Monthly Archives: July 2012

Doublespeak in Durham

Thanks to reader Marie for this one. She writes:

This sign was discovered outside the Durham County Animal Shelter.

Please take donated animals to the front door

Sign at the Durham County Animal Shelter (APS of Durham): Please take donated animals to the front door.

Durham County APS has a 70 percent kill rate and they are displaying signs which designate owner surrenders as “donated animals?”

Not long after the original photo was snapped the “donation truck” left the building.

Garbage truck leaving APS of Durham

This is how 68.23% of the animals that come into the Durham County Animal Shelter end up leaving.

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Filed under APS of Durham

Roanoke Valley SPCA may regret banning volunteer over photos

The Roanoke Valley SPCA, an ostensibly No Kill organization, has a contract with four municipalities (City of Roanoke, Roanoke County, Botetourt County and Town of Vinton) to run the Roanoke Valley Regional Center for Animal Control & Protection, an animal pound in Roanoke, VA.  RVSPCA and RCACP, which share an executive director, are both in the same building owned by RVSPCA , which also owns Animal Care Services, the company that runs the daily operations. Last year the RCACP took in 6,438 cats and dogs and killed 3,355, or 52% of them.

“So a No Kill organization owns a company that performs euthanasia on pretty much a daily basis. Kind of misleading isn’t it?” said former volunteer Tina Robertson, who was banned  from the facility two weeks ago after having logged hundreds of volunteer hours there since last November. Ms. Robertson often took photos of cats and kittens in RCACP to  post on Facebook in an attempt to get them adopted.  She believes her banning was because some photos she posted showed the white tags outside the cages listing the reason each animal is to be killed.

RVSPCA cage card

This cage card lists the reason the cat inside is to be killed as “space,” despite the fact that, according to animal advocate ChrisTina Robertson there were approximately 25 empty cages available.

“The reason for euthanasia was space but there were three empty rooms of cages, probably 25 cages empty” Ms. Robertson said.

Two days after the photos were posted to Facebook, RVSPCA volunteer coordinator Ruth Pierce sent Ms. Robertson an email saying “In view of the events this past Saturday, your volunteer privileges have been suspended until further notice.”

Because of the attention brought  by a news story about Ms. Robertson’s banning, RVSPCA’s directors found themselves dodging calls from reporters when they made the news again, this time because Botetourt County decided to pull all of its cats out of RCACP so they wouldn’t be killed for spurious reasons. The future of participation by other municipalities may also come into question.

Then the City of Roanoke announced plans to audit the use of public money between the RVSPCA and the RCACP and the use of town employees to do RVSPCA work. The RCACP is already under a cruelty investigation by the Roanoke Police Department stemming from a June incident, and the localities that fund the pound are now looking closely at the agreement to see if criminal charges or convictions can void the contract.

The June incident that sparked the cruelty investigation involved a pit bull mix named Trinity, who came into the RCACP and was seen by a veterinarian on May 29. That vet said Trinity’s foot would need treatment in the long run, but there was no mention in the May 29 paperwork of any serious injury to the foot. But almost two weeks later, on June 9, another veterinarian saw Trinity and concluded that as a result of an untreated severe bed sore,  the leg could not be saved. “The bone itself had been exposed long enough that it was dying and dissolving.” he said.

This is not the first time RVSPCA cruelty or neglect has come to light. In 2010 a cat named Pumpkin, who had been seized from a home along with 20 other cats, was impounded at the RCACP. She was examined right away by a  community veterinarian who then went over her needs with the staff. Despite the fact that the card on her cage said she needed insulin, she was given none for an entire week at RCACP. Pumpkin went into a  diabetic coma and the RVSPCA vet recommended she be euthanized.

In a transparent attempt to defuse criticism and scrutiny of its operations, the RVSPCA has decided to conduct an internal investigation. The task force carrying out the probe is made up of RVSPCA directors, including board president Barbara Dalhouse and her husband Warner.

Volunteers at pounds across the country are often afraid to speak up about the cruelty, neglect and needless killing they witness because they are afraid it will get them banned and they won’t be able to help the animals. But as Ms. Robertson’s case illustrates, getting banned could open up a brand new hope for the animals stuck in pounds like RCACP by shedding light on an  empire of indifference, neglect and corruption.


Filed under Banning volunteers, Virginia

Down the memory hole in Sampson County

A couple of weeks ago, Lori Baxter, the interim director of the Sampson County pound, vowed to bury that facility’s gas chamber. Well someday, maybe, after she figures out another way to kill the animals. Because if you people don’t come take all the animals out, you will force her to kill them because they are taking up the precious space in her shelter:

Baxter needs space

The other day I visited the Sampson pound’s Facebook page to see how she was doing in the effort to ditch the gas chamber. I didn’t see any celebratory posts, so I went looking for the original note in case the good news was buried in a comment. I couldn’t find it. Just to be sure, I clicked the link in my earlier post.

This Content Is Currently Unavailable

Poof! Vanished is Lori Baxter’s vow to bury the gas chamber.

Good thing I had thought ahead and made a screen shot of it.

A Note from Lori Baxter by Sampson County Animal Shelter on SUnday, 24 June 2012 at 22 :02 Many of you may be surprised that I've agreed to accept this Interim Director position due to the fact that Sampson County Animal Shelter is a gassing fadty. Make no mistake, I am horrfied at the thought and am 150% behind its complete and utter destruction. The chamber itself is part of the reason I accepted this position, so I can get rd of it! The term euthanasia meanS "good death," and the gas chambers method of killin companion animals is hardly a humane form of euthanasia. This is not tolerable on my watch. However, it still exists, for the moment, killing near to 2,000 a year. I have arranged for a grant to bury it, never to have it be used again but it will take a bit of time. It takes time to get a more humane form of euthanasia into place. It takes time to put together a new way of doing things, a better plan, for the safety of the people and the humane treatment of animals. Gassing pets is an abomination in this day and age and WILL be rectfied, if it's the last thing I do. In the meanwhile, I NEED YOUR HELP! I need these animals to go to rescue as quickly as possible to avoid the use of that death chamber. The staff here has been using it for years and as it has been the ONLY resource to make needed space. Its use will go on until l such time as things are in place for it to be buried along with the thousands killed within its walls. This sheiter didn't have a FB page until 2 days ago. There has been virtually no rescue involvement, no networking the animals and very few local adoptions. Basically, animals were brougt here to be gassed. We KNOW there is a better way! I KNOW that together, we CAN make a difference in Sampson County! I have the full support of the County Manager to terminate the use of the gas chamber as soon as we can get things in order. In the meantime,let's show this county what animal rescue is all about!!! Please help network as many as you can! Find fosters and contact rescue groups to get them OUT! Please cross-post far and wide! Tell everyone you know! Interested rescue groups should email to express interest in partnering with Sampson County Animal Sheler. Thank you so much for all you do for the animals! Lori Baxter

Note Posted on Facebook By Lori Baxter on June 24, 2012, and deleted later.

Maybe the note vanished because she achieved the objective. It’s possible. (I mean, how long can it possibly take to get some syringes and Fatal-Plus shipped in?) So I posted to the Facebook page, asking if the gas chamber had been buried yet.

Poof. That went down the memory hole as well.

So, what’s happened to Lori Baxter’s vow to end the gassing of pets “if it’s the last thing I do”? Did she have her fingers crossed behind her back when she wrote that note? Maybe she figured saying “if it’s the last thing I do” gave her until the end of her natural lifetime to complete the task?

Meanwhile, animals are being gassed so that Lori Baxter can have space. Because her dream is to have rows of empty cages …

Lori Baxter sees her job as emptying cages, not saving animals

Lori Baxter sees her job as emptying cages, not saving animals

But judging by her actions as director at the Robeson County pound, she doesn’t care how she gets them. The Robeson pound killed 61 percent of the animals that came in during 2011, with a policy of maintaining half of the kennels empty at all times. Space is so important to Lori Baxter that she routinely chose death for dogs even when there was plenty of room for them to stay in the shelter.


Filed under gas chamber, NC county/municipal pounds, Sampson County

No Kill shelters don’t threaten to kill animals!


If a shelter says you can pay them money not to kill an animal, it is NOT a No Kill shelter! Not only is the Boggs Mountain “Humane Shelter” in northeast Georgia neither “humane” nor an actual “shelter,” it is also apparently a huge scam, extorting money out of animal lovers by promising not to kill animals, and then turning around and killing them anyway.

Investigation exposes humane society ‘Lucky Dog’ program 

Pet owners from hundreds of miles away drive to a small humane society in the north Georgia mountains because they think they’re saving lives, but an undercover Fox5 I-Team investigation found exactly the opposite. For $100, customers could guarantee their dog or cat at the Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter would not be euthanized.The shelter even sent emails announcing when your lucky animal was adopted.

An insider, though, says much of it was a lie.

Anyone can use the term “No Kill” as a tool to pry open pocketbooks, like Boggs Mountain has. But make no mistake: a No Kill shelter is one that doesn’t kill, period (except for the few who are truly untreatable or non-rehabilitatable, usually less than 10%). A No kill shelter NEVER threatens to kill savable animals for any reason.

By criminally manipulating people’s compassion and wishes not to see adoptable animals killed, Boggs Mountain is endangering the lives of shelter pets across the country by casting aspersions on the concept of No Kill.

There is a proven path for lasting No Kill success, currently in use at a growing number of shelters across the US. Extorting money by threatening to kill pets is definitely NOT one of the steps.



Filed under Georgia, No Kill, Things that are NOT No Kill

Surry County up to 10 on Petfinder

Surry County pound’s Petfinder listing is up to an unprecedented 10 dogs! No cats, though. Sorry cats, if you are unlucky enough to get locked up in the Surry pound your chance of getting adopted is less than 4%. But considering that less than a month ago there were ZERO Surry pets on Petfinder, this is a tiny step forward.

Here’s hoping someone will fall in love with one of these lucky 10:

Surry dogs on Petfinder

Dogs available at Surry County Animal Control, Dobson, NC. $100 adoption fee includes spay/neuter at a local participating Veterinarian and age-appropriate vaccinations. For more information regarding the adoption process please email Adoption hours are: Monday – Friday 10:00am – 4:30pm.

I’m thinking that Surry Pound Director Gary Brown should go next door to Alleghany County and ask them how they manage to save 73% of their pets (compared to less than 10% in Surry) with an allocation of $25 per animal (compared to$111.9 in Surry).


Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Surry County

HSUS needs help figuring out how to get animals adopted (and other news from Surry County)

HSUS, the same group that bestowed awards on two of North Carolina’s worst pounds, is riding into Surry County on a white horse in the wake of  recent events.  “The state director of the Humane Society of the United States wants input from county residents on how to improve the number of animals being adopted at the local shelter.”

Here’s a clue: How about ACTUALLY PUTTING THE ANIMALS UP FOR ADOPTION? Because that’s usually the first step. And it’s one that the Surry County pound has had some trouble taking.

The Surry County Pound currently lists 5 dogs and no cats for adoption on its Petfinder page.

July 17, 2012 Surry County Animal Shelter on Petfinder

Today’s Petfinder listing for the Surry County pound.

I know from inspection reports that there are 38 primary enclosures and that at any given time the number of animals in the pound could range from 16-36 dogs and 10-17 cats. I called the Surry pound to ask how many animals are currently in the shelter, and the employee said at first that she didn’t know and that there was really no way for her to come up with a “visual estimate.”

“You mean, you don’t have that sort of thing written down somewhere?” I asked

Then I was told “that’s not a matter of public record.”

Really? the number of pets who are currently incarcerated in a taxpayer-funded animal shelter is “not a matter of public record?” When pressed on the point, the employee admitted that she did not know if she had to give me the information, saying “It’s not our responsibility to tell you.” When pressed further, she said she didn’t know if she is allowed to tell me.

So I asked who could tell me the information, and she told me to call the county commissioners. Sure, of course people who don’t work at the pound would know that information off the top of their heads. OK, so she was BSing me and putting me off … it’s pretty much exactly what I expected.

She did tell me that “the adoption center is full,” and there are 12 cages, and one cage has two puppies in it. So 13 dogs are currently up for adoption. She said they are taking their pictures and putting them on Petfinder “today.”   It would already be done if Surry pound director Gary Brown had not banned volunteer Wendy Willard, who was willing to photograph and promote their pets for free (he also banned photography by all other volunteers.)

Meanwhile, the Surry pound’s open hours for adoptions are Monday-Friday, 10 am-4 pm, when most of the world is at work. So here’s another tip: Open on evenings and weekends when people can bring their families to meet your adoptable pets. Hold offsite adoption events so people can see your pets without having to go to the pound.

Meanwhile, HSUS is having a meeting about “what you can do to improve the lives of animals in the Surry County community.” HSUS NC director Kimberley Alboum said, “Discussion will include techniques to get the community involved with the local animal shelter, and how to advocate for all animals in the community,”

Surry County residents already know “how to get involved” and advocate for animals. They don’t need HSUS to tell them. Willard and other advocates (many of whom maintain a Facebook page called Friends of Surry County Animal Shelter) have demonstrated this already by trying to volunteer at the shelter and publicize the (very few) pets made available for adoption.

But the reality, as demonstrated by the banning of Willard and all volunteer photography, is that Gary Brown doesn’t want anyone advocating for the animals in his animal shelter, which is paid for (as is his salary) with Surry County taxpayer money. Surry animal advocates don’t need the HSUS, what they need is a shelter director who is committed to protecting the shelter pets of Surry County and following a proven blueprint for lifesaving success at shelters across the country.

Meanwhile, Mayberry4Paws, a 150-member non-profit group, spoke to the Surry County Commission yesterday and offered to do the things Gary Brown is unwilling to do increase adoptions and decrease the killing at the Surry Pound. The group’s director, Rachel Hiatt, said M4P is willing to:

  • Organize and assist with adoption events.
  • Post photos of adoptable animals online.
  • Provide financial assistance to help pet owners spay and neuter animals to reduce the unwanted population.
  • Assist with grant writing to cover costs of shelter services.
  • Provide volunteers to help at the shelter.
  • Provide voucher applications to animal control officers for distribution to needy families.

“We stand ready and willing to help,” [Hiatt], looking directly at the board.

“It cost Surry County taxpayers almost a half-million dollars to kill over 4,000 pets in 2011,” Hiatt said, noting that the county doesn’t really need a new shelter currently being planned. “We need new and more effective procedures for running the animal department.”

She pointed out to the board that the definition of “insanity” is “repeating the same behaviors and expecting different outcomes.”

“It is time to change behaviors in the animal control department,” she said. “Please let us work with you to come up with plans for reducing intake and kill numbers and in turn, reduce the budget required for the animal control department.”

The response from county commissioners? “After weeks of remaining mum on the issue … the commissioners urged patience and said they are working on the problem.”

Surry County is a shining stinking example of why we need CAPA.

And hey, by the way, wasn’t the Surry Pound supposed to be reinspected by the NDCA&CS 60 days after it miserably failed an inspection on April 26? That means there should have been an inspection on Monday, June 25, 2012. So add to the fact that our current legislation is inadequate, it’s also poorly enforced.

Meanwhile, over in Pilot Mountain, the police department doesn’t want the strays it finds to end up in the Surry County pound and goes out of its way to keep them out. Here are two guys found on Saturday, currently living at the Pilot Mountain PD until they can find homes for them (vetting assistance available!):

Two fun dogs from Mt. Pilot

Two fun dogs from Mt. Pilot Pilot Mountain await new homes at the PMPD, which doesn’t want to subject them to a questionable fate at the Surry County Pound.

UPDATE! As of 6 pm today the staff of the Surry County Pound has managed to add AN ENTIRE DOG to their Petfinder page. Although, to be fair, he’s a very small dog (DOBBIE, a pomeranian/yorkie mix). At this rate, they will have the 13 current adoptables added on July 29, 2012.

New dog at Surry pound!


Filed under HSUS, NC county/municipal pounds, Surry County

Why North Carolina needs a Companion Animal Protection Act

When people think of animal shelters, they have an idea that animals are killed there, but usually they think it’s only after the shelter staff made a good-faith effort to find the pet a new home. That’s what they do at a shelter, right? Well, not in Montgomery County, NC, where they kill 99% of the pets that come in, making no effort to promote them for adoption. (Montgomery County pound adopted out just 12 dogs out of the 1,199 dogs and cats that came in during 2011.)

Animal shelters in North Carolina play by their own rules for the most part. There is an Animal Welfare Statute that mandates licensing and inspection of shelters. There is an administrative code that’s primarily concerned with structures, sanitation and record keeping, but does not mandate that shelters or their employees try to save the lives of the animals they are supposed to be “sheltering.”

These examples (and many more that I cannot publish here because the volunteers and rescuers who shared the stories are afraid they will be banned for speaking out) illustrate why North Carolina needs a Companion Animal Protection Act.

A growing number of communities across the country are demonstrating that it’s possible to save all but the most hoplesssly ill, injured or vicious animals that come into shelters. These shelters and communities have leaders committed to running shelters consistent with the programs and services that turn them into safe places for animals to be reunited with families or adopted into new ones. Basically, they are committed to following a blueprint for success.

In North Carolina, however, most of our shelters are reliant on killing, following the same roadmap to failure that has resulted in high kill rates for years. Meanwhile, they manage to convince the public that “there is no other way.” There is no accountability or oversight, and whether an animal lives or dies is often subject to the caprice of a director or staff member.

Rather than letting the fates of our shelter animals be subject to whim and personality, our shelter pets need to be afforded protections by law. We need regulations over shelters similar to those that govern hospitals and other agencies which hold the power over life and death:  a Companion Animal Protection Act.

A CAPA law would:

— Establish the shelter’s primary role as saving the lives of animals
— Declare that saving lives and protecting public safety are compatible
— Establish a definition of No Kill that includes all savable animals including feral cats
— Protect rabbits and other animals, as well as dogs and cats
— Require shelters to spay/neuter animals before adoption
— Make it illegal for a shelter to kill an animal if a rescue group or No Kill shelter is willing to save that animal
— Require shelters to provide animals with fresh food, fresh water, environmental enrichment, exercise, veterinary care, and cleanliness
— Require shelters to have fully functioning adoption programs including offsite adoptions, use of the internet to promote their animals, and further mandate that animal control be open seven days per week for adoption
— Prohibit shelters from killing animals based on arbitrary criteria such as breed bans or when alternatives to killing exist
— Require animal control to allow volunteers to help with fostering, socializing, and assisting with adoptions
— Ban the use of the gas chamber
— Require shelters to be truthful about how many animals they kill and adopt
— Require shelters to notify people surrendering animals about the likelihood their animal will be killed
— Provide free spay/neuter for all feral cats and for the pets of qualified low income households
–Allow citizens to sue the shelter and compel compliance if shelters fail to do so

A statewide CAPA is clearly needed in NC, but while we are working on that, advocates can work to pass similar versions affecting their own shelter at the local level.

For a PDF CAPA brochure suitable for printing or sending to officials and legislators, click here. For the full text of a model CAPA law, click here. More resources on advocating for CAPA can be found here.


Filed under CAPA, gas chamber, No Kill