Robeson County shelter will continue to use heart stick

The Robesonian is reporting officials in Robeson County (NC) have denied a request by animal advocates to immediatly discontinue the use of the heart stick at the county shelter as a means to end the lives of homeless pets.

State Rep. Pat McElraft and two other concerned citizens met with the shelter manager and the health department director on Wednesday. McElraft is reported as the primary sponsor of a bill known as “Davie’s Law,” which would set better standards for humane euthanasia.

The article also notes the Robeson animal shelter is the only one in the state that still uses the heart stick as a primary means of euthanasia.

There are too important facts to note about heart-sticking. One – the animal must be sedated first and if that is the case, why not take the next humane step and use a syringe injection. And two – the practice of heart-sticking is inhumane, despite what others might suggest.

I contend that the only way to determine if the dog, for example, is under sedation to a level that it will not feel pain from being stabbed in the heart is from the examination of a skilled veterinarian. There is a clear reason why veterinarians us injection for terminally ill family pets, at the end of their lives. Why? – because it is THE most humane method.

I don’t think anyone would actually take their much-loved family member to a veterinarian to end its suffering and ask for the heart stick to be used. I don’t think any national veterinary organization would suggest this, at least I hope not.

The reason given by Albert Locklear of the county’s Environmental Health division for using the heart stick is it is more efficient and takes less time. It seems the shelter would have to stay open longer each day for these procedures if injections were used, because it is such a high-kill facility.

I’m not sure if the county officials knows what a red flag this statements throw up. Apparently, this is an admission that the county is experiencing a level of homelessness to a degree beyond what all other counties in the state are experiencing that don’t use the heart stick as a primary method.

The way to address this issue should NOT be in punishing the animals. Better – more efficient – means should be introduced to find foster and perminate homes for the animals and to communicate more efficiently with rescue organizations within and outside of North Carolina.

And as important would be addressing the reasons why so many pets are becoming homeless each year in the county. Bumping up the licensing fees for unaltered pets and offering more low-cost spay-neuter programs or no-cost clinics might help. At the end of story, it is noted that two local veterinary hospitals offer half-price spay/neuter for pets adopted at the shelter, but is this being offered at any time for pets in general?

Also, research methods and procedures used by comparable counties across the country, with much lower rates of euthanisia or no-kill rates. In the long-term, this work will pay off – not only in saving the lives of more pets each year, but also in reducing  costs for the county.

What has happened in other counties across the nation can happen in Robeson County.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Reni on April 16, 2010 at 8:48 am

    who is protecting this asshole Jeff Bass? His fun on letting animals suffer is sick, insane and known beyond US borders.
    Shame on Robeson County Community, that allows and kind of protects this devil incarnate.
    Reni Almoslöchner


  2. Posted by Pw'eek on April 16, 2010 at 10:13 am

    As a former vet tech who worked in a clinic that did a lot of work for rescue organizations, I can tell you why more clinics don’t offer “no-cost” spay/neuter programs. Because surgeries cost the vet money! I agree that many clinics over-charge for these services, but this clinic was not one of those. Vets cannot provide medicines, anesthesia, and people to assist in the surgeries for free. It will put them out of business. I also did a lot of rescue work. As I type, I have 16 “unadoptable” animals in my home.
    I agree that to end the problem of unwanted pets, a good spay/neuter program is essential, but it won’t work unless the ignorant among us are forced to alter their pets. Backyard breeders are a big part of the problem. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone bring a puppy into the clinic that they got on the cheap and think they are going to make a lot of money breeding said puppy. I am not talking about reputable, responsible breeders. I’m talking about people who are essentially trying to start their own puppy mills.
    There is also the problem of people who allow their pets to have a litter so “the kids can experience the miracle of life”. Or, better yet, those that still ignorantly believe that an animal SHOULD have at least one litter before altering. Or, my personal favorites…the ones who use the pitiful excuse that animals having litter after litter because “it’s just the way God intended animals to be”. You just can’t educate that level of ignorance, and it’s out there, trust me!
    Here is the solution that occurred to me. Every city, county, etc. should pass laws requiring that all pets be spayed/neutered by the age of 6 months. Anyone who is found with an unaltered pet over the age of 6 months is fined enough to cover the cost of a reasonably priced spay/neuter (plus a bit for the fact that they didn’t comply in the first place), and the animal is immediately taken to be altered. None of this, “You have _____ amount of time to comply” stuff, though. When the animal is found unaltered, it is confiscated, taken to be “fixed” and the people can pick it up. I know some will say that some people can’t afford a fine like that and that, but you don’t get a choice when you get a traffic ticket, do you? People need to understand that when they get a pet, the cost of getting that pet altered is a required cost of having that pet, just like food, shelter, etc.
    As for the problem of breeders, a breeding license should be required. The fee for such a license should be enough to weed out backyard breeders and should be enough to cover a quarterly inspection of the breeding ” facilities” to ensure that it is not a puppy mill, and that the animals are well taken care of. Granted, this would make a license rather costly, but I’ve seen what people are getting for purebred animals. Breeders need to be responsible. Many purebreds are genetically “weak” because of poor breeding practices by those who are more interested in the money than keeping the breed healthy and strong.
    We also need laws making animal negligence/cruelty a heavy offense with stiff fines and penalties. Not these slap on the wrist, BS fines. I mean real, required jail time. While they are serving their sentence, put these people to work in the shelters. God knows the shelters have a hard time getting workers they can afford. Here is free labor. Perhaps, this way, they will see, first hand, the effect their “breeding” is having on the pet population. In my area alone, they have “busted” several huge puppy mill operations that were absolutely hideous, yet the consequences for the people running them were minimal. People like this should not get fines and probation, but real, hard jail time. Otherwise, it just keeps happening. The same goes for those caught dumping animals on the sides of deserted country roads.
    I realize that what I’ve just written doesn’t seem to address the problem mentioned in the above post, but it does. There would be no debate over how shelter animals are euthanized if there wasn’t an over-population problem.


  3. Posted by Rachel on April 16, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    OMG!!! I Will Punch That Sockface In The Nose!!! :DD Thrust Me I Will


  4. Posted by D Gary Grady on April 17, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Let me give you an idea what supporters of spay-and-neuter laws are up against:

    A friend of mine in California, in most respects an intelligent guy, told me that the Humane Society wanted to make dogs extinct, pointing to a spay-and-neuter bill in California that he said would have that effect, and asserting all manner of implausible things about it. When I expressed skepticism, he told me he had looked deeply into it. So I found the text of the bill on line on the legislature’s website — the original version and various amended versions — and sent him the link, asking him to point out which version contained the provisions in question, because I couldn’t find them. (There were a few things I didn’t like about the original bill, but the more recent versions were if anything so watered down as to be almost meaningless, let alone likely to make dogs an endangered species.) Of course, I never heard back from him with a pointer to the nonexistent provisions.

    The same guy was also taken in by propaganda about a voter initiative requiring humane treatment of farm animals. Again he said he was sure he was right about what the bill said, so I sent him links to the bill text and asked him to point out the provisions in question, and again he never replied.

    From other experiences it seems that to a lot of people, “looking deeply into something” means visiting partisan websites and swallowing their contents whole without regard to their credibility. Or else just reading a lot of forwarded emails from Internet cranks.


  5. Posted by Reni on April 20, 2010 at 8:19 am



  6. I BET they STILL are doing the heartsticking,it is all done behind closed doors and what is all this talk about the Vet “locklear” and outhers co officials have been convited of dogfighting charges in the past???


  7. Posted by Tanya on August 17, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I tell you something, it takes a very sick person to do such a horrible thing to an animal and feel no pity reason they’ve continued to do it. They don’t care on if it’s painful or not. By god, let some stab them in the heart and lets watch them frail around.. I can almost guarantee that this has not stopped. I believe they enjoy watching these animals frail about when the shot is administered. These people should not be in business and the doctor should be brought up on charges for continues regardless of the laws. They should be brought up on animal cruelty charges. Because that is EXACTLY what it is.


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