Carie Wisell, an Albany veterinarian, was recently irked by a disagreement between her animal hospital and the Albany Humane Society.
ALBANY — An Albany veterinarian doesn’t care for the Albany Humane Society’s pet adoption policies, and an unfortunate incident has thrown her disagreement into high gear.
According to Carie Wisell, a veterinarian and owner of Companion Animal Hospital on North Slappey Boulevard, a sick Labrador-mix puppy was presented for treatment at the clinic Monday by Tracey Gibney, who said she worked for the Humane Society. Wisell said Gibney told her she had adopted the dog and ultimately paid a $200 deposit toward the treatment for Parvo Virus, a life-threatening illness. The animal was left with Wisell and her staff, and treatment was begun.
Later that afternoon, the hospital was contacted by Tara Miller, who Wisell said identified herself as a person with a position of authority at the Humane Society. Wisell said Miller told her the puppy had not been adopted because it had not reached the age of three months. In addition, Wisell said, she was told by Miller that Gibney had taken the dog to the “wrong” vet and the animal would be picked up by the Humane Society and transported to Albany Pet Partners, a nonprofit, limited-service veterinary clinic.
Wisell said she was concerned with the health of the animal should its treatment be interrupted and offered to provide free treatment if the animal was allowed to stay. The offer was refused by Miller, Wisell said, and the dog was transported to Albany Pet Partners, owned and operated by Fred Freedland. Wisell was informed later that the dog’s treatment had been resumed there.
The Albany Humane Society responded to the incident by saying that taking the animal to Wisell’s facility had been a mistake by a new employee and that the mistake was corrected by transporting it to the veterinarian normally used.
At the heart of the matter, Wisell said, is the society’s policy of allowing dogs to be adopted only at three months of age or greater. According to Wisell, all surrounding humane societies allow adoption at eight weeks. Doing so saves money for the society and reduces the number of animals euthanized. She said other advantages of earlier adoptions would be lower staff requirements, a shorter time in which puppies are exposed to shelter diseases and earlier bonding to their adoptive owners.
“The goal of a shelter should be to get healthy animals adopted and in loving hands as quickly as possible,” Wisell said.
Wisell said that during the past two or more years she has made numerous attempts to discuss adoption policy with Donna Strickland, the executive director of the Albany Humane Society, but Strickland hasn’t returned any of her calls.
Wisell, who operates a certified shelter as part of her hospital and actively offers animals for adoption, said she has regularly offered to accept some overflow of animals from the Humane Society but has been turned down. At one point, AHS board president Jay Robertson said her hospital was viewed as competition, Wisell said.
On Thursday, Freedland called the puppy incident unfortunate and simply a case of hurt feelings between two individuals or groups.
“Where the puppy was treated has nothing to do with (Wisell’s) desire to change the adoption age,” Freedland said.
According to Freedland, the age at which a puppy is adopted is less important than the age at which it is entered into the shelter system.
“The problem of disease comes from waiting to vaccinate,” Freedland said. “Some shelters wait four days or so in the interest of saving money, but animals should be vaccinated on intake. If you wait even an hour, it’s not intake.”
Freedland said he was unaware of how AHS policy decisions are made but admits they could be out of date.
According to Freedland, the concept of shelter medicine has changed significantly in the last five to 10 years. In fact, he said, the field is among the fastest-growing specialties in veterinary medicine. A possible source for setting policy in the Albany Humane Society might be to contact the Department of Shelter Medicine at the University of Florida, Freedland said.