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Animal advocates call for Wake Pound director’s resignation over killing of “rescued” cats

When more than 90 cats were taken from the home of Raleigh resident Carol De Olloqui earlier this month, Wake County pound director Julie Federico, DVM, decided to kill 60 of them. Now animal advocates are calling for her resignation.

Dr. Federico said the cats were suffering from upper respiratory disease, and several were emaciated and dehydrated, had ringworm and/or nails grown into their feet. All of these conditions are treatable, as Dr. Federico, a veterinarian, should know. But instead of sheltering them, Dr. Federico killed them.

In their petition, the advocates point out several other factors that they believe were not taken into account before the mass cat killing:

  • Ms. De Olloqui was physically restrained and not allowed to provide veterinary documentation to support each animal
  • Four of Ms. De Olloqui’s personal cats were destroyed
  • Four of the cats present on the property at the time of the raid were being held as a courtesy for an owner that recently lost her home in a fire
  • Several of the cats euthanized were under various area veterinarians’ care. The veterinarians were available but not allowed to present any documentation at the time of the raid
  • Several of the cats euthanized were the property of other rescues
  • Calvin’s Paws Rescue and many other rescue fosters were in route to Ms. De Olloqui’s home to retrieve animals and provide them with shelter but were turned away. Many are approved partners of Wake County Animal Shelter.
  • Ms. De Olloqui granted access to Dr. Frederico and her team into the home of her own accord
  • Calvin’s Paws Rescue is an approved partner of the Wake County Animal Shelter

Dr. Federico deflected the blame for her pound’s killing of the cats onto Ms. De Olloqui. But while Ms De Olloqui almost definitely had more cats in her home than she could properly care for, those cats were alive when Federico took them, which means they all had a chance at health and a home where they were loved. Dr. Federico took away any chance of that by choosing to kill them.

Killing is the ultimate form of violence. While cruelty and suffering are abhorrent, while cruelty and suffering are painful, while cruelty and suffering should be condemned and rooted out, there is nothing worse than death, because death is final. An animal subjected to pain and suffering can be rescued. A traumatized animal subjected to savage cruelty can even be rehabilitated, as the dog fighting case against football player Michael Vick demonstrates. Dogs who the Humane Society of the United States lobbied to have killed because they claimed they were dangerous as a result of the abuse went on to loving, new homes and some even became therapy dogs, bringing comfort to cancer patients. Where there is life, there is hope, but death is hope’s total antithesis. It is the eclipse of hope because the animals never wake up, ever. It is the worst of the worst–a fact each and every one of us would immediately and unequivocally recognize if we were the ones being threatened with it.” ~Nathan Winograd, “Animal Lovers Need Not Apply.”

This is not the first time Dr. Federico has been quick to choose death for a pet who had other options. Almost a year ago, Danielle Miller says Wake pound staff assured her they would find a home for her dog Tucker. Instead, they killed him 45 minutes after his arrival, despite having told her in two previous phone calls that Tucker was doing just fine. “I told them I was coming back to get him, and they said, ‘Don’t bother. He’s already dead.’ I said there must be some mistake.”

Dr. Federico said the 45 minutes Tucker was given to “chill out” in his scary and strange new environment was actually longer than she and her staff usually give pets before deciding to end their lives.

Also during Dr. Federico’s watch: earlier this year a volunteer who had previously been a full-time employee was charged with molesting at least four dogs at the pound after he reportedly went to a website that features bestiality and posted at least three photos of himself  having sex with dogs.
Previous Wake pound director Dennis McMichael resigned after three months on the job amid controversy, including the killing of a TV station’s Pet of the Day on the same day the dog, Sassy, appeared on the newscast.

Wake County pound staff killed almost 50% of the dogs and cats who came into during 2012.

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Stepping up to help pets at Montgomery County pound

After WRAL aired a piece last week on the astoundingly high kill rate at the Montgomery County pound, the reaction of many people was “how can I help?” I got several emails from people, including Jared Milrad, who wants to help the Montgomery County Humane Society (which does NOT run the county pound) build an adoption center adjacent to the pound. I sent him some contact info for the MCHS, and now he’s launched a Causes.com page to help raise money.*

According to his page, the MCHS needs another $7,000 to build a modern adoption center on county land. Such a center would be a great step toward reducing the killing at the  Montgomery County pound, which seems to be a rather depressing  place for prospective adopters to visit and doesn’t even have regular adoption hours. A clean, welcoming environment where families can meet the pets (and which one hopes will be open some evenings and weekends when working people can get there) may inspire many local folks to adopt, donate, volunteer and otherwise become active in caring for their community’s homeless pets.

*Contact information for the MCHS in on their Petfinder page, if you have questions or would like to do due diligence.

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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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What is FixNC?

FixNC is dedicated to ending the killing of adoptable and treatable pets in North Carolina’s pounds and shelters, and to improving the level of animal care and humane treatment in those facilities. Part of our mission is to raise public awareness in NC of successful programs elsewhere to increase shelter’s live outcomes, and to get communities involved in  chnanging their local shelters for the better.

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