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.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Nathan's No-Kill Is Bankrupting Shelters

Delaware Is Another of Nathan Winograd's Sinking Ships

As noted last week, Delaware has gone down the slippery slope of state mandated animal cruelty with shelter doors closing to owner relinquished dogs and cats.  Now it appears that we will be facing the first shelter casualty in this misguided horror story that Governor Markell and our state legislators have placed our state in by encouraging the fiscal irresponsibility of "No-Kill" and CAPA.  On the No-Kill Delaware Facebook page, the following posts were made regarding Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary:

No-Kill Delaware - Safe Haven closes their doors on August 31. The Safe Haven Board's monstrous plan is to dump at Kent County SPCA whatever animals are left by that time. I can only hope that KCSPCA will refuse to take them. There are 170 dogs - I don't know how many cats. This is a disaster. We need to get the state government to develop a disaster plan.
No-Kill Delaware - Safe Haven is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and is going into bankruptcy according to my sources. The press release goes out on Monday. The Board of Directors has proven itself completely unable to raise money - even though Hal Dukes managing partner of Tunnell and Raysor is a multimillionaire and probably knows every rich person in this state.
No-Kill Delaware - The dogs at the boarding kennels are to be transported to Safe Haven and put in fenced areas outdoors - in this August heat.
No-Kill Delaware - I spoke to Kenneth McDowell in the Governor's Office and told him this is coming and how bad Delaware will look to kill hundreds of animals all at once. And I told him that the state needs to take some kind of action. Whoever wants to work on this lobbying effort, please message me here.
No-Kill Delaware - No, it's not a ploy. They are closing. It's over. I hope and pray that someone will take over the building. But they plan to empty the building of animals when they turn off the lights and leave everything to the bankruptcy court.
Karli Swope (employee) - Debbie, unless an INSANELY large amount of money is donated this is true. I will be working on our adoptable album on our fb page. PLEASE share it and our animals.
We would NEVER dump the dogs anywhere but with no money and the building closing they will become wards of the state and we will have no say where they go.
No one planned this or ever wanted things to turn out this way. Please believe that. Those of us that are there on a daily basis and spend time with the animals are absolutely crushed. I hope everyone will come forward for the animals. If anyone has any questions about any of the animals please feel free to message me and I'll assist in any way I can....
No-Kill Delaware - "Wards of the state" means dead unless we do something.
No-Kill Delaware - They are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt - there's no way to raise that kind of money. Who would want to give money to be managed by this Board? We need people to adopt the animals. We need rescue groups to take as many as they can.
It was not a surprise to many of us.  In fact, I had already seen that there had been a keyword search of  "Safe Haven no kill sussex bankruptcy" out of Washington DC on July 17, so I figured something was about to happen.

While No-Kill Delaware is already trying to divert blame by posting "Any pro-kill people who take pleasure in this should be ashamed.",  I can say with great certainty that nobody is taking pleasure in the chaos that has occurred in Delaware animal welfare.

Yes, we predicted what would occur by following this financially irresponsible path of "No-Kill", but there's no pleasure in saying "I told you so".  Actually, we're more concerned with making sure that anyone that is missing an animal has the opportunity to reclaim the animal, and that as many animals as possible can be saved.  That can best be done by and organized winding down of the shelter operations.

I've checked bankruptcy filings, and I can't confirm if this is the path that Safe Haven is going down yet, but we already saw the previous ploy that played out when the shelter one week claimed they would close in a week, and then a week later tried to tell the public it a rumor.  So I don't think they would be foolish enough to think they could get away with that same ploy yet again.

State of Delaware and Kent County - It's Time To Provide Leadership

Because we know there will be a reluctance of the shelter's leadership to reach out to the Big 3 animal welfare organizations of ASPCA, HSUS, and PETA, due to the fact that Nathan Winograd and his movement regularly attack those organizations, the State of Delaware and Kent County Levy Court need to step up to the plate and ensure that there is an organized winding down of Safe Haven's shelter operation. Because state and county officials were part of creating our animal welfare crisis, they need to be part of the solution as well.

As noted on the No-Kill Delaware Facebook, the biggest danger right now is that the kennels who house a number of their animals have not been paid by the shelter, and are about transport animals back to an already full shelter, where they will potentially be housed in fenced areas outdoors.  This could be a disaster of epic proportions given the fact that we will be in the hottest month of the year, and a month when hurricanes (2011 Irene was in August), tropical storms, and severe thunderstorms are a fact of life. On top of that, there have been a number of posts regarding aggressive dogs biting people and attacking other dogs at Safe Haven, and group housing with those types of animals can be deadly for the friendlier dogs.  The shelter will also be at risk of employees abandoning ship, not because they don't care about animals, but because they have their own families to consider.  All these factors are a recipe for disaster.

State and county officials clearly can't bail them out considering they've harassed the KCSPCA for 3 years about the fact that no additional money was necessary to become "No-Kill".  Any bailout with tax payer funds would clearly make our case that collusion against the KCSPCA has occurred.  Ironically, one of the keyword searches that let to this blog this past week was "new castle audit kcspca" that also came out of Washington DC on July 16, so Delaware may already be on the U.S. Justice Department's radar for the political games that have occurred in animal welfare.

But the state and county should take charge and bring in the necessary resources to make sure the situation is wound down properly, ensure owners have an opportunity to redeem their lost pets, ensure that the animals in Safe Havens care have proper shelter, and protect public safety by making sure any dangerous dogs are not released to the public.  If that doesn't occur, and this becomes a bloodbath, then the state and county officials that got us into this situation will be publicly held accountable by many of us watching this unfold.

Constant chaos and leaving animals on the streets is not a solution.  Until our government officials accept the reality of the situation and deal with overpopulation rather than continue to promote the unsustainable No-Kill movement, this won't be the last financial failure we will see in the animal shelter sector in Delaware, and the costs will continue to eat at state and county budgets.

We're Not The First Ship To Face Sinking, We Won't Be The Last

Nathan's No-Kill Equation, has claimed another shelter in recent weeks. Healdsburg Animal Shelter shut down after 50 years of service.  They became "No-Kill" in 2010, and in only 3 short years, a shelter who I'm sure assisted a large number of animals over 50 years came to an end and will no longer be there to assist future animals.  So if anyone wonders why Kent County SPCA tries to fight for a balanced approach, keep in mind that Healdsburg Animal Shelter will no longer be around to help animals, and that if KCSPCA were to close down like this shelter did, we would lose a resource that adopts out nearly 2000 animals a year, and returns a large number of lost animals to their owners as well.
"As noted in a May 30 editorial by the Board in the Healdsburg Tribune, the Shelter's financial reserves are depleted owing to persistent operating losses. When the Board noted the lack of positive response to its appeal for funds in its editorial and evaluated prospective future courses of action, it reluctantly concluded that closing down these functions is an unavoidable necessity."
It's also worth noting that many of the issues that occurred at Healdsburg under "No-Kill" are so similar to what we've seen happen here in Delaware with Safe Haven.
"Citing a lack of money and an appeal for funding from the community that fell on deaf ears, the directors of the Healdsburg Animal Shelter said they had no choice but to shutter the operation and lay off a workforce of nine employees.
The decision came after a tumultuous period for the organization with rapid turnover of executive directors, infighting on the board of directors, and inability to finish a new $3.5 million shelter, which is the object of a pending lawsuit alleging construction and design deficiencies." - The Press Democrat

'No-kill' is no answer

This week, there was an excellent article by Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA.  It addressed the "shell game" of "No-Kill" eloquently.
Open-admission shelters -- those that, unlike "no-kill" shelters, take in every animal brought to them -- are left to deal with animals that, through no fault of their own, are not adoptable because of sickness, injury, old age or aggression or, no matter how "perfect" they may be, are simply not adopted.
"No-kill" advocates have vilified open-admission shelters, pressuring them to abandon any requirements that prevent animals from going to bad homes or into hoarders' basements so as to shuffle the animals out. But this is not a realistic solution to the multiple tragic problems associated with easily acquired -- and just as easily discarded -- "pets." It's a shell game. - Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA -
Delaware couldn't be a better example of this. Kent County SPCA was the only open-admission shelter for a number of years, but as a result of the "No-Kill" weapon called CAPA, KCSPCA was forced to close doors to owner relinquished cats and dogs.

Nathan Winograd spends many a day writing trash about other organizations like PETA, HSUS, and ASPCA.  He ignores the many cruelty cases that PETA has been involved in, and the fact that PETA has spayed/neutered almost 94,000 animals which has prevented countless animals from being born and adding to the overpopulation of companion animals, and he also ignores the fact that many of the shelters that he attacks do the same good work.
"No-kill" advocates don't mention any of this, and instead throw stones at shelter workers, which deflects attention from the need for personal responsibility. Blaming shelters won't solve the homeless-animal crisis. It's up to us to do that by always adopting and never buying from pet stores or breeders and by having our animals spayed or neutered.. - Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA
So while PETA is stopping animal cruelty and preventing pet overpopulation, Nathan Winograd and the "No-Kill" movement merely sit on the sidelines and play Monday morning quarterback, with no real statistics of accomplishments to point to.  I imagine "No-Kill's" lack of accomplishments is at the heart of why they feel a need to attack other organizations so vehemently.

It's also unfortunate that Best Friends, who used to write some wonderful articles on real solutions and about true animal advocates like Peter Marsh, has apparently put the financial reality blinders on as well. Their recent blog post called "The no-kill deniers" portrays Reno/Washoe and Austin as the classic examples of "No-Kill" successes, and ignore the fact that Nevada Humane has lost $4.1 million since Washoe went "No-Kill" and that Austin's budget has increased $500,000 to $1 million every year since they went "No-Kill". Best Friends also ignores the fact that one of their very own partner's Safe Haven is failing under the weight of the unrealistic financial impact that "No-Kill" takes on a budget. Best Friends cannot be a force for real solutions that address pet overpopulation if they don't understand that placing shelters in financial jeopardy is not a solution.

In fact, the only accomplishment that we can with certainty add to "No-Kill's" resume, is their ability to place animal shelters in danger of financial ruin and bankruptcy.  And the only thing that the State of Delaware has accomplished with "No-Kill" and CAPA, is to create chaos, division, and endanger animals.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

CAPA Closes Shelter Doors - No-Kill Open Admission Is A Myth

Recently I posted a photo show of just a small sample of the pictures that I've been provided of the horrors that we've seen occur as a result of CAPA and shelter doors closing to cats.

As we approach the 3 year anniversary of the signing of the Delaware Companion Animal Protection Act, the national "No-Kill" movement is holding their annual convention in Washington DC. Needless to say, they don't have too much to celebrate.  For the last 3 years since CAPA was passed in Delaware, the movement has introduced their legislation in quite a few states, and with some local governments.  To date they have ALL FAILED. Seeing how harmful it has been for our animals and the residents of our state, I'm grateful that other states have far more sense than Delaware's legislators and governor.

Closed Doors For Dogs and Cats

Unfortunately, in Delaware, we continue to lose the battle for sanity and humanity when it comes to protecting our pets from harm.  It was horrible enough watching the doors of our shelters close the doors to cats, but now dogs will also have shelter doors slammed in their faces due to the costly nonstop investigations and lawsuits that resulted under CAPA.
"The Kent County SPCA has recently changed our policy regarding owner surrender unwanted animals. In the past, we have accepted every unwanted animal which appeared on our doorstep. 
In our effort to reduce healthy animal euthanasia, we have changed our policy of acceptance. We will accept unwanted animals as space allows and will maintain a waiting list of unwanted animals. As soon as space becomes available on our adoption floor, these animals will be called in to prepare them for adoption into forever homes. 
We understand this is a significant change. As a non profit agency we rely on donations from the public to support our efforts with lost, unwanted, adoptable and neglected animals. These donations are vital. 
We have will continue to have an open door for lost and stray dogs from Sussex and New Castle counties. These animals are most at risk for a cruel death on the street if not offered a safe place to look for lost owners or new owners. 
As always, the animals in the care of the KCSPCA are vaccinated against contagious disease, spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies, and microchipped prior to being offered for adoption. 
If you have any questions about these changes, feel free to contact our customer service employees at 302-698-3006 ext 2." - KCSPCA Facebook Page
We all suspected this day would eventually come, but knowing it and having to actually face it are two different things.  It's no surprise that the "No-Kill" movement supports this change in policy.
"Here is KCSPCA's new policy pertaining to unwanted pets. This is a good thing, in my view. We need pet retention counseling in addition, so people who are struggling get some help." - No-Kill Delaware Facebook 
Yet again, we get to see that No-Kill's claims of open admission communities is just a mythical fantasy that the movement says to convince communities to buy into their flawed and dangerous product.  It's as false as their claims that No-Kill and CAPA will save communities money, when we've show that claim to be false over and over.

You can see from the comment by No-Kill Delaware, that closing the doors to animals is what the movement supports, and what it has forced Kent County SPCA to do after the No-Kill movement tried to harm KCSPCA financially with never ending investigations and lawsuits in the name of CAPA, and the No-Kill tactic merely resulted in diverting donations away from helping animals.

While I despise the fact that our state no longer has an open admission, I understand why the Kent County SPCA had to make that choice.  Our lawmakers and the No-Kill shelters that support CAPA have forced them into making this decision so that movement doesn't bankrupt them. No shelter can help animals if it's bankrupt.

Sadly, we know that the animals today will pay the price for the KCSPCA to be there for animals in the future. We know that there will be people that choose, and in some cases need, to relinquish animals. We also know that a good amount of those people will just choose to abandon their animals because they now have few options.  I don't know what the answer is for the person who's home is being foreclosed on and has no friends or relatives or friends that can take the animal, or the person from the armed services that is being deployed and no longer has anyone to take the animal because he has been deployed over and over. The only thing I can suggest to these individuals is to contact your legislator and ask them what you should do.  Actually, I beg you to do that before ever consider placing your pet in danger by abandoning it.

The Face Of Abandonment

Recently there was an emaciated boxer that was left at the Delaware SPCA. Nobody knows what his full story is, but it's worth noting that a brown boxer with a red collar was seen in Kent County and reported to Safe Haven on their Facebook page 2 weeks earlier, with no response on the page by Safe Haven.  I have no idea whether this is the same dog, but if he was on his own for a couple weeks due to lack of response and closed doors, then this is the condition I would expect him to be in.  Our state officials need to look into the eyes of this beautiful dog and consider their culpability in his condition and suffering.  

So whether it's the cat that suffers on the streets like the 1st video shows, or whether it is the dog that is abandoned in the middle of our largely rural landscape for nobody to witness like the dog in the second video, CAPA has created state mandated animal cruelty.  

I hope that Governor Markell and our legislators like Senator Blevins understand their responsibility in creating this situation, and think about that every time they see cases like the emaciated boxer left at the Delaware SPCA.  They've created a crisis for the animals in our community, placed our shelters in financial jeopardy, and have created a dangerous situation when it comes to public health and safe.  Yet our state leaders response was merely to create more state jobs, rather than deal with the real issue that is the overpopulation of animals that the No-Kill movement claims doesn't exist. 

There are communities that have lowered euthanasia responsibly. New Hampshire, Jacksonville FL, and Alachua County FL are just a few.  They did it by lowering the overpopulation with targeted spay neuter. Low euthanasia rates didn't happen overnight in those communities, but it was done without bankrupting shelters, without leaving animals on the streets, and without placing public health and safety at risk like we've seen with the Nathan Winograd version of No-Kill.  

Targeted spay neuter is a REAL SOLUTION solution that is long term and doesn't break the bank, or end in failure like so many communities under the Winograd version of No-Kill have.