Tag: animal shelters
If I had a cat — and I don’t — I would never let it play video games.
Why would anyone want to take an animal that is always so joyously in the moment — in the natural moment — and immerse it in an artificial, non-tactile, monotonously repetitious, pixelated, and quite possibly addicting world where time passes in a blur?
To take the house pet perhaps best known for being able to make a game out of anything — string, toilet paper roll, dust bunny — and put a $200 iPad in front of it so it can paw at virtual fish? That just strikes me as wrong.
It might be fun for you to watch the first time, and it might even be amusing for the feline for a while.
But then it becomes more obsession than play, and your feline, once a wildly imaginative beast with an admirable knack for making anything fun, is stalking the room, zombie-like, Jonesing for his iPad.
Then, when you try to take their iPads away, they become evil tantrum-throwing monsters who no longer see joy, mystery and adventure in something as mundane as a cardboard box or paper bag.
Sure, it is all starting out innocently enough. Remember, though, we humans started with Pong before progressing to virtual murder and mayhem. If history is any indication cat computer play will progress into darker realms — to the point where cats are tuning the real world out and, albeit virtually, engaging in pretend sex and violence, car theft even, on their computers.
Am I exaggerating to ridiculous proportions? Clearly. But seriously, taking the long view, is this best for cats?
Or will we, with all good intentions, slowly drive them insane?
How long, for example, can you watch this before feeling a certain panic in your soul?
Video games for cats have been catching on for several years now — to the point that even some animal shelters have turned to them.
The Regina Humane Society in Canada turned to iPads last year to keep their resident cats occupied and engaged.
“This is just another way, another tool in our toolbox that allows us to keep our animals healthy and happy while they’re awaiting their special someone who’s going to take them home forever,” said Lisa Koch, executive director.
“Owned cats around the world have apps that they play with on their owners [iPads], and it’s something that we’ve adopted here at the Humane Society for cats who don’t have families to make the environment that they’re living in more stimulating for them mentally.”
Koch said these programs are meant to keep cats active and stimulate them mentally.
Stimulate? Maybe. But does laying down and pawing a mouse on a $200 screen keep a cat more active than batting an actual $1.29 play mouse around the room and chasing it?
Lost, too, if we let cats live their nine lives in the virtual world, is interaction with humans. High-tech pet toys that bill themselves as “interactive” have a way of removing a human’s resolve to spend one-on-one time with their pet, to the point where they no longer feel much need to do so. It’s like setting child in front of TV set for three hours.
The Regina Humane Society does good and noble work, and maybe in a shelter situation, where it’s challenging to keep all the animals occupied, something like this is acceptable.
On the other hand, cats are already the ultimate game inventors. We should be pinpointing what is in them — a play gene? — that makes them so able to look at a spool of thread, a pencil, a puzzle piece, and see an amusement park.
Instead, we appear headed to making them as addicted to the computer screen as we are?
Posted by John Woestendiek January 10th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal shelters, animals, apps, canada, cat, cat apps, cat games, cat toys, cats, dangers, fish, games, high tech, interactive, ipad, laser games, lasers, mice, petns, play, regina humane society, screen, stimulation, technology, toys, video
A grand jury returned animal cruelty indictments this week against three former employees of the Davidson County Animal Shelter as investigations continue into allegations of abuse there and at the Guilford County shelter.
Arrest warrants were issued yesterday for Marsha Williams, the former executive director of both shelters, as well as her daughter Dana Williams-King. Also indicted was Marissa Studivent, another director of the Davidson shelter.
Williams also faces two felony counts of obstructing the investigation and one felony count of possessing a controlled substance at the Davidson shelter.
Both facilities were managed by the United Animal Coalition, a Greensboro-based nonprofit that took over operation of the Guilford shelter in 1998, and took control of the Davidson shelter in December.
Both shelters had their licenses revoked by the N.C. Department of Agriculture in August.
The indictments stem from claims that the three women neglected to provide humane treatment to a dog admitted to the Davidson shelter in May with a broken back, the Greensboro News & Record reported.
The dog had been diagnosed with paralysis from the shoulders down, but she languished in her kennel for three days with no veterinary care before being euthanized.
That was the incident that sparked an investigation by the state Department of Agriculture, which found abnormally high numbers of animals had died in their kennels at the Davidson shelter.
The Lexington Police Department has been investigating the shelter, as has the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
Despite the indictments, those investigations remain ongoing, as does a a separate investigation into the Guilford County shelter, by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office.
(Photo: Marsha Williams, by Lynn Hey / Greensboro News & Record)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 10th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal shelters, animals, cruelty, Dana Williams-King, davidson county animal shelter, director, dog, dogs, greensboro, guilford county animal shelter, indictments, investigations, lexington, Marissa Studivent, marsha williams, neglect, north carolina, pets, united animal coalition, warrants
Another North Carolina animal shelter has come under fire from the state Department of Agriculture — this time the county-operated shelter in Stokes County, where an investigation found dogs were being inhumanely euthanized.
The Veterinary Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture released documents Friday showing inspectors found credible evidence that shelter director Phillip Handy and employee Darryl Sheppard “performed, participated in and/or witnessed the inhumane euthanasia of multiple animals that involved improper euthanasia administration.”
The allegations, now being investigated by the state Bureau of Investigation, include putting down one dog by gunshot, failing to confirm the death of an animal, and improper disposal of an animal. The report also accuses the two men of putting dogs down prior to the 72-hour holding period.
The shelter (pictured above) is located in a cinder block building in Germanton.
The division revoked both Handy and Sheppard’s certifications to perform euthanasia, and both have been relieved from duty, according to Stokes County Manager Rick Morris.
This summer has also seen the Department of Agriculture revoke the licenses of animal shelters in Guilford County and Davidson County, citing a “systemic failure to care for animals.” Both were run by the United Animal Coalition under contracts with the counties.
And last week, news surfaced of a dog at the Forsyth County Animal Shelter being mistakenly euthanized.
The Stokes County shelter was closed for two weeks in July, for what county officials said was state-ordered maintenance and repairs.
County Manager Morris assured the public then that animals housed there at the time would not be euthanized.
The revocation notice from the state — instructing the shelter to cease all euthanizations — was issued two days before the temporary closure.
Animal advocates in Stokes County have been working to improve the shelter and are raising funds to open a new no-kill shelter, with around $180,000 raised so far.
(Photo: By Jennifer Rotenizer / Winston-Salem Journal)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 31st, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal shelters, animals, cats, cruel, death, department of agriculture, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, gunshot, inhumane, inspection, investigation, licenses, north carolina, pets, practices, premature, revocation, shelters, stokes county, stokes county animal shelter
A Forsyth Couny woman went to the animal shelter to pick up her dog — only to learn that, due to mix-up, the five-year-old border collie-Lab mix had been put down.
Maximus, after a second biting incident, was being held for an 8-day quarantine at the Forsyth County Animal Shelter.
When Ashley Burton went to pick him up, shelter staff brought out the wrong dog — and it only got worse after that, Fox 8 reports.
Burton says she went to the shelter July 2 to pick Maximus up after he completed the mandatory quarantine period when a second biting offense occurs.
A staff member pulled up the dog’s file, which included a photo of Maximus, and told Burton the dog would be right out.
But the dog that was brought out wasn’t Maximus. It was a pit bull mix named Spike.
After a 30-minute wait, Burton was taken to the shelter manager’s office, where she was told they could not find her dog.
Burton was then told there was nothing else she could do, and to go home while the shelter investigated.
Back home, her phone rang.
“The manager at the shelter, he said, ‘what was supposed to happen to Spike’, the dog that they actually brought me, ‘is what actually happened to Maximus,'” Burton said. “I said, ‘so you mean Maximus was euthanized,’ and he said, ‘yes, he was euthanized and we are so sorry for your loss.'”
“At some point, either the identifying kennel cards were switched, or the dogs themselves might have been switched,” said Tim Jennings, Director of Forsyth County Animal Control.
He said less than clear photos of the dogs, taken at the shelter and placed in their files, may have contributed to the mix-up.
“The photograph is to be the definitive security issue, and in this case we could have done a better job there,” he said.
Jennings said a similar incident happened at the shelter in 2014. Burton, he said, has been given a new dog.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 28th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal shelters, animals, ashley burton, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, forsyth, forsyth county, forsyth county animal shelter, maximus, mistake, pets, photographs, photos, protocol, quarantined, safeguards, shelters, winston-salem, wrong
Bladen County Commissioners will consider a proposal tonight to start selling the carcasses of dogs euthanized in the North Carolina shelter to a biological supply company.
According to a proposed contract, the company wants to pay $4 each for dead dogs weighing between 25 and 45 pounds, assuming the carcasses are in “reasonably good condition.”
The company would pick up the dogs weekly, preserve the bodies with chemicals and then offer them for sale to “facilities and/or laboratories designed for scientific research and biological educational classrooms” — at prices of $100 or more each.
WECT identified the company as Southeastern Biological Supply.
The county has sold dead cats for $4 each to the company since 2009 — as have Brunswick, Columbus and Pender Counties in southeastern North Carolina. New Hanover County donates cat carcasses to veterinary schools.
Pender County made $1,604 selling dead cats last year, and Brunswick County raked in $4,788, WECT reported.
It all sounds like a pretty questionable and nasty business — this marketing of carcasses — and historically it has been. But those who defend the practice say it contributes to science, specifically the teaching thereof, and is no less dignified than the traditional means of disposal: taking dead dogs to the landfill.
The Humane Society of the United States, while it doesn’t oppose the transfer of euthanized animals to educational and research institutions, says shelters should not be making money from such exchanges.
“So-called ‘surplus’ dogs and cats are a result of the tragic pet overpopulation and millions of dogs and cats are euthanized yearly in U.S. shelters. When money can be made in dealing in their carcasses, it can give the perception that there may be less incentive for addressing overpopulation or that the shelter would rather gain from this tragedy than spend the money necessary to solve it,” the HSUS says.
The organization also believes the owners of any pet euthanized by a shelter should, when possible, be notified when a carcass is being transferred for scientific research, and it advises shelters to be transparent when it comes to what they do with the carcasses of animals they euthanize.
“Full public awareness of any animal transfer policy is vital to maintaining public trust in animal shelters,” it says.
When it comes to what becomes of the bodies of euthanized pets, I think we are pretty far from full public awareness. Even when the information is made available, it’s a topic most of us prefer not to delve too deeply into.
Still, it manages to rise to the surface once in a while.
Back in the 1980s, it grew into a full blown scandal when it was discovered that employees at Winnebago County Animal Control in Illinois were receiving payments and gift credits in exchange for providing carcasses to a Wisconsin biological supply company.
An investigation by Rockford-area authorities into missing funds in the animal control division of the county Health Department turned up evidence that, between 1982 and 1988, the division was receiving $2.25 per cat and $6 per dog from Nasco International Inc.
The animal-control unit built up a line of credit with Nasco and periodically spent that credit to purchase items from Nasco`s various equipment and gift catalogs, the Chicago Tribune reported in 1988.
A county public health administrator at the time said he thought selling the dog carcasses to a biological supply company was a better idea than the county’s previous arrangement — paying a rendering firm to dispose of dead dogs and cats, which then ended up in products such as lipstick, mouthwash, rubber and even pet food.
In Bladen County, N.C., where dog carcasses are now taken to the landfill, Health and Human Services Director Cris Harrelson insisted getting paid for dead dogs wouldn’t motivate the shelter to kill more.
“We euthanize them only as necessary,” he said. “As long we have room in the shelter, they stay alive.”
Harrelson said the county had the fourth lowest euthanasia rate in the state in 2012.
I checked on the Internet to learn more about Southeastern Biological Supply, but, if it exists, it doesn’t have any online presence.
I did find Carolina Biological Supply, whose website boasts “bigger pigs at same low prices …”
The company offers both dog and cat specimens to educational and research institutes — all preserved in its exclusive “Carolina’s Perfect Solution.”
“Including the dissection of preserved dogs in your AP Biology lesson plans will give students a hands on experience with anatomy that surpasses print or pictures,” the website states.
That’s one of the things that troubles me most about these grisly exchanges. Today, with computer graphics and 3d models and imaging, we have the technology needed to avoid having students chop up animal carcasses in biology class.
But biological supply companies — accustomed to their near obscene profits — aren’t likely to admit that. And leaders of research and educational institutions, for whatever reasons, aren’t either.
So the demand continues, and the companies, seeking ways to meet it, turn to animal shelters.
I’d like to think animal shelters — whether county run or private — would steer clear of it all, for appearances sake if nothing else.
But when it comes to which ones do, and which ones don’t, we don’t really know.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 17th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal shelters, animals, biological, biology, bladen county, carcasses, college, companies, dead, dead dogs, disposa, dissection, dog, dogs, euthanasia, for sale, high school, north carolina, pets, shelters, specimens, supply, teaching
For those businesses in North Carolina that have something to hide, hiding it became much easier this week.
Both the state House and Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill that muzzles whistleblowers who call public attention to anything from agricultural atrocities to elder abuse.
Dubbed an “ag-gag” measure by its critics, the bill gives businesses the right to sue employees who expose trade secrets or take pictures of their workplaces.
Animal rights groups say the measure is aimed at curbing the kind of undercover investigations that have exposed brutal and abusive practices in factory farms and slaughterhouses.
But House Bill 405 (click on the link to see its final version) could curb far more than that.
Nursing home employees might be discouraged from reporting possible abuse cases. Animal shelter staff could be dissuaded from reporting horrid conditions or cruelty to dogs and cats. Even journalists could be hauled into court for simply doing their jobs.
Only government agencies would be safe to shed light on criminal corporate behavior — whether it’s stomping on chickens at poultry farms or mistreating veterans in need of medical care.
Concerns that the bill reaches too far were behind Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of the bill.
The governor said he agreed with curbing the practice of people who get hired merely so they can film undercover or gather corporate documents, but he said the bill doesn’t protect those “honest employees who uncover criminal activity.”
The House voted 79-36 to override his veto, and the Senate quickly followed suit, voting 33-15 to override.
Among those against the bill were animal rights groups, journalism organizations, the Wounded Warrior Project and the AARP, which said the law could have a chilling effect on those who might come forward with evidence of elder abuse.
“To give one relevant example, allegations surfaced last year that employees at Veterans Affairs facilities in North Carolina had been retaliated against for whistleblowing,” wrote Steven Nardizzi, chief executive of the Wounded Warrior Project. “As an organization dedicated to honoring and empowering injured service members, we are concerned that this legislation might cause wrongdoing at hospitals and institutions to go unchecked.”
The sponsors of the house bill said critics were wrongly characterizing it, WRAL reported.
“It doesn’t stop good employees from reporting illegal activities to other authorities,” said Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland.
That much is true. All the bill does is make it easy for large companies and their lawyers to go after those honest employees and ensure that, when they open their mouths, they’ll be stomped on too.
Republican backers of the measure said it was important to protect businesses from bad actors.
As for who’s supposed to protect us from bad-acting businesses engaged in harmful practices, well, that’s not covered in the bill.
“Not only will this ag-gag law perpetuate animal abuse, it endangers workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees, and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply, said Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals. “This law is bad for consumers, who want more, not less, transparency in food production.”
(Photo: Inside a North Carolina poultry plant; by Bethany Hahn / Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 5th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, ag gag, agriculture, animal shelters, animals, business, companies, corporations, criminal, dogs, hb 405, house, lawsuits, legislature, mistreatment, neglect, north carolina, nursing homes, override, pets, poultry, senate, veto. mccrory, whistleblowers
A simple directive has accomplished what North Carolina’s legislature, despite repeated efforts, couldn’t — and, as of the middle of February 2015, animal shelters in the state will be all but banned from killing unwanted dogs and cats in gas chambers.
For those who waged battles to do way with gas chambers in their home counties, and those who worked to pass statewide legislation ending their use, it’s a cause for celebration.
But it’s also a little confusing. If all it took to change things was a directive from the state Department of Agriculture — basically, a memo — why all the years of bickering, grandstanding and politics (both clean and dirty)?
If only the stroke of an administrator’s pen was needed to end such a cruel and callous process, why did it take so long?
The memo issued this month by the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s veterinary division gives shelters until Feb. 15 to switch to lethal injections. Gas chambers, which kill animals with carbon monoxide — sometimes one at a time, sometimes in groups — will only be permitted for “unusual and rare circumstances, such as natural disasters and large-scale disease outbreaks.”
Patricia Norris, the Agriculture Department’s new animal welfare director, said the directive was based on guidelines from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which in 2013 finally recommended against the use of gas chambers for “routine euthanasia.”
(We’d disagree with both of the words in that phrase. Ending the life of a dog simply because he’s unwanted or because a facility is overcrowded isn’t a mercy killing; it’s a money-saving killing. And common as the practice is, we hate seeing it called “routine” — which it certainly isn’t for the dog.)
While animal welfare organizations, including the ASPCA, Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States, have been saying the practice is inhumane for years, it wasn’t until the AVMA adjusted its stance that the state decided to take action.
The Humane Society of the United States hailed the change. “It’s going to lift that stigma that was associated with North Carolina animal shelters,” said Kim Alboum, the HSUS’s state director is quoted as saying in the Raleigh News & Observer. “The pound is gone, and I think that’s something to celebrate.”
Only four of North Carolina’s 197 approved shelters still use gas chambers.
According to the HSUS, North Carolina becomes the 25th state with a formal ban in place. (Many states yet to ban gas chambers are no longer using them.)
“To put an animal inside a gas chamber, their final moments are alone in a dark box,” Alboum said. “Sometimes they don’t die right away. If we have to euthanize animals, at least the animal is touched, at least the animal has some dignity and some human contact.”
Among those to recently cease the practice are Johnston County, which earlier this turned its gassing equipment into a work of art, designed to look like the tree of life. In Cleveland County, a fundraiser was held that allowed donors to “whack the chamber” with a sledgehammer.
Shutting down the gas chambers is a long overdue step in the right direction. Then again, lethal injection isn’t really something to celebrate. What is? The day we stop killing dogs. Period.
(Photo of the gas chamber in Franklin County, NC, by Takaaki Iwabu, from the Raleigh News & Observer; graphic courtesy of Humane Society of the United States)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 14th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, animal shelters, animals, counties, cruelty, directive, dogs, euthanasia, gas, gas chambers, kill, legislature, lethal injection, memo, no-kill, north carolina, pets, politics, shelters