Louisville Metro Animal Services Under Investigation for Cruelty

Heather Adkins, a former employee at Louisville Metro Animal Services in KY, went public with the tragic story of Sadie, her foster dog from the pound.  In a letter posted last month on a local blog, Ms. Adkins states that Sadie was impounded by LMAS in March 2013 with a dangling front leg.  The owner who reclaimed her received an official notice from LMAS requiring veterinary care for the dog within 48 hours.  Since the owner never obtained the vet care, a court date was set.  When the owner no-showed in court, LMAS failed to take any action.

Sadie was again impounded by LMAS in July 2013 and held for one month.  After the owner communicated that he would not be reclaiming Sadie, LMAS put her on the kill list.  Ms. Adkins didn’t want to see the friendly dog needlessly killed so offered to take her home to foster around September 1.  She began investigating options on how to get Sadie the vet care she needed within the rules set by LMAS, which still legally owned the dog:

In the meantime, I told Tabitha Gray, the vet staff supervisor about Sadie’s situation. I told her Sadie would be a wonderful adoption candidate because she loved other dogs, loved cats, loved people, and was an all-around sunny dog. Tabitha informed me her vet staff wouldn’t do anything for Sadie because they wouldn’t see a financial return on her.

Within a couple days, Kim [Ward, foster coordinator at LMAS] emailed me back to say hold off on collection any money, because [then assistant director] Margaret [Brosko] wanted to use Sadie as a PR tool. They’d received a donation from a citizen that was specified to be used to save a pit bull, and Sadie would be perfect for this. I agreed, because I didn’t care how Sadie got the surgery, as long as she did.

Months passed. Ms. Adkins kept in regular communication with her supervisors at LMAS asking about when Sadie could get her surgery but was put off at every turn. In mid-November, Sadie began self-mutilating – chewing off part of her paw on the dangling leg. Ms. Adkins rushed Sadie to her personal vet for care and paid out of pocket for the emergency treatment. She contact Ms. Brosko to advise her the situation had reached a crisis point and Sadie could not wait any longer for her surgery. Ms. Brosko replied that the money raised for Sadie had been spent on another dog and basically, sux being you.

Ms. Adkins did not give up. She offered to start from scratch with the fundraising herself but again, was put off by those in charge. Three weeks went by before she was finally given permission to raise money for Sadie’s surgery. Sadie continued to self-mutilate and Ms. Adkins continued to have her treated at her own expense. Fundraising for Sadie took place during January and February 2014 and was successful. But Sadie’s last self-mutilation, which occurred at the same time the fundraising reached its goal, took a heavy toll:

Within two days, Sadie went downhill. She began to cough and be lethargic. On Wednesday, she vomited several times. On Thursday, I took her to see Dr. Pollett, who did X-rays and found Sadie had actually consumed some of the bandages this time. She then suggested I contact the Arrow Fund and ask for help.

Ms. Adkins contacted the Arrow Fund and the group immediately offered to take Sadie. She was taken to a vet by the Arrow Fund. But it was too late:

Her condition at this point was too severe—she’d developed pneumonia from the constant vomiting, on top of the bowel obstruction, on top of the leg that needed medical attention. They opted to euthanize her.

In repayment of her heroic efforts to save Sadie, the management at LMAS officially reprimanded Ms. Adkins for seeking outside assistance. And they threatened to fire her for the negative publicity, including FOIA requests, regarding Sadie. Ms. Adkins finally quit.

A group of advocates seeking justice for Sadie retained an attorney who recently sent a letter to the Jefferson Co attorney requesting an animal cruelty investigation at LMAS. In response, the Louisville Metro Council announced an ad hoc committee will conduct an 8 week probe of the agency. In addition to investigating the allegations of neglect and cruelty that caused Sadie to suffer for months, the committee will be asking why the facility has been without a director for more than a year.

Margaret Brosko, who has since been promoted to the mayor’s communications office, is hiding from the media.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Mailbag

Reader Tami writes:

Good news in cat rescue can be hard to find. The story of Julianne Westberry in SC has been particularly hard to swallow. She was trusted by so many. I worked side by side with her in the Anderson County Humane Society Spay/Neuter Clinic. She seemed to have a stream of foster homes and adopters. She was given the “Volunteer of the Year” award by ACHS in May 2014!  One month later, she was arrested for ill treatment of animals.

A passerby stopped to ask if the furniture on her porch was for sale. When the odor from inside, and the fly lined, paper covered windows were noted, authorities were notified. Authorities whose facility could be seen out the window of her house, less than 100 feet away!

Inside, they found 32 live cats, 37 deceased. More bodies were found by the owners of the rental house when they went in to clean up. It is believed, at least 25 more bodies. The true number of deceased may never be known. Many were so decomposed, they only way to know they ever existed was by fur and pieces of their tiny bodies. She pulled moms and kittens. Left them in their carriers. There, they died. One, Venus, was only ID’d by her microchip. I’ve seen pictures, not released to the public. Of the 32 survivors, 4 have since died. I have one, who was in some of the worst condition, in the care of my wonderful vets.

Thanks to the dedication of Ash Truesdale, volunteer with Foster Paws Rescue, it has been found that she pulled from 16 CONFIRMED shelters. In a little over a year, over 800 cats and kittens. She was using 3 different aliases. Her name, JW, J’s Kitten Cottage, and unbeknownst to them, the 501c3 of Anderson County Humane Society. She was accepting pledges for these cats. THAT may be the only way for these cats to get justice. Internet fraud.

It was also learned, many of the cats had been taken to her boyfriend’s farm. She lived there, most of the time. Those who have seen the farm give estimates of 70-300 cats that are alive. Others who died have been disposed of (so we are told). After JW was released, the boyfriend contacted Anderson County PAWS, the local impound, to owner surrender the farm cats. Anderson Co was given the go ahead to begin trapping. Cats would be trapped, taken to Anderson Co PAWS, and summarily killed. After all, they were “just cats”, not needed for criminal investigation and PAWS is “already full” from a previous hoarding /rescue that’s awaiting court. They don’t have the space, staff, funds, etc to save the cats.

Those following the case found out about Anderson Co’s plans on Wednesday, July 2. On Monday, July 7 at 6 PM, the cats would begin dying. “No exceptions”. 30 cats, already trapped and in custody had been given a death sentence. The facility would be closed on Friday July 4. Open for a limited time on Sat July 5.

Enter the “irresponsible public”…

Wednesday PM, July 2– much hand wringing and public outcry on the PAWS FaceBook threads as word spread.

Thursday, July 3– a meeting of about a dozen people. The only way to save these cats, these cats who had been promised a safe loving home, these cats who had already once escaped the needle or gas chamber, was to acquire a building. But we were going into a holiday weekend. People were out of town, businesses were closed. Ash knew folks would help, IF these cats could find safe haven (shelter) for a brief time.

Friday, July 4– Geneva Lawrence, a member of Kitten Action Team, spread the word. She had found someone to donate a facility for 6 weeks. Volunteers would be given keys at 5PM on Sunday, July 6. The cats HAD a building! An empty building.

Pregnant cat being sheltered by volunteers after being saved from the Anderson Co pound kill room.  [Photo via Facebook]

Pregnant cat being sheltered by volunteers after being saved from the Anderson Co pound kill room. [Photo via Facebook]

Again, the news was shared. A building was found. No cages, no food, no litter… The media was contacted. When the keys were handed over, a local news crew was there to document volunteers, with brooms and rags. Cleaning the building. Cages were loaned by multiple rescues. A wish list was set up. Amazon and UPS became aware of the multiple packages they would begin shipping. Transport from Anderson County to the building in Mauldin, SC was arranged for the cats. 

Volunteers were there on Monday, July 7 setting up for the arrival. Again, multiple news media were there. Currently there are over 50 cats and kittens. Kittens born at PAWS. Most of the females are pregnant. All are receiving care. All are alive. All of this, thanks to the public. As you like to say, the REAL humane society – small “h”, small “s” – wants to save lives. And they will.

Thank you Tami for sharing this good news and thanks to everyone who saved those non-evidence just cats from being killed at the pound.  Yay irresponsible public.

Baltimore Police Officer Slashes Dog’s Throat

Nala and her owner, as depicted on the CBS website.

Nala and her owner, as depicted on the website of the CBS affiliate in Baltimore.

Baltimore has problems with regard to the value placed on the lives of pets.  And that attitude extends beyond the public employees at the pound to the city police department.

On Saturday, owner Sarah Gossard let her 7 year old dog Nala outside, not realizing a gate had been left open in the yard.  Nala was wearing her ID tag when she got lost and a Good Sam tried to read the contact information on the tag but Nala was scared and nipped the woman.  Police were called to capture Nala and officers used a chokepole on her:

Robbe Reddinger, a Brewers Hill resident, said he awoke to commotion and saw officers outside his window chasing the dog around an empty lot at Grundy and Dillon streets. Eventually officers cornered the dog in an area out of Reddinger’s view.

After the dog had been cornered, Reddinger said, “I heard it yelp a few times. It was kind of a weird yelp, and then I didn’t hear anything after that. Then they dragged it. There was one cop who drug it out of the corner to where I could see it again.”

He said police dragged the dog with the control pole into the open, then shook the noose loose from around the dog’s neck. An officer stood over Nala for about a minute before walking away, Reddinger said.

Other witnesses who were closer to the scene reportedly heard Officer Jeffrey Bolger, an EMS responder, say, “I’m going to [expletive] gut this thing,” before he slit Nala’s throat with a knife.  Nala bled to death in the vacant lot.

Gossard said she doesn’t understand why police didn’t just call her to the scene. She said her phone number was included on Nala’s tags. Her dog had not bitten anyone before, she said, and was just scared.

“These people are supposed to be taking care of our community,” Gossard said, “and I’m so horrified by what they did and it’s completely unnecessary.”

The gruesome killing was not immediately reported and internal affairs investigators didn’t find out about it until Monday.  Investigators have found no evidence that Nala behaved aggressively toward Officer Bolger.  Bolger was arrested on Wednesday, charged with felony animal cruelty and malfeasance in office. He was released on his own recognizance. Because yeah, obviously. Guy’s not a threat and doesn’t have any screws loose so hey-ho, let’s give him his knives and everything will prolly be fine.

Officer Bolger has been suspended from the police force without pay.  Nala’s owner is planning to take legal action.

The police department is shocked, shocked I tell you, that they can’t think up any excuse for this killing because there were too many witnesses such violence occurred on their watch.  In a culture of apathy regarding the lives of pets where needless killing is the norm, unnecessary violence is going to happen.  It’s happening right now in the Baltimore pound where beloved pets, owned and unowned, are being killed by public employees under the guise of “euthanasia”.  This is what a culture of violence against pets looks like Baltimore.  Change it.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

 

Update on the Fort Worth Veterinary Cruelty Case

There have been developments in the case I posted about yesterday regarding Lou Tierce, the Fort Worth vet who was charged with animal cruelty.  While all of the following will be difficult to read, some of it is truly nauseating and disturbing.  Use your discretion:

  • The Texas vet board has temporarily suspended Dr. Tierce’s license and will meet on Monday to discuss the case.
  • Unsanitary conditions were found at the clinic during the raid.  The description is akin to a hoarding type environment.  “Stacks of drugs, trash, laundry, paperwork and other miscellaneous items were strewn about the examinations rooms, hallways, stairwells, operating room, laboratories and offices of the clinic.”
  • Controlled substances were strewn throughout the facility, unsecured.
  • Bugs were crawling around the exam rooms.
  • Animal organs preserved in jars were stored throughout the facility.
  • The attorney for Sid’s family has released a detailed timeline of events regarding what allegedly happened to Sid from the time his owners started taking him to Dr. Tierce.  In that release, there are allegations that cast an even darker shadow over Dr. Tierce including that he tricked Sid’s owners into having the x-ray taken which was used to diagnose the non-existent “irreparable” spinal defect.  The anal gland problem for which Sid was originally brought to Dr. Tierce remains.  The whistleblowing technician is reported by the attorney to have said that Dr. Tierce used a blow to the head to anesthetize a dog who was waking up during surgery.
  • Dr. Tierce admitted to police that he had kept 5 dogs alive, including Sid, after accepting them for euthanasia by their owners.  It has not been reported whether some or all of the other 4 were mistreated in the way that Sid allegedly was.  One of the 4 had been kept in a cage at the clinic for 3 years since his owners left him in Dr. Tierce’s care for euthanasia.
  • During the raid, an outside vet, Dr. Michael Morris, was brought in to examine the pets found in the clinic.  He determined that 3 animals required euthanasia.
  • The arrest warrant for Dr. Tierce states he was charged with cruelty to animals over the neglect and abuse of his personal pet, a border collie whom he kept alive in a box on an exam room floor at the clinic for an extended period of time, possibly a year.  During the raid, the dog was found twitching in pain.  He had a missing leg, a dislocated leg and two dislocated shoulders.  Dr. Morris examined the dog and determined the dog was emaciated, unable to walk, suffering from severe disease in the mouth, had the bottom of one foot missing, had cataracts and a degenerative neurological disease which could not be treated.  The dog was medically hopeless and suffering and had been that way for some time.  Dr. Tierce admitted he never provided any medical treatment for the dog and that the dog had received nothing but food and water in his care.  Dr. Morris recommended euthanasia to end the dog’s suffering and advised police that the dog was a victim of animal cruelty.
  • Many clients are speaking out in support of Dr. Tierce, refusing to believe he could ever cause harm to any animal.

Cats Beaten to Death, Displayed in Tree in NYC Suburb

Violence against animals has long been recognized as a trademark among criminals who commit serious violence against people.  That’s why it’s imperative that police find the person or persons responsible for bashing in the heads of dozens of cats then bagging their bodies and displaying them like ornaments in a tree in a NYC suburb.

The bagged remains of approximately 25 cats, some just skeletons and others killed as recently as three days prior, were discovered by a public works crew last week.  The Westchester County SPCA performed necropsies on some of the most recently killed cats and determined that blunt force trauma to the head was the cause of death.  A baseball bat, a metal pipe and two shovels were found near the scene and investigators are working to determine if they are connected to the killings.

One possible motive being considered:

[Ernest Lungaro, director of enforcement at the Westchester County SPCA] said there are many feral cats in the area and there has been some tension over feeding stations that some residents have established.

“Some people get frustrated with the people who feed them,” he said. He said it was possible the dead cats were put in the trees “to taunt the people that are feeding the cats.”

Investigators have yet to determine whether the cats were feral or owned pets.  Alley Cat Allies has nonetheless posted a reward for information on the case:

Alley Cat Allies is offering a cash reward of $750 for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the deaths of at least 25 cats found in Yonkers, NY. Anyone with any information is asked to contact the SPCA of Westchester confidential hotline at 914-941-7797.

In the meantime, I think it’s generally good practice for colony caretakers to carry a cell phone, to feed by the full light of day, and to attend to colonies with at least one other person whenever possible.  No one wants to feel bullied into changing their routines because of some sick individual(s) but taking reasonable precautions in the face of such extreme violence seems sound to my mind.  I wouldn’t want anyone – colony caretaker or otherwise – to run into this person (or persons) all alone.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)

Dog Abusing City’s ACO Charged with Cruelty

The city of Winnfield, LA is home to Uncle Earl’s Hog Dog Trials – an annual event where dogs are turned loose in an enclosure with wild hogs whose tusks have been removed. The length of time it takes the dog to pin down and/or maim the hog determines the winner. Winnfield proudly advertises the blood sport on its website, describing the event as the “Super Bowl” of hog dog rodeos.

Although Winnfield’s city website does not mention an animal control officer, it apparently has one.  Or had – as the last one is currently in jail, charged with animal cruelty.  Former Winnfield ACO Eva Wise allegedly stopped paying rent in October 2013.  At that time, her landlord, who was preparing to evict her, received a phone call from the Heart of Louisiana Humane Society requesting permission to access the property for a cruelty investigation.

Wise had allegedly left 9 dogs on the property she abandoned, chained without food or water along with 8 dogs and a litter of puppies on another property one mile away.  Two of the dogs were already dead and the rest were reportedly in such bad shape, all but two were euthanized on site.

The landlord, Jennifer Johnson, says she asked Wise why the dogs had been left to starve to death:

“She just said that she couldn’t hardly afford to feed herself, much less the animals and she had said that she had told some of her husband’s family they needed to come get the dogs because she had apparently up and left and this had been for several weeks,” said Johnson.

Although the dogs were discovered in October 2013, Wise was not arrested until February 28, 2014.  Law enforcement declined to explain the reason for the lengthy delay.  She has since pleaded not guilty to seven counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.  Her court date has been set for July 28.  One of the two surviving dogs has an adoption application pending and the other is available for adoption.

City of Winnfield, this is your wake-up call. Stop being proud of hurting dogs and start attracting a different element in your animal control department.  Every dog has the right to live, to love and to be loved.  Advertise that.

(Thank you Clarice for sending me this story.)

We Interrupt Your Celebratory Michael Vick News for This Reminder

As football fans swoon with the news that the NY Jets have signed Michael Vick and he may be a starting quarterback next season instead of a backup, I thought I’d just take a moment to remind the internet that Michael Vick tortured and killed dogs, was never charged with animal cruelty for those crimes and never served a day in jail for them.  Vick pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture in 2008.  The animal cruelty charge was dropped in the plea agreement.  Do not peddle your “He’s paid for his crimes” excuse here.

At the time, the Humane Society of the United States had harsh words regarding Vick’s slap on the wrist from the state of VA which added no time to his 23 month federal sentence:

The Humane Society of the United States said it wished that Vick’s sentence was stiffer.

“We had hoped that the Commonwealth of Virginia would send a stronger message that dogfighting crimes are cruel and unacceptable,” Michael Markarian, the executive vice president of the Humane Society, said in a statement. “Nevertheless, Michael Vick is already paying his debt to society with a federal prison sentence, and his example has demonstrated to people across the country that dogfighting is a dead-end activity that can jeopardize your freedom and your future.”

Of course that was before HSUS saw dollar signs and partnered with Vick to whitewash his image.

Some of us were never fooled and still remember.

An excerpt from Jim Gorant’s book The Lost Dogs:

Vick and friends had not simply eliminated these [failed fighting] dogs with a cold efficiency, they’d beaten them first.  The revelation added another layer of brutality to the already nasty case.

And then there was one last body that stood out from the rest.  It had signs of bruising on all four ankles and all along one side.  Its skull was fractured in two places and it had four broken vertebrae.  Brownie had said that all of the dogs that didn’t die from being hanged were drowned, except one.

As that dog lay on the ground fighting for air, Quanis Phillips grabbed its front legs and Michael Vick grabbed its hind legs.  They swung the dog over their head like a jump rope then slammed it to the ground.  The first impact didn’t kill it.  So Phillips and Vick slammed it again.  The two men kept at it, alternating back and forth, pounding the creature against the ground, until at last, the little red dog was dead.

Number of days in prison Michael Vick served for torturing and killing “underperforming” dogs?  Zero.  Number of animal cruelty convictions on his record?  Zero.  The value of Vick’s one year contract with the Eagles last year?  10 million dollars.

Buffalo Seizes Four Dogs from City Employee, Loses One

In December 2013, Shanon Richardson was arrested and charged with felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges in connection with allegations of dogfighting.  Four pitbulls were seized from his home:

Police accused Richardson of failure to provide proper shelter for two of the dogs. There was also evidence of training or breeding dogs to fight, including a treadmill in the basement of the home and “weights for the animals necks.

Bite sticks, hormone growth pills, needles with injectable fluids, which was used and intended to use for training, preparations, conditioning,” according to court documents.

Earlier this month, one of the four seized dogs being held at the city shelter was stolen:

A volunteer at the Buffalo Animal Shelter told News 4′s Lou Raguse the missing dog was being kept in a section of the shelter accessible to the public.

Richardson is currently suspended from his job with the city of Buffalo and ordered to have no contact with animals.  A plea deal was rumored to be in the works which would allow Richardson to plead to lesser charges.  The case was slated to go to a grand jury and no additional updates appear to be available.  Police are reportedly investigating how the missing dog was lost on the city shelter’s watch.

NJ SPCA Finally Takes Action to Help Animals at Troubled Hunterdon Co Shelter

The Hunterdon Humane Shelter contracts with several NJ municipalities to perform animal control services.  There have been public allegations of wrongdoing against the shelter for more than a decade.  During this time, the shelter’s bank account has continued to expand.   Hunterdon Humane is now a very wealthy organization but appears to have spent only a small portion of its money on animal care:

By the end of 2012 the organization’s net assets surpassed $5 million.

For the year 2012, gross revenues were more than $1.2 million, but expenses were only $436,757.

Of those expenses listed, only about $58,000 was specified as being for “animal care.”

Earlier this month, Hunterdon Humane’s president and director, Theresa Carlson, was charged with 18 counts of animal cruelty in connection with 9 shelter cats for whom she allegedly failed to provide proper sustenance.  The charges stem from an investigation conducted in August 2013 by the county prosecutor’s office and the NJ SPCA. As part of the investigation, search warrants were executed at both the shelter and a nearby vet clinic, which has remained unnamed. Two pigs were found in “deplorable condition” at the shelter along with a number of seriously ill cats:

Two veterinarians working along with NJSPCA officers determined that 17 cats were in need of immediate emergency veterinary care. Those 17 cats were transported to an animal hospital in the Flemington area. Four of the cats were in such poor condition that they needed to be humanely euthanized.

The NJ SPCA has extensive familiarity with the troubled Hunterdon shelter:

Hunterdon Humane Animal Shelter was previously the Hunterdon County SPCA, but the state SPCA revoked its charter in 2004. That action came after the local chapter failed to enforce animal cruelty laws by not prosecuting former Nets basketball star Jayson Williams, then an Alexandria resident , for allegedly shooting his Rottweiler after losing a bet.

The NJ SPCA had heard testimony from multiple witnesses at a hearing in 2004 regarding the revocation of Hunterdon’s charter:

Conditions at the county SPCA shelter in Mt. Pleasant were discussed by former employees, who said the cats were overcrowded and sick animals were allowed to mix with healthy ones. A state SPCA investigator testified similarly about conditions at the shelter and said hygiene management was poor when he was there.

The NJ SPCA continued to hear testimony from more witnesses at an appeals hearing in 2005:

At the hearing, witnesses testified that donations were made for specific items that were never purchased, and requests for expenditures on facility repairs, or additional food or equipment for the care of the animals were denied.

nj spcaExcept for the NJ SPCA revoking Hunterdon’s charter in 2004, causing the organization to transfer its assets and change its name to Hunterdon Humane, no action was taken.    Then NJ SPCA President Stuart Rhodes reportedly said at the time he would consider filing charges against the shelter but that never happened.  Concerned citizens appealed directly to Hunterdon’s board in 2008, without result.

Even after the 2013 raid, no charges were filed until January 2014 and no explanation was given for the delay.  But the NJ SPCA moved swiftly to gain control of the Hunterdon shelter, filing a petition with the courts immediately after the January 14 arrest.  The petition was granted January 15.  The animals will hopefully now receive the help they have long needed and deserved.  The NJ SPCA indicated resources and services are coming from national animal welfare groups including American Humane and Petsmart Charities, with a number of additional grants having been sought by NJ SPCA, “to assist in this unfortunate situation.”

Assuming NJ SPCA will apply its new found speediness in gaining access to Hunterdon’s fat bank account, I hope it’s their intention to repay every penny of donated resources and grants to the agencies from which they obtained them.  Although those in charge at Hunterdon allegedly misused funds for years while animals suffered and the NJ SPCA did nothing, that’s not what should be happening now.  This is one “unfortunate situation” where outside resources and grant money will be unneeded once NJ SPCA gets control of Hunterdon’s $5 million in cash and assets.  There are a great many shelters and rescue groups in this country, particularly ones that have become overburdened trying to save animals from the kill room at their local pounds, which could benefit greatly from the resources and grants being directed toward Hunterdon.  If NJ SPCA fails to repay every donated service and dollar received for helping the Hunterdon animals, it will be an immense disservice to every animal group in desperate need of those resources.  And it will look more than a little suspicious that NJ SPCA dragged its feet regarding Hunterdon for 10 years, arriving on scene only after Hunterdon’s bank account had swelled past the $5 million mark and then held out its hand for donations.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

ASPCA’s KY Puppy Mill Rescue is Not What It Seems

Screengrab from the WAVE website

Screengrab from the WAVE website

Pulaski Co dog breeder Dennis Bradley told a local reporter with a hidden camera that he had 58 dogs on his property, at least a dozen of them under 8 weeks of age, in November 2013.  The reporter from WAVE in Kentucky filmed dozens of dogs crammed into filthy, rusted wire cages from which they were obviously never removed.  Among the breeds depicted in the video are Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers and Bloodhounds.  The reporter asks him how much for a Schnauzer puppy and is told $300 for a female and $250 for a male.  This certainly appears to be a dog breeding operation to my eyes, and a very poorly maintained one at that.

And yet:

Bradley, when contacted by the Commonwealth Journal in November, insisted his kennel wasn’t a puppy mill, but a non-profit rescue organization.

A non-rescue would seem to be the more correct answer. Has anyone seen Dennis Bradley’s 501(c)3 documents for his so-called rescue organization?  Perhaps they are on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.

The strangest aspect of the November story is that Dennis Bradley’s rescue breeding facility had already been raided by the sheriff in January 2013, at which time he was charged with animal cruelty:

Video taken by the sheriffs department shows some of Bradley’s dogs sick and near death. Two were in such bad shape they had to be put to sleep.

So why is Bradley still in business? Animal rescue groups say shutting down a puppy mill can cost up to $70,000 in shelter, food and medical expenses for the dogs they remove. Sometimes, groups like the Animal Rescue Corps will pay the cost, as it did when it broke up an alleged puppy mill in Wayne County in September.

No group stepped in to help Pulaski County financially, and investigators decided taking all 70 dogs they found on Bradley’s property would overwhelm the shelter system. So they removed the dogs in the poorest conditions and asked animal control to make sure Bradley took better care of the animals left behind.  [emphasis added]

More on the January 2013 raid:

“Upon arrival detectives discovered several dogs in pens/cages outside which were obviously sick. Several dogs suffered from having skin ailments and two appeared to be near death,” states the citation, filed by Det. Glen Bland. “Many of the dogs were living in poor conditions without proper shelter. Most pens were (too) small and were covered in mud and feces.”

Former Pulaski County Animal Shelter Director Darren Wesley would eventually remove 21 dogs from the property — some of which were euthanized after they tested positive for parvo.

After allowing dogs to languish in these conditions for another full year, authorities finally received assistance from the ASPCA and worked out a plea deal with the owner. Bradley pleaded guilty to one count of second degree animal cruelty. He received 24 months’ probation and surrendered all but 5 dogs, including one elderly dog. He will not be allowed to have more than 4 dogs or to re-start his breeding business during the probation period.  Does this strike anyone as a good deal that protects dogs or does it look more like the appearance of justice, suitable for framing around a full color donation plea?

The ASPCA took 43 dogs to the KY Humane Society in Louisville on Tuesday.

It’s nice that the ASPCA finally used its vast resources to help these suffering dogs but with all those donated dollars in their bank account, couldn’t they have helped sooner?  Even if they didn’t have a full team available to deploy any time within the past year, couldn’t they have sent one person and hired some local people to assist?  Or at least thrown enough cash at the problem that the county could afford to provide the needed care itself?  I notice once the ASPCA finally rolled into Pulaski Co, they moved super fast to get this plea for cash out to donors:

Screengrab from the ASPCA website

Screengrab from the ASPCA website

When a county sheriff raids a facility containing sick and dying dogs alongside newborn puppies, has video to document the inhumane conditions, provides sufficient evidence to get cruelty charges filed against the owner, but lacks the resources to help the dogs, this should be the kind of thing the multi-million dollar animal welfare groups get on yesterday – not one year later. Does it matter to anyone at the ASPCA that dozens of dogs were left living in horrible conditions in the care of someone charged with animal cruelty for an entire year for lack of resources? And then when they finally decide to show up, it’s all ASPCA logo jackets for the cameras and donation pleas and press releases – as if the ASPCA just busted this place this week.  In truth, the cruelty charge stems from the work done by the local sheriff one year ago and the dogs needed help then.

I imagine we might end up seeing these Pulaski Co dogs in a TV commercial with a Sarah McLachlan song. If and when that happens, remember they were knowingly left to suffer in tiny cages in the care of someone charged with animal cruelty for an entire year while the ASPCA closed its checkbook to Pulaski Co and counted its money.

(Thanks Karen J. for the links.)

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