When you show courage, it inspires courage in others.
The following was sent to Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin, who have spearheaded their own “Save-A-Pet Program“ after a proposal with the programs and services of the No Kill Equation was submitted by the grassroots organization, No Kill Columbus GA. This is a letter written by a concerned citizen that has recently joined the new volunteer force at Columbus Animal Care & Control here in Georgia.
I volunteered at Colulmbus Animal Control this past Saturday, and I witnessed an incident that I feel is very important to share with you.
What I am referring to is the violent way in which an A.C. employee dragged both of the small dogs pictured here on a chokepole, from one end of the kennels all the way down to the other (to put them in a different pen). He drug each dog as it was on its back, feet up in the air, while they writhed around and gasped and hacked, trying to get air because the chokepole noose was so tight. He literally threw each one of them in the pen. They had to have been all bruised up after that.
A few minutes later I asked why he had handled such small dogs (they couldn’t have weighed more than 15-20 pounds each) so violently, and on the chokepole—had that really been necessary? He responded that he would get written up for a safety violation, if he didn’t use a chokepole on aggressive dogs.
You can see from this picture that the black and white one was dripping blood from his nose or mouth (not sure which) after this ordeal.
These dogs were so terrified after this, that they huddled together, absolutely quivering with fear. I knelt down and petted the b&w one through the cage (on his back–he did not turn around to face me) with no problem. Since he showed no aggression, I then went in the cage to kneel down and see if I could talk to him softly for a few minutes and see where the blood was coming from. Another employee saw me in there and said, “Maam PLEASE don’t go in that cage!” (They were letting me go in other cages to clean, in fact, I had already been in cages with most of the other dogs there, to use the “pooper scooper” and to mop.)
These two small dogs never did appear on the Animal Control website so I can only surmise they were both killed after closing at 5 p.m. Both staff members acted like these dogs were so viscious and dangerous, and I don’t know why. But even if they WERE aggressive, they STILL deserve to be treated humanely. It is a certainty that these dogs were dragged back to the “kill room” in the same violent manner. In what I saw happen, there was only one “aggressor,” and it was the AC staffperson. It really sickened me to see someone entrusted with the care of our society’s most helpless—companion animals who end up in the pound—treating them so heartlessly.
Unfortunately I can’t do anything for those dogs now, but what I can do is report to those in authority what I saw happen to them.
Thank you for your time.
While I applaud her courage to speak up for the animals, this brings up a topic familiar to too many animal advocates, which Nathan Winograd wrote about in his September 30, 2011 blog, Courage & Cowardice in the Fight for a No Kill Nation (<~ click there to read his blog in it’s entirety). Nathan Winograd ”would meet with the rescuers and volunteers privately. In order to get them to come and speak candidly, I had to promise them confidentiality, though I encouraged them to speak up and go on record. I always asked them:
Do you look the other way at inhumane treatment of animals in the shelter for fear you will lose your ability to rescue/volunteer?
And the answer, invariably, was “Yes.” They described how other rescuers [and volunteers] were barred from saving animals as retaliation for complaining about the shelter, even if they first offered suggestions and when those were ignored, went public. And so rather than see the animals killed, rescuers have learned to keep quiet. To see the dog bleeding in his cage but not complain.”
“When you speak the truth, when you stand up to bullies and expose them for who and what they really are, there may be some hardships, but there are also plenty of rewards. That the neglect and abuse ends and that the animals live instead of die goes without saying. Moreover, when you show courage, it inspires courage in others and you find you are not alone. A movement grows. History vindicates you. And you become a leader.”
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson replied with the following:
“I appreciate you sharing this with us. I can assure you that as described the violent treatment of an animal is forbidden. We will investigate and if substantiated will take immediate action. Thank you for volunteering at the shelter. You are making a difference and we are committed to the fact that our staff will humanely facilitate the adoption of every adoptable animal. Thank you again.
Teresa Pike Tomlinson
Columbus Consolidated Government”
I will be sharing information as it develops. I hope this very serious issue is addressed by the city, and the staff member responsible is held accountable.
If you want to join the conversation and speak up for the animals in Columbus, join us at the next No Kill Meeting this Sunday, October 9th, at Kirkland Memorial Baptist Church (6304 Lynridge Ave). The location had changed, so it will NOT be held at the public library. I hope to see you all there!