NICE TO SEE SOME THINGS HAVE BEEN PUT INTO PLACE.
Portage Animal Protective League
April 4, 2011
The Portage APL recently took part in a criminal investigation that resulted in the seizure of 20 dogs and 10 cats from an animal hoarder. These animals were seriously neglected and living in unsanitary, horrific conditions. The Portage APL board has received complaints criticizing the APL’s care of some of those animals. The APL takes every complaint about its care of animals very seriously, and has conducted a thorough internal investigation. This review included meetings with those associated with the seizure of the animals, transport of animals, shelter staff and management and individuals who, in their outside professional capacities, were either engaged in, or consulted with, during the time span involved.
After extensive review, the board concluded that:
1) The euthanasia of one seized dog was justified due to its aggression as exhibited by its biting a rescue worker. At the recommendation of that same rescue worker who was bitten and who is knowledgeable of the breed, and with the concurrence of the veterinarian, the animal was humanely euthanized. The shelter policy and consultative protocols were followed prior to a humane euthanasia.
2) The reason why two of the seized dogs attacked and killed a third dog during the overnight hours may never fully be understood. The speculation that a dog in the same room, but separated by more than one kennel, was alleged to be in heat may have been a trigger. While each dog did not have its own kennel, due to limited space in the isolation section of the building, those dogs had been getting along well for days. The introduction of a third dog in the kennel with the two that had previously gotten along may have also contributed, but it was not the one attacked. The dog that was attacked was one of the two that had co-existed peacefully for several days.
3. The euthanizing of the two dogs that attacked and killed the third dog was justified due to their aggression. The policy and consultative protocols including consultation with our veterinarian were followed prior to euthanasia and the animals were humanely euthanized. (Note: Prior to the attack, the release of the dogs to a breed-specific rescue group had been planned. This release would have occurred save for the fact that the rescue group did not retrieve the dogs as originally scheduled. After failing to take the dogs, a communications lapse occurred among shelter staff. One employee failed to notify shelter management that the rescue group intended to pick up the animals a couple of days later. This staff member no longer works for the Portage APL.)
4. There has been an allegation that an APL staff member told a third party that an animal would be euthanized if it was not picked up within a short period of time. We have not yet been able to confirm precisely what was said, and our investigation is ongoing. Staff has been reminded that every communication with the public is vital to maintaining our reputation and credibility in the community and members of the public can reach the wrong conclusion unless we are very careful about what we say. The APL does not euthanize healthy, adoptable animals. It does make the hard decision to euthanize when an animal is suffering unnecessarily and there is no reasonable relief, or when an animal is not reasonably adoptable due to temperament or behavior. We need to make it clear to the public that euthanasia decisions are never made lightly, and are avoided as much as possible.
5. An allegation has been made that the APL did not provide adequate care to an animal suffering from acute mange. After careful review of shelter records, veterinary records, and interviews with persons involved it was determined that this allegation was false. It was also determined that an APL employee relayed inaccurate and misleading information to a third party which started the rumor. This employee no longer works for the APL.
6. The APL is the county humane society that serves Portage County, Ohio. It is unique among all other non-profit animal welfare organizations because it has the statutory power to appoint humane agents, and to enforce laws relating to animal cruelty and neglect. However, while the APL has authority to engage in law enforcement, it remains a non-profit organization that receives no tax revenue. Its ability to perform is therefore strictly limited by its very limited resources. In other words, we rely on the generosity of people in the community who, through their donations, provide the resources associated with humane investigation, enforcement and animal care.
7. The APL makes every effort to rescue, rehabilitate and find permanent, loving homes for every reasonably adoptable animal in its care. However, the APL is not a “no-kill” shelter. While there is room in the animal welfare community for both types of organizations, the calling card of the typical “no-kill” shelter is a sign that says “We are full.” Other adoptable animals must be turned away. The APL will not turn its back on adoptable animals when space is available. The APL cannot accommodate many requests to take animals due to the same lack of space that besets most shelters across America.
As a result of this investigation, the Board has decided to precede with the following action items:
A. The APL will take steps to educate its staff, volunteers and general public about its mission and standards.
Animals at the APL are humanely euthanized only when they are seriously injured or ill, and there is no reasonable likelihood of changing that status with current resources, or if they show evidence of serious aggression which might result in future harm to people or other animals.
Employees and volunteers shall all be educated about this philosophy of animal care, and will be required to sign a form accepting these principles before serving the APL.
B. The APL has an established team of staff and volunteers who make all euthanasia decisions. Now, a licensed veterinarian will be part of that team, except under emergency circumstances when an animal is severely injured and it is clear that the animal must be immediately euthanized to prevent further unnecessary suffering.
C. The APL has taken action to compare its euthanasia rate with other shelters. It has been determined that the APL’S euthanasia rate, per capita, is consistent with, or lower than rates of euthanasia in other communities in Northeast Ohio.
D. The Board conducts reviews and updates all APL policies and procedures on a regular basis.
The Board Review is now complete.
Any person wishing to comment may do so in writing.
Address letters to
8122 Infirmary Rd.
Ravenna, OH 44266