So let's say you work in Houston's animal control department, and part of your job is to seize animals believed to be abused -- like roosters and hens used in bird fights. What would you think would happen if, after seizing these abused fowl, you stuck 12 of them in a single cage?
Well, if you think the answer is "They'd all get along splendidly and go on to lead rich robust lives," you'd probably be wrong. At least, you'd be wrong in the case of 12 birds that died after being stuffed into a single pet carrier around February 27, according to information BARC has (finally) given Hair Balls.
According to Benjamin Hernandez, who has taken over BARC's public relations duties from Kathy Barton, the employee who put the birds in the carrier "did retire on March 31."
Hernandez also told Hair Balls via e-mail: "On February 15th we picked up 54 roosters and 36 hens in a suspected animal cruelty investigation....I have confirmed that 12 of these 90 roosters/hens died. It was requested that these roosters/hens be moved to the SPCA. These were transported to the SPCA on Friday February 27, the SPCA refused them because they had chickens already from another investigation. These were then brought back to the facility. When one of the kennel attendants was unloading them he found that 12 of them had died because too many were loaded into one carrier."
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The birds suffocated, he said.
Although Hair Balls asked about this incident last week, no one at BARC was able to figure out what happened until Monday. This is because, per Hernandez, only a single BARC employee knew of the 12-dead-birds-in-a-cage mishap. This means this information bypassed the facility's chief veterinarian - as well as Health and Human Services Director Stephen Williams, who recently attended a seminar on "How to Build a No-Kill Community" by no-kill advocate Nathan Winograd, who the city has tapped to perform an assessment of BARC.
We know Williams attended, because Houston controller and mayoral candidate Annise Parker told everyone in her April 10 newsletter, which quotes Williams as saying he's "committed to work toward lowering our euthanasia rate, increasing adoptions and expanding opportunities for low/no-cost spay and neuters." This is just one reason why, per Parker's newsletter, "the city's Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care (BARC) may be finally turning the corner toward becoming a more humane shelter dedicated to far more adoptions and far fewer euthanized animals."
And the newsletter may be right - those 12 birds didn't have to be euthanized. They took care of that themselves.