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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.)

Treats on the Internets

What is your local shelter doing to prepare for kitten/puppy season this spring when shelters are hit with very high intake levels?  The Washington Co shelter in VA is emptying out its facility in advance by offering free adoptions for a month.  Awesome.

In Newnan, GA, a retired couple has fostered more than 100 dogs during the past 2 years for the local pound because they say they have the time, space, resources and desire to save lives.  Gee, wouldn’t it be great if the local pound director adopted that same attitude?

A NC shelter dog being shipped to ME was lost by the transport company when she wriggled free from her collar.  The dog was found injured 2 days later.  The new owners were cited by ME state police for allowing the dog to run across I-95.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Diamond Pet Foods has settled a class action lawsuit brought by owners whose pets were sickened and/or died after consuming Diamond products tainted with salmonella in 2012.

Spotted salamander porn – NSFW.  (Courtesy of Valerie, because where else would I get this stuff?)

Headline of the week, posted on April 1st no less (but apparently not a joke):

La. state senator opposes anti-cockfighting bill, saying it hurts legitimate ‘chicken boxing’

Mercifully the state senate took the issue seriously and refused to support Senator Guillory’s claim that chicken boxing is just like human kickboxing. Guillory’s proposed chicken boxing exemption was defeated 29 – 8. Also: chicken boxing. (I had to say it one more time because obviously.)

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.)

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Vermilion Parish Pound Allegedly in Violation of Law, Local Politicians Shield Director

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.  After a recent story about the killing of dogs tagged for rescue went viral, the parish placed a temporary halt on pet killing while the police jury came up with some new guidelines.  This week, those new guidelines were announced:

  1. Re-start killing cats deemed feral immediately.
  2. Hold dogs for 30 days in order to allow rescue groups to network them.
  3. Once the pound exceeds capacity (20 dogs), arbitrarily kill the dogs whose intake dates are the oldest to make space.

It seems to me that numbers 2 and 3 are going to conflict with each other unless rescue groups can consistently do the Vermilion pound staff’s jobs for them and keep getting dogs into homes before the 20 dog limit is reached.  Also, number 1 totally sucks.

And there’s more bad news:

KATC reviewed hundreds of parish euthanasia records and uncovered that last year, more than 21 percent of all dogs and cats were killed before [the mandatory holding period of] four days, some even dying the day they arrived at the facility.

The only sort-of-explanation for why the pound appears to have been violating parish law in such an egregious manner comes from an ex-staffer:

“Every Thursday was euthanasia day, and sometimes we would pick up the dog on Monday and by Thursday they were gone,” said Thad Savoy, a former animal warden of the Vermilion Parish Rabies Animal Control Center.

Right.  It’s Thursday.  And Thursday is kill day.  If the lost pet’s owner is looking for him or if an adopter might like to save him, that’s just not happening.  It’s Thursday.

“Most of the dogs that were picked up were able to be rescued. But they were not rescued or put online because of the color or the breed. … It’s kind of hard to say; it’s kind of hard to describe why,” Savoy said.

Wait, wut?  Prolly no owner would want their black dog back so no point posting her online.  Because black.  Plus it’s Thursday.

The current director of the pet killing facility – the one who threatened to call the police last time a reporter tried to ask her a question – is once again being shielded by the asshats who came up with the brilliant killing guidelines:

For now, the parish is not commenting on KATC’s investigation. On Wednesday night, the Vermilion Parish Police Jury unanimously denied KATC’s request for an interview with Animal Control Facility Director Pam Monceaux and Public Works Director Bill Nogel.

Instead of providing cover for monsters, maybe the Vermilion Parish police jury could hire some people willing to do the jobs taxpayers pay them to do and actually shelter animals in need.  Any vote on that?

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

 

GA Animal Control Officer Posts Images Mocking Dead Pets

Barrow County Animal Control Officer Danyal Harper has been on the job for nine years and was promoted to director of the long-troubled Georgia pound on March 25.  Then an anonymous tipster sent screencaps of ACO Harper’s Photobucket account to the local news and all hell broke loose.  So what was ACO Harper posting on Photobucket?  Compassionate people will find these descriptions difficult to read:

The first item was a short clip from a You Tube music video about a board game called “Euthanasia!” that “makes you want to kill your pets.”

When a character on the video asks, “What am I going to do with all these kittens?” the other players respond, “Euthanasia!” And on the game board is a silver device called “The Pound” where the plastic kittens are dropped to their deaths.

Harper also posted an actual photo of a dog copulating with a duck; a photo of two gun-toting GI Joe dolls in camouflage standing on the carcass of a dead squirrel; two photos of “Free Cat” roadside signs posted next to dead cats; and a poster of a kitten that states: “KITTENS. You have to love them. God knows you’ve killed so many already.”

More:

One of the posts includes a satirical advertisement for a Cat Carrier— a contraption with a “stabilizer screw” on one end and muzzle on the other— that’s designed to transport a cat. An “endorsement” states that the device helps mold the cat “into a well-mannered creature God intended.”

Another is a photo of a dead cat with a sign pointing to it saying “Free Cat” and underneath is written “Charitability: At least your heart is in the right place.”

Although news outlets characterized the disturbing images as “dark humor” and “off-color”, there is no indication from ACO Harper as to whether he thought the images were dark, funny, some kind of turn-on, or anything else since he emptied his Photobucket account and hid from reporters:

11 Alive went by the animal control office where we were told Harper was on duty, but that he did not want to comment on the controversial pictures.

At a hastily called meeting yesterday, the Barrow Co Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to yank ACO Harper’s promotion. But he’s still the senior ACO for the county because, you know, it’s not clear whether the postings are indicative of any really serious problems. In order to determine that, the county will investigate itself.

I am not a psychiatrist but I get gallows humor. Totally. I have many years of experience with it as a coping mechanism. This ain’t that. Anyone who reads the descriptions and/or sees these images should be immediately struck by how NOT THAT they are. Why is Barrow Co still paying this guy to handle animals? Would any of the county commissioners like to volunteer their kids or grandkids to be under this ACO’s care? Perhaps a kiddie camping trip in the woods with ACO Harper, just to show the community they have full faith in the guy? [tumbleweed]

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Potential Good News for Whales (Giant Asterisk)

Warning: Second link contains an image of a dead whale.

Minke whale, [x]

Minke whale, [x]

In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling but this did not prevent countries from hunting whales.  Indeed, a few countries dropped out of the IWC or simply “opted out” of the ban in order to continue killing whales for profit.  The 1986 ban also offered exceptions for aboriginal people, such as those in Alaska, to continue their traditional whale hunts and for the killing of whales in the name of science.  Japan has infamously made use of the scientific research exception, killing hundreds of whales every year, including endangered species.

Australia filed suit against Japan for its whale killing in the United Nations’ International Court of Justice.  This week, the court agreed with Australia that Japan’s whale killings do not appear to be scientific in nature, citing:

  • Japan could use non-lethal methods to collect the data it purportedly seeks.
  • The sample sizes are not justified.
  • There is no time-frame for the research to be concluded.
  • Japan doesn’t talk whale science with other whale scientists.
  • Very little scientific output has been produced as a result of the mass slaughter.

The UN Court determined Japan’s science was not so sciencey and ordered the country to stop hunting Antarctic whales.  Japan says it will comply with the order but Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who regularly eats science whale meat, vowed to “closely examine the ruling and swiftly figure out ways to continue whaling” which doesn’t exactly scream Compliance so much as it does Sinister Scheming 2.0.  The ag minister seems very enthusiastic about continued killings, apparently because science must not be thwarted whale meat is ALL THE DELICIOUS.

There do not appear to be any meaningful repercussions if Japan decides not to comply with the order or comes up with some new loophole to exploit.  And the order only applies to large whales, meaning that Japan’s slaughter of dolphins and small whales in Taiji Cove will continue.  But the ruling is significant in that it calls out fake science (more, please) and puts additional international pressure on Japan to stop the killing, for what it’s worth.

By the way Australia, next time we run into each other I’ll be giving you a long hug, past the point of awkwardness and bordering on creepy.

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