Thursday, July 9, 2015


In the past couple of weeks, San Bernardino experienced another big fire. Notices were sent out to rescues that had placed 'holds' on pets at the shelter to come and pick them up. The shelter needed room for evacuated pets. 

Devore is very fortunate in that there are many reputable rescuers in their network. Devore is also preyed up by some not so reputable individuals and groups taking advantage of the Hayden Law. Right before the fire, on June 9th, 45% of the dog kennels at Devore had holds on them, most from out of state phone numbers. 

But, really what can rescue holds do to the shelter pets is a better question. Why these holds? Could it be to solicit more pledges? Is it to actually save lives? Some rescues use it to save lives, some use it to raise money, money that is often unaccounted for and often the pet the money was raised for sits in the shelter and is euthanized.

When a rescue has a hold, that means the space becomes a private kennel basically. At one time, a major agency reported that 40% of their kennels were holding for rescues, some for as long as a month. These 'rescues' yell the Hayden Law if they drag their feet and fail to do their duty, the pet is euthanized, the rescues had their chance or chances. Holds are not dictated by law, they are a courtesy. Some rescuers think it is an entitlement, but they are wrong. 

Understand that a hold means taking up valuable space, and it means another can go down to keep that space on hold. Devore makes an effort to move out the ones with holds before euthanizing for space. Usually when the shelter reaches the point where space is an issue, they won't grant additional extensions based on how long the pet has been in the shelter. Rescuers don't realize they can affect others when they fail to show to pull their holds. Rescues drag their feet, leaving pets in there for as long as they can; often times this can mean the pet becomes ill. Although the rescues are made aware of the urgency with the sick pets, they will come to the shelter and decide to adopt other well pets instead. Typical case is the Zephyr in Los Angeles County. The rescuer walked by that dog for a month, watched that dog getting sicker, even took a picture of Zephyr dying, but went on to get others out instead.

Animals that are on "hold" status pose a dilemma for staff; they struggle between euthanizing an animal versus holding on in the hopes that a volunteer or rescue group will meet their commitment to take the animaL. Even when an animal on "hold" is euthanized for humane reasons, staff is often criticized even if it is in the animal's best interests. In this instance, staff erred on the side of trying to accommodate the volunteer's wishes.
On December 1, 2007, Zephyr passed away. Zephyr had been in the Carson Animal Shelter for five weeks and on "hold" for the volunteer for a month.

One of the challenges faced by the Department in its efforts to work with volunteers or Adoption Partners is ensuring that the animals these partners place on "hold" are removed by them in a timely manner. This is critical because animal shelters cannot become a place to keep animals for extended periods of time. Animals that are housed too long at a shelter become stressed, are exposed to illnesses from other animals, infect animals with their own illnesses, and take up valuable cage space needed for new arrivals. Moreover, overcrowded shelters exceed staff's capacity to effectively and humanely care for the animals.

As part of the Department's review of the holding practices used by Adoption Partners and volunteers, it was discovered that the Carson Animal Shelter in particular had a large number of animals being held for a very extended periods of time. In fact, over 50 dogs were being held by volunteers or rescue groups, some for as long as five months. The Department has corrected this abuse of the system by insisting the animals be removed in a timely manner.

Online there are people complaining about the Devore shelter on holding times. Those very people have a considerable record of Devore extending holds for them as many as 25 times. Yet they condemn. When they condemn, it is because they failed to do their responsibility and pull the pet before euthanasia became necessary.

As of the writing of this piece, which started before the Lake Fire, Devore has 82 dogs listed in inventory. Thirty seven (37) of those are on hold for rescues. That is almost half of their inventory. Will they all be pulled in time? How much money in pledges will come in while the animals sit in the shelter? 

Anyone these days can sit on the computer, pull pictures of shelter animals and set up a pledge account. There is no followup to see if the pledged pets really ended up safe and in a forever home. All you have to do is post a 'freedom' picture and collect those pledges. The pet could have been dumped on the side of the road for all anyone knows, or worse.

Another question is if these pledges are reported as income? Some of these people aren't non profits so how is this reported for tax purposes? There are a lot of questions surrounding these pledges, transports, etc. Pets are being shifted around in appalling numbers, unaccounted for, and many unaltered. It is time for regulation of the field of rescuing and transporting, heavy regulation with power of enforcement. 

The courtesy extended by Devore to hold pets for rescue is being taken advantage of. Devore shows it's commitment to wanting to save pets with this courtesy. Be respectful of this extended courtesy.

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