These are the incidences that happened during the time of October, 2012 through December 2012 while I was working undercover. I am a certified Animal Cruelty Investigator and everything I am about to share is true. I am sorry but for most of you, this will be very painful to read.
Harbor Humane is not so "humane". This is a shelter in Holland, Michigan. As a former worker and being sent undercover there, I saw a lot of horrid things. The supervisors would purposefully let kittens die a slow death from an upper respiratory infection, making them gasp for air for hours upon hours. Instead of just giving them the correct fluids, or even euthanizing them so they aren't tortured, they instead let the poor babies die an anguishing death. Why were cats dying from an upper respiratory infection? Because they would stack cats upon cats all over the place. There were cats spilling out of every room, including the laundry room, surgery room, euthanasia room, garage, the lobby, the main "cat room", the cat isolation room, and the cat observation room. So, of course they are going to all get an infection. They are all forced to live so closely together. Almost every morning when I worked, I would find at least one dead cat/kitten.
Plenty of dogs who scored PERFECT on the temperament testing got put down for no reason at all. These were highly adoptable dogs who could have easily found wonderful, loving homes.
Dogs are forced to live in tiny cages in the "garage" room, so small that their noses would get cut from rubbing against the top/sides of the wire cages.
Dogs and cats who are supposed to be fed 2x a day and access to water 24/7, are given one tiny bowl of food and one chance for water on Sundays. Also on Sundays, the animals who need medicine 2x a day are only given one dose in the morning, and nothing at night. This is the same for every holiday as well.
There is a back room called the "garage" where overflow animals are kept. This room is supposed to only be for the animals who come in that day from animal control, but plenty of them are left there for weeks, if not months. The garage is dark and hot, and the animals who live here are never allowed to be seen by the public. They aren't even listed on the website so people can adopt them. The public doesn't even know this room exists. These animals only get to see daylight for about 15 minutes a day. This is also the amount of time they have to stretch their legs and get to run around while the workers clean their cages.
There is a small concrete room that comes off of the garage which is supposed to be used for animals who have just arrived from animal control who are very scared. They are supposed to be placed in this room for about an hour so they can calm down and adjust to the chaotic and loud environment. However, a pitbul named Celia was living in there for almost a full year. This room has no windows and has an old sink and cabinet that are both completely rusted out. The rusty pieces jut out which is very dangerous for any animal to live in there. Celia came to the shelter with her jaw sliced open by a razor in February of 2012. She was kept in this dark concrete room until December 2012 when the Board of Directors at Harbor Humane decided to euthanize her on December 17th, 2012. Thankfully, a rescue stepped in and saved her just hours before her scheduled euthanasia. The rescue only heard about Celia due to random people on Facebook, not because management at Harbor did any sort of advocating for her, which they are supposed to do for every single animal. At one point, I went to the executive director and asked if they needed help finding rescues for these dogs and cats, and I volunteered myself to help on my personal time. What did I get in response? I got told to "shut up, stop asking questions, and just do your job quietly".
There is a room called the "E Room", which is used to euthanize the dogs and cats. There are two freezers in here where the dead bodies go. The room smells like death all the time, and the Director and Supervisor put cats on top of the rusty freezers and let them live there for weeks, to even months. Cats can sense death, and forcing them to live in a room and physically watch other animals die daily is just beyond me.
I witnessed my supervisor scream profanities and become very aggressive with feral cats on several accounts.
On December 5th, 2012 while undercover, 2 black hound dogs came in with mange. No medicine was administered and both ended up being put down after 3 weeks of living in tiny cages in the garage. Both had open wounds from scratching so hard. Why weren't they ever given medicine? Mange can be easily treatable.
One supervisor in particular, along with two kennel staff employees would reuse dirty needles to administer medicine to both dogs and cats.
This brings me to the story about my dog Radio, who I rescued from Harbor Humane while I was working undercover. During my first week there, I was scheduled to clean the garage room with another coworker. I weaved in and out of kennels, full of sad, anxious, barking dogs. I came across a wall of cages and on the very bottom was a scared, emaciated black pit mix. He was cowering in the dark corner of his cage. When I crouched down to talk to him, he began to warm up to me so I grabbed a leash and went to take him outside. This is when my coworker stopped me and told me, "Don't worry about cleaning him, he is going to be put down tonight. You don't even have to give him and food or water either, he has brain damage". I was so shocked at what I just heard, so, instead I continued to take him out and play with him as well as clean him and give him lots of food and water. I immediately noticed how badly his brain damage was. When he tried to run and play, he kept falling over as if he had no balance at all. He nibbled my face instead of licking, and he didn't even know how to wag his tail. I instantly fell in love with him.
Just thinking about this innocent boy who was going to be killed tonight just because he is disabled broke my heart. He was not in pain and was not suffering. There was no reason for them to put him down, especially since he had just arrived to the shelter.
I later learned he was so badly abused in his previous house, that his owners actually caused his brain damage due to the amount of blows to the head he took.
As soon as I got home that night, I emailed the Director at the shelter, telling her I will pay the full amount to adopt him right away. No one emailed me back, so the next day when I went to work I was expecting to see an empty cage and Radio's limp body to be in the freezer. To my surprise, he was still there.
Later on the Director contacted me about him and said "You are still in your 90 day probationary period, which means you cannot adopt or foster until the 90 days are up". So instead of letting me, a certified Animal Cruelty Investigator, save this dogs life, they would rather kill him and forget about it. I wouldn't have it. I kept being persistent through the following weeks and finally, in December (which was almost 3 months later), they let me take him home after paying the full adoption fee which was around $130.
Radio is now doing amazing and his brain is making new connections every day. He has learned how to wag his tail, give kisses, and even run around without falling over! This dog would have been dead in December without giving him one chance to live...
I have countless other stories about this horrendous place, but you should all by now get the picture. The amount of animal abuse and neglect that goes on there is just amazing to me. What is more amazing is the amount of obvious animal suffering that goes on and no one does anything to stop it. By signing and sharing, we can all stop this together.
PLEASE help all those poor dogs and cats by signing this petition! This place needs to have the complete Board of Directors, along with the majority of management fired and charged accordingly to the abuse and neglect they have let happen, and even inflicted.
Thank you for reading and please share this so the word can get out! Remember, WE as humans are responsible for being the voice for the voiceless!
- Michigan Attorney General
- Board of Commissioners
Stu P. Visser
Stop the animal abuse at Harbor Humane Society!
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