Thursday, November 14, 2013

Safe Haven Is History - Will Delaware Heal?

Today the last load of dogs were transported out of Safe Haven, and the doors locked for the final time.  It's the end of a difficult and tenuous period that showed us that even Safe Haven and several other "No-Kill" shelters working together could not overcome the very pet overpopulation that the "No-Kill" movement denies exists.

"The shelter posted a four-paragraph statement to its Facebook page at about 7 p.m. saying “remaining dogs on-site were transported to shelters and rescue groups where they can be made available for adoption.”
“Some dogs, due to severe behavior issues, were such a threat to other animals or humans, that they were unsuitable for adoption,” the statement said. “Some dogs were humanely euthanized.” - DelawareOnline 

It's always unfortunate when an animal needs to be euthanized due to behavior issues, but people also need to keep in perspective that many of these dogs had already lingered for some time at Safe Haven, or even worse being warehoused in boarding kennels where they lacked the same volunteer resources to give these dogs the proper social interaction.  In fact, there's even been comments about bites to staff in the past, both on Facebook, and at the public hearing.

What Would Have Happen If ASPCA Hadn't Come In?

Consider the fact that if ASPCA hadn't stepped in, Safe Haven would have had to stop operations when they no longer had funds to pay employees to operate the shelter several weeks ago, and the dogs would have had to be euthanized right then and there.  ASPCA bought time for so many more dogs to be adopted out, and an opportunity for the dogs that left today to go to shelters up north to get another chance as well.

I realize that many people became attached to this group of dogs and that this is a difficult situation, but there will be many more dogs in need of placement in the coming months now that our shelters are filled to the hilt with Safe Haven dogs. So everyone has a choice - to rant, rumble and continue down the divisive path we've seen since CAPA was enacted, or continue the momentum that people had in trying to save the Safe Haven dogs, and use that momentum to save other dogs & cats across the state.

I hope that people continue to advocate and assist ALL shelter dogs, rather than continuing the divisive environment where dogs are ignored because they do not come from a shelter that calls themselves "No-Kill". The dogs don't see a difference, and they shouldn't be treated any differently because people have an agenda.

So ultimately it's up to all of us.  While we all want to see a good outcome for all shelter animals, we also need to stop ignoring public safety issues.  Ignoring aggressive behaviors, or other issues such as undisclosed illnesses, won't gain the public's trust in shelter dogs.  There are far too many great shelter dogs that need homes for us to risk compromising the public trust that brings adopters to shelter doors.

I wish the dogs being transported north the best homes possible, especially after being subject to the cruelty and chaos that Safe Haven represented with their warehousing of dogs and allowing dogs to suffer with illness merely to advance the "No-Kill" agenda.  Note that they are going to a part of the country in the North East that understood that prevention was the key to ending pet overpopulation, not to "No-Kill" communities like Austin or Reno.  Unfortunately, the room theat shelters in the North East have in their shelters won't happen in Delaware until our state stops following a dogma that doesn't believe pet overpopulation is real, despite the fact that 4 shelters couldn't keep up with only 800 animals over the course of a year.

Let's hope that Delaware will grow wiser from the mistakes made, and realize that pet overpopulation isn't the myth that Nathan Winograd claims as his marketing ploy.  If you don't recognize the problem, you can't fix it. And if pet overpopulation continues to be ignored in Delaware, there will never be a solution to the chaos in the Delaware animal welfare world, and pets will continue to die.  Again, it's up to us to not only champion for adoption of shelter pets, but to also watch the upcoming legislative season to ensure that we don't get more of the same nonsense that started us down this dark path the last several years.

Godspeed to the dogs on their journey to a new life.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

ASPCA In To Cleanup Safe Haven Mess. Where's Nathan?

Once again we have an opportunity to see who makes the mess, and who cleans it up.  As I've stated before, we all know it was unlikely that Safe Haven would have ever gotten the contract for dog control in Kent County, had it not been for the political games and drama created under Nathan Winograd's CAPA. What an embarrassment to the Delaware legislature and our governor that the ASPCA is now in here to bail out the the faltering "No-Kill" shelter, after our state leaders foolishly took us down the yellow brick road by passing "No-Kill's" CAPA.
"To ensure the health of the dogs, Safe Haven has requested that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals provide assistance. ASPCA spokeswoman Emily Schneider said the organization has deployed a team of five sheltering professionals to assist in the daily care of the dogs currently housed at the shelter.
“Additionally, the ASPCA is providing supplies to care for the animals at Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary. Any animal with medical concerns will receive veterinary care,” she said." - Cape Gazette, 10/25/13
It remains to be seen whether the State of Delaware will ever pass real standards and inspections for shelters, rather than the snake oil version sold to them by Mr. Winograd.  And we wait in anticipation to see if the new Animal Welfare Office and it's new Executive Director Hetti Brown will do that, or just bring us more of the same as a lab rat for her former employer HSUS, since HSUS is also now advocating for leaving all cats on the streets and turning away owner surrenders in the California Sheltering Report that they are stakeholders in. Delaware's small size unfortunately makes us the guinea pigs for lobbyists in all sectors, and it appears the animal welfare sector is no different.

HSUS can obviously provide a great deal of funding to a state of our size and try to create the fantasy outlook that we are the example, just as Mr. Winograd attempted.  But we all know that the level of funding needed for a state the size of California would be beyond even HSUS's means, let alone the other 48 states. . And even in Delaware, manpower to deal with all the cats and owner surrendered dogs turned away will still be a restrictive barrier to dealing with the mess that has been made.  So it will be interesting to see what transpires over the next year.  Whether there will be any improvement, or just more of the same.  Considering the new Executive Director has been closely aligned with the same animal welfare leadership that brought us CAPA, and in her Animal Welfare Task Force role sat silently like the rest of the Task Force as Safe Haven horror stories were provided at the Task Force Public Hearing. Sadly not what I would expect from HSUS, nor from the person that is supposed to lead us to change.

That being said, we should all give Ms. Brown an opportunity to make the right choices before deciding whether she is up to the task, and see how she deals with the many issues that have gotten so out of hand. I'm sure she already knows that the whole state is watching. But we should also watch every piece of legislation to ensure that we don't end up with more drama than we already have. I will be curious to see what kind of "Delaware Way politics" occurs to ramrod through more legislative craziness in our state.

But for now I say kudos to the ASPCA for coming in to mop up Nathan Winograd's mess. The care and conditions for animals should be part of any "equation".  And we surely haven't seen that here in Delaware.

So Nathan, why haven't you provided Safe Haven with that list of millions of adopters that you seem to think are wandering around our country aimlessly not able to find a pet?  And why aren't you in here cleaning up your own mess, instead of spending your time griping about other groups like ASPCA, who did step up to the plate to clean your litter box?

This was just posted on the Safe Haven Facebook page.  What a shame that so many have been harmed by Safe Haven along the way.  The animals, the kennels and vets that they never paid, and now the employees who will not get their final paycheck. So any community that considers going down the same road beware.  Alot of victims lay in the wake of "No-Kill".

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Craiglist - The Danger Of Closed Shelter Doors

We're seeing more and more shelters close their doors to owner surrendered animals so they can enhance shelter statistics as a result of the "No-Kill" movement.  Even more concerning we're now seeing national animal welfare organizations (HSUS, ASPCA, Best Friends, Maddie's Fund, Koret Shelter Medicine Program, UC Davis Veterinary Medicine) cowering and changing course to also encourage closed shelter doors with terms like Intake Reduction.  It's ironic that this mainstream push to close doors is occurring as we approach the year 2015, which was a year touted by some as their goal to reach "no-kill" , but attaining goals by shifting the burden onto the public and leaving animals on the streets is merely a sleight of hand magic trick, not a true achievement.

We've also seen that some shelters that have had to make the choice to close doors, against their better judgment, when they have to deal with laws like CAPA and the financial costs of the "No-Kill" extortion tactics that CAPA encourages.  Our political leaders used this law to extort shelters into warehousing and hand out animals like they are penny candy to enhance the state's image in the animal welfare circles, and to provide the politicians with their pretty photo op moments.

But it doesn't matter whether closed animal shelter doors are being encouraged by the "No-Kill" movement, mainstream animal welfare, or ambitious political players who only care about skewing statistics to tout their effectiveness, we have to question the shortcuts being taken to enhance shelter statistics.  And we have to question why so many in animal welfare are willing to ignore the the ramifications of pushing the public to re-home their pets through Craiglist and other classified ad outlets, despite the fact that we know the dangers it presents.

Just A Few Of The Craiglist Horror Stories For Animals

More and more we're seeing stories about the horrors that can occur when people try to re-home pets on their own, whether it be because of shut doors, or because animal welfare has spent too much time in recent years selling the idea that "the animal is alive" mantra, with no concern for the suffering that is resulting. Nobody wants to see a dog or cat euthanized, but in the past the world of animal welfare understood that the alternative to humane euthanasia came with a cost.

There is no better example of that cost than the story of Puppy Doe who was re-homed on Craiglist.

 Here is a description of what Puppy Doe endured after being re-homed on Craiglist.
“They’re a freak, a total freak,” said Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, Vice President of Animal Welfare at the Animal Rescue League, of the dog’s alleged abuser. “Splitting her tongue, burning her nose, stabbing her eye, it’s the totality of the types of injuries. Not only was she beaten she was stabbed she was burned its all kinds of injures. It’s a sick mind that can do this to an animal.”
Smith-Blackmore performed the autopsy and found Puppy Doe sustained more than 17 injuries in the one to two years she was alive. - CBS Boston
Here's another description that shows just how extensive the torture inflicted on this Puppy Doe was.
In addition to her other injuries, “Puppy Doe” endured having a wrist, ankle and elbow separated from their joints and a leg bone virtually broken in half from being drawn “over and over and over” according to Smith-Blackmore.
“She was a rack of beaten bones,” Smith-Blackmore said. “Her joints were pulled apart like Medieval times. She was beaten, stabbed, burned over weeks to months and maybe her whole life. And she could not walk. When I saw how vulnerable she was and I understood immediately the duration of her suffering, my heart collapsed.”
Smith-Blackmore said she had to step away from the necropsy several times, in order to finish it. - 
Even more recently there was yet another clear example of how dangerous re-homing through Craiglist and other classified ads really is.

Kittens Bought on Craiglist Stomped & Killed
If you look at the house shown on the article about the kittens above, you'll see a nice middle class home that gave no hint of the horrors that were occurring inside the home.
Police say an Athens man would name the kittens he got from Craigslist before he threw them to the floor to break their necks or stomped them to death because he was "angry at the world." -
These are just a couple of the stories of the unspeakable horrors that animals can face. While animal shelter checks of adopters will not prevent every case like above, it would prevent individuals these from obtaining a cheap source of animals over and over.

And with recent encouragement to shut shelter doors, the animal welfare sector does bear some of the responsibility for placing animals into the hands of these sick abusers. Most animal welfare activists say they want people to treat animals as part of the family, yet far too many in animal welfare are forcing that the public re-home their pets like any other piece of unwanted property.  We don't force the public to re-home their child because we know the dangers that presents, so how can animal welfare organizations believe that re-homing an animal on Craiglist for free or a small fee is going to have any better results?

Animal Welfare Sector Bears Some Responsibility

Here is just a sampling of shelters that suggest Craiglist as a resource to re-home a pet.  Not only are such suggestions reckless in my opinion, I wonder if any of these shelters ever consider the danger they are putting desperate owners in with Craiglist as well.  There have been people beaten and robbed when buying and selling on Craiglist.  There have even been people murdered during Craiglist transactions. So not only are shelters placing animals in danger, but also the people buying and selling pets through Craiglist.

East Bay SPCA Consider placing an ad for your pet. You can try Craigslist ( or local newspapers. However, do not let your desire to re-home your pet cause you to give your pet to someone without ensuring they will be able to provide a lifelong home to your pet. 

City of Austin, TX
Re-homing pet resources available:
  • Local rescue groups
  • The Internet (CraigsList, Facebook, etc.)
  • Want ads in local papers
  • Austin Pets Alive! PASS program
  • Austin Humane Society
Williamson County Regional Animal Center 
Re-homing resources available: 

  • Contact Local Rescue Groups. Groups can be found by doing a search on the Internet and by visiting Austin Animal Center's Rescue List.  
  • Network your pet on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
  • Use Local Classifieds, like Craigslist to find a new home for your pet.
  • Place a want ad in the local newspapers.
  • Visit Austin Pets Alive! PASS Program site. 
  • Contact the Austin Humane Society.

  • Jackson County, Oregon
    County Animal Shelter
    Craigslist - Post ad in Community/Pets category, small rehoming fee OK

    King County, Washington
    • Use online resources  
    • Post your advertisement on the internet or local newspapers. 
    • ( list lost pets, found pets, pets wanted, and adoptable pets. The posts are available for people who have taken in a stray and wish to find it a home and for people who wish to place their own pets in new homes. 
    • Craigslist ( is also another popular website for online advertising. 

    Homeward Trails Animal Rescue
    Rehoming a Pet
    If you need to rehome your pet, the best option is for you to keep the animal in your home until another home can be found. This will reduce stress on your pet and help ensure a safe and lasting transfer. Please consider the following options when looking to rehome:
    If your pet is a purebred, use to locate a Breed Rescue in your area who may be able to help.
    Consider putting an ad on Craigs List ( Include a photo, good description and current contact info. Be absolutely sure you do a home visit and get a positive vet reference from anyone interested in taking your pet. Beware of people who are too eager, those not able/willing to provide references or submit to a home visit.
    Post flyers at your vet, doggie daycare, local coffee shop.
    Use your friends, family and colleagues to help you find a home. It is best if you know someone personally.
    Consider creating a contract that your new pet’s owner must sign, obligating them to provide good care of your pet.
    Be sure to stay in touch with the person who takes your animal.
    If your pet is not a purebred, contact a local rescue group in your area (find them on and ask if they will assist you by putting your pet’s info on their website, helping you with a contract, home visit and advice on finding a good home.

    While Craiglist should remove pet listings from their site so they no longer have a hand in the kind of animal cruelty seen recently, I also realize that there are hundreds of internet sites that will take their place in that realm.

    But both national and local animal welfare organizations need to consider whether they're in the business to prevent cruelty and suffering, or to merely warehouse the animals that will fit into their cages until an adoption, no matter what the consequences will be for the animals turned away or left on the streets. These organizations have the opportunity to continue to be the hand that keeps animals away from the monsters, not the hand that pushes animals straight into the monster's grip.  Right now, PETA is the only organization courageous enough to take that stand on the national level, but I hope other national organizations will understand the danger they are placing animals in as they receive feedback on the California Sheltering Report.

    The US went from euthanizing tens of millions of animals to several million through real solutions like increased spay neuter and adoption promotion, and it's not acceptable to achieve "no-kill", on an arbitrary timeline, through shortcuts that send animals to a horrific life and death at the hands of torturer.  If anything, these organizations should be stepping up the effort to do what has been already shown to be successful in recent decades, and encouraging communities to pursue real solutions that have worked in communities like New Hampshire and Jacksonville, not turning tail and taking the "out of sight, out of mind" stance of the "No-Kill" movement.  It's evident that what happens when animals are out of sight is pretty ugly.

    Saturday, October 5, 2013

    Life After Dog Control

    There hasn't been a tremendous amount of news on the animal news front in Delaware.  While Senator Blevins stated last month that she anticipated the new Animal Welfare Office would be "open sometime in October", it seems unlikely given the fact that the state didn't even know where the office was going to be located, and haven't updated the job posting status for the lead position in that office yet.

    There also hasn't been any word regarding what will happen with dog control in Wilmington.  In August it was state that the city would put for their plan, but a month and a half has gone by and not a peep.
    "Leonard Sophrin, Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams' policy director, is overseeing the project. Word on the street is the city will build a $250,000 no-kill shelter, either on A or Walnut Streets, and operate on a $150,000 annual budget. Delaware SPCA's contract with the city was $250,000. Sophrin would not confirm whether the shelter would be no-kill or its location, only saying he did not want to comment until next month, when more things, presumably, would be in place." - Newsworks 8/23/13
    It seems the name of the game in Delaware's animal welfare world is "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh".  Keep everything quiet so nobody can point out the mess they are making.

    Safe Haven

    What little we do know is that Anne Gryczon, the previous director of Safe Haven who was ousted after numerous complaints regarding the condition of the dogs in their care, appears to still have a foot in the door at Safe Haven based on this email that was included in a thread that went around to various rescues.  It seems that some organizations still support her despite the many issues reported.

    Other than Ms. Gryczon's continued influence at Safe Haven, some dogs are being transferred to hopefully better circumstances.  

    What's most concerning about this article is the condition of the dogs that are being transferred.
    "They are all “sociable” but need immediate medical treatment for things like skin conditions, ear infections and heartworm." - CBS Philly 
    I wouldn't find those conditions unusual for a shelter currently handling dog control, because we all know that they come into shelters in those conditions.  What's concerning about these dogs, is that Safe Haven is no longer doing dog control, yet dogs with these conditions continue to linger with illnesses that need medical attention weeks later.  These dogs were lucky enough to be transferred, but who know's what condition the many dogs remaining face.

    I wonder if Governor Markell and Senator Blevins are proud of the fact that other states have to bail out the mess that's been made in Delaware animal welfare? Safe Haven may have failed in good part due to mismanagement, but we all know they would have never gotten the dog control contract had it not been for the drama created under CAPA.

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    The Bipolar Roller Coaster

    For the last few months, the bipolar roller coaster has been making it's way through the first state.  There is not a lot to say in this post, the headlines speak for themselves.  Sadly, with no real standards or inspections, there is little anyone can do, even if this shelter continues to operate short staffed and lacking medical care due to not having a vet.  

    - June 21 - Safe Haven could close its doors

    - June 25 - Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary to Remain Open for Now

    - July 23 - Safe Haven shelter to close from fiscal woes 

    - July 25 - Safe Haven rethinks closing animal shelter

    - July 26 - Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary set to close...or, maybe not

    - July 28 - Despite closing rumors, Safe Haven promotes summer-long adoption special

    - Aug 9  - Safe Haven regroups as community pulls together

    - Sept 19 - Kent SPCA assumes county dog control duties early
                     Safe Haven announces the closing of its facility on 9/27/2013

    I really wonder how our state leaders and the "No-Kill" leader that supports this nonsense sleep at night.  I understand wanting to save the 140 dogs that remain, but due to the constant emotional blackmail of the last few months, the market here is saturated and the rescues are as well.  In addition, many have reported that some of the dogs have temperament issues, which is understandable given the amount of time that some have spent being warehoused in boarding kennels.  If they don't have money to pay staff, according to the email circulated, it will be curious to see how they will hire the caliber of behaviorist that will be needed to rehabilitate some of these dogs.  We all hope for the best for the dogs, but I also hope that the public's well being is considered as we watch the mad dash to get the dogs adopted out.

    And due to the "cry wolf" game, I can't imagine who is going to step in and help when this truly comes crashing down, or how many animals will die or suffer because of lack of staff and the fact that this animal shelter has already had disease issues. Wonder which direction this roller coaster ride will take us next?

    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    Two Steps Forward, A Giant Leap Backward

    Delaware's Steps Forward

    We've finally had some glimmer of hope in recent weeks.  A few weeks ago, Kent County Levy Court made the decision to not only terminate Safe Haven as our "No-Kill" dog control vendor in Kent County, but they also recently voted to reinstate Kent County SPCA in that role.  For those of us who have seen the numerous posts online regarding the lack of response to stray dog reports by the previous vendor feel some assurance that public safety will again be priority of dog control in our county.

    We're grateful to the Kent County Levy Court Commission for ensuring that "logic prevailed", and we hope that everyone will use this opportunity as a fresh start. While there have been many harsh words between both parties in the past, the fact is both sides are going to be impacted if the State of Delaware continues to create new unfunded mandates, and the only way the counties will be able to effectively understand the impact of legislation that will be introduced next year by Senator Blevins and her new Animal Welfare Office, is for there to be ongoing dialogue with those that perform the services for the county under the dog control contract.

    On another note, it also appears that we're beginning to see more people question the current state of affairs in Delaware animal welfare, and advocating for the State of Delaware to look at real solutions focusing on spay neuter that have been effective in the Northeast.
    We would like to welcome Delaware No Kill Alliance (DNKA)to our community of animal advocates in Delaware. DNKA is not like most No Kill groups, the utmost purpose is for the animals of Delaware and in order to be for the animals you must also work cohesively with ALL shelters, rescues and animal welfare groups in the state. Unlike the No Kill Extremists who point out all the problems but bring no solutions to the table, DKNA will be out there fighting for new laws on spay and neuter, working with shelters who are overcrowded and finding solutions to the problems that have caused Delaware to drastically go down hill with the problems of today. 
     DKNA is a group of very knowledgeable people who collectively have hundreds of years experience in caring for and about animals, from veterinarians to shelter managers to volunteers. DKNA is here to educate the public on how they too can help get Delaware to the top with spay/neuter programs like Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Until Delaware has proper spay/neuter programs and laws in place our state will always have an overpopulation problem and DKNA hopes to fix that. These are just a few items that will be keeping DKNA very busy in helping our animals and our shelters. - Citizen Watchdogs for the Animals of Delaware Facebook Page - 9/10/13
    It's wonderful to see people discussing solutions that have been shown to work.  Maybe people are seeing that the snake oil approach of "No-Kill", where cities like Austin continually face overcrowded animal shelters, isn't working.  Whereas New Hampshire and other areas of the Northeast are able to offer assistance elsewhere as they import shelter dogs because spay neuter has been so effective.  The icing on the cake is that New Hampshire did that at a fraction of the costs of their "No-Kill" counterparts.  The fact that this new group posted the following on their new page, which is under construction, shows that they don't buy into the Nathan nonsense about overpopulation being a myth and that's a refreshing change.
    "Spay and Neuter to help with the overpopulation problem". - Delaware No Kill Alliance
    You can't solve a problem if you don't recognize it, so this new group is light years ahead of the political contingent that brought us CAPA, and hopefully we will finally be able to see some progress for animals and residents in Delaware, rather than a continuation of the cruelty and suffering that CAPA and the Winograd version of "No-Kill" brought us.

    A National Leap Backward

    Out of Sight, Out of Mind - Feral and Owned Cats Dumped On Our Streets
    As we finally see some hope in Delaware, we are also seeing a giant leap backwards for animals on the national front.  It appears some of the national animal welfare organizations like HSUS and ASPCA are jumping into Nathan Winograd's rabbit hole with their tails tucked between their legs, and while I'm glad his claimed victory is on the other side of the country, it's still a troubling event for animal welfare and public safety.

    These organizations are now also advocating to leave every cat on the street like the "No-Kill" movement has done here. In Delaware, we've seen the tragic results of a similar policy that was inflicted as a result of CAPA. It's been tragic for the animals, and a sad shifting of the burden onto residents by forcing our residents to bear the cost and effort of dealing with cats being dumped on their properties.  This misguided attitude is even more devastating for our low income residents who live in communities where cats are dumped on a regular basis.

    It seems like the new strategy in animal welfare is basically to try to force the community into supporting their cause by dumping that responsibility into everyone's backyards. As citizens are forced to deal with being inundated with animals as a result of this 'leave them on the street attitude' that shifts the burden onto people that in some cases never even wanted an animal, I have to wonder what other community charities will suffer as a result. Most people have a limited amount of funds that they can give to various causes, and it seems to me that by forcing citizens to deal with the pet overpopulation (spaying/neutering, feeding, vet care, etc), that residents will be tapped out when they go to give their annual donations to other charities like children's hospitals, special olympics, food banks, etc.

    One statement from the Community Cats article in the recent HSUS magazine that I take issue with is that we will be treating the cats the same as "wild critters".
    "Shelters have a long history of taking this approach when it comes to wild critters such as raccoons and opossums. Realizing the futility of trying to control these species through shelter admission and euthanasia, we guide people to other solutions. The same can be true for community cats: With a little guidance, many people will rise to the occasion, and find ways to coexist peacefully with the cats in their neighborhood." - For Community Cats, A Change Is Gonna Come - Dr. Kate Hurley
    We don't feed those other critters in our neighborhoods.  So they might occasionally be seen in a neighbors yard, but it's not a daily occurrence as it is with cats who are fed in urban/suburban areas.

    People are impacted by allowing he cat population to grow in these areas, and we will end up putting cruelty into their hands by ignoring that. If a person has to quarantine their dog continually because of wounds that occur when they go after the cat that keeps coming into the yard, the person may eventually do what they think is justifiable to allow their dog their freedom from being isolated. The same with the person who wants to allow their child to play in their back yard but is concerned with the child's safety because the neighbor wants to feed 20 cats. I'm in no way advocating for harm to cats, but I understand the reality of how the current situation in Delaware has impacted residents, and people become wary of having their lives, their family members, and their property impacted by the choices of others.

    Not everyone is going to accept this burden shift, or even cares about animals. This 'leave them on the streets' mentality is merely using the "out of sight, out of mind" card to enhance their statistics and coddle a vocal minority, but the public has seen the cruelty of leaving every cat on the street here, and they will see it elsewhere when it is enacted in other localities.

    Unfortunately what is being proposed for cats isn't anything close to the successful communities where feral cats are no longer taken in.  These communities lowered the overpopulation for several years before pulling that trigger, whereas "No-Kill" and now the mainstream organizations are advocating for pulling the trigger first and hope the resources that will be needed to spay/neuter. to treat medically, or to euthanize cats at the end of their lives, will just drop out of the sky.  And to put it in perspective, they are assuming that communities will have the manpower to do it all at once, rather than spread out accross the years before.  Can you imagine a car factory doing a half price sale for a month every year and expecting their employees to keep up with the demand?  The logistics just don't make sense.

    Here are the Jacksonville stats.

    Here are the NH numbers

    I just don't think that we should be advocating for putting communities into these situations and hoping the resources will miraculously appear after the fact. We should be advocating for what has worked in Jacksonville and New Hampshire, as their low income spay neuter programs helped to lower the population and prevent the cats from ending up on the streets in the first place. We don't wait to get mumps, we prevent it with vaccinations.  Our goal should be to keep them in homes by preventing oops litters and eliminating the unwanted behaviors that frustrate owners who end up abandoning them. Instead we're seeing organizations and politicians advocating for cats to be abandoned on the streets, where the cost to spay neuter them will increase as they have litters before they are every found and picked up for TNR.  The horse should be in front of the cart, it's that simple

    Encouraging The Dumping of Dogs Now
    As we speak, the Magical Mystery Tour of animal welfare organizations are touring the countrysides of California.  As if California residents weren't already dealing with the misguided CAPA like Hayden law at the cost of tens of millions of dollars a year, these national welfare organizations are now advocating for California shelters and animal control services to limit owner surrender opportunities, and adopting out or transferring any animal without identification immediately.  The report includes little discussion about the cost to the shelters or the residents, much like we've seen with "No-Kill" here in Delaware.  It's unfortunate that so many are willing to put the cart before the horse, and hope they aren't on a hill where the cart goes crashing forward.

    Stakeholders Group - California Sheltering Report
    Jon Cicirelli – Director, San Jose Animal Care and Services
    Jennifer Scarlett, DVM – Co-President, San Francisco SPCA
    Jennifer Fearing – California Senior State Director, The Humane Society of the United States
    Aimee Gilbreath – Executive Director, Found Animals Foundation
    Eric Anderson, DVM – Director, San Luis Obispo County Animal Services
    Ryan Drabek – Director, Orange County Animal Care
    Leilani Fratis – Chief Executive Officer, Placer SPCA/President, State Humane Association
    of California
    Lisa Carter – Executive Director, Santa Cruz SPCA and Humane Society
    Julie Johnson – Executive Director, Bakersfield SPCA
    Erica Hughes, Esq. – Executive Director, State Humane Association of California
    Melanie Sadek – Executive Director, Valley Humane Society
    Kristen Staggs – Board Member, Butte Humane Society
    Rich Avanzino, Esq. – President, Maddie’s Fund
    Christi Metropole – Executive Director, Stray Cat Alliance
    Sherri Franklin – Executive Director, Muttville
    Jill Buckley, Esq. – Senior Director, ASPCA
    Kate Hurley, DVM, MPVM – Koret Shelter Medicine Program Director, UC Davis

    The discussion in this whitepaper about Intake Reduction is no different than Winograd's closed doors with No-Kill and CAPA. While the paper gives several examples of successes, they are all shelters that don't handle animal control, so their data is questionable at best in it's relation to animal control agencies and communities as a whole.

    Given the discussion below regarding limiting intake based on mix of animals, my bet is that there will be a ton of pitbulls and chihuahuas turned away to be abandoned on the streets of California. In any other context people would consider that breed discrimination. When did public safety become secondary to live release rates? And why would people pay any additional funds to animal control in the future if more dogs end up on the streets because they they weren't adoptable enough to be taken in by a shelter?

    Good luck California, you'll be joining Delaware in the state sanctioned cruelty of closed shelter doors. And given the majority of animals that enter a shelter are intact, leaving them on the streets is only going to increase pet overpopulation.
    "Intake Reduction
    When some owners, nonetheless, choose to surrender pets, appointments enable agencies to control the flow of animals into their shelters based on their capacity to care for and place the
    animals. For example, if at the time of surrender, the facility is full, or there are no possibilities of finding the animal a new home, the agency can decline to accept the pet. It is important to note that there is no California law requiring public shelters to accept owner-surrendered pets."
    "Agencies should choose an appropriate level of intake, which includes refusing to admit some animals, to ensure a higher level of care, provide a better quality of life, and focus more on finding homes. Whether it is better to admit an animal or not depends on that animal's immediate risks, health and behavior, the number and mix of animals already in the shelter, and the shelter's ability to find a home for the animal." - California Sheltering Report
    Adopt Out Right Away - Owners And Animals Without ID Beware
    Another recommendation to take issue with is the one regarding eliminating the stray hold period for a dog found without identification. Unless you are going to legally require pet owners to microchip, this recommendation is just reckless and will be a free for all. Shelter employees that want that cute fluffy, rescues with high adoption fees that will also be vying to take the cute fluffy for transfers because they make a profit. And again, why should taxpayers pay for what is sounding more like animal welfare issues than public safety and a public service to the community. Personally I think 3 days is adequate time to reclaim an animal and if my dog was ever lost you can count on my being there the next day if it is after hours, but 0 time is ridiculous. Travelers will be impacted. Low level workers who have a more difficult time getting off work will be impacted. And I can imagine the pet flipping business in CA will be lucrative as people vie for the cute puppy's that they can resale, especially given the fact that the report says their recommendation doesn't even require a 501c3 status for rescues..
    "RecommendationLegal requirement: Dogs without identification may be immediately moved through the process toward a positive outcome (i.e. adoption, transfer); dogs with identification shall be held for the existing holding period and then made available for any other outcome." - California Sheltering Report 
    The fact is that none of these so-called solutions have actually been shown to work.  Delaware is probably the best example of dumping the cats onto the general public, and now we also have dogs as in the same quandary as shelters no longer accept owner surrendered dogs, and it hasn't gone well.  With a human population under a million, we have 6 shelters and dozens of TNR groups and rescues. and even some public funding of spay neuter, yet people here are still overwhelmed by one litter after another.  So I can just imagine the nightmare that will occur in a state with 38 million people.

    In Delaware, dog rescues have also been overwhelmed with requests that began to come into them when we no longer had a shelter that would accept owner surrenders.

    Not to mention the fact that this will encourage the same scramble by an unregulated rescue industry that we've seen in many communities attempting to become "No-Kill", and the potential for harm that some of the unregulated rescues could create if they transport sick animals.

    It's ironic that organizations like HSUS and ASPCA use shelter statistics to measure impact of the various grants they provide, but those statistics will be meaningless once shelter doors shut as they are advocating for.  Shelter statistics are an actual concrete number, and although you can give an estimate regarding the number of animals on the streets, those numbers would be subjective and questionable at best.  So there will be no means to justify the need for grant funds in the future, and there will be no way for anyone to measure successes. Given the reliance on grant funds in the animal shelter sector, this limit potential funding sources in the future.

    It really is unfortunate that so many people and organizations are willing to obfuscate statistics with policies and recommendations that merely shift burdens, obscure the actual outcomes for the animals, and pretend that this is a solution.

    Thursday, August 29, 2013

    Animal Welfare Office - Starting As Expected - Somewhere?

    Delaware shouldn't lack money for animal welfare the way it does.  There's enough drama in the sector to create one of those ridiculous reality television shows that so many people seem to love. In this day and age where people seem to be drawn to to watching other people's mind numbing lives, I bet people would love watching our backroom politics and constant drama we've encountered. The backstabbing of Big Brother pales in comparison to the political world of animal welfare in the state of Delaware.  And the pathetic games that are being played at the top make Snooki from Jersey Shore look like a scholar.

    From Safe Haven's spokesperson trying to spin blame on the interim director for not getting animals spayed and neutered, even though it was apparent to most of us at the beginning of the year that Safe Haven had run out most of their funds, to the same spokesperson now attacking the volunteers who started a fund to get animals spayed neutered and necessary medical attention when Safe Haven no longer had enough credibility to bring in donations. For the life of me, I can't see what Ms. Lofthouse or the Safe Haven Board of Directors think they will accomplish with these actions, but then again it really is just an extension of the campaign of hate and destruction that we've seen Safe Haven spew at other shelters in the state for a number of years. We can see how well their venomous approach has worked for their shelter and the animals in their care, but apparently it's an addictive cycle that the shelter can't seem to break.

    Animal Welfare Office Begins Hiring - Legislative Laison Not In Or Near The Capitol ???

    Last week the Department of Health And Human Services began the hiring process for the Executive Director of the new Animal Welfare Office that our slanted Task Force proposed.  I say that lightly because the report that launched the process was not a compilation by the members of the Task Force. It was the creation of a few on the Task Force and just thrown out to the rest of the members at the end of the Task Force, and as a result the Task Force basically lived up to what many of us expected.

    So it was no surprise that the hiring of the Executive Director shows not only the bias that will be interwoven into the Animal Welfare Office, but also the fact that it will be a thrown together freak show from Day 1, like every other thing we've seen legislators do with animal welfare in Delaware in recent years.

    This first screenshot shows the header of the job posting that was on the State of Delaware website. We knew the new office was going under Public Health division, and that the primary claim that the state needed to spend an additional $500,000 in salaries was to consolidate everything animal related. But when I saw the posting and where it was located in Dover, I thought it was strange that the state would choose to house the new office separate from Public Health's Rabies Control Program which is located in a different part of Dover. So much for the great consolidation that was sold to everyone. We all knew that it had nothing to do with consolidation, and that Public Health concerns will NEVER be a priority of the new Animal Welfare Office, so it's no surprise that Senator Blevins would prefer it be kept separate from Rabies Control.

    As you can see, the posting above was supposed to close last Friday, 8/23/13.  The posting did go down when it closed, but it miraculously reappeared this week.  Since most of us believe this position was filled before it was ever posted, just like the Task Force positions are known to have been, it was odd that the posting reappeared.  

    That was until I saw what had changed, as seen below. When the new posting came out, it showed that not only would the new office be located in a different location than the Rabies Control unit in Dover, it wouldn't even be located in the same county now. So yet again our suspicion that this office will be the crony pet project of Senator Blevins has been confirmed.  A huge part of the justification for this position and the office was to liaison and make recommendations to legislators concerning animal welfare issues, so it seems ridiculous that the office would not be located in our centrally located capitol city of Dover where ALL legislators would have access to the office. The Executive Director's first function listed is:

    -Act as liaison to members of the State Legislature, other State Agencies, state veterinarians and the media. 

    So we're going down the same road as occurred with the Animal Welfare Task Force, where Senator Blevins and her buddies in New Castle County took center stage, and they will now continue to take us further down the road to ruin by putting the office in their own backyard, allowing the NCC contingent to continue their dictatorship over animal welfare laws in our state. Remember these are the same people that wrote our current laws that were so poorly thought out, written without enforcement which was acknowledged in the Task Force meetings, and laws that contain holes as wide as the sinkhole that swallowed the resort down in Florida recently. 
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein
    It was fiscally irresponsible enough that we're essentially paying for a legislative aid for one issue, when legislation is what we already pay legislators and their aids for.  But now we find out that NCC legislators will really be the only ones who have ready access to the department.

    And there's nothing lost in the irony that the new office which is expected to be up and running January 1st, yet the job posting shows "Facility To Be Determined", meaning they haven't even decided where it will be located with only 4 months left.  I'm glad I added the timer to this site, because apparently those in charge are going to need it as a reminder. 

    January 1 - What Happens??

    What recent articles about the new Animal Welfare Office didn't explain was that the Budget Bill that created the office doesn't task the office with any authority.  I guess if I was a Senator and used the backdoor to spend taxpayer funds, I wouldn't want to explain the fact that the state will be paying $500,000 for an office that doesn't have legislative authority to deal with CAPA or other animal welfare laws at this point. 
    “It got thrown into the budget bill. After it passed, that’s when people became aware of it,” Usilton said. Blevins, he said, “went through the back door and put it through the budget office, rather than creating it through legislation.” Blevins did not return calls for comment Wednesday. - James Fisher, DelawareOnline
    The budget bill only moved the regulations for CAPA to Public Health, but the actual law is still in the Department of Agriculture. Not that it matters since the law doesn't allow inspections or enforcement anyway, but it's a shame that our state leaders have allowed people to believe that the new office will be able to enforce CAPA come January 1. And it's even more shameful that Senator Blevins doesn't have the courage to respond to requests for information. So much for transparency. 

    I do have to give the Senator and her cronies an A for the adept political maneuver. Create the department in the budget bill first, that way if there are objections to her legislation in the new year, she can just tell the other legislators that it must be passed anyway, or the state will be paying $500,000 per year for all these new people who won't have anything to do. They will just tell the other legislators that they can fix it later, and then just ignore the objections for the foreseeable future once it is passed. It's like signing a lease agreement for a cool new sports car, then going home and telling your wife that you will have to pay thousands of dollars if you take the car back to get out of the lease. Once the lease is signed, it takes much more effort and cost to get out.

    So what happens January 1? The state will be paying for a department of 5 people ($500,000 per year) and they don't have any legislated duties yet. I guess Senator Blevins thinks that is a small price to have a department that will get all the disgruntled calls that her office and other legislators are now getting due to the mess they created, but still no solutions for the animals, or the residents her games have impacted. 

    And sadly, since the rural areas of Kent and Sussex have been the most impacted by the growing cat overpopulation that has occurred since CAPA, residents of the 2 slower lower counties will continue to have little voice in what happens regarding animal welfare in our state. Many Kent and Sussex residents have gone to their legislators concerning issues, but it unfortunately appears that Kent and Sussex legislators don't have the courage or backbone to address their constituent issues. It really is a shame that constituent issues aren't addressed because their legislators are afraid the next bill they try to introduce won't make it to the floor under the current leadership, but that is the "Delaware Way".  

    And despite the fact that we've almost had dog tent city and cats thrown into the upstairs of a shelter without air conditioning, it doesn't appear that real animal shelter standards or inspections will result from this office. Just more of the same division and drama.  

    Since the additional money budgeted to date has only gone towards creating jobs for people that will most likely have connections to the Senator that took us down this destructive path, or at the very least, individuals that she gives her stamp of approval to, maybe we should at least earn some funds for the animals with Delaware's very own reality show called "The Shelter Wars".  And if they don't want their backroom antics taped for fear of prosecution, maybe we could at least have a cartoon version with our very own Mayor Quimby characters at the state level. 

    Friday, August 23, 2013

    Winograd's No-Kill - Financially Unsustainable For Shelters And Residents

    Will "No-Kill" End Up Killing More Animal Shelters In Delaware?

    The question in a recent article shouldn't be is "No-Kill" within our reach.  The question is whether "No-Kill" is going to bankrupt more of our animal shelters, increase county budgets, and place additional financial burden on the residents dealing with the many strays that are now left on the streets due to CAPA and the "No-Kill" initiative that Governor Markell and our legislature have supported.

    The media and residents can clearly see the mess that's been created already, from shelter financial losses to scrambling to keep dogs from being warehoused in outside kennels, after Safe Haven stopped paying the boarding kennels where Safe Haven had previously been warehousing their animals. It's unfortunate that many small businesses from boarding kennels to veterinarians have also been impacted by CAPA, and the unrealistic expectations of those that think a shelter can pay $3,000 to have a shattered bone repaired on a stray when a shelter is getting less than 1/10th of that in compensation from the counties.  Or to expect residents to pay that for a stray animal's surgery when many couldn't afford to have the surgery done for their own animal.

    And despite all the hoopla that's been made about supercharging adoptions, that certainly hasn't been seen in the adoption numbers of the very "No-Kill" shelters that proclaim that it can work. I encourage everyone to look at each shelters website so you can see that there was no increase in adoptions, and in some cases there is actually a decrease each year.  The fact is that the state forced the shelter doors closed and are just leaving animals on the streets hoping residents will pick up their slack.

    "No-Kill" Examples Show How Financially Unsustainable It Is

    I think we can all agree that nobody wants to euthanize animals, this issue is whether the "No-Kill" movement is financially sustainable.  The 2 communities that Ms. Pierantozzi discussed at the recent Kent County Levy Court meeting are clearly unsustainable.  If Nevada Humane continues to absorb the losses that it has incurred since they began "No-Kill" they will eventually be bankrupt. It's no surprise that NHS's leader just recently abandoned ship. Austin taxpayers will be paying $3.5 million more per year than they were as recently as 2009, and clearly that community can't keep increasing their budget by $500,000 to $1 million every year.

    So it's great if everyone wants to hinge their dreams on the new Animal Welfare Office proposed and delude themselves into believing that the new office is going to make animal overpopulation disappear with the snap of their fingers, but I find it extremely concerning. The office was formed by the same people who brought us the No-Kill Advocacy Center's CAPA, and "No-Kill" has already caused substantial losses and drama for our shelters. Some of us said that would happen when CAPA began, and the shelter losses show we were right. Let's hope our foolish legislators don't put the final nails in the coffins of all our shelters with more of this same nonsense.

    And none of this addresses the fact that citizens across the state are also being financially overwhelmed with the strays that they are now taking in because CAPA closed the doors to our shelters for owner relinquished animals.

    The new Animal Welfare Office should spend their time creating real standards that would prevent shelters from even thinking about creating a dog tent city or stowing cats away in the attic, as was discussed in our newspapers during this Safe Haven debacle.  But given the silence of Governor Markell and Senator Blevins in recent weeks, we can only assume that they thought it was acceptable for dogs to be warehoused in outdoor kennels in the middle of a field.  It's a pretty good indication that we won't see any real standards from the Animal Welfare Office that our Governor and our legislature created.

    And the Animal Welfare Office that they created is going to continue to ignore the pet overpopulation because they believe a man who says that pet overpopulation is a myth, despite the fact that Winograd's own state of California has an average rate of euthanasia despite their version of a similar law called Hayden, and the fact that he's worked very little time in an animal shelter himself.  Sadly, the only state that has even come close to "No-Kill" is New Hampshire, and that was because they were bright enough to recognize that pet overpopulation is a reality and their focus on lowering the overpopulation was a real solution, unlike Mr. Winograd's snake-oil version on "No-Kill".

    Ms. Pierantozzi's Example "No-Kill" Communities - The Numbers

    Nevada Humane can only continue to remain a viable entity for another 5-6 years based on the the losses they've sustained since the no-kill effort began.
    Washoe/NHS - Intake 15,000.
    2005 Combined Expenses - $5,347,996.
    2010 Combined Expenses - $7,816,195.
    Note - Nevada Humane has lost nearly $4.1 million since no-kill began.

    Nevada Humane
    $4.1 Million in Deficits Since No-Kill Effort Began 2006
    2004 403,343.00
    2005 2,168,793.00
    2006 (1,000,367.00)
    2007 (855,614.00)
    2008 (237,365.00)
    2009 (1,000,164.00)
    2010 (293,971.00)
    2011 (749,016.00)

    Austin Animal Services
    2008-09 $ 5,397,428
    2009-10 $ 6,008,659
    2010-11 $ 6,883,679
    2011-12 $ 7,612,186
    2012-13 $ 8.2 million
    2013-14 $ 8.9 million proposed ($714,000 increase)

    Austin's Intake
    2006 24,357
    2007 27,163
    2008 24,663
    2009 22,150
    2010 24,026
    2011 19,752
    2012 19,592

    Bankrupt shelters can't save animals. It's that simple.

    And to those in leadership positions who took us down this pathetic path, I hope when you look in the mirror or admire one of your photo op minutes from the day CAPA was signed, that you think about the impact you've had on the many businesses that have been harmed by this "No-Kill" craziness.  Or that you consider the elderly lady on a a rural property that is currently feeding 30 cats because her property has become a dumping ground now that shelters won't take cats, not to mention the public health concern of the situation. You've impacted peoples lives, but not in good way. 

    Thursday, August 15, 2013

    Drama And Uncertainty - A Way Of Life With CAPA

    Kent County Dog Control - We Wait To See

    At the Kent Levy Court Meeting noted in my previous post, it was decided by a 5-2 vote by the commission to terminate the contract in 60 days from the date notified.  Many of us are grateful that the majority of our commissioners had the good sense to realize that having an animal shelter operating with only a fraction of the staff, and with a ridiculously small amount being budgeting for veterinary care, that Safe Haven's plan was completely unrealistic and dangerous for our dog.
    “The problem is your business model. It doesn’t work. It’s not going to work,” Commissioner Eric L. Buckson told Safe Haven’s board members at a public meeting Tuesday. “You’re working off hopeful revenues, and that’s dangerous.” - - No-Kill No-kill Policy Comes At A Cost For Animal Shelters
    If you watch the meeting, it's obvious that the decision to terminate was what most of the people in the room were hoping to hear, especially after many in the room had seen the articles that referenced Safe Haven's plan for dogs being returned by boarding kennels that haven't been paid.  Safe Haven had stated that the dogs "will be kept in fenced areas, donated by Best Friends of Utah, until new homes are found or they are transferred to other groups".  Basically a dog tent city.

    Fortunately for Safe Haven, the public comment section of the meeting wasn't until after the decision by our commission had already been voted on.  Once the decision was made, there was no longer a reason for the many disgruntled residents to speak out against Safe Haven. If you watch the meeting, it is surprising that there were those that defended them despite the shelter's plan to keep dogs in outside fenced areas. I'm still shocked that some who claim to advocate for shelter reform would think that lowering standards to that level would ever be acceptable.  Many of these same people have screamed that individual owned dogs shouldn't be kept in this matter, but under the guise of "No-Kill", we can lower the standards to the very bottom because all that matters is that the dogs are alive, not that they are treated humanely.

    So now we wait and see what the Kent County Levy Court commission will do to replace Safe Haven. Yes, the typical spin has already begun from the same players that started us down this road a year ago with the rehashing of deeds from years past that have been alleged against Kent County SPCA, which was no surprise.  It's amusing to see the same people argue about individual allegations while they overlook the fact that Safe Haven intended, and possibly still intends to house dogs in dog tent city.  

    It's been stated by some that the Safe Haven issues have nothing to do with CAPA, but I still argue that CAPA was sold by our state legislature and Governor as "shelter standards", while the fact that a shelter can put dogs out in the middle of a field with cages around them and the bare ground under them that can't be disinfected or protect them from a lightning strikes, clearly shows that we don't have real shelter standards. So CAPA is responsible because it took the place of standards that protect animals from the very hoarding and warehousing circumstances that we would scream about if it was done by a puppy mill. And let's be honest, had there not been the CAPA platform for the complaints to go from one agency to the next, and the multiple lawsuits that have all been dismissed to date, it's unlikely that Kent County would have ever ended up with Safe Haven as our dog control vendor in the first place.

    Since the meeting, there's still a tremendous amount of drama happening.  Dog tent city never happened because one of the boarding kennels tried to hold out and keep most of the 47 dogs in his care despite the devastating blow to his business financially.  But yesterday the kennel owner attended this weeks Kent County Levy Court commission meeting and announced that the 39 dogs remaining will go back this Friday, which is understandable. The issues with Safe Haven have already placed his business in jeopardy.  The kennel owner noted that Safe Haven was already "overflowing" when he took 8 dogs back to them, so this isn't going to be pretty. Dog tent city may still be a reality. 

    New Castle County - Dog Control RFP - The Assembly Line Approach

    On the same date as Kent County's termination of the Safe Haven's dog control contract, New Castle County posted their Request for Proposal for Dog Control Services.  If you thought things were convoluted here in Delaware already, with every dog control contract being handled by a provider outside of it's locality, New Castle County appears to want to complicate things even further.  It's actually 4 RFP's in one.
    New Castle County is seeking proposals for dog control services, which include dog control, intake, and sheltering services referenced by the section below: 
    • Section I: DOG CONTROL only - County-wide 24/7 dog control services (including owner surrendered dogs), excluding the City of Wilmington and City of Newark as required by 9 Del. C. §§ 900-928, New Castle County Code Sections 4.02.001- 4.02.006 and Section 22.02.007. 
    • Section II: ANIMAL INTAKE only.

    • Section III: ANIMAL SHELTERING only. 
    So if it wasn't confusing enough for resident's to find their dogs now, just wait and see what it will be like if New Castle County ends up with different vendors for Dog Control, Animal Intake and Animal Sheltering. I may have to tell my family members in New Castle County to have GM's OnStar system embedded in their dogs.  

    Here are the descriptions of the sections:

    SECTION I – Dog Control Services 
    Dog Control Services shall include, but not be limited to, provision of uniformed agents to retrieve dogs running at large in New Castle County pursuant to Delaware Code 9 Del. C. § 901 – 928 , respond to animal noise and nuisance complaints in New Castle County pursuant to New Castle County Code sections 4.02.001 – 4.02.006 and Section 22.02.007. 
    All staff must be trained to handle dogs and give them humane treatment. The agency must have a control 
    supervisor and staff member to coordinate control officers with intake services provider and shelter services 

    Intake services shall include, but not be limited to, provision of examination, vaccination, medical treatment and necessary temporary holding facilities for animals picked up by animal control officers in New Castle County in accordance with 3 Del. C. § 8001 – 8007 and § 8201 – 8213. 
    All staff must be trained to handle animals and give them humane treatment. The facility must have an
    intake supervisor and staff member to coordinate intake services with both control officers and shelter 
    services provider.

    Sheltering services shall include, but not be limited to, housing, care, necessary post-intake medical treatment, necessary animal rehabilitation training, adoption services, and any necessary humane euthanasia for animals obtained by Animal control officers in New Castle County, in accordance with 3 Del. C. § 8001 – 8007. 
    All staff must be trained to handle animals and give them humane treatment. Each facility must have a
    shelter supervisor and staff member to coordinate shelter services with both control officers and intake 
    services provider

    Complete Services shall include dog control, intake and sheltering services as described above. 

    Does your head want to explode thinking about how many people you may have to speak with to find your lost dog in New Castle County?  I may have to leave my dog home when visiting New Castle County. It gives me a headache even considering the convoluted logistics that having separate vendors for Sections 1, 2 & 3 will entail.  It also makes me wonder what will be next in our state.  Are we going to end up with a proposal to have an animal underground railroad where dogs go from one home to the next until someone hopefully claims it?

    It really is going to be a fun legislative season next year. I realize that our legislators are never going to stop trying to cover the fact that CAPA has been a miserable failure, and it's a shame for our animals and our residents. But any state considering CAPA or a similar Rescue Act is going to see Delaware's example and run for the hills. We've seen that for the last 3 years, and that was before the worst of Delaware's drama this year.  Cities like Norfolk have the sense to understand that legislating "No-Kill" is expensive by seeing how costly it has been in Reno and Austin, but Delaware will be the example of just how ludicrous legislating "No-Kill" on the state level can be, and we're barely a state.

    Saturday, July 27, 2013

    Kent County Delaware's Dog Tent City - MEETING July 30, 2013

    Meeting at Kent County Levy Court July 30 at 7:00PM

    Last month we watched as Safe Haven claimed they would close as early as the following week, and once animals were adopted out and donations received, they changed the story and said it was merely a rumor (guess they figured we wouldn't notice that the rumor was started by their own board members).  Well their PR machine went into overdrive this last week.  One minute there was news that they close on August 31 and needed help again to get animals out of the shelter, then hours later we were told they would remain open.  The happened several times over the last week.
    Ms. Lofthouse said Wednesday that critics had called the shelter “bipolar” in the wake of quickly changing news that it was closing and then staying open, and acknowledged that the situation was confusing and encouraged the public to have patience and maintain its support of the facility. - Delaware State News, Safe Haven outlines plan to salvage operations 
    Given the fact the constantly changes in direction within such a short time, I would describe their erratic decisions more appropriately as "schizophrenic".

    Dog Tent City 

    Maricopa County Prison Overflow
    Safe Haven's Dog Tent City in Progress

    Delaware animal welfare has sunk to a new low point.  Dog Tent City for Safe Haven's overflow of animals that have been in private boarding kennels is about to become a reality here.
    "Most of the dogs that have been living in kennels are being moved back to Safe Haven's Georgetown location and will be kept in fenced areas, donated by Best Friends of Utah, until new homes are found or they are transferred to other groups." - Cape Gazette - To Close or Not To Close?
    Anyone that thinks setting up kennel fence panels with tarps in the middle of a field is adequate shelter from the elements (heat, driving rain, lightning storms, wind, and possible tropical storms & hurricanes) has to be out of their minds.  The ground can't be disinfected to prevent disease, dogs will become flea and tick infested. and the number of animals that will end up with heartworms will be ridiculous given our wet summer this year and the proliferation of mosquitoes as a result.  And don't forget the potential for rabies from bats who will have easy access to the dogs through the fencing.  That doesn't even take into consideration dogs digging under or climbing out of the enclosure, This is just wrong on so many levels.

    EVERYONE that wants to address the current dog control contract in Kent Count, and proposed Tent City, 
    NEEDS TO ATTEND this meeting.

    Dog Control Services Contract – Overview and Status Report by Safe Haven 
    Board of Directors: President Lois Fargo

    Kent County Administrative Complex 
    555 Bay Road, Dover, DE 19901 
    Tuesday, July 30, 2013 
    Levy Court Chamber (Room 203) 

    Real Standards Needed !!

    What's sad about this situation is that a general consensus at the Public Hearing was that people want real animal shelter standards. Standards that address temperature, proper protection from the elements, adequate food and water, proper disinfection, staffing levels.  Considering recent layoffs and resignations at Safe Haven during a time when the shelter is receiving back a large number of animals, staffing levels are precarious at best. Many of us also want real standards that grant an agency authority to inspect shelters and address insufficient standards as the ones referenced earlier.

    Unfortunately the Animal Welfare Task Force barely touched on the topic, instead focusing on CAPA which the state calls "the Shelter Standards", yet has none of these actual standards that will protect animals from conditions like we are about to see. It's time to focus on ensuring that the animals in shelters are provided adequate care, and stop playing political games that are only driving resources away from all of our shelters.

    The even more pathetic part about this is that the politicians that placed animals in this situation by ignoring the public's request for real standards (Governor Markell, Senator Patricia Blevins and the rest of the legislature, Kent County Levy Court Commission, and the Kent County Administrator, and those on the Animal Welfare Task Force who sat idly by and lacked the backbone to address the many problems addressed are the Public Hearing) are hiding away without a peep like cowards. One resident who contacted Senator Blevins office was told it was Levy Courts problem. This is the person whose Animal Welfare Office is supposed to fix things???  All levels certainly know how to pass the buck.

    Let's hope that the meeting above means that Kent County Levy Court finally intends to step up to the plate and address what is about to happen, and listen to the concerns that so many have about the proposed Dog Tent City and act in the best interest of the animals and residents of Kent County.  There have been isolated complaints about the previous dog control contractor in the past, but it's ludicrous that anyone would support the wholesale cruelty that's about to occur under our current contractor.

    But make no mistake - if this does get ugly and Dog Tent City is allowed to occur, every one of these politicians will have the blood of these dogs on their hands.  I hope that these individuals are forced to view the outcome when it happens and haunts their dreams as much as it will ours.

    In fact, if it does happen, all the politicians that sat by while this happens can count on their pictures being included in a slideshow between shots of the outcome, especially if it ends up looking like the nightmare in Kentucky.
     "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," said Watkins. "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. Watkins said. "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." - Article by the Gleaner 
    You can count on it being burnt into the public's memory for a long time.

    What's Next?

    The priority at this point is for residents in Kent Count to make Levy Court Commissioners understand that Tent City is not what we expect from our tax dollars.  Given the number of dogs Safe Haven took in last year, we are paying them over $1,000 per animal intake, which is almost double the higher end contracts and they still can't operate effectively.  It's time to address the fact that residents have had issues with the current contractor not responding, and now the concern for how they are dealing with their financial failure and the care of the animals in their care. Wholesale housing of dogs in a shanty town is not an acceptable use of taxpayer dollars.

    We also want Kent County to talk to the kennels currently holding the animals in their care and think it's only fair that the county buy these animals some time to give people time to find their lost pets, and for organizations to step forward and assist getting adoptable animals out of this situation that Safe Haven under Kent County's contract placed them in.  While we would object to the Kent County Levy Court paying any of Safe Haven's past debts, many of us are  in support of the county paying for at least a month to allow residents an opportunity to reclaim their pets, and rescue organizations to step forward and help these animals.  Remember, Kent County chose this contractor and has ignored complaints for months, so it's up to Kent County to ensure the best outcome for everyone involved.

    Like the Public Hearing in November, let's show people across the state that residents care about how strays and our own lost pets are cared for by filling Kent County Levy Court.  Don't forget that it could be your pet that accidentally gets loose and pays the consequence for inaction.