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Thursday, January 19, 2012

I do get it

Once upon a time, I had a belief that as long as an animal made it alive out of a "kill" shelter, that was all that mattered. But, I know now that is a pretty ignorant belief. What I now believe is that all dogs and cats deserve not only to live- but, they deserve a home where they will be properly cared for. I believe that dogs and cats deserve to live out their lives uncaged and to get the proper medical care and proper nutrition they deserve. I believe that the animals that have been abandoned by society in shelters deserve real homes. They should never be put into situations which cause them pain and suffering. 
Dogs I met in the TN shelter. They had come from a hoarding situation from a person had at least 10- I believe there were more at the home. There were other dogs with poodle type coats that were in terrible need of grooming. The dogs were highly unsocialized and were terrified. Some wonderful people who did foster at the shelter came forward and were able to work with some of them. To my knowledge, these two were not so lucky. 

One of the best rescues I have ever worked with is a "no kill" shelter in Des Moines IA, called the Animal Lifeline. I believe in who they are and what they do. As far as a "no kill" shelter, they are a great example of a long standing group who provides the best care for their animals- they active in the community and do not take in more than they can handle. My mistake was thinking that they were all like this. I used to volunteer there to clean, walk, give meds, do public events ... a myriad of things. I was there because I saw a strong organization that bent over backwards to take care of their medically needy residents and provided beds and toys in every cage. They made sure the dogs were walked multiple times daily and all of the cats got to have some time out of their cages daily. The food that the animals were fed was not the cheap grocery store type. They believed in quality in all aspects of the care of their animals. That is what I knew to be how a no kill was run. I made the mistake of believing they were all run like that. 

Now, there are some major obstacles that shelters deal with and those are the facts that there is not an endless supply of money and adopters, but a seemingly endless supply of people dumping their pets. What this has done to the rescue community as a whole has driven a deep divide between those who are with the "kill" shelters and those with the "no kill" shelters. The thing is that people are looking at the obstacles with different understandings of the reality. 

This is one of the first dogs I took pictures of for project fifty-two. She was a beautiful pit- she was covered with scars and still sagging from feeding her litter. Not one person came to adopt her.. no "no kills" were interested in her because she was a pit bull. She was an amazing dog.. one of the friendliest dogs I have ever met. She died.. no one came for her.. and I was mad.. I am still mad. 
I never want a healthy animal to die in a shelter. In fact, that is why I do the work I do. I could make paintings of flowers and make a decent living off of my art, but I choose instead.. a subject that drains me financially and emotionally because I want the killing to stop. The problem with the divide with the "kill" and "no kill" sides is that they both appear to want to end the killing. But, like I said, the realities are different. Some believe that there needs to be a bigger push to get society as a whole to be more responsible since they are the ones dumping the animals - others see the shelter systems as the one at fault.  If all of the dogs and cats pulled from a "kill" shelter were put into safe and loving homes or put into a quality no kill like the one I had experience with - then I would firmly plant my feet onto the "no kill" side. But, I know better. I cannot see how the full blame can be put solely on the shoulders of the "kill" shelters. Do they need to do better- yes, of course,,, but I do not believe that change can come from fighting only one front. This is a multi pronged problem that not only includes the shelter system- but, the public... and even "no kill" rescues as well. 

The internet has given me a very nice ability to look into the world of rescue. I have learned that some dogs are pulled from MDAS and just left in boarding for - sometimes- months. It had never even occurred to me that boarding was being used in rescue for anything but a short term solution for issues like quarantine. Some rescues do not appear to have proper facilities - some are pulled- I think the dog is safe and then I see that same dog being posted online with someone begging for a foster. Some dogs had even ended up across the state in a rescue that had been shut down for fire code violations. There have been far too many news articles about rescues being shut down due to horrible conditions and too many stories about animals caught up in hoarding situations -- and far too many of those are operating under the guise of rescue. Some animals have even been rescued and sent to other rescues and adopters - sight unseen - in other parts of the country. (please note that, although I mention these bad examples- there are a myriad of good rescues out there who do proper home visits and have proper facilities, fosters, and funding in place prior to ever pulling an animal.. always please support good rescues)
This is a feral cat I met at the TN shelter. Feral cats are euthanized unless someone offers a farm or land where they can be fixed and released. Some sanctuaries take in feral cats- but, there are far too many cats though. Far too many die in the shelters- not enough adopters and "no kills" taking them to safety. I do not understand why more people are not adopting cats. I have read that at MDAS only 10% of the cats are adopted or taken to rescues... but, I do believe this number will be increasing. 

Currently, there is no real state oversight in Florida for rescue groups. No regular inspections and no requirements for them to provided ongoing data of animals in their care- including intake numbers, adoption numbers and numbers of those who have died in their care. I am surprised with the numerous news articles I have read about rescues gone wrong that there has not been more of a push for the oversight of them. Instead, Florida has introduced the Animal Rescue Act that would require that all "kill" shelters give all animals to rescues that are going to be euthanized if those are rescues willing to take them. Of course, it is clearly stated that they can refuse to do so to groups with criminal convictions or pending animal abuse or neglect charges. However, the proposal uses the word "may".. it does not say that they cannot- it says that they "may" refuse to give the animals to them- the word "may" used in legal documents is referring to the choice to act or not. This same word also is used in regards to requiring rescues to even disclose the information. Why in the world would someone have written this in such a way that a shelter can technically not choose to even ask for a disclosure from a rescue in regards to criminal behavior involving animal abuse? Technically, this means that a city shelter could legally not do a check and they could legally not refuse to give an animal to an abuser. In addition it also states that a shelter "may" require that the rescues give them monthly inspections and stats. So again- a shelter could technically choose to not do any inspections of the rescues that are taking their animals. On the flip side, a good shelter should take the time to do all inspections and checks on criminal behavior and this language would allow them the ability to request stats and do inspections- but, are all of them going to do that? Do they all have the manpower and frankly does ever shelter even care once the animal is out their doors? Some shelters may be poorly run in some areas - they could not even care enough to bother with any checks at all. Since rescue groups are not monitored and this legislation does not mandate it - technically, dogs and cats could be saved from euthanasia only to be sent to rescues who are not doing the best by the animals. 

I used to believe wholeheartedly in the Animal Rescue Act. However, I was mistaken when I first read it- I didn't really catch onto the word "may". When I first read it I thought that it was all mandated - but, I want to thank No Kill Nation for opening my eyes to unenforceable mandates. Recently I had asked them about their opposition to the proposal regarding changes in the way the city of Miami runs its shelter. One of the things I was loving about that proposal was, what I thought, was enforceable mandates regarding the very same thing that I am having problems with in the Animal Rescue Act. I had loved the part about the rescue registry and how they needed to be contacted of impending euthanasia- but, in regards to the oversight of those rescues it uses the word "may"- just as the Animal Rescue Act. Now No Kill Nation has asked everyone to oppose the legislation that Miami has proposed - and when I asked why- they simply stated that is did not have enforceable mandates. Yes, the word "may" provides discretion. Just as in the Animal Rescue Act the word "may" provides discretion regarding a pretty huge issue involving the future safety of the animals. So I want to thank them for making me realize that,  what I thought was a magnificent proposal, is really just something that does not fully protect the animals. I am not sure who wrote it- but, I can't imagine why a person would not make something iron clad into the bill that would prevent the animals from going from one danger to another. 
This is the first dog I posted on facebook in attempt to help her. She received a huge response - someone adopted her- but, quickly changed their mind because she was sick. It became a bit of a three ring circus- from what I understand she did finally find a home and is safe. You can read some of what took place here. ttps:// that is only one thread - there were others. I am grateful for those that helped her- but, I almost never posted another picture after this. 

If it passes- great- but, I hope that someone will immediately begin to work on protections for the animals that create laws to license and inspect rescues. I am tired of reading stories of animals stuck in hoarding situations that are forced to live in cages their entire lives. I am sick of reading about rescues who are shut down due to not caring properly for the animals in their care. I am beyond upset about reading that animals are having to be re saved and being put right back into the system. 

I want to read about shelters and rescues working together to save lives. I looked for a long time at a worthy cause that does this very thing- so that I could give them a percentage of my sales in an upcoming show. I have found that- it is a transport program right out of MDAS. They take dogs- and now cats- to no kill rescues in other cities and states. I have been assured that the no kills are looked into that they are doing the transport to. Many lives have been saved through this.. I'll talk more about transports on another blog.. this one has gotten too long... and I just needed to defend myself- because I do get it. 
I did not get the intake number on this dog- this dog, I believe, was adopted or taken to rescue from MDAS. This is one of my new digital pieces. 


Friends Administrator said...

Mary said...

this is the part I have concern over on the Florida Rescue Act- I have noted the word May in the sections- the word must is used when it comes to the basic information like contact info- that a group must provide. Why they did not use the word Shall in regards to tracking stats from rescues and criminal checks is beyond me. I want every animal to be rescued- but this proposal has some issues that simple wording can fix.

80 (3) An animal control agency or animal shelter "MAY" refuse
81 to include a rescue group or person on the euthanization
82 registry or "MAY" remove it or the person from the euthanization
83 registry if a current director, officer, staff member, or
84 volunteer of the rescue group has been convicted in a court of
85 competent jurisdiction of a crime consisting of cruelty to
86 animals or neglect of animals, or if such charges are pending,
87 or if the rescue group is constrained by a court order that
88 prevents the rescue group from taking in or keeping animals. An
89 animal control agency or animal shelter "MAY" require the rescue
90 group to disclose any convictions, charges, or legal impediments
91 described in this subsection.
92 (4) The euthanization registry "MUST" include the following
93 information provided by the rescue group:
94 (a) The name of the rescue group or person.
95 (b) The mailing address and telephone number.
96 (c) The website and e-mail address, if any.
97 (d) The emergency contact information for the rescue group.
98 (e) The types of animals about whom the rescue group wishes
99 to be contacted, including species type and breed.
100 (f) A statement as to whether the rescue group is willing
101 and able to care for unweaned animals, sick or injured animals,
102 or animals with behavior problems.
103 (5) An animal control agency or animal shelter "MAY" require
104 that a rescue group provide monthly for public inspection
105 information concerning the number of animals that:
106 (a) Have been taken from an animal control agency or animal
107 shelter and placed with the rescue group;
108 (b) Have been adopted;
109 (c) Have died or have been euthanized; or
110 (d) Remain in the care of the rescue group.

laws are written because people do not always do the right thing- I just don't understand why this is written so that a shelter could totally bypass doing checks - if this is law-then it should make all the right things be done.. it leaves it open to some very wrong things that can be done.

Mary said...

Think about the possible implications also to people who are running rescues who are really just selling animals for profit, illegal activities, and experimentation. If those "rescue" groups are required to be given the animals by the shelters then they can have a free for all with unlimited product.. unless they happen to go to a shelter that is checking them and really on their toes then they will have the law on their side when it comes to be given animals. If they are sending them out of state- who knows where they may end up. There is NO oversight of rescues in FL - none- why does this bill not address this? Why is this bill written so that the doors of abuse can be so widely open? Why is the background, criminal info, stats not all REQUIRED- in addition why is there no state wide registry of abuse or questionable rescues? Shelters need to share information. Why only require that they give the animals up to groups without any safety net as to the initial save of the live- but none to the actual care and safety of them? If a bad rescue approaches on shelter and is turned away- then they need only drive to the next city or county to look for one that is not doing the checks. Also, if it is true, I want to know why a person who lobbies for greyhound breeders association has gotten involved with this. bill.

Friends Administrator said...

Under the Hayden in CA, one does not even have to have a non profit to pull from shelters. Only to present themselves as a "rescue" is adequate. Florida's Rescue Act is based on the Hayden. Under the Hayden, the shelters have been held hostage by rescues. Rescues use the shelters as private boarding kennels. Best example is Zephyr. Rescue put a hold on the dog, left it there for a month, dog got sick, died. Nathan Winograd was part of a lawsuit against the County of LA over this. The rescue that placed the hold on the dog came several times a week during all this, walked right by Zephyr and went to pick out others. Zephyr was a pit mix. This rescue took a picture of Zephyr the day before Zephyr died. The picture showed a dying dog, yet she left it once again. Then when questioned by a reporter as to why she didn't take the dog instead of a picture, she was quoted as saying because her vet was already closed. We have emergency clinics on every corner in LA.

I think it was a set up to get something to file a case about. It was settled but Winograd paints a different story about that. He said they won, far from it. The rescuer would disagree with Winograd, she was not satisfied. I have spoken with shelter directors in CA who say that as many as 40% of their kennels are those with rescue holds. While they leave their holds until it is convenient to pick them up, others have to die to keep that hold space.

FARA would do the same if not worse for Florida.