SHELTER & RESCUE
Shocking examples of dogs and cats dying in shelters at the hands of incompetent and/or cruel people who are running many of today’s animal shelters.
YOUR AMERICAN SHELTER SYSTEM
Brent Toellner April 2011
It has been common-place for people in the animal rescue world to blame 'pet overpopulation' for the deaths of 4 million or so dogs and cats in our shelters each year.
They blame the 'irresponsible public' for these animals being at the shelter in the first place, the reality is that a large number of these dogs and cats are dying in shelters because we still have far too many incompetent, and even cruel, people running far too many (largely municipal) shelters. And the stories that have come out the past few weeks have really driven that home.
For the past couple of weeks, Shirley over at YesBiscuit! has been tracking a horrific story in which workers at a shelter in Chesterfield County , SC were accused of shooting at least 22 dogs at the shelter and, not in a one-time lack of judgment, but as a matter of standard practice, allegedly beating cats with a pipe in order to 'euthanize' them.
editor's note: TheDogPress.com covered that horrid shelter, and others! See Shelter Slaughter below.
Earlier this week, a video surfaced of animal control officers, along with the shelter director of the Town of Hempstead (NY) clowning around, and joking around while about to 'euthanize' a kitten even to the point of chanting "kill the kitty, kill the kitty" as the frightened kitten was pulled from its traveling kennel with a catch pole. This is far from the dignity we want to imagine when we hear the word "euthanize". This shelter director, who earns more than $92,000 a year, was "reassigned". Not fired. Reassigned.
This comes just months after news of the folks at the Dallas Animal Shelter were indicted for allowing a kitten to live trapped in the walls of the shelter for several days before it starved to death and was eventually removed from the wall only after the dead cat began to stink.
The problems are on a continuum -- and obviously many of the above are gross forms of purposeful abuse, they also follow a range that include incompetence and neglect.
A shelter in Franklin County, NC 'accidentally' killed a family's dog before the shelter's mandatory 72 hour hold time was up. The 5 month old puppy got loose from his family and was promptly killed in the shelter. It seems this story pops up about every other week somewhere in this country.
Or my own shelter, in Kansas City , MO ,who's management now faces allegations that include allowing a sick dog to die in its kennel three days after admittance with no care or treatment, heartsticking cats without proper anesthetic, and putting cats that are not yet dead into the incinerator.
And the problems also include cities and shelters that like Aurora and Denver, CO that choose to kill all dogs of certain breeds because they look like types of dogs they don't want in their city (regardless of the reality that their own statistics don't support their ideas to ban these dogs, nor do the dogs themselves, based on their actual behavior, pose any threat to the public).
The problem also includes cities that do not participate in Trap/neuter/release programs and actually make it illegal for people to properly care for feral cat colonies (the only solution has proven to work) by using cat leash laws, licensing laws, abandonment laws or pet limit laws to make TNR illegal -- and thus, leading cities to kill every feral cat that comes into their shelter.
And these are just the worst case scenarios. There are other shelters who are not houses of horrors, that just don't do all of the little things well that can make a huge difference in saving animals lives. So while its commonplace to blame the public, or 'pet over population', the reality is that a huge number of the 4 million healthy/treatable animals killed in our shelters are done so in shelters where workers are not compassionate, and think chanting 'kill the kitty' is funny, or by shelters that have biases against breeds, or feral cats, or are negligent in their work.
We can, and must, do better. The good news is that in virtually all of these incidents, public outrage led to changes in shelter management. The public has decided that this type of activity, that has lasted far too long past when "catch and kill" was the predominant way of running animal control, is no longer acceptable. And are opting for compassionate solutions for homeless pets in this country.
We are becoming a no kill nation. Join us...
About The Author: Brent Toellner BToellner@barkleyus.com has been involved in rescue and animal welfare issues in his community for 7 years. He is the Legislative Chair for Kansas City Dog Advocates, a political organization in the Kansas City metropolitan area. For the past 6 years he has been writing the Kansas City Dog Blog – focused on legislative and shelter issues from around the nation. Brent has spoken at several national conferences including the Best Friends Conference, the Canine Legislation Conference, and two No Kill Conferences. Brent is the proud owner of three rescued dogs, 2 ‘pit bulls’; Stella and Sweet P and one mixed breed dog, Grommit, and 2 cats, Purrrcy and Herman.