Two mother dogs, killed this week by Corpus Christi Animal Care Services, prompts outrage and cries for reform from volunteers who try to save animals in the Southern Texas coastal community.
One issue: Time.
Volunteers who help save the dogs complain they’re not given enough time to find rescue groups, fosters and adopters. Texan Lisa Bockholt helps network dogs in the animal control facility. She says rescuers are rattled, “I see and hear a lot of frustration among volunteers, networkers and rescues because there’s so little time to share the dogs. By the time good quality photos are taken and circulated often the dogs are no longer available.” No longer available means euthanized.
Another issue: Mislabeling of temperament and health.
Dogs brought in to the facility, insiders say, sometimes get an unwarranted bad rap and don’t get proper behavior evaluations. Bockholt says, “Volunteers interact with and photograph as many of the dogs as possible, but often those mislabeled as fearful and aggressive upon intake are euthanized with no re-evaluation.”
Now take a look at the two mother dogs killed at the shelter this week:
“Zena” was a mother Kelpie mix, picked up as a stray with her puppies on February 12th. Her kennel card describes her as “SICK” and handwritten notes describe her field evaluation as, “Aggressive at first not very nice.” But on February 13th her adoption profile was posted on Facebook and Zena is pictured interacting with volunteers who took her picture and doesn’t appear to be aggressive with them. They described her only as “shy.” Shelter insiders say she had “mange”, something that’s curable and not expensive to treat. She wasn’t ill, sick or dying.
When no one came to rescue, foster or adopt Zena she was euthanized on February 17th by animal control. Her puppies were saved and adopted.
“Angela” was a gorgeous Border Collie mix. From these pictures of her, she clearly just had puppies. Her kennel card says she was picked up as a stray on February 10th and describes her as “FEARFUL” upon intake. On February 13th her adoption profile was posted on Facebook. As you can see in the pictures, she appears loving and interactive with shelter staff, who described her as “calm” in her online description.
When no one came to rescue, foster or adopt Angela, she was euthanized on February 16th by animal control. Where her puppies are, we’re told, is unknown.
Volunteers say the shelter gave these mother dogs a bad rap as being scared or aggressive. Austin dog trainer, Rona Distenfeld says mother dogs brought into an animal control facility are likely to be fearful and protective. “A dog with puppies is going to be trying to guard her children as well and will sometimes over react in an effort to save her puppies, even if it means fighting something way bigger than she is.”
Professional animal behaviorist Jonas Black is outraged by the behavior assessments. “You think that a mother who was just protecting her young could easily trust someone that took her by force? It’s about association here. Many people forget that canines live their lives based off of associating stimulus with response. Not one good mother I know would be okay with being torn from her routine, and then just magically adjust. It takes work, time, and lots of patience.”
Newly appointed Corpus Christi Police Chief, Mike Markle, tells us the City’s ordinance only requires the facility hold strays for 72 hours, so the mothers who were killed were held longer than required. Puppies, under four months old, can be immediately euthanized. He says the average time in the facility for all dogs is seven days.
Markle contends the shelter tries to save dogs, “Yes, we are diligent in our effort to adopt or find rescues for all animals that come to us. We utilize social media and websites such as Pet Harbor and Focus on Forever. We also use local media outlets and host several adoption events throughout the year.”
Last year 2419 dogs were euthanized by Corpus Christi Animal Care Services and Markle says all of them were offered to rescues before “EU”, meaning euthanasia. In January of this year, 81% of the dogs that came to the animal control shelter left the facility alive. The chief did not respond when asked what the live release rate was for 2015.
This author asked Chief Markle if the facility euthanizes dogs even if they have empty kennels, he responded, “Yes, when all avenues for rescue and adoptions have been exhausted, kennels must remain available for continuous intake. National standards for care and capacity also impact kennel use.” Markle did not respond to questions about what national standards he was referring to.
Volunteers say they need help saving the dogs. The animals are listed on the Facebook page, “Focus on Forever” and people are welcome to network the dogs on social media. The shelter also works with in and out of state rescue groups and can always use fosters. Call 361-826-4601 for more information or reach out to the shelter directly.