The most popular dog in America
News and headlines for July 29 - August 4, 2023
These are some of the stories making headlines in animal protection:
Roswell Animal Services in New Mexico killed Giles, a 2-year-old dog, despite a rescue commitment. Instead of a loving new home, Giles is now dead. The only excuse the City of Roswell could offer was that the staff had a busy day and accidentally killed Giles with a bunch of other dogs:
Monday at the animal shelter, there was staff training taking place, rescue groups coming in to retrieve multiple animals, and a number of new animals coming in. As some of these things were occurring simultaneously, the busyness resulted in some confusion and a lack of the standard communication among staff and between staff and rescue groups. Unfortunately, that resulted in the dog in question mistakenly being taken to a veterinarian’s office as part of a group of several dogs to be euthanized.
The pound called it a “mistake,” but it isn’t. “Accidental” killings of beloved pets happen every day in shelters in this country. Google “Shelter mistakenly euthanized a pet,” and you’ll get “About 177,000 results (0.40 seconds).” It is not a mistake when it happens over and over again.
While nothing can bring Giles back, we must work to ensure that this kind of tragedy never happens again. And we do that by holding people accountable, regardless of whether their conduct was intentional, reckless, or — as management of the Roswell pound pretends — a “mistake.”
If we insist they be fired and legislate away their power to kill, we’ll achieve the goal of a No Kill nation. When that happens, and we Google “shelter mistakenly euthanized a pet,” we’ll get a result that will not break our hearts but instead make them swell with joy:
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In a claim no one believes, staff of the Devore pound (in San Bernardino County, CA) say 17 cats on the way to a veterinary clinic mysteriously died, with no explanation. This is on top of the cats Devore staff routinely and systematically kills. According to rescuers, Devore killed 35 cats, including young kittens, in three days.
Rescuers further accuse the pound of:
Routinely mislabeling friendly cats as “feral” to kill them because it does not have a community cat program;
Allowing healthy cats to get sick because of poor protocols and filth and then killing them, even if the condition is treatable;
Killing pregnant cats so as not to foster or provide veterinary care;
Killing entire families of cats — mothers and young kittens together; and,
Not providing prompt and necessary medical care “leading to suffering and even death.”
Rescuers also say that when they complain, they are (illegally) retaliated against through killing animals they offer to save.
The pound is run by Brian Cronin, the subject of complaints dating back decades. In 2006, for example, Cronin returned an abused dog doused in gasoline and set on fire to the abuser awaiting trial, setting off worldwide condemnation.
By refusing to hold staff accountable and ignoring problems, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, which oversees the pound, has long allowed the neglect, abuse, and killing to fester.
The No Kill Advocacy Center, my organization, turns 19 this month. In many ways, we are still a young organization. But we have accomplished a lot. When we started, mass killing in shelters was the norm. Only one community saved all healthy and treatable dogs, cats, community cats, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, and all other shelter animals. It didn't matter if they were young, old, blind, or missing limbs. They were all guaranteed a home, and they all found one.
I created that No Kill community and succeeded in replicating its success in communities across the country, working to return “euthanasia” to its dictionary definition:
“The act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals… in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.”
Overall, the nationwide embrace of the No Kill Equation, our proven approach to humane sheltering, is responsible for a 95% decline in U.S. killing to less than one million. By some measures, it is as low as half a million today. It has been called “the single biggest success of the modern animal protection movement.”