May 14, 2013
Rebecca Coleman, the shelter vet at the Memphis pound on whose watch numerous dogs have starved to death, including a puppy who was forced to eat his own littermate to survive, and who scrubbed a degloved cat’s wounds without providing pain medication and left him to suffer in a cage for 5 days has again been implicated in an animal cruelty incident at the pound. This time the victim was a mixed breed puppy who was impounded with a collar embedded in her neck:
According to city records, for days MAS Medical Director Rebecca Coleman did nothing, leaving the dog in its cage with an embedded collar.
According to shelter records, Coleman was the only veterinarian on duty the week the dog arrived. Four days after the dog arrived, it finally received medical attention for what was described as a “severe collar injury.” It was ingrown into the neck with a foul odor. It was so bad that not all of it could be removed; the clasp was left inside the dog because tissue had grown in.
Two days after treatment the dog was euthanized to ease its suffering.
That’s one way of putting it. Killed to hide the evidence of Rebecca Coleman’s negligence also comes to mind.
The cruelty occurred last fall but no charges have been filed. Someone did write a note in Rebecca Coleman’s personnel file about the incident.
In related news, there are fresh victims awaiting Dr. Coleman since the city seized two allegedly starving dogs with embedded collars from a Memphis firefighter this week:
According to neighbors and the police, the dogs had chains dug into their necks so deep the dogs were cut and bleeding. Police found bowls filled with dirt and out of reach from where the dogs were chained.
The dogs were taken to the Memphis Animal Shelter, where both are listed at a substantial risk of death.
You don’t say?
Fire. Them. All.
(Thank you Karen and Clarice for the links.)
April 29, 2013
Karen Lombardi is an ACO for the town of Woodbridge, CT. She was recently charged with animal cruelty in connection with a November 2012 incident in which she allegedly hurt a dog. The incident was witnessed by two co-workers who reported it to police:
[Kennel worker Karen] Myers told police she was at Woodbridge Animal Control, struggling to outfit [a dog named] Timone in a sweater, when Lombardi came over and said, “I’ll show you how to do that.” Myers said Lombardi then grabbed the dog and slammed it against a wall while screaming, “You hold still or I’ll smash your (expletive) skull in.”
Ms. Lombardi continues to work directly with pets as a town employee:
Woodbridge Police Chief Eugene Marcucci said Tuesday that Lombardi would not face suspension because of the cruelty charge. The Police Department oversees animal control.
If you go back and read the description of the alleged cruelty incident replacing the location with a shelter for people and the dog with a child, I would guess the police would not be so quick to keep the person on the job while the court case proceeds. Why isn’t a temporary reassignment to a position that doesn’t involve hands-on animal care considered appropriate in this case?
Pets are family and should be protected. In fact Ms. Lombardi, charged with cruelty herself, continues to get paid to protect local pets from cruelty. It seems appropriate that she should request a temporary reassignment of duties, even if her superiors aren’t demanding it, for the sake of protecting the integrity of the job (if nothing else). How can the public have faith in animal control when the person accused of smashing a dog against a wall is the one judging whether local pet owners are taking good enough care of their pets?
April 29, 2013
Sometimes people find it hard to relate statistics and reports to needless pet suffering and killing but a photo of a single mistreated animal will stir their blood. In some cases, these photos are too disturbing to post on the blog. (Warning: all the links below contain disturbing images of a dog who appears to be deeply suffering and on the brink of death.)
Anna Nelson is the former ACO for Wareham, MA. An anonymous tip led the current ACO to her home and her senior dog:
The 10-year-old terrier mix could hardly stand and was diseased and jaundiced.
“It was incredibly malnourished, had parasites — internal and external — and in fact, too ill to be saved. It had to be euthanized,” said Rob Halpin of the MSPCA.
Ms. Nelson is facing a felony animal cruelty charge. She was a no show for her arraignment, forcing authorities to issue a warrant and send police to arrest her. Although she allegedly neglected her suffering pet for months, when her own ass was in hot water she promptly posted bail to get herself out of jail. Ms. Nelson is due in court today.
Case Update: ‘Purple Hearted Puppies’ Owners Forced Dogs to Resort to Cannibalism to Survive, Received Fine
April 13, 2013
Regular readers may remember the cruelty case against the owners of Purple Hearted Puppies in AL (see the original post, update #1 and update #2). This was a private “shelter” operated out of the home of mother and daughter Roberta and Sharon Dueitt. In January 2012, the Dueitts reportedly left town for 2 weeks while 200 animals were left starving on their property. Having solicited donations from the public, they had the means to care for the animals, they just left them to suffer and die in cages, surrounded by bags of food they could see but not touch. At the time of their arrest, authorities indicated there would be hundreds of felony and misdemeanor charges filed against the Dueitts.
Yesterday the Dueitts pleaded guilty to one felony and one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty. They received a year’s probation and a $100,000 fine payable to a local HS. They have never spent a day in jail and never will, at least for these crimes. They can start up their “shelter” again in 5 years.
I will never forget the video taken during the raid which showed officers frantically pouring food into the cages and cats desperately reaching their front legs out the bars and mewing. Purple Hearts are medals awarded to soldiers who are wounded or killed in the line of duty. The Dueitts wounded or killed many. They were rewarded with a monetary fine. Shame on the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office for agreeing to this unjust plea deal.
March 15, 2013
One of the most consistent and disturbing search terms I get on the blog involves cat killing and specifically, how to do it. One good thing about this otherwise depressing issue is that anyone who comes here is going to find nothing but love for our feline friends. Another good thing is that it continually reminds me that there are deranged individuals in the world who, for whatever reason, target cats. As such, I try to be careful not to feed the crazies by giving them a voice here. Comments about cat killing do not get approved and the commenters get banned.
I was deeply troubled to read that The Orlando Sentinel recently published an op-ed by Ted Williams, editor-at-large for Audubon Magazine, in which he calls TNR a failure and suggests that feral cats should either be poisoned with Tylenol or trapped and killed (presumably by some means other than Tylenol). Isn’t the Audubon Society a wildlife advocacy group? And yet they allow Ted Williams to submit for publication a piece calling for the killing of feral cats, who are a form of wildlife themselves? And The Orlando Sentinel printed it? Shame.
Feral cats have a right to live. For those deemed medically hopeless by a veterinarian, euthanasia by injection is the preferred method to relieve suffering. Poisoning would never be recommended. And the killing of any healthy/treatable cat is immoral and unacceptable.
Needless to say, the cat killing sickos of the world have delighted in the Ted Williams piece. And they are gleefully spreading the news that the Audubon Society says giving Tylenol to feral cats is yay. I wonder how many pet cats or other animals are going to be poisoned with Tylenol as a result of this irresponsible piece in the Sentinel?
Vox Felina posted about this outrageous op-ed piece yesterday. (There is a link to the op-ed in the Sentinel at Vox Felina, if interested. I won’t be posting that link here.) Alley Cat Allies has an action alert here.
One of the three former MAS employees charged with animal cruelty in conjunction with an undercover police investigation one year ago now faces additional charges stemming from the same investigation. Prosecutors recently charged Billy Stewart with an additional five counts of cruelty bringing his total to nine counts when he goes to trial. The five added counts are apparently related to five additional pets the undercover police officer allegedly observed Mr. Stewart torturing in the pound’s kill room. Mr. Stewart has previously claimed his innocence:
According to court records, Stewart denied doing anything wrong, saying, “They are trying to put these charges on me because they want me to get fired a long time ago but because I’m in the union it was hard for the mayor and the city to get rid of me.”
He added he was “set up by an undercover officer” and “they didn’t like me because I was a hard worker and on time.”
Punctuality and a strong work ethic or choking pets unconscious in the kill room? It’s up to a jury to sort it out now. I hope the prosecutor’s case is well prepared and justice is served.
February 21, 2013
Teddy’s Rescue is a 501(c)3 organization in Findlay, OH. On October 28, 2012, a volunteer named Timothy Mompher intentionally broke a kitten’s neck at the shelter. He has been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. His attorney claims that he did so at the direction of the former manager, Missy VanWormer.
The kitten was sick and Mr. Mompher said in an interview with The Blade that he was told to “put it out of its misery.”
“Missy [VanWormer] said she didn’t want us to take it to the vet because it was after hours on a Sunday and it would cost too much,” Mr. Mompher said.
Ms. VanWormer reportedly refused to speak with the Toledo Blade, the Hancock Co dog warden or the humane officer investigating the case. I have no idea if she will be subpoenaed to testify at Mr. Mompher’s trial but I would think her testimony would be important.
The humane officer’s report indicated the kitten suffered as Mr. Mompher struggled to kill him. It also says “witnesses to the incident included Mr. Mompher’s wife, Susan, the current kennel manager and marketing coordinator for Teddy’s Rescue; Chelsie Hackworth, an animal health-care supervisor at the rescue; and Ms. Hackworth’s husband, Ryan.”
If accurate, the shelter manager ordered the gruesome killing and at least 3 others stood by and watched the kitten being killed. But the only person being charged is the one who actually killed the pet and that charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail.
The man who killed the kitten with his hands scares me just as much as those who stood by watching. Why didn’t anyone take action to stop the brutality? Why did no one speak up and demand proper treatment or threaten to call the police? Where was anyone at this so-called shelter to advocate for this kitten’s right to life? Even now, as Mr. Mompher is arraigned, where do the shelter’s concerns lie?
John Froton, business director at the rescue, said Mr. Mompher exercised “very poor judgment” but “I would hate for his poor judgment to cause support to end for Teddy’s Rescue.”
I guess that answers that.
I consent to the examination of this dog by Teddy’s Rescue at any time deemed necessary. Furthermore, Teddy’s Rescue has the right to reclaim the dog at any time for failure to comply with the terms of this contract or for any misrepresentations of fact made on the adoption application or in this contract.
I agree to pay Teddy’s Rescue for any and all expenses, including court costs and attorney fees accrued by enforcing the terms and provisions of this contract.
I would not sign that contract. Furthermore, I believe it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and would not hold up in court.)
As a condition of bond, the judge ordered all animals be removed from the Mompher home, pending trial. Protesters held signs outside the courthouse calling for more serious animal cruelty laws.
Someone claiming to be Mr. Mompher’s wife Susan, who watched the kitten being killed and said nothing, posted several comments at the end of the article.
(Thank you Clarice for sending me the link to this story.)
February 2, 2013
In 2011, the Wexford Co Animal Shelter in MI killed 44% of the pets in its care. The 2012 statistics have not yet been published by the state but the county definitely continued killing pets last year. The method by which those pets were killed was the subject of a contentious public meeting with county commissioners on Thursday. A former shelter employee and 2 volunteers are speaking out about what they say they witnessed numerous times in the kill room: animal cruelty and intra-cardiac injections (aka “heartsticking”) without sedation.
“I will never get those images out of my head,” said Kathy Dennis, former Wexford County Shelter Employee.
Kris Corwin, also a former Wexford Co Shelter employee, told the local news that Ms. Dennis fabricated these stories because she is “bitter with the way things turned out with her new job.”
Rachel Shook, a former volunteer, stated she witnessed a female staffer drag a beagle into the kill room on a chokepole, jam the dog’s head under the freezer while holding the rest of the dog down with her boot and heartstick the pet before Ms. Shook could even get the noose off his neck. Ms. Corwin did not offer an explanation for why Ms. Shook would tell the commissioners this story but I presume she must be “bitter” too.
For now, the sheriff has appointed a volunteer vet to supervise all pet killings at Wexford Co. The state is investigating the allegations and the commissioners will address the issue again at the next meeting.
There is video of the public meeting on YouTube. One of the first speakers (and I didn’t watch them all but I think this lady is the 3rd speaker) does an excellent job and I highly recommend all pet advocates watch her presentation to the commissioners. She represents a group of concerned citizens and outlines the group’s concerns which include heartsticking without sedation, lack of qualifications on the part of those deciding which pets will be killed and those doing the killing, lack of vet care, and improper record keeping. She references the state statutes covering these areas and makes several specific requests for action by the commissioners. Those requests include an investigation of the allegations, the immediate transfer of supervision of shelter operations during the investigation and the permanent transfer from the sheriff’s office to an independent entity within 2 weeks. This is an example of effective animal advocacy.
I hope Wexford Co doesn’t attempt to sweep these allegations under the rug and that charges will be brought against any and all individuals found to have violated the law. There appears to be a lot of community support for reform in the county which is essential. I wish the locals all the best.
(Thank you Clarice for sending me links on this story.)
Last week, authorities seized 19 dogs from a San Antonio home that apparently had such an offensive odor, a reporter outside the yard was nearly gagging from the smell. The dogs were reportedly malnourished and unsocialized. Vincent Medley, assistant director at Animal Care Services, told the local news:
“They generally have not been walked on a leash. Just given by their reaction at all once something is around there [sic] neck, they become very fractious. They’re not used to being around strangers.”
I am not an expert but reading that description of the dogs makes me think that the last thing I would want to do is to have a bunch of strangers approach them and put things around their necks. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the trained professionals did. The video of the dogs being dragged and manhandled while they are terrified out of their minds is difficult to watch. One dog, pinned to the ground with a chokepole, appears to have been injured by the device and is bleeding. Another dog on a chokepole is shown being hand fed some sort of glop. Yes, I said hand fed and chokepole in the same sentence. So it’s ok to stick your fingers in their mouths but apparently they posed too much of a threat to do anything other than drag and otherwise injure them to get them off the property.
The dogs reportedly lived in a 7 by 7 foot room where they ate and relieved themselves. The owner, Michael Hernandez, was arrested on unrelated warrants but animal cruelty charges may be filed.
If a judge, at a hearing in the next 10 days, determines Hernandez was cruel in his treatment of the animals, the man will have 30 days to appeal.
ACS is prepared to care for the animals for 40 days.
The pound is asking for potential foster homes to visit its website. I took a look and didn’t see any pleas for the seized dogs but did find this page about fostering for ACS in general. I imagine loads of people from the community will be lining up to foster these dogs after seeing the trained animal handlers on the news apparently so fearful they felt obligated to abuse the dogs.
(Thank you Arlene for alerting me to this story.)
January 27, 2013
Two young women in AL, described as volunteers at the Walker Co pound, have been arrested and charged with 23 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty each. The charges stem from a report made to police by one of the volunteers’ family members, with whom she lived. The family member told police there were dozens of live dogs at his home, all brought there from the pound by the volunteer, and approximately 50 dead dogs in trash bags on an adjacent property. Authorities seized 23 dogs from the home and killed 7 of them due to their medical conditions. The women have not been charged in connection with the dead dogs and are currently jailed on a $6900 bond each.
There are two additional news clips on the story here.
I tried searching online to find what, if any, connection exists between the current Walker Co pound and the now defunct Walker Co HS but was unable to find any information.
(Thanks Clarice for these links.)