Empty to near-empty food bins



MCACC eastside location was almost completely out of food yesterday, with the word being “the dry cat food is gone all gone, and they are now eating the dry dog food.” It is MCACC’s responsibility for each and every life that comes into their door. AZ Statute 11-1021 (A) states: “Any animal impounded in a county, city or town pound shall be given proper and humane care and maintenance.” http://bit.ly/QrUmEM

Waiting until the last moment, when the food bins are empty to near-empty, is unacceptable.

Some volunteers put out pleas about the situation. Could you imagine if these incredible souls turned their cheeks? Shelter animals would go hungry. Even further, who stepped up to the immediate rescue once they knew about this and dropped off food? The “irresponsible public.”

There is NO excuse that can spin this. Where does this unacceptable, failing practice stem from at MCACC? Shelter leadership.

Make it abundantly clear, Maricopa County, MCACC leadership refuses to rigorously implement lifesaving strategies. It is on us, folks, WE are their voice.

Join us on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 from 6:30pm – 8:30pm at Paradise Valley Community Center for the next We the People meeting to learn how your voice can help.

Arm yourself with:

The No Kill Revolution Starts with YOU: http://bit.ly/vbeJ22
No Kill 101: http://bit.ly/sVSA02

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August 28th Primary

A few of the No Kill Maricopa County crew met and spoke with State Representative Heather Carter LD 15 and Steve Chucri, candidate for County Supervisor District 2.

Monday, July 30, 2012 is the deadline to register to vote or change your party affiliation for the August 28th primary. If you do not register to vote or make any changes necessary by Monday July 30, 2012 you cannot vote in the election on August 28th. Click here to register to vote http://servicearizona.com/

An interesting piece of data Representative Carter shared were the number of people who voted. In one district, there were 195,000 people and during the 2010 Primary Election, the top vote-earner won with just over 8,000 votes; the second place vote-earner won with just over 6,500 votes. Approximately 6,500 people, or 3.25% of that district population, made the decision for who would represent almost 200,000 people.

For information on the County Elections website, click here http://recorder.maricopa.gov/web/elections.aspx
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What Put Me on the Path to No Kill

By Erica Mahoney

Everyone’s journey in animal welfare is different.  My journey started in August of 2005 in an orientation at one of the Valley’s largest animal welfare organizations, The Arizona Humane Society.  I began volunteering in their adoption department before moving on to become a foster for them.  By then my passion for saving companion animals really started to pick up steam.  I was handpicked for their course to become one of their most valuable and highly trained volunteers.  I’ve worked side-by-side with their marketing department.  I’ve taught their foster orientation and their breed identification classes.  I’ve volunteered in their public clinic and for the past two years with AHS, I even co-hosted their weekly television program, Pets on Parade.  I’ve invested hundreds of hours with the Arizona Humane Society and they taught me a lot.

I have also made a lot of excuses for them.

Over the years, there were a handful of my foster dogs that I watched with a hawk-eye to make sure they made it out the adoption door.  Most of the time I was victorious, but there were three cases whose lives ended in the euthanasia room.  Two of them were puppies.  At the time, I made the excuse that the shelter knew what was best.  I trusted what they told me.  I wanted to believe it.  With everything in my heart, I wanted to believe they were doing the best job they could for the animals in Maricopa County, but year after year I would often notice how certain animals would disappear.  I didn’t ask questions because I didn’t want to hear the answer.  I knew the truth would hurt too much.

In the fall of 2010, I volunteered to foster a tiny Chihuahua named Silver as part of a program called Saving Animals from Euthanasia (or SAFE).  This is a program for animals that have behavior issues which would otherwise cause them to be euthanized in the shelter, but who seem to do fine when placed in someone’s home.  These animals are placed on the website and interested parties are encouraged to make an appointment to see them.  I didn’t think it would be a problem to find Silver a permanent home.  She was young, cute, small and, most importantly, potty-trained.  She seemed to love people and got along with all of my other dogs.  In fact, I wasn’t really sure why she was even being fostered because apart from being slightly under socialized, Silver was a perfect Chihuahua.

After over a month of Silver living in my home, I began to think this was a terrible waste.  By that time I was experienced in working with dogs no one else would work with like fear cases, biters, destructive dogs and dogs that didn’t get along well with other canines.  Not one potential adopter had called about Silver so I begged the shelter to amp up their marketing on her.  Their solution was to feature her as the Pet of the Week in The Arizona Republic.  I was hoping to at least get one call, but on the day Silver was featured, I received twenty-seven leads on potential adopters.  Twenty-seven!  I was shocked!

As the paperwork was being processed for Silver’s adoption, I slipped behind the scenes with my list of twenty-seven potential adopters making my way to the adoption manager’s office.  The first person on the list had adopted Silver, which meant I was holding a list of twenty-six other potential adopters for other dogs.  I was so excited!  Normally, I would have called each of the potential adopters myself, given them customized information and directed them to the website, but I had a heavy work schedule that particular week so I decided I’d make the head of adoptions look like a rock star.  I figured there would be hugs and high-fives, but instead, I received a chilly, scowling reception.  Immediately, the head of adoptions informed me she had no Chihuahuas available so it was pointless to call this list of people back.  I was stunned.  I didn’t really want to get into a discussion of WHY there weren’t any Chihuahuas in the system since I knew that Chihuahuas were the second most common breed being turned into the shelter.  I argued with her a little just to get her to TRY and left her office, defeated, knowing it was unlikely she would call anyone on that list or delegate it to one of her adoption counselors who I’d just observed goofing off in a separate area of the shelter.

Two days later, I received a call from my friend, Angie, who had just started volunteering with a brand new rescue group called Mini Mighty Mutts.  Angie told me a few weeks earlier she’d pulled a dog from the Arizona Humane Society that had been scheduled to be euthanized because it wasn’t good with other dogs.  She had suspected the dog was a basenji mix even though AHS paperwork listed it differently.  Angie had originally placed the basenji named Lizzy with another foster who was a very talented dog trainer.  The foster reported that initially Lizzy’s body language was stiff and unsure, but as she settled in, Lizzy had been fine with the other dogs in the home.  Unfortunately, that particular trainer/foster was unable to keep Lizzy any longer than a couple of weeks and my friend Angie was beginning to panic that no one else in their small group would take her because, at thirty pounds, Lizzy wasn’t really considered by the group to be “mini”.  Angie begged me to take Lizzy and since the spot Silver once held had recently been vacated, I was an easy target.  Upon arrival in my home, Lizzy was just as stiff as I expected her to be, but I was prepared.  That’s just what basenjis do.  They are a very odd breed of dog, but Lizzy was a good girl who calmed down quickly.  I busied myself with preparations on getting Lizzy settled into our home because this was a very small rescue group and I was betting getting Lizzy adopted might take a very long time.  I was wrong.  Getting Lizzy adopted only took three days.

On the day Lizzy left, a paradigm shifted in my head.  How is it that the Arizona Humane Society, the largest non-profit organization in the state of Arizona, who raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, needs more than a month to adopt out a nearly perfect Chihuahua, but it only takes an upstart rescue group with a shoestring budget three days to place a dog that was deemed so unadoptable she was scheduled to be euthanized?  How is that possible?

And yet, I still wanted to believe I was wrong.  I’d given this organization an extraordinary amount of my time, my energy and my devotion.  So I took a step back from a lot of my work that involved the shelter and I began to listen more closely to the murmurings of the volunteers and employees I called my friends.  Those rumblings had always been there just underneath the surface, but up until that point I had justified the shelter’s actions by saying there were always two sides to every story.  I found myself trying to listen very hard to the other side even though there seemed to be limitless stories of animals that could have been saved…but were not.  I used that time to try to regain some of my previous passion for helping the organization.  I was looking for something, anything that would inspire me, but all I really saw was a bunch of showboating.  They’d save one difficult case, make a media spectacle out of it and then euthanize hundreds of others that were in circumstances not nearly so dire.  I began to wonder how I could change things, make a real difference in the euthanasia rate, which I knew had risen the previous year, but I felt very limited.  I’d been around long enough to know that the leadership of the Arizona Humane Society has a bad habit of personally attacking, belittling and getting rid of anyone who questions the status quo.  That is not an environment conducive to change.  So I didn’t make a lot of waves, but every week I kept tabs on what was going on by appearing on The Arizona Humane Society’s weekly television show.  Eventually, I found myself repeating wonderful things about this organization that I no longer believed.  I was angry and I was empty and I knew something had to change.

I decided to give the organization one last chance just in case there was something I was missing.  In December of 2011, I asked to see that year’s adoption, admission and euthanasia numbers.  By law, The Arizona Humane Society must publicly report these numbers.  Anyone can request to see them and I was emailed a version of those numbers, which had clearly been crafted with plenty of the marketing magic they hide behind.  Knowing how they hide, I pulled out my calculator and discovered that last year, in 2011, according to the numbers that were sent to me, 61% of the animals coming into The Arizona Humane Society were euthanized.  Now, The Arizona Humane Society will tell you they have not euthanized an “adoptable” animal since 2002.  I’ve seen droves of animals come into that shelter.  Many of them do have issues, but most of these animals were formerly someone’s pet.  Common sense tells me that there’s no way sixty-one percent of these animals are unadoptable!  For years, I have heard all the excuses as to why they can’t save more, but never once have I heard any solutions on how they plan to save more lives.  When pressed, I have heard them claim their “big solution” is to try to get the public to spay and neuter their pets more often.  Did you catch that?  Their big solution is to put the responsibility of their high euthanasia rate right back on the public instead of taking responsibility for their own actions.  If the shelter is broken from the inside, and it is, lowering the amount of intake will not lower the euthanasia rate.  Those numbers will continue to rise or simply remain the same.

I officially severed my ties with The Arizona Humane Society on December 17th, 2011 approximately a week before the Scruffy story broke about a man’s cat that The Arizona Humane Society had euthanized.  While I had no personal knowledge of the story, I wasn’t surprised.  Customer service in the shelter is poor.  Staff / management relations are deplorable.  I can’t tell you how many times I saw cats and kittens come in the front door of admissions, immediately placed in a crate and stacked on top of one another in a hallway on the back side of admissions.  Those cats would meow and beg in absolute panic and fear as staff and volunteers passed by pretending not to notice. When there was finally enough of a break in the euthanasia room for someone to pack them up on a red dolly, they would be sent to their death without anyone in the hospital ever seeing them.  Every single day.

I left The Arizona Humane Society because I believed it was time for someone to leave the organization and declare that what they are doing is wrong.  Shelter leadership has no intention of changing because over the years they have not been held accountable for their actions.  The board, who is supposed to hold them accountable, has historically turned the other cheek and bought into the excuses as long as they have been fiscally responsible.  The Arizona Humane Society knows why I left.  I have informed them in writing.  I have spoken with the Chairman of the Board.  I have met with the Executive Director, Guy Collison, and nothing has changed.  I am now speaking out because the only way this organization is going to change is if they are hit in the pocketbook.  If you donate to this organization, it is your responsibility to ask if the euthanasia rate is lower than it was last year.  It is your responsibility to ask what changes the Arizona Humane Society is making in order to lower that number.  If you don’t, another twenty-three thousand animals will be murdered again this year.  The Arizona Humane Society has all the resources it needs, but they are not using those resources effectively and their leadership is wasteful.  I refuse to make excuses for them anymore.

In the past, those who have experienced the same things I did have always left quietly.  They were convinced their voices didn’t matter.  They were convinced it wasn’t worth jeopardizing their careers.  They were convinced it was okay to NOT speak out because The Arizona Humane Society does “save some”.  I say that isn’t good enough.  Maybe one voice won’t be heard, but if we join together as concerned citizens for the animals in our community, I believe we can make a difference.

Everyone’s journey in animal welfare is different.  My journey started innocently at Arizona’s largest, private non-profit animal shelter.  Over the years, I learned to make excuses for what I had seen and heard.  Almost seven years later my journey continues down a new path – the path to a No Kill nation.  Finally, I’ve found a movement that doesn’t accept the excuses, that believes the lives of animals shouldn’t be haphazardly wasted.  It’s a movement whose mission has reignited my passion for what I started out to do, and I’m comforted in knowing I’m not walking this path alone.


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