Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No-Kill Sanctuary??? - Caboodle Ranch

Definition of sanctuary - a place of refuge or safety.

I've seen various "no-kill" advocate pages that reference Caboodle Ranch as a sanctuary model in the past.  The sad part about those posts, is that they were made despite the fact that there have been concerns about the conditions the cats at this "sanctuary/rescue" for some time. Thankfully, PETA and ASPCA were finally able to uncover the condtions that these poor animals were living under, and are in the process of triaging 700 cats . 


The following statement at Philly.com couldn't have said it any better:
"No cats turned away."
Words that ought to set off alarm bells to anyone truly concerned about animal welfare. Philly.com

So whether it's CAPA (Companion Animal Protection Act), FARA (Florida Animal Rescue Act), or New York's CAARA, these types of laws have the potential to escalate hoarding to an even greater level if they pass.  The core standard promoted by these various legislations is the ability of rescues to pull animal's from animal shelters.  In most cases, a rescue merely needs to be approved as an IRS non-profit.  I wonder how much the animal hoarding cases will increase if any of these legislations are passed? 

Fortunately, in the case of cats at Caboodle Ranch,  the cavalry has arrived.  I'm sure we will be seeing posts on various Facebook pages taking shots at PETA and ASPCA for their investigation, and complaining about the sick animals being euthanized.  This is yet another case where animals lives were not enhanced by the "no-kill" philosophy of saving every animal at any cost.  In my opinion, the cost to the cats at Caboodle Ranch was far too high.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No-Kill to Slow-Kill to Puppy Mill

In a recent post Just One Day, one of the items discussed was that allegations had been made against Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary of Sussex County by former board members and volunteers.  The Cape Gazette article on February 3 discussed concerns and about "financial mismanagement" and "improper care" of animals, with dogs contracting heart worms while under the care of the rescue organization.  The article also referenced the Facebook page for Citizens to Save Safe Haven of Sussex County which detailed even more worrisome allegations.  Everything from dogs being held at commercial kennels for 400+ days, dogs contracting heartworms due to lack of preventative medications, unaltered males and females being housed together in kennels and foster homes resulting in pregnancies, expired vaccinations, and untreated illnesses. 

Despite the many concerns that were brought forward by this group, fellow No-Kill advocate Jane Pierantozzi of Faithful Friends and some Safe Haven supporters stood steadfast in their ideology.  They not only dismissed these concerns as "kinks", but did so without delay in Letters To The Editor posts on February 10.  Due to the quickness of responses, it's apparent that their words of support for current management was made without any due diligence to establish whether there was truth to the allegations. 

Puppies Bred Under Rescue's Care

While these individuals were providing their stamps of approval for management, I decided to look further into the story concerning the rat terrier named Lady and her pregnancy by the cocker spaniel named Smokie.  I remembered Lady's picture from Safe Haven's site last year when they were taking a number of transfers from Kent County SPCA.  She is a pretty little thing that would have no doubt been adopted quickly if she had remained at KCSPCA.  Instead she was transferred to Safe Haven.  Although she has disappeared from Safe Haven's website, she is shown below in this picture from their Facebook page posted July 21, 2011. 

Lets jump ahead to January 23, 2012.  Below is Lady as the momma she has become since being transferred to Safe Haven.  Needless to say, far more time has elapsed than the typical 62 day gestation period since her transfer to Safe Haven.  So I don't think they can get away with the argument that her cohabitation with an unsterilized male occurred over 6 months ago at Kent County SPCA, even though that is where they typically like to point the finger at.    

Below I've included a letter written by a Safe Haven supporter about Lady, and one from the supporter that adopted one her babies Swoop.  I have no way of knowing what they were told by the Safe Haven staff that handled these adoptions, but I find the stories extremely bizarre.  Lady was either under the care of Safe Haven at a kennel, in a Safe Haven foster home, or with someone who had adopted Lady from Safe Haven when she became pregnant.  So if there really was cruelty, starvation, and abuse, why wasn't it prosecuted?  Were the stories manufactured to make it look like Lady didn't get pregnant under Safe Haven's care?   I'll let you form your own opinion. It makes my head hurt just trying to keep the stories straight. 

So let's meet the proud papa Smokie.  This is his picture posted to Safe Haven's Facebook on July 21, 2011.


And here are the 5 babies that I know of.



Sweet Pea

While you're forming your opinion regarding the alleged rescue from a starving and cruelty situation, keep in mind that there is also a picture of Missy at 3 weeks old on Safe Haven's FB page.  So when did this alleged cruelty happen?  It seems from the pictures that they knew where the dogs were and were taking snapshots of their progress.

Missy - 3 weeks

While this is only one of the alleged cases of pregnancy that Citizens to Save Safe Haven discussed, I think any reasonable person can conclude that "no-kill" at any cost is not acceptable.  Nathan Winograd professes that to states considering CAPA, that communities can become "no-kill" overnight.  Well this is what happens when a state tries to do that with reckless legislation that states a shelter must transfer to non-profit rescue no matter how they operate.

There's no doubt in my mind that Lady would have been adopted without the transfer to Safe Haven.  While that may not have been the case for Smokie due to some medical conditions, we also have to consider the ramifications of the resulting pregnancy.  Although Smoke may have been a save, his save cost 5 other dogs their lives.  Those are dogs that could have been adopted into the families that adopt these 5 puppies.  It makes no difference whether these 5 puppies were bred by a puppy mill, or by negligence of the rescue organization's management. 

And it's even sadder that the 5 dogs who lost adoptive homes to the puppies are considered "kinks" that need to be worked out or "operational challenges".  I can't imagine any adult not knowing that you shouldn't place unaltered males and females in the same house, let alone people that are supposed to be shelter professionals. 

No-Kill to Slow-Kill

Citizens to Save Safe Haven also have a website  which is continually adding more information about their complaints.  Of particular interest is the page concerning Anne Gryczon's tenure at the Humane Society of Henderson County.  According to the newspaper The Gleaner, the following comments were made regarding an impromptu inspection of that facility:

"The place was not real clean. Quite honestly, in my opinion, there were still too many animals being housed there. There was one cage that had seven in it and another had six dogs. It was way overcrowded, ... They're holding way too many animals. There were animals loose throughout the facility. There was food and feces on the floor. We're trying to hold onto every animal we've got," instead of euthanizing them. That is creating a major, major portion of our problems (with disease), from parvo to distemper. We're turning it from a no-kill to a slow-kill facility because of the disease."  Judge-Executive Sandy Watkins
The article also notes that the Humane Society of the United States and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had sent complaints to officials in Henderson. 

Could the above description be the future of animal welfare in Delaware due to CAPA?  We lost a shelter director that operated a clean and fiscally responsible shelter for 18 years, despite being tasked with handling 75% of the animals across the state.  That shelter was continually being vilified for doing their job.  The same "no-kill" community that attacked Kent County SPCA now shows us that they have a far lower standard for their own shelters.

I wish Citizens to Save Safe Haven well.  It's nice to seem some additional sound minds in the world of Delaware animal welfare.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Facts, Not Make Believe

Back in October 2011, Mike Fry of Animal Ark Shelter in Minnesota claimed that a mailing that the Animal Humane Society had sent out to their supporters, cautioning them about CAPA, was "make believe".  The scenario that Animal Humane presented was:

"Dixie is a fourteen-year-old spaniel mix at AHS with terminal cancer that won't be placed for adoption. A man from a nonprofit group we've never worked with wants to take Dixie. Because MNCAPA gives any group the right to claim our animals, we have no choice but to let Dixie go. Two months later, our humane investigators find Dixie sick and starving in a barn, along with 150 other animals. Because of MNCAPA, we were forced to give Dixie to hoarders masquerading as a rescue organization." - Animal Humane Prediction of MN CAPA
While Mike Fry would like to paint their predicted scenario as being "make-believe" and "fantasy".  The fact is, it was an educated prediction by a shelter that understands that animals are taken to shelters across the country every day by owners who may not have the resources to treat their animal, and in some cases they don't have the courage to make the final decision.  That is a reality, not "make believe". 

So, Delaware is once again in the unenviable position of showing that predictions by shelter professionals across the country have been accurate.  While the cases involving 14 year old terminal dogs here in Delaware did not end up with hoarders, the prediction that CAPA would cause more suffering for these dogs was right on the mark, and these were both in the 1 year.  In both the Delaware cases, these were dogs that would have been humanely euthanized before CAPA, but instead had to suffer longer as a result of this misguided legislation.

Case 1

The first case is highlighted in a report list at NoKillDelaware.org on page 5.  That case involved a 14 year Husky / Pitbull  Mix named Sadie with multiple issues (softball sized tumor, cataracts, congestive heart failure, possibly Cushings disease) who was transferred to a rescue.  The rescue placed the animal with a foster caregiver, who took the dog to a vet when she realized the dog had more health issues than she had been told about.  When her vet recommended the animal be euthanized, the foster tried to contact the rescue, but could not reach them, so the caregiver waited to get their approval, but never did hear back from them.  Subsequently the suffering animal bit someone, and was taken by the local animal shelter where it was euthanized. 

So as a result of CAPA, not only did the animal suffer longer, but someone suffered a bite wound as a result,  and the foster caregiver had to face a tremendous heartbreak after opening her heart and wallet for this animal.  The foster caregiver did everything she could for the dog.  In the end, there is nothing humane about a law that makes an animal suffer longer, placed a foster caregiver in difficult emotional and financial situation, and in this case also endangered the very person that cared enough to take the animal in, because there is always the potential for bites when an animal is in pain.  

I have no doubt that in our pre CAPA world that this animal would have been euthanized rather than transferred.  So maybe Sadie didn't go to a hoarder, but in my opinion, the end of her life was made worse by CAPA. 

Case 2

In the second case, another 14 year old dog named Maggie was transferred to a rescue organization after being surrendered by her owner.  Here is a link to Maggie's story.  According to this article, Maggie "presented with hearing loss, partial blindness, difficulty walking and severe pain".  Despite her condition, she was "dumped into a kennel" for the first week after her transfer to the rescue.  The story states that the dog was finally afforded veterinary care approximately a week later, and that the veterinarian recommended euthanasia, but the "no-kill" rescue leadership refused and she was treated extensively for multiple issues.  A foster caregiver agreed to take the animal so that it would not go back to a commercial kennel cage. 

The foster caregiver in this case realized that Maggie was suffering, but was also denied the approval to euthanize by the rescue's leadership.  By this account, those making that decision had not been to the home, so had no way of determining how extensively the animal was suffering.  Eventually the foster caregiver and a compassionate vet made the call to end Maggie's suffering after they could not contact the groups leadership, and surprisingly were criticized for making the humane decision to end Maggie's suffering.  This is just a synopsis of the event.  I strongly encourage readers to read the complete story.

So in Maggie's case, we have another situation that would not have happened before CAPA was passed in Delaware.  Prior to CAPA, the shelter would have made the right decision to euthanize her without fear of being investigated, lawsuits, and public derogatory remarks by groups such as NoKill Delaware. 

Both Cases

Unfortunately, in Delaware we continue to live in a post CAPA state, where scenarios like above will continue to occur.  I have to believe that there are many similar situations that have gone unreported.

Does anyone really believe that an owner stuck it out to the point in these dog's lives, then just 'dumped" the dogs or gave them up on a whim?  I'm sorry, but I think these owners most likely knew it was time to let her go, and just couldn't find the courage to do it themselves.  I just find it impoosible to believe that someone would keep an animal 14 years, or to the point their health has declined in the above cases, and not care about the animal. 
In some cases these owners may also be hearing the "no-kill" dreams of hospice care for all, and think they are doing what's best for the animal since they have limited resources.  So in my opinion, the owners that surrendered the dogs above, are also victims of CAPA.   Legislators knew full well that there wasn't a pot of gold that would magically appear to provide hospice care for all animals, but they still chose to pass this legislation and as a result animals and people are suffering.
My Dog

There has been a growing chorus of voices in the "no-kill" movement, that want to question people's choices when they give up dog to the shelter, or to request euthanasia at the shelter.  My issue with that chorus is that dogs end up in situations like the ones described above.  It makes no sense to try and legislate or bully shelters into a one size fits all solution.

As the owner of a dog who was incontinent in his last year, I know that if I lived in a rental unit, I may have made a decision to end his life before it reached the point where he was suffering.  Fortunately I owned my home, so was able to setup an area with plastic, and although there were still some leakage issues to the carpet, I could use diluted bleach mixture on that area to ensure that my home remained sanitary until his life end, and then replace the carpet. Not everyone is as fortunate enough to own their home or have to resouces to pull up and remove and replace the carpet to ensure the wood underneath is treated properly after the animal is deceased.  Resources matter.

My dog also had some bad days in that last year, as can be proven by the fact that one day he took a chomp at me, caught the inside of my nose with his tooth, which bled profusely.  I had to pack my nose off and on for a week to keep the bleeding from starting again.  If I had children, I would have also been forced with making a decision earlier.  It would have be negligent to place a child at risk in that situation. 

I resent that laws like CAPA are being proposed across the country.  If I was forced to make a decision to euthanize my dog as a result of either issue above, and had to go to a shelter due to lack of resources, I would have to be concerned that CAPA would force my 14 year old dog to go to a rescue.  I don't believe it would have been more humane than euthanasia to be uprooted from those who loved him into a new situation for his remaining months, or possibly even spend those final months in a cage.  There was also the possibility that he may have been dumped on an unsuspecting caregiver with children, or even worse they may released him to people who are not compassionate and end up punishing the dog harshly merely because he is incontinent. 

I'm not against a shelter trying to be helpful and provide alternatives, but legislation like CAPA takes judgment away from shelters and we've seen the results.  I hope organizations like Animal Humane continue to provide educated predictions to lawmakers, so their states don't make the same mistake as Delaware.

Fact is stranger than fiction, and as we've seen from the 2 stories above, it's also even uglier than fiction.  I hope that there's eventually an outcry by animal lovers in Delaware to repeal this horrific law, one even stronger than the "no-kill" world of Nathan Winograd and the politically connected shelter directors here in Delaware that brought us his CAPA.  I just hope it doesn't take many more animals having to suffer as a consequence of CAPA, like Sadie and Maggie had to endure.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

No-Kill Pixie Dust

I just cringe when I listen to interviews such as the one from Tampa yesterday, and the listen to the ridiculous discussion about how the "no-kill" philosophy is "cost effective" and as their leader states that "the costs of care get transfered from taxpayer dollars to private philanthropy".

Of course our own No-Kill Delaware added their financial insight on their Facebook page today as well stating "it's more likely to ring a bell with elected officials when we talk about saving money by getting adoption fees instead of spending money to kill animals."

I just keep wondering - Where is this fantasy world they're talking about?  I know he is down their to push the Florida Rescue Act, but hopefully there are some legislators in that state that have done a realistic fiscal analysis, and see behind the rosy picture portrayed.

I've compared the numbers over and over, and have yet to see a case where the taxpayer cost has gone down.  As I mentioned last night, if you look at Hillsborough County Florida with an intake rate of 30,000 and cost of $6.6 million, and compare to Austin TX whose intake is only 20,000 and costs $7.6 million, it's reasonable to conclude that it will cost Hillsborough another $3.3 milion and possibly more due to the densely populated area with many competing shelters.  And remember, Austin's costs are significantly increasing each year, not going down.  

I've also compared our Kent County SPCA numbers to Washoe, and can say with financial certainty that for KCSPCA to do the large increase in foster caregivers talked about in those "no-kill" communities, plus the extraordinary medical services required, the cost to taxpayers would significantly increase. 

Is there some magic pixie dust that will make the real financial analysis go away?   If so, maybe would could get some crop dusters to drop it across US neighborhoods to make the housing market sound again.  They could call the President and "save" the homes that people and their pets live in.  Wouldn't that be nice?

Pixie Dust Doesn't Really Exist??

Well, since I really don't believe that such a pixie dust exists, I'll just take a few minutes to listen to my attitude adjustment music.

For all of us that constantly listen to the childish rants from the "no-kill" community that say we are everything from "kill apologists" to "killers" to "nazis", I wanted to include one of my favorite tunes that epitomizes dealing with the divisive talk so many of us hear.  I may argue against their analysis, and disagree with their beliefs on whether it is more humane keeping animals in confinement over a long period, but I don't need to call them names.  I just turn on the song and say "Get On".  Even though it's a song based on those questioning Christian faith, I think the lyrics are also fitting for those of us who deal with the personal attacks in the animal welfare world.

Get On
Artist: Third Day
Album: Come Together
Songwriters: Anderson Samuel Tai, Avery Bradley B C, Carr David, Lee Mark D, Powell Johnny Mac

So you think you had me
Had me in your sights
I've got news for you
I'm working over time
To get away from slander
To stay away from lies
I won't listen to you criticize

Well I say
Get on, get on, get on away from me
If you're trying to bring me down
If you're trying to bring me down

And I say
Get on, get on, get on away from me
If you're trying to bring me down
If you're trying to bring me down

I've been doing some thinking
And I think you're wrong
For trying to put down
What I've been working on
So if you want to break me
You better stay away, yeah
I won't listen, no
I won't listen to you today

Well I say
Get on, get on, get on away from me
If you're trying to bring me down
If you're trying to bring me down

And I say
Get on, get on, get on away from me
If you're trying to bring me down
If you're trying to bring me down

Excuse me if I still question
Carefully all of your intentions
Well I've decided that I won't listen
Because your words only bring division

Well I say
Get on, get on, get on away from me
If you're trying to bring me down
If you're trying to bring me down

And I say
Get on, get on, get on away from me
If you're trying to bring me down
If you're trying to bring me down

Well I say
Get on, get on
Get on, get on
Well I say
Get on, get on
Get on, get on

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Just One Day

Friday, February 3, has been a pivotal day in the life of Delaware CAPA and animal welfare in our state.  While national no-kill leaders discuss yet another state considering similar legislation, Virginia, many of us in Delaware mourn what has become a nightmare for the state under CAPA.  I read the fiscal impact statement for Virginia that accounts for one person to handle.  I guess they haven't seen the endless investigations by various agencies that have resulted here in Delaware when making that estimate.

Delaware SPCA Ends Wilmington Contract

Today in the News Journal, the news broke that Delaware SPCA will end it's contract with the city of Wilmington on June 30.
"If the law was not really about rescue access since No-Kill shelters are taking in less animals, then it seems the ultimate goal is to break the back of the Kent County SPCA so that the counties will be faced with building animal control facilities of their own eventually.  This is currently occurring in Delaware County PA when Delaware County SPCA decided to give up taking in animals as part of animal control.  Was the goal to have each of our 3 counties in the state be saddled with not only a scramble to build animal control facility like is occurring in Delaware County (taxpayer cost $1.2 Million), but to then also be saddled with the cost to operate which in Delaware County is expected to cost $1.6 Million a year, so there would be more space  to warehouse animals and additional personnel for the no-kill movement to harass into doing all the work?" - Delaware CAPA 11/14/11
The quote above were my words written just a couple months ago, but I've been stating this to friends for much longer.  Today the first domino fell with the ending of a relationship that goes back 120 years. Although my comment was in regard to the counties, I have no doubt that the rest of the dominos will continue to fall.  Wilmington is now faced  with the very "scramble" that I discussed. 

In only 5 months, they will have to figure out whether they can get someone else to take the contract in our contentious CAPA environment, or build a new shelter and hire officers to handle the task, as similarly occurred with nearby Delaware County PA. I hope the Wilmington city council lets the Governor and the state leglislature know how much they appreciate the challenge ahead.  

My judgment isn't against the shelter, because any shelter handling animal control in this environment is in an untenable position, since they are damned by one side if they maintain the contract, and damned by the other side if they walk away from the contract.  I judge the fact that this was an unfunded mandate by the state that will force Wilmington, and eventually the counties, into a costly ideology that has not been proven to be sustainable.

Wilmington, our counties, and other states looking to pass CAPA or similar legislation, need to look at the budget numbers for Austin TX.  You are now faced with telling city or county taxpayers they will have to build their own shelter, which in Austins case cost $12 Million, and below are the costs to run it screenprinted from their recent approved budget. 

I guess the extra $2.2 million that Austin is spending on their "no-kill" effort is just imaginary since Senator Bennett of Florida claimed his "no-kill" bill wasn't going to cost Florida communities.  I wonder if Florida's Attorney General works for free?  Sorry, I'll get back to Austin.

Austin's costs will continue to rise as their foster caregiver network continues to grow.  They already have 900 animals with volunteer caregivers, and as their shelter continues to stay filled, they will expand that network even further.  It will require an army to monitor that many animals offsite, which means expenses will continue to rise.  The potential to release animals to hoarders will also increase.  We've already had an example of such a case in our neighbor state of Pennsylvania. 
"The PSPCA said that it rescued 90 animals, including cats, dogs, chinchillas and pigeons from her property…. She disputed the PSPCA's figures on the number of animals seized from her home, and Williamson confirmed that Federov had helped foster kittens for the PSPCA. Federov said she had taken dogs from the former PACCA to save them from being put down." - philly.com

I think the one comment in the News Journal story that confused me the most was this one below:
"It makes it really hard to be a no-kill facility when you have to take in absolutely everything that comes to your door," he said. "You run out of space really quickly. Not every animal is adoptable." - Patrick Carroll, Delaware Humane

I don't mean to be dense, but wasn't the purpose of CAPA touted as legislation that would make us a "no-kill state"? So are they saying that it's okay for government entities to euthanize, or was CAPA merely a ploy to get additional government funded storage facilities for these unadoptable animals?  Pretty cool, the state officials get credit and photo op, and someone else (city, counties) pays the price!!!

And are we supposed to believe that the "no-kill" community has no intention of bullying the city and counties into costly warehousing and extreme medical procedures, the way they do against Kent County SPCA now?  Some of our "no-kill" shelters have expenses of over $1,000 per animal, so I'm sure citizens of Delaware will be thrilled to pay those kind of tax costs for animals warehoused in cages, while they can't afford medical care for their own pet.

The Wilmington news was our 1st strike for the day against animal welfare in Delaware.

Allegations Made Against Sussex No-Kill Organization

While the news was breaking about the contract in Wilmington this morning, there was also animal welfare news brewing in the southern part of our state.  Allegations are being made against the Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary. 
"Several former members of Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary Board of Directors and volunteers for the group have broken ties and formed a new organization. The new Citizens to Save Safe Haven aims to protect the animals taken in by Safe Haven by improving record keeping and financial management." - Cape Gazette

So the question is, will the Attorney General's office now have another investigation on their hands. I'm assuming the investigation discussed on nokilldelaware.org has been going on for months now.  Now the Attorney General will have another one on their hands, especially with allegations of  "serious concerns about financial mismanagement and improper care".  CAPA is still young and it's starting to look like the Attorney General's office may need to setup an Animal Welfare Division if this keeps up.  I'm looking forward to hearing what kind of budget that office is requesting next week on 2/8 at their Joint Finance Committee session.

The Citizens to Save Safe Haven of Sussex County Facebook page should also be an interesting read as Delaware's animal welfare civil war escalates.

So once again I have to wonder - has CAPA turned out to be the fluffy feel good legislation that our state leadership thought it was going to be in this photo op

Strike 2 for the day in my book.

Kent County SPCA - 3 Weeks Without A Website

Today marked the 3 week mark that our primary Animal Control agency has not had an operational website.  While I'm not ready to throw them under the bus due to this issue, it does concern me. 

Not having a website operational makes it difficult for potential adopters to find shelter hours, creates additional work for staff in answering phone calls that takes them away from animal care, and I would imagine makes local citizens more reluctant to donate.

I understand that KCSPCA is being pressured by nokilldelaware.org, Delaware Votes For Animals, and some of the "no-kill" shelter directors to make a huge turnover in staff at the shelter, but my hope is that Kent County SPCA continues to be the adult in the room and considers the ramifications of doing that in the future.  They need to make sound business judgments, and continue to be fiscally responsible.  I understand that CAPA placed additional financial pressures on the shelter with the added personnel required to jump though hoops with the rescue registry, only to see a miniscule increase in transfers from the previous year, so it's that much more important to make sound business decisions to compensate for this misguided legislation.  I can only imagine the costs of additional of personnel required to pull files for one investigation after another,  but the shelter can't continue to save the highest number of animals in the state if it's not financially sound. 
Strike 3 for this day.


This is an example of Just One Day for Delaware under CAPA.  It's not the "no-kill" propaganda version of Just One Day.   It's the real life version.  So I hope the Virginia Agriculture Committee considers the damage this kind of legislation does.