Friday, May 9, 2008

Whistleblowers on Cruelty at South Carolina Shelter

Two volunteers from the Cherokee County Animal Shelter told the County Council last month that animal control officers have been killing shelter pets using an illegal method - intracardial injections on animals which have not been sedated. SC state law outlines the accepted methods of euthanasia and injections into the heart of a fully conscious animal is not one of them.

Further, "Department of Health and Environmental Control agents met with animal control officers and county officials Tuesday because the shelter isn't licensed to have sodium pentobarbital, a federally controlled substance, on site." Also in violation of SC law, the volunteers report that animals given the intracardial injections are disposed of without having their vital signs checked.

The two volunteers "asked council to contract with a licensed veterinarian to perform necessary euthanasias, to hire a shelter manager and to improve conditions at the shelter, which is supported by city and county funds." The Council responded by saying they will shop around to area Vets for prices and take steps to bring the shelter into compliance with the law. No mention is made regarding efforts to improving shelter conditions.

Read the full article here.

Follow up:

This week, the County Council announced they will develop a manual for animal control officers to follow, although they couldn't say when it would be ready - maybe months.

The shelter had a 42% kill rate for 2007 with 48% of its pets being transported out to other areas for adoption and only .01% (not a typo, that's 1/100th of a percent) being adopted out by the shelter. They actually had more animals listed as "unaccounted for" than "adopted" last year. The 2007 figures represent a slight improvement over the 2006 stats: 68% kill rate, almost 24% transported out to other areas for adoption and .02% adopted directly from the shelter. (Note: I'm all for transporting animals out to areas where they might be adopted but the reality is that not all those animals are adopted. We don't know where they went but if it was anywhere in the South, the kill rate of the accepting shelter may be high. So it's an iffy number to wrestle with.)

The Cherokee County Animal Shelter continues to operate without a manager and the two animal control officers who allegedly violated state and federal laws regarding euthanasia and the procurement of euthanasia drugs remain on full time duty and have not been reprimanded.

Read the complete follow up article here.

My take - If you're going to "lose" more pets than you adopt out, and make killing the main business in your shelter, can you at least do it humanely and in compliance with the law? Do you need a manual to tell you that? Better yet: How about improving shelter conditions, hiring a manager and working toward a goal of actually saving pets as your main function, reserving euthanasia only for the hopelessly ill and injured?


Pai said...

I really think that a lot of the No-Kill advocates are right, when they say that so many kill shelters are so blinded by their 'moral highground' because of what they do, that they're honestly incapable of self-reflection and realizing how actually wrong and lazy they often are in dealing with the welfare of the animals in their care. They just assume they're right, and keep blaming pet owners for 'forcing' them to 'have' to do things like kill more animals than they adopt out, rather than stopping and realizing that there are better ways to deal with many of their problems that don't involve killing the animals.

YesBiscuit! said...

I once saw a pet euthanized by intracardial injections. Although I can't say with certainty if this experience was typical of this method, it does match with what I've read on the topic. This animal suffered a long, agonizing death and I will never forget it. I can't imagine this as the regular practice for this - or any - shelter.

tony said...

When feral kittens are put up for adoption at the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it's usually the health-check technician who gives each one a name. The christening method is random, and ideas might come from a stack of name dictionaries or a roster of baseball players. So two years ago, when someone brought a shy, three-month-old feral into the shelter, there's a good chance a list of universities was used to name the all-black kitten Tulane.
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