Beaten up, bloody, blurry, out of focus, severe close up’s, and even today this dog, named “Sandy,” has a profile picture that makes her looks more like an alien, than a dog sitting on death row in San Antonio’s Animal Care Services (ACS) municipal shelter. We’ve uncovered a disturbing trend over the past month at the City’s pound: Dog adoption photos that are well, as many volunteers and residents call them, “horrible.”
This slideshow shows some of the “best of the worst” from the past two weeks. Check it out, do they look warm, fuzzy and adoptable to you? Some of the dogs featured here were euthanized because no one came to claim or adopt them.
In the animal rescue world a dog’s profile picture or adoption photo posted by a shelter is a critical lifeline for the animal. They serve two purposes: If an owner is looking for their lost dog the photos help them identify if their pooch ended up at the pound. If no one claims a dog, in San Antonio, the animal has just a very short time to be adopted or rescued from the shelter or else they are euthanized.
San Antonio resident and dog trainer, Robyn Slusky, says many of the recent profile pictures are shameful. “The photos mean life or death for these dogs. People are drawn in by a dog’s expression and emotion. A good photo can capture snippets of a dog’s personality and help it get adopted more easily. If the staff doesn’t care about the dog enough to take a decent photo, others are less likely to care to save it’s life. When there are hundreds sitting in our shelter every day, poorly photographed dogs are more likely to be passed over for a more appealing one. Not to mention if someone were looking for their lost pet on line and passed over the photo, not realizing it was their beloved Fido.”
The City takes in a massive volume of animals, and understandably some pictures won’t be works of art, but animal rescuers are calling for ACS to step up its efforts. On “Sandy’s” Facebook thread posters are outraged over the terrible photo. Animal rescuer Charlotte Leesa Smith commented, “This is this dog’s life and this is the photo we have to work with?”
WatchDogMary has revealed a history of ACS posting terrible profile pictures of dogs in the past, including this lab who had her profile picture snapped and posted while she was covered in porcupine quills. Other adoption photos have featured pups covered in clusters of ticks hanging from their ears, when no one showed an interest in adopting some, they were euthanized.
When WatchDogMary contacted ACS for a comment about this ongoing situation. Assistant to the Director for the Animal Care Services Department, Heber Lefgren, responded via email, “The issue was resolved in accordance to departmental policies and in accordance with processes previously explained.” We aren’t quite sure what that means, but Lefgren sent that to us on November 22, 2014, and even today terrible profile pictures continue to be posted.
Last year ACS euthanized more than 4800 dogs and so far this year the agency has killed more than 2,000. WatchDogMary has revealed many disturbing practices at the shelter, including euthanizing mother dogs, and in some cases, leaving their nursing puppies behind, as well as allegations of mismanagement and mistreatment of animals.
If you wish to contact the City of San Antonio, this link allows you to email the Mayor’s office, and this link the City Manager’s Office.
Yesterday San Antonio resident, Jenn Studley, kicked off a new campaign called, “Step Up San Antonio” which calls for big changes at ACS and for people to be responsible dog owners and to adopt and foster.
Some residents asked WatchDogMary to see if San Antonio area photographers would volunteer to work with ACS to take decent pictures of all the dogs. If you’re a local photographer or halfway decent with a camera, and would consider taking pictures of these dogs please email WatchDogMary.