More Tragic Cases of Veterinary “Care” at the Memphis Pound

Puppy ID #275425 at the Memphis pound, as photographed by Memphis Pets Alive.

Puppy ID #275425 at the Memphis pound, as photographed by Memphis Pets Alive.

Puppy ID #275425 was impounded as a stray by MAS on February 27, 2015. Her age was estimated as 8 weeks and she weighed just 7 pounds. Her intake condition was listed as “poor”. Records indicate she was unable to bear full weight on her right rear leg due to a dislocated hip. There was no x-ray taken at the “state of the art clinic” as notes indicate “system currently unavailable”. On March 5, it was noted that she had soft stool and that “overfeeding” must be ruled out as the cause. Records indicate she was being fed just 1/2 cup of food per day. A puppy this age and size would need to be fed this amount 3 – 4 times a day.  Feeding just 1/2 cup per day would presumably be prosecutable under local cruelty statutes.

A rescue group offered to take the puppy but MAS refused to release her intact.  Because policy, MSN, whatever.  On March 7, despite her young age, poor condition, dislocated hip and starvation diet, MAS spayed the puppy. She died shortly after the procedure.

***

Dog ID #275494 at the Memphis pound, as photographed by Memphis Pets Alive.

Dog ID #275494 at the Memphis pound, as photographed by Memphis Pets Alive.

An 8 year old dog, ID #275494, was impounded as a stray by MAS on March 2, 2015. The medical records indicate he was “emaciated” with a body condition score of 1/9 and had “deep degloving type wounds” to both front legs and “pyotraumatic dermatitis over rump”. The vet notes state that the dog needed “daily cleansing of wounds”. There are no notes to indicate the dog ever received this daily wound cleansing. There are no notes indicating the dog ever received any medication for pain. In fact, the note “monitor for pain” was entered in the vet notes on March 2, as if there was some doubt as to whether a dog whose front legs are flayed would experience pain.

Thankfully after 10 days at the pound, the dog was pulled by a rescue group.  I assume he finally got the care he needed immediately thereafter, thanks to the irresponsible public.

Taxpayers pay the head veterinarian at MAS $87,400 a year.  In case any vets out there are looking for a job where you don’t have to work too hard.

State Report: Lawton Pound Sucks but More Importantly, Facebook Sucks Worse

The Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners conducted an investigation into allegations of neglect and other wrongdoing at the Lawton pound at the request of the city manager.  The 464 page report starts out with a page titled “Conspiracy and Connection of Defendants”.  On one side of the chart featured on this page is a local spay-neuter clinic and on the other side is a Facebook page with various uh, conspirators named below each.  Yes, that says Facebook page.

The Facebook page is administered by a group called Lawton Citizens for Humane Treatment of Animals.  On that page, which I have not visited, people apparently post complaints regarding the mistreatment and killing of animals at the Lawton pound.  I know this because the board’s lead investigator has screencapped a ton of inflammatory posts from that page and included them in the report.  To show that some people act like dicks on Facebook, I guess.

If you are interested in reading a bunch of trash talk and the investigator’s wagging-finger-o-shame responses, knock yourself out.  The gist of the report, in my interpretation, is that oh sure, animals were being neglected and starved to death at the Lawton pound but you know, Facebook is terribleawfulsuperblech.  And the employees are doing the best they can.

Here are a few items I fished out of the muck and summarized that don’t have anything to do with Facebook:

Page 27, Item 69: Employees complained to the investigator that neither the kennel staff nor the ACOs had been properly trained; kennel staff refused to do their jobs and refused to follow instructions from supervisors; male staff refused to wash bowls or do laundry because it’s “woman’s work”; sick and injured animals were left to suffer without veterinary care.

Page 28, Item 70 and 72:  If the rescue group trying to pull a pet was not liked by the employees, they would kill the animal in retaliation.

Page 28, Item 73:  A dog was placed in a kennel with a dog who was known to be a resource guarder so that workers wouldn’t have to clean an additional cage.  (This was reportedly not an uncommon practice.)  The resource guarder prevented the other dog from eating and the dog starved to death after 3 weeks.  One of the employees responsible for the dead dog’s feeding and daily care has since transferred to the Lawton police department.

Recommendations, Pages 39 – 40:

  • Rotate animal killing shifts among the entire staff so that each person gets a longer break between killing shifts.
  • Ban all the people who talk smack on Facebook.
  • Sharing information and photos from inside the facility should be “strictly prohibited”.
  • The city needs to re-evaluate the practice of allowing animals discovered to be pregnant during spay surgery to give birth.
  • Staff should be trained in areas such as basic animal care.
  • A fresh coat of paint!

The city manager says that by July 1, all the violations noted in the report will be brought into compliance.  I would note that one of those violations was starving a dog to death.  But yeah, let’s silence the critics, start killing unborn puppies and kittens, slop some paint on the place and call it good.  The Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners must be so proud.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Case Update: Former Pound Director Charged with Felony Cruelty

Pete Brock, the recently fired director of the Martin Co pound in NC, has been arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty.  This is in addition to the charge he was already facing regarding alleged threats made to a former co-worker.  The new charge was filed as the result of an investigation stemming from a February 12 euthanasia inspection in which the facility received only one “acceptable” rating and twenty-two “not acceptable” ratings.

On that date, the state inspector found impound paperwork for nine cats.  Although the drug log only showed that six cats were killed, there were eight cat carcasses in the freezer and one cat was in distress in a trap.  ACO Beck explained that then-director Brock had injected the cat with a euthanasia drug before leaving for the day, telling him to check on the cat later.  If the cat wasn’t dead, ACO Beck was to re-kill the cat.  ACO Beck is not certified to kill animals and asked the inspector if she could kill the cat.  The inspector instructed ACO Beck to take the cat to a local vet clinic.  The vet at the clinic determined the cat had been injected with something that failed to kill him.  The cat was re-killed by the vet.  A technician called the state inspector to report on the cat and said that this wasn’t the first time this had happened.

The technician told the inspector that one week prior, ACO Beck had shown up at the clinic “in a panic” with a kitten who had been injected by Brock and left in the freezer overnight.  ACO Beck found the kitten alive in the freezer with icicles on her ear tips, whiskers and fur.  The tech described the kitten as “hypothermic, wobbly, showing signs of neurologic compromise, thin, hungry and had frostbite damage to the eartips.”  The kitten was saved and has been adopted.

Drug logs at the Martin Co pound were either incomplete or non-existent according to the inspector’s report.  Controlled substances were left unsecured, both inside the facility and in Brock’s county issued vehicle.  Brock was allegedly killing trapped cats immediately upon impound with improper documentation.  ACO Beck had never seen Brock sedate an animal prior to killing and trapped cats were being jabbed at random spots on their bodies through the spacing in the wire traps.  The inspector found no euthanasia manuals on the premises nor was there a stethoscope to verify death.

On March 11, the state permanently revoked Brock’s kill license.  That document details the two botched cat killing attempts as well as an incident with a dog at the pound.  The dog was slated to be killed on December 3, 2014 and ACO Beck reportedly witnessed Brock use the county’s tranquilizer rifle to shoot the dog with several darts filled with euthanasia solution.  The dog was in his cage while Brock repeatedly shot him in the shoulder.  After the dog collapsed, Brock went into the run and injected him with more drugs.

And in case anyone was thinking that these taxpayer-financed violent crimes against dogs and cats are indefensible, hold up:

The county manager says they recently started lethal injections on animals after receiving grant funds to do away with the gas chamber.

David Bone says, “This was a new program we started recently, so anytime you start something new, there can be challenges.”

Bone says the State Department of Agriculture came to the shelter for a routine inspection to check on how they put down animals.

He says, “Part of that process was when they found some discrepancy about the records.”

[…]

Bone says, “He’s had a good career, unfortunately these circumstances came up and so we’re dealing with them .”

Ah, circumstances.  Records discrepancy.  Challenges.  And for some additional context, I refer again to the state inspector’s February 12 report, in which she states she met with county manager David Bone to detail her findings:

During this session it was clear that Mr. Bone had not known of any of the improprieties and showed much shock and surprise.

*slow clap*  What a performance.

This is what enabling looks like.  This is why we have animal cruelty happening in our broken shelter system.  This is why re-training, moving to a new building, and juggling numbers do not solve any problems.  We need systemic reform, now.

As for Brock, he is reportedly out on a $500 bond and due in court on March 30.  Watch this space.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Genesee Co Pound and Director Named in Whistleblower Lawsuit

The long troubled Genesee Co AC pound in Flint, MI took in 5168 dogs and cats in 2013, killing 3246 of them – a kill rate of 63%.  (The 2014 reports haven’t been posted yet.)

In early January 2015, the county hired Paul Wallace as pound director and Karen Dombrowski as deputy director.  Ms. Dombrowski was fired by Wallace one month later.  This week, she filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the county, the pound and Wallace.

The lawsuit alleges that Ms. Dombrowski observed numerous instances of illegal activities while employed by Genesee Co, that she reported these to Wallace who dismissed her concerns, and that she went over his head to report them to county commissioners.  She was fired shortly thereafter.

Among the allegations in the lawsuit:

  • Animals were not receiving food, water, and clean cages on a daily basis.
  • An emaciated dog did not receive proper care at the pound.
  • A dog had been in a cage for seven months without adequate food, water or exercise.
  • A small dog experiencing pain was left unattended in a cage in a cold garage at the pound for several hours.  He was later euthanized.
  • A dog with a bone sticking out was left unattended for several hours.
  • A mother dog whelped a litter of puppies in a cage in the pound’s garage and no one at the pound provided any sort of box for the family.  As a result, the puppies repeatedly fell down the drain hole.
  • Wallace refused to allow an investigation into the finding of a deceased dog who appeared to have been used for fighting.
  • Dogs were seized from an owner’s home without due process.
  • A dog who had been “euthanized” by an ACO was found alive and suffering in the cooler the next day.
  • Expired drugs were used to kill a dog named Ana.  She was left in a cage.  When she woke up later, she began thrashing and injured herself.  The ACOs had already gone home when Ms. Dombrowski found her.
  • Dogs were killed via heartstick while fully conscious by untrained employees.
  • Feral cats were being killed in a gas chamber.

Ms. Dombrowski can be seen along with Ana, the dog she saved from the Genesee Co pound, in a video accompanying this news piece.  Additional reporting here.

(Thank you Clarice and Davyd for the links.)

Witness Tells of Botched Killings at Killeen Pound, Police Claim No Witnesses

Screengrab from the city of Killeen's website showing a dog at the pound.

Screengrab from the city of Killeen’s website showing a dog at the pound.

The pound in Killeen, TX has been no safe haven for lost and homeless animals:

In late January 2014, former manager Stacie Sherva was fired after allegations surfaced regarding poor sanitary conditions, injured animals left in cages without veterinary care or pain medication, and the adoption of sick dogs and cats.

Volunteers who have helped care for animals at the pound since that time are voicing serious concerns about current operations.  Volunteers report animals in cages filled with old urine and feces smeared on the walls.  Killeen Police Commander Lee Caufield, who oversees the pound, told the Killeen Daily Herald that he has “reinforced our cleaning policy with all employees”, they’re doing the best they can, blahcetera.

Jerry Hale volunteered at the Killeen pound last October while studying to be a licensed vet tech and told the paper he witnessed two botched dog killings:

“They were just jabbing (the needle) in any place they could,” he said. “They injected them in the stomach, and not intravenously, and they took hours to die.”
[…]

Hale said both dogs were still alive when they were placed in plastic bags and moved to a freezer to await incineration.

“I went outside and I threw up,” said Hale, who said he now works as a veterinary technician in Austin. “It was awful.”

Presumably those dogs either suffocated inside their garbage bags, froze to death in the freezer or were burned alive in the incinerator.  But despite the Daily Herald identifying Mr. Hale and speaking with him on the record, the police commander claims there were no witnesses:

 “In reviewing this issue, we were unable to locate anyone who had any information, other than inferring that someone had told them this happened,” he said. “Different replies had different timelines, and the story itself varied depending on the source.”

Right.  Like maybe the dogs suffered for three hours instead of four or they were bagged alive at one o’clock instead of two o’clock or *throws hands in the air* who knows?  It’s all too confusing so we’ll just have to forget about the whole thing.  But just to show he cares, the police commander did have a vet review the killing protocols and will have that vet “provide refresher training on procedures and protocols” which should set everyone’s mind at ease over the whole living dogs in trash bags thing.

Making matters worse for animals in Killeen, the city is slated to begin enforcing its new mandatory spay-neuter-microchip ordinance this month.  MSN has never eliminated or reduced the killing of shelter animals anywhere it’s been tried.  It’s a proven failure with some communities seeing an increase in killing after the passage of MSN.  This is why MSN is opposed by most every major animal welfare group in the country including the No Kill Advocacy Center, ASPCA, Alley Cat AlliesAVMA, and the American College of Theriogenologists.  There is simply no excuse at this point for implementing failed protocols while ignoring those which have been proven to be successful in saving shelter pets.  Killeen’s ordinance is particularly ignorant as it requires puppies and kittens to be spayed and neutered at the age of four months.

This is your public animal shelter, Killeen.  Demand better.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Video Shows Dog Being Abused at Hesperia Pound

A video posted online shows a whimpering dog being dragged by a leash around the neck at the Hesperia pound in CA:

The video was reportedly taken by a member of the public who was looking for her lost dog at the pound when she saw what appears to be one staff member dragging a dog behind her like a bag of trash while two other city employees have a chat.  But I guess they are all talked out now because they have nothing to say to the local news:

Victor Valley News reporters reached out to the Hesperia Animal Shelter staff, the operator simply said, “The department is aware of it and investigating it”. A message was also left for Cheryl Lewis, a shelter supervisor, who is not yet available for comment on this matter.

Gosh, I wonder how long before Ms. Lewis becomes available for comment:

A past shelter employee, who asked to remain anonymous for legal reasons has identified the alleged people in the video. Victor Valley News will withhold from publishing the name of the person seen dragging the dog until the investigation is complete.  The former employee alleged the two other’s who stood by in the video are Officer Osvaldo Montes and Supervisor Cheryl Lewis. The former employee, also shared that she was let go from her position only after speaking out about some of the happenings at the shelter.

Welp.

The Hesperia pound reportedly will only allow rescuers to save animals from being killed if they sign an agreement waiving their First Amendment rights with regards to speaking up about abuse at the pound.  That has kept many from going public with their concerns.  In spite of the threats against rescuers, 60 people showed up at an emergency city hall meeting last night.

When the city council was asked about the legality of violating the Constitutional rights of rescuers, the city attorney responded, “This might not be satisfactory” and said he’d look into the matter.

The meeting went four and a half hours, with most of the speakers advocating on behalf of the shelter pets:

Stephanie Lonsdale, an animal advocate that is known in the community for speaking up for the well-being of animals mentioned that the Hesperia Animal Shelter currently has a 70% kill rate. The 70% kill rate equals 7 out of 10 animals entering the shelter being euthanized rather than reunited or adopted. “The shelters do not utilize the free sites that are available to them to place these animals,” said Lonsdale.

Of course there’s one in every bunch:

“I believe it was misjudgment, not abuse. Ideally the dog would not be there or the dog would have been socialized,” said Lisa Wilson.

Yeah, the slutty whoredog was prolly drunk and asking for it and the owners are all the suck too.

Oh and the unwashed owners, who have since irresponsibly reclaimed their pet, showed up to speak for their dog:

Of all the speakers, the most touching, bringing tears to the speaker as well as, much of the crowd was the dog’s owner, Tracie Carpenter.

“I don’t have fancy things to tell you, like a lot of the people here. I am not going to use crazy big words or rescue terminology. I am here on behalf of Mia, who is my dog.  She is not a 60 pound dog that can not be carried, she is 47 pounds. She is not unsociable, she is a beautiful girl and very lovable, she was scared, the floor was slippery,” said Carpenter with her voice cracking due to her emotions on the treatment of her dog.

“She was in the shelter for just over 24 hours and I have no idea how the rest of her stay was there. If it is going to happen to a dog that belongs to somebody, that is loved, that has a good home, that has someone to care for them, it can also happen to the ones that have no one to speak for them, the dogs that are being euthanized, the ones that are being put to sleep, the ones you don’t hear anything about, the ones who do not have anyone to come here and stand before you gentlemen to explain that they do not have any behavioral issues, it was a good dog, she is a wonderful dog.”

Any questions as to where the haters can stick their “misjudgment”?

The city council says they love animals and will take the matter seriously and blah:

The city is encouraging anyone with concerns to email socialmedia@cityofhesperia.us.

Right.  Funnel all the concerns to one faceless email account where they can sit and rot.

OR, you can contact the Hesperia city council members directly and ask that a complete and transparent investigation be conducted and all applicable criminal charges filed:

Eric Schmidt, Mayor; email eschmidt@cityofhesperia.us
Bill Holland, Mayor Pro Tem; email bholland@cityofhesperia.us.
Russell “Russ” Blewett, Council Member; email rblewett@cityofhesperia.us.
Mike Leonard, Council Member; email mleonard@cityofhesperia.us.
Paul Russ, Council Member; email pruss@cityofhesperia.us.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Martin Co Pound Director Fired and Arrested

Martin Co Animal Control on Landfill Road in Williamston, NC is open from 8:30 – 10:00 am and 3:30 – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.  The website says, with a straight face:

The Martin County Animal encourages animal adoption. […] Please come by during the hours above to consider pets for adoption.

There do not appear to be any listings for lost or adoptable pets on the website.

In 2013, Martin Co AC took in close to 1400 dogs and cats, killing 67% of them. That year, Henley “Pete” Brock was promoted by the county from Lead ACO to Director of the pound.

On February 9, 2015, Brock allegedly attempted to kill a cat then placed the pet in a freezer. The animal was found alive the next morning. Three days later, Brock allegedly attempted to kill another cat then left the facility. An ACO found the pet still alive and brought the animal to a vet where he was re-killed. The first cat is reportedly still alive. The NC Department of Agriculture has suspended Brock’s kill license while it investigates.

An agriculture department spokesman said they have also notified other authorities of possible missing narcotics at the animal shelter. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office referred questions back to the county manager on whether they were also conducting an investigation.

Based upon Brock’s alleged failure to lock up and account for the controlled substances used to kill animals as well as the two botched attempts at cat killings, Martin Co fired Brock. Sounds like he took it well:

WITN News has learned that Brock was arrested today by deputies on a charge of communicating threats. The victim was a former co-worker of Brock’s, according to deputies.

Brock has bonded out of jail. I hope once the state’s (and possibly the county sheriff’s) investigation is complete, all applicable criminal charges related to Brock’s activities at the pound will be brought. Right now, he is not charged with any animal-related crimes.  And I’m not holding my breath while waiting.

Respectful letters demanding a complete and transparent investigation into all possible criminal activities at the Martin Co pound may be sent to:

Do better, Martin Co.  On everything.

(Thanks Clarice and Lisa for the links.)

Klein Animal Shelter in Jacksonville, TX: Priorities

Warning: Disturbing photos

clean truck

Screengrab from Facebook

This screengrab from Facebook appears to show a 2013 posting from Klein Animal Shelter director Angela Wallace who was charged with felony animal cruelty this year.  The caption indicates that her staff at the shelter “finished up early” and had time to wash her truck for her.  We now know from state documents and photographs that what the staff finished up early was neglecting and torturing animals.

Cats in a filthy cage at the Klein Animal Shelter.

Cats in a filthy cage at the Klein Animal Shelter.

State documents indicate that dead animals were left to pile up in cages at Klein because none of the employees wanted to risk soiling their vehicles by driving the remains to the dump for disposal.

Waste trough at Klein Animal Shelter.  A pair of animal legs is visible hanging out the back of a cage into the trough.

Waste trough at Klein Animal Shelter. A pair of animal legs is visible hanging out the back of a cage into the trough.

Animals suffering in filth. Dead animals piled up in cages. But the staff had time to wash the director’s truck.

The city of Jacksonville, along with several other cities, paid Klein for sheltering services for years. If you are a taxpayer in one of these cities, you paid for this.

(Thanks Stephen Pope for sending me these photos.)

State Photos and Documents from Klein Animal Shelter in Texas

WARNING: This post is hidden behind a jump for good reason. It contains text and photos of shelter pet abuse which will disturb you. Not may disturb – not some of you – this post will disturb all of you. None of the images are gratuitous and they all are from a file maintained by the Texas Department of State Health Services. All the images and documents are a matter of public record, available via FOIA request.  If you share the story online, please link to this post and not directly to the page below the fold so that readers can decide whether they want to proceed before they actually see any images.  There will be an additional warning on the page itself.  This material is not appropriate for children.

There is no shame in choosing not to look. If you feel unable to proceed, trust your judgment. We all need to take care of ourselves first so that we can continue to care for others.

Regular readers are familiar with the abuse allegations at the Klein Animal Shelter in Texas which I have covered here, here and here.  The text and photos from the Klein facility which I’m posting today are far worse than what has previously appeared on the blog about Klein.  I wrestled with the decision about which photos to publish and even whether to publish at all.  I lost sleep over these photos.  I wished I could “unsee” them and had to carefully consider subjecting my readers to the horror they depict.  I ultimately decided to publish because I believe there is significant value in sharing this story. My hope is that it will bring greater awareness to a subject covered regularly here but too often ignored by media and, if it reaches local taxpayers, will motivate them to take action and demand justice for the crimes alleged in these documents and photos.  This is why I blog.

(Thank you Stephen Pope for sending me the docs and photos obtained via FOIA request.)

Case Update: Former Van Wert Co Dog Warden Sentenced

Six cats in a trap on the floor of the Van Wert Co Humane Society,

Six cats in a trap on the floor of the Van Wert Co Humane Society, photographed by the Van Wert Co sheriff’s office on July 20, 2014, as shown on limaohio.com.

Regular readers may recall that last year Rich Strunkenburg, the dog warden for Van Wert Co in Ohio, was indicted on 4 felony counts of animal cruelty.  Strunkenburg was reportedly tossing animals into cages and leaving them there with no veterinary care, food, or water, to suffer and die in their own waste.  On July 20, 2014, a concerned citizen contacted the sheriff’s office, which oversees the pound, and that’s when investigators discovered the dead and dying animals.  The prosecutor said at the time of indictment that due to the severity of the crimes, he would argue for the maximum sentence of 4 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  In a plea deal, Strunkenberg pleaded guilty last month to two felony counts.

Emaciated dog, photographed by the Van Wert Co sheriff's office on July 20, 2014, as shown on limaohio.com.

Emaciated dog in filth at the Van Wert Co Humane Society, photographed by the Van Wert Co sheriff’s office on July 20, 2014, as shown on limaohio.com.

This week, Strunkenberg was sentenced:  90 days in jail with work release privileges along with some additional conditions including community service.  His attorney argued that Strunkenberg had been overwhelmed by his duties as the sole pound employee.  Despite that fact that investigators found no animals had been given food or water, Strunkenberg told the judge:

“I did not starve any animals.  […]  I feel real bad for what happened.I know there were things I could have probably done a little better.”

At sentencing, the judge noted that nothing in the investigation indicated Strunkenberg ever asked for help or tried to improve the situation at the pound.

The question of supervision on the part of the sheriff’s office remains unaddressed.  Strunkenburg was on the job for 12 years.  It seems reasonable to believe that this level of cruelty and neglect did not arise in a vacuum the day before the sheriff’s office investigated the citizen complaint.  Whose responsibility was it to provide supervision to Strunkenberg for the past 12 years and what action has been taken against that person for failing to do his job?  Will the sheriff’s office bother providing any supervision to Strunkenburg’s successor?  Taxpayers need to hold their elected officials and public servants accountable for these horrifying failures and demand guarantees of transparency and meaningful reform.  Otherwise, there would seem to be little hope for the animals at the Van Wert Co pound.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

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