Tag Archives: Animal Welfare

Commercial breeder bill needs last-minute push

NC puppymill Boston terrier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Legislation, NC county/municipal pounds

Johnston County to sort of maybe kind of end use of gas chamber

The Raleigh News and Observer reported today that Johnston County pound employees will begin using lethal injection instead of the gas chamber for most of the killing they do beginning in 2013. However, pound director Ernie Wilkinson insists on keeping the gas chamber active for use on “vicious” animals. The article did not say who will decide which animals are “vicious” or what criteria they will use to make that determination.

According to the article, Wilkinson doesn’t get why people care how he kills animals and “wishes people would focus instead on helping shelters fight pet overpopulation through spaying and neutering education.” Johnston County does not participate in the state’s spay/neuter program.

The Johnston County pound killed 4,850, or 75.36 percent, of the dogs and cats that came in during 2011.

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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

Surry animal advocates hope abused, abandoned dogs are safe in the pound

A Surry County animal control officer  took custody last week of  two severely injured pit bulls*, found tethered with heavy logging chains behind a vacant business in Mt. Airy. The two reportedly are receiving care at the Surry County pound. One of the dogs had a lip hanging off of his muzzle and the other had a broken leg. According to a local rescuer, there was blood splattered over the surrounding area.

The news report doesn’t say what treatment the dogs have received at the Surry County Pound or what their current condition is.

One Surry animal advocate asked me: “I wonder if these two boys will be the first pits to leave that shelter alive?” According to records obtained from Surry County as a result of a public records request, 17 “pit bulls” left the shelter alive between Jan. 1 and Oct 23, 2012: three were “released to owner” and 14 were “returned to owner.” (I have no idea what the difference is.) Of the 14 dogs released to rescue and 111 dogs adopted from the Surry pound during that time period, none were identified as “pit bulls.” (Not that animal control officers or shelter workers are actually are any good at identifying actual pit bulls when they see them, because they typically are not.)

The Surry County pound had a kill rate of almost 91% in 2011. Between Jan 1 and Oct. 23, 2012, the overall kill rate was just under 89%.

*I’m only calling them pit bulls because the news report does. One looks reasonably pit bull-esque, but the other looks more like an American bulldog, Rhodesian ridgeback or boxer mix.

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Job Opening: Sampson County Animal Control Director

The following ad appeared in the Sampson Independent on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012:

Sampson County, NC, Animal Shelter Director

POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT
ANIMAL SHELTER DIRECTOR
Applications are now being accepted for the position of Animal Shelter Director. Responsible for the management of the county’s animal shelter operations, including, but not limited to ensuring shelter meets state regulatory standards with regard to humane housing and euthanasia; supervising animal control department staff; preparing and maintaining departmental budget and accurate records and reports; developing and overseeing volunteer, adoption and other public education programs. Applicants must have knowledge of the principles and practices of managing an animal facility with preference given to candidates with knowledge of veterinary best practices and those holding valid, current euthanasia certificate. Must be able to deal tactfully with the general public, cooperate effectively with other agencies, including law enforcement, and effectively manage staff and volunteers. Applicant should have high school diploma supplemented by 1 to 2 years experience involving contact with animals, or any equivalent combination of education and experience providing knowledge of laws and ordinances related to humane animal control, collection and care. Managerial and budgetary administration experience is desired. Possession of a valid NC driver’s license is required. Salary range $32,244- $48,348. Sampson County offers a complete benefit package, which includes County paid health and dental insurance, annual and sick leave, retirement and 401K County contributions. County application forms available at Employment Security Commission or online at http://www.sampsonnc.com. Submit completed application and/or resume to: Sampson County Manager’s Office, Att: Susan J. Holder, 406 County Complex Road, Clinton, NC 28328 by November 26, 2012.
SAMPSON COUNTY IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION EMPLOYER.

The position is not, however, listed on the county’s website:
Sampson County NC seeks Animal Control Director 11/11/2012

Local observers have told me they believe the job description was written to fit Lori Baxter’s experience and that the decision to leave it off of the county’s website was to limit the number of applicants.

So with that in mind, please share this job opening far and wide among all the No Kill advocates you know.

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Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Sampson County

Dalmation sits in Pender County pound for two weeks with a broken hip

Dalmation with broken hip in Pender County pound

This boy came into the Pender County pound on Sept. 27, 2012. He was pulled on Oct. 10 by a rescuer, who immediately noticed something wrong: He had a broken hip.

On Sept 27, 2012, a Dalmation came into the Pender County pound. He was there almost two weeks, until Oct. 10, when he was pulled by a Dalmation breed rescue group, who immediately discovered that he had a broken hip. He had surgery to correct it on Oct. 16.

Dalmationwith broken hip from Pender County pound

The Dalmation after his rescue from the Pender County pound, lying on something cushy.

A pound employee told rescuers that she walked the dog and didn’t see any problem. Sources close to the pound say employees never walk the dogs, however. “The only time those dogs get walked is when they are taking them to the incinerator,” one source said.

The incinerator is where they kill animals.  The kill process at Pender County pound has been described to me like this: the animals are taken out to the incinerator, which is in a fenced area behind the pound. The pets are injected on a table right in front of the incinerator and then rolled into it. One person close to the pound told me: “I’m sure not every animal going into that incinerator is already dead.”

The purchase of the incinerator last year was opposed by one county commissioner, Jimmy Tate, who said he was afraid it may speed up killing at the pound. He was right.

The fencing that is now around the incinerator had originally been donated by a volunteer to make a place where adopters could go spend time with animals one-on-one. But when Lt. Keith Ramsey, the pound director, got his new incinerator, he dismantled the adoption area so he could put the fencing around his new toy. In other words, he took materials that had been donated to get more animals out of that pound alive and repurposed them to make killing animals and burning their corpses easier and quicker. Oh, but Ramsey just hates the idea of killing any animal and calls it “an unfortunate part of the job.” (And completely unnecessary.)

As for injured and sick animals, the Dalmation is not the first one not to receive necessary veterinary attention at that pound. (NC Animal Welfare Administrative Code.) On Oct 3, 2012, I had posted about a hound with an injured nose who received no care while at the pound, and instead of being released to a rescue that had planned to take him to a vet was given to a man who said he was going to tie the dog to his porch.

I had sent an open records request via email on Sept. 26 for “all records (intake details, records of vet care given while in shelter custody, including vaccinations, and adoption or other outcome details) pertaining to a hound or hound-looking mix with a severely injured nose that was adopted out of the PenderCounty shelter on Friday, Sept. 21.”

Several days after publishing the post about the dog, I received a response, postmarked Oct. 3–the day the post was published. All the materials inside were dated Sept. 27, however. The packet also contained documents I did not request: statements by pound workers Darlene Clewis and Danielle Miller that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the hound.  If the statements hadn’t been dated Sept. 27 I would swear they were written specifically in response to the blog post.

Statement by Darlene ClewisStatement by Danielle Miller

Duke the boxer mix came in to the pound on March 24, 2012. On Saturday April 14, a volunteer noticed that he had become sick and had bloody diarrhea consistent with parvo. Pound staffer Danielle Miller told the volunteer that Duke had been sick all week  and that they were de-worming him.

Duke at Pender County Animal Shelter

The volunteer rushed Duke to a veterinarian. He had a very advanced case of parvovirus. Duke received treatment at the volunteer’s expense, survived and is now in a new home.

On August 24, 2012, a little cattle dog pup was pulled by a rescuer, who discovered the dog had been sitting on the concrete at the pound with a broken leg, receiving no care.

Cattle dog pulled from Pender County pound with a broken leg

On Sept 15, 2012, a rescuer visited the pound only to discover a litter of puppies so full of worms that the rescuer didn’t think they would survive. They had been in the Pender County pound for a week.

Wormy puppies pulled from Pender County Animal ShelterWormy puppies pulled from Pender County Animal ShelterWormy puppies pulled from Pender County Animal Shelter

It’s almost a given that, without fundraising to supplement their budgets,  public pounds in rural places like Pender don’t have the money to pay for much veterinary care. That’s why it’s so important for them to partner with rescue groups who will get the animals out of the pound to the care they need. But in NONE of the cases above were rescuers called by pound employees and asked to pull animals who needed vet attention. Instead, rescuers went to the pound on their own initiative and discovered the sick or injured animals sitting there without care (or with improper care, as in Duke’s case).

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Pender County Pound: Where is this dog?

Injured hound at Pender County animal shelter

This hound (name unknown) was reportedly given no veterinary care for a very obvious nose injury while in the Pender County pound. Pound employees reportedly gave him away with no adoption papers on Friday, Sept. 21. The dog’s whereabouts are currently unknown.

During the week of Sept. 21, 2012, a hound with a very obvious nose injury resided at the Pender County animal shelter. The dog reportedly received no veterinary examinations or care for the injury during its stay at the pound, in violation of the NC animal welfare administrative code.

Several rescuers became interested in helping the dog get to safety and receive necessary vet care, and the Pender County pound staff was notified that a rescuer wished to pull him. In full knowledge that the dog had a safe place to go and guaranteed vet care waiting, pound worker (and former director) Darlene Clewis gave him to a man who came to the shelter on Friday. According to a source (who I am choosing not to identify), no paperwork, signatures, fees or any other transaction took place, and when the man was asked what he planned to do with the dog, he said he was going to tie him to his porch.

According to the source, a concerned rescuer asked for the adopter’s contact information so she could make sure that the dog’s severe nose injury was examined by a veterinarian. Clewis  reportedly could not recall the adopter’s name, despite claiming that she knew him and that he was a frequent volunteer at the pound. Clewis reportedly told the rescuer that she would follow up with the man on Monday (Sept. 24).

On Monday, after repeated calls by the rescuer to check on the dog, Clewis reportedly said the man had come by the pound to report that the dog had gotten loose and was nowhere to be found.

I have filed an open records request for this dog’s records, but I hold little expectation that it will be fulfilled without further pressure or legal action. Sources tell me that “off the books” adoptions and other book-cooking are the norm at the Pender County pound.

The Pender County pound reported a 36 percent kill rate for 2011, but this number is most likely a complete fiction. (NCDA&CS does not audit the numbers reported by pounds for veracity. They could all be complete fictions, but some are more obvious lies than others.)

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Is it ethical to fly shelter pets from one high-kill zone to another for adoption?

Last Saturday, the Suncoast Animal League in Palm Harbor, FL flew 20 dogs from North Carolina and South Carolina to Tampa to adopt out as part of a Pilots N Paws rescue event.

The first thing I thought when I read this was “Wait a minute, Florida’s kill rate is not much better than in the Carolinas, right?”

Don’t get me wrong–I am very happy that these dogs have found homes, as I’m sure are the people who are working hard to get them out of the NC and SC pounds. But what about the pets being killed in the pounds around Palm Harbor? I know that No Kill is growing in Florida, but to my knowledge, it hasn’t been achieved there yet.

So I turned to the Google. Palm Harbor is in Pinellas County. In 2011, Pinellas County Animal Services killed 55 percent of the animals that came in. Just to the west of Palm Harbor is Hillsborough County, where their animal services agency killed 49 percent of the animals that came in during 2011. (Or 64 percent if you are looking at the animal control statistics. I’m not sure what the difference is.) Just to the north of Palm Harbor is Pasco County, where 59 percent of the shelter animals animals were killed in 2011.

Why is Suncoast Animal League flying dogs in instead of saving the ones that are being killed right under their noses? The news article mentions that all of the dogs were small breeds or small mixes such as Chihuahuas, poodles, Pomeranians, min pins and spaniel mixes. Generally, small dogs are considered easier to adopt by shelters and rescues than large dogs.

Now I won’t go so far as to say that Suncoast is passing up the local animals because they prefer easier-to-adopt ones (mostly because I know saying so would fill my comment queue with vitrioloic, misspelled “get your facts straight” comments), but it does make me go “hmmm …”

I know that many shelter pets from the Carolinas only get out alive thanks to rescues who fly or drive them north … often to places where the local shelters also kill lots of pets. I certainly would not wish death on the transported pets instead of the life they are getting, but I can’t help but wonder if the pets in the destination communities are dying in their place.

So I guess this is an invitation to comment (maybe not angrily, please) on the ethics of shipping pets from one kill community to another. What do you think?

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“Shelters in NC are not doing the job entrusted to them”

 

Nathan Winograd posted to his Facebook page yesterday  an infographic debunking pet overpopulation that stimulated a lot of debate and questions. The whole exchange is worth reading (particularly if you have questions or doubts about No Kill), but I thought Nathan did a great job of replying to one comment in particular.

Commenter:

Trying to get behind this — but hard to here in NC when I have 7 dogs at my house alone. I’d be happy to drive a couple of them somewhere where there aren’t enough dogs.

Nathan’s reply:

You have seven dogs because shelters in NC are not doing the job entrusted to them. They are killing in the face of lifesaving alternatives. They are causing unbelievable torture by gassing them. Many of them, like Davidson County, do not even try. In fact, they want to kill, putting cats and kittens in the gas chamber with raccoons in order to sadistically watch them fight (while laughing) before turning on the gas. And you have a Dept. of Ag which has declared war on rescue groups with the blessing of the pro-kill Humane Society of the United States office there, limiting the amount of animals who can be rescued from those “shelters.” That is a very different problem.

(Thanks so much to Alison for alerting me to the comments! Also, I hope Nathan Winograd doesn’t mind that I feel I’m on a first-name basis with him even though we have never met!)

 

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Filed under gas chamber, HSUS, NC county/municipal pounds, No Kill

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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