The Short Life & Tragic Death of Gabriel
A little puppy arrived last Saturday to the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority (SEAACA) in Downey (Los Angeles County), CA. He had a probable broken jaw. SEAACA is a regressive pound with a history of fighting animal protection legislation and violating the constitutional rights of rescuers and volunteers.
Not surprisingly, SEAACA chose not to fix the puppy’s jaw. They also decided not to reach out to rescue groups to see if they would provide the medical care that SEAACA would not. But despite SEAACA’s refusal to provide rehabilitative care or ask rescuers to help him, a rescue group did find out about the puppy and sent an email offering to save him. They also gave him a name: Gabriel.
When they did not hear back, they sent another.
Gabriel arrived after hours on Saturday evening. The SEAACA pound is closed on Sunday and Monday and did not reply until Tuesday to inform the rescuers that Gabriel was dead. Rather than provide medical care or contact rescuers for assistance, SEAACA’s staff found it easier to kill him. And that is what they did.
And while SEAACA leadership and staff bear the brunt of the blame, they are not the only perpetrators responsible for Gabriel’s death. Best Friends Animal Society is also culpable. So is the California Animal Welfare Association, a lobbying group whose members include Austin Pets Alive, Petco Love, the National Animal Control Association (NACA), and most kill pounds in the state, including the very pound that killed Gabriel. Why are they also complicit?
Its Déjà Vu All Over Again
Only a few miles from SEAACA, a 10-pound terrier named Bowie was surrendered to a different Los Angeles County pound: the Department of Animal Care & Control (LACDACC). The family informed staff that they could not keep him because of their landlord’s no-pet policies.
Bowie was terrified, but no one on staff socialized him while he sat at the shelter, in a building off limits to staff and rescuers, for over three weeks in one of the country’s wealthiest and most cosmopolitan communities. No staff member tried to get him out of his shell. No one showed him the compassion and kindness that studies prove make a life-and-death difference for fearful dogs like Bowie.
Still, Bowie had an out. A rescue group came forward to give Bowie what staff at LACDACC would not: safe harbor and time — time to abandon fear, to forget a haunted past, and to learn that humans can be trusted after all. Most importantly, they offered to provide him with a loving home. It would be of no use. Like SEAACA, LACDACC did not reach out to rescuers. And like Gabriel, rescuers found out about him and asked to save him too late: LACDACC chose to kill him without warning.
Instead of a new beginning, the little dog who should have had his whole life ahead of him, who posed no threat to anyone, was injected with an overdose of poison. He was barely 15 weeks old. And the women of Underdog Heroes, the rescuers who tried to save him, were left devastated, calling it a “gut punch.”
In response to Bowie’s killing, Bill Essayli, a California Assemblymember, introduced legislation to prevent that from happening again. AB 595, Bowie’s Law, would have required California shelters to notify rescuers before killing an animal. And given that such notifications are possible through shelter software already used by these facilities or available for free, complying would have required nothing more than a stroke on a keyboard — one click to let rescuers know that a life needs saving.
AB 595 was such a simple, commonsense law that it was difficult to imagine anyone opposing it. But it was opposed — and defeated — by groups like Best Friends Animal Society and the California Animal Welfare Association. They claimed it would have been too burdensome.
Had Bowie’s Law passed, Gabriel would be alive today. Adding insult to injury, the same rescuers who tried to save Bowie were the ones who wanted to save Gabriel. Two puppies are dead, and rescuers at Underdog Heroes punched in the gut yet again.
They Do Want to Kill
Staff of regressive pounds and their enablers often respond to criticism of their killing from No Kill advocates, rescuers, and volunteers by claiming that such criticism is unfair because “we are all on the same team,” “we all want the same thing,” and “no one wants to kill.” But that isn’t honest. They do want to kill. At the very least, they find killing easier than doing what is necessary to stop it, like responding to an email from rescuers or sending a notice to them. Why else kill puppies despite rescuers ready, willing, and able to save them? And why else fight efforts that would force them, by law, to do so?
The biggest impediment to a No Kill nation is not public irresponsibility; it is the irresponsibility of Kill Pounds and groups like Best Friends, Austin Pets Alive, NACA, the ASPCA, and PETA that shill for them. The trail of dead bodies, of rotting corpses, of animals turned to ash rather than into beloved and pampered family members, and of their willing rescuers left traumatized, leads straight to their doors.
Rest in peace, little Gabriel.
To receive future articles and support my fight for the animals, please subscribe.
“This Week in Animal Protection,” my weekly roundup of animal protection movement news and headlines, will return next week.