It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

It’s 5 am in Maricopa County, Arizona. It’s the killing time at the pound and the animals will be rounded up and put to death. Their 72 hours are up and, according to officials, it is time for them to die. Maricopa County and Maddie’s Fund claim none are healthy. That is a lie. Meet Lilly. Lilly was at full term with 12 healthy puppies. They are now all dead. Each was cut out of her and given an injection of “Fatal plus.”

A very pregnant Lilly at the Maricopa County, AZ pound.

Like New York City, Maricopa County, Arizona, is a Maddie’s Fund collaborative project. We were promised that no healthy animals would be killed starting in November of 2006, nearly five years ago. And although project funding ended in 2009, Maricopa County is required to report its data until 2012 as a condition of keeping unspent funds. Like in prior years, in April of this year, just a couple of short months ago, they reported and Maddie’s Fund announced on its website that no healthy animals were killed in community “shelters.” Like New York City, the Maricopa County pound is prohibited from killing healthy animals as a condition of the grants. Like New York City, the Maricopa County pound kills healthy animals but lies about it. And like New York City, Maddie’s Fund promotes the lie.

How do we know it is a lie? We know it is a lie because Maricopa County killed 51% of all animals, about the national average. If Maddie’s Fund is to be believed, the entire USA is filled with communities saving all healthy animals by virtue of the fact that they are killing half of all animals.

We know it is a lie because as the pound began charging to take in stray cats (as high as $96 per cat), thus reducing the number of cats it took in by over 3,000, the cats were taken to the Arizona Humane Society (a kill “shelter”) instead which saw a corresponding increase in killing. It doesn’t matter who is killing them, it matters that they are still being killed.

We know it is a lie because as the number of animals killed who are claimed to be healthy dropped to zero, the number of so-called “untreatable” animals killed has increased. For example, the number of animals killed deemed “untreatable” increased from 576 to a whopping 3,486. Likewise, the number of “treatable” animals killed also spiked, from 31,568 to 37,888. Maricopa County officials also excluded 4,107 animals who they claim were killed at the request of the people surrendering them. Their lives were not counted in reporting results, the statistics—and the animals—swept under the rug. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: pounds and “shelters” do not create No Kill by killing as they always have, but simply recategorizing animals as “unadoptable” or “untreatable” and then killing them. We achieve No Kill by actually saving their lives. In fact, the latest report is an analysis in failure. From 2010 to 2011,

  • Killing is up at the Arizona Humane Society 19%, an increase of over 4,000 animals
  • Killing of animals claimed to be treatable has increased a whopping 42%
  • Killing of animals claimed to be untreatable increased 13% at AHS and 9% at the pound

We know it is a lie because Maricopa County shelters deem the “vast majority” of pit bull-type dogs and pit bull-mixes to be “unadoptable” in order to justify killing them, despite predictable pass rates of 90% in progressive shelters.

We know it is a lie because the Maricopa County pound kills all animals after a paltry 72 hours at 5 am every day. They claim none are healthy, a claim which strains credulity. And a lie rescue groups describe as “pure B.S.” (It also begs the question of why it is ok to kill animals with simple colds just because they are classified as “treatable” when Washoe County, NV is saving all of them, despite a per capita intake rate higher than Maricopa County; 26 animals per 1,000 people in Maricopa County vs. 35 animals per 1,000 people in Washoe County.)

And we know it is a lie because of Lilly.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog called, “The Anatomy of a Lie,” about the killing of Ginger’s healthy puppies in the NYC pound:

In late March, a pregnant lab-mix given the name of Ginger entered the New York City pound system. She was full term, within a day or so of giving birth. Spaying a dog in the peak of health is considered major abdominal surgery. Spaying a pregnant dog increases the risk as the blood vessels of her reproductive tract become large and more difficult to tie off during pregnancy. Spaying a pregnant dog at full-term is the riskiest of all: the risk of excessive bleeding is greatest and complications more likely. And, of course, spaying a pregnant dog means killing the puppies. Nonetheless, Ginger was spayed, and her fully viable litter of puppies was killed.

In order to kill them, each and every one of the healthy puppies had to be individually injected with poison. The killing of the puppies was, in point and fact, no different than if they had already been born since they had been born: by the equivalent of a C-section. They were able to survive on their own and, in fact, did survive, but not for long.

One by one, they were injected in the stomach with an overdose of barbiturates. One by one, they went limp and then died. One by one, their lifeless bodies were discarded in the trash, revealing the great hypocrisy of the broken pound system in the U.S., a system which chastises people for treating their companion animals as “disposable” even while they treat them exactly the same way: by killing them and then literally disposing of their bodies in landfills. The new lives of Ginger’s puppies, which should have held nothing but promise, instead were wiped out by callous indifference. It was a tragedy, but it should have surprised no one.

Ginger, make room for Lilly. Like Ginger, Lilly was pregnant and full term. And like Ginger, the Maricopa County pound decided to spay her and kill each and every one of her puppies, which they did. One by one, each was injected in the stomach with an overdose of poison. Or as the notes indicated, “Fatal Plus used” on all twelve of them.

Like Ginger’s puppies, the new lives of Lilly’s puppies, which should have held nothing but promise, instead were wiped out by callous indifference. And like Ginger’s puppies, Lilly’s puppies were not given record numbers or counted in statistics. Maricopa County did not report their lives or their deaths. They simply never existed. That way, they can continue to tell Maddie’s Fund that no healthy dogs have been killed, and Maddie’s Fund can continue to tell all of us the same thing. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.  If New York City is any indication, don’t expect Maddie’s Fund to tell the truth in their glossy annual reports. Don’t expect them to correct the lies posted about Maricopa County on their website. In fact, don’t expect them to do a damn thing about it.

It’s déjà vu all over again.