Two locally administered Facebook pages have taken up opposing sides and views on how our community’s shelter animals are faring while in the custody of Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, with most of the focus set on the East Facility in Mesa.
The “STOP the Abuse at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control” Facebook page (“STA”) was created in September, 2012, and is administered by at least one individual, according to its “About” section – “Lisa Marie”. The page maintains that it was created in response to the death of a Chihuahua the day prior, “one of the thousands of dogs that have been abused, subjected to cruelty that would’ve caused a reglular [sic] citizen to have had charges filed against them; neglected, have gone mysteriously missing, been brutally murdered, and more” and that the Chihuahua was “brutally murdered by heart stick.”
Since its creation, the page has become a lightning rod for controversy regarding alleged abuse of animals at Maricopa County Animal Control (“MCACC”), claiming to count former volunteers from MCACC among their “witnesses” of abuse (however, most remain unnamed), and organized a protest of approximately 40 people in front of the East MCACC facility on December 8, 2012.
STA has issued the following demands of MCACC on their page:
“1. We are demanding that they IMMEDIATELY stop the use of catchpoles (pole with wire noose around the end of it) on dogs under 50 pounds (read the literature posted on why catchpoles should never be used on small dog).
2. That humane care is given to any animal that is brought into Mcacc–be it pain meds, washing the wounds, bandaging wounds, etc. A vet needs to be present to tend to the more serious cases; the minor jobs, such as washing wounds, putting on bandages, cutting the mats off a dog to make them more comfortable, etc, can be performed by volunteers, as well as employees, if there is not a vet available. The volunteers and employees can be trained,(at no charge) in basic first aid care.” (September 22, 2012 Facebook post).
One of the issues important to the STA page is the use of catchpoles on animals in the County’s care, and it has spoken out vehemently about the practice, along with alleged incidents of outright abuse by certain, but unnamed staff members, insufficient feeding, insufficient medical care, rodent infestations, and claims of ineptitude and misplaced animals. The lion’s share of their ire, however, is aimed at Rodrigo Silva, the MCACC director and Maricopa County’s Assistant County Manager:
“MCACC Director Silva needs to go NOW! There is no compromising. If someone can do what Director Silva has done, and has allowed the things to happen in his 2 facilities, that he has, then there is no hope of finding a human being inside of him. There is no negotiating with him. He cannot be trusted. He HAS to go. ONLY THEN will the abuse/neglect end.” (December 29, 2012 Facebook post).
In response, a new Facebook page entitled “The FB page, Stop the Abuse at MCACC, Twists the Truth” (“STA Twists the Truth”) was started in early December, to combat what it the “”sensational” falsehoods” of STA, and “to debunk inaccurate [sic] posts using resources within the rescue community and mcacc.” Although the page does not make known its administrator(s), it appears to be administered by someone that is close to MCACC, from its detailed posts. The STA Twists the Truth page tries to address the allegations found on the STA page, and makes the statement:
“Those of us associated with this page, while not directly affiliated with MCACC, are volunteers who know many of the policies and procedures that occur. The other page bases their posts off of anecdotal evidence and hearsay that is always sensational. We do not feel that this is a two-sided issue, us vs. them. Our “side” agrees that their is much room for improvement within the community (especially) and at MCACC as well, however we do not feel we can sit by idly and watch the hard work of MCACC’s staff and volunteers be smeared.”
In response to an STA post regarding a dog that did not receive medical care, STA Twists the Truth posted the following:
“Even though both of these eye witnesses provided this information, S.T.A. decided to post that the dog was not receiving medical care. This post was made a FULL 45 MINUTES AFTER THE CONFIRMATION OF MEDICAL TREATMENT was provided.
S.T.A. can do this at will and the page readers will believe anything the page posts because S.T.A. has blocked everyone from the page that could correct this information.
The med notes sent to rescues also confirm the clinic has seen the pup and it is receiving meds.
STOP THE LIES! There are REAL problems to be concerned about. Not FABRICATED problems!”
(December 12, 2012 Facebook post).
The STA Twists the Truth page has posted responses to the catchpole, feeding, and abuse concerns raised by the STA. Often, verbal battles are waged through the commentary on each page’s posts, with people weighing in from not only Arizona, but from other states, even other countries, as well.
Well-known Valley rescue organization HALO, who has partnered with MCACC to try and assist with animals that are deemed unadoptable, in addition to their regular rescue efforts, has even been drawn into the fray, as STA leveled some fractious comments at them, calling into question their “no-kill” status, . Heather Allen, co-founder of HALO, posted on the STA page in her organization’s defense:
“…I understand your rage. I understand your sadness. I often feel the same. What I don’t understand is why it is directed at me or at HALO. You have said so many things that are not only hurtful, but untrue…
…I’m more than happy to have an open dialogue about how we got to where we are and why the decisions that have been made have been made. HALO’s space at MCACC is to help THEIR animals. The dogs and cats in those rented kennels are from their shelters who needed extra help to be ready for adoption…
… Every one of us at HALO has a profound love for animals and have made many sacrifices in our personal lives to do what we do. It is not fair that you judge us for not being able to help every animal that society dumps on MCACC’s door step.”
(December 20, 2012 post on STA Facebook page)
In reviewing the posts on both pages, it cannot be denied that all involved are passionate about animals and their care. It also cannot be denied that our community’s animal welfare issues are heated and in need of addressing, and while it would be inappropriate for me to take sides on this subject, I would greatly appreciate any and all comments from readers that have taken the time to view both pages and the comments contained therein, and come to their own conclusions and opinions. Tell me what YOU think!
**UPDATE”** I received a message from the admins of The STA Twists the Truth in response to the allegation of the use of heartsticks and inhumane euthanasia methods lodged by the STA page, directing me to the relevant post on The STA Twists the Truth:
“At no time during this process can a kennel staff personally choose to “heartlessly kill” an animal. However, it is not a secret that MCACC does perform HUMANE EUTHANASIA on dogs and cats that are not adopted out, rescued, or fostered. WE HAVE CONFIRMED that this is generally done either with IV injection or a tranquilizer first and then injection to the abdomen. Each individual reports that at no time are animals left “moaning and crying”. All signs of life are checked. The heartstick method that S.T.A. has posted about is NOT used. Any heart sticks are used only AFTER euthanasia to check for signs of life.”