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.)

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.)

VA Family Says PETA Stole and Killed Their Dog

Maya, as pictured on the WAVY website.

Maya, as pictured on the WAVY website.

Maya the chihuahua was the beloved pet of the Cerate family who had moved to Virginia from Mexico.  The family’s little girl was particularly attached to Maya.  Mr. Wilbur Cerate was used to being greeted by Maya when he came home from work but one Saturday last month, the dog was not there to greet him.

Cerate checked his security camera and the video shows a van with “PETA” on the side back into his driveway. Two women got out of the van and one walked up his porch, took Maya, and put her in the back of the van.

Mr. Cerate says that three days later, the two women returned to his house with a fruit basket to tell him PETA had killed Maya.

*pauses while you go back to re-read “fruit basket”*

Mr. Cerate called the cops on their loopy asses.

Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin told WAVY.com he charged the PETA workers with larceny. He said pets are considered personal property. But the local commonwealth’s attorney told WAVY.com he dropped the charges because there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. He said the video does not show criminal intent, so he declined to take the case to court.

I didn’t go to law school but isn’t stealing a crime in and of itself, like with the “criminal intent” part automatically included?  PETA reportedly stole this family’s well loved pet, killed her, then returned to brag about it while shoving a fruit basket in their faces.  There is video evidence.  There is an admission of guilt.  The county sheriff brought charges.  But the commonwealth’s attorney can’t be bothered to do his job.

Maya’s little girl is heartbroken and her father says she no longer has any interest in school or other activities.  PETA hid when WAVY repeatedly contacted the group seeking comment.  Mr. Cerate wants to know why PETA stole and killed his family’s pet.  Tragically, the answer is that PETA operates a pet killing facility in VA and death is the outcome for almost every animal PETA takes.

Respectful letters requesting the commonwealth’s attorney pursue charges against PETA for the theft and killing of Maya can be e-mailed to commatt@verizon.net.

(Thank you Laura for the link.)

OK Mayor Bans Shelter Volunteers, Rolls Around in Pile of Tax Dollars

Volunteers at the city pound in Pryor, OK have been banned.  And in a classy way:

“Lisa and I showed up on Sunday morning to walk dogs and they just said that we weren’t needed anymore, that they were going to have two part time employees and another full time employee and that our help was no longer required,” [volunteer Kathy LaValle] said.

Ms. Lavalle has volunteered at the city pound since 2011, heading up adoption events and networking pets online.  She’d like to know why she and the other volunteers are being turned away suddenly:

Kathy Lavalle is exhausting her resources trying to find out why she is not allowed to help out at the shelter anymore.

“I have texted, I’ve called, emailed,” Kathy Lavalle said. “I can’t get an answer.”

Pryor mayor Jimmy Tramel says the vols should quit harshing his mellow:

[Y]eah we could’ve done a better job, but that didn’t happen,” Tramel said.

Mayor Brozilla told the media that the reason for the suspension of the volunteer program is that the city needs “to put a procedure in place” outlining the terms to which volunteers must agree in order to donate their time at the pound.  He needs 30 – 45 days to come up with the terms.  Ms. LaValle said the volunteers met with the city to discuss these terms a year and a half ago and the matter is long settled.

While the mayor is reinventing the wheel for 45 days, taxpayers will be shelling out $3000 to pay the pound staff overtime as they compensate for the free labor normally performed by vols.  The mayor is totes chill with this too:

“Sure it’s tax money, but for the safety of the volunteers, the safety of the employees and safety and well being of the animals, it’s going to cost us some money,” Tramel said.

Hey, it’s only tax money.  So FREE CASH basically.  Woohoo!

Volunteers are worried that without their free help, more pets will be needlessly neglected and killed at the pound.  I imagine the mayor’s response to that concern is something along the lines of “Coulda, woulda, shoulda!”

You know who I would like to shake hands with?  Mayor Rice-A-Broni’s campaign manager.  You sir, are a genius.  A magical genius who somehow managed to put ALL THE LIPSTICK on a pig, sufficient to win an election.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Michigan Humane Goes Rogue on Mandatory Holding Periods for Stray Cats Lacking Identification

The war on cats by so-called humane animal organizations continues.

Michigan state law regarding mandatory holding periods for impounded animals is clear:

Act 224 of 1969287.388 Disposition of dogs or cats; time; notice; record; exceptions.

Sec. 8.

A dealer, a county, city, village, or township operating a dog pound or animal shelter shall not sell or otherwise dispose of a dog or cat within 4 days after its acquisition. If the dog or cat has a collar, license, or other evidence of ownership, the operator of the pound or shelter shall notify the owner in writing and disposition of the animal shall not be made within 7 days from the date of mailing the notice. Each operator of a pound or shelter shall be required to maintain a record on each identifiable dog or cat acquired, indicating a basic description of the animal, the date it was acquired and under what circumstances. The record shall also indicate the date of notice sent to the owner of an animal and subsequent disposition.

This section does not apply to animals which are sick or injured to the extent that the holding period would cause undue suffering, or to animals whose owners request immediate disposal.

(Red font added for emphasis.)

On October 21, the long troubled Michigan Humane Society reportedly sent a mass email advising volunteers of its new policy for impounded cats lacking identification.  The portion relevant to the new policy:

Currently, there is no statutory hold for cats.  It has been MHS practice to hold stray cats for at least 4 days before placing them up for adoption. However, in order to save more cat lives, MHS, effective immediately, will maintain no hold time for stray cats who are immediately adoptable and do not have any form of traceable identification.

Cats with any form of traceable identification will be held for 7 days while we attempt to contact their owners.

(Red font added for emphasis.)

Despite the claim made by MHS that “there is no statutory hold for cats”, the law is clear.  Every animal is entitled to at least a 4 day holding period so their owners, if they have any, can find them.  MHS knows this.  And they know the holding period is crucial to allowing families to find their lost pets. Snipped from the MHS webpage entitled “What to do if you find a stray animal”:

Is this animal lost or abandoned?  Regardless of his appearance, start with the assumption that the animal may be a loved animal who is greatly missed by his family.  Even a normally healthy, friendly animal who has become lost may take on a “homeless” appearance and frightened demeanor.  The animal’s coat may become dirty and matted and he may lose weight rapidly or sustain injuries.  And the absence of a collar or tag does not always mean the animal left home without one.

[…]

The best chance for an animal to be reunited with his family is if you turn him in to the appropriate holding facility.

[…]

If you have found an animal without identification and wish to keep the animal:
you must make a report to the animal control organization responsible for your geographic area and you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner.

[…]

Regardless of whether you hope to keep the pet or not, you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner. This will prevent “property” disputes in the future if you do decide to keep the animal, and will give the pet the best opportunity to find his original owner whether you bring him to the shelter, or keep him at your home during your search.

[…]

FILE A FOUND REPORT ASAP with the local animal control or police in the city or county where you found the dog, cat or other animal. […] You may be given the option to keep the animal during the stray hold period; this is at the discretion of the shelter.

Despite the stance MHS has adopted on its website that lost, owned pets may not be wearing identification, that keeping them for the mandatory stray hold is legally required and that searching for the owner is an absolute must, MHS seems to have zero interest in practicing what it preaches.

Last year around this time, SB560 – a bill MHS crafted – was introduced in the state Senate.  The bill would have reduced the mandatory holding period for stray cats lacking identification from 4 days to 2 days, making it harder for families to reclaim their lost pets.  SB560 died in committee and the law mandating the minimum 4 day holding period remains.

So after failing to get the law changed to their liking, MHS has apparently decided to claim the law does not exist.  Assuming MHS has put into practice the policy change detailed in the email, it means they are putting stray “adoptable” cats who lack identification immediately up for sale.  This is a clear violation of state law.  Failing to obey the mandatory holding period law for stray cats means that families are needlessly and illegally being broken up by MHS.

The Michigan Political Action Committee for Animals is asking concerned citizens to contact the state Department of Agriculture:

[C]ontact the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and file a complaint that our state’s largest and wealthiest private shelter is violating state law by ignoring mandatory stray hold times for cats, denying owners the opportunity and the right to reclaim their lost cat.

(Thanks Clarice and Anne for the heads up on this story.)

Animal Neglect and Suffering Exposed in KY Pounds

Kittens suffering in a county pound in KY, as photographed by animal advocates and shown on the WAVE website.

Kittens suffering in a county pound in KY, as photographed by animal advocates and shown on the WAVE website.

Animal advocates in KY are suing some county shelters for failing to comply with the state’s humane care law for shelters.  Over the past 2 years, they have photographed numerous atrocities at county pounds around KY.  (Warning: There are suffering and dead animals in this slideshow of horrifying images.)

Investigative reporter John Boel from WAVE in Louisville went out to visit some county shelters to see the conditions for himself.  What he found ranges from troubling to  – uh, what’s the term I’m looking for? – organized crime.  Yeah, that’s it.

One county pound in KY is the dog warden’s house.  He doesn’t adopt out pets but sends people to another county which he doesn’t know the location of offhand.  Another county pound keeps dogs chained to a fence with no shade, even in 90 degree heat.  Other shelters either have signs posted stating that cameras are not allowed or outright refused entry to Mr. Boel.

The Edmonson Co pound is owned by Kim Carroll who operates the pound for personal profit.  Mr. Boel saw cages of dogs and cats piled high.  The cages were too small for the animals to stand up or turn around.  When Carroll refused to allow Mr. Boel and his photographer inside the facility, he asked her about the stacked cages and suffering animals he had seen.  And for real, don’t take a sip of your beverage just now.  Because this was Carroll’s response:

“If you press the issue, we can go in and put down anything you want to,” Carroll said.

“I’m just talking about humane treatment of animals. I’m not telling you to kill them,” I said.

“Do you want me to kill ‘em?” she said.

“No, I don’t want you to kill them,” I said. “I just want you to treat them humanely.”

If this isn’t make him an offer he can’t refuse enough for you, Carroll obliterates all doubt:

Kim Carroll said their private status means they don’t have to answer to the public. Then she pushed my photographer.

“If you don’t turn that thing off, that’s going to be the end of it,” she said.

Carroll said the shelter passed a recent inspection by the state, but she never let us in.

“I’m asking you, don’t air this,” she said. “This is a lot bigger than you and I.”

What the what?  This person is pocketing cash from taxpayers in four KY counties, flouting the law, forcing animals to suffer, threatening to kill them if a reporter gets too asky – all while doing her best Don Corleone impression.  Who are the people writing checks to her from those four counties?  Where are the police in Edmonson Co who are supposed to be enforcing the law?  Which state inspectors submitted passing reports on these facilities?  Are all these public servants in on this animal cruelty, perhaps skimming off taxpayers to perpetrate this fraud?  Because if not, how has Kim Carroll not been sent directly to jail do not pass Go do not collect $200?

The Contemporary Justice Review is about to publish a scathing analysis by two members of UofL’s sociology department of how Kentucky has complied with the Humane Shelter Law.

Let me guess:  Not.

I’m glad there’s a lawsuit.  I’m glad there’s been an analysis done.  But some people operating “shelters” in KY need to have handcuffs slapped on them and get put in the back of the police car for these failures to comply with state law.  Now.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Charleston City Council Considers Bill Allowing the City to Steal Owned Cats

In West Virginia, Charleston city council’s ordinance and rules committee passed a draconian cat bill this week and sent it to the full city council for consideration.  How extreme is it, you ask?

Assistant city attorney Mandi Carter said the ordinance is different from the city’s already-on-the-books animal nuisance ordinances in that it gives the city the power to pick up and impound cats on private property without permission.

The bill includes fines for cat owners but fails to define how ownership is to be determined.  It also fails to address community cats – free living cats not socialized to people whose home is the outdoors – the group that is presumably the source of most of the complaints the city receives about cats.

The sole nay vote on the committee came from at-large Councilman Chris Dodrill:

“I totally understand that the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. But I also don’t think we should pass bad laws just to do something,”

Councilman Joe Deneault told the local paper, in essence, the council should pass bad laws just to do something:

“We’ve been looking for a perfect solution forever, and we haven’t even come close to finding it. This is a measure toward some solution. It may not be perfect, but it is certainly better than doing nothing,” he said.

And when he says forever, he means not forever.  Councilman Dodrill:

“We talk about this once a year for an hour. … I think we can work harder and figure something else out that’s going to work.”

On top of all this, the shelter and police department responsible for enforcing the proposed ordinance say they do not have the cage space or humane officers to do so. And even if they did, enforcing such a law would be a waste of time anyway:

“If time is spent on cat calls, there are animal control concerns, safety concerns, that go unattended in the community. So, vicious dogs; dog fighting; children being bit by animals. And when so much time is spent on cat issues, true animal control public safety issues go unanswered,” [Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association Director Chelsea] Staley said.

Ms. Staley told the committee that residents can use things like citrus and coffee grounds on their property to discourage cats from entering. Some guy who spoke in support of the ordinance wanted to know if irresponsible cat owners were going to foot the bill for the orange peels and the stuff left in the coffee filter that otherwise goes in the trash. Sounds like there was legitimate debate anyway.

The Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association has put up an online petition calling for the bill to be tabled and replaced by something that makes a tiny bit of sense and doesn’t include stealing people’s cats.

If the Charleston city council would scrap this bill and be willing to consider a TNR program for its community cats, I would personally pledge to send my used citrus fruits and coffee grounds to that one guy worried about the cost.  Win-win?

(Thanks Clarice and Anne for the links.)

Commerce Mayor to Public Meeting Attendees Supporting No Kill: Shut Up and Get Out

A public meeting of the Commerce city council in Texas was held last week. Dozens of people showed up in support of no kill, some planning to address the council during the public speaking portion of the meeting. They intended to speak about the needless killings at the Commerce pound. But they were denied that opportunity when the city council skipped the portion of the meeting where the public is allowed to speak. After the meeting was abruptly adjourned, taxpayers asked why they were denied their right to address the council.

“This is an issue that does not have to be brought forth,” Commerce Mayor John Ballotti said. “I get to pick what items we go over. That is the end of the discussion. You may all leave.”

Members of the city council hid from the media after the meeting and the city manager confirmed that the mayor is the Supreme Picker of Who Gets to Talk and When They Get to Do It.

The city later issued a statement regarding the pound to the media. You can read it in full here. The gist of it:

  • The irresponsible public is all the irresponsible.
  • Animal Control workers have a hard job.
  • Everything at the pound is fine.
  • Killing is a kindness.
  • PETA kills 90% of the animals it accepts and you know they’re ethical because it says so right in the name.

So there’s that malarkey.

Here’s my question: Are taxpayers in Commerce truly only allowed to address their city council at the whim of Mayor Supreme Picker?  Can anyone point me to where it says that in the law?  If such a law does exist, I would raise hell about that if I lived in Commerce.  If it doesn’t exist, I would raise hell about the mayor and the city manager disenfranchising taxpayers of their right to petition government for redress of grievances – which by the way is a right guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which Mayor Supreme Picker must uphold even if he hates it.  End of discussion.

(Thank you Patricia for the link.)

Shelter Pet Abuse and Cowards In Taos County, NM

In New Mexico, the city of Taos as well as the county of Taos pay a group called Stray Hearts more than $230,000 a year to perform animal control duties. Stray Hearts hired veterinarian Eugene Aversa to work at the facility in November 2013, providing medical care to the animals. He resigned last month, after a complaint made by shelter volunteers and staff led to a hearing before the New Mexico Board of Veterinary Medicine, the findings of which were damning:

Eugene Aversa was found to have violated state codes in his treatment of or failure to treat 18 animals.
[…]
In its order, the seven-member board suggested Aversa was not qualified to work as a veterinarian at Stray Hearts. The order said Aversa “did not exercise the same degree of care, skill and diligence that reasonably prudent New Mexico veterinarians would have employed” in several cases. The doctor’s care for some animals was found to have constituted “gross negligence,” including in the case of a dog with a fractured paw which eventually fell off, a dog with cancer and a cat with a fractured paw as well as exposed bone.

Details of individual animals forced to suffer under Aversa’s “care” are disturbing to read.

A cat named Taffy was being given fluids by Aversa when the needle slipped out from under Taffy’s skin and the fluids spray Aversa in the face. The state report indicates Aversa threw Taffy to the floor in response. A worker found Taffy dead in her cage the next day, “with blood everywhere.”

A dog named Petey came to the pound in March 2014 with a fractured paw and Aversa left him to suffer until late July when he finally performed surgery on the dog. The state report says Aversa subsequently refused to change Petey’s bandages regularly and his paw eventually “fell off.”

Felicia Valencia, who assisted Aversa during procedures, says it took 90 minutes for a kitten to die after being “euthanized” by Aversa, and that the kitten’s suffering was only ended when Aversa finally jabbed a needle in the pet’s heart.

Ms. Valencia says when she spoke up about the abuse she witnessed, the shelter administration fired her.  Several Stray Hearts board members have resigned this year and the director recently quit.  Aversa’s malpractice and the shelter administration’s failure to take action to stop it has obviously taken a toll.  Still, the administrators appear to be trying to sweep the whole thing under the rug:

 Asked whether Aversa had been qualified to work at the shelter, the nonprofit’s chair said Tuesday she was “not qualified to comment on the veterinarian’s qualifications.”

Yeah, that’s not the only thing the administrators for Stray Hearts aren’t qualified to comment on.

The state veterinary board suspended Aversa’s license for 30 days and ordered him to shadow a shelter vet for 64 hours without pay. Once the required hours have been put in, Aversa will again be allowed to practice, and will be on a probationary status with the board. Which will surely bring comfort to any animals he hurls to the floor or leaves to suffer in pain until their fucking feet fall off.

If you live in Taos County, contact county manager Stephen Archuleta and tell him you don’t want one more penny of your tax money paid to Stray Hearts unless the entire board steps down.  Let the vols and staffers who filed the complaint run the place while things get sorted out.  Or find another group to contract for animal control.  Maintaining the status quo is unacceptable.  If Stray Hearts won’t do right by the lost and homeless animals in Taos Co, it’s up to the public to demand immediate changes be made.  At minimum, the shelter animals in Taos Co deserve a vet who won’t hurt them but will instead do his job to help them and shelter administrators who recognize that hurting pets is intolerable and will take action to protect the animals, not the abuser.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Arkansas Pound Employee Fired After Dog Found Starving

Lucy, as pictured on the KATV website, after being starved in the Brinkley pound.

Lucy, as pictured on the KATV website, after being starved in the Brinkley pound.

The city of Brinkley, Arkansas has fired its sole employee who was paid to work at the pound after a dog was found starving in the facility. The German shepherd dog called Lucy had been in the pound since June and was taken by a rescuer last week. A vet determined she was 30 pounds underweight and sick. Brinkley mayor Billy Hankins was shown pictures of Lucy and swiftly fired the pound employee:

“In no circumstance would I ever do this to an animal, no way. If I had of known about the condition of this dog before the 16th of October, there would have been immediate action,” Hankins said.

The Brinkley city attorney said the city will investigate itself in the matter. But the rescuer is not satisfied and has retained an attorney:

According to the dog rescuer’s attorney, Clint Lancaster, the investigation is not good enough for her.

“My client has given me a recording which I am not authorized to release which tends to indicate that the mayor knew this was going on for [quite some time],” Lancaster said.

Hmm. The two people who volunteer at the pound say they have been locked out for the past month. But now the mayor says he’s meeting with the volunteers about how to improve conditions at the facility and it’s conceivable that the city might go so far as to maybe even paint the place, possibly:

“We’re looking at even painting it, trying to brighten it up, anything that is necessary to make this where we feel like the dogs are safe ,” Hankins said.

You know what would brighten up the Brinkley pound for Lucy? Groceries. Someone doing his job. Unlocking the damn place so volunteers can get in.

But the mayor says not to criticize because actually, they could be worse:

“Once we pick a dog up and impound him, after 5 days if the dog has not been claimed by the owner then we take charge in a humane matter. As far as disposing of the dog, that would be euthanized,” Hankins said.” I might say there has been 50 dogs, at least the report I’m getting, we have saved their lives by not sticking with this ordinance.”

Maybe 50 dogs (somebody said, I think) we let people save, even though we could have killed them under the ordinance we made, but we let the public take them out alive because we’re awesome like that. True, we paid one guy to run the pound while we provided no oversight whatsoever and he wasn’t even managing to throw food down regularly for the animals but hey, we could be even more killy so shut up.

In the meantime, the irresponsible public has removed all the dogs from the Brinkley pound while the city investigates itself and the mayor browses paint color palettes online. The city isn’t taking in more dogs until the current crisis is resolved. Or at least painted over, I guess.

(Thank you Arlene for the link.)

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