Monday, January 25, 2016
Something stinks in the town of Shawnee Oklahoma, and this time it isn't just the animal shelter.
There was an incident in town recently involving an allegedly vicious dog, a pit bull named Blue. The statement given by Blues owner is that she was at school when she received a call from Shawnee animal control. The animal control officer allegedly told her that her dog had been picked up and impounded. According to animal control the dog would need to be quarantined at the shelter for ten days, the owner was responsible for paying the cost of the quarantine. If she did not pay these costs they would gas Blue and cut off his head to verify that he didn't have rabies. To me this seems very strange. All that is required to verify an immunity to rabies is usually a call to the dogs vet to get the date of the last vaccination, or a simple blood test to to check the titer level in the dogs blood. A sufficient titer level shows that the dog has immunity. Cutting off the head seems a bit extreme.
According to the dog's owner, Blue was securely locked in the house when she left for the day. Blue's owner claims that someone broke into her house and the dog got out at that time. This is the second strange part of the story. Blue apparently got into a fight with another dog, the other dog's owner tried to break up the fight and may or may not have been bitten. This possible bite might have been caused by Blue or the other dog, as far as I know this has never been made clear. Blue was then picked up by animal control and taken to the shelter without incident. It is my understanding that Blue did not show any signs of aggression when he was picked up or at the shelter. Blue's owner managed to have Blue transferred to his vet for the quarantine period. Within just a few days a court hearing was held to determine Blue's fate. How is that possible? A court date occurring just days after the incident? Even a town the size of Shawnee must have enough court cases to fill it's schedule at least a few weeks out. The court date was set and Blue's owner appeared with a statement and witnesses willing to testify to Blues character. Here's the next strange part, supposedly Blues owner was not allowed to give her statement or produce any witnesses, not even the animal control officer who picked Blue up and witnessed no signs of aggression. Blue was sentenced to death and his owner allegedly sentenced to jail time.
The next piece of this puzzle that may or may not fit, is the assistance Blue's owner was receiving from an out of state animal advocacy group. This is the same group that sponsored the shelter protest back in December. The same group that played a role in the events that lead to a retaliatory gassing of three dogs. Is there perhaps a bias amongst Shawnee city officials against this group? Could that be part of the reason for this crazy situation? A pit bull who, by all accounts is not aggressive, was sentenced to death for a very vague and questionable first time offense that might not even have involved a bite? Of course, its possible that Blue's owner wasn't truthful about everything that happened or maybe there were other misleading statements along the way, it's a very strange situation all the way around.
There are facts in this case that are very questionable however, the speed of the trial, the harsh sentence, the fact that the animal control officer who picked up Blue was never asked for a statement. These all seem very strange to me and my instinct is to suspect corruption and bias among the small town city officials. Sadly, this sort of corruption and cruelty is seen all too often in and around animal shelters. Shawnee is not unique in that.
I will never understand how we humans, as so called higher beings, can allow and perpetrate this kind of unfairness and cruelty upon the most innocent among us, the animals. It's even more appalling to realize that many of those responsible for unthinkable cruelty, call themselves Christians.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
2016 is here, we've turned the page on 2015. 2015 ended on a very bad note in the town of Shawnee, especially for Delilah, Brutus and Elroy. These were the three dogs who died in a retaliatory gassing back in December. This led to more unpleasant events for those involved with the animal shelter. The shelter supervisor was put on administrative leave and news stories about these events were seen everywhere. The question of whether or not Randy Newton gassed the animals on his own initiative or on the order of his boss, Chris Thomas, grew from a whisper to a roar. We may never know for sure, either way it won't bring back the three innocent dogs who lost their lives in the gas chamber that day in December. With luck, the questions raised from this incident will prevent it from ever happening again.
The new year has brought with it hints of possible change at the Shawnee shelter, potentially big change! An entirely new shelter administration may be on the way in soon! With a new administration, hopefully the desperately needed changes will also come to the Shawnee shelter. This is a bit hard for me to believe since the attitudes and behavior of many people connected with the animal shelter seem to belong in "The Hills Have Eyes". I would certainly love to see it happen though!
One thing we know for sure, the winds of change have begun to blow through Shawnee. The events of last month and the resulting attention, in the media and of course, social networking, have forced the city and shelter administration to address the issue. Hopefully this really will result in a new and much improved shelter administration and policy. Perhaps Shawnee will become a no kill town, at the very least, may we never again see innocent animals killed in anger or spite.