Rotting from the Head Down: How the Neglect of a Dog at the Louisville Pound Went Public Despite a Political Cover-up

Sadie, as shown on the WHAS website.

Sadie, as shown on the WHAS website.

Regular readers may remember the tragic story of Sadie, an injured dog who suffered for months at the hands of Louisville Metro Animal Services before finally being euthanized by rescuers.  Heather Adkins, an employee at LMAS during the time Sadie was there who later became her foster owner and advocate, was smeared by the city of Louisville after she went public with Sadie’s story.  Due to public outcry, the city appointed an ad hoc committee to investigate what happened with Sadie.  The committee’s report was released Wednesday and can be read here.

Terrible:  The committee found “that by the clear and convincing evidence made available, the LMAS Department did knowingly neglect Sadie by failing to provide proper health care for the animal in a timely fashion”.  Despite the finding, there is no recommendation that the appropriate authorities should determine whether criminal charges should be brought in the case.

Also Terrible:  The committee was not only denied access to records and certain personnel involved with Sadie’s case by Mayor Greg Fischer’s office, it also found that the administration lied to the public in an August press release in an attempt to whitewash the neglect.  Despite the corruption and fraud apparent throughout the office, there is no recommendation that the appropriate authorities should determine whether criminal charges should be brought against anyone in the administration.

More Terrible:  After the city retaliated against Ms. Adkins for going public with Sadie’s story and she ultimately left her job, the Fischer administration stamped her personnel file with the words DO NOT REHIRE, while promoting and shielding those who were instrumental in Sadie’s neglect.  The committee recommended that Ms. Adkins’ personnel file be corrected, exonerating her of any wrongdoing, and that the mayor’s office issue a public statement clearing her name.  The committee also recommended that the city enact a whistleblower protection ordinance and that there should be more oversight into LMAS donations.

Cherry on Top Terrible:  At the same time the committee was scheduled to release its report, Mayor Fischer “abruptly called a news conference” to announce that he does not back a $10.10 proposed minimum wage and that poor people need to learn how to live on $8.75 an hour – the most he’s willing to back.  Some noticed the uh, coincidence:

A Democratic council member said the mayor was trying to “distract” from the findings, while a Republican called the timing “unusual.”

Astonishingly, Mayor Greg Fischer later e-mailed a response to the media regarding the report:

“The council found some weaknesses during its review and we’ve already responded with improvements to our donation and open records policies,” Fischer said in a statement. “It’s very unfortunate what happened with Sadie. We remain committed to moving forward and helping save as many animals as we can.”

Found Some Weaknesses.  I like that.  Although I’d like it better if it was the name of a prison wing housing everyone guilty of neglecting Sadie, smearing her advocate and shielding her abusers.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride as the Fischer administration moves forward, what with all those bodies under the bus.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

City of Irvine Takes Action to Improve Conditions at Shelter after Community Complaints

After shelter pet advocates went public by bringing their concerns about the Irvine Animal Care Center to the City Council last month, changes are afoot.

The chief veterinarian at IACC, Dr. Lawrence Kosmin, whom shelter pet advocates allege has been botching surgeries and refers to himself as “Dr. Death”, will be leaving at the end of the month.  A vet who worked under Dr. Kosmin will take his place.

City officials plan to establish a clear euthanasia policy that ensures no treatable animal is euthanized. A policy will also be set to create an atmosphere in which shelter staff and volunteers can come forward about issues without fearing retribution from their management.

A number of other changes are in the works as well:

  • A behaviorist will be hired to evaluate pets and get them ready for adoption.
  • Staff will be given one day’s notice on the kill list.
  • The Third Chance program, which advocates allege has been misused resulting in the needless killing of “rescued” pets, will be re-evaluated.
  • A veterinarian who trained in shelter medicine at UC Davis was slated to begin an independent evaluation of the Irvine facility this week.

The mayor says it will take 4 – 6 months to fully implement the changes.

Former shelter staff and volunteers are encouraged by the city’s plans but worry the independent evaluation will rely on information provided by current shelter management, who deny wrongdoing.

That’s always a challenge.  But any reasonable shelter evaluation is going to include input from community stakeholders.  In this case, since the city only took action after the community dropped the problems on its doorstep, I would think the evaluation would have to include input from those who got the ball rolling.

We’ll be watching.

One last noteworthy bit from the article, regarding “Dr. Death”:

Kosmin is serving as president-elect for the California Veterinary Medical Association during 2014-15.

The CVMA must be so proud.

(Thanks Arlene and Clarice for the link.)

Irvine Animal Advocates Detail Concerns Regarding Shelter in Report to City Council

More than 50 pages worth of comments and photos regarding the Irvine Animal Care Center (IACC) in CA were submitted to the Irvine City Council by concerned shelter pet advocates at its public meeting last month. The full report can be read here. (The first 2 pages are not related to the shelter.) I have pulled out a number of quotes as well as my own summaries to give readers a sampling of the concerns expressed by advocates.

Comments from Dr. Barbara Chlupek, rabbit rescuer:

  • After the new manager took over, a long time volunteer “was summarily ousted on false pretenses.”
  • “[T]he new manager suspended the volunteer program supposedly in order to “review” it. It has not yet been brought back.”
  • “Dr. Kosmin has been documented as proudly referring to himself as “Dr. Death”, since he enjoyed killing animals.”
  • irvine patty

    Patty

    An 8 year old rabbit called Patty who had an adopter waiting was killed instead of being adopted.

  • An in-depth investigation is needed immediately because “[a]nimals are being abused and killed[.]”

Comments from “A coalition of concerned citizens, volunteers, current employees and ex-employees who care about the animals”:

  • “We have not heard back from the Mayor or any members of the City Council on issues regarding the IACC brought to your collective attention starting in July of 2014.”
  • “Current IACC management has not addressed issues and concerns brought forward during the last nine months and they have not presented any plan to fix issues going forward.”
  • “Christine Brown and Molly Brown should immediately be stopped from conducting all behavioral assessments of dogs as they tend to recommend euthanasia if the dog is large or exuberant.”
  • Request for transparency: “Intakes and outcomes of all animals regardless of intake be made available on the website monthly – all intakes and outcomes, nothing excluded.”
  • Two employees attempted to kill a cat named Cody for 2 hours and allowed him to suffer instead of seeking assistance from a veterinarian.

Comments from Ava Crittenden, former employee:

  • “Dr. Kosmin exhibited counter constructive unwillingness to hear my ideas when the zoonotic disease Toxoplasmosis appeared in the trailer. I recommended protocols for gowning and cleaning for kennel staff, along with testing of every cat to prevent the possible spread of the disease. Following my suggestion I was told in front of three other lead supervisors “sure, if we want to piss away our money.” […] The next day, on 10/22, two other cats tested positive for Toxoplasmosis.”
  • Quantities of Fatal Plus have gone missing on multiple occasions.
  • irvine azulAn employee killed a hummingbird, left the remains in a kennel and went home for the day. The same employee killed a kitten called Azul who “was left in the laundry/trash bin overnight, visible to volunteers.”
  • All weekly staff meetings have been cancelled.
  • Regarding management’s handling of the former employee’s missed work due to medical reasons: “I feel I am being bullied[.]”
  • “In the conversation regarding my medically excused absences for the August/September of 2014, [Denise Jakcsy] told me “steroids can make you gain weight, just so you know”.”
  • “I noticed a community bullying behavior that is not just specific to me and has created a hostile working environment for others. Several staff members express similar intimidation tactics and bullying and unfortunately several others have left.”
  • Questions submitted in June regarding use of the shelter’s new software system have never been addressed.
  • irvine laneA 14 week old kitten called Lane was killed in full view of other cats after testing positive once for FeLV/FIV. No re-test was performed. He was underdosed with Fatal Plus by a staff member and placed in a cage where he began seizing. He suffered for 90 minutes before finally being injected with a weight appropriate dose of Fatal Plus.

Comments from [unknown]:

  • The shelter manager scheduled a pregnant dog to be spayed despite available foster homes. The information was made public and the dog was removed from the surgery list after much public outcry.

irvine intake

  • “When Animal Service Officers brings in animals, they are placed into intake the kennels pictured above. These kennels used to be in a different location directly next to the parking lot, but they were moved a few months ago due to construction. The new location is just outside of the freezer where Cal Trans and the shelter store deceased animals. The previous location had drains for easy cleaning and sanitation. The new location does not have any drains so animals now sit in a kennel that has standing urine. It is also very difficult to clean because there is no division of the kennels at the base. When you clean one kennel it flows into the other kennel and has to be hosed about 40 feet to clear the area and not pool in front of the freezer. There are new signs for staff to squeegee the area and towel dry, but that is very difficult to do with concrete. These animals arrive scared to be in a new situation and are placed next to a smelly freezer of deceased animals while waiting in a wet kennel.”
  • “Until July 2014, Animal Service Officers would bring animals directly into the clinic unless it was after hours. In July 2014, intake protocols were changed where all new animals were to be placed in these kennels until clinic staff were able to intake them. This resulted in some animals being in these kennels for several hours in hot weather.”
  • IACC adopted out 2 of 5 owned cats whose owner had been hospitalized.  The facility was supposed to be holding all 5 cats for “safe keeping” as a public service.  The owner wanted all her cats back but was only able to reclaim 3 since IACC had sold the other 2.
  • Dr. Kosmin is botching dog neuters.
  • Dogs are being brought into IACC under the “3rd Chance” program from other shelters then being sent back for killing.
  • Cages sit empty while healthy/treatable animals are being killed.

(Thank you Clarice for sending me this report.)

Discussion: After Biting a Child, Mickey Lives in a Jail Cell

Regular readers may remember when a Maricopa Co pound worker taunted animal advocates trying to save a dog named Mickey who had severely bitten a child.  The taunting was defended by the pound director as free speech.  And also mocking dog killing is absolutely a trait we want in our public pound employees so shut all the way up.

As it turns out, an agreement was reached with the court that Mickey would be allowed to live (aw, pet killers have a sad) if his teeth were ground down and he was locked up by the county for life.  Mickey is literally being kept in a jail cell with a webcam on him 24/7.

From the webcam page:

That’s when Sheriff Joe Arpaio stepped into the fray. He went to court on behalf of the dog and offered the judge a way to save Mickey ….the Sheriff’s Office would give Mickey a ‘life sentence’ inside Arpaio’s MASH jail (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Animal Safe House). The pit bull would be offered no parole, and no probation in exchange for taking the death sentence off the table.

Right now, the cell appears to be unsanitary, to put it mildly.  Take a look.

What are your thoughts on what has happened to Mickey?

(Thanks Arlene and Clarice for the links.)

Advocates Allege Animals “Barbarically” Killed for Convenience at Irvine Shelter

It has long been the position of this blog that numbers alone do not tell the complete story of any shelter.  Individual lives matter.  As shelter pet advocates, it is up to us to advocate for the right to live of every healthy/treatable shelter animal – not just the ones who fall within an arbitrary statistical analysis.  There is no save rate percentage that is “good enough” at any shelter if it means even one healthy/treatable animal was killed there or that any animal needlessly suffered while being euthanized.

I am glad to see advocates in Irvine, CA taking action on behalf of shelter pets there.  Mind you, there hasn’t been any reported increase in killing at the Irvine Animal Care Center, which has a reputation for being a “low kill” facility.  But advocates are speaking out regarding the reasons and methods used to kill shelter animals.

For example, records show a 2 year old Chihuahua named Tate was fed a half can of food and taken for a walk one morning in July.  He ate all his food and would have gladly eaten more according to an employee.  Instead, he was killed just minutes later for “not eating” and “orthopedic conditions”.

That same month, a cat named Cody was brought in by his owner for euthanasia but was left to suffer for 2 hours while he was injected with Fatal Plus IV, then IP and finally IC before finally dying.

The Irvine shelter sent x-rays on a rabbit with a dislocated hip to a private vet for an opinion.  The vet recommended repair but Irvine killed the pet instead.

Advocates also cite killing while cages sit empty, reduction of volunteer hours and scaling back lifesaving programs at the Irvine facility.  Rita Gatto has volunteered at the shelter for 10 years:

Euthanasia numbers have been kept low, she said, because volunteers and staff have taken in animals that were slated to be killed. But those homes are now full and some staff have quit because of what she terms an oppressive work environment.

The euthanasia numbers in Irvine, Gatto added, will rise going forward when they reflect what she views as the shelter’s new policies.

“Right now, Irvine is not euthanizing for humane reasons, but killing animals for convenience,” Gatto said.

Last week, advocates spoke before the city council to request an independent investigation of the Irvine shelter, claiming management has bullied individuals who have questioned the killing:

In a 50-page report presented to council members, advocates described a progressively hostile work environment toward staff and volunteers in the past 18 months. The report cites several incidents of careless treatment leading to animals being destroyed.

“I saw, and assisted, in the euthanasia of animals that had not even been diagnosed [with an illness or a disability] or seen by a veterinarian,” former center staff member Ava Crittenden told the council. She resigned her position last week.

“Sadly, I realized the shelter developed a culture that did not center on animal welfare.”

Another speaker painted an even darker picture:

“Today, animals are being euthanized carelessly, barbarically, for space and just out of laziness for not wanting to care for them any further,” said one speaker, who said she had volunteered at the center for 11 years.

Several speakers said they have been expressing their concerns and requesting action for months, to no avail.  Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway was all *shrug*:

“I got a few emails, maybe some letters, this summer,” Lalloway said. “I remember specifically asking the city manager to look into it.”

I asked someone to look into whatever might have been said in maybe some letters but I guess they didn’t because I don’t know.

I hope the advocates in Irvine aren’t putting all their hopes in the mayor’s basket.  Because the bottom fell out of that basket some time back and nobody noticed.

If anyone has a copy of that 50 page report, I’d like to read it.  E-mail me.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Amarillo Pound Worker Spraying Dogs with Chemicals

A rescuer visiting the Amarillo pound in Texas last week watched as an employee used his hose as a weapon against puppies, spraying them with chemicals to get them to go through a doggie door.

“He sprayed the chemicals and was spraying the animals, including the puppies to try and get them to run inside the building,” [Bridget] Brecheen said. “He soaked the puppies.”

Ms. Brecheen spoke about what she had witnessed at a city council meeting.  The pound’s interim director followed her, stating the employee was being disciplined for spraying the dogs with chemicals.  No word on what that discipline involved or whether the affected dogs were treated or if anyone bothered to check if they needed treatment or if the dogs were still alive.

But we all want the same thing, don’t criticize, blah.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

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.)

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