Citing 75 incidents of animal cruelty and a “systemic failure to care for animals,” the N.C. Department of Agriculture on Monday yanked the United Animal Coalition’s license to run animal shelters in Davidson and Guilford counties.
The non-profit organization has been running Guilford County’s animal shelter since 1998, when it was hired by the county to improve conditions.
Seventeen years later, the same sort of allegations have resurfaced during continuing investigations by state and county officials as well as the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
Department of Agriculture reports mention more than 100 cases of animals receiving inadequate medical care, including a cat with a broken leg and internal bleeding that went seven days without being seen by a vet and a dog with a gunshot wound to the face who went 12 days without medical attention before being euthanized.
The former shelter director in Guilford County, Marsha Williams, was suspended with pay earlier this month. As of yesterday, that pay was halted and Williams was officially terminated under the orders of the county commissioners.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners convened an emergency meeting Monday, voting unanimously to revoke the United Animal Coalition’s contract and to place the shelter under the county’s control on an interim basis.
A letter of revocation was delivered by hand to the shelter yesterday.
“The things we’ve learned are very disturbing and unacceptable, as I know it is for the community as a whole,” Commissioner Hank Henning, the board’s chairman, said at a press conference after the county commissioner’s meeting. “Our goal is to put transparency and a culture of efficiency back into the shelter, so the community at large can get the services and the shelter that it wants and deserves.”
The N.C. Department of Agriculture has been investigating both shelters for about a month following complaints about animal care and conditions, according to the Greensboro News & Record
The Davidson County investigation began after the state agency received a complaint that a dog had arrived at the shelter with a broken back but received no veterinary care.
The federal Drug Enforcement Agency continues to investigate potential unspecified violations at both facilities.
Also still investigating are the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and the Lexington Police Department.
“To be quite frank with you, I expect to see criminal charges come out of this,” said Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes.
Deputy County Manager Clarence Grier will serve as interim director of the Guilford County shelter, which will remain closed the rest of the week.
The facility is expected to reopen Aug. 22.
(Photo: Former Guilford County Animal Shelter director Marsha Williams; by Lynn Hey / Greensboro News & Record)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 18th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, animal cruelty, animals, care, cats, closed, contract, contracted, davidson county, director, dogs, greensboro, guilford county, inadequate, lexington, license, marsha williams, medical, non-profit, north carolina, pets, revoked, shelters, terminated, united animal coalition, veterinary
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
A homeless veteran whose dog wandered off when he fell asleep on a southern California beach earlier this month has been reunited with his beloved Olivia.
Harry Brown, 53, diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and given a year to live, was visiting Long Beach, California to say goodbye to friends family when Olivia, the young brown and white pit bull he describes as his service dog in training, disappeared.
He searched for her for a week, visiting animal shelters and placing a lost dog ad on Craigslist:
“Her name is Olivia and she is the life to me,” the ad read. “…Please help even if you see her just running by. She had a pink service vest, new leash with pink collar … I would offer reward but I am a disabled veteran, have nothing but that little girl. So please, if you can help unite us, I would be forever in your debt.”
“We spent as long as we could trying to find her,” Brown told NBC 4. With an arranged ride for the next leg of his trip, to Phoenix, Brown had to move on.
It was there he got a response to his Craigslist ad: “Your girl is in L.A. County, go get her,” it said.
Olivia had been found wandering the streets of Long Beach, and taken to an animal shelter.
An animal rescue group called Captain Care raised money to pay for Brown’s ticket back to Long Beach and cover the fees required to secure her release.
Brown, who calls Eugene, Oregon home, picked Olivia up Wednesday.
“She’s my life,” admitted Brown, who says he suffers from PTSD and has had problems with alcohol.
Brown has his own Facebook page, and has used it to thank all those who helped him, especially Captain Care.
Donors provided him with a hotel room, new toys, treats and food for Olivia, and a hammock they can share while on the road, according to The Examiner.
Extra donations will be used to help spay and feed Olivia, and help pay for Brown’s continuing cross-country journey to say goodbye to family and friends.
Donations for Brown and Olivia can be made to Captain Care Intervention at mycaptaincare.org.
(Photo: Courtesy of Harry Brown)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 14th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, california, captain care, craigslist, dog, dogs, dying, found, harry brown, homeless, homelessness, long beach, lost, olivia, pancreatic cancer, pets, pit bull, ptsd, reunion, reunited, service dogs, terminal, veterans
The Jack Russell terrier was put down Aug. 7 in Los Angeles after battling prostate cancer.
Uggie, who also appeared in “Water for Elephants,” was best known for his role in “The Artist,” which won five Academy Awards in 2012.
According to his IMDb biography, Uggie was saved from being sent to the pound by animal trainer Omar Von Muller.
Uggie received a Palm Dog award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival for “The Artist,” and his performance in that movie led to a campaign (unsuccessful) to establish an Oscar category for pets. Uggie was the first dog to leave his paw prints in cement outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
The Jack Russell terrier was a California native, and in his youth he was apparently a handful. His owners were on the verge of surrendering him due to his troublesome behavior when Von Mueller — seeing some raw talent in the pooch — took him in.
“One of the most important thing is that he was not afraid of things,” Von Mueller said in a 2012 interview. “That is what makes or breaks a dog in the movies, whether they are afraid of lights, and noises and being on sets. He gets rewards, like sausages, to encourage him to perform, but that is only a part of it. He works hard.”
Uggie first appeared in TV commercials. His big break came when he was cast in “Water for Elephants” in 2011.
After “The Artist,” Uggie appeared on numerous talk shows, was hired as a Nintendo spokesdog and appeared in an adoption spot for PETA.
Uggie’s “autobiography” was published after he achieved movie fame, and the book was dedicated to Reese Witherspoon, his co-star in “Water for Elephants.”
“For Reese, my love, my light,” the book’s opening dedication reads.
His death was first reported by TMZ, which managed to relay the news without its trademark snarkiness — even though Uggie once nipped at host Harvey Levin during a visit to the the show’s studio.
“I have worked with many celebrities, but people were literally queueing around the block to see this tiny furry star,” said Wendy Holden, who ghost wrote the book. “There was something about him that changed people. Women especially adored him. People approached him far more readily than a human star.”
Posted by John Woestendiek August 13th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: academy awards, animals, dead, death, died, dogs, entertainment, jack russell terrier, movies, Omar Von Muller, oscars, pets, the artist, uggie, water for elephants
Dear Special Place in Hell:
I am writing in hopes of making a reservation for two or more Florida punks who haven’t been arrested yet, but probably will soon be.
I am sure you will agree that, despite what I am guessing to be their tender ages, they have already proven well worth spending eternity at your time-honored establishment.
Of course, once they are found, tried and convicted, they will likely spend some more time in this earthly realm before arriving at your most unpearly gates — at least several years, we’d hope, in one of Florida’s charming prison facilities.
But we wanted to make sure you would hold a place for them, as well.
If you require documentation of their acts, here is a brief account.
Last Friday, down in Pembroke Pines — in the state of Florida (I’m sure you’re familiar with it) — a woman named Verline Barthelemy let her 13-year-old Pomeranian, Mr. Fox, out in the yard while she was cooking.
When she went to let him back in, a few minutes later, he could not be found.
On Saturday, Barthelemy’s boyfriend found Mr. Fox’s body on the back porch along with a note that read, “We beat it 2 death. LOL! Hahaha!”
Barthelemy called police and took Mr. Fox’s body to a veterinarian, who confirmed the dog likely died from being repeatedly kicked. X-rays showed Mr. Fox had a dislocated spine, broken ribs and a broken jaw, among other injuries.
You can find all this information at Local 10 News.
We are sure you will agree these perpetrators deserve your lowest level suite — the one closest to the fire.
True, they have not yet been identified, but certainly local police authorities will be giving their all to track them down and bring them to justice. They’ve asked anyone with information to call police at 954-431-2200.
I don’t know if you guys compare notes or anything, but, just to let you know, we have also sent a request to your counterpart/nemesis/antithesis up in Heaven, asking him to ensure that justice comes swiftly.
Once that happens, we are happy to let our fine correctional facilities, and all they have to offer — hahaha, lol — take over.
After that though, when these heartless sadists come to an end of their natural lives and they show up at your front desk, we ask that you accommodate them in that most special wing of your special place in Hell.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 12th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrest, cruelty, dog, dogs, florida, hell, investigation, killed, letter, mr. fox, note, pembroke pines, pet, pets, pomeranian, prison, verlina barthelemy
Among many “old school” and unprofitable practices here at ohmidog! is my tendency to treat advertisers like well-trained, perhaps overly-trained, dogs — insisting they stay in their place and don’t dare venture into our editorial columns.
I will let my big old dog in bed with me, and I gladly do so every single night. But when it comes to advertisers, don’t even think about it.
So what’s this T-shirt doing here — in the space that I, way too ethical for my own good, so haughtily reserve for news matter?
For one thing, it’s kind of cool.
For another, with these T-shirts being the biggest ad ever to appear on our pages, I thought it would be a good time to explain this website’s approach to advertising.
(It is not one I recommend to anyone seeking to make money through their website.)
Basically, this middle section of the website is for news, and despite many requests from advertisers to link to their services and products here, I just don’t do it, because it strikes me as sleazy and deceptive.
The rightside column, with all those logos, is for non-profit animal welfare and animal rescue groups, and serves to link the public to their websites. There is no fee for that.
The leftside column, the one clearly marked “advertisements” is for, you guessed it, advertisements.
When ohmidog! started, seven years ago, the hope was that advertising would cover the costs, and maybe even lead to a profit.
That almost worked when we were headquartered in, and focused on, Baltimore.
Then we went and hit the road and ended up living in North Carolina. A few of those local Baltimore ads remain, but I no longer charge those advertisers — partly out of gratitude for helping us get off the ground, partly because fewer Baltimore eyes will see their ads.
Today, most of our ads, including the t-shirt ad at the top, are what are called affiliate ads.
The advertisers pay nothing for them, but if a reader clicks on one of them, and ends up buying something during that visit, the company sends a percentage of their profits my way — generally pennies on the dollar.
So far, those pennies haven’t amounted to much. And as business models go, ohmidog! — even when I wanted it to make money — has always been a prime example of how not to run a website.
We’ve always been all about the content (though I prefer the word “stories), and, while I don’t promise much else, we always will be — without any ads popping up on you, without any links misdirecting you.
What I started out doing for fun and profit, is pretty much becoming just about the fun.
In the months ahead, I’ll qualify for — and plan to start receiving — early social security. So I can only make so much money before having to turn over all the rest to the government.
So, if you must buy a T-shirt, go ahead and click on it, or any of the others now featured in our banner ad.
Just don’t buy too many.
(Photo: The I Love Dogs Site / Sunfrog.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 11th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ads, advertising, affiliate, animals, business, dog, dog websites, dogs, editorial, ethics, love, ohmidog!, pets, profits, rescue, t-shirts, websites
I’m old enough to remember being a little blue when Johnny Carson retired. I was enough of a part-time fan to be sad when David Letterman went off the air.
But tonight, when I turn on the television and Jon Stewart isn’t there, the result is going to be something a lot closer to actual mourning.
His departure from The Daily Show — after 16 years of calling some much needed “bullshit” on all the world’s bullshitters — will leave me with a void in my life, grieving for the loss of a being I saw more often than any friend or family member, except for my dog.
The only thing cushioning the blow is thinking about what new directions Stewart might head in, what his brilliantly acerbic mind might bring us next.
Not so surprisingly, it seems one of those directions might be a greater involvement in animal welfare causes.
Philly.com reports that Stewart and his wife, Tracey, recently purchased a New Jersey farm with hopes of turning it into an animal sanctuary.
In some ways, it already is. In addition to their two children, the Stewarts live with four dogs, two pigs, two hamsters, three rabbits, two guinea pigs, one parrot, and two fish, according to USA Today.
The Stewarts are also supporters of the organization Farm Sanctuary, which Stewart managed to plug — along with his wife’s new book — on the final show:
Tracey Stewart, a former vet tech and long-time animal advocate, is the author of the soon to be released “Do Unto Animals,” all profits from which will go to the Farm Sanctuary.
Jon Stewart has some similar leanings, as could be seen in some Daily Show segments, such as an eight-minute long piece about Chris Christie’s refusal to sign a bill that would end the lifelong confinement of pigs in crates so small they can’t even turn around.
And clearly Stewart has a soft spot for dogs.
The Daily Show was a notoriously dog friendly workplace, as reported by The Bark a while back.
Many a staffer brought their dog to work, and I’m guessing some of them were featured in this segment from the final show, in which Stewart paid tribute to his staff. Check out who’s occupying the executive suite, at about the 4:20 mark of this video:
Posted by John Woestendiek August 10th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal rights, animal sanctuary, animal welfare, animals, book, do unto animals, dogs, farm, farm animals, farm sanctuary, future, jon stewart, new jersey, next, pets, the daily show, tracey stewart, wife