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.