Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Different Strokes For Different Folks.

Edward Fletcher pled guilty yesterday to shooting his sister’s dogs after his mother had poisoned them and will get 16 months in jail.

The Schenectady Police Department shot and killed a pregnant dog while it was running away from them in fear, during a drug raid that netted a small amount of marijuana. No investigation. No arrests.

The Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society in Menands killed and cremated hundreds of animals after disease swept through the facility. A cursory investigation by the state. No arrests.

Here are some excerpts from the original Times Union story on the Menands Shelter.

Outbreak shuts shelter
Humane society closed until at least Oct. 2 after killing 344 animals

By Danielle Furfaro, Staff writer
First published: Friday, September 22, 2006
MENANDS -- The Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society will be closed until at least Oct. 2 following disease outbreaks that led to the killing of 344 animals and severe criticisms about the way the shelter has operated in recent months.

At a meeting Thursday night, Marsha Nagengast, a member of Whiskers Animal Benevolent League, a local, nonprofit, all-volunteer animal shelter, said she was authorized to inform the board that Whiskers would no longer deal with the humane society.

Other animal groups, including Peppertree Rescue, had already informed the humane society that they would not work with them because of concerns about how the shelter is run.

Shelter employee Bill Adams, who works nights, told of animals living in filth while the shelter failed to stock items such as clean mop heads and gloves.

Read the entire story.

Here are excerpts from a follow-up story.

Animal shelter is OK'd by state Inspectors pass humane society where disease forced euthanizations
By Danielle Furfarfo, Staff writer
First published: Sunday, September 24, 2006

Meanwhile, several members of the animal care community are painting a dire portrait of the shelter situation. They allege new management there, led by Friedman, who arrived in March, has limited experience with animals and is more concerned with the financial health of the shelter than the health of the dogs and cats.
"There are a lot of questions in everyone's minds about how the animals are being evaluated and what euthanizations are going to be made," said Elizabeth Sommers, a former member of the humane society's governance committee and the current president of Peppertree Rescue, an Albany-based group that finds homes for dogs. "We rely on the shelter to give us proper information about the animals. Once we take them out, we are putting them in our own homes."
Sommers resigned from the shelter's governance committee shortly after Friedman came on board and let some longtime staffers go.
"If nobody knows dogs, you are going to have bad situations," she said. "I made the executive decision to keep Peppertree away from the shelter until they get the proper people in there. I don't want Peppertree to be associated if there is some tragedy."
Carol Hall, president of Whiskers Animal Benevolent League, an Albany-based nonprofit, all-volunteer animal shelter, said her board will discuss on Tuesday whether to formally break off all ties with the humane society.
"We were really distressed that this has happened," Hall said. "An awful lot of innocent lives were lost."

Meanwhile Bellanca Fletcher, a Troy lawyer, responded to my original post about the Menands shelter. She said,

Unfortunately, the author of this article (actually, I’m not entirely sure of what this is), has fallen into the trap of many. He has assumed that he has information that, in fact, is largely false. Yes, the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society closed down for a short term because of a disease outbreak that caused the euthanasia of many animals.
What one needs to remember, however, is that MHRHS is a municipal shelter that is REQUIRED to take in all animals brought to it by municipalities with which it has a contract. Additionally, this shelter takes in all animals brought in by individuals in the community, irrespective of the health of the animal and irrespective of the space available. The result is that many animals that have not been spayed, neutered or vaccinated are brought to the shelter, putting other animals in the shelter in jeopardy.
This also leads to serious overcrowding from time to time and, while the shelter reaches out to rescue as much as currently possible (and more in the near future), the shelter is perpetually full. Rescue organizations are also limited in the number of animals they can take in at any one point in time.
Management and staff at the shelter have taken this closure time to work tirelessly to identify sick animals, clean and disinfect the entire shelter, and get protocols in place to avoid this type of outbreak in the future.
In an overcrowded shelter full of animals that have never been vaccinated, even the immediate vaccination received upon entry into the shelter doesn’t confer upon the cat or dog an immune system adequate to fight off exposure to some disease. Additionally, animals are routinely brought in sick. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a fact, that people often don’t take care of their animals and decide that, when they become ill, someone else should take the responsibility.
So instead of bashing one of the few municipal shelters in our area, try helping. Your readers can contact the shelter to find out what it needs - i.e. blankets and bleach, dog and cat food, cat beds that are easily washed, cat litter, dog toys, etc. and can volunteer to walk dogs to keep them mentally stimulated so that they fare better in the shelter environment, or assist with an off site adoption clinic where numerous animals are adopted out every month or donate funds to offset the annual budget deficits experienced by this underfunded and overpopulated shelter. Better yet, go down and adopt an animal or two - many of these animals were owned and surrendered by uncaring owners. You might be the perfect home for one of these lovely animals.
No, I don’t work at the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society, and no, I don’t like to see any animal euthanized. However, the reality of the situation is that it will continue to happen as long as humans are irresponsible with respect to vaccinations and sterilization. There are more dogs and cats in our area than there are homes to care for them.

Here is my response to Ms. Fletcher.

I agree that people need to be more responsible when it comes to caring for their animals and shelters need more volunteers. However, shelters should quarantine incoming animals and not let them near the other animals until they have been tested for disease, given vaccines, etc. There is a double standard when it comes to the way the Humane Society and the SPCA are allowed to treat animals and the way the general populace is allowed to treat animals. If a farmer or private rescuer had to kill and cremate 300 animals, it would be a front page story and criminal charges would likely have been filed. Furthermore, I have never heard of another shelter in the area that has had to euthanize several hundred animals at one time.


  • THANK YOU, Dan, for pointing out the disparity between the punishments for these two "crimes". We feel so sorry for those poor souls, both the family that felt the need to do something about dogs they couldn't afford and the one whose pet was shot right in front of their children. If a private citizen shot a dog in front of children, besides being arrested for animal cruelty, they would be charged with child abuse and child endangerment. If the authorities do it, then it is okay. Just plain appalling!

    By Anonymous threecollie, at 11:47 AM  

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