Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Carmel on the Case: Follow Up: Broward Animal Care
Tonight, a follow up to a Seven News investigation on how cats were being euthanized at the Broward County Animal Shelter, and, this time around, the news is better. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- Every day, across the country, sweet cats and loyal dogs are put to death because no one wants them.
In June, two employees at the Broward County Animal Shelter came to Seven News because they were concerned about how that was being done at their facility.
They told us cats were being put down right in front of other cats.
Carmel Cafiero: "Do you think the other cats and kittens understand what is going on?"
First worker: "I know they do, and you can see the reactions from the cats like, 'Am I next.'"
They asked we protect their identities. Someone else is speaking their words.
Dr. Tim Johnston: "It's in the book, the euthanasia book, animals are not supposed to be euthanized in view of other animals."
Dr. Tim Johnston is the County veterinarian. He runs the shelter's clinic. He showed us a screen that is now being used to separate caged cats from those being put down.
Carmel Cafiero: "Why then did it take our story to get the screening?"
Dr. Tim Johnston: "To be honest in my response, I don't think it should have taken a story to address those issues. At least in my case, and I can't speak for anyone else, this was never brought to my attention."
Dr. Johnston does not supervise the euthanasia technicians but is the person the County wanted to talk with us for this report.
The facility's director Rick Richter answered questions first time around.
Carmel Cafiero: "I'm told your staff doesn't even have stethoscopes in order to listen for a heartbeat?"
Rich Richter: "Well, then we need to get some for them."
Dr. Johnston: "They have since been ordered, and everybody's got one."
Dr. Johnston says there were stethoscopes in the clinic if a worker had wanted to use one. Then there's the issue of scales. The workers told us none worked.
Carmel Cafiero: "I understand also that there is no scale for weighing these animals, so they are having to guess at how much euthanasia material to inject?"
Rick Richter: "Very possible and we will review that."
First worker: "If you don't give them the correct dose you have to inject again, so, sometimes, the animal might end up getting stuck three to four times."
There's a scale now, but Dr. Johnston says trained people should be able to accurately estimate weight.
Dr. Johnston: "But I think there was the perception that because this equipment wasn't available then animals might be inhumanely euthanized, and it is absolutely not the truth."
That said, the facility clearly needs care. Following our report, the old refrigeration unit for carcasses was replaced. The old one leaked and smelled. The cremation unit doesn't work and nearly 12,000 animals euthanized every year are being sent to a landfill. There are plans to replace the shelter in a few years with a state-of-the-art facility, but that's of little comfort to the cats and dogs desperate for adoption now.
Dr. Tim Johnston: "Anything anyone can do to help us get animals out of this facility would be greatly appreciated. We need your help."
And so do the animals, some with only hours left to live.
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