Mon, May 17, 2010 3:42:46 PM
Fwd: HSUS sponsorship of Multnomah County Animal Services, Oregon as a model agency: response part one of two ( corrected sp)
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-----Original Message-----
From: gocbwatchdog@aol.com
To: gocbwatchdog@aol.com
Sent: Mon, May 17, 2010 10:02 am
Subject: Fwd: HSUS sponsorship of Multnomah County Animal Services, Oregon as a model agency: response part one of two


Subject: HSUS sponsorship of Multnomah County Animal Services, Oregon as a model agency

HSUS vice president John Snyder's enthusiastic endorsement of  MCAS,a high volume kill agency, follows at the end of the text.
                                                    
 
                                 Multnomah County Animal Services are scheduled to present at the HSUS 2010 Animal Expo in Tennessee.
                                                                                               http://www.animalsheltering.org/expo/
 
Enrichment for Shelter and Foster Pets
Saturday, May 15, 9:00 a.m. — 10:30 a.m.
Shelters, humane societies, and rescue groups alike work hard to adopt out healthy and happy pets. By stimulating the lives of each animal with training and simple changes in routine while they are in our care, we can give them the tools to succeed in a new home. If that pet's wait for adoption is a year or a week, they will benefit emotionally and mentally from any and all forms of enrichment. We would like to show you ways to "think outside the box" and build a program for animals in your shelter and foster homes!
Presenters: Stephanie Collingsworth, CPPDT-KA, Behavior and Training, Multnomah County Animal Services, Troutdale, OR; Ann Potter, Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, Multnomah County Animal Services, Troutdale, OR; John Rowton, Shelter Manager, Multnomah County Animal Services, Troutdale, OR.


To: Jon Snyder
       Wayne Pacelle
CC: Andrew Rowan
 
Thank you for your response.   Unfortunately, it is clear the your continued use of MCAS as a national shelter model reflects a grave misunderstanding of local realities.  I will address each of your comments in turn.
 
“MCAS has made improvements to their shelter routine which has proven to be very successful in developing an effective and progressive shelter enrichment program and their suggestions are intended to benefit other agencies struggling to meet the emotional needs of animals in their care.”
 
That is not true.  MCAS continues to adhere to kenneling animals in the traditional fashion, socially isolated, alone and frightened behind closed Intake doors until after three days for stray animals they are taken to a testing room, “tested” once on non-standardized temperament test without regard to their physical or emotional condition and, based on the decision of one non-credentialed kennel attendant, killed or allowed to live. Animals are killed based upon pre-determined formulas. Most are killed.  That is clear from the agency statistics.
 
Open Paw, allegedly introduced in January 2007, is an in-shelter stress reduction program for cats and dogs. The public records indicate that no stress reduction efforts are made at MCAS to improve the emotional lives of animals before testing. That is clearly documented in animal status public record reports available upon request. Unredeemed strays tested after 3 days of isolation in Intake are tested “as is” injured, pregnant, clearly fearful, or starved, stressors that clearly confound testing validity. No effort is made to alleviate these stressors that affect outcome. Animals that are injured must qualify for medical care addressing their injuries by first passing a behavior assessment.  Records confirming this are also available upon request. Claims of caring for animals emotional lives are simply false. After passing a BA, some may qualify for foster homes outside of MCAS where Open Paw principals are applied. For example, a staff person noted in May 10, 2010, records that the shy dog that had a marginal BA pass wouldn’t make it on MCAS’s adoption floors and required Open Paw fostering. An individual animal already assigned to the adoption floor also may qualify for Open Paw activities. MCAS does not have the emotional enrichment activities they claim for the stray animals in their care. Application is selective.
 
MCAS has been increasingly criticized by the community for its kill rate. It escalates year after year.  MCAS’s kill rate is completely incompatible with the agency’s claims of excellence in caring for the emotional lives of animals through the implementation of Open Paw. From 2006 to 2007 when Open Paw was reported to have been implemented, MCAS Director Michael Oswald claimed a 10.5% reduction in euthanasia for dogs. That difference and figure disappeared when adjusted for changes in Intake numbers. There has been no improvement whatsoever in agency statistics since the reported adoption of Open Paw in 2007, an in house animal stress reduction program intended to make more animals adoptable.  That alone should give you reason to question their claim.
 
These are the figures for 2006, the year before Open Paw was supposedly initiated: Live release rate, 49.6%; save rate for unredeemed animals, 35%; kill rate for unredeemed animals, 57.4%.  These are the figures for 2009 after 3 years of Open Paw: Live release rate, 46%; save rate for unredeemed animals, 35%; kill rate for unredeemed animals 56.35%.  The live release rate in fact was higher in 2006 before Open Paw was adopted, by 4 percent, the only minor notable change.
 
Open Paw lists minimal mental health requirements for dogs few, if any, of which appear to be in effect at MCAS, i.e. daily basic training and mental stimulation such as walks; canine companionship, either housed with other dogs, or daily 20 minute play/training sessions; interaction with at least 20 people a day including at least five unfamiliar persons on a long list of enrichment activities. It is meant to include all dogs not just a few chosen dogs.  Resident animals at MCAS do not receive the enrichment that Open Paw advocates. You have to read the records to know that or visit adoption kennels anonymously.  No one is allowed into Intake. The doors are closed and windows papered over. Open Paws’ vision for shelters is to raise the bar for basic domestic animal care and by doing so to improve adoption and save rates. Open Paw has failed to be fully or properly implemented at MCAS. It exists in name only primarily for advertising purposes.  
 
“We are very impressed with MCAS’s commitment to making positive changes in their community. As a founding member of the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland—a coalition of public and private shelters—ASAP is working collaboratively to end the euthanasia of healthy , socialized dogs and cats in Portland area shelters.”
 
MCAS takes credit for group policies and programs that have little or nothing to do what they actually practice in their own individual programs, or subscribe to as policies. They often do not choose to follow group recommendations. If there were a founding member of this group, it would be OHS. MCAS is not required nor does it adhere to or endorse or follow all of the recommendations of the group. While  the group tries to work positively on the image and status of pit bulls and their numbers at shelters, MCAS carries on a documented de facto covert ban that requires the killing  of pit bulls en masse ( 85% to 90%) at  testing levels that allow all other breeds to go to adoptions or rescue. That practice has been confirmed by outside expert analysis. That is not an ASAP policy. Does HSUS condone the practice of breed bans and/or de facto breed bans? Records and an outside expert analysis confirm that practice.
 
“Using statistical reporting methods that are becoming the standard in the animal sheltering profession, ( advocated by Andrew Rowan) MCAS’s euthanasia per 1000 human population is 5.2 per  while the national average reported by Merritt Clifton, Editor of Animal People is practically 15 per 1000.”
 
Your comment that “MCAS’s euthanasia per 1,000 human population is 5.2 per” is especially troubling.  If that measure has any value, it is in the comparison of communities.  It has no application to individual elements of the community’s successes or failures because, when applied to a single shelter, it wholly ignores the performance of all the other groups and individuals who contribute to the community’s performance.
Perhaps an example will help.  In Multnomah County, the Oregon Humane Society manages to adopt about 95% of the nearly 10,000 dogs and cats admitted to its shelter, about 60% of all adoptions in the county.  Given the fact that any “euthanasia rate” is the inverse of the community’s “save rate,” it should be obvious that OHS’s extraordinary efforts and success play a very large role in reducing the numbers of animals that would be euthanized if OHS were not present.  In fact, if we were to assume that OHS did not exist and assigned its dogs and cats to MCAS’s tender mercies and applied the agency’s own unredeemed animal “kill rate” (56.35%) to the new arrivals, the total number of county-wide euthanasias would climb by over 5,500 and its’ euthanasia rate would jump to about 13 per 1000 human population. The moral – one with which I believe HSUS’s own Andrew Rowan will agree – is that it is a mistake to use a regional euthanasia rate to assess the effectiveness of a single agency.  It is an even greater error for that mistake to cause HSUS to endorse a failing agency. Under your single misapplied litmus test an individual agency with an excellent performance record would be considered a failure in a high volume kill community; while conversely, a failed agency could hide its dismal performance behind the excellence of the community as a whole.
The facts speak for themselves.  They are objective and completely verifiable. You have not been provided them.  It would be laughable if it were not so tragic that HSUS believes a save rate of 35% for unredeemed animals (the rate for MCAS for two year running, 2008 and 2009) should be the standard for the country, one other shelters should be taught to achieve. MCAS is coming under increasing criticism and fire for their failure to the public and homeless animals.  By providing false information to you to obtain an endorsement from HSUS, the intention is to use HSUS to deceive the public and deflect attention from their failed policies and practices.  HSUS will lose national trust and credibility when the facts are out.  They will be. Facts endure.  It is a high price. 
 
MCAS can present at a conference when they have genuinely improved their save rates and honored the facts, the lives of homeless animals, and this community’s values. Involving HSUS in a cover up is shocking and unethical behavior. Your first allegiance should be to animal protection, not to an agency that has failed.
 
Gail O’Connell-Babcock, Ph.D.
Watchdog/Citizens for Humane Animal Legislation
16004 SW Tualatin-Sherwood Road #508
Sherwood, OR 97140
Telephone: 503.625.4563 Fax: 503.925.8299
 
Postscript: All supporting documents available upon request. Temperament testing practices attached.  Electronic Inventory records are also available.
 
John Snyder of HSUS's letter of explanation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
 
Dear Gail,
 
Thank you for your inquiry.
 
Wayne asked me to respond to you and I’m sorry for the delay in my reply, but with the flooding in Nashville much of our time and resources have been spent identifying a new Expo location and then making the necessary changes to schedules and accommodations.
 
I know you are disappointed to see Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) presenting at Expo, but, as a municipal agency, we view the implementation of Open Paw as valuable insight to be shared with other attendees. MCAS has made improvements to their shelter routine which has proven to be very successful in developing an effective and progressive shelter enrichment program, and their suggestions are intended to benefit other agencies struggling to meet the emotional needs of animals in their care.
 
In addition, we are very impressed with MCAS’s commitment to making positive changes in their community. As a founding member of the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP)—a coalition of public and private shelters—ASAP is working collaboratively to end the euthanasia of healthy, socialized dogs and cats in Portland area shelters.
 
Lastly, using statistical reporting methods that are becoming the standard in the animal sheltering profession (advocated by Andrew Rowan), MCAS’s euthanasia per 1,000 human population is 5.2 per , while the national average reported by Merritt Clifton, Editor of Animal People  is approximately 15 per 1,000.
 
Gail, I admire your continued advocacy, and I hope that even if we disagree about MCAS, we can find other areas in which we can work together in the future.
 
All the best
 
 
John M. Snyder, CAWA
Vice President, Companion Animals

jsnyder@humanesociety.org
t 202-452-1100 f 301-258-3180
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street NW    Washington, DC 20037
humanesociety.org
The Humane 
Society of the United States - Celebrating Animals | Confronting 
Cruelty
 
Start planning now to attend Animal Care Expo 2010, the nation's premier animal welfare conference! For information on the May 12-15th event in Nashville, Tennessee, visit www.AnimalSheltering.org/expo or call 1-800-248-EXPO.