A personal project.

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Credit – Atlantic County Animal Shelter (via Facebook)

 

I want to take a minute to talk about the petition going around on Facebook to “reform” the Atlantic County Animal Shelter.

I’ll be linking the petition at the bottom, along with all of my sources.

Let’s start off by talking about why this shelter is being targeted. The ACAS is being targeted by a salty group of former volunteers via their “animal advocacy group” (http://njanimal.org/index.html). These individuals were booted from the shelter’s volunteer program last month because they can’t follow rules. There are explicit rules for volunteers regarding when dogs can be fed, walked, given treats, etc. The volunteers in question ignored these rules, choosing to do whatever they pleased whenever they pleased, and were thus removed from the program.

One woman in particular was exceptionally salty, and took to Facebook to claim that she was removed from the program because the volunteers saw things the shelter did not want them to see. She included several photos in her post to back up her claims.

Let’s discuss the photos. One photo shows a dog, boxer type, with a very bloody tail and rear end. The walls of the kennel he is in are also bloodied. This was presumably to convince her audience that the dog was being mistreated by the shelter.

What the dog actually has is called happy tail. (http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-mar…/what-is-happy-tail-syndrome) Happy tail occurs when a dog wags his tail hard enough to split it open if it comes in contact with a hard surface. Basically, the boxer was so excited in his kennel that he wagged his tail with enough power to split it open against the walls of the kennel, which resulted in a bloodied tail, rear end, walls, and floor as he continued to wag and blood got everywhere. This is not uncommon in breeds of dogs with short, thin coats and powerful tails (labs, danes, boxers, etc). It is by no means something that happens only in shelters. It’s fixable via stitches and bandaging. In cases where it’s likely for the issue to be ongoing, the tail can be docked to prevent further injury to the dog.

She also posted several photos of dirty kennels. Guess what? Mass kenneling is hard on most dogs. The presence and noise and smell of so many other dogs upsets some, which causes them to go potty a lot, all over. Unfortunately, it can only be cleaned up so often. Each kennel is probably given a full hose down once or twice a day, and if not, perhaps that is a valid and constructive way in which any shelter could improve. Also, I would imagine it’s part of the volunteers’ duty to do clean it up, so I’m glad this lady decided taking photos of the mess was more important than getting it cleaned up.

Recently, this woman’s group has decided to crowdfund their bitterness in the form of a change.org petition to “reform” the shelter. What they really want is to get the director and several of the employees fired. They then plan to make the shelter into their image of what it ought to be. Below is a straight copy/paste of some things from their petition, which I would like to dissect for you, so you can see how manipulative they’re being.

First point, though it isn’t a copy paste, is to note that the shelter pictured on the petition is NOT the Atlantic County Animal Shelter facility. I have no idea what shelter is pictured.

“The N.J. Department of Health Infectious and Zoonotic Disease Program (NJDHIZD) reports Atlantic county animal shelter euthanizes 2/3 of cats every year.”

In 2015, ACAS euthanized 44% of the cats that came into the shelter – a far cry from the 60% claim. This is down from 2013’s 74%, and 2014’s 71%. The shelter is *already making progress* toward reducing the number of cats they euthanize.

“In 2012 according to (NJDHIZD) report 2,688 animals were euthanized.”

I cannot find the breakdown by shelter for 2012 (which is what I used above) but the total number of cats euthanized by both the shelters in Atlantic County in 2012 was 2088. So the 2688 number above is flat-out FALSE.

“Over 20,000 cats or 75% of the cats coming into New Jersey animal shelters were killed, died, went missing or were unaccounted for.”

This is for ALL the shelters in the state, so why is it relevant to a petition singling out one shelter? Additionally, they are far from the worst offender in this regard. This chart (https://njanimalobserver.files.wordpress.com/…/2015-max-pot…) shows the worst offenders accounting for mismatched numbers in shelters’ reporting from all over the state. This chart (https://njanimalobserver.files.wordpress.com/…/2015-cat-dea…) shows the actual, reported percentage death rate for cats from shelters all over the state. ACAS is on this chart, but they are far from the worst offender, so why are they being targeted? Because the petitioners are bitter, and they are singling out one shelter they have a personal grudge against and lying to you about why. It has nothing to do with wanting to improve the conditions for animals in shelters – were that the case, there are significantly worse and genuinely awful shelters to persecute.

“Under the current shelter management , our local shelter has killed more then 1,168 lost and homeless pets. This decade, our local shelter has killed an animal every 15 minutes.”

I don’t know where the first number comes from, so I will not comment on that. 350,400 is the number of animals that would have been euthanized if the shelter had put down an animal every 15 minutes in the last 10 years (I used 2005 to 2015 because 2016’s numbers are not yet available). I could not find a breakdown by shelter for every year, so I used the numbers for Atlantic County (which includes 2 shelters, ACAS and one other) and the total number of animals euthanized between BOTH was 33990. So the idea that the Atlantic County Animal Shelter euthanized an animal every 15 minutes for the last decade is patently false.

The rest of the petition is a random bunch of thoughts strung together to make a paragraph.

I’d like to point out here just how inflammatory this petition is, on several levels. First of all, it isn’t fact-checked at all. As I displayed above, several of the cited numbers are incorrect. Second of all, where possible, they cited old statistics because they’re higher. The newer numbers show that ACAS’s euthanasia rate has decreased, but the petitioners don’t want that known or they might not get their way. Thirdly, I find it rather humorous that the especially-salty woman’s original post (https://www.facebook.com/anna.beststrang/posts/10211603336622960) only mentions DOGS, yet they use the cat statistics in the petition. Why? Well because the numbers of euthanasia for cats are always higher than dogs, by a large amount. Again, they’re being inflammatory.

It’s also worth mentioning that this woman is so difficult that she’s been removed from other shelters’ volunteer programs, not just ACAS’s.

I want to warn anyone who is considering signing this petition that you’ll be signing something abhorrently written and mostly made up. I would encourage everyone to not support the so-called NJ Animal Advocacy Alliance, as there are many, many shelters in NJ they could have targeted if they were really looking to improve the system and go after bad shelters.

Mostly, I want to encourage you to spay and neuter your animals. I want to encourage you to rescue animals in shelters and fosters instead of buying from breeders. The combination of the above two suggestions is the only way we will ever stop euthanizing millions of animals in shelters across the US every single year.

 

(For an intelligent, thoughtful overview of NJ’s shelters last year, you can visit this post.)

Yearly summary by county

2015 summary by county and shelter

State summary from 1987-2015

The sad excuse for a petition

 

A personal project.

A book and a blog.

I’m working on a book about my depression. This is a small excerpt –

I used to spend a fair amount of time wondering why I slept so much. Maybe because of my anemia. Maybe because I’m just lazy. I usually figured it was because I didn’t often sleep well, so my body was trying to make up for quality with quantity. It wasn’t until I admitted the depression that realized I slept a lot because I wanted to.

Sleeping is the easiest thing you can do when you’re depressed. You don’t have to think about how empty you are, about your complete and utter lack of motivation. You can spend time blissfully ignorant of the fact that all of your former favorite things don’t make you happy anymore, and they haven’t in a long time. When you’re asleep, loneliness doesn’t exist and sadness is a myth. Sleep is an all-encompassing oblivion, a nothingness which embraces you for as many hours as you’re willing and capable. If I could have slept constantly til someone found the cure for depression, I never would have thought about killing myself.

I’m of the humble opinion that most people who are depressed don’t actually want to kill themselves; we just don’t want to be alive anymore, either. Waking up was the worst part of my day, every day, when I was at my lowest. Returning to consciousness meant returning to feeling numb, useless, disappointing, and alone. Waking up meant facing another day hopelessly trying to be happy, remembering the person I used to be and seeing how far I’d fallen from that. Sleep is the greatest escape from that, and it’s so much less permanent than death. I think people who go through with suicide just can’t face waking up anymore.

Also, I’ve begun a new blog, which you can find here. It’s an attempt to begin building a portfolio as I delve deeper into finding freelance writing positions. Eventually I’d like a contractual writing post, but all things in good time.

Cheers.

A book and a blog.

Grow.

​All too well do humans know

After death where corpses go

Into earth, flesh and bone

Entombed beneath a dated stone

That we may never be forgot

Though our bodies swell and rot

But by and by we’re broken down

With help from creatures underground

At rapid pace are we consumed

To this bleak fate we all are doomed

Yet all our deaths do new life bring

As after winter comes the spring

Soil brimming with the dead

Finds the roots of plants well fed

And though we slumber peacefully

We grow as bloom and blade and tree

Toward the sky we rise and rise

For no one ever truly dies.

Grow.

Coincidence continued.

Legs tucked close to my chest.

Forehead on the shower floor.

Tap water and tears mixing in the drain.

Heaving, breathing, crying.

Not even sure why.

Am I happy or sad I made it home tonight?

A chest that used to hold a heart

with every breath now hearkens 

to another plane of existence

where only pain exists

and there are no exits.

So I imagine drowning

in tears and tap water

I race til, breathless, I meet the end

and savor peaceful death.

Coincidence continued.

Coincidence.

Normal people don’t feel like this after weddings.

Normal people don’t react this way to the joy of others.

I tried to have a good time. I drank, I danced.

I drove home.

I drove home, knowing I was sober, but wishing I wasn’t.

Because then, the next morning, when they pulled me from the marsh,

covered in mud, filled up with seawater, car wrecked,

they would blame it on the alcohol.

I would rather they thought I drove drunk

than depressed.

Coincidence.

Breaking.

I had a panic attack yesterday. When I passed you on the way to the bank, you looked right at me. It was just for a second, but I saw everything. Your new sunglasses, your longer hair, your hint of a summertime tan. I made it into the parking lot before I broke down. 
I’ve walled the memories of us up, shut them out so effectively that most of the time it seems like everything we had only happened in a dream. Seeing you, out there in the real world, so unexpectedly, shattered everything. It’s not easy to ignore a problem when it’s looking you in the face. And it’s not a problem I’m yet prepared to deal with.
The result was a raw, teary-eyed, chest-heaving mess of a girl in my car. I could sense the stares of the people pulling into the spaces on either side of me but didn’t dare return their gazes. I wonder if they thought I was crazy. Who could blame them?
I tell myself everyday that I can move on, but I haven’t. I remind myself you were never really mine, but I was absolutely yours. I only want you to know that everything I wrote in the letter I gave you remains true, and I miss you.
I miss you.

Breaking.