When Shelters Bully Advocates

Animal shelters sometimes bully advocates who demand change. Various kinds of bullying tactics are used by the shelters.  I have heard about rescue groups representatives stating that they can’t complain about conditions at shelters because then they might be banned and unable to pull animals from death row.  Shelters also send cease and desist orders to people who speak out.

Recently, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society is reported to have sent a threatening cease and desist letter to a No Kill advocate in Alabama. * The shelter Executive Director bragged about having 80% save rates in an TV interview, and the advocate publicly disputed that. The good news is that the shelter was concerned about losing donors because of a decreasing save rate.  That means shelters are beginning to understand that Americans want animals saved at shelters, not killed. However, a cease and desist letter is very intimidating.

I know that from personal experience. When writing my blog No Kill Delaware, I reported that a shelter was making money by euthanizing pets on demand.  The shelter said they were doing that as a public service.  Sadly, people sometimes decide to have pets euthanized for reasons other than terminal conditions that cause unmanageable pain.  Euthanasia decisions ought to be made in consultation with a vet.  No shelter should be euthanizing  pets on demand to raise money, especially not a shelter that claimed to be No Kill. The cease and desist order was pointless because by that point, the shelter had received so much public criticism as a result of my blog that they stopped euthanizing on demand.

The Delaware pound used more extreme methods than letters to bully its critics.  When I was writing the blog, people reported to me that the director sent animal control officers to the homes of critics as a way to harass and intimidate them.  Some people didn’t know they had the right to refuse to allow entry without a search warrant.  Some thought they had nothing to hide.  Officers would typically decide there was some infraction and give the people “warnings.”  Sometimes the officers charged the people with cruelty and people’s pets, and foster animals were even impounded.   I’m all for throwing the book at people guilty of cruelty, of course.  But I knew that animal control didn’t bother enforcing the cruelty laws on horrible cases where citizens begged for action to save the animals.

When animal control officers came to my door, I told them to get a warrant.  I knew that wouldn’t be possible because there was absolutely no probable cause. Yes, I had 5 dogs, but there was no law against that and they were all coddled.  They were trying to scare me into stopping my criticism of the shelter.

This harassment of critics finally stopped in 2014 because the state started enforcing the shelter law passed in 2010 and  took animal control away from the high-kill pound.  Now state employees investigate the real cruelty cases and do animal control.  The dogs are taken to a no kill shelter with a 90% save rate, and there are no trap and kill roundups of community cats. This would never have happened without vocal advocates all over Delaware demanding change despite the bullying by the high-kill pound. 

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Source: “Shelter with Declining Save Rates, While Misrepresenting Statistics, Threatens Advocate for Complaining” No Kill Movement

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