People Unfairly Criticise an Animal Shelter
This is another case where people associated with an animal shelter end up criticising it. It brings to mind an article by Elisa in which she wrote about volunteer gagging contracts and people being banned from speaking out about an animal shelter. Sometimes, to an outsider, it seems like there is a war going on between volunteers and associates of some animal shelters and the management of these shelters.
In this instance, the shelter is in the town of Cicero, Illinois, USA. The shelter’s name is Waggin’ Tail Animal Shelter. The management of the shelter call the people who criticise the shelter “activists” and these activists have filed complaints with the state of Illinois Department of agriculture. All the parties are taking the complaints seriously.
In summary, the complaints are that the shelter is abusing animals. A most serious complaint. In defence, the shelter says that the photographs of animals that have been abused are photographs of the animals at the time they were taken in to the shelter. In other words, any abuse that took place, took place outside the shelter and before the shelter took charge of the animal. Therefore, the complaints and the photographs are highly misleading and damaging to the shelter. That is the defence and the counter argument.
For example, in the photograph above you will see that one the so-called activists is protesting about the alleged inhumane and neglectful practices at this shelter.
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The current shelter management are unsure exactly why they’re being so heavily criticised but one possibility is that they support a former director whose policies were widely criticised. I don’t know what happened to him or her but perhaps she was sacked. Perhaps the activists feel that she was unfairly sacked.
From my limited experience of the attitude and mentality of people involved with US shelters (other than management) my belief is that they are of good character. They are normally genuine people and therefore it is likely that they have genuine concerns. That said, the counter argument by the shelter management is very persuasive so I don’t know where the truth lies.
One of the volunteer activists claims that she was a volunteer but she appears not to have disclosed the fact that she was ordered by a court to do community service at the shelter as part of her sentence. If that is true then it would tend to support the argument that at least this particular activist is behaving in a malicious manner.
What appears to be particularly interesting is that some of the protesters (the people who are criticising the shelter) had been misled by other protesters who the shelter management say are lying and presenting false photographs in support of their argument.
In a further interesting twist, the shelter management is taking up some of the ideas that the protesters have with the intention of improving the shelter. This implies that at least part of the criticisms by the protesters are genuine which further implies that the truth probably lies in between the two party’s point of view.
The protester/activists apparently managed to convince Fox News that their complaints were genuine.
Because of the complaints, shelter management invited outside agencies to inspect the shelter and to suggest ways to improve it. In addition, the State of Illinois Department of Agriculture and Cook County have made surprise unannounced visits to Waggin’ Tails and on both occasions they concluded that the accusations were false (so state the shelter management).
It is obviously unfortunate that there is infighting within an environment that requires a high degree of harmony in order to ensure that the rescued animals are treated in the best possible way.
If we are talking about county kill shelters, there is nothing positive to say.
I implore every citizen to do a walk through of their county shelter and see what is really going on.
The one that Elisa writes about has to be one of the worst in the nation. I can’t believe that no one has torched it.
I feel the U.S. situation is far worse than in the U.K.
Regrettably, I believe that you are right. We very rarely read about cat shelters at all in this country. Rarely do we read about the killing of rescue cats at shelters. I think I can remember an RSPCA story or someone pointed it out to me in which healthy cats were being killed (euthanised). But almost everything on the Internet and everything available to us internationally about shelters and their activities and organisation emanates from America. Perhaps, by the way, we may be getting a slightly distorted view of animal shelters in the USA because they’re discussed so much more internationally. Despite that, they are too defensive it seems to me and they lack transparency (which is of course a form of defensive behaviour).
I think in the U.S. you have good character volunteers with bad leadership directors. They’re lazy and its easier to kill than not to kill. Shelters are overwhelmed. The best ones learn ways to deal with it.
To sum up: it is about leadership, management and is needs to be good but there is a lot of goodwill and passion amongst the volunteers waiting to be led.
Michael I will have you an article for Sunday on 6 shelters in NC who didn’t pass state inspection, including the one who “cared for” Monte Cristo. I can tell you it will be eye opening and I have the references to back it up.
Since in many cases, at least in NC, the shelters know when the inspector is coming, they have to be pretty bad not to pass.
I don’t see the point in giving forewarning of an inspection because it will never be an accurate representation of what is actually going on. I believe that all inspections should be unannounced and could even be based on the mystery shopper principle in which a customer pretends to be a potential adopter and then having observed what happened completes a form out of sight of the shelter.
Elisa I agree that more transparency is needed. It really is quite shocking to hear these stories of abuse in shelters. Places we expect to treat animals with compassion and kindness.
In the case of Monte Cristo in Whiteville he was held for a 10 day bite hold. I’ve also seen photos of bit covered bloody dogs where the blood is fresh therefore taken while in the shelter. The photographer who called out the shelter on this was told to never come back.
Rescues also face this issue. I’ve known a few who were raided after rescuing very sick kittens and animal control acted like the rescue mistreated them. Suzy’s Zoo had this happen in early fall.
Remember Pinky? Remember Marley who came to us with full blown distemper and the shelter told us she had a bit of a cold? Dozens of kittens were killed that week at the shelter and even cats brought into the clinic for spay neuter were infected there and died a few days later.
Its the secrecy and the lies that are hurting everyone, including the good shelters. There needs to be more government involvement. City and county councils know about the bad shelters and look the other way.
By the way, Monte Cristos records are “missing” now from the NC shelter that allowed him to sit in his own urine.
I get the impression that you think that the criticisms levelled at this shelter are at least partly justified. Perhaps the truth, as I said, lies somewhere between the two. But I thoroughly agree with you that animal shelters should be totally transparent because that would only improve the quality of the service that they provide.
I’m working on a story now that I hope I can have by the end of the year where a shelter puts a rescue hold on an animal then kills it before the rescue gets there.
I’ve seen several good shelters. The one that cared for the JW cats was a good one. You need to watch some of the shelters where an injured animal is kept for days without pain meds until a rescue speaks up. Our cat Lucy had been hit by a car and the shelter didn’t operate for 2 weeks until rescue was guaranteed and funds raised for surgery.
We’re all working for surprise inspections to catch the bad ones. Its just hard to prove on a lot of them.
I have a cat that sat in the shelter for almost two weeks with a leg broken in three places.
Neglect comes to mind and neglect is a form of abuse. Perhaps there is quite a lot of cat abuse through neglect in cat shelters. The simple act of killing very many healthy cats under the guise of euthanasia is also a form of abuse of animals, so perhaps the people who have criticised this shelter have not done so unfairly after all.
From what I gather, it would seem that abuse through neglect is not that uncommon in many shelters and surprise, unannounced inspections must be a good idea. They should be obligatory and managed by all local authority administrations.