Tag Archives: Animal shelter

Burlington Animal Services Oops-Kills Dog who had Adopter Waiting

A pit bull mix who had been held at Burlington Animal Services for six days, while a family who wanted to adopt him called repeatedly to ask about him, was oops-killed by a pound employee on Jan. 15. Brand-new pound director Jessica Arias, who started the job last month with “big ideas and hopes to improve the lives of animals here,” said that the oops-kill was caused by an employee who didn’t follow policies and that the policies would be reviewed.

The pit-bull, Si, didn’t even need to be in the Burlington pound to begin with. On Jan. 6 he had shown upon the porch of the Lassiters, the family who desperately wanted to adopt him, soaking wet and covered in what looked like paintball paint. The Lassiters took him in,  and Si fit right in with their dogs and kids. The Lassiters posted lost dog notices but no owner came forward.

Three days later, Si wandered from their yard, but Michelle Lassiter quickly discovered him inside an animal control truck parked by her neighbors’ house. She asked the officer if she could have Si back and he refused, taking poor Si to the pound.

Alamance Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Hoover said it’s their policy to take found and stray dogs to the shelter to allow original owners to find them. But state law says that it’s perfectly OK for pounds to allow pets to serve their stray holds in the home of the person who found them:

 G.S. 19A-23 Section 2 (d) (d)   During the minimum holding period, an animal shelter may place an animal it is holding into foster care by transferring possession of the animal to an approved foster care provider, an approved rescue organization, or the person who found the animal. If an animal shelter transfers possession of an animal under this subsection, at least one photograph depicting the head and face of the animal shall be displayed at the shelter in a conspicuous location that is available to the general public during hours of operation, and that photograph shall remain posted until the animal is disposed of as provided in subsection (f) of this section.

So Si could have stayed in his comfortable, loving home, the pound could have posted his photo in case his previous owners came looking, and Si could now be still alive.

Instead, Si was taken to one place where animals are least safe in Alamance County: Burlington Animal Services, which killed 72.53% of the dogs and cats who came in during 2012 (up from 70.9% in 2011). So basically, it’s a killing facility.

When Michelle Lassiter finally tracked Si down at the Burlington killing facility, staff were rude and seemed lacking in compassion, she said. And even though she had been denied the right to keep Si because he wasn’t officially her dog, they now told her that the family could only have him if she pay the standard $25 impound fee plus $5 for each additional day he was imprisoned. When the Lassiters were ready to pay that, staff then said Si couldn’t be released without documentation of his rabies shot or payment of a $50 fine.

The Lassiters were given another three days. Their family vet agreed to vaccinate Si at a reduced rate. In the meantime, Lassiter was busy acquiring kennels and dog beds for Si.

She called Wednesday to make sure there wasn’t anything else she needed to do before they picked him up and was told Si had been put down earlier that day.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the staff of Burlington Animal “Services” were bound and determined to prevent Si from leaving alive. Oh, but nobody wants to kill animals …

BAS is the same pound where, more than a year ago, staff killed a cat who had an adopter literally begging to save him.

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Filed under "Nobody WANTS to kill animals ...", Alamance County, Burlington Animal Services

Randolph County officials love gas chamber so much they return HSUS grant

In December 2011, Randolph County accepted a $3,000 grant from HSUS that included a stipulation that the gas chamber be phased out as a means of killing pets in the county pound. More than two years later, however, Randolph has neglected to actually phase out the gas chamber. Johnston County, which also accepted a grant at the same time as Randolph, removed their gas chamber about a year ago.

When HSUS asked  the county to either honor its commitment to phase out the barbaric killing machine or give back the grant money, pound officials chose to give back the grant.

Since 2011, twelve NC counties have ended the use of gas chambers to kill shelter pets. Twenty three states have passed laws against gas chamber killing.

There is no progressive sheltering agency of any scope or stature willing to philosophically embrace CO systems for euthanasia of any dog or cat. Humane sheltering is deliberately, inexorably, and philosophically moving away from mass killing as an acceptable method of dog and cat population control. ~Dr. Michael R. Moyer, V.M.D.

Animal advocates may contact MiMi Cooper, the official who oversees operations at the Randolph County pound, at MMCooper@co.randolph.nc.us. Contact information for Randolph County commissioners, who could, if they wished, decide to mandate removal of the county’s gas chamber, can be found here.

Inspiration for  letters may be found here and  here, and this sample letter may be used as a template.

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Lincoln County commissioners vote to adopt no-kill policy; Rowan activists protest gas chamber

Lincoln County took a step forward Monday when commissioners voted unanimously to adopt a No Kill policy at the county shelter.

According to a report in the Charlotte Observer, the initiative to push Lincoln County to adopt the programs of the No Kill Equation was led by a group of animal advocates who say they have committed more than 1,000 volunteer hours to the effort. The county will seek donations, grants and sponsorships to fund the initiative.

If Lincoln County succeeds it will be the second No Kill community in North Carolina. North Carolina has a very successful No Kill community in Polk County. The Foothills Humane Society, which holds the animal control contract for Polk County (and parts of northern Greenville and Spartanburg counties of South Carolina), had a 98.95% save rate in 2012, up from 96.55% in 2011. The Lincoln County shelter had dog and cat kill rates of 55.23% in 2012 and 52.93% in 2011.

In Rowan County Monday, dozens of animal advocates demonstrated against the use of of carbon monoxide to kill the county’s shelter pets. Advocates also presented a petition with more than 9,000 signatures to county commissioners and spoke during the public comment period of the commissioners’meeting. The Rowan County pound had a dog and cat kill rate of 47.81% in 2012, which was significantly lower than the 2011 kill rate of 76.47%.

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Demolish the Iredell County Gas Chamber!

Iredell County officials are hoping that new pound manager Brad Gates, will improve the “image” of Iredell’s high-kill gas chamber pound. Gates was previously director of the high-kill, gas chamber pound in Alexander County, which failed its most recent inspection during Gates’ tenure as director.  Gates was hired to run the pound after former director Chris Royal resigned amid suspicion of wrongdoing.

Here’s an idea, Iredell leaders: How about actually improving your county’s pound to turn it into a bona fide shelter that protects the lives of animals? First step: DEMOLISH THE GAS CHAMBER! Next step: end the killing of healthy and treatable pets altogether by adopting the cost-effectiveproven programs for lifesaving successMore than 171 (and counting!) communities across the US are doing it. It’s time to add Iredell County, NC, to that list.

Animal advocates may contact Iredell County leaders using the contact information below and respectfully ask them to make REAL improvements at their county pound:

County Manager: Ron Smith, rsmith@co.iredell.nc.us, 200 S. Center St., Statesville, NC 28677, 704-878-3050

Commissioners:

Iredell County Animal Services and Control 2012 Statistics

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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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Burlington Animal Services (Alamance County) to end gas chamber use

According to a Humane Society of the United States press release, Burlington Animal Services, which serves the city of Burlington and Alamance County, accepted a grant with a provision that they end all use of the facility’s gas chamber.

The amount of the grant wasn’t mentioned, but previous HSUS grants of this type have been between $7,000 and $10,000. Also not mentioned is any provision for removal of the gas chamber so that it can not be put into service again, but previous grants have stipulated removal within 6 months.

Burlington Animal Services killed 72.53 percent of the dogs and cats that came in during 2012. This is slightly up from the kill rate of 70.90 percent  in 2011.

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Franklin pound director “euthanizes” injured dog with .22 rifle

WRAL reports that Franklin County shelter director Taylor Bartholomew used a .22 caliber rifle to kill an injured Bassett hound in the shelter.

Bartholomew told an NCDA&CS inspector that the Basset hound sustained an injury to the left rear paw during  a fight with another dog who was sharing the same kennel. According to the report:

“The dog wasn’t seen by Veterinarian at that time because the wound didn’t appear to be severe. The shelter staff  had been cleaning the wound and applying Blue Lotion. However on  7/25/13 the dog was found to be hurt worse then first realized. The dog was chewing on the paw and the dog appeared to be in severe pain. The dog was not taken Veterinarian and the two ACO’s who are CET’S  who were working out in the field on this day were not notified to return to the shelter. Mr. Bartholomew decided the injuries were to severe and instead of transporting the dog to a Veterinarian or contacting the CET’S he utilized a 22 rifle and dispatched the dog. The dog didn’t survive.”

According to the animal welfare administrative code, killing animals with gunshot is only permitted “under extraordinary circumstances and situations which occur offsite from the shelter.” Bartholomew told the inspector he did not know he was not allowed to shoot animals on shelter property.

The code also states that only “a Certified Euthanasia Technician, Probationary Euthanasia Technician, or a veterinarian licensed to practice veterinary medicine in North Carolina may euthanize an animal in a certified animal shelter.” Bartholomew is not a certified euthanasia technician.

As a result of breaking the law, Bartholomew received a talking-to by the state inspector, possibly in a very stern voice.

Franklin County did not report their 2012 outcome statistics to NCDA&CS (also a violation of the law.) In 2011, 68% of the pets taken in to the Franklin County pound were killed.

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