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Tag: euthanasia

Euthanasia, or murder?

zeus1“Euthanasia” isn’t really the correct word for what animal shelters do to dogs.

When a dog is in pain, the use of the word may be apt.

When it’s not a mercy killing — but an act that takes place because a shelter is overcrowded — calling it euthanasia, as much as that may make it more palatable to the public, is a misnomer.

And it’s definitely not the word to use when a shelter worker takes their neighbor’s dog — without their neighbor’s knowledge — drives it to the shelter and gives it a lethal injection.

An animal welfare employee in Ada, Oklahoma, has has been accused of animal cruelty after allegedly doing just that.

Marteen Silas, a certified animal euthanasia technician for the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), took her neighbor’s dog — a pure white Siberian Husky named Zeus — because it was chasing her livestock, according to court records.

She then allegedly drove the dog to PAWS and “immediately euthanized it with a schedule II controlled dangerous substance,” KFOR reported.

KFOR obtained a recording of a telephone conversation in which a former PAWS employee, Jim Nowlin, says Silas tells him why she killed the dog.

A voice he claims to be Silas’ is heard explaining the dog was “a punk” who was “chasing our cows, and chasing our horses.”

Two employees told investigators Silas knew the dog was her neighbor’s, and that she told employees to keep the procedure a secret.

PAWS officials said Silas is no longer employed at the shelter.

A Facebook page has since been set up, demanding justice for Zeus.

Photo of “death row” hug helps two Atlanta pups avoid getting put down

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Here’s a picture that turned out to be worth much more than a thousand words.

When an Atlanta rescue organization posted this photo on Facebook of one dog hugging another — a shot taken at a shelter shortly before both were scheduled to be put down — it was only a matter of hours before they were taken in by a foster parent.

Along with the photo was this explanation from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Atlanta, written from the perspective of one of the dogs:

“I’m Kala. This is Keira. We’re so scared in here. The people working in the shelters see how scared we are but just told each other that today is our deadline.

“We have to have someone rescue us or we’ll be ‘next.’ Keira is black and not a ‘real boxer,’ just a mix. She’s so brave and tells me it will be okay no matter what happens. She tells me to be brave too but I don’t know if I can be.

“Can you see our faces. Keira knows what will happen. You can see it in her eyes. She’s putting on a brave face for sure but I can feel her heart beating fast while I’m clinging to her.

“If no one saves us, someone will take her away from me. I’ll see her as she goes down the hallway. She won’t come back and I’ll cry.”

Within a few hours, both dogs were taken into foster care by an unnamed veterinarian from the Atlanta area, according to MyFoxAtlanta.com.

The photo was shared thousands of times on social media, and received thousands of ‘likes.’

(Photo: by Malena Evans, courtesy of Angels Among Us)

Johnny Depp pirates his dogs into Australia; officials say they must “bugger off” or die

depp

Clearly, Johnny Depp broke the law when he smuggled his two Yorkies, Boo and Pistol, into Australia, where he’s filming yet another “Pirates of the Carribbean” sequel.

But must government officials, in enforcing Australia’s strict quarantine laws, be so heavy-handed and snarky about it?

“If we start letting movie stars — even though they’ve been the ‘sexiest man alive’ twice — to come into our nation, then why don’t we just break the laws for everybody?” said Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce. “It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States.”

Is it just me, or is there a little bit of pirate envy bubbling up in those remarks?

joyceJoyce, that’s him to the left, has ordered Depp to get the dogs out of the country by Saturday. If they are still in the country after that, he says, they will be put down.

Depp and his wife, Amber Heard, are accused of not declaring Yorkshire Terriers Boo and Pistol to customs officials when they flew into Queensland by private jet last month, the BBC reported.

Joyce says the country’s animal quarantine laws — aimed at keeping rabies out of the country — applied to everyone.

“Mr. Depp has to either take his dogs back to California or we’re going to have to euthanize them,” Joyce told reporters on Thursday.

“He’s now got about 50 hours left to remove the dogs. He can put them on the same charter jet he flew out on and fly back out of our nation.”

There has been no immediate comment from Depp or Heard, but plenty of online reaction from animal lovers and Depp lovers.

An online petition to save the “cute dogs” had received nearly 5,000 signatures by late on Thursday local time in Australia.

“Have a heart Barnaby! Don’t kill these cute puppies,” it appealed.

deppdogsThe dogs illegal entry into the country was uncovered after a grooming salon on the Gold Coast posted pictures of them on its Facebook page.

“The dogs have been ordered into quarantine and the owners have been advised the dogs must be exported within 72 hours,” said a statement on the agricultural ministry website.

“Just because he’s Johnny Depp doesn’t make him exempt from Australian laws,” Joyce said.

“The way this works is if we are going to make an excuse for Johnny Depp because he’s got a private jet and brought in his dogs then I suppose you have to start making exemptions and excuses for everybody.”

When Joyce was asked if his tough stance might affect Depp’s view of him, he replied: “I don’t think Mr. Depp will be inviting me to the grand opening of the Pirates of the Caribbean.”

deppanddogOther government officials backed Joyce’s tough stand, including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who said Depp could face large fines for breaching quarantine procedures.

“As people know when they come in on a commercial flight … you need to make declarations,” he said. ” … People will sometimes make false declarations, if they get caught out, there’s a big fine attached to it, and no different to the same cards that people would need to fill out if they’re coming in on private jets.”

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the agriculture minister could have been a little more tactful with his message.

“Barnaby’s right but I would put it to him this way – diplomacy is key,” Tate is quoted as saying on ABC.net.

“I want to see Johnny Depp coming back to the Gold Coast, enjoy his experience here … so that he’ll have good words to say and make sure our film and television industry thrives here,” the mayor said.

Directive bans use of gas chambers in N.C.

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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.)

chambersmap

“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)

Spanish nurse learns she’s cured of Ebola — but that her dog is dead

excal1

The Spanish nursing assistant whose dog was exterminated after she was found to have contracted Ebola from a patient has been pronounced free of the virus.

But along with the good news, Teresa Romero has learned what the rest of the world has known for two weeks.

Her dog Excalibur was seized, killed and incinerated days after she was diagnosed after officials hastily pronounced him a health risk — despite no evidence the dog had the disease, and over the objections of family members and protesters.

excal3Her husband, Javier Limón, who has been held in the same hospital for monitoring, says Romero has been informed the dog is dead — a fact that was withheld from her during her two weeks of treatment.

“She is asking herself why they killed the dog, who wasn’t to blame for anything,” Limón told EL PAIS.

Limón, staying in a room a floor below his wife at Madrid’s Carlos III Hospital, said he and his wife are pleased with her recovery, but frustrated by what happened to Excalibur, and by  how Romero was criticized by health officials for not following proper hospital protocol.

“I couldn’t fight when they killed the dog and I couldn’t defend my wife when they said all those lies and slanderous things about her,” he said.

excalRomero, 44, is expected to be monitored in the hospital for two more weeks, Limón, who has shown no signs of the virus, for another week. The couple has no children.

Romero tested positive Oct. 6 after coming in contact with Spain’s first Ebola patient.

As part of her treatment, she received plasma from a recovered Ebola patient, but health authorities have disclosed no more treatment details, according to NBC.

Just two days after she was diagnosed with the disease, health officials had her large mixed breed dog, Excalibur, seized, killed and incinerated out of fear he might have gotten the disease.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Bentley, the first dog of an American Ebola patient, is being held in quarantine and tested regularly. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel shows no signs of the disease, officials say,.

Bentley is being cared for at the Hensley Field Services Center, a former military reserve base in southwest Dallas. He will continue to be tested and monitored until at least early next month.

Dogs and Ebola: Looking for answers

bubbledog

You’d think in a world preparing for Ebola — especially in a country as sophisticated, dog-crazy and health-oriented as ours — someone would have given it at least a moment’s thought.

You’d think — between all the agencies and organizations, protocols and precautions; between the National Institutes for Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Medical Association — someone somewhere would have stood up and said, hey, what about our dogs?

Instead, with Ebola’s spread to countries outside Africa, public health officials find themselves scratching their heads and — even though there’s no proof yet that dogs can transmit the disease — considering options as drastic as incarceration and extermination for the pets of humans diagnosed with Ebola.

Caution, of course, is good, but planning would have been better.

Excalibur was the first one to come to light. The large mixed-breed dog belonged to a nurse in Madrid who contracted the disease from Spain’s first Ebola patient. Her dog, over the family’s objections, was killed and incinerated nearly immediately upon the order of government officials.

America, or at least Dallas, took a more compassionate approach when a local nurse was determined to have contracted Ebola from a patient being treated in a hospital there. Bentley, her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, was moved into a quarantined area at a decommissioned Naval base, where he’s being tended to by hazardous material crews in full protective garb.

bentley3

Bentley

The question arises, and should have arisen long ago: What are we going to do with the pets of Ebola victims?

Will we turn to extermination, as the number of cases, and our fears, increase?

Will we keep them isolated in crates, bubbles or decommissioned military bases?

For how long? At what costs? Under whose supervision? And is it even necessary?

No one knows the answers to any of those questions, and the fear and uncertainty that ignorance leads to is bound to take us to some bad places, if it hasn’t already.

In an ideal world, we’d have studies to turn to — proving, one way or the other, whether dogs can contract and transmit the virus. We’d be testing them, as we do humans, before quarantining them, or at least before releasing them from that quarantine. We’d know how long, if at all, they need to be sequestered and monitored.

Instead, we’re playing a messy game of catch-up, and the argument can be made that it’s because we were wearing blinders.

Even in this supposed era of increased awareness about the health issues that cross species lines, our planet seems to once again have gotten caught up in the view that only humans matter.

Perhaps too it could be argued that, among many in America, some strange disease in Africa didn’t strike us as a big concern, or as an opportunity to learn and prepare for what might be coming. (Maybe we humans don’t like to look at the big picture when the big picture is too big, and too scary.)

What is abundantly clear is that no one, up until now, gave much thought to how Ebola might affect our dogs — if not the disease itself, at least the fear of it.

No one knows whether dogs can get the full-fledged virus. One study during the 2001-02 Ebola outbreak in Gabon showed some exposed dogs carried signs of infection, and had an immune response — but that’s not the same as getting the disease.

“Studies have shown that dogs can have an immune response to Ebola, but there have been no reports of pet dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of passing the disease to other animals or people,” said Kristen Nordlund, a CDC health-communications specialist.

“In a situation where there is a dog or cat in the home of an Ebola patient, CDC recommends public-health officials evaluate the animal’s risk of exposure,” she added.

Given dogs are present in nearly half of American homes, given many of them share our beds and lick our faces, we’d like to see the CDC recommending something more than “risk evaluation.”

excalibur2

Excalibur

Between the lack of knowledge, and the lack of a clear-cut recommended response when it comes to the pets of Ebola victims, public fears will only snowball as questions go unanswered.

Why, given all our physiological similarities, can’t the dogs of Ebola patients be tested like humans are to confirm if they’ve been exposed? And if, as limited study suggests, dogs can have the virus without getting sick and dying, might there be something worth further studying in that?

“We know that you and your clients are looking for answers, and we’re working to get information for you,” the American Veterinary Medical Association says on its website.

“The AVMA is collaborating with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USDA along with other agencies and experts and is tapping into the broad expertise of our member veterinarians to develop information for our members and the public. We will strive to ensure that veterinarians have a prominent voice as these issues are discussed and decided in the U.S.”

Up until now, the CDC has taken the line that the risk of Ebola to pets is low. Its website also says there is little risk of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S.

“The risk of an Ebola outbreak affecting multiple people in the United States is very low,” says a question and answer fact sheet on the CDC website.. “Therefore, the risk to pets is also very low, as they would have to come into contact with blood and body fluids of a person with Ebola. Even in areas in Africa where Ebola is present, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola.”

And yet Excalibur is dead and Bentley is being treated as hazardous material, and with each new case there will be new fears and ripples.

In Madrid, a dog that often played with Excalibur was surrendered to a shelter by his owners because of fears he might have contracted the disease.

tronco

Tronco

Tronco was dropped off by his owners at the Spanish animal charity Escuela Canina Esga in Madrid, according to the New York Post.

“They were parents with young children and they just were not prepared to take the risk and so [they] handed him over to us,” said manager Esga Juan Esteban. “We did everything we could to reassure them that it was probably OK, but of course we couldn’t guarantee that the animal didn’t have Ebola, and so they were adamant that they didn’t want him any longer.”

The shelter, in its effort (successful) to find Tronco a new home, used only photos of him as a pup — so that, once he was adopted, he wouldn’t be recognized in public as a dog who once played with a dog whose owner has Ebola.

(Top photo: The image of Soviet Space dog Belka is from the distant past, but might we see something like it in the near future?)

Dog of Ebola victim in Dallas moved to “undisclosed location”

pham

Bentley, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel that belongs to Ebola-stricken nurse Nina Pham, won’t be euthanized, according to Dallas officials.

Unlike in Spain, where that country’s first Ebola victim saw her dog killed and incinerated — despite no confirmation that the pet was carrying the virus, despite pleas from his owner, and despite an international outcry — officials in Dallas say they will go to great lengths to ensure that Bentley lives on.

“If that dog has to be the boy in a plastic bubble  … We are going to take good care of that dog,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

Pham, the first American to contract Ebola while in the U.S., was part of the team that cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian citizen who died of Ebola after traveling to Dallas.

Pham, 26, was reported in stable condition Monday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where she works.

Dallas officials haven’t outlined specific plans for her dog, but they’ve confirmed he has been removed from Pham’s apartment and is being kept in isolation at an undisclosed location.

Pham, 26, graduated from Texas Christian University’s nursing program in 2010.

Bentley remained alone in Pham’s apartment through the weekend, and was brought food and water.

On Monday, Dallas Animal Services confirmed that Bentley was safe and posted images on its Facebook page of the operation to move the dog from Pham’s home, NBC reported.

But where Bentley will reside; how much, if any, contact he’ll have with humans and other dogs; and how long his isolation might last are questions public health officials aren’t answering — primarily because they don’t have those answers.

“This was a new twist,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told USA TODAY. He said the dog will be cared for until his owner recovers. “The dog’s very important to the patient and we want it to be safe,” he said.

While there are no documented cases of Ebola spreading to people from dogs, at least one study suggests dogs can get the disease without showing symptoms. Experts say they are uncertain what risk that poses to humans.

Richard Hill, spokesperson for the Dallas’ Office of Emergency Management, said the dog  would be held in isolation from other dogs and people and will likely be monitored for signs of the virus for 21 days, the same period used for people who may have come into contact with the virus.

“Wherever Bentley ends up, whatever [sort of facility] he’ll be in, he’ll be by himself,” he said.

In Spain last week, the Madrid regional government, facing its first case of Ebola, euthanized Excalibur, the mixed breed dog of a nursing assistant diagnosed with the virus.

(Photo: Pham and Bentley, provided by family)

To do this, repeating what we mean when we talk about their existence.