The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

February 12, 2014

Readers' Forum 2-12 | Humane society criticized; leader responds

JOHNSTOWN — Cambria County animals are in crisis and still suffering from fates worse than death. Cruelty does matter because nonhumans feel pain, and these actions show who we are as a society.

Sincere appreciation goes to the person who courageously videoed the dog beatings and called authorities, and to police for supporting God’s other creatures.

But where is the integrity and consciousness of the Humane Society of Cambria County? For many years, the society has been deteriorating. Two dogs that recently were beaten were adopted from the shelter. Probably no background information was gathered, no references were checked, no home visits occurred.

Another questionable situation was with the cocker spaniels that were considered “deplorable” one day and given away the next to anyone who paid $75 and signed paperwork. One dog even went to Lancaster, the puppy mill capital of the East Coast.

The local society has assets of $1 million (Guidestar) and yet has no vehicle, no humane officers, no support for outside animals, no properly trained personnel and provides no emergency response.

The operations of the organization are unconscionable and a poor example to the public. Good intentions are not enough. Besides a do-nothing humane society, dog laws are ineffective, magistrates are unconcerned, pet shops sell puppy-mill puppies to anyone and humane education and law enforcement are almost nonexistent.

Animal abuse is symptomatic of mental disturbance. We must search every dark corner of society for such tragedies. All social service agencies must understand the connections and share information. Speak up – the animals can’t.

Ruth Cummings

Former Shelter Director, Cambria County Humane Society;

Former Humane Officer, Bedford and Cambria counties

Editor’s note: We asked the Humane Society of Cambria County to comment. Its response follows:

No way to know adopters’ intentions

What happened to the two dogs that were recently adopted from the Humane Society of Cambria County and then physically abused is unbearable. We do indeed have a very detailed adoption application and thorough adoption procedure.

The individual who adopted these two dogs owned his home, had full-time employment and had a vet reference. He went through our adoption process and paid the $100 adoption fee per dog. What was caught on video just three weeks later is dreadful. Thank goodness for the couple that videoed this horrific act as well as the state police for their quick response. Without them, both dogs may not have survived much longer.

Unfortunately, these situations occur with every animal shelter and rescue. Adopters can look great on paper and have the cleanest homes, but there’s no real way to know their true intensions.

The animal-neglect case this past November involving the cocker spaniels was yet another heartbreaking situation. These dogs were being overbred and living in deplorable conditions. We had more than 50 people lined up at our door the next day willing to help these dogs. All of the adopters went through our adoption procedure and understood that the dogs were in need of much extra care.

All of the adoptions were local except for one that went to the State College area.

We have followed up with all of the adoptions and everyone is doing very well.

Jeannine A. Gailey

Executive Director, Humane Society of Cambria County Inc.

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