The adopters said the shelter told them the dog had "aggressive tendencies" but the issue was downplayed. Richard Bachman, the Veterinary Medical Director for Contra Costa Animal Services, said the same dog tried to bite a trainer in the face, yet it remained "adoptable." A trend [Bachman] sees everywhere as shelters are judged by their live release rate."So anything that leaves alive makes it look better statistically." Bachman said he believes the public is being placed at risk. They are documenting this aggression and questioning upper management.
However, even that task was difficult, choosing the worst cases from the 34 files.
So we developed a set of parameters for behaviorist Semyonova.
Choose the worst-case scenarios when shelter upper management -- through emails, behavior memos and/or staff meetings -- but allowed the aggression continue, and even to escalate, instead of euthanasia.
Along with the summaries by Semyonova, we are providing the full case histories so that you can examine first hand the "evaluations," behavioral memos and vet records.
browse: | Must Read Posts | sticky stories, activism, columnists, dog laws & bsl, dogfighting, criminal trials, family dog attacks, fatal dog attacks, humane groups, pit bull owners, pet attacks, police shootings, editorials, senior citizen attacks, victims of attacks, special reports & events Dogs - Back in April, we were contacted about the "live release rate" trumping public safety at a California shelter. They are being recycled back into communities instead of being euthanized due to the holy grail of boasting a high "save rate." To examine the issue up close, we filed a public records request in July for 34 dogs, including all behavioral and medical notes, at Sonoma County Animal Services.
Dogs with serious aggression are being adopted to the public, sent to fosters, transferred to rescues and transported across county and state lines.
We were alerted to these particular 34 files to examine -- this is not a "random sampling" of cases -- in order to review questionable and problematic cases.
Also to review the over arching issue of live release rate being prioritized over public safety, and in many cases, being prioritized over animal welfare too.
In the case of Sonoma County, the files show that some shelter workers operate under a "climate of fear," the fear of personally interacting with some of these aggressive dogs, as well as, sending them back into the community.
Staffers witness the aggression and document the behavior (in behavioral memos) and at least in the 34 files we reviewed, many of these memos by employees are simply ignored by upper management.
The live release rate pressure literally trumps all.