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Tag: seized

Half of Kentucky’s county animal shelters called substandard — and nobody’s watching

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One day after basking in the nationwide attention the Kentucky Derby brings, Kentuckians woke up to the reality of how another species of animal is being treated by the state.

The Lexington Herald-Leader presented a package of stories addressing the often poor conditions in the state’s rarely monitored animal shelters.

In a state most famous for racing horses — and doing so in manner that almost appears civilized, what with the all the elegant outfits, mint juleps and whimsical hats — many dogs are living far less regal lives, stuck in county-run shelters that, under state law, receive almost no scrutiny from state agencies.

Unlike most states, Kentucky’s animal-shelter law does not include any inspection or enforcement provisions, which means any actions taken against them such shelters must from citizens.

Not until 2004 did state laws even get written to lay down minimum standards for county-run shelters. Those new measures required each county to have access to a shelter and animal-control officer, and set out standards that include protection from the weather; basic veterinary care or humane euthanasia for ill or injured animals; adequate heat in winter; clean and dry pens with adequate room for animal comfort; construction with materials that can be properly cleaned and disinfected; available clean water; uncontaminated food provided daily; and public access to the facility.

Those laws didn’t outline how, or specify who, was responsible for enforcing those standards.

A measure in the 2017 legislative session called for a study of ways to better fund animal shelters and cited the need for a “government entity” to enforce the state’s shelter rules, but it died without consideration.

That lack of enforcement is a large part of the reason the Animal Legal Defense Fund has ranked the state last in animal protection laws for 11 years in a row.

A study by the University of Kentucky, done in 2016, found that of 92 shelters covering Kentucky’s 120 counties – some of them regional facilities – conditions at 57 percent violated three or more provisions of Kentucky’s animal-shelter laws.

More than a fourth were considered “very substandard,” and only 12 percent were meeting all the rules the legislature put in place in 2004.

“Current laws do not appear to be fully satisfactory at accomplishing the goal of providing good shelter animal care across Kentucky,” said the study.

skaggsWhile county-run shelters operate with relative immunity, independent nonprofit sanctuaries and shelters get no such free ride, as was the case last week when the state Department of Agriculture seized 14 dogs from a no-kill sanctuary called Eden.

Randy J. Skaggs, who operates the sanctuary in Elliot County through his Trixie Foundation, faces 179 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty in connection with poor health and living conditions.

Skaggs defenders say he has devoted his life to caring for animals because so many public shelters in the region were substandard.

Skaggs says he is housing animals no one else wants, and that shelters would end up euthanizing. He refuses to let anyone adopt dogs because believes their best chance to live a healthy and happy life is at his sanctuary.

Skaggs believes the criminal charges against him are retaliation over his efforts to bring attention to Kentucky’s failure to adopt adequate animal protection laws, his criticisms of county shelters and his efforts to push for improvements.

(Photos: Will Wright / Lexington Herald-Leader)

Gang members arrested in China for selling poison darts used to kill dogs for meat

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Thousands of poisoned syringes that were sold to dog meat vendors to instantly kill dogs on the streets have been seized by police in China.

The police investigation led to the discovery of a ton of dead dogs at a storage facility in the eastern province of Anhui, and the arrest of eight gang members who were selling the weapon in 20 provinces and regions across the China, the news agency Xinhua said.

Police believe the gang sold more than 200,000 poisoned syringes to vendors who hunted pets on the street and traded their meat with restaurants.

The syringes contained a large enough dose of the muscle relaxant suxamethonium to kill the dogs instantly — and enough to be toxic to any human later consuming the dog’s meat.

Police said the needles were modified with a spring and a tailfin at the rear so they could be shot like a dart.

The Telegraph reported that the investigation into the gang began in September when police were tipped off by a postal worker who came across a suspicious package leaking a pungent smelling fluid.

syringesThey discovered 200 syringes in the package, and arrested the man who it was being delivered to in Huainan city, in Anhui.

Police then arrested two accomplices who shot the dogs in local streets, before finding a ton of frozen dogs at a nearby cold storage.

The men had frozen the meat and had planned to sell it in the winter.

Police also raided the gang’s workshop in central China’s Hubei Province, where they arrested another five men who were making the syringes.

At that site they discovered four kilograms of the chemical powder, 10,000 needles and 100,000 yuan, or more than $15,000, Xinhua said.

The poisoned darts have been in use for years. Two years ago, in Hunan province, a man who ran a dog meat-selling operation shot himself with one while demonstrating how to fire one with a crossbow. He died on his way to the hospital.

The other members of the operation were later arrested, and confessed to freezing the canine carcasses with the intention of selling the meat to restaurants.

“The dog meat trade in China is organized, large scale and facilitated by crime, with as many as 20 million dogs and four million cats killed every year,” said Wendy Higgins, from the Humane Society International. “Stopping the gangs involved is a major step in the right direction.”

She added: “The use of poison to catch dogs for the meat trade is a cruelty that very often sees people’s beloved pets targeted, and the animals involved can suffer enormously.”

Dog meat has long been consumed by humans in China and other Asian countries. It is eaten by a small minority of Chinese, and the practice is fading as dogs become a popular pet.

Dog found high on meth gets new home


Bubba, a Jack Russell terrier-Chihuahua mix found high on methamphetamine in a seedy California hotel room four months ago, is headed to a new home.

No sooner was he pronounced healthy, drug free and available for adoption Wednesday than a couple walked into Orange County Animal Care and adopted the seven-month-old dog.

The couple, who had been following his story, asked not to be identified, though they did allow a photo to be taken of the new happy family.

Bubba had been at the shelter since March after being rescued by animal control officers from a drug-infested motel room in Tustin. He was only eight weeks old at the time.

Tests later show he had ingested methamphetamine and heroin.

His owner, Joshua West, 40, of Mission Viejo, was arrested on an outstanding warrant and suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, heroin and drug paraphernalia and booked into Orange County Jail.

Another southern California man was arrested last week after his Chihuahua, named Jack Sparrow, was found to have ingested methamphetamine.

After months of treatment, Bubba’s test results came back clear for the first time, prompting the shelter to put him up for adoption, according to Jennifer Hawkins, shelter director and chief veterinarian.

“They were a really nice couple and told us that Bubba would have a sister,” Katie Ingram, assistant director of OC Animal Care, told the Orange County Register. “Bubba bonded with them immediately.”

“It made it more meaningful that they were able to help him out because of his rough start in life,” Ingram added. “We were happy they are home quite a bit. It’s what he deserves.”

(Top photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register; bottom photo courtesy of Orange County Animal Care)

More than 500 dogs and cats find homes during massive N.C. adoption event

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In less than two days, the ASPCA found new homes for more than 500 dogs and cats seized from an unlicensed North Carolina shelter less than two months ago.

Potential adopters arrived early and in large numbers Friday morning, with a line stretching around the warehouse in Sanford that served as a temporary shelter for the dogs.

Just hours into Saturday, the planned third day of the event was canceled because all the animals had been adopted.

The dogs and cats were among more than 600 seized in January by Hoke County deputies and the ASPCA from The Haven – Friends for Life, an unlicensed no-kill shelter located in Raeford, N.C.

Since then, the animals have been held at the temporary facility for evaluation and veterinary care.

Adoption fees were waived during the event, and each animal was micro-chipped and spayed or neutered.

By Friday evening, more than half of the animals were adopted, the Fayetteville Observer reported.

Just a few hours into Saturday, all the dogs had been adopted, and the event closed early when the final cat was adopted Saturday afternoon.

Lynn and Carl Draus arrived Friday morning with a photo they had taken of a dog off their TV screen during a news report about the event.

Wandering through the rows of cages, they managed to find her.

“I feel in love with her just from the picture,” Lynn Draus told WRAL. “I didn’t know she was a puppy, but I just had a feeling that was the one I was going to get. So, we came here, and we were asking everybody where she’s at, and we found her.”

“The ASPCA is pleased to report that after an overwhelming successful two-day adoption event in Sanford, all 524 available cats and dogs were adopted into safe and loving homes,” the organization reported in a news release.

“The remaining cats and dogs who were not made available for adoption, as well as the 68 farm animals, will be placed with the ASPCA’s network of animal welfare agencies across the country to be made available for adoption.” the release said.

ASPCA officials have called the seizures from The Haven the largest companion-animal raid they’ve conducted nationwide in the last 20 years.

Authorities charged husband and wife Stephen and Linden Spear with four counts of animal cruelty and three counts of possession of a controlled substance, stemming from an animal medication not authorized on the property.

The Haven failed state inspections for more than a decade but was never shut down.

(Photo by Shannon Millard / Fayetteville Observer)

300 dogs seized from N.C. shelter to be available for adoption this weekend

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Many of those 650 dogs and cats removed six weeks ago from an unlicensed shelter in Hoke County, North Carolina, will be available for adoption, starting this Friday.

In what sounds like it could be the mother of all adoption events, the ASPCA will make the dogs and cats available through the weekend at the temporary shelter in which the animals have been living in Sanford.

Adoption fees will be waived during the event, and each animal will have been micro-chipped, and spayed or neutered.

Adoption counselors, as well as behavioral and veterinary experts, will be staffing the event, and adoptions will take place between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday at 2215 Nash St. in Sanford.

Those wanting to adopt a dog or cat should bring identification, proof of address and an appropriate-size carrier for the animal they adopt.

The ASPCA and Hoke County authorities seized nearly 700 dogs, cats, birds and horses in January from The Haven – Friends for Life shelter.

Its operators, Linden Spear and her husband, Stephen, were charged with four counts of animal cruelty and three counts of possession of a controlled substance, stemming from an animal medication not authorized on the property.

The Haven failed state inspections for more than a decade but was never shut down.

During the seizure, dozens of animals were found buried on the property. One dog and one cat had to be euthanized because of health problems.

Numerous animals were treated for emaciation, open wounds, ringworm, respiratory illnesses and other issues.

ASPCA officials said the raid at The Haven was the largest companion-animal raid they’ve conducted nationwide in the last 20 years.

(Photo: Courtesy of ASPCA)

Music video features puppy mill dogs seized from British Columbia breeder

Some of the 66 dogs seized from a British Columbia puppy mill last month are now starring in a rap video aimed at finding them adoptive homes.

The dogs — 32 adults and 34 puppies — were seized by the BC SPCA from a puppy mill in Langley.

The breeds included Bernese mountain dogs, soft-coated Wheaton terriers, standard poodles, miniature poodles and Portuguese water dogs — all showing signs of neglect, many of them malnourished, and some with broken bones and other injuries.

Now, a month later, the SPCA has begun taking applications from those interested in adopting the dogs — known as the “Langley 66” — and staff members put together this rap video to draw attention to the cause.

The SPCA is making the dogs available for adoption in stages, with 23 of them medically cleared this week, according to The Province. Potential owners will be required to attend a mandatory information session before they can adopt one of the dogs.

Number of animals removed from overwhelmed N.C. shelter rises to 700

The number of animals taken from a no-kill shelter in Hoke County, N.C., has risen to nearly 700.

Hoke County sheriff’s deputies and about 140 ASPCA staff members cleared the last of the animals off the 122-acre property Saturday, officials said Monday.

The state shut down The Haven – Friends for Life shelter on Jan. 27, charging its owners, Linden and Stephen Spears, with four counts of animal cruelty and three counts of possession of a controlled substance.

The Spears, who had been barred from their home by court order, are now able to return, said sheriff’s Capt. John Kivett.

“The investigation is still continuing, and possibly more charges will be brought in the very near future,” Kivett told the Fayetteville Observer.

The ASPCA has taken temporary custody of the animals — more than 300 dogs, 250 cats, as well as horses, birds and pigs — and they are being cared for at undisclosed locations across North Carolina.

Investigators also found the remains of 15 dogs buried on the property.

As of Monday, about half of the adult dogs and 182 cats were in isolation due to respiratory illnesses and other contagious conditions. Ten veterinarians have been treating the animals, some of which have open wounds and some of which appeared malnourished.

“Hopefully, they’ll continue to recover,” ASPCA spokeswoman Kelly Krause said. “We will be making sure they are staying healthy, treating them and making sure they have care.”

Once healthy the ASPCA hopes to make the dogs and cats available for adoption, but that can’t happen until a court determines the custody of the animals, she said.

The next court appearance for the Spears is scheduled for Feb. 10.