Fellow Animal Advocates – Peninsula Humane Society (PHS) Dogs Need Your Voice

German Shepherd with the sunset in the background

Hello!

I was a volunteer at PHS for the last four years and the described below happened with two of my shelter friends.
After 4 years volunteering was, still is, painful to me to see that PHS has a lot more flaws than I believed it had. No entity is perfect, but I always jumped in its defense when I heard people talking bad things about it, and I think we can always improve, get better, as human beings or as an organization.

I’m no ingenuous person, of course I know that PHS euthanizes dogs and I agree that in some cases it’s the best option, for the dog or for the community, since the dog could be a treat to someone’s life.

In the light of what happened, I just didn’t feel like I could still be a volunteer at PHS. I’m not the kind of person that will take lightly *do not question* our decisions or that like the *because I said so* kind of answer. I really respect all their work and knowledge, but questioning is normal and healthy, and learning from it makes us better people and better professionals. I couldn’t be in a place where I’d fear asking questions, because they could kick me out.

I understand that it’s a privilege being a volunteer and I could just keep going, for the dogs sake, as I know many people do: head down, mouth shut, broken heart, but If I did that, I’d just be doing more harm than good. Being a volunteer comes with responsibility, and I believe the responsible thing to do when we see wrong is to do something about, if we don’t, we’re merely accomplices.

So I “terminated myself”, and gave them my badge and keys at the end of our meeting with PHS staff and the San Mateo’s county representative.

So, this is our story:

We are a group of long-term PHS volunteers in need of your advice and help. We are writing because I was recently fired from volunteering at PHS when staff came to pull a dog, for immediate euthanasia (due to a medical condition), from a play group a fellow volunteer and I were running. I asked for time to discuss options for this beautiful dog because I volunteer for another organization I was sure would rescue her, despite her medical condition. That request, interpreted as insubordination, got me fired. Sadly, Lola was removed from the yard and led to her death. DESPITE THERE BEING A RESCUE OPTION FOR HER.

I was summarily fired, after 15 years of service, without even so much as a conversation. PHS management didn’t bother to speak to me or my fellow volunteer about our experience. When I elevated this to Ken White, PHS’s president, Ken unequivocally condoned his staff’s mishandling of the situation.

This matters because Lola did not need to die in the shelter and PHS dogs rely on volunteers as their primary respite from the highly stressful environment. Despite PHS’s claim to have 1400 volunteers, there are at best 20-25 dog volunteers at the Coyote Point shelter showing up off and on throughout the week, which houses roughly 100-120 dogs at any given time. Dogs are regularly euthanized at Coyote Point for shelter/stress induced behavior. Getting them out of the kennels to play isn’t only the humane thing to do, it is the best mechanism for ensuring they make it out of PHS alive.

PHS has punitively retaliated against other Coyote Point volunteers who had nothing to do with this incident – suddenly holding them to tight schedules, limiting the number of days they can be at the shelter, limiting the dogs they can now work with, and requiring *new* weekly reports on their activities with the dogs. The timing of these “policy changes” is lost on NO ONE.

We filed a complaint with the county (the county holds PHS’s contract, which expires in 2020) and were heartened that the county took our complaint seriously, and, agreeing we should at least be heard, convened a meeting between all parties. That meeting revealed several misunderstandings and breakdowns in communication, in spite of which, Ken White and his staff remain adamant they did everything right, even though they failed to follow their own investigative protocol.

If any of the above concerns you, we both welcome your advice and your voice.

Please consider any/all of the following actions, or other ideas you may have:
* Forward this post via your social media outlets to alert the community to Lola’s fate and PHS’s mishandling of the situation
* Email the county (mcallagy@smcgov.org) thanking them for reassurance that in 2020 the Animal Care & Control contract will be opened to competition ensuring PHS is no longer entitled to this role and will have to compete
* Email Ken White (KWhite@phs-spca.org) asking these or other questions you may have:
– Why didn’t PHS have the courtesy and respect to at least talk to the volunteers before firing one, and completely disregarding the other?
– What rule did the volunteer break by asking for time to discuss options for Lola now that she was on the euthanasia list? Isn’t there a law that requires shelters to release dogs if a rescue is willing to take them?
– If PHS has 1400 volunteers, why are there so few at Coyote Point where the majority of dogs are?
– Why is PHS still euthanizing dogs for shelter induced behaviors when volunteers report those behaviors don’t manifest outside of the shelter?
– Why is PHS retaliating against volunteers who were in no way involved in this incident making a bad situation worse for the dogs?

To be clear fostering and/or adopting from PHS is still the greatest thing you can do for the dogs! But we know many of you are already at your dog-capacity. You can still use your voice to hold PHS accountable for Lola’s death, the poor treatment of its volunteers and most importantly, the quality of care for the dogs at Coyote Point.

Thank you for any support you are willing to provide.

Contacts: Kit O’Doherty, (650) 274-5236 c, kitodoherty@gmail.com; Beth Kabala, chuckkabala@gmail.com; Ana Carolina Comandulli, (650) 739-9804 c, carolcomandulli@gmail.com; Pam Manuel, (650) 455-3103 c, kennet015@aol.com

Puppy vitamin

me and Rain, the pitbull puppy
me and Rain, the pitbull puppy

Some days are just harder than others.

Most of the days I go to the animal shelter because I want to help the dogs. Some other days I need them to help me, like today. I just needed some puppy love, cuddles, pit smiles and some company. Thank you.

My adventure this week

chihuahua puppy

Last Monday there was a post on Nextdoor where a woman was selling puppies for $25 each. The picture wasn’t very good, but I could count at least 5 puppies and there seemed really young to be sold. A lot of people tried convince her to surrender them to a shelter or let any of us get all them together to surrender, I said I could pick them up. She said that her father wanted money and he needed to get rid of the puppies until next day.

At some point, a neighbor (Ninette, that I had never met before) contacted me privately and told me that she called the woman and she agreed to sell all them to Ninette, for $300. Ninette said she didn’t have all this money, but that she could pay $150 and they agreed. Ninette text me to check if I could hold the puppies for one day and if I could go with her to take the puppies, we’re both afraid to go alone.

We got there, was a house in East Palo Alto, the mama dog came to the gate and the woman’s father came to see us. He said there were 6 puppies, that the male dog was a chihuahua too and that they belonged to a neighbor that suffered an accident (lost a leg, and few days after back home had an accident with something full of hot water, weird story…) and the person couldn’t take care of herself anymore, so the family got rid of the dogs, giving them to this guy, that was selling them as fast as he could, like a bag of potatoes.

As soon as he opened the gate, the mama dog came directly to me, very calm and happy, wagging her tail. Ninette went inside to take the puppies, paid the guy and we left with all the 7 dogs, yep, all seven!

I called my coordinator at PHS&SPCA (I’m a volunteer there) to ask for help, but she said they had a puppy with parvo and she is worried about our tiny puppies getting sick, being too young to be vaccinated or to survive at. They were running low on fosters too, but she said she would try to find but that we should try to find someone too. I contacted Copper’s Dream Rescue, Pound Puppy Rescue and Rocket Dog Rescue too. Until today just PPR answered, but they couldn’t take our little family, they have lots of puppies too.

Many neighbors that were in the NextDoor thread said they want to help with donations and even help to find good homes for the puppies and the spay surgery for the mama, when the time comes.

I had them for two nights and we found a foster family. They live in a city near here (like 1 hour distance) and will keep them for a couple of weeks, after that we already have 2 other foster homes. We got donations: pee pads, kibble, can food, a bed, water/food bowls, a blanket and Ninette is organizing a gofundme page because our neighbor want to help with donations too.

Yes, they will grow healthy, find lovely homes and thrive and this because of all support we got from our neighborhood.

Our puppies and mama Feisty are great and the cutest little furry things, as you can see here, but I need to say that all this situation could have been avoided with responsible ownership. I understand that people don’t always have a lot of money but they have a pet, I get it, they make our lives brighter and full, but please, spay and neuter your pets. If you already find difficult to take care of one pet, can you imagine having a litter of puppies/kittens/bunnies to take care of? They need good food, vet care, vaccines, attention, love, exercise, you can’t just throw them away like garbage or give them to your neighbor sell them on NextDoor or craiglist. This guy took advantage of the situation, but he is not the problem, the problem is who don’t spay/neuter their pets with so many pets dying every day in all the crowded shelters.

You don’t neutered you dog because that “macho” bullshit? You are the problem. You don’t spayed/neutered your dog because you want sell puppies and have an extra income? You are the problem.

We have lots of options around the Bay Area if you don’t have money to go to the vet and get your pet fixed. Many organizations have low cost clinics (for vaccines too) and even free spay/neuter for people that can’t afford it at all.

Free and/or low cost spay/neuter clinics:

There is no excuse.

The hard task of get a feral sick cat

cat trap

For the past week I was trying to get a feral cat that lives around us and seems to be very, very sick to take it to the vet. Well, after rent a big trap from the shelter, 3 cans of cat food, tuna and make the trap comfy, I just gave up.

I don’t know if the cat is too dumb or too smart to be catch. Maybe the dumb one was me. 😛

Be bold, be wild, til the end lil’ cat.