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
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.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 31st, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, animal cruelty, animals, charges, chasing, dogs, euthanasia, filed, killing, lethal injection, livestock, Marteen Silas, murder, nuisance, oklahoma, paws, pest, pets, Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society, siberian husky, technician, zeus
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)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 22nd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, angels among us, animals, atlanta, care, death row, dog, dogs, euthanasia, facebook, foster, home, kala, keira, pets, photo, photograph, rescue, saved, shelter
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?
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.
“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.”
“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.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 14th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: agriculture minister, animals, australia, Barnaby Joyce, boo, deported, depp, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, johnny depp, johnny depp dogs, johnny depp's dogs, petition, pets, pirates of the caribbean, pistol, quarantine, rabies, sexiest man alive, smuggled, terrierist, terriers, yorkies, yorkshire
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