Summary of 2012 Undercover Police Report on Memphis Pound

The following is my summary of the animal cruelty observed by a Memphis police detective who worked undercover at the Memphis pound in late 2011 and early 2012.  Read the full report hereWarning:  This material ranges from disturbing to fucking atrocious.  And I’m putting that as diplomatically as I can.  Proceed with caution.

***

2011 image from MAS webcams of a dog being dragged on a chokepole.

2011 image from MAS webcams of a dog being dragged on a chokepole.

Detective Arrington observed MAS employee Glenn Andrews tell a small dog who was loose in the break room to come to him.  When the dog ignored the command, Andrews kicked the dog and cursed at her.  (page 8)

Detective Arrington observed MAS employee Glenn Andrews drive away with two Pitbull puppies after hours.  An MAS employee named Tameka Booker told Detective Arrington that she had taken a Pitbull puppy she did not intend to keep home with her and that if he wanted one, he should talk to Glenn Andrews since that is how she got hers.  (page 9)

An MAS employee named Mario Jiles advised Detective Arrington that he took home a Pitbull adult and a puppy without paying the fees because he cleared it with Glenn Andrews.  (page 10, two entries)

Detective Arrington was advised by MAS employee Billy Stewart (later convicted of animal cruelty and fired) that another way to get free pets was to tell the surrendering party to wait in the MAS parking lot.  If the person gave an employee the pet outside the shelter, there need not ever be any record created nor any fees paid.  (page 10)

Detective Arrington observed MAS employee Kirby Hankins kill 6 puppies from the kill list.  Immediately afterward, MAS employee Glenn Andrews walked into the kill room looking for one of the pups as he had been adopted the previous day.  Upon finding the pup dead, MAS employee Glenn Andrews called the adopter with a fabricated story about the puppy having to be killed due to parvo exposure.  (page 10)

Detective Arrington was ordered to conduct an inventory of dogs in the facility and found that four dogs on the inventory were missing.  He also found many dogs who had incorrect or missing records.  (page 10)

Detective Arrington observed several animals who were injured while caged at MAS, including a dog with a broken leg.  (page 10)

Detective Arrington observed MAS employee Billy Stewart kick a dog in the face in the kill room and strike another in the head with a chokepole.  (page 11, two entries)

Detective Arrington observed MAS employee Frank Lightfoot (later convicted of animal cruelty and fired) administer Fatal Plus to several cats.  Four of the cats were still alive several minutes post injection.  MAS employee Lightfoot killed three by dropping them on the floor in their cages from a height of six feet and the fourth by stepping on the pet with both feet while the cat urinated and defecated.  (page 11)

Detective Arrington observed MAS employees Kirby Hankins and Billy Stewart killing animals in the MAS kill room.  When MAS employee Stewart brought in a dog on a chokepole, he said, “We are not going to be able to wrap its mouth.  I’m going to have to choke it out.”  MAS employee Hankins waited to inject the Fatal Plus until after Stewart strangled the dog which took approximately a minute while the dog gasped for air before falling unconscious.  (page 11)

Detective Arrington observed MAS employee Stewart choke a Rottweiler with a chokepole and while the dog lay gasping for air, MAS employee Lightfoot jabbed the unsedated pet in the heart with Fatal Plus.  (pages 11 – 12)

In a separate but similar choking/heartsticking incident with another dog involving MAS employees Stewart and Lightfoot, Detective Arrington observed that the dog was not killed by the Fatal Plus injection and left to suffer for 5 – 10 minutes.  The detective then saw MAS employee Lightfoot jab the empty needle into the dog’s heart again, this time drawing blood into the syringe and injecting that blood into the lower abdomen while telling the dog, “I’m going to put this blood where it don’t suppose to be so you can get dead.”  The dog finally died 1 – 2 minutes later.  (page 12)

MAS employee Stacey Miller advised Detective Arrington she had witnessed MAS employees Archie Elliott (later convicted of animal cruelty and fired) and Tameka Booker killing pets in the MAS kill room.  MAS employee Miller said she saw MAS employee Elliot hang a dog from the sink counter on a leash.  Miller said she asked Elliot why he was hanging the dog and he replied he was sedating the pet.  Miller told the detective she was aware of her duty to report incidents such as these but chose not to do so.  Booker told the detective the dog “was acting a fool so Archie hung him.”  (page 12)

Detective Arrington observed MAS employee Lightfoot heartstick an unsedated puppy who cried out in pain.  (page 12)

Detective Arrington observed MAS employee Glenn Lanton working in the kill room with Elliot and Lightfoot.  Elliot brought in a scared dog who was not walking well on the leash so Elliot hanged him.  The timid dog gasped for air, urinating and defecating, and Lightfoot jabbed the unsedated pet in the heart with Fatal Plus.  (page 13)

Detective Arrington observed MAS employee Billy Stewart choke a friendly female Pitbull with a chokepole until she collapsed on the floor and Lighfoot injected her with Fatal Plus.  (page 13)

Detective Arrington observed MAS veterinarian Rebecca Coleman placing a very sick puppy in a cage with another puppy inside a room containing a mama dog nursing a litter.  When the detective questioned Coleman, she explained she would sign off on the killings of all the dogs in the room since they could get sick too.  (page 13)

Detective Arrington observed MAS employee Elliot attempting to kill a dog via IV injection but was unsuccessful as the dog pulled away.  Elliot then attempted to heartstick the unsedated dog but the dog again pulled away as he pissed himself.  The detective pleaded with Elliot to put the dog in the squeeze gate on the wall to restrain the dog, to which Elliot replied, “If I use the gate it’s going to mess up the floor and I do not feel like cleaning.”  Elliot then hanged the dog but stopped when a noise was heard outside the kill room.  He finally put the dog in the squeeze gate and jabbed the unsedated pet in the heart with Fatal Plus.  (page 14)

Detective Arrington observed MAS employee Elliott tell a Pitbull puppy in the kill room, “You are going to get stuck in the heart because you are too small and I do not feel like fooling with you.”  Elliott then jabbed the puppy in the heart.  The puppy cried out in pain before dying.  (page 14)

***

With the exceptions of Elliot, Lightfoot and Stewart (who, as noted, were later convicted of cruelty and fired), the other MAS employees named in the detective’s report are still working at the pound as far as I know.  If anyone has any different information, please leave a comment.  To the best of my knowledge, none were reprimanded or fired for their roles in the torture and killing of pets at MAS as described in this report.

 

 

Cruelty Allegations against Franklin Co Dog Pound

The Franklin Co dog pound in Ohio killed more than 40% of the dogs in its care in 2012.  Among the thousands killed by the pound each year are dogs who don’t pass a behavioral test administered by the staff.  The pound’s assistant director, Deborah Finelli, e-mailed a local reporter regarding the process:

“To be selected for adoption, all dogs 6 months and older must pass a behavior assessment, which evaluates the dog’s ability to be safely handled, reaction to people and other dogs and any situations that might provoke aggressive behavior,” she wrote.

“No dog that is perceived to be a threat to the safety of other dogs or humans will be permitted to be sent to rescue and/or foster, or placed on the adoption floor.”

If this place was truly following this absurd rule, presumably no dogs would be made available for adoption since ALL DOGS BITE. Some bite people, some bite other dogs, some exhibit incredible restraint, some exhibit no restraint – and there are as many variations on these parameters as one would care to contemplate.  But the bottom line is that all dogs represent a potential threat to the safety of people and other dogs, even though that risk is small in the vast majority of cases.

Testing a dog in a pound environment is of very little value since the dog is not behaving normally due to severe stress.  Franklin Co’s statement that they test dogs for “any situations that might provoke aggressive behavior” suggests to me a pokey-in-the-face-with-a-plastic-hand-on-a-stick type deal or a take-food-away-from-a-hungry-stressed-out-dog-while-he’s-eating-it or maybe both monstrosities.  Whatever the tests, they should not be used as a justification to kill dogs.

To make matters worse, there are allegations that Franklin Co pound veterinarian Vincent Morton intentionally mistreats dogs in order to fail them on the behavioral tests and runs needless medical tests for the purpose of failing dogs he couldn’t sufficiently provoke to fail on behavior.

One complaint submitted in August 2013 says Morton would “purposefully be rough with them almost like he was trying to get them to growl or bite.”

Another complaint says Morton made fun of one employee for being gay and another for being Mexican. “Dr. Morton is very rough on the dogs and is rude to the employees and belittles them,” the complaint states.

But wait, there’s more!  There are allegations of oops-killings of dogs who had adopters waiting, dogs left to suffer without vet care for days, and dogs killed for behavior who had never been touched or let out of the cage.  And, despite employing a full time volunteer coordinator, Franklin Co has allegedly been shutting out volunteers.  Because volunteers, so complainy.

Local advocates voiced their concerns to the county commissioners this week and were told basically that their complaints weren’t going to be addressed as the county was already conducting its own investigation.  So tattle your tales elsewhere because we already know everything and you didn’t even know about our ultra secret investigation that is totally happening as we speak so sit back down, I guess.  Neither the vet nor the director have responded to the allegations at this time.

(Thanks Jan and Clarice for the links.)

Hillsborough Co Describes the Needless Suffering and Death of a Mama Dog and Her Pups as a “Distraction” from “Progress”

The troubled Hillsborough Co pound in FL has placed a veterinarian on administrative leave after she allegedly left a pregnant dog to suffer and her puppies to die.

The pregnant mixed breed dog was impounded on Saturday and the ACO informed the vet tech upon intake that the dog appeared to be in labor and in need of urgent vet care.  The tech examined the dog, confirmed that the dog was in distress during labor and alerted the vet on duty.  That vet, unnamed as of yet, did nothing – maybe painted her nails, I don’t know – but not one thing for the dog.  She never even looked at the poor pet.  When her shift ended, she went home for the night, leaving the pregnant dog in agony.

When staff arrived the next morning, they found the dog had managed to deliver one dead puppy but had lost so much blood overnight that the on-duty vet determined euthanasia was appropriate to end the dog’s suffering.  Unless this dog had been carrying a single puppy (unlikely for a dog described as a Pitbull mix), her remaining pups smothered to death inside her.

Taking a page from the well worn Killing Apologist Playbook, the county says that other than this bit of a wrinkle, everything is shiny:

“It’s really uplifting to see where the progress is, and that is what makes this situation even more disappointing,” said [Hillsborough County Pet Resources Director Ron] Spiller. “And it’s a distraction from the positive direction the shelter is now headed.”

A distraction?  It’s criminal neglect to my mind which should be prosecuted with the same fervor as Hillsborough Co would if a private breeder allowed this needless suffering and death to occur.  The county is currently investigating the distraction.  Vols say the vet in question has a history of similar behavior.

Here is an opportunity for Hillsborough Co to put their money where their positive direction mouth is:  Fire this vet immediately and ask the county prosecutor to bring charges.  Demonstrate to the community that animal neglect will not be tolerated, including and especially when it’s perpetrated by those charged with protecting animals from neglect.  Lead by example.  Anything less will indicate to me that Hillsborough Co is still piloting the same fail boat over the same waterfall.  Except now they have a mouthpiece to point out how refreshing the mist is.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Sheriff Investigating Allegations of Cruelty at Vermilion Parish Pound

When we checked in with Vermilion Parish Rabies Control in LA last week, the director was killing all cats deemed feral, killing pets before their legally mandated 4 day holding period expired, and killing pets tagged for rescue - all with the support of local politicians who appear to be too lazy to do their jobs and seem to like their own kind.  Although the Vermilion Parish police jury protects the pound director from having to answer questions from the public she serves about all the killing she does, the jury did issue a statement in response to KATC’s allegations that pets are routinely being killed in violation of the law during their holding periods.  You can read the statement here but basically, it says the mandatory holding period only applies when we say it applies, we’re all awesome and everything is sparkle-ponies.

While those being paid by taxpayers in Vermilion Parish appear to be on work hiatus in perpetuity, the KATC investigative team is still doing its job.  A review of pound records by KATC found that at least 90 animals last year were listed as dying of “natural causes” when in fact they appear to have been illegally left to suffer in their cages until they fell over dead:

The Guidelines for Louisiana Public Animal Shelters by the Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission requires that, “Veterinary care must be provided in a manner that prevents unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering by the animals.”

[...]

But we found animals like Harmony, a stray cat thought to be sick when she was brought in December 2012. The person dropping her off even wrote, “afraid for my animals – could be sick,” on Harmony’s intake form. Harmony held on for a month before dying of “natural causes.” There’s no record that she ever saw a vet.

And then there’s Miracle, a white pug, that was thought to have been abused, was brought to animal control last year on Sept. 27. She died of “natural causes” three days later, and there were no records showing that she received any veterinary care.

[...]

Not providing animals with veterinary care is considered cruelty to animals, according to Louisiana law. It carries a fine of $1,000 and six months in jail.

An ex-employee verified to KATC that pets were regularly left without vet care at the pound, including a dog with a broken back who was forced to suffer for more than a week without seeing a vet before he was killed.

KATC’s review also found that the pound’s records “contained lots of incorrect information” and that drug logs did not match up with the kill records which, if true, represents another violation of the law.

The sheriff’s office is reportedly opening an investigation based upon the KATC findings.  I wonder how much longer the parish police jury is going to stand behind the pound director.  Is Team Kill going to stick together all the way to jail or will they start stabbing each other in the back to save their own asses before things get that far?

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Update on Gallia Co Dog Wardens Charged with Cruelty

The 57 cruelty charges against 3 current and former Gallia Co dog wardens in Ohio stem from illegal killing protocols at the Gallia Co pound according to Gallipolis city solicitor Adam Salisbury. Specifically at issue is the allegation that the wardens were injecting sodium pentobarbital into a shoulder or hip muscle of shelter pets before injecting it into the heart muscle, causing needless pain and suffering.

The Ohio SPCA however is alleging a different type of cruelty entirely – at least with regard to 11 dog carcasses they obtained and had necropsied at Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Teresa Landon with the Ohio SPCA says the intramuscular injections were not evident at the time of necropsy:

“There is no evidence of (the dogs) being injected (with sodium pentobarbital) in the muscles,” Landon said, citing OSU’s necropsy results. “They were injected in the heart and lungs.”

Good, right? Because we were concerned the dog wardens, all trained and certified in proper euthanasia protocols, had possibly gotten lazy or just didn’t care about the animals they were killing. But it looks like we can cross lazy off the list:

[M]any of the [necropsied] dogs suffered “body changes compatible with blunt thoracic and head trauma” before and during the euthanasia process.

“Several dogs were bleeding on the head or had blood coming out of their mouth,” [Landon] said. “They died horrible deaths.”

For anyone not sure of what they just read, Ohio SPCA appears to be alleging that the Gallia Co dog warden beat the dogs about the head and chest and/or strangled them before and while he was jabbing a syringe full of Fatal Plus into their hearts. In addition, the Ohio SPCA’s report includes witness testimony indicating dogs at the Gallia Co pound were trapped using a squeeze gate on the kill room wall.  The witness alleges dogs were never sedated prior to heartsticking (as required by law), were often jabbed multiple times in the heart and would sometimes stagger around the kill room for 30 minutes before finally dying.  The gruesome torture inflicted on these poor pets put me immediately in mind of the Memphis kill techs, finally brought to justice in 2012 after an undercover police officer witnessed them sadistically killing dogs and cats at the pound.

While the new allegations in the Gallia Co case step the heinous nature of the charges up a notch, Gallia Co sheriff Joe Browning seems more concerned with finding out how the Ohio SPCA got the 11 carcasses they sent for necropsy:

It was not clear Saturday night if whoever took the dog carcasses from Gallia County could face charges. Browning said Saturday night that the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office “will have to look into it.”

Yeah, definitely find and charge that person.  That’s the real crime here.

The two current dog wardens are sitting at home being paid by taxpayers.  All 3 have entered not guilty pleas.

(Thanks Arlene and Clarice for the links.)

Town of Hempstead Kills Owned Pets, Owners File Lawsuit

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Last month, 2 mixed breed dogs called Cici and Yankee escaped their yard and went for a run around the neighborhood in Long Island, NY.  Both were known by neighbors to be friendly and playful.  But apparently any loose animal that looks like a Pitbull type dog in Nassau Co warrants the summoning of the National Guard:

An incident in Lakeview involving Pit bulls three days prior caused  police to send multiple police officers including detectives and a police helicopter.

Nassau Co police responded to a report that Cici and Yankee were chasing kids and started shooting at the dogs, hitting Yankee.  The dogs ran home and the Town of Hempstead sent an ACO to the residence where police had gathered.  The owner, who is unable to read English, signed a form he was given by the ACO and the dogs were taken to the pound.

There are no reports indicating the dogs bit anyone, growled at anyone or even cast a stern glance in anyone’s general direction.

The family went to the pound the next day it was open to reclaim Cici and Yankee and were told both had already been killed.  The form the owner signed without understanding what it said due to the language barrier reportedly transferred ownership of the dogs to the Town of Hempstead to do with as the pound saw fit.  The family was apparently so shocked at this news that they went home and returned the next day, believing they must have been given the wrong information.  But they were again told their pets had been killed.

The Town of Hempstead, well known for its alleged abuse of shelter animals, offered this response to a reporter:

“We are confident that the police don’t throw their weapons and shoot at animals unless they present a danger to the public.”

Oh the Town of Hempstead is jokes.  If police shot at the dogs, they must be the spawn of Satan because police.

Cici and Yankee’s owners have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead for killing their pets without due process.  The town is apparently rolling in dough.  I hope the owners get every penny and just maybe, some stuffed shirt mooching off taxpayers there will take notice and effect change.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Three OH Dog Wardens Charged with Animal Cruelty

On February 14, the assistant warden at the Gallia Co pound in OH allegedly killed 11 dogs via heartstick without proper sedation.  Ohio code states that heartstick may only be used “on a sedated or unconscious animal”. The Gallia Co sheriff investigated the matter and the assistant dog warden was reassigned to a different county department during that investigation.

Gallia County Commission President David Smith says the shelter is not a no-kill shelter, and it’s unclear at this point if anything wrong was done.

Although wrongdoing wasn’t clear to the county commissioner at the time, it’s crystal clear to everyone now:

Dog warden Paul L. Simmers faces 32 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty, while his former assistant Jason Harris is charged with 12 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with the Feb. 14 deaths of several dogs at the Gallia County Animal Shelter. Former dog warden Jean L. Daniels was also charged with 13 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with the investigation.

The 57 cruelty charges stem from illegal killing protocols at the Gallia Co pound – specifically injecting sodium pentobarbital into a shoulder or hip muscle of shelter pets before injecting it into the heart muscle.

“When administered directly into the muscles of an animal, sodium pentobarbital is widely believed to cause intense pain,” [Gallipolis city solicitor Adam] Salisbury said. “The practice of injecting this drug into the muscles of an animal is specifically labelled an ‘unacceptable practice’ by the American Humane Association.”

Salisbury said Simmer, Harris and Daniels each attended a training session sponsored by the American Humane Association and earned a certificate allowing them to euthanize animals by injection.

David Balz, Ohio-certified euthanasia instructor and director of the Wyandot County Humane Society, agreed that the reason the practice is deemed unacceptable is due to the needless pain inflicted on the animal and also told me he makes a point of emphasizing this during training:

The students are taught, among many other things, that IC [intra-cardiac] can be used as a route of administration for euthanasia with sodium pentobarbital only on animals that are unconscious to the point of no longer feeling pain. They are taught that sodium pentobarbital injected outside a vein causes pain, and burns because it is a sodium “salt.” Every final exam that I have administered over the last 15 years actually has a test question concerning this issue, and if they attended any AHA or HSUS or Ohio State Veterinary Board approved course, they were taught this fact. An intramuscular injection of sodium pentobarbital is not only an unacceptable practice, but would appear in my opinion to violate the Ohio laws regarding euthanasia of animals in an animal shelter as well as the animal cruelty statutes.

Gallia Co prosecutor Jeff Adkins reportedly found no felony violations pursuant to the investigation. This article cites a 2 year statute of limitations on misdemeanors in Ohio and Mr. Salisbury appears to have done a thorough job investigating the case, going back the full 2 years to encompass all violations.  This is a big deal.  We so often see animal cruelty cases treated far too lightly or dismissed entirely.  Mr. Salisbury appears to have taken this task seriously and in so doing, has given a voice to the many victims in this case, well beyond the 11 dogs who suffered needlessly on February 14.  If you want to drop him a brief note of thanks, his e-mail is citysolicitor@gallipoliscity.com.

The Gallia Co commission is set to release a statement today regarding the employment of the two current dog wardens.

(Thanks Arlene and Clarice for the links.)

Stockton Pound Sued for Killing Animals Illegally

Last month, a couple whose dog had been impounded by the Stockton pound in CA spoke to the city council about their experience.  Their microchipped, neutered, vaccinated dog had escaped through a gate accidentally left open in their yard.  When the owners, both newly unemployed, tried to reclaim their pet, the Stockton pound demanded $180.  The owners couldn’t come up with the entire fee so offered a partial payment and a promise to pay the balance in installments.  The pound refused, leaving the crying owners no other option but to beg for their beloved family member’s life.  Stockton killed their pet.

As might be expected, this is not an isolated incident at the Stockton pound:

A review of 2013 documents found instances in which seven dogs belonging to five people were euthanized because the owners could not immediately afford to pay impound fees.

The Stockton pound is no stranger to controversy.  Mayor Anthony Silva put together a citizen commission to examine allegations of wrongdoing at the facility one year ago.  The group has been trying to present its findings since January but have yet to be allowed to speak at a city meeting.

Now local advocates have teamed up with the Animal Legal Defense Fund and filed suit against the Stockton pound.  Using a year’s worth of pound documents obtained via public records requests, the plaintiffs in the suit allege:

  • Stockton killed more than 1500 cats and dogs during their legally mandated holding periods.
  • The pound kills owned pets without making meaningful efforts to return the animals to their owners.  One case involved a dog who was killed because the owners couldn’t speak English.
  • Pets who are medically hopeless and suffering are forced to linger in their cages for days before being euthanized.

ALDF attorney Jenni James says no money is being sought in the suit:

“Our request is very simple,” James said. “We’re asking the court to demand that the city of Stockton follow its own laws, and for the city of Stockton to acknowledge that the laws it passed apply to the shelter.”

The pound’s director went the predictable route in response to the lawsuit:

The city of Stockton said it cannot comment on the lawsuit and neither can the Animal Services director — but she did say the shelter does the best it can for the animals.

“People who come here see the impact and how many dogs come into the shelter,” Animal Services Supervisor Pat Claerbout said. “It’s extremely limited, and we can’t keep every animal.”

We’re doing the best we can. We can’t keep them all.  Ergo, the law doesn’t apply to us and if your broke ass can’t come up with the ransom to bail your pet out of our kill factory, sux being you.

(Thanks Clarice and Eileen for the links.)

Vermilion Parish Director Kills Dogs Tagged for Rescue Because She Can

Vermilion Parish Rabies Control in LA does not adopt animals to the public.  It functions primarily as a pet killing facility while allowing rescue groups to save some animals – unless the director decides she feels like killing those animals too.

Last week a group called Animal Aid of Vermilion Area had exchanged e-mails with Vermilion Parish pound director Pam Monceaux, confirming they would pull three dogs – Sasha, Pepper and Ringo – on Thursday morning.  But when the rescuers arrived, they learned Ms. Monceaux had killed Sasha, Pepper and Ringo.

There was no claim of a misunderstanding about these three dogs being pulled by rescue.  Ms. Monceaux apparently killed them intentionally while rescuers were en route.  A local news reporter asked Ms. Monceaux for an explanation:

 News 10 reached out to Monceaux for answers, but we were told to leave the premises or she was calling the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office.

If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

Under our current, broken shelter system, killing is a choice.  Any shelter animal may be killed at the discretion of the director.  Some shelter directors consider this their job while, in stark contrast, there are hundreds others working hard to save every healthy/treatable animal in their care.

There are two ways to stop retaliatory and needless shelter killing in Vermilion Parish:

  1. Replace the director with someone committed to lifesaving.
  2. Enact legislation removing killing as an option.

Contact information for the Vermilion Parish Police Jury that oversees the pound is at the bottom of this page.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me info on this story.)

Saginaw Co Faces State Hearing Regarding Mistreatment of Shelter Animals

When I last wrote about the Saginaw Co pound in MI, it was to praise the local advocates who stood up for the animals being neglected at the pound, even after then-director Val McCullough instituted retaliatory policy changes in an attempt to stifle their efforts.  That was in August 2012.  Ms. McCullough quit in the middle of the ensuing investigation and the county hired Kevin Wilken to replace her in November 2012.  His leadership was fraught with controversy as well.  In December 2013, Kevin Wilken was escorted from the pound by members of the county sheriff’s office.  The county declined to comment on the reason for his removal except to clarify he had been placed on leave with pay.

This week, new information came to light.  After at least one local advocate complained to the county and the state about the mistreatment of shelter animals under Kevin Wilken,  Saginaw Co hired a consultant to conduct an evaluation of pound operations. The resulting report contained evidence of possible crimes and was sent to the county prosecutor and MI state police, who opened an investigation.  A county press release references both the consultant’s report and the state investigation of the pound:

“During the operational assessment and state’s investigation, the county became concerned that several animals under the care of SCACC may not have received proper palliative care for their injuries or illnesses,” the release states.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has since notified the county that they face a hearing regarding the allegations of wrongdoing on March 7.

“Specifically, the Saginaw County Animal Care failed to follow statutory requirements, and recommended and accepted good practices in the care of shelter animals including but not limited to proper holding, proper sanitation, adequate housing, proper handling of perishable food and proper disposal of dead animals,” the notice states.

Additional details on the allegations:

  • One dog was allegedly housed in a kennel in a state of disrepair which allowed a neighboring dog to injure him.  The injured dog was allegedly left to needlessly suffer and later ordered killed by Kevin Wilken.
  • More than 100 animals were allegedly killed before their state mandated holding periods had expired.
  • Pet food was allegedly improperly store and infested with insects.
  • More than 200 animals were allegedly adopted to unlicensed groups

No charges have been brought against Kevin Wilken.  He remains on paid leave.  An ACO has been running the pound in his absence.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me links on this story.)

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