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UPDATE: Healdsburg Police Probing Details of Posey's Death

Press Democrat says Healdsburg Mayor Susan Jones asked for the investigation.

UPDATE, 8:42 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.

Healdsburg Police are investigating whether the euthanization of Posey at Healdsburg Animal Shelter was carried out within guidelines of the city's municipal code, according to an article posted online tonight by the Press Democrat.

According to the article, Healdsburg Mayor Susan Jones requested the probe after questions were raised by a writer on the online blog dogthusiast.

To read the article, click here.

UPDATE, 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.

The decision to euthanize a dog named Posey at Healdsburg Animal Shelter was "absolutely not a Hayden (Act) situation," said Bill Anderson, shelter board chairman.

"Posey was brought to us for surrender because of severe aggression issues," Anderson said. "Under the California Food and Agriculture code 311085 (b), she could have been available for immediate euthanasia.

"We did not do that,"Anderson said. "We tried behavior modification, but it didn't work."

Anderson made his remarks after an article in an online blog, dogthusiast, accused the shelter of "breaking the law" by violating California's Hayden Act.

The article and some local "no-kill" activists claim Posey was saveable because a rescue organization, All Aboard Animal Search and Rescue, had offered to take her in and arrange for rehabilitation. In that case, according to Hayden's Act, a "rescue hold" should be put on the dog -- but only if it is a stray. Posey was not a stray, Anderson said.

"Our advisory board, which has a collective 130 years of animal welfare experience, went through the whole (evaluation) process," Anderson said. "Our board of directors didn't get involved."

In addition, Anderson said, the shelter "made every attempt to determine where the dog was going to be held (by All Aboard Animal Search and Rescue), but  they couldn't confirm a location."

Healdsburg Animal Shelter could not release a dog if the rescue group didn't give HAS an address of where the dog was going to be kept, he said.

"This dog was severely kennel-stressed," he said. "If the dog goes out from our shelter, we have to be able to come and see the facility and understand the parameters of how the dog will be cared for."

He said no one on the advisory board takes euthanasia lightly, and that it is only a "last resort," and "very rarely used," Anderson said.

ORIGINAL STORY, 12:48 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.

Local 'no-kill' animal activists say they are outraged by reports of the death of Posey, a 2-year-old female mixed breed dog euthanized at Healdsburg Animal Shelter on Dec. 21.

"The Healdsburg Animal Shelter...calls itself a no-kill shelter, but they recently killed a saveable dog," says blogger Jen deHaan in a Dec. 30 article in dogthusiast. DeHaan says Posey was killed about 24 hours after a rescue organization, All Aboard Animal Search and Rescue, had offered to take Posey and arrange for the dog's rehabilitation with a certified trainer.

However, Healdsburg shelter officials say that Posey was deemed to be dangerous to other dogs by two animal behaviorists and was evaluated as such by the shelter's euthanasia committee. Posey had a history of dog-aggression that was not improving during her three months at the shelter, said

"The dog was surrendered to HAS by her adopted family because of aggression to another dog," Adams said.  "Here at the shelter, she jumped the fence and attacked another dog.

"She was under severe kennel stress and was clearly going crazy," Adams added. "It was inhumane to keep her here and she was not adoptable -- it would not have been responsible to put her out in the community."

But some local activists say they are unconvinced.

"Healdsburg Animal Shelter ended the year by breaking the law," said Vickie Brown, a Sonoma County 'no-kill' activist, referring to the California Hayden Act. Brown, reacting to the dogthusiast article, said it appears that the Healdsburg shelter violated the Hayden Act by euthanizing Posey even though the dog was working with shelter volunteers and had a rescue organization offering to be on board.

"Why are there never any repercussions when government and nonprofits break the law?," Brown said.  "But if a citizen does it, Judi Adams will be out there issuing citations.

"Who is this mysterious 'executive committee' that decided Posey's death even though they had a Rescue Hold sitting there?" Brown added." If this dog was so dangerous, why could a volunteer walk this dog?

"Apparently the dog was safe enough for that," Brown said. "Yet it wasn't safe enough for this shelter to uphold the California and city law when a rescue was going to take it."

But Adams said the Hayden Act provision regarding rescue agencies applies to stray dogs -- not dogs who are surrendered voluntarily to the shelter because of danger to other dogs or humans.

"Posey was not a stray," Adams said. "She was not on a stray hold period." Adams said she is in the process of obtaining a clear legal opinion from the shelter's resident Hayden Act expert and said she will be supplying Healdsburg Patch with a statement as soon as possible.

According to a quote from the Hayden Act in the dogthusiast article, "(b) any stray dog (boldface added) that is impounded pursuant to this division shall, prior to the killing of that animal for any reason other than irremediable suffering, be released to a nonprofit, as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, animal rescue or adoption organization if requested by the organization prior to the scheduled killing of that animal."

Controversy over Posey's death comes just over a year since a major public outcry over a Healdsburg Animal Shelter dog named Cash. In the wake of that controversy, Cash, a mastiff/pitbull mix, was ultimately saved from euthanasia and transferred to King's Kastle animal care center in Windsor, where he is still a resident.

Public outrage about Cash led to a chef-owner of the now-closed Healdsburg upscale restaurant Cyrus, a reorganization of the shelter's board of directors and a ban on public comments by shelter volunteers.

Also, subsequent to the controversy,  then-executive director Julie Seal submitted her resignation.

Over the past year, however, euthanasia issues have been mostly supplanted by serious problems with HAS's new but uninhabitable and severely substandard shelter building. and said the legal process to reclaim damages of millions of dollars spent on the building could take up to two years.

Brown, however, says she is concerned the shelter was "retaliating" against Mary Quinn, owner of All Aboard Animal Search and Rescue, the agency that offered to take Posey. She said that Quinn, who earlier had applied for a transfer agreement with HAS to work on animals that need rescue, was turned down on the application after the dogthusiast article -- which named Quinn -- came out.

"Healdsburg Animal Shelter is not recruiting new partners at this time," says a letter to Quinn from Adams and obtained by Healdsburg Patch.
"We are currently working with several organizations that have been able to satisfy our rescue partnership requirements to date.

"I do appreciate your interest, however, and will let you know should our needs change in the future," Adams says in the letter to Quinn.

Asked Wednesday about Brown's allegations of "retaliation," however, Adams said she "didn't know" what Brown meant and had no word on any such action or process.

HAS Board Chairman Bill Anderson was not at the shelter Wednesday and could not be reached for immediate comment. [Editor's note: Anderson's comments added in update above].

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Gayle Scott January 02, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Love how these people are supposed to love the animals and always have them in the best interest, but when they want to retaliate to someone they don't like, they kill a dog to get their point across. What a bunch of crap that is. It is becoming very evident that the very people that the dogs thought were on their side, clearly ARE NOT. I am disgusted with these shameful human beings, no wonder I love animals more than people. It is because of situations like this one.
Patrick Bohler January 02, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Today's shelters are outdated and those who evaluate do not take into consideration that an Animal "Shelter" is not conducive to positive behavior in ANY animal. In more cases than not, the shelter staff and those who temperament test these dogs are wrong. DEAD wrong. And if it even looks like a "Pit Bull" it's almost certain she's on death row.
Carol (Kiki) Noack January 02, 2013 at 10:01 PM
While I agree with shelter manager Judy Adams that a dog that is slowly going kennel crazy is not safe to put out into the community, that was not where the dog was going to go - it would go to a rescue organization that would work with a trainer to rehab it. It looks like this dog was put down because HAS chose not to work with the rescue organization that wanted to redeem it. Was that really in the best interest of the now-dead dog?
Jennifer Ortiz January 02, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Perhaps we should leave it to those who deal with these difficult decisions, to do just that. HAS -- hold your ground. Lawsuits over this is ridiculous, we have a dog adopted from a shelter, but if a dog is a threat, decisions need to be made.
zoe moire January 02, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Part 1. Well, if the shelter did, indeed, break the law - - - time for replacing a few people - - - again ? Part 2. "Healdsburg Animal Shelter is not recruiting new partners at this time," says a letter to Quinn from Adams and obtained by Healdsburg Patch. Why not?
jdh January 02, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Protections apply to both stray dogs and owner relinquished dogs in Hayden's law. Evidently she missed a section, and doesn't even know the law to begin with. This is easily found online, it's shocking that Adams does not know about California shelter law having the responsibility of directing a public shelter with a "Euthanasia Committee". Please see this article for more information: http://dogthusiast.com/2013/01/02/healdsburg-animal-shelter-kills-animals-before-understanding-haydens-law/
Jen DeHaan January 02, 2013 at 11:35 PM
It is shocking that Adams does not know California shelter law, yet has the level of responsibility that she does (overseeing a Euthanasia committee). Looking for an "out" using the way a dog originally entered the shelter certainly doesn't sound like any kind of No Kill shelter, either. Regardless, there are three clauses about releasing a dog to a rescue group. The first two outline that as part of general rights of stray dogs and stray cats in shelters. Then there is a third section that assigns those same rights to a dog who is an owner surrender. http://dogthusiast.com/2013/01/02/healdsburg-animal-shelter-kills-animals-before-understanding-haydens-law/
Patrick Bohler January 02, 2013 at 11:50 PM
Perhaps you need to look at who is responsible for this dogs behavior. Instead of seeking outside help, they chose to keep a dog they knew to be suffering in those conditions. This constitutes abuse and they should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Lawsuits are far fro ridiculous. They are the only way to get these people to follow the law and hopefully instil a bit more compassion in those who run these places. If this were a private citizen who kept their own dog kenneled nearly 24 hours a day with little to no socialization, they'd be behind bars.
Vickie Brown January 03, 2013 at 02:14 AM
This is absolutely disgusting that Mr Andersen and ACO Adams are defending breaking the Law! Where's your priorities? Would it have really have been such a horrible thing to have waited until the Rescue got there to evaluate Posey? Here's the Code from Hayden's Law that HAS thinks it's perfectly acceptable to break. Think about this the next time ACO Adams writes one of you Healdsburg citizens a citation. She can break the Law, but you can't! A shelter must allow Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) animal rescue and adoption groups to take animals from the shelter. (Food and Agricultural Code sections 31108, 31752, 31754) What this means is that a shelter cannot kill an animal if a rescue group or No Kill shelter is willing to save that animal’s life. Rather than kill animals, shelters are still required to transfer these animals if those groups request it. Shelters are still not permitted to withhold animals because of temperament evaluation or add any other criteria beyond the requirement that the groups be recognized as non-profits under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). Warning Citizens of Healdsburg, This Shelter and certain Staff believe they do not have to follow the Laws that were put in place to protect your animals. This Shelter is now a risk to your Animals! And I just received another email ...FIV Cats too????
An Animal Lover January 03, 2013 at 03:09 AM
The Healdsburg Shelter is not in fact a "No-Kill Shelter" as most people seem to believe. They keep the most adoptable animals and send the other to the Airport Shelter where they often end up being euthanized because they are unadoptable. The fact that the Healdsburg Shelter euthanized a dog recently should not be surprising. It happens regularly at shelters. If people would take responsibility and spay or neuter their animals in the first place we couldn't have to euthanize so many unfortunate animals. Don't buy from a breeder, instead adopt a pet. Quit critisizing the Animal Control Officers and Shelter Staff who are trying to help the animals. They do their job every day because they care about the welfare of the animals!
Elle January 03, 2013 at 06:17 AM
I so want to be supportive of HAS. And maybe I'm misinformed about its mission, but why, when there was a solution other than putting an innocent animal to death, was that solution not pursued? And why is there again such an apparent disconnect between the public's perception of the shelter's role and goals -- and what seems to occur there? We, the community, want to be confident that the shelter is truly an advocate and protector for animals. After such recent and extensive public conflict about/questioning of shelter practices, and at a time when the shelter so needs to rebuild its credibility and donor base, why would such a drastic measure be taken without all alternatives being exhausted? After being hopeful, I've again lost faith in HAS. I thank god I rescued my cat, who was older and ill, from HAS, before too much time has elapsed for her to be declared unadoptable (she was surrendered). Kudos to Susan Jones for ordering a serious inquiry.
Thomas Cole January 03, 2013 at 07:00 AM
There are three primary issues that need to be addressed in this situation: 1. Hayden's Act (Senate Bill 1785) is not just directed at "stray" animals. Sections 1834(a) and (b) were amended to broaden the definition of which animals this act applied to by including "adoptable animal" and "treatable animal." (Treatable is defined as any animal that is not adoptable but that could become adoptable with reasonable efforts.) 2. What is the intent of Hayden's Act? Here is what Tamie L. Bryant, the original architect of the law writes on Maddie's Fund resource library: "In the end, Hayden's legislation, as enacted, states that if a shelter takes in an owner-relinquished animal the shelter must give that animal the same opportunity as other homeless animals to be adopted." (This expands the act to include more than just strays). 3. HAS' old facility was the cause of Posey's problems. Ironically, the country's leading non-cage shelter is right up the road. Sonoma County's Green Dog Rescue Project is an excellent example of this innovative sheltering model. The rescue group who offered to take in and work with Posey is very experienced in dealing with reactive dogs, too.
Marilyn January 03, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Here we go again. This community has become spring loaded to blame the HAS whenever an animal has to be put down. I've worked with animal rescue and know how difficult it is to make these decisions. Unfortunately there isn't always a happy ending when working with animals. And I say shame on Susan Jones for wasting police resources badly needed elsewhere.

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