Shortcomings at MADACC - Working With Placement Partners

Milwaukee Animal Control (MADACC) is not using euthanasia as a last resort. It is using it as a first resort - killing animals when there are rescues willing to take them..

This is the second entry in a series of ten blogs that will focus on issues at MADACC. The topic today is Placement Partners - or in layman's terms, working with rescues and shelters who are willing to transfer animals out of MADACC and find them new adoptive homes. Since MADACC has a very limited adoption program, the Placement Partners are vital to saving lives. Many dogs and cats would be killed if they weren't transferred out and put up for adoption at the many wonderful rescues and shelters in our state.

Here is a couple of sentences from MADACC's mission statement (Purpose and Organizational Goals) in their 2013 operating budget. (not available on line)

  • Provide and encourage responsible, safe placement opportunities for homeless animals.
  • Improve and develop new strategies to increase transfer of animals to animal placement partners.

From the  contract that MADACC holds with the 19 municipalities  of Milwaukee County:

Scope and Extent of Services, Exhibit C reads:

1. (c) Comply with State law with regard to shelter and care; will use euthanasia only as a last resort.


I have included several documents and photos with this blog and have numbered them correspondingly below. Please click through the photos for the supporting documentation.

Exhibit 1. Above is the MADACC Monthly Animal Transfer Chart for September 2012. You can clearly see that transfers are saving lives. Remember Me Ranch, a small rescue in Baraboo, Sauk County, has been helping by pulling large dogs from the transfer list and in September was one of the Top 5 Rescue Partners. Remember Me Ranch pulled almost as many, or more dogs than some of the larger shelters with far more space and resources.



Exhibit 2.Here is a picture of the kennels at Remember Me Ranch - all decked out for Christmas. 

Remember Me Ranch recently received a stellar inspection report from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) inspectors. Of special note was Remember Me Ranch's excellent record-keeping system.

Unfortunately, MADACC management banned Remember Me Ranch from pulling any more dogs and killed two that RMR had placed "holds" on.

The reason is unclear. Cassie Richardson, Executive Director of Remember Me Ranch states that she called John McDowell, the interim Executive Director, to discuss her veterinarian's recommendation for a different antibiotic to treat the resistant strain of kennel cough that dogs leaving MADACC were infected with. Cassie felt this discussion could possibly help more dogs, if other rescues were informed of her vet's findings.

John McDowell apparently didn't appreciate this helpful advice and Cassie said he accused her of slandering MADACC and subsequently banned her rescue from helping any more dogs.

Unfortunately this conversation happened at or about the same time that RMR had placed a hold on the two following dogs.

Here are the emails concerning Dog 253207:

 Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2012 2:19 PM

To: Madacc Vets
Cc: Remember Ranch
Subject: Hold for #253207


Please put a hold on 253207 under Remember Me Ranch.

The dog will be picked up tomorrow, Sunday 11/11/12.  

 Please give a rabies shot, clip nails, and include any meds that the dog is currently on.

 Thank you so much!!

(Name withheld of a volunteer)

Remember Me Ranch

And the reply:

Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2012 4:01 PM
Subject: RE: Hold for #253207


Hi (name withheld),

Per John McDowell, Madacc will no longer be releasing animals to Remember Me Ranch. Unfortunately, we cannot place a hold on A253207 for you as you requested. We are not aware of the circumstances with this decision in the Vet Tech Dept, so please follow up your questions and concerns with John McDowell or another supervisor this coming Monday.

Thank you,

Madacc Vet Techs


Exhibits 3 and 4. A253173, named Grace, was killed on November 10, 2012 even though Remember Me Ranch was willing and ready to take her. Here is her MAX Program Evaluation form. She was described as a nice dog, knew how to sit and liked to fetch and chase toys. It was easy to take food and treats away from her and she was very friendly with other dogs. 

Exhibits 5 and 6. A253207 who didn't have a name yet was killed on November 11, 2012 even though Remember Me Ranch was willing and ready to take him. As you can see he was called a sweetie and gave kisses. He could sit and he was easy to handle. He showed no signs of food aggression and was submissive. He walked well on a leash.

 I sent in a Open Records Request about the two dogs. What I received back was incomplete, possibly a violation of the Open Records law. But I wanted to show you the pictures of the two dogs - and I hope they didn't die in vain. I hope you will be as enraged as I am that these two healthy, friendly dogs that had rescue waiting were killed instead.

I did not receive the final disposition like I originally requested on the dogs, so I emailed John McDowell back and he sent me this brief email in return.  "253173 was euthanized on 11/10/12, 253207 on 11/11/12."  

No reason was given. (As a side note - when I requested the disposition records, they should include everything about the final outcome for the dog, including the amount and type of drugs used to kill the dog and the reason for killing the dog).

I won't even get into the argument that the term "euthanasia" should be reserved for hopelessly ill or aggressively dangerous dogs, those dogs that have a very poor prognosis for a second chance at life. These were healthy dogs with good dispositions  that had rescue willing and waiting to take them and find them new homes. Dogs who would not have cost MADACC the additional labor, drug costs, and cremation costs to kill the dogs and dispose of their bodies. The taxpayer ended up footing the bill for their death.

This is not euthanasia. This is killing. And I have many more examples of dogs and cats killed when rescues have placed a hold on them.

When another concerned citizen sent an Open Records Request to get to the bottom of this she asked for the written procedures for placing a hold and the transfer process of animals to Placement Partners for MADACC.

John McDowell's did not send the proper documentation. When she asked again "The document you attached does not explain the precise process for how a rescue can put a hold on a Madacc animal. Can you please provide me with this information?"

 John McDowell's reply:  "Open records requires that we provide you with any requested records in our possession. I have done that. It does not however require us to create documents to meet the request."

I am assuming this means that there are no written procedures for this process. How can a $3 million dollar a year government agency operate without written procedures? Especially for something as important as saving lives?

In summary, I hope you can see that MADACC is

1. Failing to fulfill its contract to use euthanasia as a last resort and

2. Failing in its Purpose and Organizational Goals to work with Placement Partners to improve their live release rate.

MADACC is not using euthanasia as a last resort. It is using it as a first resort - killing animals when there are rescues willing to take them. It is not working with Placement Partners. It is finding reasons to ban them and prevent them from saving lives.

I would like to thank the rescues, volunteers, staff members and the public who are coming forward with their stories. Your courage is shedding much needed light on the operations at MADACC.

If you are a resident of Milwaukee County and are concerned about how your tax dollars are being spent and how your community's animals are being treated I suggest that you contact your alderman or elected official.  Thank you for caring.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tpom December 10, 2012 at 09:13 PM
thank you so much for these blogs! The facts, the backup, and the time you have spent will hopefully spur some action on the terrible handling of our animals as MADACC.


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