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
As America’s first quarantined dog of an Ebola patient, Bentley’s fame may be spreading as fast as the deadly virus he may or may not have.
So much so that we suspect the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is receiving more attention, donations and expressions of support — at least online — than his sick human, Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who contracted the disease while caring for the first Ebola victim to be diagnosed in America.
This being America, a dog-crazy land, that wouldn’t be too surprising.
That funds are being raised in his name isn’t too surprising either.
That he already has a “wish list” set up on Amazon? That’s a little surprising.
As soon as Bentley was moved Monday to the undisclosed (at least initially) location he’s being quarantined and monitored in, the campaigns to raise money in his name began — ostensibly to help pay for his care, in reality for much more.
“Poor Bentley the Dog Needs You to Buy 67 Items From His Amazon Wish List,” reads the headline on a Dallas Observer blog post.
We’re sure he doesn’t truly need a $239 Lawn Boy lawnmower; or a Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener, in black and chrome; or a thermal label printer; or a $299 microchip reader; or a Bluetooth portable GPS navigator.
But between the news media delighting in tugging our heartstrings, and some savvy sorts at Dallas Animal Services who know a fundraising opportunity when they see one, that’s the way the story is coming across.
It started where all things start, or at least end up — on Facebook.
Dallas Animal Services posted a picture (left)) wih a list of ways people could help support Bentley while he is in quarantine. The post pointed out that any extra donations — of paper towels, pee pads, toys and rawhide chews — would go to other dogs awaiting adoption.
It’s a pretty common practice among animal shelters — seizing upon the case of one sympathy-inducing dog to raise funds for more than just that one dog. It’s not an evil practice. It’s well-intentioned. While it may be a tad deceptive, it’s effective.
And given the total lack of foresight, knowledge and protocol when it comes to Ebola victims and their pets (we’ll talk more about this Monday), such fundraising techniques could prove highly necessary in the months and years ahead.
Bentley has served as a wake-up call — as, in a way, did Excalibur, the dog of Spain’s first Ebola patient. Excalibur was quickly destroyed, even though there’s no proof dogs can get Ebola or pass it on to humans.
While Dallas Animal Services is overseeing the care of Bentley — now sequestered at a decommissioned Naval air base nearby — the Dallas Fire Department’s Hazmat Response Team is doing the hands-on (and gloves on, and hazmat suits on) work, feeding and cleaning up after the dog.
Dallas Animal Services is continuing to keep the public posted on Bentley, mostly through its Facebook page, but its campaign to seek donations in his name apparently was toned down, if not halted, at least temporarily.
CBS in Dallas, which reported on the campaign, later reported that Dallas Animal Services has suspended its request for donations and pulled the Facebook post. Whether that’s because someone deemed it deceptive or exploitative isn’t known. No reason is given.
As for that Amazon “wish list,” it’s still up, but, just to be clear, those are items Dallas Animal Services need — not exclusively for the care of Bentley.
At the end of last week, a more formal funnel for donations helping the dogs of Ebola victims was set up. The city teamed up with Dallas Companion Animal Project, a nonprofit organization, which has created the Dallas Pet Emergency Transition Services fund to help pay for the care of pets affected by emergency events, including Ebola exposure.
(Photos: Dallas Animal Services)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 17th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amazon, animal shelters, animals, cavalier king charles spaniel, dallas, dallas animal services, dog, dogs, donations, ebola, ebola dog, exposure, facebook, fundraising, health, nina pham, pet emergency transition services, pets, public, publicity, quarantine, shelters, support, transmission, wish list
Three weeks after he was surrendered by his owners, an unwanted four-year-old mixed breed dog received what was supposed to be a lethal injection.
An animal control worker at the Ozark City Animal Shelter in Alabama watched as a contract veterinarian inserted the needle. The dog became still and quiet, and was presumed dead when everyone went home for the night.
When the time came, the next morning, to remove his body from the pen he was left in, the dog was up and about, had moved to an outdoor pen and, while a little wobbly, had helped himself to some water.
“He was back up and breathing and going right about business like it’s nothing,” said Ozark police Capt. Bobby Blankenship, who supervises the city shelter.
The police captain’s daughter, who works as a volunteer at the shelter, explained it this way: “His body overcame and he had a will to live,” said Cortney Blankenship, “and somehow, someway he made it through.”
The dog arrived at the shelter on Aug. 19 after being dropped off by his owner, who Blankenship said was moving and could no longer care for him. The animal was cut and bloody after being struck by a car and a pad on its left rear foot was missing.
Blankenship tried to find an adoptive home or rescue group that wanted him, but when no one stepped forward, the lethal injection was carried out on Sept. 10.
Shelter staff don’t know what kept the dog from dying, and they declined to release the name of the veterinarian who performed the injection, according to an Associated Press report.
Possibly an improper dosage was used, or the needle missed the vein.
In any event, the dog — since named Lazarus — recovered, and found a home after Cortney Blankenship posted the story of his survival on Facebook.
Lazarus was picked up from the shelter by Two by Two Animal Rescue, and later delivered to Jane Holston who lives in a suburb of Birmingham suburb.
He has heartworms, and one leg is in a cast from the car accident, but Lazarus is over the effects of his lethal injection.
“He’s not skittish, he’s not afraid of anything, anybody, any sounds. I mean, it’s just amazing what all he has been through,” Holston said.
(Photo: Lazarus, with his new owner, Jane Holston, in Helena, Ala.; by Jay Reeves / Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, alabama, animal shelter, animals, dog, dogs, euthanasia, lazarus, lethal injection, ozark city, pets, rescued, shelters, survived, survivor
An animal sanctuary in Ohio, after watching how successful the Ice Bucket Challenge has been as a fundraiser for ALS research, has launched a similar campaign to raise money for its shelter, challenging people to pick up dog or cat feces — with their bare hands.
The gimmick is similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge — but way more disgusting. Participants videotape themselves picking up poop, and post the video on the Internet, nominating friends and family to either take the challenge or make a donation to the shelter. ($25 is suggested.)
In a post on its Facebook page, The Island Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary in Port Clinton, Ohio, announced the “Poop Pickup Challenge” on Saturday:
“We at Island Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary are starting our own challenge. It is something that if you are a dog or cat lover have probably ALL done at one time or another. We want you to challenge people (hopefully germ haters) to a ‘Free-hand poop’ Event.”
“We’re just trying to do something to raise funds for the sanctuary,” Nancy Benevento, CEO of the sanctuary, told The Toledo Blade. “Hands can be washed.”
As proof that the whole thing isn’t entirely tongue in cheek, Benevento got the campaign rolling by picking up — with her bare hands — a pile left by a bull mastiff at the sanctuary.
People are challenged to record themselves picking up dog or cat feces barehanded, post it to social media using the hashtag #pooppickupchallenge, and then challenge their family and friends. Those who are challenged and prefer not to pick up are asked to donate $25 to the sanctuary.
Benevento said she tried to make the challenge so revolting that people would wind up donating rather than completing it.
We think she succeeded on that last account, and we think picking up dog poop is far more earth-friendly than pouring ice water over oneself. (Or one’s dog.)
But concerns about health and hygiene should send this challenge to the Dumpster.
Filling up a bucket with dog poop and disposing of it, rather than the bare hands requirement, might have been a better challenge — and it should be poop from dogs other than your own. Picking that up is your job, anyway.
Those behind the challenge do suggest that anyone taking part should wash their hands afterwards. They advise picking up poop only from animals you know are healthy — though often one would have no way of knowing that. On top of that, they recommend you not do it with a hand that has any open cuts. And children, they add, should not be allowed to participate.
We’d say all those disclaimers pretty much take all the fun out of it — if there was any fun in it in the first place.
As much as we’re in favor of poop being picked up, and funds being raised for shelters, we think this idea is need of a lot of fine tuning.
For that reason and others, Mrs. Benevento, bold and well-intentioned as your challenge is, we’re not inclined to take it, and forgive us for not wanting to shake your hand right now.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 27th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: als, animals, bare handed, bare hands, challenges, dog, dogs, donations, feces, fund raising, gimmicks, ice bucket challenge, island safe harbor animal sanctuary, nancy benevento, non-profit, ohio, organizations, pets, poop, poop pick up challenge, poop pickup challenge, pooppickupchallenge, port clinton, rescues, sanctuaries, shelters, social media, video, waste
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.
What 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.”
Lanier 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)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 25th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption rates, animals, bodies, carcasses, cats, davidson county, dead, director, dogs, euthanized, facebook, gas chamber, judy lanier, lethal injection, neuter, north carolina, pets, photos, put down, rescues, shelters, spay, spill, tailgate, truck
A friend recently emailed me this poster she came across online — because the dog with the noose around his neck is the spitting image of my dog, Ace.
Or is it Ace?
For a while, I thought it was my dog, and wondered whether someone had copied one of the many photos of him that have appeared on ohmidog! and elsewhere, and then photoshopped a noose around his neck.
It reminded me of a photo I took of him in Montana about seven years ago, but that was noose-less, and in the middle of a snowstorm (hence the downward cast face). I guess snowflakes can be removed as easily as nooses can be added, though.
I have no problem with the message on the poster, even with its misplaced comma: “Abandoning a dog, means killing it.”
That is, usually, the case.
But, if it is my dog, and my picture, someone should have checked with me first before looping a noose around his neck — even if it was done only through photo manipulation.
Is it Ace? I’m not sure. (That’s him to the left.)
The dog in the poster looks like him, with his big head, little ears, and high-rise legs. And that seemingly contemplative pose is one Ace strikes frequently.
Then again, the dog in the photo might be just a little grayer around the muzzle than he is.
To try to get to the bottom of it, I turned to tineye.com a reverse image search engine that allows you to play detective on the Internet by uploading a photo and getting a list of websites on which it has appeared.
It, after searching 5.283 billion images in an amazing 0.001 seconds — which is harder than I will ever work — found six results.
Three of them were in English, and two were this French version:
Another one was in Italian, and it was the one that had been on the web the longest.
I clicked on that link and it took me to an Italian government webpage, listing public service campaigns the government had sponsored over the years.
The Ace lookalike appeared in a 2011 campaign aimed at informing the public that abandoning dogs is illegal, and that abandoned dogs usually die.
The slogan,”Chi abbandona un cane lo condanna,” means roughly that one who abandons a dog is condemning that dog to death.
The campaign made use of billboards and TV and radio spots, with most of the publicity coming at peak times of holiday travel. As a computer-translated version of the web page explained:
“It was decided to carry out the campaign at this time in view of the fact that the problem of stray dogs is sharpened so evident during the summer, when they touch the peaks of dropouts due to the difficulty of managing the presence of the animal in a recreation area.”
I’m sure it makes more sense in the original Italian.
What did come across clearly were the potential punishments for dog abandonment — a year in prison, or a fine of up to 10,000 Euros.
If that is Ace helping make the Italian public more aware of the problem, I’m proud to have him serve in that capacity. If it’s not, I can only assume it’s another Rottweiler-Chow-Akita-pitbull mix).
With Ace being a mix of four breeds (according to DNA tests) it’s not as common as it is with purebreds to come across nearly exact replicas of him. But I have seen a few doppelgangers.
One thing I found while researching “DOG, INC.,” my book on commercial dog cloning, was that – rather than spending $100,000 to have your dog replicated in a laboratory in South Korea — you can generally find a lookalike in a shelter, if not in your hometown, probably not too far away.
I’m guessing Ace is not the poster boy in this case, and I’m assuming that Italy used an Italian dog for its public service announcement.
As for the Ace photo it reminds me of, it’s on my other computer — the one that’s not working right now — so I can’t call it up and compare. And the post I may have used it in apparently tunneled its way out of the Internet (which is the only way of escaping).
If anyone in Italy knows about the dog in the photo — assuming an English to Italian computer-translation of this account makes any sense at all (and I bet it doesn’t) — get in touch with me at email@example.com.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 3rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandon, abandoned, abandoning a dog means killing it, abandonment, ace, altering, american, animal welfare, animals, awareness, campaign, dogs, french, government, homeless, image, italian, italy, john woestendiek, noose, ohmidog!, pets, photograph, photographs, photos, photoshop, poster, psa, public awareness, public service announcement, rescues, reuse, reused, share, shared, shelters, slogans, stray
Returning a dog you adopted to the shelter he came from isn’t always a shameful thing.
Sometimes, sad as it is to see, there can be valid reasons for doing so, and, given it is done right, it might turn out best for all involved.
This Denver man clearly didn’t do it right.
Daniel Sohn, 31, is scheduled to appear in court on July 2 to face charges of animal cruelty and neglect after ditching his dog at the Denver Animal Shelter — twice in one day, 7NEWS reported this week.
Sohn, in an interview with the station, disagreed with term “ditch,” and said he took the dog to the shelter to “give him a choice.”
The dog, named Bronson, was adopted by Sohn in October.
According to 7NEWS, he took the dog to the shelter to surrender him, but on two different visits the same day, he balked when he was asked to fill out the required paperwork.
At one point, he ran out the door to his car. His dog followed, and a witness snapped a photo of the dog chasing the car down the street.
Witnesses said his car hit the dog at one point.
7NEWS reporter Molly Hendrickson tracked Sohn down at his parent’s home in Aurora.
“Yes, that is my car and my dog,” Sohn said when shown the photo that had been taken of the dog chasing the car. “I actually dropped him off and he followed me because we have a bit of a bond.”
He added, “Well, I didn’t ditch him. I actually dropped my dog off at the shelter where I did pick him up at. I actually gave my dog a choice if he wanted to be with me or possibly find an owner he might feel better with.”
As for striking the dog with the car, Sohn said, “I didn’t accidentally hit him. He jumped in front of my car but I felt he was triggered to do so as if, like, he was a mechanism of the surrounding people.”
Sohn left with his dog, but he says Bronson later, on a trip to Los Angeles, jumped out of his car at a gas station in Beverly Hills. He hasn’t seen him since.
“He’s a stray and some dogs just stray and he’s probably onto the next owner,” Sohn said. “Is he still alive? I’m sure he is.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 29th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 7News, abandon, adoption, animals, car, charges, chasing, court, cruelty, daniel sohn, date, denver animal shelter, ditch, dog, dogs, hit, interview, neglect, news, pets, photo, photograph, report, returned, shelters, surrender