Saturday, September 17, 2016

The more things change, the more they stay the same

It's been one year since I began writing this blog in an effort to let the world know what's going on at the Shawnee Oklahoma animal shelter. My first entry was about a young puppy who was picked up over the weekend and left to die in a kennel in the shelter. It was titled Innocence lost. I began writing this because there are a lot of things wrong in this shelter in Shawnee, a lot of things that desperately need to change.
The Shawnee Animal shelter has been in the spotlight quite a bit this past year, with stories in the local news media as well as nationally. It began last December when a group from out of state descended on Shawnee to protest the shelter and it's use of the gas chamber. This protest initially looked like a good thing. Things need to change in Shawnee, and this protest would bring the eyes of the world onto this Oklahoma town. The best part about this event was that it brought local Shawnee residents together. Locals who were opposed to the way things were being done at the shelter came together and began standing up and speaking out at city council meetings! In mid December the out of state group arrived for the protest. People in Shawnee were paying attention and speaking  up against the shelter, what could go wrong ? Apparently a lot could go wrong, so wrong in fact, that it resulted in three dogs being gassed to death shortly before Christmas. It had been months since any animals had died in that gas chamber. Rescues in Colorado and other parts of the country were stepping up and saving  them all. The local rescuers were tirelessly pulling and transporting the Shawnee animals to safety. The three dogs who died that day Delilah, Elroy and Brutus also had rescues willing to take them. The shelter was not full at that time in December, it was nowhere near capacity. The dog's were healthy and highly adoptable. So why were they subjected to that long agonizing death in the gas chamber? They died that day as an act of retaliation. The individual in charge of the shelter did not like the attention and harassment that was directed at him from the organizers of the protest. His act of "defiance" against this was to have those innocent dogs brutally gassed to death. It was this act that brought the initial wave of press and attention onto Shawnee and it's shelter. The city manager announced shortly after this that they would be stepping up their effort to end the use of the gas chamber. Within a few months it was announced that they had finally contracted with a veterinarian and would switch to lethal injection as the method of euthanasia. This brought the next wave of publicity into Shawnee. "The Shawnee shelter announces that it will no longer use the gas chamber"!!! People around the world celebrated, after years of talking about stopping the use of the gas chamber, the city finally announced that they were done with it!
The shelter also announced that they would extend their hours, staying open an hour later and opening for half a day on Saturday. Plans to expand and add more kennels were also announced. The shelter did extend the hours, which has been helpful to those looking for lost pets as well as rescues that want to pull animals on the weekend. The expansion has not yet happened.
So what's happening in Shawnee now, September of 2016? The local rescuers have continued their super human efforts to save the animals of Shawnee and get them to out of state rescues or adopters. The shelter has extended its hours, and a vet is humanely euthanising some of the animals. The bad news is that animals are still dying, recently large numbers of them. The people of Shawnee are still failing to spay and neuter their pets. Ridiculous numbers of unwanted litters are finding  their way into the shelter. Since these litters are unwanted, they are also unvaccinated, as are many of the other animals in the shelter. Shawnee Oklahoma is NOT  a model for exemplary pet care. The number of pets going unclaimed in the shelter speaks volumes towards that. The fact that most are unaltered, unvaccinated and often sick really sums up the attitude of Shawnee towards its pets. Many of these animals, especially the young ones are dying from illness, either in the shelter or at the hands of the vet that now euthanizes. One thing that has not changed in the Shawnee shelter is the lack of vet care for animals in the shelter. Animals are brought in sick, injured and malnourished nearly to the point of death. They are left in the shelter in these conditions until a rescue is able to save them, or until they die. Illness is rampant in the shelter because of these conditions.
Since Delilah, Elroy and Brutus were gassed last December many other animals have died after entering the Shawnee shelter. Some have died of illness or injury while in the shelter. Some have been euthanized by the vet due to illness, of course they don't attempt to treat the illness, there is still no vet available to the animals in the shelter. Some animals that find themselves in the Shawnee shelter are gassed. BUT THEY MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THEY WERE NO LONGER USING  THE GAS CHAMBER!!! Yes they did announce that, what they left out is a list of animals that that announcement doesn't apply to. Any wildlife captured by animal control or brought into the shelter is gassed, unless of course rescuers are able to get them released and taken to wildcare. Wild care is an excellent wildlife rescue and rehab facility not too far from Shawnee. Very few make it there from Shawnee, most are gassed to death. Then there is the matter of animals determined ( by animal control) to be feral or dangerous. These are often gassed. I am not privy to what criteria determines whether or not an animal is feral or dangerous. Having spent my life with animals I know how many could SEEM feral or dangerous when trapped or caged. I've had cats that turned into Saber Tooth Tigers when put  into a carrier.
Anyone who has paid attention to the intake numbers of animals posted on the Shawnee shelter web page is aware that there have been a lot of missing numbers over the past year. What happened to the animals attached to those numbers? How many were deemed  feral or dangerous and subsequently gassed? The answer is in the shelter records for anyone who wants to know.
So what has really changed in Shawnee and the shelter? They have expanded the hours, and some animals are being humanely euthanized by a vet.
Lately however, a lot of animals have been dying. Why? Illness, euthanasia and people no longer paying attention to the shelter and the plight of its animals. They announced that the gas chamber wasn't going to be used anymore, so now everything is magically ok in Shawnee! I'm here to say things are most definitely not ok in Shawnee. Animals have been gassed, ridiculous numbers are dying, there is still no vet care and far too many citizens of Shawnee still don't care. No one goes to city council meetings anymore. Rescues and pledgers are losing interest because they think things are ok in Shawnee.
Things are not ok and they won't be unless people continue to step up and work for positive change.