Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Arizona: Hillarie Allison calls county claims about her 'no kill' animal shelter ‘distorted’

ARIZONA -- The owner of an animal sanctuary that has come under county scrutiny admits that there are some minor issues at the Golden Valley facility, but stressed that those issues are being worked out.

She also claims that some of those issues have been “distorted” by county officials during a recent inspection of her property.

Hillarie Allison has owned and operated the Rescue Unwanted Furry Friends Foundation, which she calls a “no-kill companion animal sanctuary,” since 2003 on a 40-acre tract in Golden Valley.


RUFFF remains open, although court order bars Allison from accepting any new animals or sending any out for adoption.

Allison has been charged with failure to maintain appropriate permits, failure to maintain her nonprofit tax status and an assortment of health violations. She maintains that the facility shouldn’t be considered a kennel because it is an animal sanctuary, not a boarding house or breeding ground for animals.

Mohave County officials have charged her with operating a kennel without a license or permit; county ordinances encompass three types of animal facilities: pet shop, grooming parlor or kennel.

“They say it’s a kennel and I say it’s a sanctuary,” Allison said. “Unfortunately, Mohave County doesn’t have a distinction. That needs to be addressed.”

NEARLY 300 ANIMALS ON THE PROPERTY
In the meantime, she said, she’s trying to comply with the county’s demands to obtain the proper permits and to provide necessary improvements to the grounds, which currently house 209 dogs and 88 cats.

“I know that I need permits. I know that I need this infrastructure,” she said. “But if it comes down to doing that, or taking care of the animals … I don’t know what to do except take care of the animals.”

She said the money she needs to spend on permits and improvements — and legal representation for defense against the criminal and civil charges — would be better used to care for the animals.

“How much better would that be to go toward the animals?” she asked.

Allison opened an animal shelter in Bullhead City in 2000, registered as a a 501(3c) nonprofit organization and had it incorporated. When she moved to Golden Valley in 2003, she said, she allowed the incorporation to lapse because it wasn’t required in the county “and that money was better-served for the animals.”

She said she wasn’t aware the nonprofit status also was allowed to lapse. She said the death of her accountant left the business end of RUFFF in disarray. She called it “a paperwork snafu.”

“I let the paperwork go. It was a bookkeeping error. It was something I wasn’t aware of.”

She said she’s in the process of rectifying the matter.

“It’s all pending,” she said. “I have every reason to believe it will be done.”

As for the health violations, Allison maintains that she’s been “working with the health department and planning and zoning” for some time. “I’m trying to satisfy them.”

She opposes one of the requirements the county has made: the pouring of cement floors for the dog runs.

She said when she first opened RUFFF in Golden Valley, “I was assured that I could have my dog runs on dirt.”

She said cement made little sense in Mohave County.

“Cement is just too unforgiving,” she said. “It’s too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. It’s too hard on the animals.”

Instead, she said, she came up with a cleaning protocol used by animal sanctuaries elsewhere to maintain sanitary conditions. But, she said, the county hasn’t accepted that protocol.

“They keep kicking it back,” she said. “They won’t even look at it.”

During the inspection last Friday — an inspection ordered by Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen earlier this month — representatives of the county sheriff’s office, the county environmental health division and the Western Arizona Humane Society toured the facility. Humane Society Executive Director Victoria Cowper said the animals were in “overall, fair” condition.

“Nobody’s in ‘fair condition,’ ” Allison challenged. “They’re in great condition.”


While she admitted that the inspection exposed some things that need correcting, she insisted she is correcting them as quickly as finances allow.

“The housekeeping, we’re working on that,” she said. “That’s a financial thing.
“The donations, I don’t even cover the food bill, let alone the vet bill (or other expenses).”

Allison said she wants the public to be able to examine the conditions at RUFFF, so she’s planning an open house starting at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“They can come and judge for themselves,” she said.

(Mohave Daily News - March 31, 2010)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

California: Advisory board says Animal control officer received different treatment in neglect investigation

CALIFORNIA -- A county advisory board on Monday arrived at a consensus decision that suggested a Lake County Animal Care and Control officer who was investigated last month for horse neglect was treated differently because of her status as a county employee.

The Lake County Animal Care and Control Advisory Board agreed on that viewpoint toward the end of a nearly hour-and-a-half-long meeting called specially to discuss the case of Officer Terrie Flynn.


Flynn was not present at the meeting, nor was Animal Care and Control Director Denise Johnson, whose son Flynn married last year. Johnson, who was due for a performance evaluation before the Board of Supervisors last week, is on medical leave due to preexisting back injury, it was reported.

During the meeting it was alleged that Johnson had known for several months about the situation with Flynn's horses, that she had warned her about it and that one of the six horses found in Flynn's care actually belonged to Johnson, who was leasing it to her. The horse has since been returned to Johnson.

Last month Flynn signed over to Animal Care and Control a 4-year-old pinto stallion named TJ, who was found to have a serious injury to his penis, which was caught in a fence, as Lake County News has reported. Mendocino County Animal Control was called in to handle the investigation.

Rehorse Rescue of Jamestown took TJ along with another horse, a 14-year-old pinto mare named Breezy, that Flynn also signed over last month.

Flynn was found to have had a total of six horses – two stallions and four mares – all of which were said to have been underweight. One mare was pregnant and another was believed to have been pregnant at one point but may have aborted, according to Animal Care and Control Officer Morgan Hermann, who investigated the case and was questioned Monday by the committee.

During the meeting, committee chair veterinarian Dr. Susan Cannon criticized Flynn for having what appeared to be a breeding operation at a time when tens of thousands of horses are being shipped to Mexico for slaughter. Cannon said she also found the Mendocino County Animal Control investigation conducted on Flynn to be insufficient.

It was also revealed during the meeting that the officer from Mendocino County Animal Control called in to do the investigation had formerly been the supervisor of current Lake County Animal Care and Control Deputy Director Bill Davidson.

As the meeting was beginning, Cannon cautioned fellow committee members and community residents who were in attendance, “We have no legal authority of any kind.”

She said the stories Lake County News had published about Flynn's case had generated a lot of calls and questions to members of the committee, which hadn't met in several months, thus the special meeting.

County Supervisor Rob Brown, who was in attendance, told the group that they had certain limitations regarding what they could talk about, including some employee-related issues. Cannon explained that the group's normal procedure is to write some sort of conclusion and then draft a letter to the Board of Supervisors.

The group wanted to hear from Hermann, who was the first person on the scene from Animal Care and Control who evaluated the horses.

She said that on Feb. 4 when she and Davidson went to a location on Patocchi Court in Lakeport – one of two locations where Flynn was keeping horses – they went into the barn to find a mare, two stallions and a yearling filly.


A stallion named Twister was in a small pen which had a large accumulation of mud and feces. “It looked like it hadn't been cleaned out in some time,” she said.

The horse was thin, with his ribs, backbone and hips visible when Hermann pulled off his horse blanket to evaluate him.

TJ also was in a small, muddy pen with “feces piled high.” Hermann said his penis was badly swollen and black, and he also was very thin.

She said she couldn't get her hands on the jumpy yearling, which had a long winter coat that prevented her from telling the horse's physical condition. That yearling and a pregnant mare both had access to the pasture, “so at least they could get out of the mud,” said Hermann.

Hermann said she became aware of TJ's injury around Jan. 12 or Jan. 13 when Flynn mentioned it and said she couldn't afford to take the horse to the vet but was caring for it herself. Then she left for Texas on Feb. 2 and left the horses in the care of a young woman who didn't know how to care for the injury. An investigative report obtained by Lake County News quoted the young caretaker as saying she thought Flynn was caring for the injury.

Because TJ was receiving no antibiotics, “the infection was just running though him” and he wouldn't eat, Hermann said.

On Feb. 4 Hermann and Davidson also went to another Lakeport location on Pine Ridge Road, where they found Breezy and another mare, Mia. Hermann said Mia was very thin also, and she could feel the mare's every rib, her backbone and hips when running her hands over the mare's thick winter coat. She said the mare was supposedly pregnant but she believed she may have aborted.

Mia later was identified by Davidson as belonging to Johnson, who leased her to Flynn.

Hermann said when she checked out Breezy, she could also feel her ribs.

The woman in whose care the two mares were left had left for Australia on Feb. 2, the same day that Flynn had left for Texas, according to the investigative report.

Hermann explained that she had called Flynn in Texas on Feb. 4 to ask about a court file. By the end of the conversation Flynn asked her if she would check on the horses at Pine Ridge Road because the woman who was supposed to be feeding them had left.

When she saw the horses, Hermann said she couldn't figure out why they were so agitated – including throwing fits in their stalls. She said she'd never known them to act that way, then she found out they hadn't been fed in about three days.

“They were starving, they were hungry, they wanted food,” she said.


Cannon asked Hermann if she had any reason to believe that anything was wrong with the horses.

“I knew that there was a problem,” Hermann replied. “I knew that she had been talked to by Director Johnson about it.”

Hermann said Johnson had seen the horses at Patocchi Court and knew that they were thin several months earlier.

“Terrie didn't have any money to buy food so I put it on my credit card,” said Hermann, adding that she didn't want to see the animals starve.

Hermann said that Animal Care and Control didn't impound TJ at first, but Davidson later made arrangements to take him to the shelter so they could care for him, with Flynn paying the boarding fees.

Cannon asked about Mia, the mare thought to be pregnant and leased to Flynn by Johnson. Hermann said a picture of the horse is at the shelter, but she was so thin, “I didn't even recognize the horse when I saw her.”

Advisory board member Grant Murray asked what made Flynn think that it was appropriate to keep horses when she was having trouble caring for them. “I can't answer that,” said Hermann.

At-large advisory board member Jessica Leishman asked Hermann how she felt when she saw the animals.

“I was mortified,” said Hermann. “I was absolutely mortified, that somebody I work with could let their animals get that way.”

Brown asked the group about what outcome they were seeking. “This is getting into an investigation, which may be appropriate, but not by this body.”

“All we're looking at is what was done with her case,” said Cannon, with it being up to the Board of Supervisors to decide is something more needs to be done.

Brown said it may not be up to the supervisors. If they had questions about Mendocino County's investigation, then it was that agency that offered the different treatment, he suggested.

Lucerne resident Lenny Matthews asked if the case would have been handled differently had it not been an animal control officer who was being investigated. Cannon said that was the question at issue.

Cannon said her concerns included two notices of violation which Davidson issued on Feb. 9. Mendocino County Senior Animal Control Officer George Hodgson didn't issue any such notices on his own, she pointed out. Then, Cannon was told that the initial notices were voided after the investigation was concluded last month.

Debra Rodrigue, who is leading a rescue effort for dozens of horses taken from a Lower Lake breeding operation, pointed out, “I think the condition of the horses didn't just happen in four days.”

Referring to Hodgson's investigative report, Canon said, “I've been looking at this thing for a long time and I have a long list of questions.”

“I understood his report to mean there were no criminal actions,” said Davidson.

He explained that notices of violation are a record of complaints that allow them leeway to follow up on cases. The notices of violation in Flynn's case do exist and remain on record, he said.

Davidson said that it was opinion of Hodgson that “the horses were fine and there was no violation.”

Cannon suggested Hodgson should be present for a discussion on the report. She said she found it hard to believe that Hodgson – who took over the investigation on Feb. 16, 11 days after TJ was taken into care – would find nothing wrong.

Davidson said he also didn't believe Hermann's assessment was accurate. “This is the first time I've heard her being so vocal about it,” he said, at which point Hermann made what sounded like a cross between a gasp and a deep sigh.

He said that his primary concern about the horses originated with TJ's injury and not the weight issue. Yet when Cannon asked him why he wrote the notices of violation on the Pine Ridge Road location, and he said it was to follow up on their weight.

Group admonished about limitations

Brown then called Cannon out of the room, and they returned a few minutes later accompanied by County Counsel Anita Grant, who Brown said he called because of the sensitivity of the discussion. “We're getting into some real dangerous areas here,” with regarding to employees, he said.

Grant said she understood the group had questions, but that the individuals in question had due process rights under the US Constitution as well as employee privacy rights. To question employees or investigate the matter “is, quite honestly, beyond the scope of this advisory board,” she said.

If they believed the investigation wasn't sufficient, Grant suggested they prepare specific questions and recommend that further investigation be done.

Brown suggested a peer review of the report, and having another agency come in and independently review it. He said he wanted the issue to be handled in an open and legal manner, but added, “It's not going to be resolved here, that's the whole thing.”

Grant added, “It can't be, despite your best efforts.”

Cannon said she wasn't happy with the report's lack of a conclusion.

Brown asked if there are examples of similar cases and how they were handled to establish a baseline for consistency. Davidson said the vast majority of such horse cases are dealt with through notices of violation. While some are prosecuted, most are handled through education.

He said he did a recheck on the horses on March 15, and brought with him pictures and new body weight scores to show the horses' improvement.

Brown asked Hermann about consistent handling of cases. Hermann, who had sat quietly after Davidson's comment about her account, replied, “I'm not going to talk.”

“It feels like the inquiry has kind of been shut down,” said Cobb resident Larry Ross, who works with Rodrigue in her horse rescue effort. He added that he felt it was courageous of Hermann to speak out.

“Animal control tried to shut down our horse rescue group in December,” said Ross, and did so again in January, actions he said which were taken at Flynn's initiation.

Clearlake resident and attorney Jacqueline Snyder asked if animal control has written personnel policies and procedures, as well as guidelines for notices of violation. Davidson said they have a policies and procedures manual for investigations but they're not specific to horses.

He said when he first saw the horses, he called and told Flynn very clearly that she needed to get vet care for the animals. “At no point from that point on did she not choose to cooperate,” he said.


Other issues brought up with the investigation during the meeting included Cannon's concern that animal control usually has a vet examine all horses involved in a complaint, but in this case Dr. Jeri Waddington, Flynn's vet, was brought out only to look at TJ.

Davidson said TJ was under Waddington's care. “I don't think that fits the legal definition of care,” Cannon replied, noting Waddington hadn't seen the horse prior to being called in after Animal Care and Control was involved.

She also produced a letter from Waddington who said there were “serious hygiene issues” with the horses' living conditions, but that the quality of food available to be fed was OK. That letter also stated Waddington's belief that the horses' condition was not intentional on Flynn's part and that TJ should have been examined sooner.

Cannon said if a group of horses is found to be underweight, “You start to assume they're not being fed properly,” and the fact that TJ did add weight after having his feedings increased showed that he had the capacity to do so.

Based on her experiences with animal control, Cannon said she wasn't surprised criminal charges didn't result in the case. “That does not mean that I don't think there shouldn't be any repercussions for it.”

Advisory committee member-at-large Eliza Wingate suggested animal control officers should behave better than the average citizen. Leishman said they should at least meet the expected standards.

Cannon asked if Flynn received any disciplinary action. Davidson said they can't talk about it.

Referring to a copy of the county's employee rules, Cannon pointed out the rules discuss employees who discredit their department through actions on or off the job. “To me it sounds like that might apply here.”

She continued, “So, let's cut to the chase,” citing major concerns that Flynn received preferential treatment because Johnson is her mother-in-law.

Brown said the county's nepotism policy doesn't apply in this case, as Flynn married Johnson's son after she was hired. He went on to suggest that Hodgson should come out and do any remaining followups.

One community member at the table, who did not identify herself and who left before the meeting was over, suggested they get the criteria and case law regarding what is criminal in such a case, get the pictures of the horses beginning when they were first reported and then when Hodgson investigated.

“Those two sets of data and evidence may speak very differently about whether this was criminal or not,” she said, to which Cannon replied they're not doing an investigation.

Cannon said that, for someone having trouble feeding their horses to be breeding horses while thousands of horses are being shipped to Mexico “just rubs me the wrong way,” and makes her doubt Flynn's sincerity.

At the advisory board's last meeting, Cannon said they had suggested to Johnson that better horse ordinances are needed locally to prevent another situation such as that which happened in Lower Lake, where Rodrigue rescued dozens of horses.

Rodrigue said that operation had 115 horses, about 25 to 30 of which went to slaughter. She took the rest and received help from the national Humane Society. “Animal control was not very helpful through all this process.”

Cannon then asked the group if they believed that Flynn was treated differently from an average citizen. All of the members said yes.

Referring to Hodgson's report, Cannon told Davidson, “This would definitely have not passed the muster if you guys had done this here.”


Cannon said the advisory committee's goal is to make Animal Care and Control successful, which has been the group's mission since beginning eight years ago. She and fellow advisory board members noted that the agency has come a long way in that time.

However, she pointed out, “All it takes is one thing like this for the public to start assuming that animal control isn't doing its job.”

The group has set another meeting from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 7, in Room C on the second floor of the Lake County Courthouse, 255 N. Forbes St. in Lakeport, to continue discussing the matter.

“I don't know how much we accomplished, but we sure stirred up a lot of stuff,” Cannon said at the meeting's conclusion.

(Lake County News - March 22, 2010)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Michigan: Charges planned for Van Buren County man after discovery of four dead dogs

MICHIGAN -- A Geneva Township man may face animal cruelty charges after deputies found four dead dogs and two others that were malnourished and emaciated, the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office said.

Three dead beagle hounds were found Thursday along the 14000 block of 60th Street after someone reported seeing a person throw garbage bags from a vehicle into a ditch, according to a sheriff's office news release.


The witness was unable to get a license plate number but opened one of the bags and found a dead beagle. The person called police, who found that three dead beagle hounds had been placed in the garbage bags and discarded along the lightly traveled area of 60th Street.

Investigators were able to identify the vehicle's owner as a 64-year-old Geneva Township man by reviewing video from a surveillance camera at a private residence.

They then went to the Geneva Township man's residence in the 16000 block of 62nd Street, where deputies found a fourth dead dog chained inside its dog house and two live dogs on the property, the sheriff's office said.

The two dogs found alive were examined at the Bangor Veterinary Clinic and were taken to the Van Buren County Domestic Animal Control facility.

The dead dogs were identified as three beagles and a walker hound.

The sheriff's office said it planned to seek charges including animal cruelty from the county prosecutor. The man's name was not released.


Van Buren County Sheriff's Office press release:
Incident No: 1779-10
Incident Type: Animal Cruelty-Neglect, Dogs Law Violations.
Date and Time: Thursday, March 18, 2010.
Locations:  
1.  14000 Block 60th Street, Geneva Township
2.  16000 Block 62nd Street, Geneva Township
Suspect: 64 Yr old Geneva Twp man.
Dogs Seized: 1 Male, 2-3 year old, Beagle and 1 Female, 2-3 year old, Walker Hound
Deceased Dogs: 3 Beagles, 1 Walker Hound.

Sheriff Dale R. Gribler reports that on Thursday, March 18, 2010, Van Buren County Deputies were dispatched to a Health and Safety complaint in the 14000 Block of 60th Street.

Upon contact, the witness indicated that a subject was seen throwing what appeared to be garbage bags from a vehicle into the ditch line that runs along the edge of the lightly traveled portion of 60th St.  The witness was unable to get a license plate number, however, after the suspect left the scene, the witness opened one of the bags to possibly find something that would identify the suspect.  Upon opening one of the bags the witness found a deceased Beagle dog and called immediately.

Deputies were able to review surveillance tape of the roadway from a private home in the area showing the suspect vehicle which was identified by the Deputies as belonging to a local resident.

Deputies checked the bags and found three deceased Beagle dogs dumped and proceeded to a residence on 62nd St believed to be the suspects.  After making contact with the suspect, a 4th deceased dog was located still inside its dog house attached to a chain.  Two live dogs were located on the property and seized.  All six dogs in this incident were found to be in a state of malnutrition and emaciation.

The live dogs were examined by Dr. Weideman, of the Bangor Veterinary Clinic, and are currently being held at the Van Buren County Animal Control Facility.

Deputies will be seeking charges from the Van Buren County prosecutors Office.


(MLive - March 18, 2010)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

California: Mendocino organic farmer Guinness McFadden charged with horrific animal cruelty

CALIFORNIA -- A well-known Mendocino County organic farmer and wine maker is facing trial on misdemeanor charges of animal neglect and cruelty.

Guinness McFadden severely neglected his aging burro, then shot it multiple times while attempting to put it out of its misery, according to a report by Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy Christian Denton.

McFadden, an outspoken Potter Valley rancher who specializes in organic wine grapes, herbs, rice and cattle, declined to comment on the charges filed by the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office.


According to the Sheriff's report, the burro had been neglected for years. Its hooves had been allowed to grow to more than a foot in length, causing them to spiral and bend at 90 degree angles, according to the report. The deformities forced the burro to walk on its fetlocks instead of its twisted hooves, photos of the animal show.

“The animal appeared to be in pain and had extreme trouble walking,” Denton states in the report.

The burro also had an oozing, volley ball-sized tumor on its chest, according to the Sheriff's report.

McFadden had been aware of the hoof problem since at least June 2007, when Animal Control officials first warned him to have the burro's hooves trimmed, according to the Sheriff's report.

He was again warned in early 2009, when the burro's condition was reported to the Humane Society, according to Denton's report. McFadden claimed he had a farrier trim the hooves, but the overgrown hooves would have required multiple treatments.

The burro also apparently suffered from laminitis, a hoof inflammation usually brought on by eating carbohydrate rich grass or clover, said county Veterinarian Robert Shugart. Untreated, the inflammation can result in abnormal hoof growth as the animal shifts its weight to its heel to lessen the pain, he said. Hooves can become as long and twisted as those of McFadden's burro in about a year, Shugart said.

In the wild, burros don't have access to rich grass, and their hooves are naturally worn down by hard, rocky ground. Their hooves may get longer as they age and become less mobile, but predators are likely to cut short their suffering, according to county Animal Control and Bureau of Land Management officials.

“Typically, they won't live that long,” said BLM spokesman Jeff Fontana. Wild burros' typical life span is about 20 years, he said. McFadden's burro was about 35 years old.

By January of this year, its hooves had grown to almost 16 inches, according to the Sheriff's report.

Appalled, Potter Valley PG&E power plant employees phoned the Sheriff's Office, which oversees animal control enforcement. The burro was grazing on land adjacent to the power plant, which McFadden leases from PG&E for his cattle.

When he saw the burro's condition, Denton told McFadden he needed to get the animal immediate care or put it down.

He said he was surprised by the animal's condition.

“McFadden is well to do and raises cattle, among several other businesses, and could easily afford veterinary care for his animals,” Denton said.

McFadden told him he infrequently sees the burro, the last of four he adopted about 30 years ago through the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse and burro program.

McFadden asked Denton to help him shoot the burro, but Denton was ordered to another assignment and had to leave, according to the report. He instructed McFadden to shoot the burro behind the ear.

A witness to the shooting said McFadden began shooting the burro with a pistol from a distance of about 30 feet. The first bullet skipped off the animal's head, according to power plant manager T.K. Vaught.

The second shot was into the animal's neck, causing it to fall to the ground, she said.

McFadden reportedly continued walking toward the animal while firing. The fifth and final shot he fired was at point blank range into the animal's head, Vaught said.

“It was awful,” she told Denton.

Three high-profile attorneys have been involved with McFadden's defense. They include David Eyster, a candidate for district attorney on the June ballot; Keith Faulder, former assistant district attorney; and Ann Moorman, a candidate for judge.

Eyster declined to comment on details of the case, but said he thought it was poorly handled.

“I don't think the right thing is being done,” he said.

(The Press Democrat - May 17, 2010)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Trinity County mauling victim's leg amputated

CALIFORNIA -- The Trinity Pines man who was mauled by three dogs at a friend's house had to have his right leg amputated after the attack, Trinity County Sheriff's Detective Jeremy Ammon said Tuesday.

Joseph Byram, 53, was in fair condition at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, a nursing supervisor said Tuesday afternoon.

"It sounds like a real tragic accident," Ammon said of Friday's attack.

Byram told investigators he had gone to the home of Timothy Smith, 19, in Trinity Pines south of Hayfork on Friday afternoon. When he discovered Smith was not at home, Byram started walking down the driveway where he was attacked by two pit bulls and a Rottweiler, Ammon said.

Byram tried to fight back for about 30 minutes. Smith found him a short time later.

The dogs did not have histories of being vicious, Ammon said.

"Based on our investigation, we don't find anything criminal at this point," Ammon said, adding that the case will be forwarded to the Trinity County District Attorney's Office.

However, Byram told investigators he had an encounter with the dogs about two weeks ago, suggesting that Byram possibly wasn't comfortable around the dogs.

"But there is no indication that it was anything major," said Ammon, who didn't know the specifics of Byram's run-in with the animals.

When animal control officers went to pick up the dogs, Ammon said the animals were friendly and non-combative.

(Record Searchlight - March 17, 2010)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

California: Animal control officer Terrie Flynn cleared in neglect case; questions about investigation remain

CALIFORNIA -- An investigation has ruled that a Lake County Animal Care and Control officer was not guilty of neglect relating to the care of her horses, although questions about the case have led to the calling of an advisory committee meeting.

Terrie Flynn was the subject of the investigation.

Bill Davidson, the agency's deputy director, said that the investigation concluded that the matter was noncriminal, although he initially had given Flynn notices of violation with checks of the horses scheduled to take place in the first seek of March.


He said Animal Care and Control considers the matter closed.

However, because of concerns about the case, a meeting of the Animal Care and Control Advisory Board has been called for 1 p.m. Monday, March 22, in the Board of Supervisors chambers at the Lake County Courthouse, 255 N. Forbes St. in Lakeport.

Dr. Susan Cannon, a local veterinarian who chairs the committee, said she expects a larger-than-normal crowd due to interest in the case.

Flynn did not return a message seeking comment on the case.

Last month, Flynn signed over a pinto stallion named “TJ” to Animal Care and Control after he was impounded because of an injury.

Flynn had gone to Texas to visit her husband, who is the son of Animal Care and Control Director Denise Johnson. The couple reportedly married last year.

According to the investigative report narrative, a copy of which was obtained by Lake County News, Flynn had her horses at two separate locations in Lakeport, under the care of two different friends.

On Feb. 5, while Flynn was gone, she contacted another animal control officer and asked her to check on the horses because a person who had been caring for them was no longer able to do so.

After seeing the animals, the other animal control officer reported their condition to Davidson. In particular, there was concern about TJ, a 4-year-old stallion who had suffered an injury to his penis, likely caused by being caught in a fence, according to the report.

Davidson and the officer went to the two locations where Flynn's horses were kept, and issued with notices of violation for TJ's condition – he also was underweight – as well as for the other five horses, including another stallion and four mares, one of which is pregnant and another one that is believed to be in foal also.

One of Flynn's friends who was supposed to be feeding the horses had been gone for several days on vacation by the time Davidson was alerted to the situation on Feb. 5.

The other friend, which was taking care of horses including TJ, wasn't tending to the stallion's injury, telling Hodgson that she “thought Terrie was taking care of it,” and added that she wasn't very familiar with horses and hadn't been around them much since childhood.

During a phone call with Davidson on Feb. 5, Flynn said she had been caring for and cleaning the stallion's wound since he had been injured around Jan. 14, but that she hadn't had a vet examine the injury.

That same day, veterinarian Dr. Jeri Waddington was called out to see the horse and told officials that if the injury wasn't better in a few weeks the horse's penis might have to be amputated. She also recommended a feeding regimen to help TJ put on weight.

Davidson suggested to Flynn that Animal Care and Control impound TJ in order to care for his injury and she agreed, according to the report.


He spoke with Flynn again on Feb. 9. “Terrie stated she was overwhelmed financially and needed help,” and Davidson went on to suggest she sign the horse over, which she agreed to do.

Because of Flynn being a department staff member, county counsel urged the department to call in another agency.

Davidson, who previously had worked for Mendocino County, contacted Mendocino County Senior Animal Control Officer George Hodgson. The case was turned over to Hodgson and Sgt. Scott Poma on Feb. 16.

Following about a day of investigation, Hodgson's final report determined that the matter was not criminal at this time.

The final report was submitted to county administration on Feb. 18, according to County Counsel Anita Grant.

Davidson said the notices of violation were written off, and he said the Mendocino County investigators did not feel there was need for followup.

Lake County News was unable to reach either Poma or Hodgson to ask for further details about the case.

Grant said her office only would come into the investigation if the investigative officer had determined there was a need for administrative review.

Flynn also told Hodgson during his investigation that she felt “overwhelmed” by the number of horses.

Horses in care doing well, according to rescue

In addition to surrendering TJ to Animal Care and Control, Davidson said Flynn gave up two other horses.

However, Raquelle Van Vleck, director of Rehorse Rescue in Jamestown, which took TJ and a 14-year-old pinto mare named Breezy on Feb. 21, said Flynn had been scheduled to give a third horse to them, but did not.

Flynn initially told Van Vleck that the filly wouldn't load in the trailer, but later stated she intended to keep her. She did, however, turn over the registration papers for the other two horses after initially indicating she would withhold the documents.

Van Vleck told Lake County News that both horses in her care are “doing awesome.”

However, she said both were thin when they arrived, and both had issues with their feet, which were not noted in the investigative report.

In the last several weeks Breezy – who Van Vleck indicated was about 150 pounds underweight when she arrived, but didn't look emaciated – has put on 82 pounds. Van Vleck said the mare is putting on the weight with twice-a-day feedings of hay and grain, but nothing excessive.

Breezy – who Flynn had for four years – is being treated for thrush, a bacterial infection of the hooves that can result from standing in unclean conditions. Thrush can cause soundness issues, Van Vleck explained. The mare had thrush in all four feet when she arrived, with her left front foot requiring special care.

She had a wound on her cheek which Flynn said she thought was from inside the trailer, according to Van Vleck.

The mare's feet also were extremely long. “It's hard to tell how long it had been since her feet had been trimmed,” said Van Vleck, estimating it was between six and eight months. Some experts advocate trimming between six and eight weeks or slightly longer.

TJ, who Flynn had since he was born, also is being treated for thrush, Van Vleck said. Animal Care and Control had his hooves trimmed before he was turned over to rescue. He's also gained about 52 pounds.

In addition he had a “pretty severe” case of rainrot, which is a bacteria that causes lesions on a horse's body. The condition is blamed on causes such as insect bites and unclean stable conditions. A picture of TJ showed large lesions on his sides.

As for his genital injury, it's healing and is being cleaned and treated twice a day. Van Vleck said it will take time for the swelling to go down completely, and her vet has said it may not return to normal size. TJ is scheduled to be castrated April 3.

A trainer will begin working with both horses on Wednesday to assess their training levels, with the hope that they will soon be ready for adoption, Van Vleck said.

Van Vleck, who works with animal control agencies in five different counties, said she now is caring for 26 horses.

“People need to know what's going on,” she said, adding there have to be consequences for people who don't properly care for their horses.

For more about Rehorse Rescue, visit www.rehorserescue.org/ .

The full report on Flynn's case, with names of witnesses redacted, is posted below, with some grammatical and spelling corrections.

NARRATIVE No. 1
Reported by: Hodgson, George P.
Reviewed by: Poma, Scott J.

On 2/12/2010, William Davidson contacted me by phone. Davidson told me he was the deputy director of Lake County Animal Care and Control. He went on to say he had been investigating an animal cruelty case which involved an animal control officer for Lake County. He asked me if I would take the case over to allow for an investigation independent from his office. I arranged to meet with him on 2/16/10 at the Lake County Animal Shelter. I then hung up the phone.

On 2/16/2010, at approximately 0900 hours I arrived at the Lake County Animal Shelter, 4949 Helbush Drive, Lakeport. There I contacted Davidson. He told me the following in essence:

On 2/5/2010, he was informed by Lake County Animal Control Officer XXXX that horses, which belonged to Animal Control Officer Terrie Flynn, were underweight. He was also told, by XXXX, that one of the horses had what appeared to be an injury to its penis. He told me he went, with XXXX, to one location (XXXX Patocchi Court, Lakeport), where he found a tri-colored, intact male, paint, with an injury to its penis. He told me he contacted Flynn by phone. He said Flynn was out of the state at this time. He told Flynn the horse needed immediate veterinary treatment. Flynn agreed and admitted she had been treating the injury before she left out of state. He told me there were three other horses on that property which appeared thin. He told me he issued Notice of Violation numbers #000790 and 000792 for the injured horse and the other three horses a that property. He told me he transported the horse to the Lake County Animal Shelter, with the permission of Flynn. He also told me Flynn had accepted all costs associated with the horse's impoundment and the cost of a vet exam. He told me that once there, the horse was treated by DVM Waddington. Davidson told me Flynn had sought treatment for the horse's injury at Animal Hospital of Lake County prior to the horse being impounded.

I asked Davidson if Flynn was a member of the public and he received a similar complaint how would he proceed. He told me he would work with them to improve the care of their animals as feed and water were at both locations and provided. He told me he believed this was not a criminal offense and he would not file criminal charges in similar circumstances. Davidson also admitted that Flynn was cooperating with this investigation and suggestions of possibly removing some of the horses. Davidson gave me a copy of the notes given to him by DVM Jerri Waddington regarding the horse.


This record indicates that on 1/14/2010 Flynn contacted Waddington regarding the injured horse. The notes indicated Waddington prescribed Bute (pain management) for the horse. The instructions indicate to [keep] the area clean using Nolvasan (anti-septic) and furacin ointment to keep it moist.

Davidson told me, he was then alerted by XXXX [the other officer], on 2/5/[2010], about a second location at XXX Pine Ridge Road, where two other horses belonging to Flynn were located. Davidson and XXXX then went to that second location. He told [me] there he found two horses, which appeared to be underweight. He told me he issued Notice of Violation # 000791 for the horses on that property. Davidson gave me copies of all the Notice of Violations he left for Flynn.

Davidson went on to say that on 2/09/2010 Flynn signed over ownership of the injured horse to Lake County Animal Care. He gave me a copy of the owner surrender form, as well as several photos he had taken of the horses, feed at the horses' locations, and the condition of the stables in which the horses were kept. Davidson also gave me copies of the Notice of Violations given to XXXX. He also gave me a copy of his investigation into the matter.

At this time, Sergeant Scott Poma of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office met us. Davidson, Poma and I then went to an area to the rear north of the animal shelter. There I saw an intact male, paint, approximately four years of age. I saw that its penis was extended and had a large swollen area approximately 3 to 4 inches from the tip. I asked Davidson what happened to the horses. He said he believed it cut its penis on a fence. I asked Davidson what the horse's name was. He told me “T.J.” I then performed a body conditioning score on the horse. The results are as follows: neck-3, withers-2, loin-3, tailhead-4, left ribs-3, right ribs-3, shoulder-3. Average score of 3, defined as thin.

At this time, Animal Control Officer XXXX arrived. She told me she had been contacted by Flynn, on 2/05/2010. Flynn told her the person who had been caring for the horses was no longer able to, so she asked if XXXX [the other officer] could take care of them until she returned. XXXX said when she arrived at the property (XXXX Patocchi Court) she was alarmed by the condition of the injured horse and the other horses there. She told me she did not believe the horses were being cared for properly, as they were all thin. She told me she then went to a second location (XXX Pine Ridge Road). There she said she saw two other horses owned by Flynn. She told me those horses were also thin. She said she notified Davidson of the conditions of all the horses at this time.

Poma and I then interviewed Animal Control Officer Flynn at the Lake County Animal Shelter. Flynn told us she owned a total of six horses prior, to relinquishing “T.J.” She said she had contacted the vet (Waddington) as soon as she noticed the injury (1/14/10). She told us she suspected the horse had cut its penis on a fence. She went on to say “T.J.” “has always been thin,” however since the injury “T.J.” continued to lose weight. She told me she had been following the vet's recommendations for the treatment of the injured horse. She said she went to Texas the week of 2/1/2010. She told me she made arrangements for XXXX [a friend] to care for the horses in her absence. When she found that XXXX was unable to do this, she asked XXXX [the other officer]. She told me she spent approximately $400 a month for feed for the horses. She told me she bought the feed at Dave's Hay Barn. She provided me with an itemized receipt from Dave's Hay Barn, This indicates purchases from 11/11/2007 until 2/13/2010. The record showed feed was purchased by Flynn every two weeks. Flynn told me she felt “overwhelmed” by the number of horses she owned since her husband has been stationed in Texas. She told me she had made arrangements to give two more horses away. She said she planned to do this during this same week. She went on to say that she had been “around horses her whole life” and felt confident she knew how to care for the animals.

I then took Flynn in my work vehicle to XXX Pine Ridge Road. There I saw one adult red dun mare and one adult brown and white paint located in a barn on the northwest of the property. I asked Flynn to halter the paint horse and bring it out of the barn, which she did.

Flynn told me this horse's name was “Breeze.” She told me this horse was a mare, 14 years of age. She told me she owned the horse for four years. I then performed a body conditioning score on the horses. The results are as follows: neck-4, withers-3, loin-5, tailhead-5, left ribs-4, right ribs-3, shoulder-4. Average score of 4.42 – defined as moderately thin/moderate.

I next asked Flynn to halter the red dun quarter horse and bring it out of the barn, which she did. Flynn told me this horse was a mare, 4 years of age, named “Mia.” I then performed a body conditioning score on this horse. The results are as follows: neck-4, withers-4, loin-7, tailhead-5, left ribs-5, right ribs-5, shoulder-4. Average score of 4.8 – defined as moderately thin/moderate.

I next looked inside the barn. There I saw bales of alfalfa hay and hay pellets. I saw that each stable had an automatic watering system for the horses. I also saw that these were the only two horses located at this barn. I then took photos of the horses, feed and conditions of the stables. I saw there was an accumulation of feces in both stalls which I told Flynn to clean at the end of her shift, which she agreed to do.

Flynn and I then went to XXXX Patocchi Court. There I saw three black and white paint horses. I asked Flynn to halter one of the horses and bring it out of the barn, which she did. While doing this one of the horses, a 2-year-old filly, ran free from the barn. I was unable to safely catch this horse to perform a body conditioning score. I saw that this horse was not obviously thin. The attitude of this horse was alert and playful. Flynn told me this horse was named “Roxy.”

Flynn then brought me a pregnant, black and white paint mare, 5 years of age named “Dallas.” I then performed a body conditioning score on this horse. The results are as follows: neck-6, withers-3, loin-5, tailhead-5, left ribs-8, right ribs-8, shoulder-5. Average score of 6.3 – defined as moderately fleshy.

We next went into the barn area. There I saw a black and white, 12-year-old Arab-paint cross, named “Twister.” I then performed a body conditioning score on this horse. The results are as follows: neck-5, withers-4, loin-5, tailhead-4, left ribs-5, left ribs-5, shoulder-4. Average score of 4.5.

While doing this, I saw that the hooves on this horse were in need of trimming. I asked Flynn who her farrier was. She said she did it herself. I told her to trim the hoofs in the near future. I then took photos of the horses and this condition in which they were kept. I also photographed several bales of alfalfa hay and two 55 gallon containers, which contained hay pellets. I saw the horses were provided with large plastic containers which held water.

Flynn and I then returned to the Lake County Animal Shelter.

I then contacted DVM Jeri Waddington by phone. She told me she had been contacted by Flynn on 1/14/10 regarding the injured horse. She told me she had Flynn as a client for the last five years. She told me that in her visits to the horses she had not seen any evidence that Flynn was not a responsible pet owner. I thanked her and hung up the phone.

I then left the Lake County Animal Shelter.

When I returned tot he Ukiah station I placed the vets records, feed receipts, body conditioning scores and photos into the Ukiah evidence.

Recommendation: non criminal at this time.


NARRATIVE No. 2

Reported by: Hodgson, George P.
Entered by: Hodgson, George P.
Reviewed by: Poma, Scott J.

Date: February 16, 2010

To: George Hodgson
Sr. Animal Control Officer
Mendocino County Sheriff's Office

From: William Davidson
Deputy Director Lake County Animal Care & Control

Subject: Terrie Flynn's Horses

On Feb. 5, 2010 I went with Officer XXXX to investigate an alleged complaint of animal neglect by one of our officers, Terrie Flynn, at two locations in Lakeport: Patocchi Court and Pine Ridge Drive. The complaint alleged that one of our officers was out of town and not properly caring for her six horses.

We arrived on Patocchi Court at approximately 10:15 a.m. Officer XXXX And I viewed four horses on the property: 1) Black and white pinto stallion, 2) black and white paint mare (in foal), 3) black and white paint filly (yearling), 4) brown and white pinto stallion, which also had a severe injury to its penis. All the horses were slightly underweight, the stallion with the injury more so than the others. There were three bales of hay and some alfalfa pellets present on the property. Officer XXXX and I both felt the injury to the stallion's penis would require immediate attention. We then left the area and proceeded to Pine Ridge Drive.

At approximately 11 a.m. We arrived on Pine Ridge Drive and viewed the two other horses involved in the complaint: 5) sorrel quarter horse, possibly in foal, 6) tricolor pinto mare. These horses were stalled with automatic waters. Both horses appeared to be slightly underweight, but several bales of hay and alfalfa pellets were present in the barn.

Officer XXXX and I then went and spoke with the property owner on Pine Ridge Drive, Mr. XXXX. Mr. XXXX stated his wife XXXX had been feeding the horses (#5, #6) until she left for Australia on Feb. 2, 2010 (the same date that Terrie left for vacation). He further stated that he was unaware that Terrie was out of town and thought she had been coming to feed them. Mr. XXXX agreed to begin feeding the horses twice daily until Terrie returned.

I then called and spoke with Terrie Flynn, who was in Texas at the time. I told Terrie about the complaint and the concern I had for the injured stallion (#4). Terrie stated that the horse had injured its penis on a fence wire several weeks earlier and that she had been cleaning and caring for it since. She also stated that Dr. Waddington was aware of the injury. I then asked Terrie if Dr. Waddington had ever seen the injury, to which she replied “No.” I advised Terrie that both Officer XXXX and I felt it needed toe seen immediately by a vet. Terrie agreed to call her vet out that day (Feb. 5, 2010) and have an exam completed. I next asked Terrie who had been caring for her horses while she was away. Terrie stated her friend XXXX had been caring for the horses on Patocchi court and that XXXX, Mr. XXXX's wife, had been caring for the horses on Pine Ridge Drive. I advised Terrie that XXXX had left for Australia the same day she had left for Texas, to which she replied, “That's not good!” I then informed her that Mr. XXXX would take over the feeding until she returned.

Once back at the office I contacted XXXX, the caregiver to Terrie's four horses on Patocchi Court. XXXX told me that Terrie had instructed her to feed the horses once daily, which she had been doing around 3 p.m. each day once she got off work. I asked XXXX to increase the feedings to twice daily until Terrie returned. She stated that she would. I then asked XXXX about the injury to the stallion's penis. XXXX stated that she was aware of the injury, but thought that Terrie was taking care of it. XXXX added that she wasn't too familiar with horses, that it had been since she was a kid that she had truly dealt with them.

At approximately 12:30 p.m. XXXX with Dr. Waddington on Patocchi Court to examine the injury to the brown and white pinto stallion (#4). Dr. Waddington indicated the penis was swollen and infected and prescribed antibiotics as well as instructions to clean it twice daily. She stated that if it wasn't better in a few weeks, it may have to be amputated. She also recommended a feeding regimen to help increase his weight.


Due to the medications and the vet's instructions for care to the injured stallion (#4), coupled with XXXX's inexperience with horses, I called Terrie back and stated if she was willing to pay our board fee, we could impound the horse and care for it here at the shelter until she returned. She agreed.

On Feb. 9, 2010 I personally spoke with Terrie about the situation with her horses. Terrie stated she was overwhelmed financially and needed help. Since she had already paid for the continuing vet care on the injured stallion (#4), I suggested she might want to consider signing it over to the department. She could then work on finding homes for several of the other horses. Terrie agreed and signed an owner surrender form pertaining to the injured stallion (#4), which we already had in our care. I then issued Terrie two notices of violation (one for each location) stating that she needed to work on bringing her horses' weight up and that we would re-check her progress in three weeks.

By advice of county counsel, on Feb. 16, 2010, this entire case was turned over to Sr. Animal Control Officer George Hodgson and Sgt. Scott Poma from Mendocino County.

Sincerely,

William Davidson
Deputy Director Lake County Animal Care and Control

(Lake County News - March 15, 2010)

Earlier:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wolverhampton youngster recalls horrific bull mastiff attack

UNITED KINGDOM -- Speaking for the first time since the brutal assault in her back garden eight years ago, the 13-year-old decribed the terrifying moment the two bull mastiffs pounced and ravaged her delicate body.

BRAVE Leah Preston – whose legs were left scarred for life after an horrific dog attack at her Midland home – has revealed she hopes to become a professional dancer.



Speaking for the first time since the brutal assault in her back garden eight years ago, the 13-year-old decribed the terrifying moment the two bull mastiffs pounced and ravaged her delicate body.

But she told the Birmingham Mail the injuries had not ended her ambitions of becoming a dancer.

The youngster was playing at home in Wolverhampton when the dogs struck, biting chunks out of her leg, arms and head leaving more than 30 scars all over her body.

Since the attack, the pretty teenager has endured cruel taunts from school bullies and has had terrifying nightmares.

Now she is rebuilding her life with the help of her mum Diane Reynolds and six brothers and sisters.

But the memory of the day when the fierce animals pounced never fades.

Leah said: “I remember I was playing in the back garden when I saw these two dogs come in. I went behind the bin to hide but there was nothing I could do. I was extremely scared and they grabbed me from behind.

“It was a terrifying moment. There was a woman in a yellow T-shirt pulling me up and I remember I felt awful pains where the dogs were biting into me. People were hitting the dogs with sticks and I was lifted out of the garden. But I must have gone into deep shock because I can’t remember what happened afterwards.”

The dogs, which were destroyed immediately, were owned by a neighbour who was later given a six-month suspended sentence and was disqualified from keeping dogs for ten years.

But the damage had been done, and the youngster was left with the shocking injuries. She was taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where she was given skin grafts as doctors tried desperately to save her left leg. One of the bites was less than a millimetre from severing an artery, which could have resulted in her bleeding to death within minutes. She endured more painful operations and will eventually need to have reconstructive surgery when she is older.

After the incident, the family moved from their house in Hawksford Crescent and have never been back to the street.


Leah added: “I didn’t really go into the garden to play for about three years afterwards. But even now if I see a dog without a lead I am petrified. Even if it’s on a lead I will cross over so I’m on the opposite side of the road. I also suffered from lots of nightmares too. I can’t wear a bikini because I am so conscious of the scarring and will only go swimming if I can wear shorts so that the leg is covered.”

If Leah over exerts herself she can collapse due to the pressures on her leg. But that hasn’t stopped her from having a clear ambition to become a dancer.

“I really enjoy street dancing,” she said. “I go to classes once a week and wear leggings or tracksuit bottoms which don’t really show off the scarring. If I do have to wear a tutu, I will put leggings on underneath.

“At sports day last year though I had just done a little bit too much and I collapsed. I have to be careful.”

Full-time mum Diane, 36, added: “Leah was incredibly lucky to survive such a horrendous attack. Others have not been so fortunate.”

* Police and local authorities could also be given powers to force owners of dangerous dogs to muzzle them or even get them neutered.

Ministers said the consultation responded to concerns about the use of animals to intimidate or threaten people. More than 100 people a week are admitted to hospital after dog attacks.


There has also been a reported rise in levels of dog fighting and illegal ownership, particularly by gangs.

“I’m really behind this proposal,” Leah said. “There have been so many dog attacks since my incident, and something like this could really make a difference.”

She added: “I think there are a lot of owners who don’t put their dogs on a lead. ”

Mum Diane added: “Leah only received £500 in compensation, yet she is scarred for life.

“The insurance would mean that anyone else who goes through this will be properly compensated. We are behind this 100 per cent. I just hope that it goes through.”

(Birmingham Mail  - March 12, 2010)

Earlier:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pit bull euthanized after attacking, killing owner's aunt

SOUTH CAROLINA -- A pit bull was euthanized in Lee County Thursday after it attacked and killed its owner's aunt, who had been caring for it while her nephew was out of town.

Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin said Ethel Baker Horton, 65, was killed off Stokes Bridge Road near the town of Lucknow while defending her 71-year-old husband, Jerry Horton, from the pit bull.
 

"You never think of somebody dying that horrible death like that, not someone as close as she is to us," said Brenda Gillespie, who had breakfast with the Hortons just two days ago. "It's just terrible."

The Hortons were dog-sitting their nephew's 10-year-old pit bull named Brutus while the nephew was out of town, Melvin said. The dog had been tied to a 15-foot chain attached to a stake in the ground in the backyard next door.

"I've always been scared of pit bulls, but they weren't scared of them," said Gillespie.

Around 11:40am Thursday, Jerry went out to feed six beagles and two huskies that were also being kept in the backyard. As Jerry was feeding the other dogs, Melvin said the pit bull pulled the chain loose and attacked Jerry.

Ethel ran out and tried to defend her husband with a plastic pipe, but Brutus turned on her and mauled her. Jerry called his son, who in turn called 911.

Ethel was killed in the attack, and Jerry was taken to Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center in Hartsville with non-life threatening injuries.

"I know this is gonna just be so hard on him if he makes it, because they were just as one," said Gillespie.

The pit bull has been taken away and euthanized, and is being tested for rabies. The as-yet-unidentified nephew has been notified of the incident, but it's unclear if he will face charges.

The sheriff's department says Brutus never acted out before and in fact, the Hortons were familiar with him since he was a puppy.

"If any stranger comes around he may bark or anything like that but any other family member that's close to the dog, anybody can go up to him," said Major Daniel Simon. "That's what the family told me."

"It's very devastating, because if you're expecting someone to pass away that's not as bad," said Gillespie. "But for something like this, it's kind of hard to comprehend."

Pit bull attacks are not exactly uncommon in the Midlands, even when they don't result in death. In April 2009, different dogs attacked a Florence woman and a Sumter 10-year-old within a month of each other. The previous fall, a pit bull attacked a woman and her puppy, injuring her and killing her dog.

But fatal attacks have also taken place in the Midlands, mainly on children. In 2007, a father was charged with involuntary manslaughter when his five pit bulls killed his 22-month-old child. Later that year, a two-year-old was attacked and killed after wandering into the fenced-in backyard.

(WIS - March 11, 2010)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Owner makes excuses for his Golden Retriever's condition

CANADA -- The owner of a dog so malnourished it was described as a "walking skeleton" by the B.C. SPCA told CTV News Wednesday that he didn't realize how thin the golden retriever was until he shaved him.

The Maple Ridge, B.C., resident, who asked to be identified only as Mike, said that he brought two-year-old Buddy to the local SPCA in a bid to save his life.


"I didn't want him to die. I care about animals," Mike said, who also owns a second dog.

He said he was feeding Buddy regular dog food. "For some reason this one wouldn't put on any weight. Occasionally he made a mess on himself in his cage when we were out."

Mike said that he tried to shave the dog because he could not get him clean. "I didn't realize how thin he was until I started shaving him," he said.

"One day he collapsed in front of his cage and that's when I brought him in."

When Mike handed over the dog to the shelter, he claimed to have found it by the side of the road.

Mike said Wednesday that he didn't take the dog to a veterinarian because he had lost his job and didn't have the money to care for two dogs. He explained that he didn't identify himself to the shelter because he was scared of the consequences.

The B.C. SPCA is recommending criminal and animal cruelty charges against two people for the neglect of the dog, which was turned in on February 28.

Crown counsel has yet to approve the criminal and animal cruelty charges for permitting an animal to be in distress.

Under the criminal code, a conviction on that charge carries a possible jail sentence of six months, according to SPCA senior animal protection officer Eileen Drever. "That very, very rarely happens, unfortunately."

She said that the SPCA is hopeful that Buddy's owners will be given a lifetime prohibition against caring for animals.


Buddy weighed 10.5 kilograms when he was brought in, roughly a third the weight of an average golden retriever. Staff members on hand were shaken by the dogs appearance, Drever said.

"I've seen dogs in this condition before, but they have been dead; they've not been alive," she said.

The dog's owner describes himself as a caring man, and says he's been saddened by what's happened.

"I didn't think he was that bad off," he said.

"I'm praying every day that that dog makes it and eventually finds a good home."

(bc.ctvnews.ca - March 10, 2010)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Boy injured by his own neighbor’s dog

WEST VIRGINIA -- An 8-year-old boy was rushed to Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital Sunday after being bit by a dog in front of his Cobbs Street residence.

 The victim’s father, Shane Stines, says that although the animal was removed following the incident, he fears its return to his neighbor’s property.

 “My three kids were out front and my wife was shoveling a patch of our driveway,” Stines said Tuesday. “The dog got loose and came after my daughter first before my neighbor grabbed him and tied him back up.”

 According to a report from Stines, only a few moments passed before the pit bull mix was back and his son had suffered approximately seven puncture wounds to his calf.

He said the dog took off when he hit him in the back with a shovel.

 “The dog was picked up and taken to the animal shelter, and a citation was issued to its owner,” Raleigh County animal control officer Howard Vest said. “What happens next depends on a few things.”

 Vest says the animal must be confined 10 days, but if it does not have rabies, they will talk to the owner to decide where to go from there.

“Dogs bite for different reasons,” the officer said, “so I can’t say anything specific about this situation.”

 After speaking with the Raleigh County prosecutor’s office, Stines says he understands there is nothing he can do to the animal unless there have been at least two documented attacks.

John Gallaher, an assistant prosecuting attorney, said he learned in law school that the first bite is often “free.”

 “I am not saying there must be two bites, per se,” he explained, “but that’s what we usually go by because the owner has to have actual knowledge that his dog is vicious before any kind of legal process can be brought.”

The statute does state, however, that it is unlawful to keep any dog that has been declared vicious or has a habit of biting.

 “There just has to be some kind of evidence beforehand to put the owner on notice,” Gallaher added.
“It would probably take more than one incident of two bites, but I don’t have all the facts in front of me, so even this incident could lead to petition.”

 The attorney says to his understanding there is a vicious dog petition where the state can proceed to take possession of a dog and force its destruction, as well as a criminal aspect.

 “If an individual is harboring a vicious dog, he or she could face jail time,” Gallaher said. “That’s when it comes in that the owner must have previous knowledge.”

 Again, he says nothing is set in stone and each case has its own factual basis.

Stines said he just wants to make sure the dog does not return home.

 “There’s just too many children in the area,” he said.

 “Sunday was a nice day, the first time the kids could come out and play, and the dog went completely nuts. I can’t imagine what it will do when they’re all playing outside in the summertime.”

(register-herald.com - March 9, 2010)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Maine: Jury convicts Carol Murphy of animal cruelty, assault on a state trooper

MAINE -- It took a Franklin County jury 30 minutes on Wednesday to find Carol Murphy guilty of animal cruelty and of assaulting an officer with a stun gun.

The New Sharon woman was also found guilty of refusing to submit to arrest and criminal use of an electronic weapon.


A discussion on sentencing and possible criminal contempt of court charges is set for 9 a.m. today in the Franklin County Courthouse.

Murphy was arrested in October for unpaid fines. The following day, animal-welfare officials seized more than 40 animals from her home.

During the trial, Murphy, 65, repeatedly interrupted the proceedings, calling it a “kangaroo court” that had no jurisdiction over her.


She accused Justice Michaela Murphy of acting illegally by not stepping down after being named in a lawsuit Carol Murphy says she filed in U.S. District Court in Boston last month.

The lawsuit, according to Carol Murphy, claims the judge, the district attorneys, the police and state animal-welfare workers are running a criminal racket to make money from seizing her property and animals.


“You are a criminal and are conducting this court as a racketeering enterprise,” Carol Murphy told the judge.

At one point, Carol Murphy called for the justice’s arrest for violating the law.

“Someone call (Franklin County Sheriff Dennis Pike) in here to arrest this b—-,” she said when the jury was out of the courtroom.

During the trial, Carol Murphy, who represented herself, also interrupted Justice Murphy and attempted to talk over her; refused to stand for the jury; and during testimony, was either reading a book or whispering to her standby counsel, George Hess.


Then at 11:30 a.m., without comment, Carol Murphy abruptly stood up from the defendant’s table, gathered her papers and walked briskly out of the courtroom and into the adjoining conference room.

The unexpected move caused a commotion among the extra state security officers, two court bailiffs and corrections officers assigned to the trial.

At that point, Justice Murphy called for a lunch recess, but an hour later, Carol Murphy reportedly refused to return to the court from the Franklin County Detention Center.

Jail Administrator Douglas Blauvelt testified he spoke to Murphy in her cell and that she refused to go back to the courtroom.


The judge, referring to state rules and case law, found that the trial could proceed without the defendant present.

In a related action, Chief U.S. District Judge John Woodcock, in a Feb. 18 order, found that Carol Murphy had filed nine cases in federal courts and that each civil action involved her long-standing dispute with state and municipal officials regarding her treatment of animals.

“She has lost at every turn. Rather than accept the judgments of her fellow citizens, she has concocted conspiracy theories, made wild allegations … and has caused the state and federal governments to expend untold time and money defending against her meritless claims,” Woodcock wrote.


He said the law has found that suing a judge does not automatically disqualify them from a case.

“Ms. Murphy has consistently abused her right to access to the courts by repeatedly and unsuccessfully suing … state and municipal officials and then threatening to sue and suing federal judges who conclude her frivolous lawsuits lack merit,” he wrote. “This must stop.”


Woodcock ordered that Murphy not file any lawsuits in U.S. District Court, District of Maine without prior permission.

According to Assistant District Attorney James Andrews and testimony from several witnesses, on Oct. 14, Murphy zapped Maine State Police Trooper Aaron Turcotte on his neck with a 975,000-volt stun gun when he attempted to arrest her on a warrant for unpaid fines.

“This doesn’t occur during a struggle or argument and he has not laid hands on her,” said Andrews. “This was a premeditated attack, a surprise attack designed to disable the trooper.”


Murphy was also carrying a four-inch, double-bladed knife that was found when she was searched at the jail, he said.

Turcotte was also investigating a report that Murphy possessed animals in violation of a lifetime ban following her 2005 conviction of animal cruelty.

The next day, the Maine Animal Welfare Program executed a search warrant and seized 45 animals at Murphy’s home that were described in court as being emaciated, dehydrated, isolated, sick, living in feces-covered cages and without proper care.


(Press Herald - March 4, 2010)

Earlier:

Charges dismissed; original owner Shauna Jenkins wants Pomeranians back

LOUISIANA -- In September of 2007, a Baton Rouge woman was arrested when officers learned she was illegally kenneling more than three dozen Pomeranians in her home.

A couple out of Dallas, Texas adopted 29 of the dogs, but now the original owner wants them back.

Whether that is even possible all depends on paperwork and a judge. As it stands, Gail Bertrand, who lives in Dallas, owns seven of the dogs. She says the remaining 22 were spayed or neutered and are now living in new homes. Their previous owner, Shauna Jenkins, demands that all of the dogs be returned.

A group of East Baton Rouge animal control agents rescued 38 Pomeranians from a house on Annebell back in September of 2007. The dogs' caretaker, Shauna Jenkins,was busted for felony theft.

Detectives said she accepted $5,000 for a dog, but never delivered. East Baton Rouge Animal Control Director, Hilton Cole, described what agents saw when they went inside the home.


"There was fecal material lying around, urine around, messy cages, dirty cages," said Cole.

After the dogs were seized, they were put up for adoption. The felony theft charge was dismissed. Jenkins pleaded guilty to violating a city-parish ordinance and criminal mischief, and was put on probation for a year.

What about the 38 counts of animal cruelty? What did they do about those???

Jenkins recently filed a lawsuit in Johnson County, Texas to get the dogs back.

The suit states that Gail Bertrand agreed to "keep the animals on a temporary basis ... to avoid the animals being collected by a local SPCA agency."

Jenkins also alleges she and Bertrand agreed "the dogs would be returned immediately when she demanded."

Cole said there was always a question of ownership.

"I'm not sure Shauna's records indicated who owned what," said Cole. "I don't think she had record, per se."

Jenkins' neighbors said she has not lived at her house in about a year.

Jenkins at the time of her arrest in 2007

Cole was surprised by the lawsuit, but feels Jenkins may have learned her lesson.

"I think if Shauna was not overwhelmed with the amount of dogs in her custody or owned, her heart is in the right place," Cole said. "No doubt she loves her dogs. If she had the means to take care of the animals, I have a feeling she would rise to the occasion."

Bertrand's attorney, Ron Roberts, said by phone today that the suit was filed after he filed for declaratory judgement on his client's behalf. Roberts said the two suits have now been consolidated.

Jenkins' attorney did not return calls.

(WAFB - March 3, 2010)

Earlier:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Broadmoor man is sentenced in animal cruelty case

LOUISIANA -- A Broadmoor man will have to serve a 45-day sentence after he pleaded guilty last month to animal cruelty, according to the Louisiana SPCA, which helped investigate the case.

William Jackson, whose age and address were not immediately available, owned a German shepherd that weighed just 38 pounds, the agency said. Typically, such dogs weigh between 62 and 80 pounds.

The agency released a picture in which the dog's ribs were clearly visible.


It was the second time in two years that Jackson was charged with animal cruelty, the agency said.

Last year, the city attorney's office declined to prosecute a case against him that was investigated by the SPCA.

The dog is now in the care of a foster family, and he has already become much healthier and heavier, pictures distributed by the SPCA show. The shepherd weighs 75 pounds now, the agency said. The SPCA is looking for a permanent home for the dog.

Along with having to serve a 45-day jail term, Jackson was ordered to pay a $684 fine. He also is barred from owning animals in the future, save for fish, according to the SPCA.

(The Times-Picayune - March 2, 2010)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Memphis police officer faces animal cruelty charges

TENNESSEE -- A Memphis police sergeant is charged with animal cruelty after animal control officers found two starved dogs in her back yard.

Betty Carter
Sergeant Betty Carter has been charged with two counts of cruelty to animals and two counts of failure to obtain licenses.

The charges come after the Memphis Animal Shelter received a recent call about dogs running loose at the officer's home on Aldie.  When the animal control officer arrived at Carter's house, she did not find dogs running loose, but neighbors urged her to look in Carter's back yard. There, the officer found four dogs chained up.

Two of the four dogs were so starved they had to be put down.

Carter was cited on city charges, but animal rescuers say the dogs were in such bad condition, they may be upgraded to state charges.

Meanwhile, the Memphis Animal Shelter will not return Carter's two other dogs to her.

The failure to obtain license charge was because the dogs did not have rabies shots.

Memphis Police say the internal investigation is ongoing at this time and that Carter remains on non-enforcement status.  She will go to trial on April 19th.

(WMC - March 1, 2010)