Understanding No Kill in Allegany County and beyond

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The Truthiness of Animal Welfare in Allegany County

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10628013_681724345226238_1519685440934874543_nI walked for the first time in to the Allegany County Animal Shelter by the end of 2010. There were about 15 dogs sitting in kennels in the first kennel room and in another room a handful of cats. The majority of the dog kennels was empty and so was the second kennel room located in the back. I already knew, before I even entered the shelter, that many animals were killed on a daily basis. However, hearing this and then actually seeing the results of the daily mass killing was a haunting experience. As I walked through the shelter I also entered a small room in the back of the shelter. The room contained nothing but a large silver metal table in the middle and a collection of ropes and muzzles. It was the kill room. A second door was leading me outside, where a large walk-in Freezer was located. I opened the door. The freezer was filled with large black garbage bags, containing the dead bodies of dogs and cats that had been surrendered to the shelter or picked up by animal control as a stray animal.

Until then, the shelter killed more than 85% of all the animals they took in. Often owner surrendered animals were directly dragged from the front lobby to the kill room, injected with sodium pentobarbital and then discarded like garbage in the walk-in freezer.

The practice of the mass killing in the Allegany County Animal Shelter was largely supported by the local animal welfare and rescue community which also was heavily involved in the Animal Shelter Control Board to oversee shelter operations. Of course, this very same people were and still are very vocal against our No Kill efforts in Allegany County. In the almost 4 years of being the only Open Admission No Kill Shelter in the State of Maryland, the Allegany County Animal Shelter saved roughly 6000 animals resulting in a constant live release rate of 94% and higher.

The Allegany County Animal Shelter is not perfect, mistakes are being made and the failure of Animal Control to respond in a timely manner was partially the reason for the death of 9 dogs. I talked about our failure on Animal Wise Radio, a nation wide broadcasted radio show and also in a open letter to the Allegany County community.

In yesterdays Animal Shelter Control Board meeting, the animal welfare voices from the past of course came forward again trying to derail our No Kill efforts and to re-establish the killing of healthy and treatable companion animals.

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Killing is the ultimate form of violence. While cruelty and suffering are abhorrent, while cruelty and suffering are painful, while cruelty and suffering should be condemned and rooted out, there is nothing worse than death, because death is final. An animal subjected to pain and suffering can be rescued. An animal subjected to savage cruelty can even become a therapy dog, bringing comfort to cancer patients, as the dog fighting case against football player Michael Vick shows. There is still hope, but death is hope’s total antithesis. It is the eclipse of hope because the animals never wake up, ever. It is the worst of the worst—a fact each and every one of us would recognize if we were the ones being threatened with death.

During the meeting, even references to PETA were made. It is hard to believe that anybody wants the advice or even support from a group like PETA. PETA believes animals should be killed, even if they are not suffering. In the last 11 years, PETA has killed 29,426 animals, including those they themselves have called “healthy,” “adoptable,” “adorable,” and “perfect” and even after promising that they would find the animals a home. They do not have adoption hours, they do not have an adoption floor, they do not market their animals, and most are killed within 24 hours. They have called for the automatic killing of all dogs who look like “pit bulls” in shelters. They have called for the round up and killing of even healthy feral cats. They have defended poorly performing and even violently abusive shelters. And they fight shelter reform legislation to mandate the common sense programs of the No Kill Equation, such as TNR and rescue rights. Whatever methods PETA uses to justify shelter killing should be approached with the understanding that PETA is motivated by a very different set of priorities than the vast majority of people, and a set of priorities that are in fact the opposite of that which is generally ascribed to them given their name and reputation. Although they try to obscure their true agenda by working to convince their supporters and animal lovers that they believe killing is a regrettable necessity, in truth, their more candid statements and most significantly, their actions, reveal that those who work at PETA believe that life is suffering, the living want to die and killing them is, as Ingrid Newkirk herself stated, a “gift.”  

Is that really what the majority of people in Allegany County would like to see happen? I don’t think so. I believe in people and I believe people love animals.  

The Allegany County Animal Shelter is work in progress and always will be. Improvements are being made to ensure care and safety for the animals and the public.

Nobody is satisfied with failure. I’m not.  

 

Allegany County Animal Control Changes

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Changes for Animal Control of Allegany County are underway after the death of 9 dogs on McGill Dr. in BelAair. Becky McClarran, President of the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation, informed yesterday (8/21/14) the County Commissioners and the public about the immediate changes that already have taken place and changes that are still pending and being worked on to guarantee a better follow up on calls and reports from the public:

  •  dedicated phone line with separate phone number for Animal Control
  • administrative assistant for Animal Control to answer phone calls and dispatch Animal Control
  • daily management review of Animal Control phone log to make sure all issues have been addressed the same day.
  • Introduction of a new mapping system as it is used by Emergency Services to keep better track of complaints.

This are the immediate steps that have been taken by the Allegany County Animal Shelter to serve the public better and faster. Further changes are pending due to on-going review of Animal Control operations.

Also see previous Blog

Open Letter to the Allegany County Community

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8/18/2014

Dear Community of Allegany County,

the community of Allegany County always played a important role in the change and the success of the Allegany County Animal Shelter. I can not say enough how much I thank the community for all the support we received over the last 3 ½ years.

The events from last week at the McGill Drive have affected me personally. I have worked very hard over the last 3 ½ years to bring the shelter out of the dark. My sweat, my blood, my tears and my heart is in that shelter, every day and every night, every week, every month and every year. There is no excuse for my and our failure. We failed to respond to the calls and safe the dogs. It is a tragedy that I take very personal. I’m embarrassed and devastated, I’m sad and I’m angry all at the same time that I let the community down and that the 9 dogs are dead. I have carried the bags with the dead dogs out of the house. It was my darkest most terrible hour in the last 3 ½ years. I wish I could turn back time and undo what happened but I can’t. It just is not possible.

I apologize to you, the community of Allegany County, for my failure. I’m sorry that I let this happen. I’m sorry that I failed the 9 dogs and I’m sorry that I failed you, the community who always supported me over the last 3 ½ years. I fully understand if you are angry at me. I would feel the same way.

From here on out, I have to work even harder and become even better so that this will never happen again. I can not allow that this will ever happen again.

I’m so sorry that I failed you.

Peter Masloch

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The story as it was reported in the Cumberland Times News:

http://www.times-news.com/news/article_2e673860-2418-11e4-94b1-00

 

My Interview on Animal Wise Radio:

 

 

 

Interview with Douglas Anthony Cooper

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dac4Douglas Anthony Cooper has written bestselling novels, and recently wrote a series of articles highly critical of PETA and in support of the national No Kill movement.
This work, “PETA’s Death Cult,” appeared in the Huffington Post, and was a finalist for the Canadian Online Publishing Awards, in the category of “Best Online-Only Article or Series of Articles.”
Douglas Anthony Cooper has also written for various magazines and newspapers, including Wired, the New York Times, and Rolling Stone. He won a National Magazine Award in Canada for a travel essay in Saturday Night. A piece in Travel + Leisure won the Lowell Thomas Gold Medal from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation in 2004, and was collected in The Best American Travel Writing 2004.
In his newest project, Douglas Anthony Cooper is working on a Seuss-like picture book that is suited for children as well as for adults. It is about the life and adventures of “Galunker”, a Pit Bull type dog.
His partner on this is Dula Yavne, a fabulous illustrator from Tel Aviv, whose work has been shown around the world.

No Kill Alegany County (NKAC):  How and why did you get involved in animal welfare and the No Kill movement?

Douglas Anthony Cooper (DAC): Well, it started when I fell in love with dogs. I was always keen on animals, but not really obsessed with dogs until my girlfriend insisted that we get one — and now we have four. A friend alerted me to the mass slaughter of dogs by PETA; I was furious, and decided to write a piece about it. While researching that I came across Nathan Winograd’s article about Newkirk. And it just took off from there.

NKAC: You have become a fixture and outspoken Advocate for the No Kill movement: you have written several articles for the Huffington Post condemning PETA and the mass killing of companion animals in animal shelters. What does the No Kill movement mean to you, and in what way has it changed your life?’

DAC: Well, to me it’s just a no-brainer: once you realize that some three million adoptable shelter animals are being killed annually — for no reason — it’s pretty hard not to get involved. And for me, the most effective way to contribute is through writing — that’s what I do. Once I started covering this, it snowballed: partially because I realized just how many enemies that No Kill has, and just how vicious they are. It’s crucial to stand up to them. This is one of the most important political campaigns in the nation — a revolution in animal welfare.
It’s completely changed my life. Not simply because I have all sorts of lovely new enemies across the continent, but because I’ve never really had the opportunity to devote myself completely to an unambiguously good cause.

NKAC: Your newest project is a picture book about a pit-bull-type dog with the name “Galunker”. Tell us a little bit about it. Who is Galunker, how did you come up with the idea, and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

DAC: Partially it’s an effort to make up for my own bigotry. For years I swallowed all the misinformation about pit bulls: that they had locking jaws, were uniquely dangerous, etc. My girlfriend finally convinced me — after presenting me with all of the statistics and studies — that I was just wrong. Completely wrong. And this kind of widespread error is responsible for a million pit bulls killed every year in shelters. It’s not a trivial mistake.
One of the things that inspired me was the story of Michael Vick’s pit bulls. The rescuers had been told that these were some of “the most dangerous dogs in America”. Not only were they NOT dangerous, but one went on to become a therapy dog in a hospital.
So I came up with a children’s story about a rescued fighting dog, Galunker, who terrifies everyone — and who is scheduled for execution at the shelter — until one small girl, Blinky, discovers that he’s in fact harmless and completely lovable. So it’s her against the world: she’s determined to save this dog from the evil woman who runs the city’s shelters. The woman’s name is Ms. Breezy Pacifical Ooze (a take on Breed Specific Laws). Blinky is, like Galunker, a misunderstood outsider: a tiny girl with an eye patch, who has questionable social skills. They become this heroic pair.
And then I stumbled over the work of this fabulous illustrator, Dula Yavne — I thought she’d be perfect for the project, so I approached her. She dove right in, and has come up with fabulous illustrations. Really great.

NKAC: Today, May 27th 2014, is the start of the Galunker Kickstarter project. Can you tell us what Kickstarter is and how it works?

DAC: Dula and I were both aware that there was no way we were going to get a traditional publishing house to release a kids’ book about a pit bull. Both of us have had our work distributed worldwide, but we were told that with regard to Galunker, “we might as well create a children’s book about meth.” The misconceptions are just too widespread. So we decided to turn to Kickstarter.
Kickstarter is a so-called “crowd funding” organization — it’s a way of raising funds for various things, including artistic projects: indie CDs, books, etc. What happens is that you put together a complete proposal, describing the project in detail, and you invite people to “pledge” funds. Depending upon how much money they give, they become entitled to certain rewards: say, a signed first-edition, or a t-shirt with Galunker printed on it, etc. For people who pledge a lot, we’ll have Dula paint a portrait of their dog. (This will be available to only a few people — it’s a lot of work, and she’s a perfectionist.)

NKAC: Do you have any plans for more picture books? Perhaps more Galunker adventures or any other projects you have in mind and would like to share with us?

DAC: If this takes off, we’ll certainly contemplate a series. Either a sequel to Galunker, or more books devoted to misunderstood animals. Dula and I have discovered that we love working together.
And we have strong reason to believe that it will take off: pit bulls have a hugely committed community of activists, and they’ve shown real support for this book. These dogs need all the help they can get.

NKAC: Anything you would like to add?

DAC: Just that the first few days really matter. If people could pledge this week, we’d really appreciate it: Kickstarter projects require momentum, and then they just keep rolling. Also, it would be stunning if animal advocates were to mention Galunker on their blogs, etc. Anything to get the word out. That’s how crowd-funding works: it’s all about making as much noise as possible. And we think this is a truly important project.

 

Thank you, Douglas Anthony Cooper, for this interview.

 

Galunker on the web

Galunker on Facebook

Kickstarter

 

Final Maryland Pet Legislation Update

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The Legislative Session in Maryland has come to a end. Besides of the dog bite legislation, lawmakers passed four other important animal related bills!  Below are all the details about the bills we have been tracking this session, including links to committee votes, floor votes and the bill language.

Thank you to Tami Santelli for keeping up with the updates.

 


 

BILLS THAT PASSED:   Dog Bite Liability Compromise (SB 247/HB 73) – Signed into law YESTERDAY!

Roadside Zoos (SB 827/HB 1124)

Devocalization (SB 660/HB 667)

Surgical Procedures (SB 659/HB 665)

School Reporting – Animal Cruelty (HB 222)

BILLS THAT FAILED (L):   Costs of Care (HB 93) – the House and Senate passed different versions of this bill and never reconciled the differences

Prohibiting Breed Discrimination (HB 422) – this bill never received a vote on the Senate floor before the legislature adjourned

Cost of Care Task Force (SB 513/HB 795)

Dogs and Cats in Research (SB 862/HB 1347)

Dog Bite Liability – Dogs Running At-Large (HB 80) – the concept of this bill was added onto the compromise bill that eventually passed (SB 247/HB 73)

Dog Bite Liability – Strict Liability (SB 286)

Dog Bite Liability – Third Parties (HB 563) – the concept of this bill was also in the language of the compromise bill that eventually passed (SB 247/HB 73)

Dog Bite Liability – Insurance Discrimination (SB 285)

Dangerous Dogs (HB 371)

Dangerous Dogs – Increased Penalties (HB 523)

  Animal Abuser Registry (HB 373)

Animal Abuser Registry (SB 912) – this bill never received a vote in committee or on the floor   Feral Cats (SB 1010) – this bill never received a vote in committee or on the floor   Tax Credit – Dog/Cat Adoptions (HB 1358) – this bill never received a vote in committee or on the floor   Horse Slaughter (HB 1392)

  Statewide Sunday Hunting (HB 671 & HB 890) – neither of these bills ever received a vote in committee or on the floor  

Oranjie is home again

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When I saw him for the first time a little over 1 year ago, he came walking down the mountain through the woods behind the house.  His light orange color stood out from the leafless trees around him.

Over the next weeks and months I would see him more often, sometimes hiding in the bushes close to the house. There always was cat food on the back porch but he would not come on the porch when I was outside but I knew he was eating the food when he felt he was alone. On several occasions I was able to see his face close up, when he was eating on the porch and I was watching him from behind the window. He always kept his left eye half closed and it started to worry me. The decision was made to borrow a Trap and try to trap him. Week after week I watched him sitting right next to the trap without ever going in to the trap.

As the nights got cooler in November, he started using the straw filled winter box that I always kept on the porch and I would set the food right next to it. He became less scared and one day I finally was able to touch him. In December then I decided to take him inside for the winter since the night temperatures started dropping down to almost  zero degree.  Oranjie, as we named him,  seemed to have a ear infection, we cleaned his ears and vaccinated him. After looking at his left eye it seemed that the lower eye lid was sometimes rolling inside a little bit which could be from a injury or simply a birth defect. It was treated with some eye ointment. After spending some time inside, Oranjie also got neutered and received a rabies vaccination.

Today the time has come for Oranjie to go home. He loves to be outside and that is where he belongs, as do many other stray and feral cats. Oranjie is home again and I hope to see him many more times going up and down the mountain behind the house.

There are many other Oranjie’s out there, some are feral, some are friendly. This cats are not homeless, they have a home. Please think before you pick up a cat and take her away from her home. There is no reason to take a stray, healthy cat inside (other than temporarily for medical reasons, or spay/neuter) or even worse, to a animal shelter.

If you want to help a cat, please have her spayed/neutered, vaccinated and let her go back home.

To learn more about outside cats please visit the website from Alley Cat Allies