Thursday, December 30, 2010

A good snigger to help us ring in the New Year...

To make the ad larger, just click on it.

I spotted and borrowed the ad from this blog.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wayne Pacelle earns his lumps (of coal)

I think it's fair to say that everyone has already heard Wayne Pacelle's ridiculous statement about Michael Vick being ready for pet ownership. Most of us think this is similar to Wayne's suggesting that pedophiles be given jobs at elementary schools, but I guess Wayne knows best. (insert eye roll)

Actually, he's trying to do some retro-spin about his Vick statement here at his sick-making blog, but I fear the dog shit is going to stick to Wayne for quite some time.

But on to an equally troubling, and disturbingly common scenario.

As the majority of this blog's visitors are aware, the HSUS is fanatical about its PR and fundraising. This is why pretty boy Wayne was hired. However, neither the HSUS or its leadership is fanatical about actually rescuing the animals they claim to have been instrumental in rescuing. Considering how often this has happened, their slogan should be Take The Credit, Grab the Donations, and Run.

The author of the excellent Yes! Biscuit blog has been following the latest HSUS "rescue" in Alabama. The HSUS spin on this case is dizzying. One minute, an alleged HSUS stapher insists that the dogs - rescued by a hoarder of course - were all unsocialized and reverting to pack mentality. This is why the HSUS dumped them in kill shelters, including one that still gasses animals. The next minute, the HSUS is recommending that we, the public adopt one of these dogs!

Of course, the HSUS is not spending one fucking penny of their own millions to help the dogs or the shelters that accepted them.

The author of Yes! Biscuit has decided to track down the 44 rescued dogs. So far, she's only discovered that several have been killed, and at the shelter that gasses them to death. (Thank you Wayne!) So far, the HSUS has only offered vague statements that the rest of the dogs have gone to shelters in other states.

Read about the whole sorry mess here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The lowdown on the December ASC meeting

Since the Animal Shelter Commission folks did their usual - which is to carefully avoid publicizing their meetings - I wasn't able to go to the most recent one.

But Andrea Grimes made it, thankfully, and live-blogged through the whole affair.

Here is a link to her report:

The Flea Circus: Liveblogging Today's Animal Shelter Commission Meeting

I particularly enjoyed her descriptions of Joey Zapata, the original We'll Look Into It guy. Larry Powell has also, although more subtly, alluded to Joey's amazing ability to look wide-eyed and scribble notes during these meetings. She also seems to have Rebecca Poling's modus operandi nailed down pretty well.

I hope you made it to the Tavern eventually, Andrea.

Lastly, I spotted this within the blog comments:

Ugh... watching this sausage-making made my stomach churn. And this is how we do things in Dallas folks! And why shit never gets done.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is Dog and Kitty City being hounded?

I've recently received a couple of emails from people asking if I knew anything about Dallas Animal Services' recent "interest" in Dog and Kitty City. Allegedly, DAS officers have been dropping in on the Dog and Kitty City shelter unannounced, accusing the group of various naughty things.

I've seen Dog and Kitty City's mobile adoptions at Petsmart several times in the past two years, and their animals always looked healthy and well cared for.

Perhaps this entry on the group's Facebook page pissed off the wrong person or persons. Remember, a large proportion of DAS/Animal Shelter Commission folks worship at the feet of Pacelle and Co:

TO CLARIFY: A Nov.29 Dallas Morning News article reports a study by a national organization, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), of the city pound: Dallas Animal Services (DAS). DAS is not affiliated with local Humane Society of Dallas County or our no-kill shelter, Dog & Kitty City.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why do some people never learn from history?

This is an excerpt from the Dallas Morning News' article about the current situation at Dallas Animal Services. The speaker: Skip Trimble.

As long as thousands of dogs and cats are picked up and put down every year, trouble will return to the shelter, he suggested. It is an all-but-certain outgrowth of the job's difficulty.

What Dallas must do, advocates agree, is put more focus on enforcing spay-and-neuter and registration ordinances, along with laws that are already on the books to promote responsible pet ownership.

That's more difficult than just running animals through the shelter. But the dividends would be greater, Trimble said.

"If there are fewer animals entering the shelter, you are going to be able to give each individual animal better care and attention while they are there. You are going to have a better chance of them leaving the shelter," he said.

So...even though the spay/neuter and registration ordinances have been consistent failures in other cities, Skip keeps preaching it, blaming the public for the never-decreasing kill rate at DAS.

The scenario isn't difficult to understand. You treat people as if they're naughty children, then accuse them of complicity in the daily killing at DAS, and they get pissed off.

Here is an excerpt from the Web site that describes Skip & Co's collective blind spot much better than I can. I've edited it a bit for space:

Those of us who work or volunteer in animal welfare for cats and dogs hear the same complaints over and over again from shelter staff (stated with disbelief and disgust):

“Why do so many people consider dogs and cats disposable? Why do so many deadbeat dog and cat owners relinquish their pets to shelters or never bother looking for their lost pets – which, in turn, has led to a system that kills about 4–5 million unwanted homeless pets a year in this country? Why do so many people neglect and/or abuse dogs and cats?”

I hear this a lot at shelters and rescue organizations, and I see firsthand how doing this public service and “dirty work” poisons the staff at shelters against each and every person in the “evil public” who walks through the their doors. Even people coming in to adopt may be treated as representatives of those deadbeat owners — given the third degree and put through tests and hoops to see if they will be allowed to adopt an animal that, in all likelihood, will die in the shelter if not adopted soon enough to escape illness or madness.

I see how these negative attitudes lead to more of that self-fulfilling prophesy of more unwanted animals, more killing, more restrictiveness, more policies and procedures that block animals from finding new homes or getting owners to keep those pets. It’s a vicious cycle that could be tempered with some compassion and understanding toward people by people. Because of the negativity and blame game, we are working less and less toward trying to talk to people on a human level and tap into their capacity for humane compassion for animals.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Web-savvy volunteer needed by MAC

This isn't a message from the Metroplex Animal Coalition ...I'm just wondering why they still list Kent Robertson as a member of their Advisory Board.


Didn't a MAC member manage the Feral Friends Web site for a while?

At long, long, long, long (whew) last...

Somehow, the Dallas Morning News' Rudolph Bush managed to lay his hands on the HSUS' Shelter Evaluation for Dallas Animal Services. Here's a link and an excerpt:

Humane Society report sharply criticizes Dallas Animal Services

4:20 PM Mon, Nov 29, 2010
Rudolph Bush/Reporter

Dallas animal service employees feel alienated from supervisors and managers, lack a "cooperative spirit" and must daily face dueling goals laid out by the City Council and the city's Animal Shelter Commission, according to a 120-report by the Humane Society of the United States.

I have yet to read the entire, 120-page report. I'm still plowing through it. However, the HSUS' mention that the City Council and Animal Shelter Commission had set up "dueling goals" for DAS caught my eye.

Remember, some members of the Animal Shelter Commission* are ALSO part of the Metroplex Animal Coalition, aka MAC - the folks who allegedly raised the $25 grand for the HSUS evaluation bill. And then there are the Commission members who are card-carrying members of PETA. Perhaps the report's contents held up the report's release.

Think about it. $25,000 is a big price to pay for any report...especially one that bites you in the ass by saying you're not nearly as wonderful as you think you are. Sort of like that story about the emperor's new clothes.

* To see a list of members of the Animal Shelter Commission, click on the Board Members by Board link. I fear you'll have to download a large PDF, but the Shelter Commission is one of the first boards listed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tyrone McGill's brilliant career

This 2004 article from the Dallas Observer should have warned us what we had to look forward to when McGill began managing Dallas Animal Services.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Surprise! No surprise today.

This was posted Sunday Oct. 24 at the Dallas Animal Advocates blog. I broke it up into paragraphs for easier reading.

Surprise briefing Monday!

Tomorrow, Monday 10/25/2010, the Dallas City Council’s Quality of Life Committee will be briefed by Dallas Animal Services. The briefing, scheduled to being at 1 p.m. was scheduled without the knowledge of the Animal Shelter Commission, who only accidentally found out about it.

DAS is scheduled to discuss the background of Dallas Animal Services, including the 2001 HSUS report, an operational overview of Dallas Animal Services, a review of recent events that includes “Manager of Animal Control Resigned” (well, yes, that’s what happens when you tell someone you’re eliminating their position and give them a pink slip!), and a nifty comparison of Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio’s animal control departments.

1st question – Does the City operate a shelter. Duh. 2nd question – “Is there a commission, and how many member are on the Commission?” Then questions about annual impoundments (stats from 2005), # of animals surrendered and are their drop boxes available? Read the entire briefing HERE. If you are interested, it’s open to the public, but there’s no public comment period.

Before you start thinking "Crap, I would have liked to attend," hang on - the Committee briefing was cancelled almost as quickly as it was announced.

I couldn't get Google Docs to upload the briefing, but if you surf over to:

You can download the briefing as a PDF from the blog entry.

My first question: why the FUCK are they referring to the 2001 HSUS shelter evaluation? Does this year's evaluation suck that badly?

Second question: Why does this briefing not mention our fair city's appallingly high euthanasia rate? Perhaps the City Hall mindset is: We've been killing around 80% of the animals we "shelter" for decades, so there's no reason to keep up the good work.

And when will we finally hear what the 2010 HSUS evaluation contains? If it took me - or most of my readers - as much time to present a single report, we'd all have been fired for incompetence.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dallas Animal Advocates blog

Like many others, I was initially encouraged by the title of this blog:

Now or Never for Dallas Animal Services
it proclaims in big black (and sometimes white) letters.

Okay ... so why can't anyone leave a comment unless they have a Wordpress login? Sheesh.

And alas, they're still kissing up to the H$U$. I couldn't comment about this posting, but at least I can copy and paste it:

The HSUS Shelter Evaluation Program
Posted in Uncategorized on October 11, 2010 by urbancritter

The Humane Society of the United States’ Shelter Evaluation Program offers “affordable (Editor's note: $25K is considered affordable? Think of how many spay/neuters you could finance with that), customized assessments to animal care organizations seeking assistance in making their shelter a better place for both animals and employees.” According to their website, they use “a tailored evaluation approach to meet your specific needs by utilizing a team of experts in the field of animal sheltering. Our team examines each issue, program, or policy in the context of your entire operation.”

A new link to clicky

This blog, Vox Felina, discusses TNR research and TNR opponents. The author has done his research, which makes some blog entries a heavy read, but valuable nonetheless.

Check out Vox Felina here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dallas City Hall doesn't discriminate ... they'll screw any taxpayer

This blog article was forwarded me to yesterday (I have an awful sinus infection and am behind on everything, including updating this blog). While the blog doesn't mention Dallas Animal Services, it illustrates how Dallas City Hall does whatever it wants. Taxpayers be damned, or sodomized, or whatever. If you're a taxpayer, you can't do shit about it.

(These are the same dolts who required TWO bond issues to be passed before they built a new animal shelter. Two years later and it's already broken.)

Think City Hall Should Get A Tax Hike? You Might Think Again After Seeing How Crappy It Treats Its Taxpayers. By Jim Schutze

In the last few weeks everyone has been talking about taking on a tax increase so we can give City Hall more money. I promise you this much: This story will make you wonder why on earth we would even consider giving the people at City Hall more money.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is DAS finally headed in the right direction?

This following is from Larry Powell's blog. Forgive my cynicism, but I'd bet the rent that not every group who responds via RSVP will actually be invited.

From a shelter with its back to a wall, the Dallas Animal Services Shelter is acquiring a new image. This latest development may help a lot.

The Companions For Life people and Dallas Animal Services are inviting managers of local rescue groups (all-breed and breed-specific) and private shelters to come to the Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center to meet with the interim manager, Dallas Police Lt. Scott Walton, and DAS Rescue Coordinator Mark Cooper.

CFL President Rebecca Poling says there are two dates, space is limited and you have to have reservations. These get-acquainted sessions -- one on Saturday, Oct. 2, (9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.) and the other on Oct. 14 (6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.) – will be in the meeting room at the Dallas Animal Shelter and Adoption Center. Deadline for RSVP on the first one is Sept. 30, deadline on the second is Oct. 12) E-mail your RSVP to – get more info there, too.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Suzette! Please check in.

Sorry to contact you in this fashion but I replied to two of your recent emails. And both promptly bounced. Any idea why?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Overdue eviction notices

After reviewing the current status of our fair city's animal services, I feel rather ill.

Nobody seems to actually be running Dallas Animal Services. Tyrone McGill is playing golf on the taxpayers' nickel, while the folks running the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) refuse to discuss why Suzette Watkins was shitcanned last month. And the Shelter Commission members continue to sit on their hands and pad their resumes.

Over on the Yes! Biscuit blog, a recent horror story was picked up - and a well-known No Kill advocate commented.

The link is here.

What will it take to dislodge the inmates from the asylum? Has Dallas begun to organize a No-Kill movement yet? If not, it's past due.

Friday, September 17, 2010

20/20 expose of local SPCAs, circa 2005

If you read the Comments under each blog entry, you may have noticed an anonymous commenter mention this:

I decided to check it out and found the URL above.

I'm afraid one has to buy the 20/20 video segment, and I couldn't find it posted online anywhere. But the abcnewsstore link has a fairly comprehensive write-up of the contents of the segment.

While I was looking for a video, I also Googled a couple of names mentioned. The 20/20 report certainly riled up quite a few people on both sides of the fence. Some insisted that the report was totally erroneous, others said it was spot-on.

Currently I'm looking for legal documents associated with the seizures mentioned here:

This URL is ABC's response to the SPCA when they accused 20/20 of false reporting.

If you find any before I do, I would appreciate their being forwarded their URLs. Then perhaps we can find out who's truthing and who's lying.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More about the THLN firing

Suzette Watkins is not a mealy-mouthed woman and is not afraid to let the chips fall where they may.

With this in mind, I'll let her recent Facebook entries do the talking (clicking on each screen grab will enlarge it for more readability).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

THLN Chapter President asks question, gets canned. WTF?

Although I'm not a big fan of Facebook, and refuse to set up my own page, it sometimes makes for interesting reading.

Here is a screen grab from Suzette Watkins' Facebook page. Suzette runs a combined kennel/boarding facility/rescue in Ft Worth - and until last month, she was the Ft Worth chapter President for the Texas Humane Legislation Network.

However, it looks like Suzette asked the wrong question to the wrong person. This resulted in THLN promptly showing her the door. I'll let her Facebook page do the talking:

Considering the (alleged) role that the Shelter Advisory Committee plays in the running of Dallas Animal Services, I can't figure out why anyone would consider Suzette's actions as anything less than doing her job. Instead, it cost her the job.

More later - I fear my laptop battery is red and I'm in darkest Bell County without my charger.

Another link addition

I think some readers/comments have already discovered the KC Dog Blog, but just in case you haven't:

The author knows his FOI (Freedom Of Information) rules and he's not afraid to use them.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Austin shelter update

Hey, look! A city in Texas that does NOT have a mandatory spay/neuter law - Austin - has managed to bring their euthanasia rate way down.

More about it here:

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished…. ASPCA-Style

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why it's time to quit preaching Mandatory Spay/Neuter

Every animal I've owned has been spayed or neutered, including the two purebred animals I owned. I didn't spay or neuter a single one because it was mandatory; I did it because it was the intelligent choice.

Can anyone who supports mandatory spaying and neutering answer these questions, please:

1. Do you really think you have the right to dictate others' choices regarding their pets?
2. Has making this part of a city code ever lowered a euthanasia rate? In other words, can you offer valid proof that mandatory spaying and neutering helps to stop the killing in shelters?

This 2005 article about Austin's shelter includes the opinion of a vet tech who carried out euthanasia duties on a regular basis. He didn't support mandatory spaying/neutering. Considering what he does for a living, I think he's earned his right to his opinion - perhaps more than most of us have.

What Happened to the No-Kill Millennium?

Austin's plan to end wholesale euthanasia at Town Lake shelter remains a distant dream.

Monday, September 6, 2010

More about Blogger's spam comment filtering

Unfortunately I can't turn turn this function off. Fortunately, I am not the only Blogger user who is annoyed with this.

So ... if your comment is delayed, all I can say for now is sorry about that, and please be patient. Hopefully Blogger will install a cutoff switch soon. By the looks of their Help forum, plenty of others are equally annoyed.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A look back on July's Self-Righteous AR Advocate of the Month

A couple of months ago, a blogger with the typical "I know better" outlook decided to advise readers to spy on any neighbor who might be a (gasp!) hoarder.

Here is the link to the post, along with the comments.

I was clearing out some bookmarks earlier today and revised the page. I was surprised to see that my comment (the last one made) had *not* been censored. Anyone care to hazard a guess why it's still there?

I'm guessing that the author simply became weary of checking for new anti-spying comments. She's since returned to recycling very old tips about checking for animals in foreclosed homes and such, when not singing her own praises.

For example, she has described herself as a "very dedicated volunteer". Miss, either you're dedicated or you're not. Please don't abuse your adjectives in public.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Those disappearing comments

I receive email confirmations each time a new comment is posted, but when looking at the blog itself this morning, I realize that at least two of them aren't showing up now.

Seems that Blogger now has a spam filter for comments! Crap!

I've gone in and marked all comments "not spam", so hopefully everything's showing up now. Later today, I am going to see if I can turn off this silly-ass filter. I didn't ask for it to be activated.

I NEVER delete a comment - instead, if I disagree with one, I respond to it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Opinions invited re Nathan Winograd

Since I haven't read any of Nathan Winograd's books, and don't know when I'll have time to do so, I wanted to ask blog readers to share their opinions of him via the Comments section below.

To post a comment, click on the Preview button after typing in your comment - this gives you the option to choose how to sign your comment.

Winograd looks good on paper, but I have never visited any of the shelters he claims to have assisted.

I should confess that, since Winograd is hated by PETA and Wayne Pacelle (PETA has dedicated a lot of Web site space to vilifying him), I am already leaning towards a favorable view of him.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

990 forms for Metroplex Animal Coalition

You can find them by going to this page and searching by name and state:

Looks like Skip is doing their tax returns - not Rebecca.

You can also look up other groups recently discussed here, like Texas Humane Legislation Network, at the Foundation Center site.

Happy reading...

The HSUS, THLN and Humanewatch

If you backtrack two blog entries, you'll see the new Humanewatch poster, along with a LOT of comments. One anonymous poster dared me to prove that the HSUS supports the THLN.

This was pretty easy; after I searched for the HSUS' annual reports, I found the THLN listed as receipient of an HSUS grant in 2005.

Next, I decided to go for the source and looked at

Before I found the HSUS connection, I was pissed off to read that the THLN claims to be:

...the political arm and voice for every animal and animal welfare agency in Texas.

If they're really doing this, they're keeping it VERY quiet.

Anyway, enough of my bitchiness. The below is a screen grab from the's FAQ section:

So...if you're unhappy about the HSUS' deceptive advertising, illegal seizures, and other police state tactics, you "oppose animal protection legislation", according to the THLN. It's a bit of a stretch in my opinion, but there you go.

And if you look at other sites that judge and rate nonprofits , you'll see that the HSUS' rating is going down the tubes. Check them out here:

(Charity Watch is the URL for the American Institute of Philanthropy - their real name doesn't lend it self to an URL, obviously. They have nothing to do with Humanewatch, even though their URLs are similar.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Yesterday's Animal Services Commission trainwreck meeting

Larry Powell attended yesterday's meeting and published a comprehensive report at Read Larry Powell.

It is truly painful reading. The "solutions" put in place are ridiculous. Herewith some lowlights:

  • Seems that Kent Robertson jumped before he was pushed.
  • There isn't a Shelter Manager position any announcement everyone objected to, except the bureaucrats who introduced it.
  • Animal Services is actually run by Code Compliance. (This is why, after DAS couldn't persecute Laniq Adams any more, Code Compliance showed up with that bogus accusation that the shelter wasn't zoned properly.)
  • As usual, questions were answered by the "We'll look into that and get back to you." I guess they were channeling Kent Robertson.

After reading Powell's report - and I'd like to thank him for publishing it - I honestly don't think the situation at DAS can get any worse.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Humanewatch ad

I like it!

Today's Animal Shelter Commission meeting heats up

Damn. Not only am I unable to get out of work, I am unable to stay in the county. I am 150 miles away in Killeen, working on a bid.

However I've had a chance to get online. The following is from Read Larry Powell:

ANIMAL SHELTER COMMISSION MEETING AND NEW DEVELOPMENT: First, the City of Dallas Animal Shelter Commission meeting is at 1:30 p.m. today in Room 6E South at Dallas City Hall. (No free parking, as I recall.) Lots of items on the agenda.

Coincidentally, we’d earlier reported about claims of harassment of witnesses in the wake of the indictment of shelter manager Tyrone McGill in the case of the cat allowed to die inside a shelter wall. Word comes now that one of the potential witnesses, noted animal cruelty investigator Dominick Munoz, has hired attorney Don Feare to represent him in “possible litigation against the city” – Mr. Munoz has been the target of threats allegedly orchestrated by supporters of Mr. McGill. He was, we’re told, the person who first notified the Dallas County District Attorney’s office about the cruelty incident that led to Mr. McGill’s indictment.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Agenda for the upcoming Animal Shelter Commission meeting

As usual, this wasn't posted in time - legally these need to be posted 72 hours before the event. I need to find out where to complain about this.

Clicky here to see the agenda for the August 26 meeting.

Although I encourage anyone who can attend to attend, my current workload will probably prevent me from doing so. :(

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why you should Google yourself regularly

I just received a post from someone who had been checking out members of the Animal Shelter Commission via the Internet. He'd spotted my notice of the next Commission meeting and, in the light of the recent McGill/Robertson departures, was planning to attend.

He had googled Susan Oakey and found that she had been attacking other animal rescuers on a forum site called of all places. The site's tagline is "Welcome to the sacred world of Hinduism."

One of Susan's posts encouraged all readers of the Vegetarian Forum to attend Laniq Adams' 2008 trial for animal cruelty. Another post regarding this trial, crossposted by someone named Margaret Morin, begged for a big turnout at the courthouse.

Everyone's support is needed to help see justice done.

Justice for Laniq Adams came in the form of an acquittal that took the jury exactly nine minutes to deliver. To this day I wish I'd attended the trial, but it was held before I became sufficiently motivated to start researching this subject, and to begin publishing this blog.

Of course, neither Susan or Margaret bothered to publish the outcome of the trial in the forum.

Being unacquainted with Hindu beliefs, I did some cursory research. Although they can't be defined in a condensed form, karma plays an important role in the Hindu religion.

Does this mean that Susan and Margaret can look forward to some karmic payback?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Next Dallas Animal Shelter Commission meeting

Considering we won't have Kent Robertson there to mutter that he'll look into things, it might be particularly interesting.

From a forwarded e-mail:

"The next meeting of the Dallas Animal Commission will be held on August 1:30 in the afternoon. It is not being held at the Animal Shelter, but at Dallas City Hall in room 6C South."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Has Kent Robertson resigned?

I spotted this story at the D Magazine Backburner blog:

Capping a week that saw animal-shelter official Tyrone McGill charged in the negligent death of a cat there, sources tell us that Dallas Animal Services manager Kent Robertson has abruptly resigned, effective Friday. Callers to Robertson’s phone number at animal services tonight heard a recording saying he’s no longer with the city. Developing.

Tip of the Iceberg, Part 2

I surfed over to this D Magazine story to see if any additional comments had been added since DAS manager McGill was formally charged with animal cruelty:

While there are plenty of additional comments, not many of them talk about McGill. Instead, some of the DFW chest-beaters who fit the definition of rescuer - someone who has one less animal than those they accuse of hoarding - are out in force with off-topic accusations thinly disguised as comments.

I have a pretty good idea who the commenter using the pen name "Reagan" really is. (This is ironic as he/she took me to task for not identifying myself.) Perhaps Reagan should consider a "new beginning"...

Friday, August 13, 2010

OK ... here it is!

Clicky here to read the minutes from the April 2010 Animal Shelter Commission meeting.

Some highlights - or lowlights:

  • Animal registration numbers in Dallas are down, including those for unaltered pets. As if we needed more proof that the 2008 amendments to the City Code continue to backfire.
  • Off-site adoption numbers are down. So are the numbers of volunteers. But there was no discussions about recruiting and retaining new volunteers; instead, they decided to contact the inactive ones.
  • One of the more sensible Commission members asked why a search warrant was issued for a residence with only EIGHT dogs. As usual, Kent Robertson said "he'd look into it."
  • The Commission discussed printing and distributing flyers that advised people that it is illegal to abandon their animals. (Yeah, that ought to stop it.)
  • Tyrone McGill told everyone what a great time he had attending a shelter conference in Austin, and said he'd be "implementing what he learned" at the shelter. Did he learn not to rescue animals trapped in the shelter's walls?
  • ASC member Rebecca Poling went on another commission roll, introducing no fewer than NINE more sub-commissions. She really likes commissions. I have literally lost count of all of her commission roles, chairs, etc.
  • Dallas Animal Services might put up a Facebook page one day. (insert eye-roll here)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Minutes for the April 2010 Animal Shelter Commission meeting

Thanks to the people who have forwarded this PDF to me during the past few days.

The reason I haven't posted the ASC minutes here yet is that several people who attended the April meeting do not wish for their names to be publicized here. Since I don't blame them, I won't be posting the minutes until I have time to open the PDF and remove the list of public attendees.

Who hired this guy, anyway? (Oops - sorry, Skip)

The upsetting story of the cat allowed to die within the walls of Dallas Animal Services has a new chapter. From today's online version of the Dallas Morning News, updated at 11:10 pm:

Dallas shelter manager on leave over cat's death inside wall | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Latest News

Posted 11:10 PM CDT on Tuesday, August 10, 2010
By RUDOLPH BUSH / The Dallas Morning News

The manager of the city of Dallas' animal shelter was placed on paid administrative leave Monday while he faces charges of felony cruelty in connection with the death of a cat at the Westmoreland Road facility.

Tyrone McGill, 59, was indicted by a grand jury late last week, accused of failing to act to save a cat trapped between two walls at the shelter. Despite repeated requests from employees, affidavits say, McGill never tried to rescue the cat, who was heard crying and scratching at the walls before its death.

The case has called into question the management and day-to-day operations of the once-lauded shelter.

McGill, the shelter's manager for about two years, acknowledged when the took the position that he was not trained or experienced in handling animals, according to Skip Trimble, chairman of the city's Animal Shelter Commission.

"When we met, he admitted he knew nothing about animals, but that he was eager to learn. ... I have to say that I am shocked. But it's true he didn't have animal experience," Trimble said.

While I should point out that McGill has not been convicted of anything yet - I'm really tired of media convictions, especially when a jury ends up acquitting - he is obviously not the only one to blame for all this. Why on earth was McGill hired in the first place?

And when was the shelter "lauded"? Nobody I've spoken to, including plenty of rescuers who have spent their lives in the DFW area, can remember a time when Dallas Animal Services was anything other than a killing factory.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New links

I am adding two new links:

Humanewatch - Ever since I found out about the dishonesty of HSUS' television ads - in which they beg for monthly donations for animal shelters, but only give HALF of 1% to help save homeless dogs and cats - the HSUS has been on my Don't Trust list. Humanewatch is on their case every day.

PETA Kills Animals - Penn and Teller's PETA expose was just the tip of the iceberg, sadly.

Please feel free to send suggested links. You can leave them as comments (to get the comment function to work, be sure to Preview your comments first!).

The tip of the iceberg at DAS?

This link appeared in today's version of the Yes Biscuit! blog:

Almost all of the comments following the original article appear to have been left by Dallas residents - many who have visited Dallas Animal Services in person to adopt - and are an extremely upsetting read. Hopefully it's another nail in the coffin of the current management at DAS.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ban on selling dogs, cats in Dallas is easier said than done | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Columnist James Ragland | Dallas-Fort Worth News

Instead of pursuing uglier issues - like the Dallas Animal Services employees who let a cat die slowly within the shelter walls - the Animal Shelter Commission folks have decided to chase another windmill. Anything to stay in the media limelight...

Ban on selling dogs, cats in Dallas is easier said than done | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Columnist James Ragland | Dallas-Fort Worth News

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A primer for Texas pet owners

Last week, a blogger named P J Boosinger published two important posts after doing a LOT of research and homework into our fair state's current search and seizure laws.

I strongly urge anyone who owns more than one or two animals to read the blog entry Sniffing for Due Process. It explains how frighteningly easy it is for someone with ties to the local branch of the HSUS or SPCA, or city's animal control department -- in other words, anyone with some power to abuse -- to come into your home or kennel, seize your animals, and accuse you of animal cruelty.

We've all seen media coverage of accused hoarders' and abusers' homes. But all we see is what the media chooses to show us. You can bet that they're going to go for what will pull in the most viewers.

Furthermore, your local anchor person may or may not be accurate with numbers of animals, their conditions -- the catchphrase here is always "deplorable" -- or if the animals' owner is even charged with a crime. But once your face is on the 6:00 news with the phrase "animal cruelty" next to it, you might as well emigrate to Greenland unless you can afford a good attorney.

There are plenty of cases of unjust animal seizures. The motives are often greed, especially in the cases of purebred or rare animals. Details of two of these follow:

A licensed bird breeder is raided by a local chapter of the SPCA.
During the seizure, the SPCA manages to kill some of the birds they were "saving" by improperly transporting them. The breeder's surviving birds are eventually returned and no charges are filed.

A dog breeder in South Dakota is illegally raided by the HSUS and a local rescue center.
Before the charges are dropped, at least 28 of the dogs die while under the care of the local "rescue" group. After the raid, the HSUS issued some self-congratulatory PR then promptly decamped, leaving the local rescue group with a six-figure bill for care and feeding of the 170+ dogs. The breeder's legal costs forced him to sell some of his property, and he still does not know the fate of most of his dogs.

Good news for Delaware shelter animals

Not every state is content to live with an unacceptable level of killing of shelter animals. Last week, the Governor of Delaware signed the Delaware Companion Animal Protection act.

Here is a Reader's Digest Condensed version from Nathan Winograd's blog:

... the Delaware Companion Animal Protection Act mandates collaboration between shelters and rescue groups. A shelter cannot kill an animal if a rescue group is willing to save that animal’s life. But that is just the beginning. It also makes convenience killing illegal—shelters can no longer kill an animal when there are available cages or the animals can share a cage or kennel with another one.

For Dallas Animal Services (DAS) to turn things around, they would have to make some major changes. In addition to actively recruiting more volunteers, DAS would have to work with ALL rescue groups, not just a few select ones. It would be a 180-degree turnaround from their current modus operandi. But it's way past due. And the legislators in Delaware couldn't find any reason to oppose it.

From Nathan Winograd's blog, again:

To legislators, to the Delaware animal loving public, to the shelters and rescue groups who participated in the passing of this bill, there was nothing controversial about it. No fear mongering about hoarders, no fear mongering about dog fighting, no fear mongering about overcrowding, no fear mongering about costs, no fear mongering about notice requirements being unfair to small rural shelters, no fear mongering about anything. The bill mandates that animals be given every opportunity for life, and no one thought that would be a bad or controversial idea. In other words, there was no HSUS, no ASPCA, and no Best Friends. It seems that in order for shelter reform legislation to be allowed to pass, the supposed leaders of the animal protection movement itself can’t be involved.

Given that our current DAS management:

  • Seems unbothered by an euthanasia rate that's stuck at 78-80%;
  • Needs a grand jury to investigate why staff allowed a cat to die in agony within the shelter's very walls;
  • Enables members of the Animal Shelter Commission to violate the very laws they helped bring in two years ago; and
  • Doesn't seem to care what the taxpayers think of their performance ...
isn't it time these people found other jobs - hopefully in an industry that doesn't involve animals?

Friday, July 16, 2010

PETA gets the Penn and Teller treatment

I have hated PETA ever since I found out that they don't support feral cat management or Trap/Neuter/Release. Here's what they say:

Please do not allow the prospect of euthanasia to deter you from trapping cats. If you leave them where they are, they will almost certainly die a painful death.

Will someone please tell that to my neighbor's feral colony? Her oldest feral is 13. Yes, she's built a special shelter for them, but plenty of other feral caretakers have done the same thing. Even a doghouse works great.

I hated PETA a bit more when they tried to whitewash their Kill The Ferals attitude by setting up another Web site named - get this - Helping Animals.

Here's their nice page about ferals.
Surprise, surprise - the links to their free feral cat brochure don't work.

Thankfully, Penn and Teller zeroed in on PETA a while back and did a bang-up job in handing their leaders their respective asses.

For anyone who missed the Penn and Teller Bullshit! episode that skewers PETA, or don't get Showtime, it's here.

But if you're near Premiere Video on East Mockingbird, they have this episode in stock at an extremely reasonable rental charge.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The real definition of hoarder

Something that particularly bothers me is how most people will gladly swallow any story that the media serves up to them. They never pause to think about the possibility of spin, hidden agendas, or the like.

The current spate of raids of suspected animal hoarders are no different. For the majority of the lemmings who consider themselves incapable of cruelty, they also consider anyone labeled a hoarder to be the spawn of Satan.

But let's look at a few recent cases, like this one in Providence, Rhode Island.

Although the news presenter on the video chews the scenery up one side and down the other, I don't think we can assume with absolute certainty that there's a hoarding situation going on. Certainly, there are few of us who want 60 dogs, but take a look at the house they came from. It's a three-story house.

And look at the dogs themselves. I didn't see a single one that was underweight. Even an Animal Control officer (with an unfortunate name) said this on camera:

"They appear to all be in fairly good condition," said Pawtucket Animal Control officer John Holmes, who brought about 30 of the dogs to his city's shelter. "I didn't see anything that raised a red flag other than the large number of dogs."

But the obnoxious news presenter ended his spiel by muttering on about how hoarders are sickos and hoarding is a crime.

So... who wants to bet the rent that:

In less than two weeks, most of the dogs will be up for adoption?
The owners will never see any of their animals again?
The charges will be eventually dropped for lack of evidence?

I can't help but wonder if these people, and others like them, are turned in by self-righteous animal rescuers with plenty of animals in their own homes.

Want to know how one of these rescuers might define a hoarder?
Someone with one more animal in her home than she has.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

DAS employees allow trapped cat to die - IN the shelter

This story made me feel physically ill.

There is a video here (the URL will probably only work for a day or two):

Grand Jury Sniffing Out Shelter Cruelty Allegation

Some longtime supporters of the Dallas Animal Shelter are demanding firings and criminal charges after an allegation that a cat was tortured at the facility.

The allegations have led a Dallas County grand jury to convene and consider cruelty charges against several employees.

Sources tell CBS 11 a cat escaped from a cage at the facility and became trapped in a wall, and that employees continued working for days while the animal could be heard trying to free itself.

It's also alleged that some employees reported the problem to managers, but nothing was done and it wasn't until the cat died and created a stench in the building that someone had it removed.

Elaine Munch, a longtime supporter and donor to the shelter, is outraged over the incident. "I know the cat had to have cried, cried and cried it just breaks my heart, instead they let a cat die a horrible death. It's despicable."

Munch and others want a housecleaning by the city of employees who knew about the incident and failed to take action.

"The people that knew and didn't do anything need to spend time in jail or prison, This is the fault of a lack of leadership and it goes to the top."

The city says that it is aware of the investigation and is cooperating. The Dallas County District Attorney's office declined comment, but some shelter employees have been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury over the allegations.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How not to treat your rescue group volunteers

One well-documented tale that I am still hesitating to publish contains details of a particularly nasty course of events between a volunteer of a local rescue group and those who managed it.

The reasons I hesitate to publish the scanned documents are because: a) it happened to my ex-girlfriend, and b) it happened about 10 years ago. (My ex has given me the green light.)

But the guilty parties are still parading about at the occasional DFW-area fund raiser or rescue-related event, acting as if they're the best things since sliced bread or the iPhone. Still not getting their hands dirty, of course.

And, even though most rescue groups treat their volunteers well, some tend to go through them pretty quickly because of treating them like serfs or worse. Thus the pervading jokes about starting new groups called "Rescue Group X Rejects". So an outing might actually have some positive results.

Here's a condensed version of the chain of events. You can be the judge as to whether I should re-scan the evidence for publication.

1. A newish volunteer with Web knowledge (my ex) offered to provide a basic Web site for a local rescue group she'd recently begun volunteering for.

2. The site was published after the volunteer built it and paid for the .org URL with her own funds. This was before the days of cheap domains.

3. The site's passwords were freely distributed within the group, so any of the group's volunteers could upload, post and edit information about animals available for adoption.

4. About a year later, a new volunteer decided that she wanted to be the sole Web manager. So she logged in and changed the password, effectively kicking everyone else off.

5. When the original provider of the site (my ex) objected, she was basically told to fuck off and go clean litter boxes at Petsmart as this was "better use of her skills". This did not sit well with her, and she made no secret of it.

6. The new volunteer who changed the passwords got wind of the situation and felt threatened. So she called my ex's office and said that she was "using company computers to steal her Web site." This was impossible, as the ex created it on a Mac platform and software, and her office was/is a 100% Windows PC environment. But she was still dragged into HR and questioned about the anonymous phone call.

7. One of the group's Board -- an attorney -- actually wrote a lengthy letter to the ex, telling her to fuck off on corporate letterhead.

8. My ex called the attorney's boss and said WTF? The harassment stopped.

More later... probably.

Sorry for the hiatus...

But I recently fell victim to the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times".

Not only did my company send me out of state to manage a commercial project, my PC's hard drive suddenly and totally crashed. Most, but not all of my information was backed up.

Last but not least, the news we've all been waiting for - the HSUS' 2010 shelter evaluation for Dallas Animal Services - hasn't been made public. Instead, there's a deafening silence. Not even the usual team of HSUS Kool-aid bathers have said anything on their various blogs, or within their news articles.

However, I did find a PDF of the 2001 HSUS report presented to Dallas Animal Services. I stumbled on it purely by mistake, as the Animal Connection of Texas - who had originally published it online - now has no live link to the PDF.

Click here for a link to the 2001 HSUS/DAS report.

Although I haven't read it verbatim, it made a few valid points. But it had its usual share of "We're the HSUS, so we're infallible" bs too.

And the biggest omission of all, in my opinion, is that it contained NO discussion of the value of volunteers. Nor did it suggest how DAS might attract and keep good volunteer staff. Shelters who have successfully lowered their euthanasia rates almost universally credit their volunteer staff as playing a vital part in their success.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

tomorrow's ASC Agenda

This was just forwarded to me but with no venue. So I guess it'll be a surprise. Please excuse the crap formatting.


1. Call to Order Skip Trimble, Chair

2. Approval of the minutes from the April 22, 2010
Animal Shelter Commission Meeting

3. Chairman’s Report Skip Trimble, Chair

- New Parking Decals for Commission members

4. Animal Services Manager’s Report Kent Robertson

Animal Services Manager

- Statistics Oct 09 – May 2010

- Community Outreach Efforts

- List of all civil seizure cases involving cruelly

treated animals this fiscal year to date; with

number of animals; and their ultimate disposition.

Also, what if any criminal charges were filed

against the owner.

- Status of Animal Cruelty Cases referred to District Attorney’s Office

- Follow-Up Items From Prior Manager’s Reports

- Follow up Items From 4/22/10 Meeting

5. ASC Advisory Group Updates & Discussion

Skip Trimble, Chair

6. Old Business Kent Robertson, Animal Services Manager

- Animal Services Citation Dispositions

(How to track)

7. New Business Skip Trimble, Chair

- Why can’t citations be mailed via certified mail

or left on door?

- Discuss new ordinance re requiring finder of a

stray dog to locate owner

- Request that staff notify Commissioners in advance

of any animal issue to be presented or discussed

at any City Council Meeting or Council Committee


- Question and/or discussion of items in Staff Commission Update of 5/14/10

- Review Rescue Group Transfer Agreement

8. Public Comments

9. Adjournment

A closed executive session may be held if the discussion of any of the above agenda items concerns one of the following:

(I deleted this bit to save space - FP)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Time for our quarterly ASC hide-and-seek...

Yep, it's that time again - time for us to try and figure out when and where our Animal Shelter Commission is meeting this month.

A couple of those who attended the last meeting took note of the June 17th date mentioned by Skippy. But if you surf over to the Dallas City Secretary's Web site, you won't find anything about the meeting. Scanner problems again?

However, we may have tracked down the elusive Commission, thanks to Larry Powell's blog. Seems there's been a change of venue:

THE BIG MEETING: Over the weekend we got a reminder from Elaine Munch, president of the Metroplex Animal Coalition and a member of the City of Dallas Animal Shelter Commission, urging people to attend Thursday’s commission meeting.

“This is your chance,” the note reads, “to let the City Attorney’s Office and the Code Compliance staff know what you think of the new ordinance passed on May 26.”

You may recall that the Dallas City Council OK’d a stray dog ordinance as a response to a man’s complaints about his stolen dogs.

Here’s the description, according to Elaine’s note: “This ordinance adds Section 7-4.12 to the Dallas City Code and makes it an offense if a person takes possession of a stray dog in the city and knowingly fails to make, within 72 hours after taking possession, a reasonable effort to locate the dog's owner by: (1) calling the telephone number listed on the dog's tags; (2) taking the dog to a licensed veterinarian for a microchip, tattoo, or other identification screening and calling the owner identified through the screening; (3) calling 311 to request that animal services pick up the dog for 614dasfrankie10 identification screening and impoundment; or (4) delivering the dog to the city's animal shelter for identification screening and impoundment. A violation of the proposed ordinance would be punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.”

This is seen by many as discouraging people from picking up stray animals and getting them into a safe haven – it falls into the category of “No good deed goes unpunished,” possibly to the tune of five hundred bucks and a conviction on your record for trying to do the right thing.

The council passed the ordinance without hearing from rescuers or from anyone on the animal shelter commission.

The commission meeting is scheduled for 1:30 pm. Thursday at Dallas Animal Services, 1818 N. Westmoreland, Dallas, 75212. That’s at I-30 west and Westmoreland, just west of downtown Dallas. There is usually plenty of parking at the facility.

Although I plan to double-check the time, date and venue tomorrow, it could make sense to plan to dress for hot weather. Seems the air conditioning at our newish, two-bond-issues-later shelter doesn't work very well.

WFAA carried a short report on the defunct a/c at DAS a couple of days ago, with media darling and ASC member Jonnie England there as usual. (Considering how frequently she appears in animal-related news videos, I'm beginning to suspect that she has a built-in Photo Op sensor. Or maybe a publicity agent.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Next Animal Shelter Commission meeting

From Larry Powell's blog:

-- Meanwhile, to keep people from forgetting, the latest City of Dallas ordinance affecting animal rescue – the one that was aimed at thieves but put rescuers at legal peril – will be on the agenda for the June 17 meeting of the Dallas Animal Shelter Commission. That’s at 1:30 p.m. at Dallas City Hall.

If you haven't yet attended one of these meetings, I strongly encourage you to do so. You can stand up and have your say after the mutual back-patting is over. Some of the folks really need to be kept in line. Or what the Australian Democrats would describe as "keeping the bastards honest" - a line that literally appears on a lot of their campaign posters.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The start of the Pawprints/DAS saga?

(If you're a new reader, you may want to back up to the first posts of this blog - especially those published in March. They have more details of the near-obsessive interest that the Dallas Animal Shelter Commission has taken with the rescue group Tx Pawprints.)

All vendettas begin with an incident that puts someone's nose out of joint - someone who can't let the matter drop. I suspect this note from the 2004 Texas Pawprints shelter logbook is the key (or one of several keys) to the whole sorry mess.

The author of this resignation note is a member of the Dallas Animal Shelter Commission. She also attended every single minute of Laniq Adams' 2008 trial for misdemeanor animal cruelty. And she looked absolutely sucker-punched when Laniq was acquitted in less than 10 minutes.

Also, Rebecca also did NOT remove all of her cats from the Pawprints shelter during her "resignation", although she removed the eight kittens after Pawprints' shelter manager Laniq Adams told her that there was no room for them. (Rebecca had brought them to the shelter and left them without enquiring if there was space available.) Neither did Rebecca make any provision for the other cats she left behind, or even make a single enquiry as to their wellbeing.

After this note was left in the Pawprints shelter logbook in 2004, the anonymous complaints started rolling in. (BTW, no complaints were received until this resignation note appeared.) The local SPCA stopped taking the complaints seriously after their third visit to the shelter; their inspector actually apologized during her final visit/inspection. The Humane Society of Greater Dallas' Marti McManus came by to check out the shelter, and almost adopted a kitten during her visit.

But Dallas Animal Services visited again, and again, and again. Even after the 2008 trial and acquittal, they kept visiting. And the shelter's manager, Laniq Adams was still on the Shelter Commission's meeting agendas during 2008 and 2009 - AFTER she was acquitted of misdemeanor cruelty charges.

Here's the real kicker: Even though Dallas Animal Services visited the Pawprints shelter at least seven times, they NEVER issued a single citation. Instead, they finally gave up and passed the buck to Code Compliance. Earlier this year, Code Compliance claimed the shelter was in a residence although the county's Appraisal District records clearly show it zoned Commercial like other county shelters.

This 2004 note, and the ongoing saga that followed, leaves a few unanswered questions:

1. Why did DAS single out Pawprints for continued inspections, especially after never issuing a single citation? Sure, they hassled the Companion Animal Network (CAN) for a while, but the visits to CAN have stopped during the last months.

2. Why was Laniq Adams singled out for cruelty charges? Why not charge other volunteers, or the shelter as an entity? (Hint: If you look through the affidavits filed with the District Attorney by other ex-volunteers, you'll see that the persecution had little to do with cats, or cruelty.)

3. Why did the Animal Services Commission continue to waste taxpayer money in 2009 and 2010 by persecuting someone who was acquitted of animal cruelty in 2008? Couldn't their efforts be directed toward something else more in the public interest - like lowering our city's shamefully high euthanasia rates?

4. Can anyone who dares rescue animals in Dallas County feel safe against this sort of expensive and ridiculous persecution?

Perhaps Rebecca (no, I'm not going to publish her last name, she'll recognize her own handwriting) can answer these questions for us.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Humane Watch and the 50% solution

In the past few months, I've hesitated to mention HumaneWatch here because some of their Facebook fans are sort of obnoxious. However, they've recently made the HSUS an offer that I cannot refuse to mention:

If the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States will make a commitment to start sending just 50 percent of HSUS's income to hands-on U.S. pet shelters, HumaneWatch will disappear for good.

I didn't turn against the HSUS because HumaneWatch told me so. I turned against them after I read the numbers on their last annual reports. These reports are published at the HSUS' own web site, so I'm reasonably confident that no anti-HSUS group has cooked the books.

Therefore, I'm instantly enraged every time the HSUS runs television ads begging for money that will help shelter animals. Because hardly any of it will.

The last word on the HSUS shelter evaluations

While reviewing this year's Web coverage of the relationship between the HSUS and DAS, I found a link I'd bookmarked in Feb 2010 with details of these.

Here is an excerpt from the link from - click here to read the entire story:

HSUS conducted a similar consultation in 2001 of what was then Dallas Animal Control. That report concluded that the City's two animal shelters were obsolete, unwelcoming, and unsafe - for staff and animals alike, there was a lack of training for officers in the field, the adoption process was "woefully behind the times and in need of a complete overhaul", and the department as a whole was "a ship adrift". While many improvements have been made over the years, including a new state-of-the-art animal shelter and adoption center, increased staff training, and management experienced in animal welfare, concerns still exist within the public and the animal welfare community that there is room for improvement. The hope is that this assessment can shed some light on those issues.

The main reason I'm posting this is not because the HSUS got it 100% wrong back in 2001 - it's because Dallas Animal Services didn't take their advice. I don't know why DAS didn't respond to the results of the 2001 assessment. But eight years down the line, we have a new shelter but little else to show for it. (And wasn't that new shelter supposed to have an in-house spay/neuter clinic?)

For a few examples of DAS' rejection of the HSUS' 2001 findings, take a look at these topics discussed during recent Animal Shelter Commission meetings:

1. Lack of trained staff and officers, or what Kent Robertson describes as "training issues".
2. Public comments that described the current shelter's unwelcoming attitude and limited opening hours.
3. Animals at DAS being neglected to the point of death (see Gloria Blum's comments).

But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the entire saga is that neither the HSUS nor DAS even mention lowering the euthanasia rate, which seems stuck at a depressingly high 78 to 80%. Why is killing adoptable animals still viewed as a fact of life when, over the past few years, other shelters have introduced some extremely successful initiatives that lowered their euthanasia rates by 30 to 80%?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Strange goings-on with an ASC member's Facebook page

First of all, I need to apologize for not explaining my lack of postings. My father went into the hospital after a bad fall so I have been in AZ the last few days. Thankfully my father is much better and back at home.

While catching up at Facebook earlier today, I visited the various pro- and anti-HSUS pages. I noticed that a member of the Dallas Animal Shelter Commission, Rebecca Poling, is suddenly unhappy with the HSUS.

Since she's the same ASC member who claims to be responsible for chasing down $25K so Dallas Animal Services could pay HSUS to tell them what they were doing wrong, I thought it strange that Rebecca's suddenly ready to take out a hit on Pacelle and Co.

Here's a screen grab from her Facebook page - for the uninitiated, I'm fairly sure she is referring to Companions for Life, another of her many surplus PR exercises, when she mentions CFL:

It's a complete turnaround from her comment posted at the Stop Humanewatch Wall Photos section:

However, although she seems to have confused plenty of her Facebook blingfriends, no one's the wiser. So I am clueless as to why the Pacelle/Poling honeymoon is over. Any readers care to guess what's going on?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What's wrong with this picture?

Earlier this week, 13 chihuahuas were seized from an owner who was allegedly not taking proper care of them. Here's a link to the story:

After I surfed over to the KXAN link and looked at the three photos of the "abused, neglected" chihuahuas, I came away thinking WTF? Not a single one of them had any signs of abuse or neglect. No runny eyes or noses, no bald spots, nothing.

However, the Director of Development and Marketing lady over at Austin Humane Society, Amanda Ryan-Smith, is convinced that the chihuahuas' owner was underfeeding them. (Did anyone besides me notice her job title? Why is she running this show, instead of a cruelty investigator?) But the dog she's holding looks fine, if not slightly disgusted with the attention.

Certainly Amanda isn't underfeeding herself, but that's another matter. But she's latched on to a nearly fool-proof formula for getting some good cheap PR. Job security at its finest.

This is an excerpt from the PJ Boosinger blog. She's described it better than I could:

"Princess, for example, is very thin and underweight,” said Amanda Ryan-Smith, director of development and marketing at AHS [Austin Humane Society]. “She hasn't really gotten the nutrition that she needed when she was with her previous owners." Are you sure she's underweight? Are you really, really sure? I watched the video several times and looked at the 3 pictures on the photo tab. If those are the most underweight ones, them I'm thinking you might be wrong. They look just about right to me. Seems to be a new trend of accusing owners of underfeeding their animals and I think it's a bit suspect.

I'd bet the rent that the majority of these dogs will be up for adoption in a very short time. Certainly not time enough to recover from all of their alleged neglect. Any rescuer who takes in a genuinely neglected, underweight animal will tell you that the animal will need at least a month's care before being ready for adoption. Probably longer.

Certainly I'm not the only person who's noticed an increasing number of animal "rescues" hitting the 6:00 news. While I'm not saying that 100% of these seizures were unnecessary, I have no problems pointing out that a fair percentage were carried out for other reasons. Here are a few:

A city's animal control facility is under pressure for not preventing cruelty, so they choose a convenient victim.
The HSUS needs a new reason for a new donation drive (esp. since Charity Navigator just lowered their rating).
Personal vendettas. I never cease to be amazed at the hatred displayed between different rescue group volunteers.
An obsessive need for power, prestige and public recognition. Some members of the Dallas Animal Shelter Commission are a textbook example, but they're not the only ones.
Ignorance of the Fourth Amendment.

Anything I left out? Besides the fact that animal welfare is NOT a major factor in any of them?

For example, look at all those caring, dedicated souls raiding that Ft Worth Avenue address earlier this year. Their dedication - combined with a dimwit judge's decision to have every cat killed - ended up in 118 dead cats, even though many were obviously tame, healthy and adoptable. And not a single DFW-area rescue group* has admitted to being contacted by DAS and asked to help rehome these cats. Why not?

* I've asked around, but come up with no names. Please correct me if you know of a group who was contacted and asked to help rehome the Ft Worth Avenue cats.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Nathan Winograd takes on Pacelle

Although I have not read either of Nathan Winograd's books, the fact that he has assisted shelters with lowering their no-kill rates (without charging HSUS consulting fees) earns him credibility.

I particularly enjoyed his entry Going Rogue, in which he takes on Wayne Pacelle. Winograd is not a mealy-mouthed person and lets the chips fall where they may. Herewith an excerpt - if you click over to the page, there are links that substantiate Winograd's accusations:

Wayne Pacelle’s rewriting of history adds another to his growing list of disturbing titles

Wayne Pacelle, the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, is many things: a dog killer such as when he lobbied the court to kill puppies and other dogs in Wilkes County, NC. He is an embracer of dog killers such as when he made the most notorious animal abuser of our generation a spokesman for HSUS, without asking for anything substantive in return such as the names and locations of other dog fighters. He is an apologist for killing who has referred to No Kill as hoarding in Newsweek, attacked No Kill on the pages of USA Today, and steadfastly defended shelters that kill against reformers trying to save lives, as he did in King County (WA). He is a thief, stealing the money that belongs to other groups by fundraising off of their work and success and trying to pass it off as his own as he recently did with the “Faye Fundraising Debacle.” Thanks to his latest blog, add “revisionist historian” to his growing list of disturbing titles. For those who prefer plain speaking, it means Wayne Pacelle is also a liar.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kittens on a Slide

This was too funny not to share.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A fiction masterpiece ... the HSUS 2009 Annual Report

Is it just me, or do others get pissed off by the spin galore in this report?

You'll have to plow through to the next to the last page to see the actual numbers.

Congrats to Cowtown

Here's a link to the article about the City of Fort Worth's getting with Petsmart Charities to increase adoptions:

Unique Collaboration Saves Pets in Fort Worth

Considering that the City of Dallas managed a grand total of 12 off-site adoptions during the last quarter of 2009 - see Page 2 of the minutes of the Feb 2010 Animal Shelter Commission meeting - perhaps they should wander over to Cowtown and ask for help. Or go directly to Petsmart Charities, a group who appears to reasonably respected within the rescuer community.

In the meantime, the good citizens of Dallas County wait to hear about the $25K worth of advice the HSUS provided Dallas Animal Services last month. I haven't heard or read a peep from anyone, not even the Shelter Commission members who worship at the feet of Wayne Pacelle. Has anyone else?

Considering that the HSUS was demanding confidentiality during this meeting, I don't think a phone call to HSUS will get me anywhere but put on indefinite hold. But I may attempt to call the HSUS Shelter Evaluation department this week and see if I can get an update without having to pay for it. I'm kind of curious as to what sort of reception I'll get.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

February 2010 Commission minutes

Here is the link to the PDF of the Feb 2010 Animal Shelter Commission minutes.

I am using a new storage system - I was using but had upload problems, so I'm trying Google Docs for the first time. So please let me know if you have problems with viewing.

Here is a partial list of conveniently omitted facts, provided by several sources:

On Page 4 of the minutes, there was a discussion about using catchpoles during seizures, such as the Jan 2010 seizure of cats from a motel room on Ft Worth Avenue (second bullet).

The part of the discussion that was omitted here – and moved to Page 7 of the minutes - was that ALL 118 cats seized were euthanized. One Commission member was obviously upset about this, as she pointed out that the video coverage made it obvious that many of the cats were adoptable and did not need to be caught by catchpole, nor killed. (No local rescue groups were contacted and asked to help, either.) But the judge in charge of the case ordered all 118 cats to be killed. When questioned, the veterinarian present could not give an explanation why this decision had been made.

Here is a link to the news coverage of the Ft Worth Avenue seizure.

On Page 7, there is the “Status of Laniq Adams investigation”. This was conveniently passed over – although Laniq Adams was right there in the room, ready to find out what the hell was going on (see the guest listing on Page 1). Sources are guessing that this was probably because the Commission had already passed the Laniq Adams harassment buck to Code Compliance, who falsely accused Ms. Adams of operating an animal shelter in a residence the very next Monday (see this March 2010 blog posting).

On Page 9, the Commission member who didn’t understand why DAS staff couldn't enter private property in the same way as utility and city workers was not identified. Seems that Jonnie England has no idea what the Fourth Amendment is – she seemed genuinely surprised that Animal Control staff couldn’t just breeze right into anyone’s back yard without a warrant.

More stuff will be posted as I have time to edit/research.

Coming up: Minutes of the Feb 2010 Shelter Commission meeting

Just got an email from one of my "informants". He has PDFs of the Animal Shelter Commission minutes and will be sending them to me later today, along with his notes.

It seems that the minutes that are made public have been slightly censored. But he attended this meeting and took notes, so we'll all be able to read between the lines.

Don't touch that dial!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Congrats to the Gideons (and their attorney)

From Larry Powell's blog:

THE GIDEON FAMILY'S CASE: We got a note yesterday afternoon from Lynn Gideon – you may recall that Lynn and her husband, Mark, were in a bit of emotional anguish earlier this year when the City of Dallas, after getting repeated complaints from a nearby neighbor, began to threaten the family with the loss of their rescued animals, animals they’d taken in and lovingly cared for when no one else would step up.

Lynn’s note read, “I wanted to let you know that our lawsuit with the city of Dallas has been settled. We are very happy about it. All our pets will remain at home with us. Our oldest cat, Lily, died a few weeks ago, but at least she was at home and not in a strange place. Everybody else is well.

“Mark and I are so grateful for the many people that came forward to help us. We also appreciate so much your continued interest in us and our pets.”

The Gideon’s had engaged attorney Bryon L. Woolley of Simpson Woolley, LLP to represent them in the case.

He got a temporary injunction to keep the city from seizing the animals, there was some lawyer work and a settlement was reached.

If this doesn't prove that the city's 2008 pet limit ordinance is stupid...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Where are the Animal Shelter Commission's Feb 2010 minutes?

According to the Dallas City Secretary's office, minutes and agendas for the city's different committees are available online.

However, the Animal Shelter Commission minutes and agendas seem to have disappeared. I'm especially interested in the minutes for the February 2010 meeting, since I understand that each meeting's minutes are finalized at the following meeting, and the Commission met again in April. So it would seem like the minutes for the February 2010 meeting would be available.

However, I surfed myself blue in the face last night but never found them.

I've sent an email request for the minutes to the City Secretary's office. But if anyone else has found them, please let me know - I'd like to post them here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An educated guess about DAS' lack of volunteers

Recently I pointed out that Dallas Animal Services (DAS) seems oddly short of volunteers (according to Kent Robertson, DAS only has either 15 or 50 - the public gallery couldn't hear what he said during the recent Animal Shelter Commission meeting).

Since more volunteers + more adoptions = less euthanasia, this area begs improvement. Volunteers would also help to socialize the fearful animals, and could foster the animals in need of special care so they wouldn't be euthanized.

Shelters that have significantly lowered their euthanasia rates in a short period of time mentioned the importance of volunteer assistance and community involvement.

Nathan Winograd describes the importance of volunteers here:

Volunteers are a dedicated “army of compassion” and the backbone of a successful No Kill effort. There is never enough staff, never enough dollars to hire more staff, and always more needs than paid human resources. That is where volunteers make the difference between success and failure and, for the animals, life and death.

One recent comment published here described DAS' volunteer application in negative terms. After taking a look at it - click here for a link - I tend to agree. The only small improvement is that it's down to six pages. It used to be 10 pages.

Why would anyone want to volunteer after being put through this idiot's dialogue of questions and answers? Certainly the legalese has to be there, whether we like it or not. But why interrogate people as if they're criminals? It's yet another depressing example of how Those In Charge view the general public.

Conversely, the few DFW area shelters and rescue groups who welcome community service volunteers have mentioned that they're some of the most reliable volunteers they've ever had. It's simple, really - if they don't do the hours the judge has assigned them, they're in trouble. But DAS is not on the Volunteer Center's list.

Maybe they should climb down off their pedestal and consider it. The animals would appreciate it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

How not to lower your city's euthanasia rate

Perhaps I am being old-fashioned, but I was always led to believe that people who are members of various city and state committees and commissions are in charge of improving a certain situation.

This is why reading the past two years of Animal Shelter Commission notes bothered me so much - the members of the Commission don't seem interested in lowering our fair city's euthanasia rate, and getting the DAS spay/neuter clinic going. Instead, they obsess about:

Enforcing the unenforceable laws. The Intact Animal Permits are a good example. Why don't these people realize that running a city in police-state fashion is not going to work? There are two types of people who own intact animals: breeders of purebred animals, and people who can't be arsed to have their animals fixed. Both types are going to either ignore, or be resentful, of this law - especially when they find out that they're required to attend a "responsible pet ownership" class. Sort of like the blind leading the not so blind...

Pursuing personal vendettas. Thankfully, some of the most recent ones - like the Gideons, Texas Pawprints, and Companion Animal Network - seem to have ground to a halt after some spectators stood up at recent Commission meetings and complained about them. Bullies are generally cowards at heart, and can often be stopped by a single confrontation.

Administrative, paper-pushing stuff. This came up at this month's meeting, when a Commission member decided that she still didn't have enough committees to run. (But then thinking up new sub-committes beats doing REAL volunteer work - the kind that gets your hands dirty.)

Although the new sub-committees are supposed to improve things at DAS, and the sub-committee members were supposed to "get with Kent" regarding their suggestions for improvement, Kent Robertson's facial expression during this discussion suggested that he'd just learned that he needed a couple of root canals.

Add on stuff like the endless discussion of the Jumbotron (some big sign at the new animal shelter). I don't know why this makes me snigger, but it just does.

Just in case any of the Commission members are not familiar with how other cities have drastically lowered their euthanasia rates, I will be posting details of some of the more encouraging success stories in the next few days. Some of them DO read this blog.

Here is a link to a PDF brochure with details of Washoe County, Nevada's success in going no-kill. One of the most impressive figures is the increase of volunteers - from 30 to 1,300 - and the understanding that volunteers play a vital role in decreasing euthanasia and pet surrender rates. For one reason or another, DAS has an abysmal record of recruiting/keeping volunteers, but show no interest in recruiting more - or finding out why they don't stay.

Most cities worked with the No Kill Advocacy Center, Nathan Winograd, and/or others who realized that the old modus operandi needed to be discarded.

The case of the disappearing agenda

Even though it was pretty dull, the Animal Shelter Commission finally published an agenda for their HSUS meeting on Tuesday. I don't have a clue how this meeting went, as nobody wants to talk about it, even Commission members who update their Facebook/Twitter pages on a daily basis. (Was it that bad?)

Problem is, when I visited the City Secretary's web site to snag a copy of the agenda for posteriority, I found that it was gone:

Also, the minutes for the Animal Shelter Commission's February meeting still haven't been posted, although they were finalized during their recent meeting. Considering that there is usually no difference between the draft and final versions, I can only assume that City Hall is having more of those darn scanner problems.


Found a copy I'd printed out, so I scanned it for posteriority. To enlarge it, click on it once - depending on your browser you may be able to click on it again to make it life-size:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

tonight's date with HSUS

I will not be able to make to DAS tonight, but if anyone else does, feel free to send a report/your opinions to:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Skippy's on the ball again

I admit that, after reading up on the HSUS' current management and agenda, I am convinced that spending $25K for an HSUS rep's advice on running Dallas Animal Services is a waste of time for DAS, and a waste of money for the anonymous donor who coughed up. (I've been told that the Party Line about collecting the $25K fee from many donors is crap - a single person paid the $25K HSUS fee.)

During the Thursday Animal Shelter Commission meeting, there was talk about the HSUS/DAS meetings being confidential. When Skip Trimble, the Commission's Chair, questioned this requirement, get this:

He admitted that he hadn't read the HSUS' contract with DAS.

An attorney who doesn't read contracts?

Just about everyone in the smallish public gallery looked aghast.

Then there's that pesky state code called the Texas Open Meetings Act that the Commission thinks does not apply to them. See previous post.

The HSUS plans to meet with DAS next Tuesday at 7:00pm at the shelter on Westmoreland. If you're feeling brave, might as well try to crash the party - but get some legal advice first. Seems that, even if you're a local taxpayer who paid for the multi-million dollar bond that built the new shelter on Westmoreland, you have no say in how it's run.

Does something about this not ring true - legally or ethically?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Some Notes from yesterday's Shelter Commission meeting

Since this meeting was not posted ahead of time, I wasn't able to attend. But I've received some intelligence about the topics discussed.

Not much new, really - there was the same amount of obsessing over non-essentials.

One member, who is already sitting in a whole shitpot of committees, thought up a bunch of sub-committees for committee members to join. The public was not treated to the names or responsibilities of the sub-committees.

The most disturbing subject was the HSUS visit. Seems that even though they are being paid$25k to show up and tell DAS what they're doing wrong, the HSUS rep is demanding that their meetings with Animal Services be confidential. In other words, no public may attend.

This appears to be in violation of certain state codes, but instead, members of the Commission discussed how they could get away with keeping the meeting confidential. Remember, we have lawyers and judges in the Commission.

The only hopeful element was a new Commission member, Gloria Blum. She had no problems pointing out the shortcomings at the animal shelter, including a Yorkie with newborn puppies in the Lost and Found section that had not been provided with any sort of shelter or proper bed. She said "they were just on plastic, or on the cement floor". When she discovered the scene, most of the dog's puppies were already dead, and the two survivors were obviously suffering. Kent Robertson's explanation? It was a "training issue". Yeah, right.

More Commission highlights coming up as I receive them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Agenda for tomorrow's Shelter Commission Meeting

I think they're playing it safe.

Click here to view the Agenda for the April 22 Animal Shelter Commission meeting.

Animal Shelter Commission meets tomorrow - but it wasn't posted

Having received two e-mails asking me if I were attending the April 22 meeting, but being unable to find a single mention of it at the Dallas City Hall web site, I finally called the City Secretary's office.

Seems that the Animal Shelter Commission IS meeting tomorrow - 1:30 pm in room 6E South - but it was not posted online because of "scanning problems".

However, according to the Texas Open Meetings Act, notice of this the meeting has to be posted 72 hours prior to the start.

Who is buying into the "scanning problems" excuse?

Anyone who shares my concern about the Commission should attend if at all possible. There is a growing contingent of citizens - and rescuers - who believe that the Commission is not acting in the best interests of Dallas County's animals, or their owners. Showing up in person is an excellent way of letting them know.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Coming soon: DAS inspection videos

I am currently editing videos shot by volunteers during various DAS inspections of the Texas Pawprints shelter. I hope to begin posting them by the end of the week, but my workload is piling up so they may not appear until next week.

The reason I'm not planning to initially post each inspection in its entirety - at least not here - is that they're kind of long and not exactly action-packed.

However, to stop any accusations of selective editing, spin, or anything else, I do plan to eventually post each inspection video in its entirety, as long as there aren't any shots of DAS inspectors or volunteers picking their noses or scratching. One gets the impression that the Animal Control inspectors aren't part of the vendetta, and are only doing their jobs.

(Well, unless you've been sucked into it like Federico Chavez - check out his odd e-mail series from last month. I've yet to receive an explanation from him, and neither has the e-mails' recipient.)

So if the rumor factory had you wondering what was really going on ... it'll be here soon in living color.