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Tag: lethal injection

Where a trail of dead dogs has led

trail1

When Randi Hileman came upon a trail of dead dogs and cats on the highway in North Carolina, she did what most folks do nowadays. She got out her phone and took some pictures.

She was distressed enough by the scene that, after moving the corpses to the side of the road, she posted the photos on Facebook and called the news media —  all in search of some sort of explanation.

And when, earlier this month, the explanation came, she — and a lot of other people — got even angrier.

trailWhat little official response there was went something like this: Someone failed to properly latch the tailgate of  a truck transporting dogs and cats that had been euthanized at the Davidson County Animal Shelter.

Rather than ending up at their destination, a landfill, their bodies were left strewn along U.S 64, near Interstate 85.

Judy Lanier, the shelter’s director, told inquiring reporters it was a non-story, and apparently convinced a lot of them of that.

Not too many accounts of what happened can be easily found on the Internet, other than this one in the Winston-Salem Journal.

“It was an internal employee mistake that’s been dealt with in less than 30 minutes,” Lanier told columnist Scott Sexton. “Basically it’s a nonstory. There is one thread on one Facebook page where you’ve got less than 10 people beating a dead horse.”

Between being one of only eight counties backwards enough to still use gas chambers to put down dogs, the public opposition to that, the county’s dismal adoptions figures (it reportedly euthanizes 6,000 dogs a year), Lanier’s defensive reaction and the vivid images of what her employee left, however briefly, on the highway, it’s not too surprising that some people are calling for the shelter director’s resignation.

Lanier, while she’s not granting many interviews with the media, is responding to what people are saying on Facebook.

“I never took it lightly,” she says in one comment. “I dealt with it a week ago in a professional expedient fashion … I take issue with this non story that was simply an error of equipment usage being used as another platform for attacking our shelter, our staff and our ethics … Not one cat was adopted due to this story being spread all over face book. Not one of these so called activists stepped through the door to help lessen the overcrowding that requires that truck to make that trip several times a week. Shame on those who criticize that which they don’t understand and those who don’t intend to put their words into action. Journalism when practiced honestly does not require ambushing and exploitation. That’s just his personnel (sic) self aggrandizement in print.

Lanier wrote that none of the animals found on the road had been put down in the gas chamber, and said the shelter uses lethal injection three times more often than it uses its gas chamber. Opponents of the gas chamber, she said,  are using the dead animal spill to fuel their campaign against the use of gas.

“Those animals are the visual picture of what happens in a community that does not spay/nueter (sic), thinks of animals as disposable property and expects a small shelter to absorb their decisions and re home each one. That’s a fact not an excuse but reality.

In another comment, she gets in a shot at the reporter:  ”Must be a slow day in the newspaper world when a columnist can only report week old news and quote a no comment voice mail to make a punch line … Mr. Sexton burnt a bridge he won’t ever cross again today.”

MAP TEMP NEW 2014Lanier further states that she wishes people criticizing the shelter would spend that energy instead on volunteering at the shelter, helping get dogs adopted and educating the public on spaying and neutering.

Amid her comments, an apology can be found.

“The incident where animals were found on Highway 64 on Tuesday, August 8, 2014 was an unfortunate error caused by the tailgate on the animal shelter truck being inadequately secured. The animal shelter truck was in route to the county landfill at the time of the incident. The animal shelter staff acted as soon as possible to correct this error and the staff member involved was extremely sorry and devastated that this had occurred. The shelter staff member is an excellent employee who performs above and beyond every day at the shelter. Measures have been taken by the staff to make sure this never occurs again.

“The Davidson County Animal Shelter apologizes to the public who witnessed this incident. We are aware of the impact this has had on our citizens. The entire incident was due to human error and is regrettable.”

Probably she should have provided that statement to reporters and stopped there, rather than telling them they were “beating a dead horse.” And probably she should have held back on criticizing animal advocates who want to see the gas chamber dismantled.

Criticizing those who see the issues differently is bad for public relations. Badmouthing reporters is bad for public relations. The gas chamber is bad for public relations. Dead dogs on the highway is bad for public relations.

Davidson County officials have the power to do something about one or two of those, or perhaps all four.

(Photos from Randi Hileman’s Facebook page)

Alaska shelter shoots all its animals

The animal shelter run by the town of Houston, Alaska, says its eight residents — four dogs and four cats — were just too difficult to adopt out.

So, according to police Sgt. Charlie Seidl, under orders, he shot them all.

Seidl said some of the animals had been at the city’s “Animal Protection and Safety Shelter” since November — unclaimed and unadopted.

“We stretched out as long as we could,” Seidl said. “At one point in time, we were completely full. So we were able to adopt out the animals that we could adopt out, but with these ones that were left we weren’t able to do that. And like I said, we can’t hang on to them indefinitely.”

Even in Alaska — a state with, to put it nicely, different sensibilities — the event sparked outrage.

“This is barbaric,” said shelter volunteer Evelyn Rohr. “I think there are better ways to handle it.” Rohr told the Anchorage Daily News she managed to get six or seven cats out before the culling and planned to deliver them to rescue facilities in Anchorage, about 30 miles south.

The Alaska Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (now there’s a tough job) said it would have tried to help find homes for the animals, but Houston animal control hadn’t contacted the agency.

“There are more humane ways of killing animals than taking them out and shooting them,” said Cindy Liggett, who operates Kitty and K-9 Connection animal rescue in Anchorage “We are not a poor society. We are not a backwoods community. There is a vet clinic there.”

Rohr said Mayor Roger Purcell ordered police to kill the animals after an officer at the shelter refused to do it, and police Sgt. Seidl said he carried out the shootings under the mayor’s orders.

Purcell denied issuing any such order. “Animal control keeps them for three to five days and then they’re disposed of in a legal way. But I don’t get told when they dispose of dogs,” he said. “I know our officers try really hard to find homes and we keep dogs longer than any other.”

Purcell said the city was working to have its animal control officer licensed by the state to euthanize animals by lethal injection rather than having a veterinarian do it at greater cost. He said euthanizing by gun is common in rural areas around the state.

Sally Clampitt, executive director of the Alaska SPCA, said lethal injections are for more humane than is terminating a dog’s life by gunshot. “I think that’s really horrible, frankly,” she said. “Our position is that euthanasia done by a licensed veterinarian is the preferred and most humane way.”

One state’s toll — 118,365 euthanized dogs

Michigan’s animal shelters euthanized 118,365 dogs last year — some of them in outdated gas chambers which take as long as five minutes to accomplish the ugly job. 

“In a gas chamber, the larger dogs survive for four to five minutes — terrified and choking,” said Joe Sowerby, one of many animal advocates upset by revisions to a bill that would have prohibited the gassing of dogs.

A bill to require euthanasia be administered through more humane lethal injection was proposed in the Michigan legislature, but now it appears it will be watered down, allowing the process to continue in some counties, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Dogs injected with sodium pentobarbital lose consciousness in seconds and die within minutes. The method has also been shown to be less costly.

Despite that, Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Nancy Frank said she wouldn’t favor limiting shelters’ options because not all facilities have the training for injections.

State legislators, including two from metro Detroit, say they plan to revise — and essentially weaken — bills that, in their original versions, would have outlawed the use of gas chambers in animal shelters.

“We’ll say whenever possible you should do injections because that’s the most humane,” state Rep. Fred Miller said last week. “But if you have the training and you’ve invested in the equipment to use gas properly, that’s allowed.”

Poison gas is no longer used at animal shelters in most of Michigan, including metro Detroit. But at least 10 counties in north and west Michigan still use it, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

State officials said Michigan shelters euthanized 53% of the animals brought in last year, but figures aren’t available on how many were gassed.

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