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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Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Pender County

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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Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Pender County