Monday, January 14, 2013

Three Shelter Directors Gone Under CAPA

Safe Haven Director Ousted

In the past week, we've entered yet another chapter in our post CAPA world in Delaware.  It was announced this week that the board of Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary has removed Anne Gryczon as the Executive Director.  
"The board's statement, released late Jan. 10, says Safe Haven will continue to focus on its no-kill philosophy, but the sanctuary will take action to increase adoptions and boost its spay/neuter program." - Gryczon out as director of Safe Haven - Cape Gazette 1/11/13
This action came as no surprise as employees and volunteers began to release photos that showed the poor condition of animals in the shelters care.  

Based on the condition of these dogs in the pictures, and the description of the weight lost, there apparently was a serious lack attention for the dogs being housed at various commercial kennels and a lack of proper veterinary care. 
"Cami was 52 pounds at  when she came to Safe Haven but now she weighs 31 pounds. Louise was 40 pounds at the time of intake, but now she weighs 21 pounds. (photo below). A couple of other dogs have had dramatic weight losses, also. This information was given to me two days ago by employees/volunteers who are devastated by what has happened to these dogs." - No-Kill Delaware 1/2/13
Of course the excuses from our Kent County commission began almost immediately after the pictures came to light.
The Director of Safe Haven has acknowledged that there has been an outbreak of whipworm and all dogs are being treated on a daily basis, at the main building and at their satellite kennels. - Jody Sweeney, Newszap 1/9/13
While most have attributed the weight loss to the dogs being warehoused in various commercial kennels without any appropriate interaction, this was the first we had heard about whipworms, and this was the only reference I saw regarding this alleged outbreak.  So I have to wonder why our commissioner would believe that there was apparently a super outbreak occurring (since he referenced the outbreak was happening "at the main building and their satellite kennels").  But guess what also treats whipworms - heartworm preventatives.  So it's no surprise that past reports about the shelter not providing preventatives to the long term occupants may also be true based on Mr. Sweeney's statement.

Not surprisingly, alot of the issues that have been discussed by critics for months, were confirmed.  The fact that Safe Haven was violating the law regarding spaying and neutering of animals before adoption.  120+ dogs warehoused in commercial kennels with little or no interaction, and lack of veterinary care.

In November, a former employee and a Safe Haven volunteer attended the state animal welfare task force public hearing to report concerns with the Safe Haven organization. According to the reports, animals were not being spayed or neutered, and adoptions were not keeping up with the large number of animals being brought to the shelter. Among other criticisms raised during the task force meeting was a report that Safe Haven had spent more than $20,000 caring for a kitten suffering from feline leukemia. The kitten later died. - Cape Gazette 1/11/13

Sadly, the fact that Safe Haven was willing to spend tens of thousands treating a kitten suffering from feline leukemia, while at the same time disregarding the spay neuter mandate, goes to the heart of why many of us disagree with the short sighted values of the movement.  Per their national leadership "spay neuter actually takes a backseat to all those other programs".

In this case, the issue isn't that the one kitten died after the shelter spent $20,000 on it's care, but the more important part of the equation is that the same $20,000 could have been spent to spay and neuter nearly 200 animals adopted or fostered out that may, and in some cases have reproduced under the shelter's care.  As a result we have more overpopulation rather than less.  Who in their right mind could ever see that as a logical choice?

While I admire the employees and volunteers that brought light on the real conditions occurring, I hope they have seen and understand that any shelter has to work within it's budget, and make choices that are beneficial to the animals overall.  When one animals life is comes at the cost of countless others, just because those lives may not be on the shelters books, it doesn't mean they are absolved from responsibility.  I hope the changes under new leadership will be a good thing for the animals.  Only time will tell.

Oversight - Where was it?

Let's hope that there will be better oversight going forward.  Whether it be our state leaders who have stuck their heads in the sand and won't legislate real standards that include inspections and care standards. Or the county commission who kept claiming they had checked on conditions and complaints which we just found to be true. Or the Safe Haven board of directors who denied various issues were occurring when they in fact were happening on a regular basis.  All levels failed the animals in this case, and until we have real standards of care, our state will continue to be an animal welfare failure.

CAPA Recap

I just wanted to do a quick overview of what CAPA has accomplished in Delaware to date.

---  3 of 5 Shelter Directors gone (2 currently have interim directors)

---  2 of our 3 counties no long have an open low cost spay neuter option, where we previously did

---  Residents inundated with cats now that we no longer have an open intake shelter for cats

---  Cats left to die on our streets

---  Almost all our animal shelters show operational financial losses

---  Complaints which cost taxpayers and lawsuits that cost shelters continue.
"Regarding KCSPCA, there is one ongoing law suit on CAPA violations and another coming. I am in contact with the parties involved with both lawsuits. So perhaps the courts will take the action that should have been take by the AG." 

---  One county (Kent) no longer has enforcement for humane handling and care of dogs.

If our governor and state legislature's intent was to harm our animal shelters financially and harm their reputation in the eyes of the public, then CAPA has been a great success.  I recently saw a post by someone who was not happy with one of the Sussex shelters because the shelter would not deal with an injured cat on their property. So it's no surprise that all our shelters are struggling financially with the divisive atmosphere that the legislation has created.

On the other hand, if the intent of the legislation was to help animals and encourage collaboration among animal welfare in the state, then CAPA really has been an abysmal failure, and the governor and legislature should receive a big fat F.