Fort Worth Police Officer Charged with Animal Cruelty Only After Resident Forces Police to Do Their Jobs

In Fort Worth, TX, two dogs went for a romp around the neighborhood after a gate in their yard was accidentally left unlatched on September 29.  Bentley, a 2 year old German shepherd and BB, a 9 year old pitbull, were spotted by a Good Samaritan who stopped her car to see if she could coax the dogs to her.  Just then, some nutter pulls up in his SUV, gets out and starts waving a gun around, telling the woman he’s going to shoot the shepherd for killing his cat.

The frightened woman tried to talk the guy down, sympathizing with him for his loss while explaining that the dogs aren’t attacking anyone now, that they are trying to get away, to go home.  The man called her a stupid bitch at which point she turned back toward the pitbull, whom she was able to get into her car.  She heard 4 or 5 gunshots and saw the SUV speed away.  She called 911, gave a description of the man with the gun and the SUV, then talked with a local resident who had witnessed the shooting.  The witness said she heard the shepherd cry out after the shots and then saw him run away.

Three Ft Worth officers and a Tarrant County sheriff’s deputy responded to the 911 call and interviewed both women.

The deputy returned a few minutes later to tell the women that Fort Worth police would be handling the case because they had jurisdiction, she said.

“He said the officers has made contact with the man. He works for Fort Worth PD … He said the dog killed his cat and he did nothing wrong,” the woman said. “I said, ‘He fired shots, sir. This is the city limits. He was not on his property.’ ”

The Good Sam waited until 9pm to hear from the Ft Worth police department but they never called.  So she called 911 again to follow up and was told the officers had never filed a report.

“I said, ‘Sir, shots were fired by this man,’ ” the woman said.

She spoke with a supervisor.  A few hours later someone from the Ft Worth PD finally called her regarding the shooting.  Investigators came to her house the next morning and had her pick the shooter out of a photo line-up.

The Good Sam learned that Bentley had been found dead and that AC had picked up his remains.  She kept BB at her home and put up flyers in the neighborhood, advertising him as found.  His owner, who had already been to six pounds looking for his lost pets, saw the flyer and called the woman.  She was happy to reunite BB with his owner but also had to tell the man that Bentley had been killed.

The shooter, deputy chief Kenneth Flynn, has been charged with animal cruelty and placed on desk duty while the police department investigates itself.  Police officials refused to say whether the three responding officers are being investigated for their failure to file a report nor would they identify any of them.  But they’re prolly doing the right thing – they’re the police!

The Good Sam, who had the guts to round up a strange pitbull on the street and get him into her car while a freak with a gun was cussing her out, is too afraid of police retaliation to give her name to the local paper.  Without her perseverance, this crime obviously would have been covered up by dirty cops.  Thank you, Good Sam.  I love that irresponsible public.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Lake Co Pound Director Kills 147 animals in 9 Days, Gets Fired

Last year, Jacquelyn Johnston was a clinic supervisor at the Miami Dade pound.  She killed animals for convenience in spite of the fact that the county commission had unanimously passed a no kill resolution after voters overwhelmingly demanded it.  In an e-mail to rescuers last summer, Johnston described some of the pets she was going to kill unless rescuers saved them with just a few hours notice:

“Sweet big boy, now has URI’’ — upper respiratory infection.

“Nervous and shy, but warms up if you spend time with her.’’

“Older pet but would make a great senior retiree…’’

“Adopter never showed up, super sweet, already spayed, 35-40 lbs.’’

“This is the one who came in from a caring homeless man, conformed pittie’’ — pit bull terrier, illegal in Miami-Dade

“Has ticks that we are treating. Needs out by tomorrow, no more time.’’

“Just a puppy and been here too long.’’

On October 1, the troubled Lake Co pound in FL hired Johnston as director. The sheriff’s office that runs the pound reportedly clearly explained to Johnston that getting animals out alive was her number one priority and that killing animals was only to be done as a last resort.

Johnston apparently thought she was in keeping with this directive when she immediately embarked on a massive killing spree. In nine days, Johnston had killed 147 animals. Someone alerted the sheriff’s office and Johnston was fired on the spot. Too late for 147 animals, including “some dogs that could have made good pets for people” according to Lt. John Herell with the sheriff’s office.  But let’s face it, the death toll could have climbed even higher had she not been shown the door.

While I do not claim to know what Johnston was thinking while she was on her killfest at Lake Co, it seems to me the situation is symptomatic of our broken shelter system.  Instead of sheltering animals, they kill them.  Instead of calling it killing (which is what it is), they call it euthanasia – a kindness.  Instead of doing their jobs to protect and rehome animals, they violate their most basic right – the right to live.  When we criticize them for killing, they tell us they are doing the best they can, we all want the same thing and that we shouldn’t judge unless we are willing to go down there and kill animals ourselves.

Everything is ass backwards and tragically, this is the norm, not the exception in our broken shelter system.  When you explain to someone who would kill “just a puppy” for convenience that killing is a last resort at your facility and her job is to get animals out alive, she likely recognized the same old song and dance.  Riiiight, nobody wants to kill animals, nudge nudge, wink wink.

And then she started in doing what she apparently perceived to be her job:  Say one thing publicly, do the opposite behind closed doors.  Call it pet overpopulation, kill animals.  Blame the irresponsible public, kill animals.  Say you’re doing your best to get pets into homes, kill animals.  This is what these people do.  They are monsters.  I don’t know if they were always monsters or if working a job where they kill friendly dogs and cats for a paycheck made them that way, nor do I care.  What I care about is saving shelter pets.

If Lake Co cared about protecting the lives of the animals in their care, they wouldn’t have given this new hire a few talking points, a box of Fatal Plus and sent her on her way.  Lake Co should have built protections for the animals into the system.  No animal killing without veterinary authorization, for example.  No animal killing without approval from the sheriff’s office.  No animal killing without a minimum 2 business days notice posted online listing all animals to be killed along with their photos.  But apparently all Lake Co gave Johnston was the key to the drug cupboard and a nudge nudge wink wink directive that killing is a last resort.

Johnston is not an anomaly.  She is typical of the type of long term employee who seeks out work in pet killing facilities.  She knew the routine.  She listened to the Lake Co sheriff’s office talk about saving animals and got the message:  kill.  This is why shelter reform is so desperately needed in this country.  Not only are shelters killing animals, they are employing monsters.  In Lake Co, Johnston was stopped and the animals she hadn’t yet managed to kill got lucky.

Are the animals housed in your local pet killing facility lucky?  Or is the director there still killing at will, probably with the support of your elected officials who don’t care to know the truth?  And are you being marginalized for your animal advocacy, being told you don’t understand what a hard job it is and that nobody wants to kill animals?

To the person or persons who spoke up for the animals being needlessly killed in Lake County – thank you.  Keep going.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Philly Pound Oops-Kills Microchipped Lost Dog Whose Owner Filled Out Lost Dog Report

When Cailin Mulvihill’s 15 year old microchipped chihuahua named Rhonda accidentally wandered out of her yard, she immediately began searching for her.  She put up flyers around the neighborhood and went to the Philadelphia Animal Care & Control Team where she filled out a lost dog report.  One day later, a Good Samaritan saw Ms. Mulvihill’s flyer and called her with good news:  Rhonda had been found just a block from home and taken to the pound.  Ms. Mulvihill immediately went to reclaim her pet but the pound had killed her upon intake.  Oops.

The devastated woman asked for an explanation from ACCT’s staff, who initially told her they had scanned Rhonda’s microchip but it didn’t work, Mulvihill explained.

Ms. Mulvihill didn’t buy it. She drove Rhonda’s body to her veterinarian, Dr. Judith Tamas, where the pet was scanned three times and the chip was located three times. (There is a video of Rhonda’s body being scanned at the link but her face is not shown.)  So the pound staff had lied.

“This is the worst kind of negligence [and] laziness,” Dr. Tamas said.

I was thinking that too but pound director Sue Cosby seems to be of the mind that the
rush to kill Rhonda was a kindness:

“I believe the expediency was based on concern for the condition of the dog. It was not callous,” says Cosby, “but policy was overlooked.”

Policy being to scan every animal for a microchip – twice. Staff failed to scan Rhonda even once in their rush to kindness her. Then they lied about it to the owner in an effort to cover up their wrongdoing. I never thought “expediency” could be made to sound so creepy.

Rhonda’s vet said her health was that of a typical elderly dog and that she suffered from sporadic seizures – something which could have been quickly clarified by the pound staff had they done their jobs and gotten the owner’s contact info off the chip. Or failing that, checked their own lost dog reports to find the owner’s info. Or you know – kill, lie, whatever.

After admitting the error, the ACCT put the staff member responsible for the euthanization on unpaid leave while the agency decides what steps to take next, Cosby said.

Maybe a roundtable discussion on expediency and the value of life? Just a suggestion.

The director is refusing to release the name of the employee. But we should just take her word that there is someone on unpaid leave and the pound is taking this seriously, I guess.

Meanwhile Ms. Mulvihill grieves for the loss of her family member and gave the local NBC affiliate a message for her beloved pet:

“I love you Rhonda and you are perfect in every way.”

We have tragically seen callous pound workers fail to protect the lost pets in their care and kill them instead of returning them to their owners countless times. Often, they blame the owners for failing to microchip their pets. Except when they kill chipped pets like Rhonda, in which case – uh, lie.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Weekend Jade

Jade is halfway through her mandatory jail term, aka post-spay recovery period.

Jade is halfway through her mandatory jail term, aka post-spay recovery period.

Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments.

black cat dance

Treats on the Internets

The city of Jackson, MS has cleared its ACOs of any wrongdoing after they were seen riding around in the back of a pick up truck, shooting pets to death.  The money quote:

Animal Control officers are special individuals who must have a genuine concern for the animals they encounter and care for, on a daily basis. It is not the intent or desire of animal control officers to impose lethal force upon any creature.

This is totally consistent with hunting pets, apparently.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Every pet owner should know what to do if AC comes knocking, especially if you live in an area where thieves posing as ACOs are trying to take your pets.  (Thanks Valerie.)

Researchers in TX have been testing shelter dogs for zoonotic diseases, including chagas, which is on the rise among dogs in the state.  (Thanks Clarice.)

In a recent study of 52 pet foods, testing revealed only 31 were labeled correctly “and 1 contained a non-specific meat ingredient that could not be verified.”

National Geographic looks at the problem of miniature pigs, sold as pets, who turn out to be SONOTMINIATURE.

If this headline doesn’t depress you, please send me a generous sampling of your meds.

Hero animals of all shapes and sizes.

Snake Coffin could be an excellent band name.

Helmetta Pound Mired in Failure, Director Appears Oblivious

After receiving a number of complaints regarding the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter in NJ, the Middlesex County Health Department inspected the pound on September 26 and September 30.  The South Brunswick Post reports that the first inspection report indicated multiple problems including the importation of dogs from the south without proper health certificates, housing healthy cats in the isolation area with sick cats, failure to record identification numbers on dog and cat records, failure to record parvo test results and cages not being cleaned with appropriate frequency.

Also on September 26, a letter from the Director of the Office of Health Services for the Middlesex Department of Public Safety and Health to the Helmetta pound advised that a cat was adopted out and subsequently diagnosed with panleukopenia.  The letter indicated “that all felines adopted within the next 10 calendar days must be seen by a veterinarian and cleared for adoption prior to finalizing of said adoption.”

This lead to conflicting reports of whether the Helmetta pound was closed for adoptions or not.  Pound director Michal Cielesz further muddied the waters by making what appear to be wildly contradictory statements to the South Brunswick Post:

“We are doing our due diligence to make sure we do the right thing,” she said.
[...]
Ms. Cielesz said that there were two or three cats in the adoption room with “upper respiratory infections coming on.”

We’re doing the right thing but there are sick cats in the adoption room with healthy cats?

“The cats were checked in the morning and we had a vet here,” she said. “We were examining the kittens. The kittens were bright, alert, and responsive. We came back a half a hour later and (one had) passed away. I don’t know what happened and there was a veterinarian here.”

Bright, alert and responsive to dead in 30 minutes or less?  How does this not raise an All Hands on Deck emergency within a shelter housing 150 cats?

But this isn’t the Helmetta pound’s first rodeo.  The NJ SPCA has also issued written warnings to the facility and will conduct unannounced follow up inspections to verify compliance.  And the New Jersey State Humane Police sent a letter to the Helmetta Borough Administrator last month regarding an investigation conducted in August.  The issues detailed in that letter include “failure to supply a living animal necessary care” for 3 sick kittens and administering improper doses of medicine to animals.

The Helmetta pound kills feral cats as a matter of policy.  And not only are they importing animals from the south, they reportedly shipped a group of cats to a shelter in SC.  Gee, last I checked, we have plenty of shelter cats already in SC.  And since most of them are going to the landfill, there is no way we should be importing more from NJ.  I don’t know what brain trust was behind that brilliant plan but hopefully they’ll go back to their day jobs soon.

In the meantime, the Helmetta pound director dismisses critics because haters gonna hate:

“It’s a personal campaign,” Ms. Cielesz said. “It’s not about the animals. I don’t think this (controversy) benefits the animals.”

Well it doesn’t “benefit the animals” in the same way that housing sick cats with healthy ones does or setting up shop as an animal importer/exporter when you can’t manage to get vet care for sick kittens or even notice when one is just minutes away from death.  But yeah, it’s prolly a personal thing.  Whaddaya gonna do?

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

411 Empty Cages at the Memphis Pound Today but Dog #271273 Can’t Be Allowed to Live in One of Them

Memphis taxpayers were bled for $7.2 million to build a new pound containing 555 cages.  The city has never filled them.  Today, there are only 144 cats and dogs listed on PetHarbor as being housed at the Memphis pound:

Screengrab from PetHarbor, October 8, 2014.

Screengrab from PetHarbor, October 8, 2014.

This means that even if every single animal is in his own cage at MAS right now (which is probably not the case since litters are commonly housed together with their mothers), there are 411 empty cages.  But MAS keeps killing healthy, friendly pets anyway.

This email exchange between a pound supervisor and rescuer Jody Fisher regarding a young dog she was networking will leave you cold:

On Oct 7, 2014, <DeKeishia.Tunstall@memphistn.gov> wrote:

Jody:

The animal referenced above has a note in the system stating that you are networking this pet.
Please be advised that this pet must be adopted no later than close of business today (6:45pm).
To date, no one has stepped forward.

Thanks,
De Keishia

___________________

On Tue, Oct 7, 2014, Jody Fisher wrote:

Thank you for your email. I am still networking her. Why does she only have til end of business today?
Jody

_____________________

From: Jody Fisher
Date: Wed, Oct 8, 2014
Subject: Re: A271273 – 1 Year Old Female Black Lab
To: <DeKeishia.Tunstall@memphistn.gov>

Please advise status of this dog. I did not receive an answer to my question- what is the answer?
Thank you
Jody

_____________________

From: <DeKeishia.Tunstall@memphistn.gov>
Date: October 8, 2014
To: Jody Fisher
Subject: RE: A271273 – 1 Year Old Female Black Lab

Jody:

This pet has been here since 9/18/14.
We are not a long-term holding facility.

De Keishia

_____________________

From: Jody Fisher
Date: Wed, Oct 8, 2014
Subject: Re: A271273 – 1 Year Old Female Black Lab
To: <DeKeishia.Tunstall@memphistn.gov>

I understand that MAS is not designed to be a permanent home for pets but so long as there is a cage available, can I not be allowed some additional time to network this dog?
Thank you
Jody

________________________

From: <DeKeishia.Tunstall@memphistn.gov>
Date: October 8, 2014
To: Jody Fisher
Subject: RE: A271273 – 1 Year Old Female Black Lab

Jody:

I cannot grant any additional time. The pet has been here for 3 weeks.

De Keishia

____________________________

From: Jody Fisher
Date: Wed, Oct 8, 2014
Subject: Re: A271273 – 1 Year Old Female Black Lab
To: <DeKeishia.Tunstall@memphistn.gov>

I understand she has been there for 3 weeks but since her cage is not needed for another animal, I am asking for additional time to try to save her life.
Jody

____________________________

From: <DeKeishia.Tunstall@memphistn.gov>
Date: October 8, 2014
To: Jody Fisher
Subject: RE: A271273 – 1 Year Old Female Black Lab

Jody:

I’m sorry, but I am unable to grant any additional time.

De Keishia

Gee, ya don’t sound sorry.

But remember folks, don’t criticize, nobody WANTS to kill animals, we’re all on the same team and fuck all.

Dog #271273 at the Memphis pound, as photographed by Memphis Pets Alive.

Dog #271273 at the Memphis pound, as photographed by Memphis Pets Alive.

#SalvemosaExcalibur

Ebola is a type of hemorrhagic fever.  It’s not supposed to cause uninfected politicians to lose their minds and yet dot dot dot

Politics inevitably inserts itself into anything insertable and ebola hysteria is no exception.  Here in SC, one of our own pols is calling for the immediate execution of patients infected with ebola.  Not because science tells us this is indicated, but because – well, I’m not 100% clear on the reasoning there.

Last night, news from Spain emerged that the country’s sole patient infected with ebola – a nurse who is receiving treatment at a hospital and whose husband has been quarantined for observation – owns a dog named Excalibur.  And authorities want to kill Excalibur because he lived with someone who tested positive for the virus.

The NY Times reports:

The husband has also led calls for the Madrid health authorities not to euthanize the couple’s dog, Excalibur, who was left at their home. The authorities said in a statement on Tuesday that they had ordered that the dog be put down as a precautionary measure, but there has been no confirmation that the order was carried out. A social media campaign has sprung up to spare Excalibur until it can be proved he has Ebola. One of the top hashtags on Twitter worldwide on Wednesday morning was #SalvemosaExcalibur.

excalibur

Excalibur, as pictured on Facebook.

As far as I know, there is no available science on the subject of whether a dog who has lived with a person infected with ebola can cause anyone else to get sick with the virus.  Given that, there appears to be no scientific basis for killing Excalibur “as a precautionary measure”.  In fact the opposite is true:  Quarantining and testing Excalibur’s blood and saliva could help to answer a question where scientists currently have penciled in a question mark – Can dogs spread ebola to humans?

Quarantining dogs is commonplace and relatively easy to do in developed countries such as Spain.  The quarantine would serve as the precautionary measure authorities say they desire.  The subsequent testing would provide vital information for health care professionals and authorities concerned with managing ebola outbreaks.

All of this is in addition to the fact that Excalibur is a sentient being with a right to live.  Full stop.

In addition to the Twitter campaign to save Excalibur, an online petition has garnered 300,000 signatures in 24 hours and dozens of protesters have gathered outside Excalibur’s home, in an effort to protect his right to live.

The message is clear:  Even in the face of ebola hysteria, the so-called irresponsible public, whom shelter directors blame for the systematic killing they do, does not want pets needlessly killed.  The public believes that dogs have a right to live and considers them family.  And they will make their voices heard.  Shelter directors killing pets for convenience and blaming the public for your failure to do your jobs, take heed.  Politicians providing cover for the killing, ditto.  Your power to act in defiance of the will of the people is diminishing every day.

Suffering Dog Left for Dead by AL Pound Staff Survives Despite Their Lameness

The Associated Press has picked up a “feel good” story which some of you may have seen regarding a dog in the Ozark City pound in Alabama who was injected with drugs designed to kill him but who survived.  It’s a story that pops up in the news somewhat regularly – pets who have been either injected or gassed for convenience at the pound but do not die.  Sometimes they are re-killed, sometimes the staff decides to do their jobs and find placement for the animals.  In the current Alabama case, it’s the latter and the dog is now living in a foster home, reportedly doing well.

Where the AP dropped the ball in its reporting:

The dog was owner surrendered to the Ozark City pound on August 19 after having been hit by a car.  His leg was broken and he was bleeding from various cuts.  The pound left him to suffer until September 10.  On that day, the contracted vet, whose identity is being kept hidden by the city, showed up to kill all the animals the pound didn’t want to deal with anymore.  This dog was one of them.  He was killed in a kennel, likely in view of other animals, and left on the concrete because it was late afternoon and apparently no one felt like bagging all the bodies before quitting time.  He was walking around the pen when workers showed up the next morning.

The AP describes him as a “dog that nobody wanted” but clearly he was wanted, as he was pulled by a rescue group and is now living in a foster home.  The Ozark City pound attempted to have him killed for convenience – theirs, after leaving him to suffer with a broken leg and various injuries for 3 weeks.  The contracted vet’s name should be a matter of public record since taxpayers are presumably footing the bill for this person’s convenience killing services.

I’m glad this dog survived, that his broken leg is now in a cast, and that he is living in a home.  I’m considerably less pleased with the AP for painting such a rosy picture of the entire horrifying ordeal.  And needless to say, I’m completely disgusted with the city of Ozark for failing to shelter animals in need and trying to hide the name of its contracted pet killer from the media.

This feel good story does not feel so good to me.  And I wasn’t the one dragging a broken leg around for weeks only to get injected with poison by the people charged with protecting me.

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