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Friday, March 15, 2013

Remember Your Loyalties is a series inspired by the previous post. This is - well was- Molly.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pepe's Mortgage

At the very end of January 2012,  a small dog named Pepe entered Miami Dade Animal Services (MDAS) . His image was posted online with the group Urgent Dogs Of Miami (UDOM) who post on Facebook the thousands of dogs that find themselves in MDAS yearly. Before long, out of state rescues became interested in him and - even though it was noted that he was aggressive - he was pulled out of the shelter. A chip in was created to raise money for his boarding and journey to the rescue - stating that the out of area rescue was in NC.

"He has no voice but I'm sure he would be begging for "HELP" right now... let's get him out of that place!!" Is what it said on Pepe's initial Chip In. People gave ...believing that they were saving his life. That Chip In was dated February 6th.

On February 12th, a new Chip In came across my feed on Facebook. It was one I had not expected to see. Pepe never made it to the out of state rescue. Pepe had been left in a boarding kennel where they said he was too aggressive to handle him. While there, he was eaten alive by maggots and died after days of sitting in the kennel. Right before transport, he was finally picked up by one of the workers to be groomed and upon finding him with maggots coming out of wounds and his eyes he was finally taken to the vet. He died at the vet.

 "..His aggression was clearly documented in his file at MDAS. So much so that they were unable to vaccinate him or do a proper exam of him. If they had, they would have discovered the open wounds and treated them. He came here and was placed in a run for qt boarding while waiting for transport to his rescue in Ohio. The staff was ordered to not handle him and not go in with him as is done with all aggressive dogs for safety reasons. Pepe would not allow anyone in his run. He would charge at anyone that opened the gate. When the transporter came to pick up Pepe I took him out and with the assistance of 2 others we were giving him a bath and we discovered that he in fact had open wounds with maggots. The wounds were not noticeable because of his long matted hair...' Dog House Pompano - from this Facebook page

I asked MDAS about this and was told that the rescue was given full disclosure on Pepe and that he did not leave the shelter in the condition  (the maggoty condition that is).... It is also evident from his intake photo that he was in great need of basic grooming... and he was less than 20 pounds.

So the for profit took in a dog for quarantine for transport, but the dog had no shots. So how does one properly quarantine a dog with no shots? They noted that the dog had long matted hair, and said that they were able to bath him- yet, did not do so until the last day. Was the dog less aggressive on that day? Why was he bathed when the transporter arrived? Is it customary for the transporters to wait for the entire grooming process on dogs they are transporting? Why was such an aggressive dog set to be sent on a transport anyway? Why were they sending him to Ohio when the Chip In clearly stated NC? In looking up the out of state rescues mentioned in the UDOM thread and the Chip In, it looked as if he was, in fact, going to a rescue in either DC or NY. Who truly was looking after the care of Pepe? Why did the Chip Ins not even mention the local rescue and had all the donations sent to an individual in Orlando?

As you can see... this did not all set right with me. But, what upset me more about all of this is the fact that, while people were yelling about the care of animals in MDAS, they failed to say a thing about the care of Pepe. People have created online pages dedicated to outing the problems with MDAS, yet no mention of Pepe. Protests were planned against the shelter- yet, none for Pepe. Why were people so against the shelter - yet, so silent on Pepe? If Pepe had died in the shelter- certain people would call the shelter workers murders - yet, Pepe died outside of the shelter- and no one was called a murderer. For the longest time I wondered why people were so quiet on Pepe... and others.....

Like Molly .... a man in the Midwest wanted to adopt so he went on Facebook and asked for the dog. She was sent to the boarding kennel and while there, he asked on Facebook pages for pictures of her- yet, his requests were seemingly ignored. Right before she was set to be transported to him, she died. She got ahold of a buffo toad is what they said. Tragic, yet again.. no one said a thing. Had this happened in MDAS there would have been an uproar.. if for no reason other than not a single picture of her 'safe' appeared to be shared in a month according to the out of state adopter's publicly posts-  yet, no uproar- and too few people spoke up... Molly was forgotten....

No protests erupted over Molly and the lack of photos. As you can see, he appeared to be asking for a 
month. Why did no one speak out about Molly and Pepe? Why only when things happen at MDAS? But, Pepe and Molly were not the only ones.... 

Muttsie was yet another dog taken out of the shelter and placed into boarding. He sat in a kennel for days - he had a broken pelvis and later died. The rescue who allowed those with the kennel to pull him never seemed to appear. Someone had come on a Facebook thread and offered to foster while he was in MDAS- yet- it was very obvious that there were potential issues with the foster- mainly a weight limit with their HOA. He was still pulled and put into boarding and needed medical care immediately- and did not get it. As with the others, it appears the rescue was MIA. People seemed to be paying directly to the for profit kennel- or to some woman in Orlando for some the dogs like Pepe- but, why? If a rescue was involved in each case- they would have been a non profit- most likely a 501c3- a tax deduction to a donor.. but, the money was not being sent to a non profit in each case.. it was sent to a for profit kennel or an individual. There also appeared to be no adoption papers filled out for each.  

Of course, I would be remiss if I were to fail to mention the many dogs stuck in boarding - like Max. Max, I have been told, has been at the kennel for a year or more. In a kennel that whole time. I do not even have a clue as to what rescue he is under... he just sits everyday waiting to be saved.. being warehoused. 

The above screenshot is from the page Help Diddy and Max get out of boarding 

If you have read my blog, you would see past stories with dogs pulled and placed into the kennel that ended up stuck or in difficult situations due to people just pulling them and boarding them without truly checking who they were going to. I even found dogs sent through this kennel rescue method that were sent to a woman named Shirley Barnes. She was in trouble for her dog attacking a toddler- and ordered to have no dogs in her county. Yet, Miami dogs were pulled- put into the same boarding kennel that Pepe had been in - and sent to her. I verified that she still has one when I asked her recently... other dogs were sent to a place called Critter Cover and ended up needing to be re saved- and, I was told, at least one was dumped in another shelter and killed. Many times I have seen a rescue being played out online using the same kennel "call the Dog House" people would be told.. and too many times- when I looked up the rescue- there was often times no real record of one. Often times nothing listed with the state they said they were in- no listings on reputable adoption promotion sites. Anyway.. I could go on.. the problem is that bad rescue is happening- dogs are repeatedly put into the kennel- and situations like what happened to Pepe and Max are occurring.. yet, no one is screaming about it- like they would be if it were a public shelter.. there may be a reason.  

Not too long ago, I was told something very interesting. I was told to look into the public records on the kennel in Broward County. What I found was that in 2011 a non profit called No Kill Nation loaned the kennel the amount of $254,146.75. It is in the public records as it is set up as a mortgage. 

Now, in case you do not know, No Kill Nation is a an advocacy group that exists to change shelters to 'no kill' shelters. They often post many anti HSUS, PETA, and ASPCA things on their Facebook page and believe that the number of animals dying in shelters rests solely on the shoulders of the shelters alone. They do not believe in overpopulation and seem to have a hard time with the idea of an irresponsible public when it comes to animals. 

In 2012 they worked to pass a bill called the Florida Animal Rescue Act. Basically, the bill stated that it "would make it illegal for a shelter to kill an animal when a qualified non-profit rescue organization is willing to save that animal."That seems like a totally wonderful thing- until you think about Pepe .. and the mortgage. See Pepe was taken out by a qualified rescue- the fundraising was done by an individual in Orlando - the funds going to her personal paypal account- according to the chip in Pepe was to be sent to a rescue in NC- however, the woman linked to NC was someone who ran a boarding kennel for dogs out of shelters that were to be sent to rescues in her area- and remember, the dog house thought the dog was going to Ohio. On top of that, the rescue named on the second chip in was Rural Dog Rescue which looks to be in DC- and in the initial UDOM thread there was also a mention of a rescue involved that is in NY. So if FARA HAD passed any dog would have to legally be handed over to the 'qualified' rescue and then what? Currently there are little to no regulations regarding rescues. Shelters keep track of intake and euthanasia/ adoptions/ etc. Yet, rescues have no real legal obligation to do so. FARA would have required shelters to hand dogs and cats over to them with no provision to increase funding for a department to oversea and regulate rescues. Since there is no real regulation, most anyone can open a Facebook page and declare themselves a rescue - and if FARA had passed- like NKN wanted- the shelters would have to hand the animals over.. and .. as is show above... this is not always in the animal's best interest. If those behind FARA truly wanted to help the animals- they would have written a better proposal... thinking harm only occurs behind the walls of a shelter is highly short sighted. 

What is even more interesting is that the group No Kill Nation spends a large amount of time working to bring down the big advocacy groups like the ASPCA. Often times citing their large intake in donations and how they are not supporting local rescues. Yet, No Kill Nation decided not to help out local rescues to the tune of 250k plus.. they loaned it to a for profit kennel. That amount could have funded Austin's Pets Alive bottle program for a year- it would have covered the pull fees for well over 8,000 animals from MDAS for rescues - it could have helped spay and neuter thousands of dogs and cats in Broward County's Spot Spay and Neuter program - or paid for more than half a years cost to run the Delaware spay and neuter program - over 8,000 bags of food could have been bought to help rescues or people who leave their animals at shelters due to an inability to feed them.. it could have been used for things like that- but, it was not. 

Now.. one could argue that No Kill Nation was not privy to the irresponsible rescue that has been occurring by way of the for profit boarding kennel. However, once I posted the mortgage on Facebook the president of No Kill Nation- Debi Day-  posted on her own page - publicly- that she loaned the money to the kennel due to 90 plus dogs that were in trouble in the place. 90 plus dogs that - many- had been abandoned by their rescue. Now... here brings up another issue.. No Kill Nation firmly believes that there is no overpopulation problem and that there is a home for every animal- that the shelters are failures for not finding those homes. Yet, the non profit had to used over $250k to help keep 90 plus dogs from going back to the shelter- yet, if there truly is a home for every dog- then why were 90 plus dogs even stuck in a kennel? And- since she claims she is against long term boarding then why not speak up to the kennel to get it stopped? Why not speak out publicly about the situation - it was happening very clearly on Facebook- anyone could see it- it did NOT stop with that group of dogs. She helped loan them a large sum of money- one would think that they would listen to her. If her claim is correct that she does not like irresponsible rescue- then why attack shelters - yet silence on Pepe.. and Molly.. and Muttsie? And furthermore, another woman who runs No Kill Nation is also running a rescue - why did that rescue not take over? Is it because they also have dogs who have been warehoused for extended periods of time? Does this all indicate a crack in their theory that there is home for every animal and overpopulation does not exist? 

Another strange thing that popped up when I posted the mortgage connection was that this ....
So that just leaves me wondering- if Debi truly DOES fund the non profit 98% - then why did she loan the money to the for profit kennel through the non profit and not a personal loan by herself? Why allow the non profit to take the risk? Does this also help explain why NKN is so often attacking large groups like the HSUS and telling people not to donate? Because they cannot get many true donations themselves? Of course no one wants animals being killed in shelters- I sure as shit do not- but, if it is true that one person is having to fund the majority of the non profit- does that not indicate that money is a problem when it comes to truly saving lives? It takes a lot of money- people want animals safe- but, to what extent will they go to fund it all - safely? 

But, what was really eye opening to me was what else was posted when I revealed the mortgage connection. It made me realize why people knew about the connection yet were afraid to speak up. It made me understand why I had been told by people about a dogs stuck in boarding from time to time and how they didn't really want their name out as being someone who spoke up. I understand now. People may have not wanted an issue such as Pepe coming to light- the connection to NKN to be seen- especially when something like FARA was trying to work itself into law. What happens when someone speaks up is this... 

This was posted set to public- remember- this is the head of No Kill Nation- her page. So, I now understand why some people may not have wanted to speak up about things- how they didn't want to make a big deal about Pepe.. how they did not want the mortgage connection to be known... because, this is the result. She has made it very clear about what happens to those who speak up. 

For the record, I do have ripped clothing- jeans. I bought them that way.. I never said I was a fashionista. But, the crazy thing about them trying to make me feel bad about ripped clothing is this- I was wearing those jeans on one of my last trips to MDAS. I was there to save a life- a very special life.. I will write about that one soon.. but, I was there saving a life- and they were there taking note of what I wore. In addition, when their tirade was posted, I could not respond 1. because I am blocked by Debi- even though it is set to public, I could not even see this to defend myself. I was given the screen shots by multiple people who saw it. 2. If I had been able to see it- I could not have responded anyway.. see, while they were attacking me in the style of an angry junior high girl, I was helping save lives. I was doing a transport that day.. and one of the dogs.. I walked him out of the Broward County shelter that day.. he clung to my legs as I walked- terrified. He is now safe.. from a shelter in the county that NKN resides in .. that has many animals euthanized. I helped save one life that day in the county of NKN- while the head of NKN went on Facebook and called me a pea brain. 

But, before I forget.. I am artist.. this is all about art to me- that is why the blog exists. Pepe is the first in my new series called Remember Your Loyalties. It is about the complex world of animal welfare and rescue.. and is about those who lose sight- of what we should all be concerned with.. that is of not just getting dogs and cats out of shelters- but, getting them to safety- true safety.... art is not always meant to be pretty.. but, I honestly never thought.. when I began this project.. that those who I thought were the heros would, at times, be the biggest failures... I will keep doing what I do.. call me all the names you want.. I have not forgotten my loyalties.. I am just sorry.. that .. so many have.