OK, words are flying fast and furious over the Animal Rescue League’s role in the mass euthanasia of at least 30 helpless cats in Story City. According to their official Facebook statement that finally appeared this past Wednesday, ARL executives only watched as Dr. Brenda Bright and her unknown assistants removed an unknown number of cats from a hoarder’s home for eventual extermination and disposal.
No one disputes that unfortunate fact.
The ARL's statement also maintains that they did not lead the efforts; they were there simply to assist. Well, maybe. You decide. According to the Story City Chief of Police, he had spoken to Josh Colvin weeks prior to the day of the removal and that the ARL had offered to “coordinate the entire operation.” Not having any experience in coping with a hoarding situation, Chief Haffner readily agreed and welcomed the ARL’s leadership with the understanding that local veterinarian, Brenda Bright would be the vet in charge. Here’s the “assistance” the ARL actually did provide:
- It was the ARL who provided the police department and Dr. Bright with the legal forms necessary for the surrender of the cats and access to the hoarder’s property.
- It was the ARL who recruited the members of the “removal” team.
- It was the ARL who asked Dr. Deppe for her assistance in finding placement for the estimated 50 cats that were in the hoarder’s possession.
Again, no one disputes that unfortunate fact. Although the ARL did take the credit in the news for “rescuing” dozens of cats from a Story City home on Wednesday, August 4th. Going so far as to say, “Some of the animals will have to be put down, but the others will be adopted through the ARL.” (Unfortunately, they haven't relayed that piece of information to their staff since several individuals who have inquired about adopting were told by an ARL representative "we do not have any of the Story City cats.")
So, that brings us to just how many cats were actually in the home and what happened to them? All the ARL will say is that they took 12 cats to be put up for adoption. If that’s true, (and we’d like it to be), then good for them, unfortunately, the actual events of the day and their own statements seem to contradict their ‘rescue’ claim.
Apparently, one of the reasons the ARL gave for asking Dr. Deppe to find placement for the removed cats was due to the fact that they, (ARL), told the Story City Chief of Police that they were full and could not take any of the cats. But, let’s give the ARL the benefit of the doubt and say that they suddenly found room and elected to take those 12 cats back to Des Moines for adoption. What happened to the rest?
We know that Dr. Deppe was only allowed to save 12 animals in spite of her offer to take up to 30. Her repeated pleas to both Dr. Bright and ARL director Tom Colvin to let her save additional lives at no cost to either the City or the owner were rebuffed. The ARL’s official Facebook statement asks us to believe that sometime after Dr. Deppe left for the day, Dr. Bright and the ARL elected to actually permit another 12 cats to live? OK, that still leaves us with 26 cats unaccounted for. How many were killed and how many were given to ISU for vivisection or experimentation? Whatever the answer, that’s over a 50% mortality rate and certainly not in keeping with the ARL’s statement to the media that, “Some of the animals will have to be put down, but the others will be adopted through the ARL.”
When all is said and done, the only facts that no one disputes are the following:
- The ARL clearly had a leadership role in the removal of “dozens of cats” from a hoarder’s home in Story City on August 4, 2010.
- The medical evaluations and decisions to allow cats to live or die were made by licensed veterinarians not affiliated with the ARL.
- Another licensed veterinarian and shelter owner, Dr. Lisa Deppe was present and offered to take up to 30 animals at no cost to either the City or the owner. While Dr. Deppe’s generous offer was refused, she was allowed to save 12.
- Tom Colvin, the ARL’s Executive Director and his son Josh, the Animal Care & Control Center Operations Manager & Cruelty Intervention Coordinator, were present to ” assist with the proper removal of the cats from the home,” but, did nothing but watch.
No one is accusing anyone of anything other than, doing nothing. When faced with the opportunity to save or kill the majority of these unfortunate animals, Dr. Bright and the two top executives of Iowa’s largest animal shelter chose to do nothing. But they sure did take the credit for the “rescue.”
Perhaps the most chilling aspect of this tragic event is the message sent to unincorporated communities across the State of Iowa, that the area’s largest animal shelter and self-proclaimed expert in animal control promotes removal and wholesale extermination as the preferred solution to the problem of unwanted animals. A centuries old philosophy still practiced by many, (but not all), animal shelters today.
This is the 21st Century and our laws and procedures regarding animal care and control should reflect the attitudes and morals of the day, not those of over 100 years ago. Progressive communities across the country have embraced contemporary legislation and policies on how we, as a society, approach animal over population and control. One excellent example is the Companion Animal Protection Act . This is a law that targets shelter practices to relinquish animals to licensed qualified groups and individuals rather than euthanize the animal. This does not stop shelters from killing, but it does prevent them from refusing those who stand in front of them trying to save a life. California has one. Delaware just passed one! We can too! The time is now so that situations like what happened on August 4 in Story City are never allowed to happen again.
You have to ask yourself just how can either one of those gentlemen from the ARL stand in front of the public and ask for money to save animals after doing nothing to stop the killing in Story City when they had the chance. Even if Dr. Bright had ignored their intervention, at least they might have tried.
But they didn’t.
Perchance they’ve just operated one way for too long to change. Perchance they prefer to hide in their fortress behind walls built on the bodies of the tens of thousands of luckless animal companions deemed surplus by archaic policies and procedures.
Yes. It’s time for a change. If you agree, here’s what you can do:
- Organizations like the ARL and legislators are about numbers. So we'll give them what they can understand. We need to “see” your voice. Soft or loud, anyway you want to speak, step up and be heard. Let those who people who want to change the law, know you support them.
- Comment on the blogs. Show your support by letting those who are courageous enough to speak out know they are not alone. Subscribe or follow their blogs and social media outlets so you can stay updated on the latest news and events.
- Cross post everything you receive. Use social networks (like Facebook, twitter) and email friends and family. Ask them to speak out and help spread the word. We need everyone’s voice whether you live in Iowa or not. WARNING: The ARL is attempting to silence any comment or question about this topic on their facebook page. Those that have commented about this topic have had their comments deleted and have subsequently been banned from their site.
- Notify your local news media and ask them why there is only one part of the story being told. We submitted our story to several local stations, but have heard nothing in return.
- TALK ABOUT IT. Share the information anyway you can. Get the word out that a new era has begun. We will no longer tolerate animals being killed while organizations stand ready to save their lives.
- Sponsor one of the lucky twelve that DID make it. Every shelter and rescue across this country is "full" and has limited funding. You can help by volunteering or sponsoring one of those 12 precious lives that Dr. Deppe fought so hard to save. Contact Jewell Animal Hospital for more information 515-827-5700 on how you can help.
This is where we start the ball rolling. We need to know how many committed souls are ready to make change!
We are…are YOU?
If you want more information or would like to join those who are working on the new bill, please contact Citizens for Animal Welfare Reform at firstname.lastname@example.org.