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.)

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.)

Illinois ACO Charged with Animal Cruelty

Animal control in Sparta, IL is supervised by Commissioner of Health and Safety Gary Hanna.  In December 2013, Sparta veterinarian Tim Allard and his wife Paula complained to Mr. Hanna regarding the actions of ACO Melvin Eggemeyer.  The Allards say they told Mr. Hanna that ACO Eggemeyer picked up a dog who had been euthanized at their clinic, placed him on the tailgate of his truck and drove away with the tailgate still open, allowing clients at the vet clinic to see the deceased pet.  He then reportedly pulled into a nearby restaurant where kids were eating with their families and the dead dog fell off the truck in the parking lot.

The Allards say they also complained to Mr. Hanna regarding ACO Eggemeyer’s improper handling of stray cats:

“He brought a cat in here one day and wanted us to euthanize it and the vet that worked for us at the time said they would not euthanize the animal because it did have a microchip,” Paula said. “He (Eggemeyer) got upset and took the animal and left and we don’t know what happened to it.”

Sparta pet owner Linda Mines said her cat was lost and apparently killed in August, found deceased by a neighbor who called AC to pick up the body.  The cat was wearing tags with the owner’s name, address, and phone number at the time she was killed but ACO Eggemeyer never contacted her.  She was ultimately able to get her pet’s collar back from the police department but says her complaints were ignored.  Ms. Mines says she called Gary Hanna with a complaint about ACO Eggemeyer but he never responded to her call.

Sparta Police Chief Sean Lukes says he’s never heard of any complaints about ACO Eggemeyer and he knows nuffink.

Last month, an 8 year old Lab called Mocha got lost and the owner called AC to see if his pet was at the facility.  He was told yes, Mocha was there, so he went to AC to reclaim him.  Upon arrival, he found Mocha dead in a cage.  Turns out, Mocha was owned by the son of Sparta’s mayor.

Dr. Tim Allard conducted a necropsy on Mocha to determine how the dog died and turned his findings over to authorities.  As a result of those findings, which have not been made public, ACO Eggemeyer was charged with animal cruelty and suspended by Gary Hanna.  Eggemeyer resigned shortly thereafter.

Apparently Eggemeyer finally killed the wrong family’s pet.  Had Sparta city officials taken seriously the complaints over Eggemeyer’s callous disregard for the pets in his care months ago, he might not have been on the job at the time Mocha got lost.  How tragic that it seems to have taken the killing of a politically affiliated family’s pet to get authorities to straighten up and fly right.

Sparta police chief Sean Lukes said “that the town would have proper training in place for the position in the future.”  Oh gee, don’t put yourself out.

Gary Hanna hid from the media when they came seeking a comment but later faxed this totally sincere statement to the paper:

“The City of Sparta sincerely regrets any time in which a resident’s pet dies while in the care of the local Animal Control Officer.” The statement went on to say that any further inquiries must be made to the Randolph County State’s Attorney.

What a guy.

Eggemeyer is scheduled to appear in court for the misdemeanor cruelty charge today.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Nobody WANTS to Kill Animals: Jackson, MS Edition

As we so often hear from killing apologists, people who take jobs at the pound do it out of a love for pets and of course, they don’t want to kill animals.  And other fairy tales.

Some yahoo from Jackson AC in MS is riding around in the back of a pickup truck, armed with a shotgun, shooting dogs in their yards.

One man who says he occasionally fed a stray female dog in the neighborhood was at home when the armed sadist killed her:

“She came in my yard. I was sitting there watching the dog and there was a loud boom,” he said. And when the bullet hit the dog, the force pushed the body down, knocked it over, pushed it over. The dog was screaming, making a lot of noise.”

The injured dog made it down the street and collapsed.

A woman down the street had just let her dog Charley outside when the nutter came for him:

“Charley is not going to growl at you, Charley is going to wag his tail even if one of you guys walked up, he would just wag his tail,” said Charley’s owner. “So they could have just got out of the truck and picked him up. Instead, they shot him.”

Charley’s owner describes the behavior of the armed and violent public servant as that of a sniper:

“Yes, he was in the back of the truck, like he was a sniper cause he didn’t get out,” she said.

Neither eyewitness account makes mention of even a minor attempt to capture the dogs or knock on the doors of the homes where they were to inquire about their status.  Just an armed ACO riding around in the back of a truck, shooting pets to death.  But don’t fret, it’s perfectly reasonable:

We went to Jackson Animal Control to get their response. Paul Perry, the manager, said his officers followed policy,that they can use lethal force after all peaceful means of capturing an animal have been exhausted.

Apparently in Jackson, “all peaceful means of capturing an animal have been exhausted” equates with loading the shotgun.

Oh but we can’t understand how hard the job is and compassion fatigue and fuck all.  So don’t judge unless you’re willing to go down there and start randomly gunning down pets yourself.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Texas ACO SorryNotSorry He Got Caught on Camera Dragging a Dog

The Humane Society of Northeast Texas is no stranger to violence against the animals in its care.  But an incident of an ACO dragging a dog around the pound by a leash was caught on video last month, forcing the city to take action.  Prepare to be underwhelmed.

The little dog can be seen on multiple camera views being dragged like a sack of potatoes by Saylor Knox, the ACO paid to protect him from harm:

Knox’s boss, Environmental Health Supervisor Buck Farrar, says there is no excuse for the behavior, but here are some excuses:

Farrar said that while nothing excuses the behavior, the office was short-handed that day, Knox was hurrying, and the dog was behaving in an unruly manner.

“There is nothing that can condone taking action that can be perceived as abusive toward the animal. Do I believe that there was any ill intent on his part, that he was deliberately doing that? Absolutely not,” Farrar said.

“It’s the perception.”

Short-handed. In a hurry. Bad dog. He wasn’t deliberately dragging the dog. That’s just the perception of anyone who watched the video. It’s all in your mind.

As part of the city’s discipline, Knox was forced to write a letter to the HS regarding the incident. It looks like he copied one out of the Shelter Pet Abusers Handbook:

“I apologize for the way it appeared and for anything I did that implied I intended to harm the animal in any way,” Knox wrote.

Sorry for your stupid perceptions, people.

“I was attempting to expedite the call quickly being that the dog was being extremely unruly and vocal in the eyes of the public. I did the best I could in the circumstance, taking ample time both on the truck as well as once I had the dog secured in the animal control officer run, trying to get the dog to warm up to me.”

We’re doing the best we can, yay. Also, have we mentioned lately that the little dog was B-A-D? Because he was.

Apparently the wheel has not yet made it to Longview because if it had, the pound could keep a cart handy to move cages containing dogs too frightened to walk.

Knox refused to be interviewed by local media, as did the pound’s director.  There is no mention in the article of whether the dog survived the pound or was killed.  As far as the remainder of Knox’s disciplinary action, he was suspended for two days.  A city employee in another department was also suspended for two days in August “after administrators discovered she incorrectly filed paperwork for several months”. So I PERCEIVE that the pet mistreating ACO who gets paid to issue citations to citizens who mistreat pets is exactly the same as the paperwork messer-upper. Got it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Action Item: Ask Dothan Police Chief to Thoroughly Investigate Abuse at Pound

In Dothan, AL, animal control is run by the police department.  On the pound’s Petfinder page, which has zero animals listed for adoption, it states:

Because of the high number of dogs and cats we receive each week, we are forced to euthanize animals regularly.

And by forced to euthanize, they apparently mean getting kicks by torturing puppies to death.

William Henry Roberson, age 57, has reportedly worked for the city of Dothan for 21 years, including the last 14 as an ACO.  Shortly after showing up for work on Friday, ACO Roberson allegedly intentionally locked a live mixed breed puppy in the facility’s freezer, which I presume is full of dead pet carcasses.  Approximately 20 – 30 minutes later, another employee found the puppy, who died shortly thereafter.

ACO Roberson has been placed on administrative leave, arrested and charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty.  Bond was set at $500.

If this is the first time this man has tortured an animal, I will eat my hat.  I will eat all the hats.  No compassionate person shows up for work at a job he’s been doing for 14 years and suddenly decides to inflict pain and suffering on a puppy for the first time.  It seems only logical to believe this is part of a pattern of abuse with this ACO, one which his co-workers may or may not have observed over the last 14 years.  The difference this time is that someone turned him in.  Thank you, someone.

“It’s obviously disheartening when somebody who’s charged with protecting and caring for these animals then intentionally harms one,” [Dothan Police Lt. Will] Benny said.

Not ONE.  There is a pattern here, I guarantee it.  Will the Dothan police department, investigating itself in the matter, bother to dig deeper to determine if evidence of a pattern of animal abuse exists?  Or will they just take a play from the city shelter abusers handbook and label the guy a bad apple, the torture a one time incident, and move on quietly with the business of animal killing?

Politely worded e-mails to Dothan police chief Gregory J. Benton requesting a thorough investigation to include any possible incidents of previous animal abuse at the pound and prosecution to the fullest extent of the law may be sent to dpd@dothan.org. And while you’re writing, maybe include a link to No Kill 101 from the No Kill Advocacy Center. In case the police don’t want to be “forced” to continue the needless killing of pets at the pound. Hundreds of other communities have ended the killing. The tools are available, at no cost. Can’t hurt to try. And we already know it hurts not to try.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Grand Jury Findings in Mendocino Co, CA Shelter Investigation

A recent investigation by the Mendocino Co grand jury into the county shelter in Ukiah, CA revealed some troubling findings:

  • Owners attempting to surrender pets at the shelter are regularly turned away, in violation of CA law.
  • The shelter is overcrowded and overflow animals are kept in crates.  Some animals have lived at the shelter for more than a year.
  • The shelter is infested with rats.
  • There is a contentious relationship between shelter staff and ACOs, each falling under separate departments.  The ACOs feel the staff doesn’t want them bringing animals to the facility.  As a result, ACOs tend to work with animal abusers over extended periods of time rather than seize their animals.

Additional grand jury findings:

  • Some veterinarians refuse to work with ACOs because they don’t believe the ACOs seize abused animals in a timely manner and the abusers are not barred from immediately obtaining more animals.
  • ACOs in the field do not have access to the computer system containing licensing information and therefore must use their personal cell phones to call shelter staff when they pick up stray animals.  Because cell service is spotty and the staff only answer the phones some of the time, the ACOs don’t bother trying to get the information they need to return lost pets in the field.  These animals are all brought to the overcrowded, rat infested shelter.

Although it’s stated in the Mendocino Co ACO manual that they are required to maintain confidentiality in their duties, the grand jury found ACOs were telling animal abusers the names of people who complained about them.  As a result, many tipsters and their children were harassed in retaliation.

The grand jury made a number of recommendations including placing ACOs and shelter staff under the same department, training for shelter management, third party inspections at the shelter on a quarterly basis, annual ethics training for ACOs, computer access in the ACO vehicles, and the development of protocols for handling abuse cases.  The Mendocino Co shelter manager, the county sheriff, and the county board of supervisors are just some of the people required to respond to the grand jury findings.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

MI Shelter Closed and ACO Suspended After Dogs Found in Grave Condition

The shelter for the city of River Rouge, MI appears to fall under the police department.  The website says:

River Rouge Animal Control is operated by the Animal Control Officer Ernest Bowling Sr. The Animal Control Officer is available Monday, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

ACO Bowling recently brought two dogs in need of immediate veterinary care to the city shelter, and while no one can say exactly when that was (?), it was presumably on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday.  Both dogs were apparently left in cages to suffer. When the manager arrived on Tuesday, apparently seeing the dogs for the first time, both were dying:

“The pit bull had a hole in his head so that when he would take a breath blood would squirt out,” [volunteer Tom] Maskeny said. “There was blood on the sidewalk and in the shelter from him.”

[...]

Maskeny said the Yorkie also was just tossed into a cage. When volunteers arrived it was laying on the concrete next to a bowl of food, not moving.

Both dogs were taken to a vet who euthanized the elderly yorkie but was able to save the pitbull.

ACO Bowling has been suspended while an investigation is conducted and the shelter is being closed. The animals are being transferred to other facilities and a call for foster homes has been issued.

I don’t know any history on this shelter but it’s hard to imagine that this event occurred in a vacuum.  It’s also concerning that the police department will likely investigate itself in the matter.  If anyone sees any updates on this story, please share.

Pets Go Missing After Animal Control Gets Involved

Doozie Bean, as pictured on The Evening Tribune's website.

Doozie Bean, as pictured on The Evening Tribune’s website.

Annie Allison and her family have owned their beloved cat Doozie Bean for 9 years. He’s been missing since May 7, when he was reportedly trapped in a neighbor’s yard by the ACO for Hornell, NY. Prior to setting the traps in the neighbor’s yard, Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan states the ACO was supposed to knock on doors of area homes to alert residents. In addition, any cats trapped are supposed to be held for 5 days in order to give owners a chance to reclaim them. The ACO in this case, Gary Hadsell, appears to have not followed procedures.

After Ms. Allison brought her concerns to Mayor Hogan, the mayor denied any knowledge of traps being set. He says he talked with ACO Hadsell who reportedly admitted losing one of the cats he trapped. The ACO also apparently denied ever trapping Doozie Bean, claiming he has the ability to immediately distinguish feral cats from owned pets based on their behavior in the trap. The article doesn’t say if he also pulls rabbits out of hats or whether he’s available for kiddie birthday parties.

Mayor Hogan says ACO Hadsell has resigned. This too is clear as mud:

When reached for comment on his resignation, Hadsell said, “I don’t believe I did (resign). If you have any questions, call Shawn Hogan.”

Mayor Hogan also says that because of what happened with Doozie Bean, his city is getting out of the trapping business.

In the meantime, Ms. Allison and her family are heartbroken. She continues to search for Doozie Bean, driving around for hours, whistling for him and shaking cat treats out the window.

***

Blue, as depicted in a screengrab from the WREG website.

Blue, as depicted in a screengrab from the WREG website.

In West Memphis, AR a dog named Blue got spooked during a thunderstorm Saturday night and got lost.  A police officer took him to the West Memphis pound.  When Blue’s owner inquired at the pound Sunday, he was relieved to hear his pet was there.  But Blue’s cage was found empty.  Pound director Kerry Sneed says she personally locked the gate on Blue’s cage Saturday night and that it did not appear that he had escaped on his own.

For several hours Sunday morning, Sneed said there was a window of opportunity for people on the property to steal the dog.

Well gee.  Is that the sort of failure that taxpayers in West Memphis are supposed to accept?  What is being done to actually shelter animals from harm once they arrive at the so-called shelter?  Anything?

The owner, George Johnson, continues to walk the streets, calling for Blue.  He has made his e-mail address public in an effort to get any possible leads on the whereabouts of his pet: rjhealthfirst@yahoo.com

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Detroit Police Shoot 3 Dogs, ACOs Drag Their Bodies Down the Street

A Detroit ACO chokepoles a dog, possibly dead, across a street.  Screengrab from mlive.com.

A Detroit ACO chokepoles a dog, possibly dead, across a street. Screengrab from mlive.com.

Detroit police in riot gear entered a home in a drug raid last week, shooting 3 dogs who were inside the home.  The police called animal control to pick up the dogs.  Detroit ACOs used chokepoles to drag the dogs, who appeared limp and bloody, across the street in front of neighborhood children.  One dog’s entrails were reportedly falling out.  ACOs then heaved the dogs, who were possibly dead, onto the truck which contained live dogs.

These are your public servants, paid by your taxes to protect your community’s pets and promote the human-animal bond.  I guess we’re not giving them enough cupcakes.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

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