Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments, anytime.  New Open Threads are posted weekly.

Click to enlarge and to speak French.

Click to enlarge and to speak French.

Case Update: Rally for Maya on Monday, November 24

There is video evidence and an admission by PETA that two representatives of the group stole an owned chihuahua called Maya from her home on October 20 and killed her.  Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin brought charges against the two women but the commonwealth’s attorney has declined to prosecute the case. At issue for the commonwealth’s attorney is “intent”.

The video, which can be seen in this news story as well as on this Facebook page, appears to show the PETA van backing into the owner’s driveway, one of the women getting out and attempting to coax Maya off her porch by tossing treats toward her, then walking onto the porch and taking Maya away to the van.

The mobile home park owner reportedly had authorized PETA to pick up stray dogs in the mobile home park.  But Maya was obviously not a stray, refusing to venture far from her own porch, even when lured with treats.  To my mind, the video shows criminal intent:  the PETA employees know they are only authorized to pick up strays and since Maya clearly isn’t one, they attempt to legitimize her theft by luring her away from her porch, presumably so they can claim they found her wandering in the mobile home park and deemed her to be stray.

There is a rally outside the commonwealth attorney’s office slated for Monday at 10am in the town of Accomac.  If you attend, please let us know how it goes. For those outside the area, respectful letters requesting the commonwealth’s attorney, Gary Agar, pursue charges against PETA for the theft and killing of Maya can be e-mailed to commatt@verizon.net.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me links on this story.)

Case Update: Contracted Dolton Veterinarian and Employee Indicted on Felony Cruelty Charges

The Village of Dolton, IL contracted a private vet clinic, the Dolton Animal Hospital, to care for stray pets.  The animals were housed in the clinic’s basement.

In September, a Dolton police officer was dropping off a stray dog at the vet clinic and observed conditions reflecting serious neglect.  Four of the dogs in the hospital were dead in their cages, urine and feces were everywhere, and nine other dogs and one cat were starving to death.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Police removed the surviving animals and shut the place down.  A reporter spoke briefly with the clinic’s owner who seemed unimpressed with the public interest in his basement torture chamber:

“It’s a sad situation, but we’ll look into it and get back to you if there’s anything more,” said Dr. Amardeep Sangha[.]

This week, there is something more.  Although Sangha and one of his employees, Sharon Cargile, had been initially charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty, charges were upgraded after necropsy results came back on the dead dogs revealing the pets had been starved to death.  Sangha and Cargile now face 3 felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.

Sangha’s attorney, Scott Frankel, appeared with him in court on Wednesday.  He seems about as unimpressed with dogs being starved to death as his client:

“Obviously, we are very disappointed, we believe, at the worst, what happened here should have been resolved as misdemeanors, if anything.”

If anything.  Because starving pets in cages next to dead pets whom you’ve already starved while pocketing cash from taxpayers to care for stray animals is nothing, basically.

“I’m sure when we get into the details it will be obvious to everyone that he is a responsible doctor, he is a great guy, he’s a family man, he’s supporting a family. And he still feels terrible that he has to answer all of these charges in court,” Frankel said.

I can’t wait to learn these amazing “details” so I can get on board with this Great Guy thing.  What a life transforming event that’s going to be – journeying from here to way, way over there.  And oh, how distressing that he has to answer for his crimes.  In court, even.  Like a common Not Great Guy.

Cargile failed to show up in court so there is a warrant out for her arrest.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Orange Co ACOs Under Investigation After Cutting Deer’s Throat

On the night of September 29, California veterinarian Kathleen Johnson and her husband were walking their dogs when they came upon a deer whose rear leg was impaled on a wrought iron fence.  He was hanging upside down, screaming and thrashing.  Dr. Johnson called 911, assessed the deer and waited on Orange Co ACOs to arrive.  When they did, she introduced herself as a vet and explained that the deer could be saved.  The ACOs said the deer should be killed.  Although the vet disagreed, she asked if they had euthanasia drugs with them.  They told her no and she offered to get some from her home which was nearby.  They refused.

The ACOs hogtied the injured deer, who was still hanging upside down and thrashing, and pulled out a knife to cut off his leg:

“I told them it was inhumane to cut off the buck’s leg while he was still alive without any anesthesia,” Johnson said. “The officer told me, ‘What does it matter, he’s going to be euthanized anyway?’”

Dr. Johnson offered to have her husband cut the fence but the ACOs told her to leave, threatening to let the deer to suffer in pain and do nothing at all so long as she was there.  After she left the ACOs slit the deer’s throat and watched him to bleed to death.

Dr. Johnson filed an animal cruelty complaint with Orange Co Animal Care:

Scott Weldy, a Lake Forest veterinarian who for years has helped Fish and Wildlife officers as well as animal control officers deal with wildlife, was called to do a report on the buck’s death.

When Weldy and fellow veterinarian Kristian Krause went to perform the necropsy, they were horrified. The buck’s front legs were tied together and one hind leg was attached to his neck.

Dr. Weldy characterized the suffering endured by the deer after his throat was slit as “inhumane and unbearable.”  The two ACOs have been on paid leave since October 1.  The Orange Co DA is investigating but the results of the investigation sound like a foregone conclusion:

“Whether you agree with what they did or not, it’s not a crime,” said Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff at the District Attorney’s Office.

If that’s the case I imagine Ms. Schroeder will have no problem pointing out the applicable statute which states that ACOs can hack up animals with knives as they see fit.

Mercifully, it sounds like there is at least one person willing to do his job in Orange Co:

County Supervisor Todd Spitzer has been investigating this on his own since being notified by Johnson.

“County training does not authorize the slitting of an animal’s throat so it can bleed out slowly,” Spitzer said. “It’s inhumane and unconscionable with folks we want in the county dealing with animals.”

Yeah, that would be like the minimum requirement for an ACO I would think:  the not cutting animals thing.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

21 Year Old Cat Illegally Impounded and Killed by Animal Control in CT

Wallingford, CT – Scott and Kim Palmer got their cat Zima from a neighbor 2 years ago when Zima was 19 years old. They converted an insulated shed in their yard for Zima, putting in several beds, a heater, and installing a window so Zima could enjoy the sunshine. The cat house was accessible via a covered kitty door.

Kim Palmer arrived home on November 12 to find Zima was missing. She began searching the neighborhood and went to Pent Road Animal Control. She was told at the pound that Zima had been impounded and killed due to possible rabies. Ms. Palmer said that Zima had been vaccinated and couldn’t possibly have been rabid. She went home to get her husband and they both returned to the pound, only to find the door locked. They have never received any reasonable explanation for why Zima was impounded and killed.

Connecticut’s animal laws can be read here. The statutes require cats to be vaccinated for rabies, which Zima reportedly was. And there are very narrow parameters which allow an ACO to impound a cat:

§ 22-332d. Impoundment and disposition of certain cats. Authority to spay or neuter unclaimed cat

(a) Any animal control officer for a municipality which has adopted an ordinance under subsection (b) of section 22-339d may take into custody any cat found to be damaging property other than property of its owner or keeper or causing an unsanitary, dangerous or unreasonably offensive condition unless such cat can be identified as under the care of its owner or a registered keeper of feral cats. The officer shall impound such cat at the pound serving the town where the cat is taken unless, in the opinion of a licensed veterinarian, the cat is so injured or diseased that it should be destroyed immediately, in which case the municipal animal control officer of such town may cause the cat to be mercifully killed by a licensed veterinarian or disposed of as the State Veterinarian may direct. The municipal animal control officer shall immediately notify the owner or keeper of any cat so taken, if known, of its impoundment. If the owner or keeper of any such cat is unknown, the officer shall immediately tag or employ such other suitable means of identification of the cat as may be approved by the Chief Animal Control Officer and shall promptly cause a description of such cat to be published once in the lost and found column of a newspaper having a circulation in such town.

Cats who are not deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian must be held at the pound so their owners can reclaim them. And that’s if the cat was causing property damage – otherwise, it seems that an ACO has no authority to impound a cat. It appears that the Pent Road pound may have violated state laws by impounding and killing Zima. When the local paper reached out to the assistant ACO for comment on the case, she had nothing to say.

There is a provision in the state laws for owners who have had their pets taken by ACOs to complain:

§ 22-335. Removal of municipal animal control officer. Complaint against municipal animal control officer

Any municipal animal control officer may be removed by the authority which appointed him or by the commissioner, and a successor may be appointed by such authority or commissioner. Any owner of a dog or cat aggrieved by the taking of such dog or cat by a municipal animal control officer may make complaint to the appointing authority of such municipal animal control officer or to the commissioner; and if, upon investigation of the complaint, the authority or the commissioner finds that the municipal animal control officer took the dog or cat otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, or abused or cruelly treated the dog or cat, the authority or the commissioner may remove the officer and appoint his successor.

I hope the Palmers file a complaint. How many other owned pets has the Pent Road pound impounded and immediately killed? How many owners have given up hope after finding the facility’s doors locked and/or being met with the staff’s refusal to provide explanations as to what happened to their pets?  Where are the records for Zima and all the other pets killed at this facility indicating a vet determined them to be medically hopeless and suffering?

Cats are second class citizens in far too many so-called shelters in this country.  It’s past time for that to change.  Oh but nobody WANTS to kill animals, it’s all the irresponsible public’s fault, spay-neuter would solve everything and [insert your favorite myth here].

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Gwinnett Co ACO Under Investigation for Beating Dog

When a lost rottweiler called Shane was spotted wandering around a Georgia neighborhood on August 30, Annabella Flynn-Dempsey says the dog was brought into her fenced yard.  Shane played with her three dogs and her grandson tossed a ball until the dog went into nap mode.

“He was just big and fluffy and friendly and just a sweetheart,” Flynn-Dempsey said.

When Gwinnett Co ACO Austin Fetner arrived to pick up Shane, he tried to snare him in a chokepole, which the dog avoided.  Then witnesses say, the situation turned violent:

The dog was running past Fetner when, according to Flynn-Dempsey, he “took a full baseball swing” with his catch pole, cracking the rottweiler on the head.

“It was so damn loud,” Flynn-Dempsey said. “One of the neighbors that was behind me said, ‘Oh dear God, did he shoot him?’”

Flynn-Dempsey alleges that Fetner hit the dog with his pole five more times, mostly on the head and face. There was blood everywhere as Shane was finally dragged to Fetner’s truck, she said.

“One neighbor screamed, ‘Why are you beating that dog?’” Flynn-Dempsey said. “He screamed, ‘If you don’t like what I’m doing call my supervisor.’”

The entire ordeal took just 15 minutes.

Shane’s owner, Sabahuddin Grbic, began searching for his lost dog immediately. He visited and called the Gwinnett Co pound several times asking about Shane but was turned away every time with staff telling him that no rottweiler had been impounded. A week later, pound staff finally admitted that Shane had been there all along, characterizing the misinformation as a mix up. Mr. Grbic recognized Shane physically but teared up upon seeing him because he could tell his dog was not the same emotionally:

Shane has since been evaluated by several different veterinarians and animal hospitals. They found scar tissue from an injury inside his eye, as well as a cataract — possibly trauma-induced but impossible to say for sure. Doctors believe his behavioral changes are “caused by emotional trauma and not neurological damage.”

shane

Shane and his owner, after the attack, as posted on Facebook.

Mr. Grbic says Shane’s tail stays tucked between his legs now, he is wary of strangers and no longer promptly complies with simple commands.

A citizen’s complaint was filed against ACO Fetner and he resigned last month. The Gwinnett Co police department, which runs the pound, is investigating itself in the matter. Neither the pound manager nor Fetner would speak to the Gwinnett Daily Post about the case.

The paper FOIAd the report that Fetner filed on the day that witnesses say he brutally beat Shane without cause. Excerpts from that report:

“I stood in the middle of pen and walked his direction to try and put my pole on the K9. When I got close just the pole between us the K9 growled, showed teeth, and ran my direction. When the 120 (pound) rott ran towards me showing teeth and growling I was in fear for my life and I had to hit the K9 with my pole.”
[...]
“The size of the K9 and the small enclosure we were in made me feel that much more uncomfortable and nervous when the K9 ran back and forth and if I did not keep my distance from him with my pole I believe I would have been seriously injured or killed.”

It sounds like Fetner was terrified of the dog. Maybe he could have called the child who had been playing ball with Shane for assistance. Bringing that much negative energy into a situation while using a chokepole to try to ensnare a lost dog in a strange environment is a recipe for disaster. Tragically, multiple witnesses say Shane was the victim of that disaster.

Mr. Grbic has retained an attorney but has no plans to sue the county at this time, choosing instead to wait on the outcome of the police department’s internal investigation.  It seems hard to imagine that a department which appears to have attempted to cover up the beating by denying the county had the dog for a full week before finally admitting the truth will be capable of conducting an unbiased investigation.  And if I lived in Gwinnett Co, I’d certainly be wondering who else the police are dispatching on calls to pick up lost, napping dogs who got tired out after playing with kids and what tools/weapons they are giving them.  How many owners have gone to the Gwinnett Co pound and been told their lost pet isn’t there when in reality, the animal is there, bleeding on the cage floor after having been beaten by a county employee?

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Treats on the Internets

A pound in Delaware killed 50 cats belonging to a woman who had proof of rabies vaccination for 15 of them after one of her kittens tested positive for rabies.  “Almost all” of the cats were indoor only and presented no risk to other area animals.  (Thanks Steve for the link.)

A dog with a broken back allegedly did not receive veterinary care for 4 days while at the Amarillo pound last month.  (Thank you Clarice for the link.)

A Calgary family who found a young stray dog and turned him in to the pound in hopes of finding his owner offered to adopt him and pay for professional training after the pound staff said he failed a temperament test.  The pound killed the dog anyway.  (Thanks Brandi.)

At a recent community forum in Roeland Park, KS, 21 people spoke in favor of replacing the city’s pitbull ban with a breed neutral ordinance while 4 people expressed support for keeping the breed specific ban.  The discussion is on the agenda at the city council meeting on November 24.  (Thanks Salette.)

The Fort Worth veterinarian who stole people’s pets after they left them at the clinic for euthanasia and left his own immobile dog to suffer unimaginable pain in a box on the floor has been indicted by a grand jury on theft and animal cruelty charges.  (Thanks Clarice.)

Three poachers face federal charges for wildlife “thrill kills” in Nevada.

A most excellent plot by stuffies to foil a dictator’s orphanage photo op.

Soap opera they should make which I would watch:  Baby Bat Hospital.

Weekend Jade

This week we changed from shorts weather:

jade linus 111614

to straight up no fooling around weather:

jade 111614

Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments.

eh shepard

Helmetta Pound Raided and Locked Down by NJ Authorities

Photo posted on Facebook, described as living and dead kittens in the Helmetta pound's isolation room.

Photo posted on Facebook, described as living and dead kittens in the Helmetta pound’s isolation room.

Authorities have finally taken decisive action to protect the animals suffering at the troubled Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter in NJ.  Tragically, that action came too late for many animals.

Fifteen officers from the NJ SPCA along with a veterinarian and Middlesex County health officials arrived unannounced at the Helmetta pound yesterday to conduct follow up inspections and determine if the facility had been brought into compliance regarding previously issued warnings.  Those issues included mixing sick animals in with healthy ones, animals living in filthy cages, and importing dogs from the south without health clearances.  The pound director reportedly locked the doors upon their arrival, refusing to allow them inside, but ultimately relented.

Inside the facility, officials found 230 animals, mostly cats - the overwhelming majority of whom had no water in their cages.  Some animals were dying:

Three cats and one dog were removed from the shelter because they were in critical condition, [NJ SPCA chief Frank] Rizzo said. One cat died on the way to the veterinarian office in nearby Jamesburg. One animal had to be euthanized at the vet’s office. The animals that died have been taken as evidence, he said.

The county health department placed the pound on quarantine with no animals being allowed in or out until further notice.  The borough was given 24 hours to have a veterinarian assess all the animals, many of whom are sick:

“Disease control is basically nonexistent in this facility, and healthy animals are becoming unhealthy, and sickness just transfers just back and forth, so there’s just a lot of sick animals in that building,” said Rick Yocum, President of the NJ SPCA.

Gee, I wonder why the director initially locked the inspectors out.

In the wake of complaints from animal advocates who have documented neglect at the pound and made their concerns public, two communities have recently terminated their animal control agreements with Helmetta.  Helmetta mayor Nancy Martin hid from the media yesterday but last month, she clearly had zero fucks to give about the animals suffering at the pound:

“We have a vet that comes in two hours a week,” she said. “I don’t understand why people are saying things that are not true, or totally blown out of proportion.”

The mayor will have to address the issue now since there are still many communities who contract with Helmetta for AC services and they will undoubtedly be seeking answers.

Continuing updates are being posted by animal advocates on the Reform Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter page on Facebook.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

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