What has happened to Haven Humane Society? For over a decade, I had the opportunity to be a part of the organization when it was dedicated to animal welfare combined with sound, succe$$ful business practices. It is odd that things have changed so dramatically in two years. Seems like the end of an era.
DANGEROUS DOG DEBACLE
On June 15, 2009, a dog was euthanized in error by Haven. I was directly involved in a Dangerous Dog Hearing regarding this dog. As a certified professional dog trainer, I was asked to talk to the dog’s owner about any options available to save the dog. On June 15th, I appeared before the City of Redding panel, along with representatives of Haven. The owner was adamant about trying to save her dog, so my final recommendation was to assist the owner in contacting UC Davis for a complete canine behavior evaluation. The City of Redding panel had agreed to this suggestion.
While we were at the hearing, the dog was euthanized by Haven. I attempted to discuss this situation with Haven’s Board of Directors and CEO in hopes of preventing this from happening again but it was not open for discussion. The dog’s owner was devastated.
On October 15, 2009, I discovered Quin, a German Shorthair Pointer, had been at Haven since October 10th. As a member of two pointer rescue groups, I check Petfinder (http://www.petfinder.com/index.htm) every day for GSP’s. Petfinder is the largest and most popular website for shelters and rescues to showcase available animals. I was disappointed to learn Haven no longer takes advantage of the vast exposure that Petfinder offers to animal welfare groups and the public.
Haven had changed to another website called Petango – (http://www.petango.com.) Who knew? A simple email to rescue groups Haven regularly does business with would be helpful when making a significant procedure change. I publicized Quin’s case to other Pointer Rescue groups in California and the mission to find a foster or permanent home for Quin was launched.
On Oct. 16th, I went to Haven and did a visual inspection of Quin. He was very friendly. I did not observe any obvious medical/physical/lameness problems. He was calm and appeared to be comfortable and not overly stressed. According to Haven’s temperament evaluation, Quin was suitable for any home – no restrictions.
From October 17th thru 29th, I called Haven every workday to check on Quin and assure Haven we were working on placing him in a foster/permanent home. On October 27th, Haven was advised we had a possible foster home.
On October 29th, Robin Farley of Nor Cal GSP Rescue called Haven at 4:15pm to tell them we had a foster home and she was told Quin “had been adopted.”
On October 31st, I called Haven to verify that the adoption was successful and Quin had not been returned to the shelter. I was told he had not been returned. I hung up the phone and seconds later the adoptions supervisor from Haven called to tell me the dog had been euthanized but “we didn’t want to tell anybody.” I was stunned by the call. With rescue groups working to find a foster home for Quin, why not a phone call to let us know before the dog was killed?
When asked for an explanation, Dr. Ray John responded via email:
“Quinn, a 7 year old dog, was brought to Haven on October 10, 2009. He had small tumors on his hindquarters and on his paws……… “No one showed any interest in adopting Quinn while in the shelter. He then developed Kennel Cough. Because of his age and condition, he was euthanized on October 29, 2009. He had spent 19 days in the kennel.”
No one was interested??? Three separate rescue groups worked diligently every day for two weeks to find a safe place for Quin! I personally called the shelter every day to check on him and give Haven a progress report on our efforts. Of course it can be argued that Quin languished at the shelter for five days before any of us knew he was there. Most rescue volunteers have obligations that prevent them from visiting the local shelters every day. Hence, the importance of Petfinder.com.
Since when is kennel cough a reason to euthanize a dog? If kennel cough is considered a death sentence, then I shudder to think how many dogs don’t get out alive.
I did not observe any tumors on Quin and there was no mention of tumors in any conversations I had with the staff. Did Haven’s veterinarian examine Quin? My email request to Haven’s Adoption Dept. for any medical evaluation/explanation of the tumors was never answered. And yes, it was received at Haven.
The part of this tragic story that continues to gnaw at me is the fact that Haven Humane Society lied to us. Is this what passes for animal welfare and professionalism at Haven nowadays?
In November of this year, the RS featured a story about a dog being euthanized for heartworms. This was done after a client had expressed interest in adopting the animal.
Heartworm disease is endemic in our area. If a person wants to adopt an animal, and the adoption has been approved, one would think the next step would be a heartworm test. Then the adopter should be given the results AND the option of treating the animal or canceling the adoption. Euthanizing dogs with a certain parasite load without consulting with the potential new home is nothing short of cruel.
To treat or not to treat an animal, for any disease, is a decision between a client and the client’s veterinarian. If Haven makes an animal available and a client wants to adopt that animal knowing the diagnosis and prognosis, it seems unconscionable for Haven to arbitrarily euthanize the animal.
For the well being of the dogs in their custody and consideration for the public, I hope Haven will re-evaluate their euthanasia policies and procedures.