Monthly Archives: September 2012

Humane Society of Richmond County may continue to run high-kill pound

According to a report in the Richmond County Daily Journal, the Humane Society of Richmond County may change its mind about turning the animal shelter over to the county at the end of October, which they voted to do last week.

Some animal advocates believe that turning the pound over to county would be a bad thing. One wrote in the comments of a previous post here:

When city/county/state government is in charge of “shelters” you can bet deaths will be their top agenda. Their idea of “efficient” means killing more, less work for them. There is no compassion in any government run “shelter” I’ve ever seen. They are not shelters, but a place to cage cats & dogs until they kill them.

The Humane Society running that shelter may not of saved as many lives as possible, but when the local government takes over you’ll see the killing increase greatly. I’m just so sorry for dogs & cats that ever get involved with “shelter/pounds”. There’s gotta be a better way.

But a look at HSRC’s killing record casts doubt on that view. In 2011, slightly more than 70 percent of the “furbabies” that came into their pound ended up in the dumpster. Even county-run pounds not known for trying very hard can manage a better live outcome rate than that:

Heck, even the Granville County pound, whose director purposefully doesn’t put pets up for adoption because she would rather kill them has a kill rate only slightly higher than the HSRC’s (77.75 percent).

A look at the stats over the last 10 years shows that the pound has always been high kill. The best year of that whole period seems to be 2004, when the adoption rate was up to just over 28 percent and the kill rate dipped to just under 64 percent.

Being run by a non-profit group instead of a city or county does not at all guarantee that a pound will be better run or kill fewer animals. The late not-so-great Johnston County SPCA was a stinking example. The Durham County Animal Shelter is run by the very well-funded non-profit Animal Protection Society of Durham, and its kill rate was more than 68 percent in 2011.

What determines the success of a shelter is the dedication of it’s leadership.  A look at the ever-growing list of No Kill communities shows a mix of  shelters run by cities/counties and by non-profits, all with save rates of more than 90 percent. What they have that kill pounds don’t is leadership that rejects the “save a few, kill the rest” approach, is committed to implementing the programs necessary to stop the killing and is dedicated to working with their community instead of blaming them.

HSRC director Valerie Davis, on the other hand, gets defensive, calls her community irresponsible and tells them to just shut up. Instead of being inspired to help at Davis’ pound, some volunteers feel driven away. Here are some excerpts from a comment left at the FixNC facebook page:

There are some really good people that truly want to help animals but they are outnumbered or overpowered by the people that don’t have a clue what they’re doing and as you can see, refuse to listen to feedback to make improvements.

They had some fabulous volunteers and people working for no-kill (which only lasted a few months), but many have become fed up or were run off. The doors are often locked early but they blame people for not coming in. I’ve shown up with 250 lbs of food when a facebook request went out (by the way, Valerie made a post on FB to refute their being out of food and defending their practices rather than clarifying and showing appreciation) because they were so low, and the shelter was closed 30 minutes early. Another person from out of town was trying to donate an SUV full of cat items after her pet passed away, a third person had a large bag of food, and two families coming to adopt left because they couldn’t get in. I waited until someone was leaving and caught the door and carried everything in, with the help of that one person leaving, without so much as a thank you from Valerie and Cindy who were talking at the desk no more than 2 feet away.

The shelter smells so bad it’s horrible even though the local mercantile has donated cleaners. The building is not properly ventilated and the only response you get is “it’s a shelter, what do you expect.”

My fiance went to HSRC for the first time so we could fill out adoption papers for 3 dogs my Mom and I fostered and when a couple weren’t even spoken to and were about to leave, he jumped in and showed them around by following the pawprints and guessing, talked about the benefits of pets, and helped them find a dog that would fit their lifestyle so they became adopters that day without ever speaking to an actual employee until signing the adoption papers.

We’ve fostered, adopted, donated money and hundreds of pounds of food, and taken treats and toys to the animals but I don’t even read the FB page or walk in any longer because it’s so frustrating and breaks my heart that so many animals die via heartstick while blaming the community instead of finding ways to home or foster pets and educate the public.

If the employees seem to hate the place, what are potential adopters supposed to think? I thought having some brochures that would help people find animals that would best fit into their homes and lifestyles would be a help in adoption and preventing returns to the shelter but never heard a response.

I suggested having a program to get local businesses to partner with the shelter to become their “pet partner” or “partner in paws” for the month. The business makes a donation and for that month the shelter puts up a flyer and info on facebook about that business. I gave the example of working with an autoparts store and in exchange for the donation, the flyer would describe a suggestion for preventing accidents when animals run into the road by replacing windshield wipers or headlights and have the store include coupons for just 5-10% off those specific items. People would come into the shelter to get the coupon and have a chance to see animals and the business benefits by increased exposure and customer traffic. Small coupons won’t cut into the profit margin but will draw customers so everyone benefits. I even offered to go with an employee to help pitch the idea but didn’t get so much as a “no thank you.”

If they worked as hard on changing their image as they do blaming the public, maybe so many people wouldn’t be driving to Scotland and Moore Counties to adopt and volunteer instead of the 5-10 minutes across town to their own shelter.

Having the county take over the management of that pound would probably be a good thing. It certainly couldn’t be much worse.


Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Richmond County

“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.


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!)



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

Humane Society of Richmond County to cease running shelter


Citing insufficient county funding, the Humane Society of Richmond County voted Thursday to cease running the county animal shelter, effective October 31. Shelter operations will become the responsibility of the county.

County Commissioner Thad Ussery said that if the HSRC pulls out  shelter, the county will take over operations and “run it more efficiently.”

The HSRC posted on their Facebook page that they will “use our time, funds, and energy towards education and public outreach on neuter and spay programs, pet rescue and adoption events, and vaccination clinics. ”

They are also adopting out all existing animals in exchange for a donation and a promise to spay/neuter, and have shortened their open hours to Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 3 p.m.

HSRC FB post 9/22/12

HSRC Facebook post Sept. 22, 2012





Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Richmond County

Adoptable pet of the day: Senior bichon girl in Person County pound

Senior Bichon in Person County Pound

This 12-year-old girl, let’s call her “Tilly,” needs out of the Person County pound ASAP. Email if you can help.

I don’t know the name of this little bichon frise in the Person County pound, but every dog needs a name so I will call her “Tilly.”

Tilly is estimated to be about 12 years old, and she needs a rescue or adopter soon.

If you can help Tilly, email Ronda Beach at

CORRECTION: Tilly could be a poodle. I have no idea … she’s a little old fluffy white dog who needs out of that pound is all I know.

UPDATE: Tilly is safe and in foster care!


Filed under Adoptable pet, Person County

New Wayne County policy gives pets a maximum of 14 days before killing

The Wayne County pound in Goldsboro notified its “friends” group last week that there will now be a 14-day maximum hold policy at the pound. Pound staff will now kill all animals without exception (including puppies and kittens),  after 14 days.  If the shelter is full, that time can be shortened.

The Wayne County pound actually has more space than other pounds in surrounding counties, with 162 primary enclosures, according to its NCDA&CS inspection report. For comparison, much larger Sampson County has only 95 primary enclosures in its pound, and the pound in more populous Johnston County has 128 primary enclosures.

The Wayne County pound killed more than 80 percent of the cats and almost 32 percent of the dogs who came in during 2011, for a combined kill rate of almost 57 percent.

People who would like to (politely and respectfully) let the animal control director and county manager know that the No Kill Equation, which has been proven to work in open-admission shelters in at least 54 communities,  presents a positive, life-affirming alternative can contact them as follows:

Animal Control Director Vicki Falconer
1600 Clingman Street
Goldsboro, NC 27534
Phone: (919) 731-1439
Fax: (919) 731-1381

County Manger Lee Smith
P.O. Box 227
Goldsboro, NC 27533
Phone: (919) 731-1435
Fax: (919) 731-1446

You can also write or call the Wayne County Commissioners.

A great idea would be to  email or print and mail copies of “No Kill 101,” “Dollars and Sense” and the Cliff Notes version of Redemption.

If you are a Wayne County resident, you may also speak for a few minutes during the public comments portion of a future Board of Commissioners meeting. Here’s a great example of such an address.


Filed under "Nobody WANTS to kill animals ...", NC county/municipal pounds, Wayne County

Granville County pound is low on adoptables because it’s easier that way

Volunteers and animal advocates in Granville County have long begged animal control chief Cathy Hartley to increase the number of dogs she releases for adoption from the Granville pound. There are typically only a handful of dogs labeled “adoptable” at any given time regardless of how many are currently in there or what type of dogs there are. (There seem to more cats available on a regular basis).

At my visit to the volunteer orientation there in July, I asked some of the volunteers what the criteria are for determining adoptability, and no one knew; they all said it was at Ms. Hartley’s discretion. Thursday evening at the quarterly meeting of the county’s animal control advisory board, I discovered the answer to my question: the Granville pound’s standards for classifying dogs as adoptable or unadoptable depend on what’s easiest and most convenient.

The topic arose when one of the board members said “It seems like there aren’t many dogs out there for adoptions on Saturdays” (which is the busiest day for adoptions at the pound because its the only time most working families with kids can actually get there during open hours).

“Well that’s a discussion that we’ve already had over and over and over,” Ms Hartley said. “We have a constant need for space, and if we have 15 dogs for adoption, that’s 15 runs that are full.”

“If we’re running out of space and it gets down to it, you could still euthanize a green [adoptable]1 dog,” the board member said. “That would give the public more dogs to pick from when they’re out there instead of having three to pick from, maybe have nine to pick from.”

“It’s been very difficult to do that [kill adoptables] recently without a lot of criticism,” Ms. Hartley said.

So to put it bluntly, adoptable dogs are scarce at the Granville pound because they take up space and can’t be killed without the volunteers and other animal advocates (rightfully) getting upset.

This also explains why volunteers are not allowed any contact with “yellow” card dogs at the pound (those whose holds have expired but who have not been cleared for adoption): If people were allowed to walk and pet them, they’d likely not want them to be killed, either (and it would also probably demonstrate the falsehood of their “unadoptable” classification).

Another board member, who said it was very frustrating to convince people to go look for a dog to adopt at the pound only to have them report back that “the place was completely empty,” questioned the need for pre-emptive killing. “Lets say we have 23 dogs and nothing else comes in, there’s no reason to go from 20 to 5 unless you actually have more coming in,” she said

“Well, we have more coming in pretty regularly,” Ms. Hartley said. “We empty it out three days a week at minimum. And then they fill back in.”

Granville County gas chamber, Oxford NC
Granville County gas chamber, Oxford NC by carolinaonmymind, on Flickr

Just to be clear, when Ms. Hartley says “empty it out,” she means killing everything possible (probably in the pound’s gas chamber.). One of the kill-pound defenders’ favorite cliches is “nobody wants to kill pets,”  but the practices at the Granville pound seem to contradict that. The fact that little effort is put toward  the things proven to increase adoptions (adoption hours friendly to working people and families with kids, greater visibility in the community, marketing, offsite adoptions, special events, adoption incentives, foster care program, a fun and friendly shelter environment, and a good public image, among other things), indicates that Ms. Hartley seems to prefer “emptying out” her pound via the dumpster. She is choosing to kill pets by not doing the kinds of things necessary to get them out of her pound alive, things that have been proven successful at saving more than 90 percent of the pets that come in to open-admission shelters in more than 54 communities across the country.

Opening up kennel space in a pound by killing is less work for someone like Ms. Hartley than doing it via adoption or rescue (and less paperwork, too). Killing pets simply makes her job easier. Because she can’t kill the pets still on mandatory hold and volunteers (rightfully) get upset when she kills the animals lucky enough to be called “adoptable,” Ms. Hartley has a big incentive NOT to change many dogs’ status from “yellow” to “green” because it keeps her job as easy on herself as possible.

I wonder how the taxpayers of Granville County would feel about their taxes paying the salary of a sheriff or a fire marshal who approached their job the same way?

Conversely, how would the taxpayers of Granville County feel about having a shelter director dedicated to actually protecting the lives of the animals that come into her shelter? If the experiences of communities around the country that have gone No Kill are any indication, local residents love it and often turn out in support of their shelter in numbers greater than ever. In fact, because No Kill boosts adoptions, attracts and retains more volunteers, improves staff morale and generates more funding, among other things, a commitment to saving lives instead of killing would probably end up making Cathy Hartley’s job much easier in the long run.

Another issue that came up at Thursday’s meeting was vaccination on intake, and it appears shelter policy is being dictated by misinformation, namely that they aren’t allowed to vaccinate incoming strays. Board members were discussing the duties of a new vet tech who has been hired at the pound when one board member (a veterinarian), said, “Please, please, please let them be vaccinated on intake and not two weeks later. When you guys are rolling your truck in, she [the vet tech] should be standing there with vaccines all ready.”

Another member said “But we don’t know who’s staying and who’s not at that point.” (Translation: we don’t know who’s going to be allowed to live and who’s going to end up in the dumpster.)

“But isn’t it better to vaccinate everybody, before they even step foot in there?” the vet (very correctly) said.

“We never have. It’s not protocol,” answered the other.

“We never could, practically, moneywise … it just doesn’t make sense,” Ms. Hartley said.

The money argument doesn’t hold water. Necesary vaccines for dogs and cats can cost as low as $2.10 each (if purchased from a vendor who provides shelter pricing discounts). Considering that adoptions are revenue-producing, vaccines save lives and killing animals costs money (a 2009 American Humane Association study estimated lethal injection killing costs at around $2.29 per animal and gas chamber killing costs at around $4.66 per animal), it actually makes much more cost sense to vaccinate every animal at intake … and to push adoptions as a priority over killing. And if money is an issue, there are many volunteers at the pound who would help solicit donations of vaccines or the money to buy them if it means more animals getting out of that pound alive.

But Ms. Hartley had more misinformation behind her failure to vaccinate: “If they’re strays, then they are not legally our animal,” she said, giving as an example: what if we give a vaccine “and one reacts and has a problem and then the owner shows up and we’re in trouble again.”

That is a false premise and a red herring to the real discussion of sound vaccination practice. Legally, it’s unlikely a shelter would be held liable unless the animal was wrongfully seized by animal control or the shelter had refused to relinquish it when the owner tried to reclaim. What’s more, the possibility of an adverse reaction to a vaccine is miniscule, and far, far less of an issue than an unvaccinated pet picking up a potentially fatal disease like parvovirus, canine distemper, panleukopenia or calicivirus in a shelter.

Furthermore, there is no law in North Carolina that prohibits shelters from vaccinating any dog on intake, and many shelters across the state do it. So unless there is a Granville County ordinance prohibiting it (I could not find their ordinances online to check), there’s no legal barrier to immediate vaccination of strays. In fact, the advocate group for the Bladen County pound (2011 dog kill rate: 10.61 percent, cat kill rate: 63.71; compare to Granville’s dog kill rate of 70.75 percent and cat kill rate of 85.87 percent), proclaims their sound vaccination policy on their Petfinder page: “In an effort toward disease prevention, Bladen County Animal Control now gives Core Vaccinations to all pets on intake.” Vance County, which had a 35 percent kill rate last year (less than half that of next door neighbor Granville County) also vaccinates all pets on intake at its pound.

(UPDATE: Thanks to a wonderful reader who sent me a link, I have read the Granville County animal control ordinances, and there is no prohibition on vaccination of strays. An AC officer is, however, allowed to “use his discretion to waive the minimum holding time and to destroy the animal immediately or at such time as deemed appropriate” in the case of “animals that are badly wounded or diseased or afflicted with a highly contagious disease such as distemper or parvo.” A change in the county ordinance to allow vaccination would probably be enough to mitigate any potential for legal problems.)

In reality, it just doesn’t make sense not to vaccinate all pets on intake, unless one is looking for MORE excuses to kill animals. (Pounds like Robeson, Duplin and Ashe have found distemper and parvo outbreaks to be quite handy in that respect.)

The good news from Thursday’s meeting is that, as mentioned, the pound has hired a new vet tech, as well as an additional shelter attendant. The board is also trying to streamline its policies and procedures for rescue groups to pull from the pound, and implementing a low-cost spay/neuter voucher program that will take advantage of the NCDA&CS reimbursement program.

1The Granville pound uses a colored card system to mark the status of the pets. Yellow means the animal is past the hold period but not available for adoption. (The animal may or may not be available to rescue groups, at Ms. Hartley’s discretion). Volunteers are not allowed to walk, pet or interact with “yellow” pets. Pets with green cards are available for adoption. Volunteers may walk, pet and interact with those pets, and the “green” dogs are allowed to spend time occasionally in one of the outdoor pens. Back


Filed under "Nobody WANTS to kill animals ...", gas chamber, Granville County

Adoptable Dog of the day: Sprocket

Sprocket in Sampson County pound

Save Sprocket from the Sampson County gas chamber.
ID #: 12-D0246; Age: 6m; Weight: 32 lbs; Sex: male; Date of Intake: 8-17-12
Sampson County Animal Shelter: (910) 592-8493 or
168 Agriculture Place, Clinton, NC. We are open for adoptions M-F 1-4 pm

Sprocket has been in the Sampson County pound for 27 days. He’s a medium-sized (32 lb.) something mix (he’s black, so everyone will say “lab”) with an awesome name. If he doesn’t get adopted or rescued, he will most likely be killed in the Sampson County gas chamber.

Sprocket has been described as “full of energy and ready to run!” He has $135 in pledges to an approved rescue, according to a post on the pound’s Facebook page.

The Sampson County pound is located at 168 Agriculture Place in Clinton, NC. They are open for adoptions only 15 hours a week, Monday through Friday from 1 to 4 pm, when most potential local adopters are at work. The adoption fee for dogs is $25, plus local adopters are required to purchase a spay/neuter voucher at the time of adoption. Vouchers are $55 for male dogs and $85 for female dogs. Non-local adopters are not required to purchase a spay/neuter voucher but are required to get the animal sterilized and provide proof of surgery to SCAS. More policies can be found here.

UPDATE: According to this post, Sprocket has been “reserved,” which appears to mean he will be going into rescue. Good for Sprocket!

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Filed under Adoptable pet, Sampson County