Lawsuit Alleges Animal Abuse at Fresno Shelter

Fresno County, CA contracts with Liberty Animal Control Services to provide its AC services.  In a lawsuit filed this month, both are being sued by two former employees for wrongful termination and whistle blower retaliation.  The suit alleges:

  • Liberty AC was contracted in September 2012 without the county verifying credentials of the three main operatives – specifically that the veterinarian had been disciplined by the state vet board for negligent animal care and that the state certified animal humane officer was not certified.
  • The plaintiffs were hired in January 2013 – one as an ACO and the other as an office manager.  Both observed cruel and illegal treatment of animals while on duty and complained about same repeatedly.
  • Liberty killed fully conscious animals via heartstick.
  • Liberty killed animals using dosages of drugs that were less than the recommended dosages.
  • Liberty ordered to staff to kill animals in front of other animals.
  • Liberty lied in its reporting about the number of animals killed and instructed staff to lie about how and when animals were killed, including to owners trying to redeem lost pets.
  • Liberty starved animals to death in order to avoid paying for injectable drugs and syringes to kill them.
  • Liberty mixed healthy animals, including newborn litters, with sick animals in order to ensure the spread of disease resulting in death so the company did not have to pay for injectable drugs and syringes to kill animals.
  • Liberty failed to purchase cleaning supplies and failed to clean kennels in order to ensure the spread of disease resulting in death so the company did not have to pay for injectable drugs and syringes to kill animals.
  • Liberty mixed aggressive, starving dogs with mild-mannered, starving dogs to encourage fights resulting in death so the company did not have to pay for injectable drugs and syringes to kill animals.
  • Liberty threatened staff members that if they became injured trying to break up a fight between the starving animals, they’d be fired.
  • Liberty failed to vaccinate animals but represented them as vaccinated.
  • Liberty encouraged employees to falsify records, labeling friendly animals as aggressive and healthy animals as sick in order to kill them.
  • Liberty’s three main officers used Fresno Co taxpayer money and resources for personal gain, including providing AC services to other cities.
  • Liberty solicited donations from the public while misrepresenting itself as a 501(c)3 organization.
  • Liberty sold donated goods and pocketed the profits.
  • The ACO plaintiff witnessed a pitbull being unlawfully killed by Liberty in June or July 2013 and questioned the killing.  The dog’s owner was told by Liberty the dog had died of a heart attack.  The ACO complained and was fired shortly thereafter.  He was informed the county had decided to stop funding his position.
  • The office manager plaintiff told her employer she was going to take her complaints to a government agency in September 2013.  She was fired shortly thereafter and informed the county had decided to stop funding her position.

Neither Fresno Co nor Liberty AC Services has commented on the lawsuit.

(Thanks Nathan for sending me this story.)

Louisiana Pound Worker Neglects Dogs to Death, Receives Fine

Vick and Fancy, as depicted on the KATC website.

Vick and Fancy, as depicted on the KATC website.

Cynthia and Royce Johnson’s healthy 4 year old dogs were family.  Vick and Fancy had their own Christmas stockings and were in the family portraits.  But when Vick was found loose in a neighbor’s yard in mid-June, the Town of Basile, LA inexplicably took both dogs away, requiring the Johnsons to go to court to get their pets back.  They went to the scheduled hearing five days later, only to find it had been canceled.  The next day, they found out Vick and Fancy were dead:

All that’s left of the Boxer and Shar Pei is a grave in the backyard of their owner, Cynthia Johnson. She can’t help but relive the day they were taken away.

“I loaded them up, I told them they would be home soon, and they didn’t come home,” Johnson said. “They came home to be buried.”

As if the horror of losing two family members at once wasn’t enough, Cynthia Johnson learned details of their agonizing deaths in the most gruesome way imaginable:

She said the situation became worse when she demanded to see her dogs, who were delivered to her home.

“The dog catcher said, ‘Ma’am, be careful; there are maggots,'” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘What do you mean maggots? He just died two hours ago. How could he have maggots?’ So I took the bag and I tore it open, and when I did he was just like covered in maggots. They were, like, everywhere, and he had sores everywhere, and they were eating him,” Johnson said.

A report from a local vet clinic indicated Fancy was dead at the time she arrived at the hospital and Vick took “one last agonal breath and died.”

Part of the Town of Basile, as well as the pound where it takes animals, is within Acadia Parish.  Tim Benoit, the Acadia Parish Animal Control supervisor, investigated the deaths.  He determined that the Basile town employee in charge of caring for impounds neglected Vick and Fancy to death.  Benoit issued the employee a citation for two counts of animal cruelty – but it’s just a $500 fine.  After all, they’re only animals:

Benoit said he did not see the alleged violations as criminal in nature.

“It’s a civil matter,” Benoit said.

Nothing civil about it.  Pets are family.  The employee has been reassigned and won’t be working at the pound in future.  Gee, nice gesture on the town’s part there.

Benoit said that his investigation revealed the need for improving animal care in Basile and that the the town’s mayor asked for his recommendations on how to remedy the Basile animal control issues at hand.

Ya think?  There will reportedly be some upgrades and training and blah.

“Just give me some time. We will get this fixed,” Benoit added.

How much time will it take to get justice for Vick and Fancy?  I guess never would be the answer to that.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Coffee Co Pound Director Refuses to Put Free Bed in with Dog Whose Skin is Falling Off

The director of the Coffee Co pound in TN is one of those who refuses to give donated beds to dogs to get them up off the concrete in the indoor/outdoor runs.  Even after a Chihuahua apparently froze to death there last winter, director Kevin Brown attributed the death to possible old age, also:  mystery!  The public was outraged and dozens of dog beds were donated to the pound – which the director won’t allow to be used. Because he is the ultimate wielder of dog bed power exclamation point, possibly several:

Brown said he doesn’t agree on using the beds in the summertime because the pavement is much cooler for the dogs.

Plus, he said the beds are nearly as big as the kennels themselves and leave little room for them to move around.

A pregnant dog named Elsa has been severely stressed while being held at the Coffee Co pound for a court case. And she’s been loving her room-to-move-around-uninhibited-by-awful-bed so much, her skin is falling off:

“The pads on her feet are coming off; it’s from constant wear on concrete and hot temperature,” said volunteer and founder of Love Linked Dogs, Andrea Ahlijah.

Even her backside is down to the flesh.

“The raw marks on her back, right here, the sores, that’s from the hot pavement,” she said.

The dictator director wants the record to reflect that there is only one dog at the pound being flayed alive due to his refusal to use the free dog beds:

Director Kevin Brown points out that no other dogs at animal control have that problem.

Let’s pool together our dollars and get an Only One Dog Having Her Skin Stripped Off Due to My Willful Neglect award for this man.

Would Coffee Co allow a citizen to leave a pregnant dog to suffer in this way? Would cruelty charges be brought against such a citizen? Where are the cruelty charges for the director? No doubt the mayor is on standby with his trusty thermometer to defend the needless suffering at the pound.

Mercifully, the so-called irresponsible public stepped up and offered to foster Elsa and her litter of 10 newborn pups.  I guess we should bring cupcakes to the director for allowing taxpayers to do the job he refuses – but still gets paid – to do.

Elsa, in foster care, as depicted on the WSMV website.

Elsa, in foster care, as depicted on the WSMV website.

(Thanks Clarice and Devry for the link.)

Filth and Neglect Found During State Inspection of Rutherford Co Pound

A toy dog on concrete at the Rutherd Co pound in NC  [Screengrab from PetHarbor]

A toy dog on concrete at the Rutherford Co pound in NC [Screengrab from PetHarbor]

The website for the Rutherford Co pound in NC indicates the facility is closed during the hours most people can visit:

The shelter hours are Monday thru Thursday 12:00 P.M. till 4:00 P.M. for adoptions only and Friday 10:00 a.m. til 2:00 p.m. for adoptions only. The shelter is closed on Saturday, Sundays, and major holidays.

With these very few open hours, it seems counter intuitive that the state is demanding the facility count hours for every animal and kill them based upon these arbitrary counts, relative to the mandatory 72 hour holding period:

State inspector Jay Blatche from said in his report to the shelter staff that any animal that is at the shelter on the 73rd hour must be adopted immediately or euthanized.

How can anyone be reasonably expected to adopt an animal on his 73rd hour when the place is mostly closed?

The state inspection was prompted by a citizen’s complaint alleging deplorable conditions, neglect and needless killing at the pound.  The inspector indicated the facility was filthy and overcrowded but the sheriff’s department is all hey, we’re just heroes here:

Lt. Leon Godlock of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department said it is true the shelter has been holding some animals beyond the state mandate of 72 hours. “We’ve held animals up to 10 days or more over, just hoping someone will come by to adopt them,” Godlock said.

Maybe people have been coming by to adopt.  Maybe they come by in droves on weekends, holidays and after school/work – the usual times most people can get there.  But the county would not know if that was the case since the place is closed all those times.

“We got wrote up for housing too many animals, hoping they would get saved. Now we are going to start putting more animals down. It is about spacing,” Godlock said.

No.  It’s about being open when people can get there.  It’s about not putting sick puppies and kittens in cages with healthy puppies and kittens.  It’s about cleaning litter boxes and kennels.  It’s about providing soft food to puppies and kittens who are too young to eat hard kibble.  It’s about keeping the number of kittens per cage down to a manageable number – not 19 or more.  All these issues, with the exception of the facility being mostly closed, are addressed in the state’s inspection report.

But don’t criticize unless you are willing to neglect and kill pets yourself:

Kelly Carpenter, a volunteer with the Community Pet Center, says she’s surprised to see the reaction on social media.
[...]
Of the 330 animals that came into the shelter in June, 190 were put down.
[...]
“We work tirelessly all day long and half the night to coordinate with these rescue groups to get these animals out,” she says. “And if you’re not here on a daily basis to see what we’re doing, it’s kind of hard to criticize what goes on here.”

Not really. Killing more than 57% of the animals in your care last month indicates Rutherford Co is primarily operating a pet killing facility, not a shelter. Needless pet killing is the kind of thing that’s super easy to criticize. Most everyone hates it and will say so, given the opportunity. Defending the neglect and killing of shelter animals – now that’s the hard thing.  It looks like Rutherford Co has sufficient enablers to keep the pet killing operation running for awhile.

(Thanks Clarice and Karen for the links.)

KY Pound Leaves Five Dogs to Die in the Heat

A dog listed on the website for the McCracken Co pound in KY.

A dog pictured on the website for the McCracken Co pound in KY.

After employees at the McCracken Co Humane Society in KY were found guilty of animal cruelty in 2012, the county severed ties with the organization and has been operating the pound on its own.  On its website, McCracken Co promises to shelter animals in need “until such time as they are redeemed, adopted or humanely dealt with.” (It’s swell that mafia overtones mesh so well with kill shelter-speak.)

Last Monday morning, 5 dogs were found dead at the pound.  The pound is closed on Sundays.  The McCracken Co sheriff’s office sent a detective to the scene to determine if foul play was involved.  The dead dogs were sent to a university vet center for necropsy.

Preliminary necropsy results released Wednesday indicated the dogs died of heat stroke.  Toxicology results are not yet back but assuming they are negative and no poison is found in the dead dogs, it sounds as if the sheriff’s office is ready to file the agonizing and needless deaths of 5 dogs under meh:

If toxicology results are clear, the department’s preliminary investigation would probably end, since there would be no indication of intent to harm the animals.

It’s only summer in Kentucky.  Who knew that dogs needed shade and water in order to survive?  Not the county.  Plus the place is closed on Sundays so:  humanely dealt with FTW!

But wait, there’s more:  McCracken Co is considering re-establishing an agreement with the HS to run the pound again.  On the one hand, animal cruelty convictions, on the other, malignant neglect ignored by the police.  Geez, so hard to pick just one.  Why not simply hang an Animal Abusers Welcome sign on the front door?

(Thanks Devry for sending me this story.)

Grand Jury Findings in Mendocino Co, CA Shelter Investigation

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

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

Additional grand jury findings:

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

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

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

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

LA Pound Worker Allegedly Killed Pets via Botched Injections and Mauling by Dogs

St. Parish sheriff Bobby Guidroz announced this week that after an investigation by his office, the former St. Landry pound director and another former pound employee have been arrested on charges of animal cruelty and theft.  Patricia Street Gallo, the former director, and husband Troy Gallo both still work for the parish:

Parish government announced recently that Patricia Gallo was no longer director of the Animal Control shelter. She has been replaced in that position by Terri Courville.

Patricia Gallo now works for the parish as an educational liaison, teaching kids about animal abuse issues, [Parish Chief Administrative Officer Jessie] Bellard said.

[...]

Troy Gallo was transferred out of Animal Control in February and now works as a road foreman, Bellard said.

The cruelty charges are sickening.  Troy Gallo allegedly botched the killings of shelter pets via heartstick, then injected the abdomen, which did not kill the animals:

Gallo “would throw the animal onto the floor to allow animal control dogs to finish killing the animal,” the witness told deputies.

[...]

Patricia Gallo is accused of allowing “unorthodox euthanizing and disposal of animals” and allowing dogs and cats to remain in filthy cages without food or water.

Unorthodox.  That’s one word for it, I guess.

The theft charges relate to the couple being witnessed taking donated pet food off a delivery truck at the pound and bringing it home to feed to their own animals.  Mr. Gallo claims the food was rotten and his buddy on the parish council backs him up:

“We get so much dog food for the animals that sometimes we give it away to other shelters in the area. Sometimes the food rots, and it’s taken home to feed to the hogs,” Bellard said.

Troy Gallo said the food he took home was unsuitable for dogs at the shelter.

So the donated food was already rotted on the delivery truck?  Plus the dogs at the shelter are dead mostly, so they don’t eat much anyway.

The couple is free on bond and will remain employed by the parish while the legal case works its way through the courts.  They have denied the charges against them.  Troy Gallo claims his accusers don’t understand the “euthanasia” process and wants to know why the whole ship isn’t being brought down with him:

Gallo also said he and his wife are being targeted unfairly. “There were other employees there. Why aren’t they being attacked?”

Just taking a wild guess:  The sheriff’s office didn’t find any witnesses to testify they had seen the other employees throw dying animals to the floor to be preyed upon by shelter dogs.  But hey, what do I know?  I’m still trying to work out why it’s ok to feed rotten food to hogs.  Good luck with the animal abuse classes for the kiddies, St. Landry.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

NJ Pound Kills Owned Dogs Upon Impound

Daphne and Rocko cuddling, as pictured on the News 12 website.

Daphne and Rocko cuddling, as pictured on the News 12 website.

When NJ pet owner Jennifer Arteta went on a trip out of the country this month, she left her beloved young dogs Daphne and Rocko in the care of her father.  For reasons unknown, Ms. Arteta’s father left Daphne and Rocko at the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on June 5.

When Ms. Arteta returned from her trip on June 7 and learned what had happened, she immediately went to the pound to reclaim her pets.  Workers denied that the dogs had ever been there.  Ms. Arteta noticed Rocko’s leash and collar at the pound and pressed staff on the issue but they continued to deny any knowledge of the dogs.  Finally, someone admitted the dogs had been killed immediately upon impound on June 5.

NJ state law is clear on the 7 day mandatory holding period required for animals surrendered to pounds:

d. A shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound receiving an animal from a certified animal control officer pursuant to subsection a. of this section, or from any other individual, group, or organization, shall hold the animal for at least seven days before offering it for adoption, or euthanizing, relocating, or sterilizing the animal, except if:

(1)the animal is surrendered voluntarily by its owner to the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound, in which case the provisions of subsection e. of this section shall apply; or

(2)the animal is suspected of being rabid, in which case the provisions of subsection j. of this section shall apply.

e.If a shelter, pound or kennel operating as a shelter or pound is not required to hold an animal for at least seven days pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection d. of this section, the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound:

(1)shall offer the animal for adoption for at least seven days before euthanizing it; or

(2)may transfer the animal to an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home prior to offering it for adoption if such a transfer is determined to be in the best interest of the animal by the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound.

The Elizabeth Animal Shelter appears to be in clear violation of the law regarding the immediate killings of Daphne and Rocko. The staff presumably knows this and thus the reason for the repeated lies to the owner. And it’s probably why they are hiding from the local media:

Neither the Elizabeth Animal Shelter, the city health department nor the mayor have returned requests for comment.

Ms. Arteta is heartbroken and describes Daphne and Rocko as a bonded pair who were likely scared and confused during their last hours alive.  She has set up a Facebook page seeking justice for her pets and is planning to address the city council regarding the matter tonight.

Let’s all say it together:  Nobody wants to kill animals.  If we haven’t worked in a shelter, we have no right to criticize.  It’s the irresponsible public’s fault that shelters “have to” kill pets.

Now that the bullshit is out of the way, maybe we can have a real conversation about monsters and the evil that is done in the name of the word “shelter” in this country.

(Thanks Arlene and another reader for sending me this story.)

Baltimore Co Fails to Notify Owner of Impounded Dog with Microchip

Shayla, as pictured on the WBAL website.

Shayla, as pictured on the WBAL website.

Helen Turner’s microchipped shelter dog Shayla escaped her Maryland yard one day last month.  Baltimore Co Animal services picked her up close to home.  Instead of knocking on doors in the neighborhood to see if anyone recognized the dog, the impounding officer apparently just took Shayla to the pound.  Missed opportunity number one.

The Turner family searched the neighborhood for their lost pet, circulated her photo online and contacted area shelters.  Ms. Turner left several messages at the Baltimore Co pound but those messages were all ignored.  Missed opportunity number two.

A member of the public alerted Ms. Turner to a photo of a dog at the pound who looked like Shayla.  Ms. Turner went to the facility, showed the staff a photo of Shayla and asked if she was there.  The staff advised Ms. Turner that Shayla was not at the pound.  Missed opportunity number three.

Ms. Turner decided to walk through the kennels herself to find her dog.  She found Shayla, noted her kennel number and her kill date:  four days after impound.  After doing so, she returned to the front desk and told the staff she wanted to reclaim her pet. The staff regarded her with suspicion:

“I said, ‘Shayla’s here. No. 16.’ And they said, ‘Are you sure? It doesn’t look like her.’ I said, ‘I’m positive that’s our dog. Did you scan her? Because she’s chipped.’ And they were like, ‘Well, I just got here. I don’t know if she’s been scanned,'” Turner said.

Missed opportunity number four. Plus bonus points for side-eyeing the person trying to save the dog from the kill room and sidestepping the chip issue.  No thanks to the staff at the pound, Shayla is now home with her family, enjoying life.

Good going, Baltimore Co.  Remind me again how we all want the same thing and it’s the irresponsible public’s fault that shelters kill animals.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

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

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

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

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

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

[...]

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

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

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

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

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