Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gwinnett Animal Task Force Final Report

It's over, Gwinnett's long awaited animal task force report is available for all to read on our county.  Glancing through the report I marvel at how thorough the report is. It digs into the long held dirty secrets and horror stories on what goes on behind closed doors.

We started down this road over four years ago as a small group of volunteers pushed forward demanding changes in how we handled our animal welfare issues. While I don't agree with a number of issues recommended I do support the overall findings of the task force and the direction these changes will bring. We are at the brink of solving many of our long held animal welfare issues. With a focus on solving the issues that lead to far too many pits still being killed in our shelter, pushing forward with an exciting Trap Neuter Release program as recommended by Planned Pethood and closing off the excuses that leads to far too many senseless killings as well.

We must do more, however, than simply react to current issues. Gwinnett needs to have the solid leadership in running and managing our animal issues as we proudly do in ALL our other governmental departments. We seek leadership with a vision to think outside the normal realm of solutions and take our county into a new frontier of best services provided to our compassionate community of pet lovers who are served by some of the hardest working volunteers.

We are proud of your tireless efforts - the hounds and I are thankful for your efforts bringing these issues to light. Rest up, reward yourself for a job well done and rearm yourself with the information and wisdom to make this world a better place for our companion friends. Today the rescue community will be abuzz on the exiting future that lies ahead.

While Gwinnett's animal task force was truly a community effort a special shout out to some truly dedicated volunteers. Tati Romeo who's boldly sought out the truth no matter where it took her. Wanda Johnson who provided some insight and open communications that were critical in exposing the truth. Kellie Alder - I am impressed with her efforts in tackling many aspects of shelter care and her interest in the issues of behavioral analysis and training and of course her dedication to the plight of our pit bulls. Elizabeth Burgner for her leadership in the trap neuter release proposals. Jane Stewart - another of our tireless leader's - her support and knowledge brought clarity to many of our spay neuter issues.

A special thanks goes out to Joyce Kretchting, who kept the process of communicating with our commissioner's fluid, Carla Brown and Sheriff Conway who have always inspired us all. Carla's rescue group Canine Pet Rescue is a model for truly responsible rescue that all should strive to match, Sheriff Conway's tenacity ending the horrors of dog fighting is leadership we are all proud, his Jail Dog Program is recognized world wide. Theresa Cox - we may not have seen eye to eye on many of the issues I advocate for but your leadership helped bring about this success. Our board of commissioners for having the political courage to bring this project about.

My friend Sam Jeannes - a man who always had a kind heart for our shelter animals and who has been instrumental in understanding the inner workings of our shelter.

My friend Ken Coor who has promoted the targeted spay neuter programs inspired by Peter Marsh. It is the work of Peter that has lead many of the northeastern states to be role models in low kill sheltering through prevention rather than enforcement protocols.

My dear friend Susan Roelle - all the animals in Gwinnett bow in respect as Susan goes about her efforts. Her "unofficial" Facebook page Helping Gwinnett Animals has saved countless lives in the past few months away. Susan's ability to take the word no we can't and turn it into "YES WE DAMN WELL WILL" has not saved precious lives but it has inspired others to follow in her footsteps demanding we do MORE to save these precious lives.

All the citizens in Gwinnett and volunteers (including the rest of the task force members) who took time from their busy lives to attend task force meetings, write letters of support or simply spread the word to our neighbors, those who attend our church and fellow pet owners that WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS. Together YOU will take back your shelter and make this a much more compassionate community for our companion friends.

The final report is available on the county website To read the final report:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fear, loathing, frightening cats to death

Fear and loathing in the kill room

Euthanasia Methods Under Fire.

Please do something about ip's in ALL the cats...not just the wild ones. It's enough to make grown men cry when they are forced to do that method". Anonymous text from the euth room - a cry for help.

Gwinnett's Animal Task Force has been instrumental in uncovering a number of shelter practices that scream out for change. One such abhorrent practice exposed is the killing of "fractious" cats by intraperitoneal injection.

While there had been rumors of abhorrent killing methods being used in the "euthanasia room" the policy was validated at an animal task force meeting by temporary shelter director Captain Bruno and Animal Control Kennel Supervisor Charles Johnson.

Citizens and pet owners in Gwinnett should be outraged that OUR OWN animal control staff entrusted with enforcing animal neglect and cruelty laws has in effect been inhumanely killing cats by the thousands.

How long has I.P. been the preferred method for killing feral cats? Management, advisers and staff overlook blatant animal abuse for years. Over 14,000 cats have met their demise having been killed in such a painstaking method in our shelter since it opened in the fall of 2007.

What is I.P. or intraperitoneal injection?

Even intravenous injection is not possible, euthanasia drugs such as pentobarbital can be injected directly into a heart chamber or body cavity. While intraperitoneal injection is fully acceptable it may take up to 15 minutes to take effect in dogs and cats.

In California, performing IC injections on a fully conscious animal is a crime.

The "Euthanasia Best Practice for Companion Animals" was developed to provide organizations with information to ensure that when performed, euthanasia is done in the most humane way.

Live animals should never be able to witness euthanasia taking place. Pre-sedation or pre-anesthesia should always be an option or consideration to be used for the welfare of animals.

True euthanasia of a suffering animal brings about a peaceful death. In many ways euthanizing an animal to help end it's suffering is the ultimate gift we humans can offer our loyal often lifelong companions as long as that passing is dignified.
Killing an innocent animal in a painful, frightening manner is not dignified, it's an act of animal cruelty.  This is a classic example of what happens when a department that has no experience or business running an animal shelter is allowed to oversee shelter operations.

Ultimately, it was GPD Chief of Police Charles Walters responsibility to only hire competent shelter directors yet Walters appointed Lt Respess to a position she had no previous experience in nor qualifications to fill.

The results of this extremely poor management choice was a department that now has seen three of it's top supervisors, including Lt Respess, reassigned and forced into early retirement not for killing 14,000 cats and countless dogs but for "running a hostile work environment". 

Additionally several other animal control officers have been suspended from the internal investigation.  How many highly paid supervisors and officers looked the other way while animals were being killed in this hostile work environment?

Clearly, this is troubling. But what's more troubling is discovering that the shelter failed to update their "standards operating procedures" for over five years now. It is simply NOT acceptable that animal control lack the pride in job performance that allowed animal control officers to leave tags on citizens doors advising them that their pet had been picked up and would need to be reclaimed at the old High Hope Road address.

After spending several million dollars building a state of the art shelter Charles Walters management staff didn't have the pride to even change out their warning stickers.

Would we allow other department to send up water bills, court summons or any OTHER legal paper work advising us to report to the WRONG address? Why do we allow an incompetent animal management team to do exactly that for over four years now?

If this was a "Keystone Cops" moment it might just be comical but it is not. This about citizens pets, parts of our family, that are being killed through sheer negligence.

Time for serious change is now"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -
George Santayana

Critical life saving recommendations from Animal Task Force Policy Committee must be implemented NOW, including:

  1. Revised euthanasia criteria: to require sign-off by the rescue coordinator, shelter director, and a veterinarian, with written justification for the decision by each approver
  2. Revised euthanasia method for cats: we will address sedation prior to the lethal dose, and restrictions on the use of catch-poles for restraint.
  3. Implement TNR program.
  4. Feral cats: referral program to a Planned Pethood-sponsored team to promote TNR or relocation in lieu of drop-off by the public for killing at the shelter
  5. Website update: cross-train so that more than one person has the ability to add and remove animals from the site, and the site can be kept current and each animal has photo posted within 24-hours of entering the shelter.
Reform, restructure or simply rid the shelter of incompetent management?
How much change is enough?There seem to be three phases in change in our personal lives that apply to shelter reform as well. The first phase of change is developing the conviction to change. That is when the community or the community's leadership decides the problems at the shelter are real and that it's time to do something about it.

One could suggest that in assigning a task force to evaluate problems at our shelter we have the conviction to change but a community having conviction still needs leadership committed to bringing about that change. The conviction coming from our leadership could simply be because the leadership is tired of hearing all the citizen complaints and realize that ultimately not doing anything could be detrimental in a political sense.

The second phase to bringing about dramatic change is commitment. While I recognize the commitment to bring about change with the inspired work of the animal task force I don't see that commitment for change coming out of the county leadership.

That commitment for change requires those locked into the status quo of failure to relinquish the control they have on a failing process. Most people feel that commitment to change is the end of the road, when ultimately commitment to change is the beginning of taking a new path towards building a successful and highly respected animal services unit. Commitment requires the demonstration of seriousness by doing, or in some cases, by not doing.

The third phase is conversion. The converted have already passed through the conviction to change and commitment to bringing about change thus anxiously awaiting the reality of change that collectively all worked so diligently in bringing about. The converted are not tempted at taking shortcuts in the process or to return to the destructive, deadly ways of the past..

While it is certainly culturally and morally wrong take the life from an otherwise healthy adoptable animal, it is callous and outrageous to cause those same innocent animals to suffer a painful undignified death as part of that killing process.

Hiring Competent Professional StaffHiring a qualified shelter director becomes paramount to building a quality animal services unit. Having a knowledgeable leader who provides quality "do it right the first time" best practices in animal sheltering services saves the community the cost of providing unquality services. Quality best practices saves lives, saves taxpayer money too.

It should be obvious from the onset that people perform to the standards of their leaders. If the leadership thinks staff doesn't care about customer service and saving lives, then staff won't care. Hiring unqualified leadership to manage our animal control process costs more than simply hiring a qualified manager. A quality animal services director not only has the skills and experience needed to run a successful animal services unit but more importantly has the vision of what that success entails.

Should we as citizens continue to tolerate the leadership of our animal control department to run our shelter like a prison, like a jail or like an execution center or should we demand that OUR shelter is run as an animal shelter where our communities homeless pets are kept safe and out of harms way while our citizens and humane community works diligently in finding resources where they can be rehomed?

The time for serious reform in Gwinnett is way past do. Our current animal control structure under the Gwinnett Police Department is broken - it can't be fixed. This is no longer about providing our communities homeless pets with best sheltering practices . Ours is simply an issue of understanding RIGHT from WRONG.

Animal control and enforcement needs to be separated split from an animal services unit and run by a professional manager that reports directly to the county administrator.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gwinnett's Task Force disagrees on shelter's direction

KILLED by animal control - "possible cold"?
At last night Animal Task Force meeting scheduled to discuss the groups final recommendations turned contentious on the issue of who would be best qualified to run our animal control and sheltering operations.

Gwinnett's Daily Post's Frank Reddy captured some of the raw emotions that have driven by the mismanagement of our new shelter under the control of the Gwinnett Police Department.

The task force was divided of supporting recommending a change that would have animal control and the sheltering operation report to the county administrator and as stand alone department of it's own reporting to the county administrator.  Policy, Programs and the Partnership subcommittees all agreed that this change was critically needed while the "Structure Subcommittee chaired by Beaudreau appointee Jon Richards disagreed instead recommending virtually no change in current operations.

How Richards could arrive at his conclusion that no change is needed at animal control is truly mystifying.

One would have to ignore the inhumane slaughter of over 14,000 cats using a extremely cruel and painful method to kill these cats under the watch of now re-assigned shelter manager Lt Respess in the process. GPD has a history of making poor choices when it comes to running it's version of what can be described as nothing less than a brand new facility run as slaughter house.

Despite the fact that Shelter Director Lt Respess was reassigned not because she was "supervised" overlooked the killing of over 20,000 dogs and cats many of whom didn't need to be killed.  Nor was she reassigned once information started spilling out on the horribly inhumane methods the cats were being slaughtered.  One task force meeting described the killing "if citizens killed these cats using the same methods they would be charged with animal cruelty" yet animal control committed over 14,000 acts of inhumane slaughter under Respess direction.  It was one of Respess own employees who leaked this aspect of how animals were being killed in our new shelter.

KILLED by animal control - no reason given
She wasn't even fired for failing to keep the operating procedures current and making sure those procedures were even being followed.  How GSP management wasn't able to under cover these serious management lapses in their yearly review process is telling.

Killing and slaughtering more than 14,000 cats didn't lead to the demise of Respess, she was "removed" was removed for "creating a hostile work environment".  Taxpayers deserve better than that and Richards wants to give high marks for this incompetence?

The translation of losing control of your staff was having a work force that has virtually run a muck often times killing innocent dogs and cats often times without authority as retribution to try and get even in some sort of sick political power grab were not only were the animals abused but the taxpayers as well.

To be clear, only the "structure subcommittee chaired by Richards was in disagreement with the communities for new professional management of OUR shelter. The humane community is simply tired of the excuses, the incompetent management choices and failed leadership coming from the Gwinnett :Police Department.

You can't sugar coat the reality that GSP's own management team which includes higher ups that report directly to Chief Walters failed to even rewrite their own operating procedures for over six years. GPD didn't even have enough respect for taxpayers or citizens to even change their own paperwork correcting the addresses left for pet owners who received warnings or even notification that animal control had one of their pets. Pets owners were left with notification to pick up their pets at the old shelter on High Hope Road - there is simply no excuse for being that disconnected to shelter operations.

The fact that Richards didn't bother to investigate any of the issues his committee gave recommendations for is insulting to hard work and thorough investigations done by the other three committees.

There are a number of serious issues that need to be corrected now by OUR shelter officials. To suggest that GPD has previous mistakes in staffing management positions with people who are either incompetent or who care about serving the communities needs HASN'T changed since Lt Respess was removed. Recent decisions to run off volunteers at the shelter is insulting to taxpayers willing to roll up their sleeves to try and help save the lives of animals that don't need to die. Hiring a "new" rescue coordinator to replace the old rescue community who resigned her position as well with a person who is pregnant and has doctors order not to be around animals is the height of management stupidity that Richards has to ignore as well.

Having staff meetings were the discussion doesn't focus on saving lives instead focuses on how the staff but instead discusses and orders the discontinuation on providing local volunteers with critically updates on the status of shelter animals in an attempt for these local volunteers to share that information networking on Face Book.  No discussion on how animal control could find rescue for dogs and cats scheduled to die.  For a staff meeting to even discuss not cooperating with local volunteers when the shelter's own inept management is not even able to keep it's own website current is telling on the real motivation Gwinnett Police has with running it's own version of jail and execution center for the communities homeless pets.

This is not only insulting to those taxpayers pay these officers salaries but it's an but it is abuse of power as well.

I would encourage all citizens to read the task force final report and see for yourself how YOUR tax dollars are being wasted. The community deserves better use of our tax dollars especially in these tough economic times. sometimes the only tool you have left as a citizen to you educate yourself on the issues

Here's the article;

Animal Task Force divided on issues

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A question over whether the police department should continue operating the county animal shelter has sharply divided a group appointed to review the processes of the municipal division.

"The police are the police," said Kelly Alder, a Gwinnett County Animal Task Force member in attendance at Tuesday's meeting. "Their job is code enforcement. Right now, there are officers who go to animal control just to bide their time until they retire."

Member Jon Richards disagreed.

"It makes sense for it to continue to be under the police department," said Richards, adding though, that the position of a new shelter director should be someone experienced running shelters "and not necessarily a sworn police officer."

Chairman Joel Taylor tried to guide the 17 people toward some sort of consensus to take back to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, the group's charge.

Whether or not to continue to allow the shelter to be operated by the police department as well as the role and membership of the Animal Advisory Committee were contentious points among the group.
We owe it to the board to give them our views. We're not telling them what to do. We're recommending," Taylor said. "We should provide them with all of these views."

Recommendations could include the current animal-related ordinances and services, development of best practices and study of the role of the Animal Advisory Committee.

The animal task force's four subcommittees -- partnership, policy, program and structure -- presented all of its recommendations before the group during Tuesday's meetings, but found little common ground.

According to the county's website, the Gwinnett Police Department "operates the Animal Shelter to enforce animal control laws and to shelter animals that have strayed, gotten lost or been turned over for adoption."

The board of commissioners could review the Animal Task Force's recommendations at an upcoming meeting. The task force has until the end of April to make its presentation to the board of commissioners.

Taylor said there would likely be another meeting of the task force to make final edits and alterations to the list of recommendations prior to that.

For information about upcoming meeting dates and times, visit

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Focus on interests, not positions

Wise solutions reconcile interests, not positions

Typical of many shelter reform negotiations the shelter problems appear to be a conflict of positions, and since the goal is to agree on a position, the natural progression is to talk, think and discuss the differences in positions rather than focusing on which interests or goals the opposing views may share. This type of negotiation process often simply reaches an impasse with neither side willing to compromise on positions right or wrong.

In reality the differences between positions and interest are crucial because interest typically define the problem. The basic problem lies not in the conflicting positions, but the conflict between each sides needs, desires, concerns and fears. Yes, fear of the unknown plays into every conflict resolution as well.

Looking towards shared interests instead of fixating on differing positions is what makes it possible to develop a solution that both sides can buy into. Reconciling interests rather than positions works for two reasons. First, when you look behind opposed positions for motivating interests, you can often find an alternative position which meets not only your primary interest but your oppositions as well.

Reconciling interests rather than compromising between positions also works because behind opposed positions lie many more interests than conflicting ones.

Behind opposed positions lie shared and compatible interests, as well as conflicting ones. We tend to assume that because the other side's positions are opposed to ours, their interests must also be opposed. If we have an interest in defending ourselves, then they must want to attack us. In many negotiations, however, a close examination of the underlying interests will reveal the existence of the many more interests that are shared or compatible than the ones that are opposed.

Gwinnett's political leadership has an opportunity to reach out to our community and find a solution that lies in the areas of shared interests. Those shared interest include delivering an animal services unit that not only works diligently towards saving all of Gwinnett's adoptable pets but in seeking ways to co-exist peacefully with those animals in our community who are not readily adoptable as in the case of feral cats.

We have an opportunity to revitalize our animal services unit by bringing in a professional shelter manager capable of thinking outside the box who can bridge the gap between opposing positions despite our shared goals. It is these shared interests which ultimately brings a community closer together. Agreement is often made possible precisely because interests differ.

Shared interests and differing but complimentary interests can serve as the building blocks for a wise and fruitful agreement.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gwinnett Animal Shelter takes a new direction

Gwinnett Animal Control has taken a new direction by terminating embattled shelter director Lt. Mary Lou Respess. There has been no official announcement on who will take over as shelter director although the Gwinnett POlice Department which manages the shelter under Chief Charles Walters is expected to temporarily supervise the shelter until a new shelter director is selected.

While We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett has called for a change to a more compassionate shelter director we have also long acknowledged that the shelter director itself was not the real problem in running the shelter but instead the shelter was hampered while being run under the Gwinnett Police Department itself.

Policing agencies historically do a very poor job running shelter operations. Progressive communities are moving towards partnership arrangements with the humane community privatizing animal control where the responsibility of enforcing the animal ordinances and road patrol still fall under enforcement jurisdiction but shelter operations themselves including the critical role in working with the rescue community and the public seeking homes for all the adoptable shelter pets is dramatically more effective while also be cost effective for taxpayers.

We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett would encourage Gwinnett's Animal Task Force to take this opportunity to take a hard look at other successful partnerships including the Fulton County - Barking Hounds Foundation partnership in the Atlanta area and successful partnerships in communities like Reno Nevada where Washoe County Animal Control partners with the Washoe Humane Society in that successful program as well.

You can share your comments with the animal task force at the following link:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Gwinnett Task Force - No Kill Discussion

At a recent meeting of Gwinnett's Animal Task Force local "no kill expert" Valerie Hayes was asked why Tompkins SPCA was being labeled as an open admission no kill shelter when in fact recent news reports out of Ithaca seemed to suggest that do to overcrowding issues the shelter was "limiting" admissions based on available space at the shelter. 

Hayes denied such claims and insisted that Tompkins is STILL the oldest no kill community since Winograd took over in 2001.

Here's a recent item in the Ithaca news.

Tompkins SPCA at capacity

Ithaca -- The SPCA of Tompkins County has reached capacity with 230 cats and kittens currently in the shelter, according to executive director Jim Bouderau.

Tompkins County residents who need to surrender a pet are asked to call to schedule an appointment. While it's unusual for all spaces in the shelter to be filled at this time of the year, according to Bouderau, reaching capacity means that the no-kill shelter can only accept pets based on the availability of space.

To make an appointment, Tompkins County residents should call 607-257-1822 ext. 237. Appointments are required year-round for the surrender of dogs or puppies.    12:17 PM, Aug. 2, 2011
Copyright © 2011 All rights reserved.

While Hayes presentation of the "No Kill Equation" had some helpful discussions it was equally surprising when Hayes seemed to stumble over questions posed on how much it cost to implement the "NKE" at no kill communities like Austin's TLAC or Washoe County NV.

One would assume after studying no kill under Winograd for at least the last few years this information would be readily available during the presentation yet Hayes seemed baffled by the question.  The facts are that Austin Tx budgets in excess of $6 million a year for animal control while Washoe County's budget is in excess of $4.2 for a community with half the population base as Gwinnett County.

Clearly while these programs are noble the real question is are they affordable to taxpayers during these budget crunching times?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How NOT to file an open records request

In a blog posted on No Kill Revolution "No Kill Columbus (GA)" accuses the county of violating the "Open Records Act" by not complying with an open records request seeking information on Columbus County's Animal Shelter. Here's the link to that request:
The request filed by No Kill Columbus should serve as an example of how NOT to file an open records request that basically asks the county to provide "everything you know plus what you don't know" in that request. Since the law also allows the county to charge for the time and copy expenses of answering an open ended request like that it only surprises me that the county didn't respond with a quote for researching all of the information requested.
A much more practical and useful approach at obtaining open records is to be specific about the information you are seeking and limit each O.R.R. to specific information on each issue rather than such a "catch all" approach.

Lastly, creating an adversarial relationship with the county leaders that you will need to have support you in your reform efforts is a sure way not to have any of your concerns listened too. You might very well win the battle of showing up the other side but in the process you will also lose a much larger war in which only the animals suffer. The "no killers" simply don't get that.
Here are two examples of open records request that are effective in obtaining information from your shelter.
If seeking an individual pet's info
Open Records Request Form
December 26, 2011
Monica, Lt Respess,
Pursuant to Georgia Open Records Law (O.C.G.A 50-18-70) you are hereby requested to make available for review or copying all files, records, and other documents, notes, correspondence that refer, reflect or relate to:

Animal ID # is 20741
The shelter thinks I am YOUNG
I will be available for adoption starting on 12/03/2011

This request includes all intake notes, all documents, correspondence and memoranda used in determine final disposition.

If this request is denied in whole or part, you are required by O.C.G.A. 50-18-72(h) to cite in writing the specific statutory exemption upon which you relied, as required by law. Please waive all costs associated with this request, or first inform of such costs as required by law.

I look forward to hearing from you.

It is also a simple process to get monthly shelter numbers by simply storing a standard templete requesting that info and updating the dates as  needed.  Here's an example you can copy to obtain those numbers.
Open Records Request Form

January 3, 2012

Monica, Lt Respess,

Pursuant to Georgia Open Records Law (O.C.G.A 50-18-70) you are hereby requested to make available for review or copying all files, records, and other documents, notes, correspondence that refer, reflect or relate to:

End of month shelter (numbers) for months January 2011 through the month end December 2011.

Please provide the following:

Intake canines strays picked up
Intake felines strays picked up

Intake canine owner surrenders
Intake feline owner surrenders

Canines Euthanized
Felines Euthanized

Canines Handled
Felines Handled

Animals adopted
Animals rescued

Canines returned in the field
Felines returned in the field

Canines reclaimed from shelter
Felines reclaimed from shelter

Please mail report to

An open records request can provide insight into shelter issues.  Keep it simple and respectful and you will be provided that information.  Open Records Request are obviously not fruitful when asking for information that does not exist.  Asking policy questions from clerical personnel is not an effective way to recieve that information either.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gwinnett's Policy of Killing Owner Surrender's

Killing Owner Surrender’s

Current policy at animal control is to immediately kill owner surrenders that do not include documented vaccination records when surrendered. It is unacceptable under any humane context to kill a pet simply because the surrendering owner did not or could not provide proof if such vaccinations.

The current management excuse for this abusive abhorrent policy is that unvaccinated pets pose a "disease" issue for the shelter. Fact is stray pets picked up in the field do not come with vaccination records either.

This issue of senselessly killing "undocumented" owner surrenders has been discussed numerous animal advisory meetings and yet the policy is still in effect. How we adopted such a foolish excuse for killing owner surrenders has never been clear.
One reason given for killing owner surrenders who were not current on vaccinations was "this (owner’s surrendering unvaccinated pets) is not allowed because the public started using this service as a "sick" pet drop off to avoid veterinary care"

So, in other words, our shelter is punishing irresponsible "dead beat" pet owners who are too cheap to vet their dogs by killing the dog? 

I first became aware of shelter’s policy on killing owner surrenders a few years ago when a citizen shared a story of an old beagle that had been dropped off at the shelter by her owner. This poor old girl was dragged back to the euthanasia room howling in fear only minutes after her owner left.

I can only imagine how frightened she was. Sentencing a dog to death for the actions of an irresponsible owner solves nothing, the dog is now dead and the owner is still irresponsible. The only difference is OUR SHELTER is irresponsible for participating in that killing.

If the issue in our community is pet owners who can’t afford to take their dogs to the vet then shouldn’t that issue be addressed rather than implementing a program that kills the dog who is already victimized?

Since the county doesn’t want or need to accept the responsibility of placing these pets we must establish a policy of making ALL owner surrender’s available to rescue partners as a first option rather than simply taking them into the shelter. All owner surrenders need to be transferred to licensed rescue partners groups for fostering and placement OR the shelter must vaccinate these pets while providing the same vigilance in seeking new homes as the strays are afforded.

Through an outsourcing partnership with the rescue community pet owners could work closely in finding these pets new homes without costing taxpayers in the process. In practice, rescue groups are better prepared to conduct home inspections, hold off site adoptions, evaluate application options and match up pets to new owners then public shelters.

A progressive animal services unit should be able to offer pet retention alternatives to help aid owners surrendering their pets at the shelter. A trained volunteer staff with strong people and customer service skills is needed to answer calls and counsel pet owners surrendering pets at the shelter on resources and rescue partner options that might be available instead.

The road to "no kill" should always include making the necessary changes in policy that stops the senseless killing "one dog" at a time.  

To read more on the issues facing advocates as we revitalizing our animal welfare policies;

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Death of innocence, lies, damn lies and statistics

20741 Gone but not forgotten
Animal ID # is 20741 -- I am a FEMALE, PEN 129 - LABRADOR
The shelter thinks I am YOUNG
I will be available for adoption starting on 12/03/2011

Webster's dictionary describes "skittish" as 1. Nervously excitable;; 2. Shy, coy or timid; 3.a. Excessively lively or frivolous; 3.b. Undependable : fickle.

Killing a young, year old dog simply because it is "skittish" is reprehensible.  What's missing from Webster's a definition which describes "skittish" dogs are the words "dangerous, not trainable or not adoptable".

Instead, even dogs that enter Gwinnett's "dysfunctional" Animal Shelter that are listed as "friendly" are being killed for picking up this deadly disease  called being "skittish".

One such victim of this abusive shelter policy that lacks any credible reasoning that justify taking an animal's life is a sweet one year old female lab mix only who's destiny turned out to be two numbers - she was listed as "20741" and she was 1 of 116 dogs killed in Gwinnett's "dysfunctional" Animal Shelter.

Open Records for this poor dog are disturbing.  They show a callous somewhat hateful nature of our animal control which allowed this poor dog and her running mate to be killed even though the shelter made little or no effort to seek alternatives which would have saved both of these precious animals.  It was a blatant act of betrayal that we should all be ashamed of.

The facts on these two are clear, they were picked up a few days after Thanksgiving and would be dead less than a week later.  They were deaths that didn't need to happen nor should have happened in a professionally run shelter.  Sadly, this happens all the time at Gwinnett's dysfunctional shelter and we citizens must insist that this senseless killing be stopped.

According to the Open Records Request the following time line was reported;

(Sunday) Nov 27, 2011 11:54 PM  - Call # P113312034

Nov 28, 2011 12:04 AM:  Officer Ryan Banaham writes in his report;

On 11/27 at 23:14 I impounded two stray canines.  Both canines are female lab mixes.  The black lab mix limps with the rear right leg.  Canine does not appear to be in any pain.  Will have officer Velazquez follow up.  Owner unknown.  Negative scan #1727.

Dec 4, 2011  8:35 AM  aid #20741 10-0 (killed) due to skittish behavior per 1707  1703

Dec 4, 2011  8:37 AM 10-0 (killed) aid #20740 due to possible URI per 1707  1703

Dec 5, 2011  1:57 PM  Dispatch K Arrington took a phone call from a Jim Henley who thought AID20740 might be his dog.  The dog had been euthanized (killed) the day prior, and the remains cremated.  Mr Henley was hoping to know if the dog had spots on it's tongue.  I contacted his wife 706-###-#### and advised her we had euthanized the dog and were not able to determine any further details.  1703 

Two young one year old dogs alive when they were picked up, described as friendly according to their intake sheets were DEAD less than seven days later with no effort whatsoever being made to find their owners or to consult the rescue community for help.

The reason these two are now dead doesn't matter.  Could that reason be the rumors of morale issues at the shelter on who was being scheduled to work the holiday weekend?  I don't know.  Could it be overcrowding - the answer to that is no.  Could it be that either suffered from an illness or condition that wasn't easily treatable - the answer is again no.  Could it be that the management practices at the shelter ALLOWS this killing to continue?

What is really sad is that while the shelter staff and management showed absolutely no concern about saving these two dogs the same can't be said by the rescue community. 

In fact, with no help from Gwinnett's rescue coordinator several local rescue advocates were working frantically trying to find a suitable rescue group to take these two in but since the shelter only made them available for "rescue" for one day these two were killed when in all likelihood help was on the way.

Here's a thread that was posted during those critical 48 hours when our hopes for these two just suddenly disappeared do to the thoughtless actions of the shelter staff that killed these two for no reason.

What allows an officer employed by animal control to come back to work after celebrating their Thanksgiving Weekend with his family including his family of pets; to return to work a few days later and take the lives of two innocent dogs who could have simply been tossed a dog dish full of food and left alone in a half empty shelter defies common. 

There is NO ROOM for the sadistic thought process that allowed these two dogs to be not only be killed but to be killed tow minutes apart while each were probably in the same room. 

I can only imagine the fear that went through these tow dogs minds in their final moments and even though I never had the privilege to meet either my heart is broken nonetheless.  I could not let them die in vain as if their lives were so insignificant that they were reduced to a statistic on the shelter's yearly shelter numbers. 

They are listed as killed when they should have been listed as being "adopted" or "transferred to rescue".  Instead of being alive living in a foster home and being taught to be well socialized pets they were killed and tossed into the incinerator.   

That is but one of thousands of failures with our current management at the shelter that reeks a stench that goes all the way up the chain of command to the inept management of our shelter by the Gwinnett Police Department.  If there ever was a reason to privatize our shelter and to bring in professional humane management this senseless slaughter of illness is an example.

Facebook help was on the way

On Facebook (a social networking tool that the shelter refuses to use) we find the following thread and comments on the picture included with this article;

Helping Animals at Gwinnett County Shelter. I like to watch my dogs sleeping, they look like angels.
December 1, 2011 at 12:23am ·

Kristin Bruns What's her status please??!!
I'm in in pensacola Fl. What GA Rescue can help me???

December 5, 2011 at 10:35pm ·

Carley Tigrett Omg this is the cutest thing I have ever seen! How old is this dog and male or female?
December 5, 2011 at 11:00pm

Kristin Bruns Female, young! I can find out tom am! Under a year for sure :) She's beautiful! :)
December 5, 2011 at 11:12pm

Carley Tigrett She is def beautiful! Can u find out if she is house trained, a chewer and stuff like that? U can email me at
December 5, 2011 at 11:29pm

Helping Animals at Gwinnett County Shelter. killed confirmed !!!!!!! :*(
December 6, 2011 at 1:19pm

Samantha End Bsl Lanata why has she been killed if theres ppl asking about her?
December 6, 2011 at 1:24pm

Kyle Bridgeman aw no way i would have had her she looks like my lab
December 6, 2011 at 1:35pm

Lisa Cacici are u kidding me?????? this beautiful girl was put down?????? why did they do it so fast if there were people trying to rescue her? she was only available for adoption for the last couple of days! i am sick over this. so sad
December 6, 2011 at 2:12pm

Kristin Bruns I can't stop crying!!! There has to be something we can do!
December 6, 2011 at 2:22pm

JennyLee Savingdogsandcats What a shame. I don't get it
December 6, 2011 at 9:25pm

Elizabeth Hanson WHAT!! OMG..:-(((( .. devastated...
December 6, 2011 at 9:31pm

Merrilee Bauman Why did they kill her? Don't the shelters get the messages that people are interested?
December 6, 2011 at 11:50pm

Sandi Kasmarsik she was only adoptable on the 3rd! I'm so sad...Why? this is Wrong! Ugh They didn't even give her a chance.
December 7, 2011 at 3:47am

Kristin Bruns She was actually only off her "hold" 3 days & was pts because they said she was "skiddish"?!?!!! Tell me that isn't aweful;(((( She was just scared....a puppy! :(
December 20, 2011 at 9:48pm

Even though I requested all the documentation centering around the death of 20741 I was not provided any behavioral analysis that was used to determine how the dogs temperament went from being "friendly" on the intake evaluation to "skittish" needs to be killed six days later.  Nor can I find any documentation on which vet examined the other lab mix and determined that A) she had a "possible URI" and that the illness was not treatable with a prescription that costs less than a few dollars.

In my experience the reason this documentation isn't included in the file is because personnel who are not qualified to make these life ending decisions are doing so nonetheless.  There is also no documentation on exactly who signed off on killing this pair despite that too being required as part of the shelters Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) as well.

We will continue to have innocent animals betrayed and killed until the rescue and pet loving community demands that change.  That change will NOT come about if WE allow our leaders to hold the task force meetings under a veil of secrecy where citizens nor the media are allowed to participate in the meetings seeking to put an end to this senseless betrayal.

Please add your voice demanding change that while it won't bring back these two precious young vibrant dogs at least their senseless slaughter would not be in vain.  We are tired of the excuses on why Gwinnett is one of the only county animal control agencies in the Atlanta area that does NOT promote pet placements on Facebook.  We're tired of a rescue coordinator who works harder finding excuses to kill than she does finding suitable rescue places for these dogs to go.  It's long past time this inept management is sent packing.