New accusations of animal mistreatment and mismanagement at San Antonio Animal Care Services are surfacing. Recently this author profiled concerns volunteers and members of the community have with the municipal pound; revealing more than 4800 dogs were euthanized at the facility in 2013, other allegations of mishandling animals and claims of disorganization, which resulted in one dog’s death.
Anonymous tip about alleged animal mistreatment
Shortly after publishing these articles this author received an anonymous email tip claiming another animal was mistreated at ACS. The message contained a web link to a page on the “Pet Harbor” website. Here’s the picture that popped up after clicking on the link. As you can see there’s a distressed looking lab pup on the end of some sort of catch pole, and there’s blood on the floor next to him.
When this author initially asked the City of San Antonio for a comment on this photo officials did not respond. But shortly after the inquiry, the picture with blood beside the lab pup was taken down, and this new photo of the dog was uploaded.
After repeated requests for comment ACS spokesperson, Lisa Norwood finally responded by saying, “In reference to the chocolate lab X, that pet was brought in during a bite case. There are no medical notes indicating the dog was bleeding but policy does dictate staff re-take any pictures of pets to boost their placement possibility.”
The chocolate lab pup is now up for adoption with the rescue group CARE. They called him “Teddy” and describe him as very “sweet”. Here’s a link for information on how to foster or adopt him.
ACS Not properly contacting dog’s owners?
When a dog slips away or jumps over the fence and gets picked up by animal control officers anywhere in the US, it’s critical the pooch has a collar with tags and a microchip which lists or is linked to current contact information for the owner. That way officers can easily call and reunite them with their dog.
But volunteer Jenn Studley says she has major concerns with the effort ACS is making to reunite pets with their owners.
Studley makes regular rounds in San Antonio’s shelter doing temperament tests on dogs to see if they would make good candidates for adoption. In mid March she came across this black lab mix in an ACS kennel and noticed tags attached to the dog’s collar. Studley decided to text the number listed on the tag just in case the pooch had an owner. “I assumed that the owner had already been contacted since their information was in plain sight. I also figured it wouldn’t hurt if I sent them a quick text to remind them how important it was to pick her up as soon as possible since there were other dogs that needed the kennel space.”
Within one minute of sending this text that said, “Do you know that your dog is at ACS”, Studley got these texts back saying, “What do you mean?” and “HOW DID SHE GET THERE?!”
The person responding to Studley’s texts was San Antonio resident, Nikki Greene. She was the dog’s former owner and her number was still on the dog’s tags. Greene tells us she recently gave the pooch, named Annabella, to a family with a little boy. Unfortunately they had not updated their contact information on the dog’s tags or microchip. Luckily in this case, Greene knew the dog’s new family and after contacting them Anabella was picked up. Greene says, “They later found out there was a hole in the fence and that’s how she got out.”
But what troubles Greene is that even though Annabella’s tag had an outdated phone number, she was still a good point of contact for the dog. She insists no one from ACS ever called. “Nobody notified me until that volunteer, thank God. The boy whose dog it is was devastated. They (ACS) told me that they called the day before but I had no record of it at all.”
What’s more, according to the sign on Annabella’s ACS kennel, which called her “Sally”, she was now up for adoption. So a new family could have taken her and if no one adopted her, she could have been at risk of being put to sleep, which horrifies Greene. “I think their system does need to be improved! Some people think they are just dogs but they are very important to families. In fact they become a part of the family. If she was euthanized I would have been beyond sad, and so would the little boy who now has her.”
ACS spokesperson Lisa Norwood said shelter workers did call the number on the tag and contacted the microchip company on multiple days, but there was confusion over who really owned the dog. “Both the numbers were not updated with the owner’s proper info. At least four different names were discussed with the people we spoke to.”
Norwood warns pet owners its imperative to have current contact numbers listed. “Information needs to be current for any shelter to be able to get a pet back to their owner quickly. For owners, It makes sense to make that short call to the microchip company to update registration information—tags can and do get lost and the shelter calls on dozens of “wrong number” tags and microchips every week.”
And regarding all concerns shelter volunteers and members of the community have about ACS, Norwood stressed they should contact an on site supervisor immediately. “Since it looks like we all agree getting shelter pets placed is the goal, it doesn’t make sense not to address any potential issues immediately. As previously mentioned, supervisors are on site seven days a week to address issues as they happen–and I am sure that is the volunteers ultimate goal-to help pets by helping ACS improve procedure.”
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