Friday, April 27, 2007

Connecticut: Police look to charge Animal Control Officer Norman Fortier Jr. for drowning a cat

CONNECTICUT -- City police are determining whether they can file a criminal charge against Norman Fortier Jr., who resigned as deputy animal control officer last week after he was seen drowning a badly injured cat last month.

Detectives will give a prosecutor their evidence to find out whether Fortier can be charged with cruelty to an animal, Chief John DiVenere said Wednesday.

``[Det. Lt.] Tom Killiany is working on a warrant application right now. I think it will go to the prosecutor next week,'' DiVenere said.

Earlier Wednesday, Mayor William Stortz issued a public apology for Fortier's actions.

``We don't condone this, and we've taken virtually the strongest actions possible up to now,'' Stortz said. ``I'll apologize for his behavior. This individual's chosen profession was to work with animals and to do right by animals.''

Repeated efforts to contact Fortier on Wednesday were unsuccessful. Peter Kot, president of the city's police union, which represented Fortier before his resignation, would not discuss the case, calling it a personnel matter.

Police said they began an internal affairs investigation after a Plymouth animal control officer reported watching Fortier deliberately drown a badly hurt cat at the city's animal pound on March 31. DiVenere said Fortier's explanation was that the cat was not likely to survive long enough to take to a veterinarian.

It's unclear when Fortier first brought the cat to the pound on Vincent P. Kelly Road. The Plymouth animal control officer, who uses space at the Bristol facility, found the bleeding animal there at midday on March 31 and notified police. Fortier arrived soon afterward, according to police. The Plymouth officer reported that Fortier then drowned the cat in a container of water.

``That's completely contrary to our values and our normal procedures. It's incredibly unfortunate,'' Lt. Thomas Grimaldi said. Injured animals are taken to veterinarians, who decide whether they can be treated or must be euthanized, Grimaldi said.

Grimaldi said Fortier was put on administrative leave immediately after police commanders learned of what happened.

``He was forthright with investigators, but didn't give much of an explanation except that he didn't think the cat could have been saved. Our position is that it wasn't his decision to make,'' Grimaldi said.

Fortier submitted a resignation letter Friday, shortly before he was to face a disciplinary hearing, according to Grimaldi and DiVenere.

Fortier, 54, was hired as deputy animal control officer in 2000. He was paid about $38,000 a year for the full-time job under the latest police contract.

(Hartford Courant - April 26, 2007)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Girl, Horse Fend Off Pit Bull Attack

NORTH CAROLINA -- Days after it was attacked by a pit bull, a Hoke County horse is ready to compete in the Stoneybrook Steeplechase on Saturday.

Twelve-year-old Casey Rounds was riding her horse, Diesel, from her home to the Carolina Horse Park last Sunday when a pit bull began chasing the horse.

"This pit bull was chasing and biting his heels, but we kept going and outran him," Casey said.

But the pit bull wasn't done. As Casey and her mother rode home, the dog attacked again, chasing Casey and Diesel to an intersection where they had to stop because of traffic.

"It was a nightmare in front of my eyes. I kept worrying about Casey and the horse," Michelle Rounds said.

"I was trying to kick him with my foot to get him off. Then, (Diesel) reared up," Casey said, adding that she fell off the horse but landed on her feet. "Then I was on the ground, kicking the dog, and (Diesel) started running."

Diesel harnessed all his horsepower and outran the dog, finding his way home on area trails.
The dog punctured the horse's side and tore at his chest.

Local animal control officers took custody of the pit bull on Wednesday and will keep it in quarantine for 10 days.

The dog's owner declined to comment on Friday.

But Casey said Diesel hasn't run out of gas. After a week of rest, he will be ready to run in the steeplechase, she said.

"I'm planning on winning," she said.

(WRAL - April 6, 2007)