Monday, February 8, 2010

Humane Society of San Bernardino Valley- tool to under-report kill rates?

The Press Enterprise is reporting on what apparently is a little known service the Humane Society of San Bernardino Valley provides- the killing of 10,000 animals annually. Many of these kills are on behalf of other "no-kill" shelters. Now the HSSBV is clear on their euthanasia policy - they will kill your pet for free. I'm not adverse to this, of course, as I see the killing of a dying pet a possible act of mercy. So when performed in the best interest of the animal, euthanasia can be, in my view, entirely appropriate. Difficult, heart-wrenching, and yes, possibly wrong from the perspective of the animal...but appropriate.

But that is not all of what HSSBV is doing here. They are taking what many witnesses believe are adoptable, healthy animals and killing them - possibly free of charge - on behalf of other shelters that want to maintain their "no-kill" good image. They are doing it after-hours in sort of a clandestine operation, trucking in these animals through the back entrance for the sole purpose of killing them. This should rub you the wrong way on multiple levels. 1) HSSBV should not be in the business of killing other shelters' animals, not even if they are unhealthy. 2) Other shelters and rescue agencies should not be in the business of taking animals they won't/can't adopt to another agency for death. If you cannot adopt out 95-98% of the animals in your care, don't call yourself a no-kill shelter and be honest about your kill rates. I'm not sure if HSSBV offers these rescue agencies a free deal, like they do with the public, or if the other agencies have to pay. It's wrong, either way.

Yes, there is the ultimate rub - we just shouldn't be killing these animals, period.

Now, let me make this clear. HSSBV is not dishonest with their mission. They are *not* a traditional shelter. They offer spay/neuter services, vaccine clinics, cruelty investigations and impounds, and a free euthanasia service for the public. They do a lot of humane education in schools, which is slightly creepy considering the 10,000 animals they kill (a humane society does not involve the indiscriminate killing of seemingly adoptable animals). So I don't think the criticism about what HSSBV markets themselves as is valid - they make no claims to have adoptable animals nor do they claim to rescue animals and place them. Like I always say, do your due diligence when you decide where to donate money...one cursory glance at their website makes it clear they aren't adopting animals out.

But there are a few things I want to know:
1) Did any agency have to pay to kill these animals? HSSBV should not profit off of the death of puppies and healthy dogs.
2) Did the agencies that used HSSBV's secret service report those animals as "placed off site" or "killed"? Every single shelter or rescue facility that used HSSBV's kill service should include those dead animals in their kill rates.
3) Did HSSBV keep track of the age, sex, type and physical and behavioral disposition of the animals they killed or was it a free-for-all kill-fest? I want to know how old these animals were (some witnesses claim a lot of puppies were killed). I want to know if they were physically healthy or truly at death's door. I want to know if they were all Pit Bulls, big black dogs or the types of dogs traditional shelters usually kill. I want to know more about these animals, because at the very least, they deserve a small acknowledgment that, hey, they were once alive and they mattered.


I'm a little appalled Last Chance for Animals (LCA) sees nothing wrong with the practice. I've worked with folks from LCA on legislative issues and find it a little surprising they'd take this stance...far enough to ask that their investigative video be removed from youtube so as not to further malign HSSBV.

And then there is Sue Dawson, former president, supposedly current secretary of the HSSBV board who has this to say:
Dawson defended the need for keeping potential stray animals off the street.
"I would like to think we are all in this because we have a deep concern for animal welfare," she said. Rescuing an animal "means a lot of things to a lot of people. It means getting an animal out of a bad situation. That can take many forms."
I mean, I guess I see her point. Killing an animal certainly eliminates their stray potential, what with them being dead and all. It just seems a little callous to argue that "rescuing" animals means killing them. Let's at least try some reasonable efforts at, you know, placing them first.

Call me crazy, but I'd rather a dog or cat live out their lives than end up dead in the back of a building. I'm probably not going out on a limb here - I think the dog or cat wants to live too.

7 comments:

Luisa said...

Oh my God, this just makes me sick. San Berdoo is, like, next door. I know people who work[ed] at the Humane Society. Awesome new physical plant, and full [at least the couple times I've been there] of people bringing pets in for spay/neuter & shots. They handle some major cruelty cases.

But clandestine killing after hours? That's unreal.

You wrote: I want to know how old these animals were (some witnesses claim a lot of puppies were killed). I want to know if they were physically healthy or truly at death's door. I want to know more about these animals, because at the very least, they deserve a small acknowledgment that, hey, they were once alive and they mattered.

I do, too. Do I ever. I've made some calls and hope to get more info. Props to the P.E. reporter - and to you - for covering this.

Rinalia said...

@Luisa: Let us know if you find anything out.

I really love the programs they offer - it all makes so much sense. But this? It just doesn't...

Luisa said...

Quick update to say that I don't know much more than before :~/

Talked to good people inside HSSBV and out, and it looks like the people I spoke to had no idea what was going on after hours. There had been Craigslist rumors but they were rejected for the most part as the work of trolls. Some other who-did-what stuff needs to be verified.

The HSSBV has had something like a new executive director each year for the last four years, for whatever that's worth. It's a busy place, always filled with people and dogs.

I hope we learn the names of every rescue and every shelter that sent animals to be killed after hours at the HSSBV.

YesBiscuit! said...

This is similar to the "service" PETA offers to some animal shelters in the South. If the shelters do not kill pets via injection method, PETA will pick up the pets, kill them and toss them in the freezer (or Piggly Wiggly dumpster, as the case may be). Thus, their "killing is a kindness we offer" meme.

SB Humane Society Inquiry said...

There's much more to this story and it is all bad news. The scariest part: where the animals are coming from. They are not a shelter and they don't house animals and there are not 10,000 owners a year bringing in their pets to be killed. There's a network that has a mission to put down as many animals as they can. It started with Humane Society of San Bernardino and Lynn Hildebrand but it has stretched out to Orange and Riverside Counties and maybe further. Pit bull lovers understand there are those that want to kill all of them without rhyme or reason. Well there is a group obsessed with overpopulation and they are trying to put down as many animals "as they can get their hands on" say insiders. They set set numerous food stations with traps around the city. They answer 'free to good home' ads pretending to be adopters. They pass around the word that they will take animals from owners and rescues to "retrain and rehome" animals but they kill them. The
recent HSSBV defense that these are 'disgruntled employees', is outright hogwash. There are dozens and dozens of people talking now from current employees to rescues to owners to former Board members. Stay tuned for more.

trumbledust said...

Local resident have started a blog to gather info about the killings:

http://humanesocietyofsanbernardinokillings.blogspot.com/

more details in this secondary article:
http://current.com/items/92184185_uproar-over-humane-society-of-san-bernardino-mass-killing-afterhours.htm

Interested parties can contact here:
hssbvInquiry@gmail.com

Sara said...

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