NY Shelter Employee Arrested for Neglecting Her Own Puppy

Wanderers’ Rest Humane Association in NY is the open admission shelter for Madison Co.  The organization sells puppies for $200 and has a list of “non-negotiables” for potential adopters on its website.  Among them is a refusal to release animals to anyone with a history of neglect.  Which now would apparently include Wanderers’ Rest Humane Association employee Angela Bartlett:

Bartlett, an employee at Wanderer’s Rest Humane Association, was arrested and charged with failure to provide adequate food or water to a dog, a misdemeanor, and failed to provide appropriate shelter for the animal which was left outdoors which is just a violation.

A neighbor of Ms. Bartlett reportedly complained to the sheriff’s office that her male GSD mix puppy was cold and hungry.  The sheriff’s office had an ACO provide education on responsible puppy care to Ms. Bartlett in early November.  A follow up visit on December 28 found that Ms. Bartlett was still neglecting the malnourished puppy, who was then seized.

I wonder how many potential adopters Ms. Bartlett refused at the shelter because of the list of “non-negotiables”.  All while apparently considering fancypants luxuries like food and things to keep the winter wind offa ya to be negotiable in her own backyard.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

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.)

Another Pound in the Magical North Under Investigation by Police

It sounds like at least some of the public employees in Oxford, CT don’t like local resident Vickie Tkacz. Ms. Tkacz is a nurse who also breeds dogs and apparently has trouble keeping her dogs in her yard.

In 2011, two of Tkacz’s Newfoundlands got loose and one of them killed another dog. That same year, a 7 week old puppy named Mia went missing from Ms. Tkacz’s home. She says she searched all over for Mia and called Oxford Animal Control repeatedly to inquire if Mia was there. Ms. Tkacz says she left numerous messages for ACO Cori Wlasuk for an entire week. Those messages were apparently never logged:

After the seventh day, Animal Control Officer Sandy Merry returned Tkacz’s calls and told her that the dog had been adopted because they didn’t hear from Tkacz within seven days, Tkacz said.

Ms. Tkacz reportedly saw a photo of a Newf on ACO Wlasuk’s Facebook page recently and recognized the dog as being from her lines. She believes that dog is Mia and that the ACO was the “adopter” from 2011. Ms. Tkacz filed a police report alleging the theft of the dog. She says she can prove Mia’s identity via DNA testing.

State police are currently investigating the pound and although the details of the investigation haven’t been made public, it presumably has to do with the alleged theft of Mia. First Selectman George R. Temple has closed the pound indefinitely while the investigation continues.

Temple told Tkacz at last week’s [Board of Selectmen] meeting that he sees her dogs roaming from time to time.

“Well I’m sorry I can’t contain them,” she replied. “Give me a ticket, but don’t steal them.”

This is the kind of situation every AC should be prepared to deal with – if containment is the issue, work with the owner to find a solution.  There are always going to be conflicts between AC and some of the residents they serve.  They should be handled in a professional manner by ACOs trained in conflict resolution.

It sounds like in this case AC was perhaps less interested in helping and more interested in punishing, possibly stealing an expensive puppy in the process.    I hope DNA testing is conducted to definitively determine if the Newf living with the ACO is Mia.  And if that turns out to be the case, I hope justice is served.

It is up to AC to lead by example.  If the selectman doesn’t like the behavior of a local dog owner, maybe he needs to take a look at how his town’s AC is demonstrating personal responsibility with regard to dog ownership.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)


Shawnee Pound Gasses 3 Dogs Because It Can

The animals at the long troubled gassing pound in Shawnee, OK have been getting some help from area rescuers.  With a paltry 48 hour holding period, rescuers must continually scramble to get pets out alive.  They have reportedly been able to pull every dog at the small pound since May.  But that streak ended last week when the city gassed three dogs, one of whom was reportedly slated to be pulled that morning.  Tragically, the public outcry is being directed at the former owners (who may or may not be known) instead of those who actually killed the animals.

The Shawnee city manager, Justin Erickson, says the pound will, at some unspecified time, stop gassing and start killing via injection.  He plans to talk more about that next year.  Cause I mean, what’s the hurry, right? As for embracing the proven programs used by hundreds of open admission no kill shelters around the country, that’s a no:

“We are not able to transition to no kill at this time,” said Erickson during Monday’s city council meeting.

I assume that explanation will satisfy everyone paying for the shelter to not shelter animals.  If not, maybe local animal advocates can stop dreaming up Evil Former Owner fantasies and start pressuring public officials to do their jobs.  Or just let the city keep rescuers in continual crisis mode, with them gassing the occasional pet because they can, and enabling them by failing to unequivocally blame those doing the killing.  The more the city is able to distract advocates, the more things stay the same.

Let’s be clear:  Some shelter pets are lost.  Their owners want them back.  Others are in between homes.  It doesn’t matter who used to own a shelter pet or how that animal arrived at the shelter.  There is only now.  Now is an opportunity to help the animal, starting with protecting his right to live.  Everything else is a distraction.

(Thanks Clarice.)

CT Shelter Refuses to Help Dog in Need

A woman recently attempted to surrender a pitbull to AC in West Haven, CT.  She allegedly told ACOs that she was moving and the dog was aggressive.  The ACOs refused to take the dog and gave the woman a list of rescues she could try.  Good luck with that.  Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

An hour later, AC received a call about a pitbull running loose in the road:

The animal control officer who responded tried setting a trap for the dog and realized it was the same dog brought to the shelter earlier that day.

Golly gee willickers, you don’t say!  It’s almost like a desperate person took desperate action which, as far as I know, has never happened in the history of the world making this event totally unforeseeable.

The dog was killed by a car that afternoon. Which is you know, fine:

“Especially if someone comes in and says my dog is vicious. That’s not the city’s responsibility to take your dog that was mis-trained. Obviously the shelter can’t release that to somebody who wants to accept a pet, adopt a pet, because the liability is tremendous,” said West Haven Police Sgt. David Tammaro.

Not the city’s responsibility to shelter a dog in need. So what exactly are taxpayers paying for at the shelter that won’t shelter?

And I hate to blow anyone’s mind but sometimes people surrendering pets at the shelter are not truthful about the reason they are there. Who knows if the dog was truly aggressive or if the surrendering party thought that sounded like a more valid reason to leave a pet than just “I’m moving.”? I’ll tell you who does NOT know: the West Haven shelter staff. Because they didn’t take the dog. He never got a chance to settle in and be evaluated.

Even if the dog had some aggression issues, it’s possible they were issues which could be identified and managed through simple practices. But no one bothered to do their job. Here’s a list of private rescues which are all overburdened and operating on shoestring budgets already, see ya.

In explaining why West Haven AC refused to help the pitbull in need, Sgt. Tammaro also cited a lack of resources.

This is the same facility where an ACO was arrested and charged with larceny in July.  The now fired ACO had been serving as treasurer of a non-profit group collecting donations from the public to help pay medical expenses for animals at the shelter.  He was allegedly pocketing the cash for himself.

But the city did get off its ass to track down the woman who tried to surrender the pitbull via the surveillance camera footage they had of her at the shelter:

After posting photos on Wednesday morning, West Haven’s Animal Control office said it has received a number of tips saying that the woman lived in West Haven and is now in Florida.
Police said the woman told them she left the dog with a friend before heading south, but police are trying to figure out whether or not she is telling the truth.

If police had tried to figure out whether she was telling the truth about the dog being aggressive by taking the dog in and sheltering him, which is their job, this whole thing would have been avoided and the dog would still be alive. I wonder how many other pets are dead at the side of the road in West Haven because the shelter staff won’t do their jobs.  But yeah, let’s definitely keep shipping our southern shelter pets to the Magical North where everything is grand.

(Thanks Clarice.)



Burned MA Shelter Has License Suspended, Finally

The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture had been documenting inhumane and dangerous conditions at the Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals facility for years before it caught on fire last month, killing 37 animals.  Sweetpea is a registered 501c3 and registered as a rescue with the state.

In 2013, state inspectors expressed concerns that Sweetpea was overcrowded, the cages were too small for any dogs over 25 pounds, and the animals were being warehoused.  Some dogs had been at the facility for 10 months at the time of the inspection.  Sweetpea was importing dogs from out of state and over half the dogs were large in size, some from a greyhound rescue.  Some of the animals were boarders.   The manager told the inspectors that she constantly monitored Craigslist for animals who had been adopted from Sweetpea whom the adopters were attempting to rehome instead of returning them to the facility.  A husky at the facility was one such dog.

The dogs had no barriers between them other than chain link resulting in bitten ears, tails and paws.  Dogs were exhibiting “long term institutionalized behaviors” such as circling and biting the cage wire.  A veterinarian accompanying the inspectors advised the manager that Sweetpea should house a maximum of 20 dogs at any given time but the manager said she could house 50 and indicated dogs could be placed in stacked cat cages if necessary.

Cats were being housed in the same room with dogs, also in chain link cages.  Many were feral cats whom the manager had trapped and neutered but never returned, explaining that she planned to tame them.  There was no isolation for sick animals and no quarantine for unvetted animals.

Sweetpea did not hold a kennel license at that time and the manager wanted to start accepting animal control contracts from municipalities.  A state inspector advised that no municipal agreements could be made without the kennel license.  Sweetpea went ahead anyway and began housing impounded animals from municipalities, later obtaining the kennel license.

In 2014, inspectors noted that the feral cats had reportedly been at the facility for more than 2 years.  Multiple cats were crammed into each cage, some cages had 4 cats who were unable to move.  The dog kennels were still too small for the many large dogs who had to stand in the kennels with 2 feet on the floor and the other 2 on the bed, which took up most of the floor space.  The dogs banged into the walls if they tried to turn around.  Outdoor runs were available but not in use. The cats were still stuck in the middle of the room with the dogs.  All the animals were severely stressed and the “noise level was extreme”.  Questions arose about Sweetpea running a for-profit boarding and grooming business without a license.

Inspectors were specifically concerned with the fire hazard represented by the massive clutter inside Sweetpea, noting that the old building had never been updated, did not have sprinklers and the condition of the electrical wiring was unknown.

On November 19, 2015, the state inspector noted that conditions were unchanged:  dogs were fence fighting in the cramped kennels, cats were caged in the middle of the dog room and the animals were suffering from severe stress.  Due to Sweetpea’s continued failure to correct the inhumane conditions, the inspector officially recommended that the facility stop accepting animals from the municipalities until improvements were made.

Three days later, the Sweetpea facility burned down and most of the animals were killed.  The cause of the fire has not been determined.  Donations have poured in to multiple fundraising sites.  A posting on Craigslist questioning whether Sweetpea should be rebuilt under the same leadership was quickly flagged for removal:

craigslist ad sweetpea

Screencap of a portion of a Craiglist posting that was up only briefly.

On December 7, Sweetpea’s kennel license was suspended by the Board of Selectmen.  The group apparently has a lawyer fighting the suspension.

Yet again, I am utterly puzzled as to how a shelter in the Magical North, where we in the Stupid South continually ship our homeless pets, could be less than magical.  It’s one of life’s mysteries I guess, like fires.


Louisville Pound Director Under Investigation by Police

The Louisville Metro Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit is investigating Jessica Jo Montgomery, director of Louisville Metro Animal Services, and O’Dell Henderson, metro government’s lead liaison to the city’s labor unions. At issue is the alleged transport of a controlled substance and the killing of Henderson’s 2 year old black lab by Montgomery at his home on September 10.

Louisville Magazine reports that official government records obtained by whistleblowers under the state’s open records law appear to show the following:

  • Montgomery was not licensed to kill animals on September 10.
  • Without this license, Montgomery did not have legal access to Fatal Plus, a federally controlled substance.
  • Montgomery’s signature appears alongside that of another LMAS employee, who was licensed to kill animals, in a log entry for the withdrawal of 8cc of Fatal Plus on September 10.

The sources — who requested anonymity out of fear of reprisal by the agency and by metro government — allege that Montgomery used her power over subordinates to gain access to the euthanasia drug, and that an LMAS employee accompanied Montgomery to Henderson’s home but refused to perform the euthanasia, which they claim Montgomery did herself. “I think she saw the opportunity to get in good with her higher-ups,” one of the anonymous sources said.

Tip: Anyone asking you to illegally kill his 2 year old pet is not someone you want to “get in good” with. Unless you want more of the same.

The allegations put Montgomery in potential violation of LMAS policy and/or state laws including that the only animals allowed to be killed by LMAS staff are those in LMAS custody who are taken to the kill room and that the killing must be performed by a licensed tech.

As for Henderson:

When initially reached for comment, Henderson answered the phone, confirmed his identity and hung up after being asked about the alleged euthanasia. On a follow-up call, he said, “I don’t know how you got this number, but don’t call it again.”

Mad negotiating skillz there.

Anyone know the reason Henderson wanted his 2 year old black lab killed or why he didn’t take his pet to a veterinarian?

No one in city government is commenting on the case.  The investigation, which reportedly began in mid-September, remains ongoing.

(Thanks Clarice.)

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.


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.)

Victoria Co Pound Has a 6% Adoption Rate, Zero Tolerance for Rescues

romo victoria co romo info

The Victoria Co pound in Texas, where a dog who had an adopter waiting was recently oops-killed because not killing is hard, is back in the news:

Since November 2014, 3,515 dogs and cats have entered the shelter, according to records. Of those, 238 were adopted.

238 adopted. *sound of balloon deflating*

Glass half full: That number is 30 more than the 208 pets who fell over dead in their cages during that time period. And way more than the 54 animals who went “missing” from the place. You run, Fluffy. You run and don’t ever look back.

Aaaaaaanyway, they don’t need help, especially not from people who ask questions like Why are the animals forced to live in filth? and such:

Victoria County Animal Control has cut ties with a foster group it has been working with for almost three years.

County officials say the group was given the boot for “bullying and unprofessional behaviors.”

However, Kim Cole, the administrator of the foster group Shelter Pets, said the real issue is her attempt to hold the department accountable for what she considers to be inappropriate and inadequate treatment of animals housed at the facility.
Before receiving the letter, Cole said, she had a meeting with Animal Control and the Victoria County Public Health Department, where she brought up issues including the condition of kennels filled with animal feces.

How unprofessional. Bully.

The Victoria Co pound is doing the best they can, probably. But haters gonna hate.

28261872 victoria co28261872 info

It’s a glove. And a kitten. In some sort of cylinder. That’s my best guess. Can I use a lifeline?

(Thanks Clarice.)

Texas Shelter Oops-Kills Dog with Adopter Waiting

Loretta, as pictured on the Victoria Advocate website.

Loretta, as pictured on the Victoria Advocate website.

Tiffany Smith regularly picks up pets she finds roaming loose in her area.  The dog she found wandering her neighborhood on October 30 was different – her family fell in love with the dog and named her Loretta:

“She just hopped in my car,” said Smith[.] “She was so loving.”
“She was a sweetie,” Smith said. “She got along with our kids. She got along with our dog.”

Ms. Smith turned Loretta over to police for transport to Victoria City-County Animal Control. She then called the shelter and asked an employee to note that her family wanted to adopt Loretta if no one claimed her.  The employee told her to call back on November 2.  When she did, she was told Loretta has already been killed.  Oops:

“There was a miscommunication,” [chief officer for AC Brecka] Tieken said. “That definitely has given us an opportunity to establish … a policy/protocol.”

Ya think?

Tieken said because the protocol is still being developed, she could not release details of the changes.

It’s so innovative, even the developers don’t know what it is.  I’m guessing it’s some cutting edge policy where employees WRITE SHIT DOWN and READ IT.  I hope they can pull this off and blaze a trail for other shelters.  Imagine the possibilities.

Making earmarks for animals that have been chosen by adopters is harder than it seems, Tieken said.

No doubt.  Scrawling DO NOT KILL on a cage card involves penmanship skills, a background in 2nd grade spelling and the ability to procure a writing instrument.  It’s little wonder so many shelter workers burn out.

“You gotta realize, when there are so many animals coming in to Animal Control on a daily basis, it’s next to impossible” for one of the shelter workers to call someone when a specific animal is available, Tieken said.

Two points:  There are 8 dogs listed for adoption on the Victoria Co website today.  Just having a guess, there are likely no more than 1 or 2 of them who have adopters waiting on them.  So let’s not make this out to be Wal Mart on Black Friday.

Also:  No one said the shelter worker had to call Ms. Smith when Loretta was ready to be adopted (heaven forfend).  It was the other way around.  The worker told Ms. Smith it was her job to call back in 3 days and ask about the dog.  Which she did.  Only to be told the friendly dog was in the dumpster.

If you can’t take at least a passing interest in not killing the pets people have told you they want to take home, I’m not sure the bar can be lowered further. You are standing on it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)


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