A Dog Named “Cash”

Adopting out safe dogs is our responsibility.

Have you been following the articles about a potentially dog aggressive at the Healdsburg Shelter? Raise your hand if you want that dog living next door to you. Not even Douglas Keane, the celebrity chef fighting for his release, wants to keep him. He is just willing to pay for his rehabilitation and hopes he can then be adopted … to someone else. 

Then if an incident occurs, it can be blamed on the new owners, who obviously didn’t manage him properly! Do you want to be that person? And if he does hurt someone’s pet, who will be blamed? We know we live in a lawsuit happy society — and someone will be held responsible. Given how we will sue over everything, asking Keane to have a million dollar insurance policy and to sign an indemnity paper to protect the shelter doesn’t seem excessive at all — it’s good business sense.

Making a dog with known defects available for adoption has its risks. Shelters want to disclose known issues, such as medical and temperament, so that the right home can be found.  But that opens us up to liability and the risks have to be weighed carefully. Our responsibility to our community is to only put safe animals out there. Doing anything less not only puts others at risk, but it damages the reputation of the shelter and therefore hurts all future animals in our care. 

For every person that has a bad experience with an adoption animal like a medical nightmare or a huge temperament issue, we have lost not just that family as future adopters but many more. It used to be said we’ve lost at least 30 others as they share their frustration with friends and co-workers. 

Today with Facebook and Twitter, it’s more like we’ve lost 300 potential homes as the stereotype of shelter animals as somehow “damaged” or “problems” circulates. Making one adoption and losing 300 is not a particularly good business model.

Putting up problem animals not only hurts the shelter, it hurts that breed’s reputation. We certainly don’t need any more stories about killer bully breeds in the media. Goodness knows they already have a huge stigma to fight. In fact, it’s getting more and more difficult to place a pitbull even when they are really nice and passed the temperament tests with flying colors. Ask Blaze (nice adult male), Cassie (young girl we treated for demodex mange), or Orion (a three-legged sweetie) — three super nice pits that have been up for adoption at our shelter for quite a while. 

If there are not homes for the nice ones, how can you justify the time and money to rehabilitate a questionable one? To what end?  We endorse BADRAP’s (a pitbull advocacy group) mantra of making sure every dog we put up for adoption is an “ambassador of the breed”. We’re actively trying to change people’s perception of the pitbull and have to make sure our dogs represent the best. 

When we recently had a mastiff surrendered for biting a person, we actually had a call from the Mastiff rescue group worried that we might try to “rehabilitate” the dog and put it back out in the community. They don’t want dogs like that tarnishing the name of their beloved breed!

I don’t know anything more about Cash or his specific situation other than what has been written in the paper so I’m not speaking with any inside knowledge.  And without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to really know which way the dog will go. I just support and applaud a shelter that’s willing to stand up to the pressure of the “no-kill” movement and say, “this dog is not safe.” It’s not easy to do — no one likes euthanizing animals — trust me on that. But it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re keeping everyone safe. When your neighbors bring home a shelter dog you will thank us for that!

Taxpayer December 12, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Mickey, Even the "No Kill Movement" does not endorse dangerous dogs being available for adoption. No Kill believes all animals that have treatable medical and behavior issues be made adoptable. Please let's be clear on that. If you would like to understand the No Kill movement better, please contact NKSC, rather than give more misleading information into a community that already has enough issues with animal welfare. Thank you, No Kill Sonoma County
Lisa Hadley December 14, 2011 at 12:34 AM
I would ask both of the above the same questions I've written below. What is going on at the Healdsburg Animal Shelter goes way beyond one dog that the original owners did not deem dangerous and neither did the ED until there was dissension in the ranks. I believe it is always good to have a dialog & be able to question questionable activities, even if it is at a beloved animal shelter! Since many of you seem to be concerned about the dogs at the Healdsburg Animal Shelter perhaps you should pay a little more attention about how they are being treated in-house. Do you approve of spraying dogs in the face with water hoses to stop them from barking? It's cold enough these days without being all wet. Do you approve of already stressed animals being muzzled to stop them from barking? Do you approve of the ED's new policy of not allowing the scared & lonely ones from interacting with their previously approved dog volunteers because they don't want the public getting too attached? Why? These type tactics are not de-stresing but making for aggression and fear where there was none? And since the mgt in charge at the shelter & on the Board do not seem to "notice" or care (?) external agency investigations have been started into these & other issues. So pay attention to the animals you all seem to care so much about... The Healdsburg Animal Shelter should be a "shelter" for HEALDSBURG'S homeless animals first, not a one stop out the back door, enabling endless County dogs in ?????
Ann Carranza December 14, 2011 at 01:49 AM
@ Lisa - I go to the Healdsburg Animal Shelter every week and I see the animals treated with genuine affection and great care. Although I do not spend long hours at the Shelter, I do see volunteers and staff interacting with the dogs and cats every time I am there. I have never seen an animal mistreated. Moreover, I see people devoted to doing their best to care for the animals in their charge. I have used a spray bottle to redirect my own dog's unwanted behaviors. I do believe it is a humane way to surprise the animal into stopping a behavior that is inappropriate. A quick spritz with a spray bottle is not equivalent to drenching an animal with a bucketful of water. The Healdsburg Animal Shelter offers a caring community to animals in need of a new home, including those dogs from Sonoma County Animal Care and Control that may not have such an opportunity. They join in this kind of inter-agency cooperation in order to lessen the stresses animals have at a very large shelter. The result is more adoptions and more happy, healthy pets in forever homes. I'm sorry you take exception with the actions of the committed staff and volunteers at the Healdsburg Animal Shelter. I see hardworking animal advocates doing their best, in an aging facility, to keep animals safe and healthy.
Lisa Hadley December 14, 2011 at 03:01 AM
Ann, It is those very people who have a grave concern, and it is because of their dedication that an alert has gone out...garden hoses are not the same as a spray bottle, which is an accepted means of redirection...
Ann Carranza December 14, 2011 at 03:09 AM
@ Lisa: Really? When I spoke with some Shelter staff members and volunteers just yesterday, I did not hear those kinds of concerns from them. And, of course, I haven't seen a garden hose used to spray any of the animals at the Shelter. You can see a video of their approved method of redirection here: http://healdsburg.patch.com/articles/has-director-julie-seal-offers-insight-to-dog-socialization#video-6922259
Lisa Hadley December 14, 2011 at 03:50 AM
Dear Ann, It is apparent that "we" have different opinions of what is proper care and what has been happening at the shelter this past year. Since we do have proof and individuals are finally coming forward, no longer afraid to, proper authorities outside of the shelter and when necessary even Healdsburg, investigations will determine what has been going on. We are of Healdsburg, not out-of-towners, and have spent 100's and 1,000's of hours over the years volunteering at the Healdsburg Animal Shelter. We are very concerned about the current state of affairs for the dogs and cats. We only hope that one day in the near future the shelter will once again be a safe haven for HEALDSBURG'S homeless animals and we can ALL be proud of our shelter once again. P.S. No one has said that Julie is the one hosing the animals...
Ann Carranza December 14, 2011 at 04:36 AM
@Lisa: as a journalist, I would be interested in seeing your proof, as there might be a story in it.
Angela Hart December 15, 2011 at 07:18 PM
Carrie, please keep your comments civil. This is a column — something readers here find very useful, especially as Mickey is the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter supervisor. As you may know, columns are largely opinion-based and play on recent news stories. What's most valuable is comments that further public discourse, though know that we do not shy away from criticism, as long as it's not harmful.
Osgood Fileding December 18, 2011 at 12:26 AM
This article is incredibly biased and the "writer" seems uninformed about what is going on at the shelter. In fact, this article seems indicative of the spinning that both Lady McBeal and her Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse (the four remaining board members--the dwindling numbers make it self evident that something really smells rotten in the state of the shelter). Incidentally, the board has just voted to hire a PR firm to clean up the mess they have made. This will be a costly affair, an extravagance they cannot afford, and yes, donor money will pay for it. This is especially maddening considering the board recently voted to give Lady McSeal, who has not once engaged in any fund raising herself, a substantial raise. Meanwhile, the almost completed shelter building stands there waiting in conjunction with the animals across the street who are also waiting. To use a tired phrase, if you are not outraged by this, you are not paying attention.
Osgood Fileding December 18, 2011 at 12:31 AM
Angela, you admonishing Carrie for exercising her right to free speech is most irksome to me. Better you should wag that finger at the writer of this column for passing on erroneous information. By the way, Chef Keane has been spending ample time with Cash, and if you've seen the pictures, you would say both man and dog are smiling. Yes, dogs can smile.
Angela Hart December 18, 2011 at 12:37 AM
Osgood, I removed the comments simply because they violated Patch's terms of use. We welcome all readers' comments, beliefs and opinions. But we are forced to remove them if they use profanity, are slanderous or harmful. This article, again, is a column — which is much of the time an opinion from an expert, based on news stories. Thanks for your contribution and keeping it clean.
Ann Carranza December 18, 2011 at 12:56 AM
@Osgood Fileding: Your choice to castigate Mickey Zeldes for being untruthful is rather ludicrous, in my opinion, as your comments contain factual error. Healdsburg Animal Shelter Executive Director Julie Seal has not received a raise (as of last week). Though, perhaps she has a contract that stipulates performance-based increases? In which case, a "vote" on an increase would be moot. She has been active in raising funds for shelter OPERATIONS, as well as cutting costs and creating partnerships to further cut costs, since she was hired. Her activity in that area has actually increased donations to the shelter AND cut costs over the last calendar year. Of course, current challenges have probably caused a drop-off in recent donations. Perhaps you'd like to sign up for the e-mail blasts regarding adoptions and fundraising? I have, as yet, been unable to determine who is in charge of the capital campaign fundraising for the new shelter. I am pursing that information at this time.
Ann Carranza December 18, 2011 at 01:01 AM
@Osgood Fileding -- The people following this story are, for the most part, animal lovers. I agree that dogs do smile. Would you please post those photos of Keane and Cash smiling (or provide a link)? I'd love to see them. Everyone truly wants a happy ending to this story.
In the Know December 18, 2011 at 08:55 PM
Picture of Love: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20111217/ARTICLES/111219556/1350?Title=Rancor-puts-new-Healdsburg-animal-shelter-at-risk
Angela Hart December 18, 2011 at 10:38 PM
Love this Carrie, thanks for sharing.
Ann Carranza December 19, 2011 at 12:22 AM
Thank you, Carrie.


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