Category Archives: Person County

Person County illegally bans rescuer from pound

In violation of federal civil rights laws, Person County Animal Services director Ron Shaw has banned a longtime rescuer for speaking publicly about pound staff’s refusal to let her obtain vet care for a puppy who later died in the pound.

Rhonda Beach, director of Chances Angel Rescue and Education and former president of the Animal Protection Society of Person County, has been involved with the Person County pound since 2008. Between her time with APS and CARE, Ms. Beach says she has been responsible for saving 912 pets from PCAS. “To be accurate and to only include what CARE has pulled from PCAS, we have rescued to date 1022 animals and out of those numbers, 726 animals were pulled from PCAS by Chances Angel Rescue,” she said.

On Aug. 21, 2013, Ms. Beach sent a text and a photo of a puppy to a PCAS staff member asking for the pup’s age, weight, and hold date. The staffer replied late the next morning, providing info including that the pup was very malnourished and thin and his mandatory hold was up on Aug. 23.

Ms. Beach responded immediately, asking if she could pick up the pup early and have him serve out his hold period with her, which is permitted by state law. (§ 130A-192.) “My intent was to go get him immediately and take to my vet for an evaluation,” Beach said. “Extremely malnourished dogs should receive immediate vet care and so I offered to pick him up and get him to the vet right away.”

The employee texted back, “He is doing okay. I have been feeding him some can food.” Ms. Beach then asked if the staffer could vaccinate the pup, and the staffer said she would vaccinate him on Aug. 23.

The staffer later texted that the pup could be picked up after closing (4 p.m.) on Aug. 22 because his hold period would technically be up then, but Ms. Beach was unable to get to the shelter at that time. “I was available and ready to go get him immediately at 11:45 am on August 22, but was denied because his hold date was not met,” Ms. Beach said.

Ms. Beach said she tried to contact PCAS staff around 8 am on Aug. 23 to see if they would let her pick up the pup at 8 am instead of waiting until the 10 a.m. opening time. The rescue coordinator texted Ms. Beach at 10 am to tell her that the puppy had died.

Later that morning, Ms. Beach posted a photo of the pup with a caption describing the issue on her Facebook page: 

Puppy died in Parson County Animal Shelter because they refused to allow rescuer to take him to the vet.This poor puppy died in the shelter last night. I had tagged him for rescue and he was there waiting his mandatory 72 hour hold period. I ask the shelter could I get him early and so he could get medical attention since he was extremely malnourished. I offered to hold him at my house for the remaining of the mandatory 72 hour hold period after he received medical attention and was denied. So this puppy died sometime last night, in the shelter, alone, on a concrete floor. I am so heart broken for this baby. This is one of the reasons I don’t work with Person County Shelter as much as I used to… This baby needed help at a critical time. RIP sweet boy. I am so sorry your people failed you.
The next day, Shaw sent Ms. Beach the following email:

Per PC Animal Services Ordinance Appendix B, I am suspending your privileges of pulling animals from our Shelter as of Friday, August 23, 2013.

It has come to my attention of the Facebook posting made by you and comments you made on a picture that are not productive of the over all mission of saving animals and promoting a positive relationship between Animal Services and your rescue group.

I have already notified the Animal Advisory Committee of the suspension and they will be scheduling a meeting in the next two weeks (per County Ordinance Appendix B). You will be notified of the meeting date as soon as it is scheduled.

Thank you.
Ron W. Shaw
Director
Person County Animal Services
2103 Chub Lake Road
Roxboro, NC 2757
336.597.1741

Such an action–retaliation against a volunteer or rescuer who exercises her free speech rights–is in violation of federal law. In the words of attorney Sheldon Eisenberg, who successfully represented rescuers who sued Los Angeles County after being banned for speaking out about animal abuse at the county’s shelters:

There can be no dispute that complaining about abuses or violations of law at shelters is a constitutionally protected right. A rescuer not only has the First Amendment right to speak out against abuses and violations of law committed by a governmental entity, he or she also has a constitutionally protected right to demand that the government correct the wrongs that are identified. This includes the right to threaten to sue or to actually file suit against the shelter. (Section 1983 To The Rescue.)

42 USC Chapter 21, Subchapter I § 1983 states: “Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress…”

In essence, local laws and policies that deprive someone of rights and privileges, such as the recent amendment to the Person County Animal Services Ordinance that threatens shelter volunteers and rescuers with loss of access to the public shelter in retaliation for exercising their free speech, are in violation of US civil rights laws.

Per Eisenberg:

In recent years, the courts have said that people have a right to file a claim under Section 1983 when state or municipal governments take action designed to scare or prevent them from exercising their First Amendment rights, or punish them for doing so. The plaintiff must show that all of a few specific conditions, or legal “elements”, exist: The plaintiff’s conduct must be protected by the Constitution,  this conduct must have been a “substantial” or “motivating” factor in the defendants’ decision to take action, and the plaintiff must have suffered actual injury.

There can be no doubt that the suspension of Ms. Beach’s right to save animals from the Person County pound meets the conditions necessary for a lawsuit:

  1. Ms. Beach’s Facebook post is Constitutionally protected free speech;
  2. Ron Shaw explicitly said in his email that his decision to retaliate against Ms. Beach and deprive her of her rights was a result of her Facebook post; and
  3. Ms. Beach has suffered the damage of losing the benefit and privilege of rescuing pets from the Person County pound.

Eisenberg wrote:

It is important to emphasize that the loss of a common benefit counts as injury; a rescuer need not establish a legal right to adopt animals or take advantage of any other benefits afforded by a shelter. As the Supreme Court has stated, a government entity “may not deny a benefit to a person on a basis that infringes his constitutionally protected interests—especially, his interest in freedom of speech.” Therefore, it should be enough to show, for example, that a person has been deprived of his or her ability to volunteer at, or to adopt animals from, a shelter

The very existence of the new language in the Person County ordinance threatening to revoke access for advocates who speak publicly is in itself in violation of US law. In Eisenberg’s words, “Since the whole point of a Section 1983 retaliation claim is to prevent the ‘chilling’ (discouragement) of constitutionally protected rights, it seems clear enough that a threat of retaliation for exercising those rights, which is specifically designed to obstruct the exercise of those rights, should be sufficient to satisfy the actual injury element of a Section 1983 claim.”

In addition, there is also provision under US statutes (42 USC § 1988 – Proceedings in vindication of civil rights) for the prevailing party to recover all attorney fees in a suit filed in vindication of civil rights.

A letter was sent on Ms. Beach’s behalf to Person County Manager Heidi York informing her that banning Ms. Beach is illegal, and Ms. York replied that she passed it along to legal counsel, who is currently “out of the country,” and that she does not have the authority to intervene in the issue.

 Little Boy Blue by Kim Kavin You can read more about Ms. Beach and her efforts to reform the Person County Pound in Kim Kavin’s book Little Boy Blue.

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Person County pound stacks the deck against pets from “rabies alert areas”

Person County pound dog from rabies alert areaPerson County pound dog from rabies alert areaPerson County pound dog from rabies alert area

The Person County pound kills all pets that come from “rabies alert areas,”  after their hold periods are up, unless the pets are reclaimed by owners. The Person County pound will not release pets from “rabies alert areas” to rescue groups. The dogs pictured above were picked up last week (two on Thursday April 11 and one on Friday April 12) in a rabies alert area. They are scheduled to be killed  Wednesday April 17, yet their photos were first posted online less than 24 hours before they were schedule to to be killed.

Contact the Person County Commissioners and let them know they need to eliminate the unnecessary death sentence on all pets from rabies alert areas. Contact information is here:http://www.personcounty.net/index.aspx?page=187. You may also email County Manager Heidi York at hyork@personcounty.net, and pound manager Ron Shaw at rshaw@personcounty.net.

UPDATE: Thanks to Tam, who posed a response from Person County Manager Heidi York in the comments. Ms. York wrote: “Actually we are in the process of changing our rabies policy which would change this very issue. This will be taken before the Board of Commissioners to adopt our new proposed policy on May 6th.”

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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.)

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Sampson pound gets grant to stop using gas chamber

The Sampson County commission voted to accept $16,000 in grant money for its animal shelter this week , including $7,000 from the Humane Society of the United States to “phase out” the use of its gas chamber. The rest of the grant money is from the Petfinder Foundation to fund kennel cough  and FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia) vaccine programs.

The terms of the HSUS grant stipulate that the county must “phase out the use of the gas chamber in six months from receipt of the $7,000.” Any surplus funds are to be used for shelter repair or upgrades or “animal enrichment.” Previous Interim Director Lori Baxter had announced last June on the pound’s Facebook page that she was applying for a grant to “bury” the gas chamber, but there doesn’t appear to be any stipulation in the HSUS grant about dismantling or removing the gas chamber so that it can’t be used again at some future time.

This is an important step because the Sampson gas chamber had been taken out of service previously after many problems with faulty seals and leakage. The issues became widely known in 2004 following an incident in which four puppies who did not die after being put into the leaky gas chamber were  adopted by Teresa Stewart of  Roseboro, who had no idea they had been gassed. All four puppies subsequently died, and the truth came out after Stewart complained publicly.

The gas chamber was taken out of service, but after a new pound was built, the gas chamber was moved there and put back into service by Assistant County Manager Susan Holder, who was then serving as interim shelter director.

There have been several recent announcements regarding county pound gas chambers in NC. The Johnston County pound announced in December that they will reduce gas chamber use, reserving it for “vicious” animals.

The Vance County pound is reportedly eliminating the use of their gas chamber. According to an email newsletter sent to certain rescue groups by HSUS NC director Kim Alboum, Vance County “made the commitment to eliminate the use of the gas chamber as a form of euthanasia.” She doesn’t mention that they received a grant, but a Facebook post by the Vance County SPCA reports that they did. (Commenters on that post claim that the chamber will be retained for use on wildlife.)

The Person County pound, which had stopped most use of its gas chamber in October, removed it from the premises last week, according to a news article cited by the NC Shelter Rescue Blog. Person County Manager Heidi York said the unit was removed “to assure the public that it is no longer in use.”

The demise of the Person County Gas chamber came about partly because of public pressure. Person pound director Ron Shaw was quoted on CNN as saying “The gas chamber’s not cruel, but animal activists don’t agree with it. And I’m fed up with dealing with it.”

The pressure needs to continue until the other gas chambers are dismantled and removed. Advocates can email Johnston County Manager Rick HesterSampson County Manager Ed Causey and Vance County Manager Jerry L. Ayscue and ask them to completely remove the gas chambers from their pounds.

Advocates can also email Person County Manager Heidi York to thank her for getting rid of the gas chamber and ask her to continue the path toward progress and civilized treatment of animals by encouraging shelter staff to implement the  lifesaving programs of the No Kill Equation.

In other Sampson County news, new pound director Alan Canady started work this week. One change he may consider is actually opening the facility during hours that are favorable to increasing adoptions.  “There are certain processes that we can do where we can possibly open earlier and maybe stay open a little bit later,” he said. The shelter’s current hours, established by Canady’s predecessor Lori Baxter, are 1-4 pm weekdays.

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January 10, 2013 · 10:22 pm

Person County announces early end to gas chamber

Person County sent out a news release announcing that they have officially ended the use of the gas chamber at the county pound, nine months ahead of their projected “phase out” date of July 2013.

Person County Manager Heidi York had said previously that they would still be using the gas chamber for “very sick wildlife and overly vicious animals.”

Ending the barbaric use of the gas chamber is a laudable step, but the fact remains that Person County pound staff are still killing healthy and treatable pets. So when you contact County Manager Heidi York or pound Director Ron Shaw to thank them for making shelter pets’ deaths less brutal, please be sure to let them know that the No Kill Equation is a cost-effective way to end the needless killing.

Person County has also changed the department’s name from Animal Control to Animal Services, and will soon be participating in a spay/neuter matching grant program.

PCAS has taken another positive step by now posting its outcome statistics online. Although the 2012 ones are rather depressing, especially the part where they killed 115 kittens and 21 puppies simply because they were unweaned, and killed 104 cats and dogs just because they were picked up in a “rabies alert area.”

I have put these stats into a spreadsheet and calculated the rates: cat kill rate so far in 2012 is a horrible 91.8 percent, which is worse than last year’s 89.4 percent; dog kill rate is 38.14 percent, down slightly from last year’s 46.84%; overall kill rate is 67.43 percent, which is almost exactly the same as 2011 (67.71 percent.).

I pulled out two particular numbers because I find them rather revealing: the dog adoption rate is almost 13 percent, while the transfer-to-rescue rate is almost 37 percent. Most of the dogs who are getting out alive can thank rescue groups, who used to have to fight for access. Rhonda Beach of  Chance’s Angel Rescue & Education told Kim Kavin, author of Little Boy Blue: A Puppy’s Rescue from Death Row and His Owner’s Journey for Truth that when she first tried to save dogs from the Person County pound’s gas chamber she was unceremoniously turned away. “I had to fight for two years to get the right to go in and save a lot of dogs who were very adoptable,” Beach said.

But PCAS has begun making efforts toward increasing adoptions as well, using its Facebook page to promote adoptable pets and to post newly arrived animals in hopes of increasing owner reclaims. They have also started holding offsite adoption events at Tractor Supply.

I’m not sure what pastry carries the message “Thanks for becoming less crappy,” (cinnamon rolls, perhaps?) but if you decide to take some to PCAS, please remember to include copies of “No Kill 101,” “Dollars and Sense” and the Cliff Notes version of Redemption. They have moved forward because of pressure from the animal loving public. Why not keep them going in the right direction?

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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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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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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

Person County updates: gas chamber to be “phased out,” pound employee reassigned

Person County Manager Heidi York announced plans to phase out the gas chamber between now and July 2013 according to an article in the Roxboro Courier-Times (print edition only). This is definitely a step in the right direction, because the gas chamber is barbaric by any standards. of course the shelter will still kill pets, of course (67 percent of those who come in, if their 2011 numbers are any indication of future rates), but after the phase-out all but “very sick wildlife and overly vicious animals” will die by lethal injection.

The employee involved in the case of Justice the shih tzu has been reassigned to another county job and will no longer work at the Person County pound.*

According to a source who has spoken to Heidi York, Ms. York has invited the Humane Society of the United States to meet with her with the goal of improving relations with rescues and community. HSUS is the same group that bestowed awards on two of NC’s highest-killing, gas chamber pounds, so it’s likely they’ll come in, give the old thumbs up and shake a few hands. Animal advocates who would like to urge Ms. York to consider the No Kill Equation or perhaps invite someone like Nathan Winograd to visit can reach her at hyork@personcounty.net or (336) 597-1720.

*Because the person in question has been removed from working at the Person County pound, I have chosen not to continue publishing her name and have removed it from previous posts and comments. That will not, of course, remove it from public record or the rest of the internet, and anyone who wants to find it will. Many will disagree with this decision, but the purpose of FixNC is to make shelters safe places for pets in need, not to promote vindictiveness against people.

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Person County enlists “Dr. Death” to clear pound worker of wrongdoing

In a move that might look to an honest person like blatant cronyism, corruption and conflict of interest, Person County has enlisted a man who has profited for years from a paying contract with its pound to rule on whether or not a  pound employee was guilty of animal cruelty in the death of a shih tzu last month, according to an article in the Roxboro Courier-Times (online access is subscriber only).

Person County Manager Heidi York artfully referred to Ralph Houser as “a veterinarian who investigates shelters all over the state to ensure compliance with laws and regulations,” trying to make him sound like an impartial third party. In fact, he is anything but. Houser has  benefited from a paid contract with the Person County pound for years.

Houser, often referred to as “Dr. Death” by animal advocates, has made his living  by manufacturing  and selling  gas chambers to animal shelters across North Carolina through his company North Carolina Veterinary Consulting. In fact, The Person County pound bought its gas chamber from Houser.  Houser also makes a living holding workshops where participants get to learn killing techniques by practicing on actual shelter pets.

To conduct his “investigation,” Houser looked at some “documents and photographs,’ which were apparently all that was necessary for him to declare that “no inhumane actions or violations of law or policy” took place on the part of  the pound worker.* Houser declared the photograph taken by rescuer Jen Whaley to be “obviously staged,”  but neither the nature of his expertise on photography nor the basis of this declaration are explained in the article (which also misspells Whaley’s name on every reference).

Justice

The image on the right is the one that Ralph “Dr. Death” Houser, expert on killing animals in gas chambers, has called “obviously staged” (without elaborating on exactly what is supposedly so obvious, or the basis of his expertise on such matters).

What’s more, the man who makes his living promoting the gasping, torturous death of shelter pets in gas chambers declared “Washing off diarrhea and vomitus is standard policy in a veterinary hospital.” Never mind that the Person County pound is not a veterinary hospital, no veterinarian was present and the pound staff had no plans to provide veterinary care to the dog. Staff members had called Jen Whaley because they knew that was the only way the dog would get veterinary care.

Here is Jen Whaley’s account, from comments on the previous post:

When I came in I went straight to the back to get him. I immediately went to ask Sonya for towels. Then we both walked to the back, picked up the dog and I went to [the employee]‘s office to confront her. Then went to Ron’s office. The dog was soaked … [the employee] stated she hosed him down with the kennel hose. He was drenched from head to toe.

As it turned out, “Justice” the shih tzu he died  died the next day despite efforts to save him.

According to the Courier-Times article, Ms. York said she is “looking at some opportunities” to transfer [the employee] out of the pound because of a “physical condition.”

Using the barbaric gas chamber the Person County pound  exterminated 67 percent of the pets it took in last year.

More on the sordid career of Ralph Houser can be found here and here.

NOTE ON COMMENTS: I am removing, editing or not approving comments that make threats or call for retribution on anyone. The purpose of FixNC is not to exact retribution on individuals, it’s to reform the shelters of North Carolina and make them safe places for pets who need homes. Yes, some people should be fired, in shelters all over the state. Lots of them, actually. But to call for harm to another person is unacceptable and does nothing to protect the shelter pets in North

*UPDATE: Because the person in question has been removed from working at the Person County pound, I have chosen not to continue publishing her name and have removed it from previous posts and comments (in most cases it has been replaced by [the employee] or [employee]). That will not, of course, remove it from public record or the rest of the internet, and anyone who wants to find it will. Many will disagree with this decision, but the purpose of FixNC is to make shelters safe places for pets in need, not to promote vindictiveness against people.

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Filed under gas chamber, Person County