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
It’s hardly the first time a city trying to put its best face forward has shown instead how ugly it can be.
Even as the opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi is choreographed — with its heartwarming message of peace, love and brotherhood — the city is trying to purge its streets of stray dogs, poisoning, capturing and killing them so it can project a clean, safe and pleasant image.
Despite publicly backing off from plans to do so last year, the city of Sochi has hired a private company to kill as many of its stray dogs as possible before the games, according to an ABC News report, based on an interview with the owner of the company hired to kill the dogs
Alexei Sorokin, while declining to comment on how many strays have been exterminated so far, was more than willing to talk about the dangers they pose:
“Imagine, if during an Olympic games, a ski jumper landed at 130 kilometres an hour and a dog runs into him when he lands. It would be deadly for both a jumper and for the stray dog,” he said.
Yes, the odds for that happening — landing upon a dog upon completion of a ski jump — have got to be pretty high.
It’s not the first time a city has tried to purge its streets of all things unsightly and embarassing before international attention comes its way.
Stray dogs have been rounded up at previous Olympics, and soccer championships. In America, cities hosting political conventions have corraled their homeless to keep them out of the sight of visitors. And before yesterday’s hardly-worth-the-wait Super Bowl, officials in New York and New Jersey sought to crack down on packs of prostitutes they said were streaming into the area for the big event.
All those things cost money, often taxpayer money, so residents end up footing the bill for a city’s superficial makeover — all so a city can deceive the rest of the world for a week or two.
That’s what it really is, deception — covering up its real face, putting on enough make-up so we can’t see its pimples, disguising, erasing, incarcerating or restricting the movements of those who might embarass it. Instead of addressing real problems, the city spends money on temporarily covering them up.
Then, to justify it all, they have to spin some more, often turning to fear tactics to do so.
The strays in Sochi might bite people, or might have rabies, or might bump into ski jumpers falling from the sky, officials say. So they’re being “culled,” which means killed, but sounds better. The dogs have broken no laws – other than being unwanted and unloved – but they’re getting the death penalty anyway.
“I am for the right of people to walk the streets without fear of being attacked by packs of dogs … Dogs must be taken off the streets even if that means putting them to sleep,” said Sorokin, who says he is performing a needed public service. He described his company, which generally uses poisons and traps to rid the streets of dogs, as the largest of its kind in Russia.
What’s really behind such purgings – whether it’s killing stray dogs, rounding up hookers, or cordoning off the homeless – isn’t civic pride. If it were civic pride, we’d be working on fixing the problem. When we’re working only on the appearance, it’s civic vanity.
Just as stray dogs haven’t suddenly become a bigger problem in Sochi, there’s no proof — despite the pronouncements of city and state officials — that prostitution surges to dangerous proportions during Super Bowls. There might be more arrests during Super Bowls, but there generally are when law enforcement cracks down.
Even an advocate for victims of trafficking noted last week that New York and New Jersey, by cracking down on prostitution during the Super Bowl, weren’t solving any problems — and maybe were even doing a disservice.
“The annual oversimplification of the issue, in which we conflate all prostitution with trafficking, and then imply that arrest equals solution, does a disservice to year-round efforts to genuinely assist survivors of trafficking — with emergency housing, medical care and other crucial services,” Kate Mogulescu, founder and supervising attorney of the Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society, wrote in last week’s New York Times.
“When the discussion is dominated by fear-mongering, we fail to meaningfully address the actual causes of human trafficking. Remove the guise of ‘preventing’ human trafficking, and we are left with a cautionary tale of how efforts to clean up the town for a media event rely on criminalizing people, with long-lasting implications for those who are then trapped in the criminal justice system.”
There are better ways to fight crime, conquer homelessness and combat stray dog problems — none of which are quick fixes, none of which are simply cosmetic, all of which involve, as a first step, getting past the mindset expressed by Sorokin in Soshi.
“Let’s call things by their real name,” he said. “These dogs are biological trash.”
(Photo: A stray dog and its puppy outside Sochi; by Alexander Zemlianichenko / Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 3rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: attention, biological trash, capture, civic pride, civic vanity, clean up, cosmetic, crime, cull, culling, deception, dogs, extermination, hiding, homeless, kill, killing, law enforcement, new jersey, new york, olympics, poison, prostitutes, quick fix, russia, shelters, Sochi, spotlight, stray dogs, strays, super bowl, sweeps, trafficking
The tens of thousands of stray dogs that roam the streets of Bucharest would be captured and killed under a plan proposed by the city just days after the fatal mauling of a four-year-old boy.
But first they will give voters a say — a referendum is scheduled for Oct. 6.
After the fatal mauling of a boy playing with his brother in a park, Romanian President Traian Basescu called on the government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta to pass a law that would allow for stray dogs to be killed.
“Humans are above dogs,” Ponta said.
Mayor Sorin Oprescu, in announcing the referendum, said, “We will do what Bucharest’s people want, exactly what they want.”
The controversial plan has divided Bucharest, a city of 2 million people.
In recent years, a Bucharest woman was killed by a pack of strays, and a Japanese tourist died after a stray severed an artery in his leg.
But it was the killing of a boy earlier this month that has brought the debate over strays to a fever pitch. Hundreds have demonstrated both for and against the proposed measure and have vowed to continue rallying, according to the Associated Press.
Those who see the dogs as a threat and nuisance say — ironic as it sounds — that exterminating the strays will make for a more civilized society.
“We want a civilized capital, we don’t want a jungle,” said Adina Suiu, a 27-year-old hairdresser. “I will vote for them to be euthanized. I drive a car most of the time, but when I walk around my neighborhood, I am always looking over my shoulder. If we don’t stop them now, we will be taken over by dogs.”
Burgeoning stray dog populations are a problem in several countries in the former Eastern Bloc. In Ukraine, authorities in Kiev were accused of poisoning strays as they prepared to host the Euro 2012 soccer championships. In the Kosovar capital of Pristina, officials gunned down nearly 200 strays in a three week “culling” campaign.
Vier Pfoten, an animal welfare group, says the solution isn’t killing strays but sterilizing them. The group has sterilized 10,400 dogs in Bucharest since 2001, but says a far more massive effort is needed to control the canine population.
Bucharest’s stray dog problem became more acute in the communist era when former Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu razed large swaths of the city. Residents, forcibly moved into high-rise apartment buildings, had to abandon their dogs.
“When the great demolitions came, many houses were knocked down and owners moved to apartments and could not take dogs with them,” Livia Campoeru, a spokeswoman for Vier Pfoten said. “People are irresponsible, they abandon their dogs, and there is a natural multiplication.”
Among those speaking out against the mass extermination is Brigitte Bardot, the French actress and animal rights activist. “I am extremely shocked to find that revenge, which has no place here, will be taken on all the dogs in Romania, even the gentle ones,” she wrote in an open letter to Basescu.
(Photo: Top photo by Eugen Visan, Associated Press; bottom photo by Vadim Ghirda, Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, boy, brigitte bardot, bucharest, capture, demonstrations, dog, dogs, euthanasia, extermination, government, kill, killing, mauling, nuisance, park, pets, rallies, romania, stray dogs, strays, street, thousands, vier pfoten
An Iraq War veteran says police were raiding the wrong apartment when they shot and killed his pit bull, Cindy.
Adam Arroyo was at work Monday when his apartment in Buffalo was searched by police, who shot and killed the dog he says he left tied up in the kitchen.
Arroyo rushed home when his landlord called to tell him police were searching his apartment.
“I got here as fast as I could and I saw the carnage. I saw what happened. My house was flipped upside down, my dog was gone,” he told News 4 (WIVB). He said he always tied Cindy up in the kitchen when he left for work because she tended to chew on his clothes and shoes.
Buffalo Police said officers were searching for drugs when they encountered the dog, who they said was aggressive and unchained. They believe they had the correct address, though no drugs were found in the search.
Arroyo says there are two upper apartments at his address. He showed the search warrant to News 4, and it described the suspect as black. Arroyo is Hispanic.
“They had no right, no evidence, because if that was the case they would have found stuff here and I would be in jail,” he said.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said an investigation will be conducted by the Internal Affairs Division.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adam, arroyo, buffalo, cindy, dog, dogs, internal, investigation, iraq war, kill, law enforcment, officers, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, raid, search, shoot, veteran
About 100 dogs were gunned down execution-style in British Columbia when a company that offers sled dog tours apparently decided that, due to a downturn in business, it could no longer afford to maintain them.
The shocking revelation of the mass killing (the industry prefers the term “culling”) surfaced through the British Columbia Worker’s Compensation Board, where a company employee filed a claim saying that killing the dogs, on April 21 and 23 of last year, caused him post-traumatic stress disorder.
The SPCA in British Columbia has launched an investigation into the incident.
“Culling” – or thinning the “herd” — is apparently not an uncommon practice among sled dog companies, according to the SPCA, either in the U.S. or Canada, where the sled dog tour industry is largely unregulated.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone engaged in the illegal killing of sled dogs in either country.
The 100 dogs – used in sled dog tours operated by Outdoor Adventures — were gunned downed while tethered. The employee, acting under the orders of his boss, began shooting dogs as other dogs watched. Some of the dogs panicked and attacked him as he carried out the task, he said.
“By the end he was covered in blood,” the workmen’s compensation review board noted in its Jan. 25 decision, which ruled the employee did develop PTSD in connection with the incident. “When he finished he cleared up the mess, filled in the mass grave and tried to bury the memories as deeply as he could.”
The full report from the board was obtained by The Vancouver Sun.
In addition to sparking an SPCA investigation into allegations of animal cruelty, the report has led to a suspension by Tourism Whistler of reservations for dog sledding excursions by Outdoor Adventures.
Outdoors Adventures, which also offers snowmobiling, snowshoeing and horseback excursions in the Whistler area, said in a statement that there are now no firearms on site and all future euthanizations will be done in a vet’s office.
Marcie Moriarty, head of the British Columbia SPCA cruelty investigations division, said the employee, who was the general manager of Outdoor Adventures, could and should have denied to carry out the orders from his boss.
The employee said he has suffered panic attacks and nightmares since the culling.
“I’ve no doubt he has suffered post traumatic stress but there’s a thing called choice,” said Moriarty. “I absolutely would not have done this and he could have said no … I don’t feel sorry for this guy for one minute.”
“The way this employee describes it — it’s a massacre absolutely … These dogs were killed in front of the other dogs that were all tethered up on the compound.”
The order to kill the sled dogs came after a veterinarian declined to euthanize healthy animals, and some attempts were made to adopt out the dogs, the employee told the review board.
SPCA officials say the incident sheds some needed light on the industry.
“There is a problem with the sled dog industry in general,” Moriarty said. “People see these 20 sled dogs, an idyllic setting with snow in the background and think how great. But what they don’t see is the 200 dogs tethered and sleeping out back, chained to a barrel.”
Posted by John Woestendiek February 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 100 sled dogs, adventures, animal legal defense fund, british columbia, chained, cull, culled, culling, dogs, gun, investigation, kill, killed, killing, mush, mushing, outdoor, outdoor adventures, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, shot, sled dogs, spca, tethered, tourism, vancouver, whistler, workmens compensation
A St. Petersburg, Florida, police officer shot and killed two dogs Sunday night.
Chris Clark, 44, said he was walking his Rottweiler, Quincy, and his landlord’s Chesapeake Bay retriever, Missy, when he heard a police officer shouting at him — Officer Slobodan Juric, who was investigating a complaint about a suspicious person in the area.
When Clark stopped, a third dog, unleashed approached Missy and the two exchanged growls. Quincy’s leash got wrapped around him. Clark fell and the dogs started fighting.
Clark told the St. Petersburg Times that he was grabbing his dogs’ collars, trying to pull them away, when Juric yelled “mad dog” and pointed the gun at Missy.
Clark said Juric fired one shot into the dog, pointed the gun at Quincy and fired another round, then fired two more shots into Missy.
“We’ve begun an internal affairs investigation,” said St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman Mike Puetz. “There will be a statement taken from (Clark) and from everybody who was a witness in the case, to try and discern the totality of the events and the appropriateness of the (officer’s) action.”
Juric, 25, has been with the department for more than a year. He was formerly a freelance photographer for the St. Petersburg Times.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 14th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, chesapeake bay retriever, chris clark, dog, dog walking, dogs, fight, florida, investigation, kill, kills, law enforcement, missy, news, officer, ohmidog!, pets, police, quincy, rottweiler, shooting, shoots, slobodan juric, st. petersburg, walking
Budget cuts at the local humane society have forced sheriff’s deputies in Wicomico County, Maryland to take on dog-related duties, and some animals may be dying as a result.
Reports of aggressive animals — once the domain of animal control officers — are now falling to deputies, who often don’t have much training in dealing with them.
Sheriff Mike Lewis says deputies have been forced to kill aggressive animals that in the past might have been subdued.
“We have to shoot it with a .45 – nobody wants to do that,” Lewis said.
In addition to lacking training, deputies don’t have the proper equipment, such as tranquilizer guns, Lewis told the Daily Times.
A year ago, the Wicomico County Humane Society had three full-time animal control officers. It now has one who works four hours a day. Under next year’s budget, the Humane Society will receive $248,000 from the county, compared to the $327,000 budgeted last year.
Executive Director Linda Lugo said the Humane Society took in 2,030 stray animals from the county from July 2009 through May of this year. The animals are held for at least six days, under law, before being put down or transfered elsewhere — at a cost of about $122,000, Lugo said.
Funding from the county pays for three-fifths of the Humane Society’s operating budget. The city and independent fundraising by the Humane Society help cover the rest.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 10th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, aggressive, animal control, animal welfare, animals, budget, costs, cuts, dangerous, deputies, dogs, euthanize, humane society, kill, maryland, mike lewis, news, ohmidog!, pets, rescue, shelter, sheriff, shoot, stray, wicomico county