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From the archives: Shelter Skelter



A true story of death, deceit and betrayal of the public trust at the Boise Humane Society.


Fostering animals for the Boise Humane Society is at best, a dodgy enterprise; take a litter of kittens home with you and they promise total care and support, but bring them in for minor care, and the best their veterinarians have to offer in the way of prescription is a holistic, self-styled medicine that the shelter won’t carry in stock because they are not recognized as legitimate treatments and of course, the Vet refuses to prescribe anything else until you have given that a try first. So, run around town to find a “holistic” store (for pets) that carries the alleged medicine, use it on the animals without getting any response (In 10 years, I have yet to have a single positive outcome from using Homeopathic medicines on pets) for a couple days, because there is only one 3000Th of 1% (Usually between one part per 1000 to 3000) of any useable medicine ingredient is contained in any homeopathic concoction. Come back to get a legitimate prescription which clears up the problem in two evenings. Oh! And don’t forget to double-check all paperwork and medicines you’re handed by the Shelter staff… Twice I’ve gotten Canine medicines for the kittens because the staff has not even the faintest clue what is going on at any moment in time. We even found that one of the cats we turned in to be adopted had been left in a back hallway and forgotten for two weeks before they called us wanting to know where it was. 

In fostering animals, we sometime pay for medicines that are refused to be provided because we chose to put their care over whatever personal grief we receive from shelter personnel. It’s not really a big deal and the costs are not especially high either.

Sadly, the shelter is run so poorly, they often misplace animals in their care, lose paperwork or hand over the wrong animals. On one occasion, we dropped off 6 kittens to be fixed to get them ready to be adopted and the vet gave them no sedatives with which to recover, leaving them in agonizing pain for the next four days. How do I know? They howled, and hissed and scratched anyone that came near them, even each other until we took them to an independent Vet who was outraged at the poor treatment and the kittens were sedated for a few days to ease their pain after surgery. I later found out that this was due to a paperwork mix-up at the Shelter between the vet staff and their own foster care representative. They even gave me paperwork for those kittens that belonged to other kittens that had already been adopted a week before.

As half-hazard as their service is, you would think that they would be especially welcome to anyone that would lend a helping hand; alas, that too is overlooked. Shelter staff use guilt, insults and outright abuse to get foster care volunteers to do what they want them to do. Volunteers are made to feel guilty if they do not take in even more pets into their already crowded homes. We had at one time 12 Cats in our home due to the fact that my wife was made to feel that it would be her fault if they were put down due to lack of space at the shelter. I can only imagine how many animal collectors are created in this manner.

As we delve even deeper into the quagmire that is the Boise animal shelter, we find managers and employees who rule enthusiastically over their own tiny little kingdoms where they feel that they rule supreme. At this point, the process becomes more important than anything else, even the lives of the animals in their charge. One such person is a vet-tech, one of those ladies who sits behind the counter at the vet clinic. We recently had the misfortune of bringing in 4 kittens to be treated for simple diarrhea, an easily treatable problem that needs but a few days of medicine to cure them and send them on their way to happy homes. The person who brought the kittens to the shelter for treatment was told that they would be kept overnight, to await the blood tests to make sure nothing more serious was wrong with them. We offered to take them home to recoup, but were told that would not be necessary. Now this comes a mere 30 minutes after my wife had a disagreement with the on duty vet tech about treating the kittens and questions we had about how they were treated. Less than an hour after we dropped off our lively bunch of rambunctious kittens, Dee, the shelter’s manager for foster care, called up my wife to inform her that all three of our lively (and overall healthy except for slightly drippy butts) kittens had been put to death. The vet tech my wife had an argument with, had told her superiors that the kittens were deathly ill and unresponsive and so ordered them to be put down.

We have since taken the remaining kittens from that same litter who all shared the same symptoms to an independent Vet and found nothing seriously wrong with them. They are being treated with a very inexpensive and mild medicine and are recovering very nicely. The shelter has since refused to tell us the results of their own testing, but have released those results to other foster volunteers and we have come to find out that their tests as well proved negative, proving only that they killed innocent kittens for no other reason than to prove a point.

We understood very well what had just happened, because sadly, we have seen it all before. We had dared to question the process by which the shelter operates, and as a punishment, they reacted with the one action that would surely hurt anyone who volunteers three weeks of their time to helping tiny living creatures; they killed the very animals we had spent so much time caring for. They showed us that they were willing to kill those animals just to prove a point to us. The point being that they are in control, and that unless we want to see more innocent little lives flushed away, we should do as we are told without question. They even went so far as to call our friend a liar when we questioned why our foster kittens had been killed. They told us that the person who dropped of the kittens had refused to take the kittens back home and so their policy is to put them down. They told us that the policy of the Boise Humane Society Shelter is to put down any animal that shows any signs of illness. Period. No exceptions. 

I wonder at this point how this internally stated policy coincides with their public statements about how they care very deeply for animals and make every possible attempt and finding good homes for all of their charges. Hmmm. Doesn’t quite add up, does it?

Now we come to look at some recent events made very public in the media regarding a recent recovery of some 200 Dogs from a collector in Oregon: firstly, we spoke with Sandy, the Foster care representative at the shelter whom we deal with, and she told us that all of the dogs they received were in such outstanding health that only a couple had to have any treatments whatsoever, and that they were processing them as fast as possible in order to find them all new homes. This came as a huge surprise to us, since we had just finished listening to the Boise Humane Society’s radio pitch asking for donations to help them cope with treating those very same dogs, saying that they had been desperately neglected and were in need of immediate treatment due to their horrendous conditions at the hands of the evil animal collector.

Hmmm… Which story is the truth? We have no idea. One story comes from the inside to us, and a completely different story is enthusiastically played out to a willing news reporter (Yes I was there to see the Channel 7 reporter get handled) being spoon-fed propaganda designed to embellish the truth as much as possible in order to maximize the potential of driving in more donations from the public by shamelessly tugging at their heart strings with severely embellished tales of woe and brave deeds. All I know is that when I was at the shelter watching the Channel 7 girl prepare to interview the director, the director of the Boise shelter had such a self-satisfied smirk on her face that said volumes about her obvious disdain for the young reporter. I wondered how this reporter could possibly miss the fact that she was being handled and maneuvered so easily, but she appeared to be so eager to get in front of the camera with this story that she did not see what was truly happening around her.

The Boise Helter-Shelter: Behind its public facade of compassionate care and heartfelt duty to the public, lies a dark underbelly of wanton disregard and wholesale slaughter of animals whose only problem is being more than a few dollars away from being completely healthy. If it costs more than single day’s time and a few bucks to treat an animal, it’s put to death without a moments thought; unless of course, there’s an eager news reporter standing by to tell the world what a wonderful job they are doing. Death is their tool in trade, and kindness is only a commodity to be bought and sold for cash donations, so if you want the animals at the Boise Humane Society’s Shelter to stay alive and find new homes, you better pony up the cash quick, before they decide those animals have outlived their usefulness as grist for the publicity mill.

Robert Duker,

Former Animal foster care volunteer for the Boise Humane Society Shelter

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