120 Animals Seized in Hoke Co, ASPCA Swoops In

A veterinarian in Hoke Co, NC filed a report with police after euthanizing a horse, reportedly for malnutrition.  The sheriff’s office obtained a warrant for the property, where a rescuer had been housing animals saved from pet killing facilities, and found approximately 120 animals, including horses, dogs, cats, goats and birds:

Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said this is one of the worst cases he has seen in his 14 years as sheriff.

“It was sad to see those animals. It’s like they were happy to see us, the minute we opened the barn to let the horses out, they ran out and wanted to eat on the grass.”

Happy horses in a barn. Hmm. I am not a horse owner but that doesn’t sound particularly damning to me. I am guessing that most horses are probably happy to be let out of their shelter and like to run out and chomp-chomp on the grass. So how bad off were these 120 animals?

“There is no way she could not have seen what we saw. No way she couldn’t have known these animals were suffering and dying,” Peterkin said.
[…]
“Had we not gotten notification when we did, we would have a lot of dead animals.”

Wow. So these animals were literally on the brink of death. Gasping their last. Clinging to life. Skin stretched over their bones, presumably.

wncn hoke co dogs

via WNCN

The dogs look ok to me, although a few are a wee bit chubby. But in keeping with the drama, the sheriff called in the ASPCA to take all the animals away. And to rag on the owner some more:

“I would say that she didn’t go to these shelters to intentionally bring them here and then intentionally neglect them. The intent to neglect them came in when she failed to provide the care that she knows that they needed,” said Kathryn Destreza, director of investigations with the ASPCA. “I think, possibly, she thought she was doing the right thing, but I have to believe that the reality is at some point she knows she’s not doing the right thing by these animals and that’s inexcusable.”

She has to believe that at some point there was wrongdoing. She just has to.  Because otherwise that would mean there was no wrongdoing.  And they just took someone’s animals away for no reason.  Which would be – erm, inexcusable.

And:

When deputies searched the property last week, Destreza said, they found animals had no food, no water and had received no veterinary care.

“To me, that’s a tragedy,” she said. “They should have been better off then they had been.”

They apparently had food and water. Let’s not pretend that the tubbos were starving to death. As for vet care, I can’t say. I don’t even see an elbow callous or long toenails, let alone anything that would be described as a tragedy.  Now I will grant you 120 animals is an awful lot for one person to take care of, IF that was the case here, which I don’t know.  Maybe she needed some help?  Maybe placing some of the animals would have gotten her down to a number she was better able to care for?  Maybe the ASPCA could provide some education on how to find permanent homes for pets so she doesn’t get overwhelmed in future?  I guess that all sounds like work.  And not at all sexy.  Better to yell tragedy and worst I’ve ever seen and imminent mass death and get those photos for the fundraising emails and on to the next.

The rescuer has been charged with one felony count of animal cruelty and is due in court next on August 10.  She has been ordered by the court to have no contact with the animals while the ASPCA finishes hauling them off.

I wish the Hoke Co pound would start doing its job and actually sheltering animals instead of killing them.  Imagine how the community could work together to save animals if there was a true shelter in place.  Rescuers could partner with the shelter instead of operating in crisis management mode year round.  Law enforcement could shift their focus to other priorities, knowing the county’s lost and stray pets were safe.  And the ASPCA could go home and stay there.

(Thanks Lisa.)

The Worst Deja Vu Ever

tilly

Tilly, as shown on the WDAM website.

This again.

A man thought to be a potential adopter visited the Brookhaven Animal Rescue League in Mississippi on Friday, asked to see the cats, then allegedly beat one to a pulp before leaving. The guy was unsupervised as all the staff and vols at the private shelter were chasing a loose dog. The three year old cat, called Tilly, was found in an open cage, battered and bloody, clinging to life. She died later at a vet’s office.

The area where Tilly was found is described as a colony room so it sounds as if she was tortured in view of other cats. There was blood spatter on the walls and a “plastic stick” was in pieces. The man apparently beat Tilly until his weapon fell apart then stomped on her.

Jody Cothron has been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with the case. In Mississippi, nearly all animal cruelty offenses are misdemeanors. Police have obtained surveillance video from the shelter.

I totally get that there was an emergency at the shelter because a dog had gotten loose. I get that everyone was looking out for the dog’s well being by chasing him around and leaving the guy in the cat colony room unsupervised. But come on people, you need to watch your pets and not leave them alone with strangers.

If a guy walks into a daycare and says he’s interested in looking around because he might want to enroll his kid, you don’t show him into the infant room and leave him alone – even if there’s an emergency. Emergencies happen. They need to be handled in such a way that no one’s safety is compromised.

If it was absolutely an all-hands-on-deck situation that required everyone in the place to help, the first thing that needed to happen was for someone to quickly explain to the visitor that he would need to wait in his car until the dog was captured and then to make sure the guy was out of there. Because apparently unsupervised adopters beating shelter pets is a thing now. FFS.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Rowan Co ACO on Paid Leave During State Investigation

The American Veterinary Medical Association states that cats should be microchipped “by a licensed veterinarian or under supervision of a licensed veterinarian” via subcutaneous injection in the area between the shoulder blades.  I don’t know whether the terrible Rowan Co pound in NC follows the recommendations of the AVMA regarding microchipping but since the procedure is pretty straightforward, any significant deviation being part of the protocol seems highly unlikely.  And yet, somehow a cat named Cooper had his jaw broken reportedly during the injection of a microchip at the Rowan Co pound on Tuesday. Cooper is being fostered by Debbie Orbison:

Orbison said Cooper was healthy when shelter staff brought the cat into a closed-to-the-public area of the shelter. Cooper was bleeding from the mouth after being microchipped, Orbison said.

“I can’t say what happened, but when he went back to get microchipped he was fine,” she said. “He came back with a fractured jaw.”

cooper

Cooper, as pictured on Facebook.

A state inspector is investigating the incident and Rowan Co has placed an ACO on paid leave during the investigation. The county has refused to name the ACO.

Cooper has already undergone one surgery on his jaw and will require additional surgeries.

While we wait for the state to conclude its investigation, it’s hard not to imagine what sort of obscene cruelty might have resulted in this cat’s jaw being fractured in two places.  It puts me in mind of former Memphis pound employee Frank Lightfoot who was observed by an undercover police officer stepping on a cat with both feet after he failed to kill the cat via injection.  And of the Chesterfield Co, SC pound workers who reportedly beat cats in the head with pipes “to knock them out.”

And I can’t help but wonder what type of an environment exists at the Rowan Co pound that someone capable of this cruelty would be employed.  What else has happened on this director’s watch?  I mean, besides mandatory cat killing, dragging an injured dog on a chokepole then throwing him in the gas chamber, and deeming most animals “unadoptable” as an excuse for killing them.  What else has gone on in that closed-to-the-public area of the shelter?

But of course of course OF COURSE we must remember that these folks wouldn’t work there if they didn’t love animals and it’s a hard job and if only the public would spay and neuter, shelter cats wouldn’t have to get their jaws broken during a routine injection under the skin.  Dang that irresponsible public!

(Thanks Lisa for the links.)

Former Nevada Pound Director Charged with Cruelty

There have been some developments in the case of the former head of Boulder City AC in Nevada. Readers might remember Mary Jo Frazier as the lady organism accused of killing healthy/treatable animals “for fun”, who was the subject of a police investigation resulting in a recommendation of criminal charges but whose boss decided to sweep the whole thing under the rug and allow her to retire.  Frazier reportedly fled the state.

Frazier’s then-boss, police chief Bill Conger, has also hit the highway:

Conger resigned in January after his staff went to human resources to complain that Frazier’s behavior had been reported to him a full year before taking in action, and resulted in an abrupt departure of its police chief.

A Clark Co grand jury indicted Frazier yesterday on two felony counts of animal cruelty and a warrant has been issued for her arrest. One charge relates to Frazier’s alleged refusal to provide care for a badly injured pitbull puppy because, as a whistleblower told police, “we don’t spend money on pit bulls and because I’m just going to stick her anyway.” The second charge relates to Frazier’s alleged spite-killing of her ex-husband’s dachshund, Oscar.

Thanks, once again, to the irresponsible public for bringing all the irresponsible to their elected officials and shoving it in their faces until they did their jobs:

Public outcry turned into passionate rallies and protests with several victims in attendance.

And several more under mountains of trash at the landfill.

“This is somebody who is being paid to take care of these animals who was killing these animals,” said Nevada State Senator Mark Manendo, who helped lead the fight for the city to submit the case to the Clark County District Attorney for consideration.

Gee, what a thing.

“We had people even saying listen ‘we’d come into be shelters with food and blankets and we were going to walk the animals and there were no animals there,'” Manendo said.

Sooooo everyone was under the assumption the place had a 100% adoption rate and those adoptions happened instantaneously upon impound? No one noticed the dumpster overflowing with pets and attempted to reconcile that with this empty pound? I have to think that someone, probably many someones, did notice. But there was a powerful enabler in the police chief and an environment of hostility and violence. Frazier wielded her absolute power in the cruelest possible way, betraying the animals she was being paid to protect from harm.

I’m glad Frazier is finally being charged. I wish it was more. And I hope the former police chief is next.

(Thanks Clarice.)

I Deleted Almost All the Profanity From This Post and It Took Me an Hour

A now former ACO with Indianapolis AC & C allegedly stole ketamine, a drug which immobilizes animals but still allows them to feel pain, from her job and used it on puppies at her house.  Specifically, she would allegedly inject a puppy with ketamine, place him on her washing machine, tape his mouth shut so he couldn’t defend himself, then cut up his ears.  One of these puppies reportedly threw up after having his first ear cut up and because his mouth was taped shut, choked to death on his vomit.  She allegedly tried to hide the evidence:

Ashley Chastain, a commander with animal control at the time, then buried the body of the 2-month-old puppy in her backyard, the affidavit says.

Someone who knows Chastain apparently went to the police, providing them with photos of bloodied puppies on the uh, washing machine surgical suite. He also gave police a bag of ears.

Well fuck. After all the horrifying things I’ve had to write on this blog now I’ve got to add bag of ears to the list.

Chastain has been charged by Marion Co with three counts of torturing an animal. News of her arrest spread on social media and one heartbroken man says he recognized her as the ACO who stole his puppy.

But let’s not be part of the problem by complaining with our keyboards.  Remember, it’s a hard job and nobody wants to kill animals and they’re doing the best they can and instead of hating you should donate some money so the shelter can buy more ketamine.  I hear they’re running low.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Discussion: Animal Cruelty or Shelter Failure?

There is an interesting case in VA involving a dog owner charged and convicted of animal cruelty over his decision to euthanize his ailing dog.  He is appealing the conviction.  Please read the article and share your thoughts.  Some questions to help generate discussion:

Did the animal shelter staff adequately serve this member of their community who had no experience with end of life decisions for his dog?

How could the ACO determine how many seizures Buxton had and what, if any, amount of suffering he experienced during the 4 day period cited when no one outside the family had any contact with the dog?

Does an owner who sets up a chair in the backyard to stay with her terminally ill pet while he paces all night sound like someone AC should charge with cruelty?

Besides telling the owner he needed to be a county resident in order to have his dog euthanized at the pound and possibly telling him to take the dog to a vet, what else should shelter staff have done?

For those of you experienced with end of life decisions for your pets, have you encountered grey areas which caused you to struggle with the decisions?  Did you ever consider during these times that your local AC might charge you with cruelty?

(Thanks Lisa and Michele for the link.)

CA Rescuer Charged with Cruelty, Pound Manager Not Charged with Irony

buell case dog

One of the dogs seized in the felony cruelty case against Buell, as shown on the NBC Los Angeles website.

In April 2015, Apple Valley Animal Services seized 13 starving dogs from rescuer Sherre Kay Buell.  One dog was dead in a trash can on the property, one died on the way to the vet, and two had to be euthanized due to their poor condition.  Buell has been charged with 12 counts of felony animal cruelty in Apple Valley and 3 counts in Hesperia (where she reportedly used to live).  A preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 3.

Starving dogs is unacceptable.  Full stop.  There is video at the link of a little girl trying to comfort a severely emaciated dog who is too weak to stand.  It’s heartbreaking.

Killing pets, which is what they do at Apple Valley Animal Services, is also unacceptable.  And there is no hope of recovery from death.  Which puts the manager’s comments on the case in rather a – what’s the word – stupid light:

“I think that’s one of the most difficult things for any of us in the animal welfare position. Why do people hurt animals?” asked Gina Whiteside, the manager at the Town of Apple Valley Animal Services.

Yes please killsplain to us why people hurt animals while I browse through page after page of all the animals killed at your facility every month.

“There needs to be some animal action at the state level that regulates animal rescuing,” Whiteside said.
While shelters are regulated by law to humanely care and provide for the animals they take in, the same rules are not in place for rescue groups or the people who foster, explained Whiteside.

The Real Problem. Identified.

So we want to hold rescuers to the same legal standards as shelters that hide and kill animals. Because that would be better, somehow.

Also:

Whiteside acknowledged animal cruelty issues extend beyond the cases against any one individual, calling for progress to be made in laws and procedures dealing with general animal services.
“In my opinion, anything short of changing the ‘status quo’ when it comes to ‘saving animals lives’ does not signal that we (shelters, rescues, the community) want better outcomes for animals in need of our services (at every level),” she wrote.

*Mother of All Coffee Spews*

Being starved and alive with the hope that someone might save you is actually a better outcome than the “services” offered in Apple Valley’s kill room.  The status quo at far too many so-called shelters like Apple Valley is convenience killing. Any interest in changing that?

The Apple Valley Municipal Animal Shelter dealt with its own controversy this summer after Richard Marx and other celebrities on social media criticized the shelter for euthanizing four puppies, which officials had first unsuccessfully tried to house in foster homes. Whiteside said the criticisms, however, were the result of misinformation and distorted facts.

Probably the case for the many, many, really a lot many animals killed at Apple Valley.  Just a bunch of hooey.  If only we had harsher laws for rescuers!

(Thanks Clarice.)

Ontario Police Oops-Torture Pet, Meant to Torture Wild Animal

Merrick, as pictured on the CTV News website.

Merrick, as pictured on the CTV News website.

Residents in an Ontario neighborhood contacted police about a coyote roaming the area Monday night.  Ontario police sent a car in response and an animal approached the car:

“It just kept hanging around and it wasn’t afraid of the vehicle at all, of anything. It was just lurking around looking at the vehicle,” resident Kelly O’Neill told CTV Barrie on Tuesday. “It wasn’t afraid at all.”

Instead of capturing the animal, O’Neill said the police cruiser ran over it several times. One of the officers then got out of the car and shot it.

On Wednesday morning, OPP confirmed the animal was a dog, not a coyote.

Oops. I guess that’s why she wasn’t afraid. The 21 year old dog, called Merrick, was blind, deaf and suffered from dementia according to the owner. After a windstorm blew open a gate in Merrick’s yard, she wandered out. When she saw the police cruiser, she apparently ambled toward it before she was violently tortured to death.

The killing was caught on a cellphone video which was spread on social media. It caused a public outcry which resulted in the police having to admit that the animal was a pet dog, not a coyote.

But: EXCUSES FOR THE EXCUSE GOD.

The police commander wants to remind everyone that Merrick looked like a coyote. And as far as the standard police response to a report of a roaming coyote being Brutalize First, ID Later, that’s still fly:

The OPP “remain committed to destruction of wildlife that is an imminent threat to public safety,” the statement said.

To be clear, the “destruction” the Ontario police is committed to involves slow and deliberate cruelty to animals. Which sounds so crimey. Especially when it’s based on what the victim looks like. In the dark. From inside the car.

The historically awful Ontario SPCA has received requests from the public to investigate but has declined to lift a finger.  Police will investigate themselves in the matter.

(Thanks Jan for the link.)

Dog Dies After Being Left in Hot Van by ACOs in PA

On September 1, ACOs employed by Upper Darby Township in Delaware Co, PA delivered two dogs and one cat to the Chester County SPCA.  All three pets were suffering from symptoms related to excessive heat after riding in the back of the AC van which has no air conditioning or ventilation.  The temperature that day was 94 degrees.  Two of the animals were treated and saved.  The dog who had been in the van the longest, about two hours, was too far gone to respond to treatment.  Chester Co SPCA executive director Adam Lamb issued a press release regarding the incident:

The dog, later named “Baby Blue” by the staff because he was a blue pit bull, was “… listless, his pupils were unresponsive to light, he was panting for air, and he was bleeding from his rectum.”

Lamb said the dog was immediately brought into the shelter and was examined by medical staff, which started treatment for what was likely heat stroke. The dog’s temperature was 107 degrees Fahrenheit before the thermometer indicated that the rising temperature was too high to read.

Baby Blue had been left in the hot van without so much as an ounce of water, to suffer and die a horrible, entirely preventable death while the ACOs sat up front enjoying the air conditioning. An assistant DA with Chester Co is reviewing the case for possible cruelty charges:

The manner in which the dog was transported to the shelter facility was cruel and inhumane, Lamb said.

“Everyone must be held to the same standards with respect to the humane treatment of animals, including those providing animal control services,” said Lamb.
[…]
As a result of the incident, Chester County SPCA officials said they will stop accepting stray animals from Upper Darby Township until the shelter has inspected and approved of the vehicles being used to transport animals to their facility.

Thomas Judge Jr., the township’s chief administrative officer, concedes that the pets were stuck in the back of the hot van but is not willing to make the giant leap to associating Baby Blue’s death with heatstroke. And he’s got reasons!

The animal had problems when we picked it up. It was tied to a post in the area of St. Laurence. We don’t know who it belongs to.
[…]
And the two other animals in the van survived.

Judge noted the township has been operating with only one van because one of the two animal transport vans was out of service. A new van with air conditioning with individual cages in the back is on order.
[…]
There is no law that says we have to have air conditioning in the back of the van.

Everyone knows if you find a dog tied to a post, he’s probably going to fall over dead within a couple of hours regardless of whether you leave him in an unventilated metal box in the summer heat. It’s just like, a thing that happens. And how about a little credit for not killing the other two?  Plus who is this mysterious owner? I mean, that is also very relevant. Anyway one van is out of service and another one’s on order so *shrug*. And there isn’t any law that specifies our ACOs have to share their air conditioning with animals or even provide them with a survivable environment for two hours. Is there? But hey, we’re not monsters:

We are going to drill holes in the back of the van to have air-conditioning in the back.

They’re going to make air holes for the pets. Because they killed one.  Maybe I’m naive but I thought this was a lesson we all learned when we were kids catching fireflies in jars.  (My dad always poked holes in the metal lids for my caterpillars and other temporary pets.)  Or if you didn’t learn it then, I would have thought maybe ANY OTHER TIME BEFORE YOU GOT CERTIFIED AS AN ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER.  Apparently an air hole law is needed in PA.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Maine ACO Receives Summons for Animal Cruelty, Reacts with Mass Slaughter

The town of Orrington, Maine has one ACO on the payroll.  Until September 10, that ACO was Carla Damon, who was reportedly on the job for many years.  She resigned in lieu of being voted out by the town’s selectmen after receiving a summons for animal cruelty.

Responding to a complaint about the conditions of Damon’s herd of ten goats, an animal welfare agent with the state gave her a list of items requiring immediate attention on September 3.  One of the items was a requirement to have a vet examine the herd within five days.  Since one of those five days was a holiday and since there is a shortage of vets in the area according to Damon, she thought it was unlikely she’d be able to arrange a visit.

Damon frequently volunteered at events to educate the public about small livestock husbandry.  Presumably one of the responsibilities she explained to people was the importance of having an established relationship with a vet, which is often helpful when emergencies arise which require immediate veterinary care.  I don’t know if Damon had a relationship with a vet for her pets but it doesn’t sound like it.

At issue with the animal welfare agent were some housing deficiencies and the care of three particular goats:

“There was a long list of things that needed to be corrected, some structural things and some complaints about lack of care and lack of feeding because I had two that were a little on the thin side, but they were older goats that had been bred every year,” Damon said in a telephone interview.

One goat was 16 years old and the other 13, she said. Another goat had a slight nasal discharge that could have been treated with an antibiotic.

Could have but wasn’t, apparently.  The other seven goats were described by Damon as “fat, healthy and sassy.”

So maybe no regular vet and maybe it might be hard to get one over a holiday weekend so – what to do?  Instead of getting on the phone and trying to get a vet to see the goats, perhaps explaining that she’s the town ACO and would really appreciate being worked in on short notice as a professional courtesy, and/or asking the state inspector for an extension (“I couldn’t get a vet visit before the 8th but I have one scheduled for the 9th, can you work with me?”) or taking three seconds to think up any other reasonable thing, Damon came up with this plan:

“So I looked at the animal welfare person and said, ‘So, I do have the right — and correct me if I’m wrong — to destroy my own animals because if I destroy my animals, there is no longer a problem?’

The state inspector reportedly agreed that Damon had the right to kill the goats.

“So it was with a heavy heart that I chose to put down animals that I brought into this world because a lot of them, I helped deliver,” she said[.]

[…]

Damon said she would have preferred to have the goats processed for meat but she was unable to find an opening before late December.

[…]

Some of the goats were buried and others became coyote bait, she said.

Damon says she “sat down and bawled” after killing her pets.  Whom she cradled at birth.  Whom she would have liked to eat.  Whom she left to rot as coyote bait.

Regarding the town’s request for her resignation:

She said that she was asked to leave the post “because of things that went on in my own personal life regarding the goats. They do not feel it looks kosher for an animal control officer to be reported and to possibly be facing animal cruelty charges, regardless of the fact that they were my own personal animals.”

Uh, regardless?  I was thinking especially because.  The town’s enforcer of animal cruelty statutes thinks she should be above the law apparently.

“I feel that what I had to do to my own animals should not reflect upon how I treated other people’s animals in my line of work as far as being the animal control officer,” she said.

So I see on your resume that you have had your parental rights terminated for beating your kids but you believe you’d be a good fit for our daycare center?

The parting shot:

Now that she has lost her job, she might have to downsize her flock of 16 chickens, she said.

And by downsize, I assume she means rehoming to greener pastures something awful.

The last AC call that Damon appears to have responded to is a bizarre and tragic bite report involving a man who hanged a ten month old puppy after Damon left his home then called her back to come pick up the body.  The incident was later reported to the sheriff by another resident of the home, not Damon.  I can’t help but wonder what counsel she offered in that case.

Damon is scheduled to appear in court on October 15 on the animal cruelty summons (the same date the puppy hanger is set to appear).  She has not been charged for killing her pets.  The town of Orrington is currently looking for a new ACO and having police officers perform those duties in the interim.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

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