year on their web page. (They also claim that the national adoption rate is only 4%, a number that seems way off. The rates I usually see are 15% for cats and 25% for dogs. But if national statistics are kept the way North Carolina’s are, it’s really anyone’s guess.)

Meanwhile on Facebook, Susie’s Law, a.k.a North Carolina Voters For Animal Welfare, and the NC branch of HSUS blamed the public for the recent rash of distemper outbreaks at county pounds.

“Our shelters are a reflection of our community,” the NCVAW chirps. Yeah, no … I’m pretty sure no one in my community is killing anywhere near as many animals as  our so-called “shelters” are. In fact, Many people I know are aghast when they discover just how much killing goes on at these places.

“If Parvo and Distemper are present in the shelter it means that we have to do a better job vaccinating within the community,” says NCVAW. Meanwhile, they give pound managers a pass for skipping that bit, even though it’s step #1 of preventing the spread of distemper in a pound.

But the bit that’s hardest to take of the NCVAW post is ” It is important to support our shelters that are going through the terrible experience of finding that they have Distemper.” Not a word about the terrible experience of the dogs killed.

Fifty bucks says NCVAW won’t be on board when we introduce a Companion Animal Protection Act bill in NC. (No bets on HSUS–they can be counted on to oppose shelter reform.)

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Filed under Ashe County, Distemper, NC county/municipal pounds, North Carolina Voters For Animal Welfare