Month: July 2012

Why No Kill can not fail

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Albert Schweitzer once said:

“A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and shrinks from injuring anything that lives.”

 

Not so long ago I was asked the question “when does No Kill fail or when does somebody declare No Kill as failed?”. At that moment I did not know the answer and I said “I don’t know”. I went home that evening and the question got stuck in my head. I thought about all the things I had learned about No Kill in the last 18 month, thought about all the things I have read. The tragedy from Austin, TX,  that unfolded in May 2012, came to my mind. I thought about all the challenges a No Kill shelter has to overcome, hour after hour, day after day, month after month. The challenge when 22 dogs are being  left at the front door over night or the challenge that a Court of Appeals forced up on a animal shelter when it rules that every Pit Bull and cross-bred Pit Bull is declared inherently dangerous.

The answer actually is very simple and it has nothing to do with numbers or statistics. No Kill will fail at the moment we stop trying, it will fail the moment we give up and surrender our morals, ethics and the respect and value for life itself. This is the advantage we have over a kill shelter, we try. Always.

The dog in the above picture  is Charlie. He was the first true survivor at the Allegany County Animal Shelter. Charlie would have been killed in the same week people stepped up and stopped the senseless killing. People have tried and Charlie survived.  Later on, many hundred animals followed Charlie in to a new life just because somebody tried and didn’t take a “no” for a answer.

The No Kill movement is full of people with  moral and ethics, people that value life, people that at least try.

I’m looking forward to see you all at the No Kill Conference August 11/12 2012 in Washington D.C.

 

How a Delegate from Allegany County got framed (UPDATE)

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In my previous post I wrote about Delegate Kevin Kelly and posted a e-mail he send to several people including the County Commissioners of Allegany County.

Here is a letter written by Michelle Ingrodi of Baltimore, MD in response to Delegate Kevin Kelly. I would like to thank Michelle Ingrodi for giving me the permission to publish the letter.

 

 

Hello Mr. Kelly,

My name is Michelle Ingrodi, and I am a volunteer at the Allegany County Animal Shelter, despite living in Baltimore, MD where I run one of the largest rescues. I also work for Boston Street Animal Hospital as an office manager and surgery assistant. If it were not for me making the conditions at the shelter public two years ago, they would still be euthanizing everything that came in the door via a method called heart sticking. I found out about what the director was doing, I made it public, and she resigned. Afterwards, volunteers have flooded the place, but being a small town, there are many who were friendly with the old director and still cause trouble. It’s safe to assume the rumors Mrs. Harvey is hearing is part of that.
I am quite appalled at the letter written by Mrs. Harvey, copied here, to the newspaper. While it is no secret that the shelter needs more volunteers, I can’t help but wonder why someone would walk away and complain rather than help make change happen. I guess it’s easier to point fingers than get dirty.
I would like to bring up a few points so that you can understand some things about the shelter and know that these claims of inhumane treatment are far fetched.
1. ALL shelters have animals living in cages. To allow them to run free is not only stupid, it’s dangerous. The shelter takes in animals that may possibly have diseases like rabies, leukemia, distemper, parvo, and FIV (feline aids). Some of these can be spread through water dishes, some through bites, some through sharing litterboxes. Strays also usually have worms or parasites like coccidia, which can be spread by feces, of which animals can have on their feet or leaking out of them if they have it severely. Free roaming shelter animals is a horrible idea, unless you have a room to take them in for exercise, and you disinfect it after each animal. There is not enough volunteers to take out every cat, but other items are provided to stimulate them, such as scratchers, catnip, balls, etc. Seeing the animals in cages is tough, but it’s not like any staff or volunteers want them to be kept there. The blame should not be on the shelter, which is busting it’s behind to care for them, but rather on those people who cause the animals to end up there. Mrs. Harvey sounds like she’d be an excellent advocate for spaying and neutering to reduce the county population.
2. There is no such thing as the “parvo room” at the shelter. The dogs have two rooms, neither is different from another. If someone at the shelter called a room such a thing, then this person is grossly misinformed, and her friend should have consulted with someone in charge. If a dog comes in that is suspected of having parvo, then a staff member takes it into their office while awaiting vet transport, so as not to infect other animals.
3. I have also donated an air conditioner to the shelter. It was last year when there was no air conditioning in the entire building, let alone one room. What Mrs. Harvey is failing to realize is that you should NOT have AC in this room because you’ll drop the body temperatures of the animals in there who are fighting off respiratory infections. Think of how cold you get when you have a fever, would you like it for someone who feels fine to make the room you’re in even colder? When you drop a cats body temperature, it gives them diarrhea which dehydrates them, and from there it’s a very quick spiral of decline. While it might make the person working in that room cranky for being warm, it’s the best for the cats. Also, given that respiratory infections are airborne illnesses, the door should NEVER be open to avoid spreading it throughout the shelter. If she can provide heating pads for each cage in the sick room, I’m sure that the use of AC in there would not be a problem.
4. The cats are fed once a day, but they have plenty large enough bowls for both water and food. Sometimes kittens spill their water, it’s what kittens do, and the entire cage gets wet. Nobody denies that, but the shelter does not have the funding to purchase the type of bowls that hook onto the cage doors. I believe their yearly budget is $85,000, of which they have to care for 2000 animals. Compare that to the budget of Harford County’s shelter ($6Million for 2012) and they take in around 4000 animals. They have to rely on the public for everything, because $85K doesn’t go far.  If Mrs. Harvey would like to purchase bowls to hook on the doors to prevent cages from getting wet, I’m sure the volunteers there would appreciate it. A team of evening volunteers has just been set up last week to provide evening feedings, cleanings for those animals who need it, and adoption hours. I just wish Mrs. Harvey would have spoken to the director about her concerns so he could tell her about the changes, before spreading her thoughts via public forums. It makes her look foolish, and the shelter has yet another misinformed mess to clean.
5. While there are many animals there, she is not taking into consideration that this is an open admission shelter that does not have the luxury of turning someone away who wants to surrender an animal. They HAVE to take them per county policies. Last year, I took 194 cats and kittens out of Allegany County and found them homes here in Baltimore. I have seen conditions there, before Karl arrived, that made me cringe. Instead of complaining via public forums for “someone to do something”, I found ways to help. I got fencing donated, I got crates, carriers, bedding, food, and cages donated. I helped raise money and had a man in Arizona donate $25,000 to them, the largest donation they have ever received. I helped create adoption events, fliers, fundraisers, and volunteer events. When I can afford to leave my own organization, I pay $300 to board my dogs and take a train to Cumberland so that I can volunteer there. When I can’t get to town, I spend my time (especially on Facebook) marketing for volunteers and donations. I send emails to rescues up and down the east coast to find open spaces for Allegany dogs, to coordinate transports, to find places that will take their animals on a regular basis. There’s a woman in NY who does the same thing for them, and we’ve been doing it since Nov. 29, 2010. I do not like honking my own horn, but my point is that I have never once said “this place is inhumane, someone should do something”, because I have enough sense to realize that I am that someone. The conditions at this shelter are miles and miles from what they were when we got to the place, so if she feels that people were rude to her in our facebook group, it’s because we know how very far the shelter has come. They still have some growing room, but neither Dick or Karl would allow an animal to suffer, nor would the volunteers, one whom received a National award for his efforts there.
6. Thank you for adopting kittens from a shelter.
I hope that this provides some insight into things. I’ve seen the blueprints for the new shelter, which is modeled after the Washington Animal Rescue League in DC, and it’s quite a sight. Tina Rafferty of the Shelter Management Foundation has begun the capital campaign drive for construction, although there are folks who have offered to sponsor certain rooms or parts of the building already. I also just had a friend volunteer last night to become the shelter’s Rescue Coordinator, as she’s a photographer and creative writer, and I’m teaching her how to market animals to rescues. I can assure you that conditions in this shelter are not inhumane whatsoever. If you’d like to visit a shelter that has inhumane practices, since you are a State Official, check out Cecil county, where the animal control officers still shoot dogs instead of humanely end their suffering, or PG county where they euthanize every pitbull that comes in the door, even puppies, via a needle to the heart.
Thank you for your time,
Michelle Ingrodi
President
Charm City Animal Rescue
Baltimore, MD

How a Delegate from Allegany County got framed

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Kevin Kelly is a Delegate for District 1B (Allegany County) in Maryland. Below you will see a e-mail which Delegate Kevin Kelly wrote to several people, including County Commissioners of Allegany County, Times News (local news paper), HSUS and several others. His e-mail is about a “complaint” he received from a woman that volunteered twice at the Allegany County Animal Shelter. The complaint was that the shelter is housing cats in dog crates. She also complained that the quarantine room for the cats did not have it’s own AC and that she had donated window AC’s that were not used. She also brought up complaints about things that clearly happened long before the new shelter manager, Karl Brubaker, started his journey with the Allegany County Animal Shelter. It was at a time when the volunteers of the No Kill movement entered the shelter in order to care for the animals and keep people that wanted to kill the animals from doing so. One has to wonder who was feeding her this very old information? I think everybody familiar with the development of the Allegany County Animal Shelter knows from where the information is coming and why.  Unfortunately good old Delegate Kevin Kelly blindly believed everything and got framed.

So, let’s take a closer look to the “complaints”

Cats in crates:

Yes, there are cats housed in crates. Currently it is kitty season and the shelter is taking in between 20 and 30 cats every week. Sometimes the cats are housed temporary in crates until a regular housing in the shelter becomes available.

The AC in the quarantine room:

The average temperature in the quarantine room is about 70 degree. Since this is a quarantine room,  the temperature should not be much lower than this. However, the shelter manager did already put in a request by the maintenance crew of the County regarding setting up the AC. Unfortunately this is not a very easy task since work has to be done to the structure of the building. The existing windows  do not allow a installation of a AC as it was provided by donation.

I would like to believe that Delegate Kevin Kelly is a animal lover but I do have to wonder about his naive approach without even contacting the shelter management to find out if all the allegations are even true? Where was Kevin Kelly when the Allegany County Animal Shelter killed almost 90% of it’s animals prior to November 2010? Did he try to change anything back then? No, of course not.

Where was Kevin Kelly in April of this year when the MD Court of Appeals ruled that all Pit Bulls in Maryland are inherently dangerous? I’m still waiting for him to answer my request  for assistance in this matter which I send to him back in April.

This only leaves me with the conclusion that Kevin Kelly either got framed and used by some people with the “kill ’em all” agenda or is trying with a cheap shot to get some votes.

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. — Nathan Winograd

From: Kevin Kelly [mailto:kevinkelly@atlanticbb.net]
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 9:41 AM
To: commissioner.mckay@allconet.orgcommissioner.brodie@allconet.org;commissioner.valentine@allconet.org; MIKE MCKAY ; CREADE BRODIE JR.; BILL VALENTINE; ddevore@allconet.org
Cc: ‘paharvey1968@yahoo.com‘; RICH CARDER; JAN ALDERTON (T/N); GEORGE KOONTZ ; SENATOR GEORGE EDWARDS (george.edwards@senate.state.md.us)
Subject: Inhumane Conditions at the Animal Shelter
Importance: High

Dear Commissioners McKay, Brodie, Valentine and Chief DeVore:

 

I fully appreciate the Allegany County Animal Shelter is a County operation over which I, as a State Legislator, do not possess authority or jurisdiction.  Nevertheless, the issues set forth in Ms. Harvey’s email must be immediately rectified.  I have known Pat Harvey for many years and maintain her in the highest esteem.  The Shelter conditions referenced in Pat’s email are unacceptable, heart breaking and inhumane.  Once again, I realize the Shelter is a County and NOT a State operation, however, when presented with Ms. Harvey’s communication I cannot permit such animal cruelty to continue without comment.  PLEASE have the air conditioners immediately installed.  I’m sure Rich Carder, Business Manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local # 307, can immediately provide to you “volunteer” Electricians.  Approximately, 7 years ago I adopted two adorable, precious female kittens from the Animal Shelter.  I’m proud to say those two cats are happy, healthy, well cared for and very much loved.  I love animals, I am very protective of animals and I cannot abide the inhumane treatment of these poor, defenseless creatures.  As such, on behalf of my Allegany County Constituency, I implore you to immediately rectify the issues set forth in Ms. Harvey’s email.  Finally, Ms. Harvey can be contacted at her email address of paharvey1968@yahoo.com.

 

Thank you,

 

Kevin

 

Kevin Kelly, Delegate Allegany County

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Cumberland Times-News

July 15, 2012

County responds to allegations of ‘inhumane treatment’ at animal shelter

• Emergency services chief: Given the amount of cats and dogs, ‘we do the absolute best we can for them until we can move them on to bigger and better things’

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — People — some are volunteers — who enter the Allegany County Animal Shelter for the first time are often shocked because they have the expectation that dogs and cats can be treated there the way they are treated in someone’s home, explained Dick DeVore, Allegany County’s emergency services director.

DeVore on Friday was responding to criticism of the shelter from a volunteer who had contacted Delegate Kevin Kelly.

In an email to Kelly that the delegate shared with the Times-News, the volunteer said a room that holds sick dogs and cats is not air-conditioned in spite of the fact that three units had been donated.

The volunteer also expressed concern that many cats in what is called the Purple Room are kept in cages and carriers for extended periods.

Writing about the Purple Room, the volunteer said, “The last kitty I took care of in that room was living in a carrier on the bottom level on the floor. When I opened the carrier and lifted her out, once again I just cried. Her food and water bowls were filthy and her blanket was soaked and smelled of urine terribly.”

As a state legislator, Kelly recognized his lack of jurisdiction in a county matter, but passed the email on to the county commissioners.

“I am very protective of animals and I cannot abide the inhumane treatment of these poor, defenseless creatures,” Kelly wrote.

“We have 160 cats and 60 dogs right now,” DeVore said Friday. “We are at the peak of kitten season. It’s breeding season for cats. This is the same situation we were in last summer.

“A shelter is a place of last resort,” DeVore said. “I have my own dogs and cats. Do I treat them the way dogs and cats are treated in a shelter? No, but (at the shelter) we do the absolute best we can for them until we can move them on to bigger and better things.”

DeVore said the sick room will be air-conditioned, but it isn’t a matter of simply putting an air conditioner in a window.

“We have to knock louvers out of a cinder block wall to place the air conditioners and there has to be electrical work done,” he said. “Although the sick room needs to be warmer because of the condition of the animals, a door to an air-conditioned room can be opened so some cooler air enters if needed.”

The building’s central air-conditioning system does not include the sick room out of concern for spreading disease, according to DeVore.

DeVore said each animal is provided daily with enough food to meet its dietary needs. “Water dishes are checked throughout the day and, if they are empty, water is added,” he said.

DeVore said that two years ago the shelter was able to save only 15 percent of the animals it housed.

“Then last year that rate jumped to 93 percent and this year we have euthanized only 20 animals,” he said.

“We appreciate all of our volunteers. Some people who come to the shelter for the first time say they could never return because it is too heartbreaking,” DeVore said.

“That’s the heartbreak our volunteers deal with every day, but when we have animals adopted it is all worthwhile. A shelter is a temporary place for dogs and cats, nothing more.”

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.