Earlier, we blogged about the crisis at the Rushville, Indiana animal shelter. Gabby, a little mastiff/shepherd mix puppy survived a botched euthanasia and four days in the cooler at the shelter, and was rescued by the assistant ACO.
After the town’s self-appointed investigation wound up, assistant ACO Jamie Glandon was allowed to return to work at the shelter on December 13, and some changes are now happening.
As part of the changes, a certified veterinarian is conducting any required euthanasias humanely, at least for now. A new dog warden has been assigned. We’re counting on some new procedures and their enforcement, and hopefully a new director altogether, who is forward-thinking, pro-active and an animal welfare advocate.
Martha Boden of the Humane Society of Indianapolis contacted the city to offer to relocate the remaining Rushville animals. She also offered to work with Rushville to develop new policies and procedures, and share lessons that have trimmed the HSI kill rate; HSI takes in about 9,000 animals per year and nearly 60% of them go out to foster or forever homes. (Martha admits that there’s a lot more that HSI could be doing to improve its own kill rate.) It looks as though the remaining Rushville animals are getting the best Christmas gift of all, and the Rushville Shelter has some hope for the new year. The HSI action had also gotten a few Rushville folks thinking positively about how the town could take care of its own.
Regardless, none of the change would be taking place if Jamie hadn’t bared her soul and put her job on the line by surfacing this story. And the progress that is happening is, to a large extent, a result of the dedication of some shelter volunteers and friends of Jamie, who kicked up the dust in this sleepy little town.
Animal welfare and public pound reform advocates descended on the town on December 11 and again on December 17. Donning purple “Justice For Gabby & Jamie–Support Rushville Pound Reform” sweatshirts, they demanded valid and lasting pound reform at the Rushville Animal Shelter.
One of the organizers and a long-time volunteer at the shelter, Linda Wissel, described how she first met Jamie:
“I’ve volunteered at the Rushville Shelter for almost 3 years. I found one of their dogs on Petfinder and went out to adopt, the animals in the shelter broke my heart, the conditions were appalling. Although I live 2 hours away in Cincinnati I vowed to do something for those animals. It’s the hell holes that need us most. That is how I met Jamie Glandon. At the time Jamie was a volunteer from Indianapolis which is about an hour drive from Rushville. Jamie is selfless, compassionate and dedicated to the animals. As a volunteer she would drive almost daily to the shelter to take pictures for the petfinder website, if not for Jamie the shelter wouldn’t have been listed. She was always on the job for the shelter transporting dogs, she made many changes as a volunteer to make the shelter rescue friendly.”
Her account of the first rally is here:
Following the second Rally for Reason on December 17, the protesters showed up at the last city council meeting of the year.
“We attended the City Council Meeting last night in Rushville, in a “Silent Protest; We Stand United”. Ten of us were present, all wearing our purple “Reform the Rushville Pound, Justice for Jamie and Gabby” sweatshirts.”
“The Shelter was not on the agenda, so we weren’t expecting an opportunity to address the Mayor/Council. It was important to reinforce the fact that we are not going away, and I think our presence did that. That message was made more clear by our show, since the City tried to thwart us by canceling the regularly scheduled meeting, unannounced, two nights earlier.”
“This was the last Council Meeting held by Mayor Bridges, on January 1 the new Mayor, Merv Bostic takes office. It is disheartening that the issues surrounding the Shelter have NEVER been on the agenda. Rushville’s bogus investigation and findings have never been discussed at a public meeting. This tells me that the administration is not taking seriously the atrocities taking place at their shelter. It has been swept under the rug.”
“As we were pulling out of the parking lot a Rushville Police cruiser drove up from behind us with lights and sirens flashing. I believe it was another intimidation tactic, just like what happened two nights previous, when a police cruiser made their presence known behind us, as we were leaving town.”
“We can’t let this issue lose momentum. The Mayor and City are taking notice of all the phone calls and emails. The Mayor makes a point of bringing it up every time he talks to Jamie. We can’t let up on the pressure. They have to know that we stand for SHELTER REFORM and we will not go away until valid and lasting change is implemented.”
“Indy Humane’s offer to temporarily take the Rushville Shelter animals would have been a strong message, had it been coupled with the condition that the City delve into addressing the real issues. Without that, it appears that they are only assisting in taking the heat off Mayor Bridges.”
“Please help us keep the pressure on, continue to email the Mayor and remind him that the world is STILL watching.”
The incoming mayor Bostic can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at (765) 932-3735.
Update, January 2008: Gabby is learning how to be a puppy, and she is enjoying a loving foster home.