Thursday, April 29, 2010

California: Supervisors receive advisory board report on Animal Control Officer Terrie Flynn's animal neglect case

CALIFORNIA -- Lake County's Animal Care and Control Advisory Board gave the Board of Supervisors a brief report on Tuesday regarding its findings in a horse neglect case involving a county animal control officer.

Advisory board members Grant Murray, John Gay and Dr. Susan Cannon, the group's chair, spoke to the supervisors about the case of Officer Terrie Flynn, who in February signed over an injured stallion and later gave another horse to rescue.

She had six horses in all, one of which belonged to her mother-in-law, Animal Care and Control Director Denise Johnson, as Lake County News has reported.


Deputy Director Bill Davidson wrote notices of violation on the horses due to the stallion's injury and his weight, as well as the weights of the other horses, which were considered too thin.

Earlier this month, the Animal Care and Control Advisory Board sent a letter to the supervisors outlining their findings in the case.

Cannon, who authored that letter, told the board Tuesday that the advisory board's original purpose in looking into the case was to determine if Flynn had received special treatment or was treated differently.

“Our conclusions were that, yes, she was treated different,” Cannon said.

What the advisory board hasn't been able to conclude is whether or not that special treatment was intentional, she added.

By the time the advisory board started looking into the case, it had been handed off to a Mendocino County Animal Control officer who was brought in to investigate the case, according to Cannon.


The horses were discovered in their condition while Flynn was out of state on Feb. 5. Senior Animal Control Officer George Hodgson began his investigation on Feb. 16, according to the case documents.

Referring to Hodgson's report, Cannon said, “That report, we believe, was poorly done.”

It was “superficial,” and failed to ask and answer important questions, she said.

Hodgson's report found no criminal wrongdoing. It also found no violations, said Cannon, in spite of the fact that Davidson had written notices of violation at the scene. By the time the advisory board became involved, those notices of violation had either been nullified or voided, she said.

“In essence there was nothing that was going to be done” from a legal standpoint, Cannon added.

But what the investigation failed to answer, said Cannon, was if the horses were being properly cared for by Flynn, who Cannon said appeared to be able to walk away with no repercussions.


Since then, according to Cannon, Davidson has stated that he disagreed with Hodgson's conclusions.

Regarding the notices of violation, Cannon said the advisory board was told two things about them – that they had been nullified and that Davidson, who originally had issued them, felt he had been told to back away from the case while Hodgson handled it.

Cannon said the notices were reinstated after the advisory board became involved and started asking questions. She noted that Animal Care and Control has been following up on the animals' care, and that some of the horses have been moved.

“So everything's under control at this point,” she said.

Cannon, who said she has been involved in examining at least half a dozen such cases, said a normal private citizen would have been looked at over several months, with Animal Care and Control visiting their property.

“In that sense, yeah, she was treated differently,” Cannon said of Flynn.

Cannon asked if it was intentional, or if that different treatment resulted because the investigation was started and stopped, then taken up by someone else.

Regarding the Mendocino County report, Cannon said the advisory board concluded either that the officer was “incompetent,” had bias toward Flynn or that Mendocino County has much lower standards for animal control than those of Lake County.

When Gay and Murray were asked if they had anything to add, Murray said Cannon had covered it exactly.

“You know, it's a balancing act when we're dealing with personnel issues,” said Board Chair Anthony Farrington.

Even so, he said he believes transparency is prudent and the right thing to do.

“The board is taking this very seriously,” he assured the advisory board members. “We've embarked upon an independent investigation.”


Farrington said that was all that the board could disclose about the case at that time. “We hope to reach a conclusion in the near future,” he said.

“Where does this stand?” asked Supervisor Denise Rushing. “What's the timing of the independent investigation?”

County Counsel Anita Grant said the independent investigation was expected to be completed on Wednesday. Officials had previously stated that they were bringing in a third-party investigator to conduct the inquiry.

Grant added that she spoke with Sheriff Rod Mitchell on Tuesday morning, and that the matter also is being actively investigated criminally.

Rushing said one of the advisory board's recommendations in its letter is that county animal control officers should be treated the same as anyone else.

“I'm going to say that I think they should be held to a higher standard,” said Rushing.


“Because this is an employee of the county, we have added responsibility on top of that,” she continued. “Whatever comes out of this investigation we need to be very clear about that.”

Farrington said he agreed “wholeheartedly” with Rushing.

“I believe we have to lead by example,” he said.

Farrington added that he thinks the independent investigation undertaken by the county was the most prudent way of handling the case.

(Lake County News - April 28, 2010)

Earlier:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Utah: Little girl, 5, runs into neighbor's yard where pit bull is chained. It takes nearly 900 stitches to put her face back together.

UTAH -- Five year-old Saleena Wickward survived a vicious attack by a pit bull on Monday in Hurricane.

According to the girl's mother, the dog bit Saleena's face tearing the skin on the right side of her face to shreds.

"The work doctors have done is miraculous," said Katie Weeks of the surgeons who used 892 stitches to reattach the skin to her daughter's face.


According to Katie, on Monday afternoon, Saleena came home disappointed that the caterpillar she'd caught at school had died. She wanted to find another one so she ran out of the house toward the neighbor's house to look for one. Katie ran after her daughter but it was too late.

GIRL RAN INTO NEIGHBOR'S YARD WHERE CHAINED DOG LIVED

In just a matter of seconds, she said the neighbor's pit bull which was chained, attacked Saleena. "I saw the dog jump and heard her scream," recalled Weeks. "It was a mother's worst nightmare."

Weeks said the dog would not let go of her daughter's face.

"Her entire jaw line was exposed," she said. Weeks said the dog's owners ran to help. Their teenage son pried the dog's jaw open and pulled it away from Saleena. "I don't know what I would have done had they not been there," said Weeks of her neighbors.


Saleena underwent a 6 hour surgery to repair her face. On Tuesday, she showed signs of improvement as her fever was down but her face was very swollen and disfigured. Her mother said her eyes were not damaged in the attack.

A representative from the city of Hurricane said the dog was quarantined while Animal Control investigates. According to the city the pit bull has no history of attacks.

Weeks said the dog has been friendly in the past. She does not fault her neighbors for the attack, saying they feel badly and have been helpful to her and her daughter. At the same time, she said she doesn't think the dog should be allowed around children again.


Saleena's family has opened an account at Wells Fargo bank in her name (Saleena Wickward). Donations to the account would help the family with medical expenses.

(WUSA - April 22, 2010)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Iowa: William Howard is hoarding dogs inside his condemned home. He was charged with animal cruelty, but apparently they don't consider "cruel confinement" to be animal cruelty

IOWA -- The Lee County Board of Supervisors voted to transfer a nuisance property to the City of Keokuk at its regular meeting on Tuesday in Keokuk. The property at 323 Concert St. has been deemed uninhabitable by city officials since 2004.

Keokuk Mayor Tom Marion, code enforcement officer Kathie Mahoney and other city officials were on hand as well as property owner William Howard. A public hearing was held to discuss the transfer.

Marion said the building is derelict and needs to come down. It is not in good shape and has constant complaints from neighbors about dogs barking and a bad smell from the home, according to city officials.

The mayor said the house “reeks.” He said it is especially bad during summer days when the temperature gets up around 90 degrees. The home can easily be smelled from neighboring houses, Marion said.

“It’s been an eyesore for years,” he said.

There are several dogs in the home that do not get let out. They are always in the home. Howard feeds and waters them regularly and has beaten an animal cruelty charge from the city because he does provide the animals with food, water and shelter.

Clearly, prosecutors don't understand what "cruel confinement" means. So what if he fed the dogs... if they can't lie down without lying in feces and urine, it's animal cruelty! If they can't breathe due to concentrated ammonia levels, it's animal cruelty!

Howard says it is the city’s fault the dogs can’t go outside. He singled out Mahoney as having some sort of vendetta against him personally. He said she ordered his fence taken down and had the posts sawed off at the ground and when he bought materials to put up a new fence, she had them hauled off as well, so he has no choice but to keep his dogs indoors.

He also said he would take garbage out of the home if the city would pick it up. He said he has to hire a private contractor to do so.

The supervisors could do nothing about the city and Howard’s court fights. The two sides have another court date set in July. The county had taken possession of the home because taxes have not been paid.

Howard said he wanted to pay some of the taxes, but the county would only accept payment in full and he didn’t have that much money. Supervisor Larry Kruse told Howard the county is willing to work with taxpayers on setting up a payment plan.

Keokuk officials also said Howard has a water bill for several thousand dollars to pay. Howard said that is because he was arrested and spent eight months in jail and during that time his pipes froze and busted. When he got out of jail, he was handed a $600 water bill and told he had to pay it.


He said city officials have been threatening to “nickel and dime him to death and run him out of town.”

“This is pay back because we went to court and I beat them and they don’t like it,” Howard said.

He urged the supervisors to at least wait on a decision until after the next court date in July.

Kruse said from the photos shown by the city officials that the home is obviously a hazard that has not been maintained. He said the reasons the property hasn’t been maintained may be valid, but that is beyond the board of supervisor’s control.

The board voted to transfer the property to the city after closing the public hearing.

“You’re willing to give it to the city for $1 instead of working with a veteran,” Howard said.

He did thank the supervisors for the county assistance he’s received as a disabled veteran, although he said Mahoney contends he is not disabled.

Later, Marion said the city will give Howard a couple of weeks to remove the dogs from the house and up to 30 days to remove other possessions from the building.

Then the city will hire a contractor to demolish the structure and try to sell the land, which Marion estimated is worth $1,500.

(Daily Gate - April 21, 2010)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Toddler 'ripped apart like a doll' by American Bulldog in horrific attack

UNITED KINGDOM -- The toddler, named locally as Zumer Ahmed, died after being savaged by a large, white American Bulldog, which belonged to her uncle.

It is not a breed that is banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act but the dog’s owner, named locally as Urfan Ahmed, 32, is being questioned on suspicion of manslaughter.

Zumer was with her mother, Saira Ahmed, grandmother, and three-year-old sister when the animal ran into the kitchen of the house in Crawley, West Sussex, and bit into her face and skull.

Two plumbers working on a nearby property went to the child's aid after hearing screams. They bravely distracted the dog, which was waist height to an adult, and prized the toddler from its jaws.
A friend of the workers, who are called Arthur and Saquib, said: "When they got in the house the family were just in complete shock and the dog had the child in its mouth.

"One of them went to get his tools while the other found a white towel and started to move towards the dog.

"There was blood everywhere and apparently the dog had the girl in it's mouth like it was a doll.  They said it was like it was literally eating the child.

"The dog had ripped nearly all of the flesh off her skull, which was covered in teeth marks. The dog was licking up the blood.”

Police confirmed that one of the plumbers had pulled the child away from the dog. She was taken to East Surrey Hospital but was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Zumer's parents, named by neighbours as Nazir and Saira Ahmed, were said to be utterly distraught last night.

The 32-year-old uncle, Urfan, lived at the address but was not home at the time. He was arrested by police when he arrived shortly afterwards.

It is understood the man kept four dogs in the garden of the terraced property.

Neighbour Ana Andrade, 35, said: "I think it was a really tragic accident, his dogs were so well-behaved.

"He would always be teaching them, they were like big teddy bears. This is such a shock, he is such a responsible owner."

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said he had often seen the dogs being walked in the area.

He said: "I am surprised this is what has happened, my little one strokes his dogs. He's not one of those guys who has a dog because it's a status symbol, he loves his dogs and they are walked every day.”

Det Ch Insp Trevor Bowles, who is leading the enquiry, said: "Officers have been working through the night to build up a picture of what lead to this appalling tragedy. Our inquiries our actively continuing and a suspect remains in custody.

"There is little more we can say in terms what occurred at this address yesterday afternoon, but it appears that the little girl was in the kitchen with her grandmother, mother and three year old sister when the dog entered the house from the garden.

"What happened next was truly horrific, as the dog picked up the child and attacked it in front of her family. Two workmen at a property nearby heard screaming and ran to the house to help. They were able to distract the animal, who dropped the baby from its jaws. One of them then pulled the child to safety before an ambulance was called."

The animal is currently being held by Sussex Police and will be destroyed in due course.

(Telegraph UK - April 19, 2010)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wyoming pet laws have no bark, no bite

WYOMING -- Two rural animal rescues on the high plains are located about 20 miles away from each other.

One rescue is licensed by the state and is inspected regularly. The second rescue was not.

About six weeks ago, officers arrived at the second rescue with a search warrant. Three people had reported they had visited the rescue, interested in adopting pets, but left feeling troubled about the filthy conditions.

In the warrant, they reported dogs and cats living in crates stacked on top of each other. Feces were everywhere — in the kennels, in the crates and all over the house. Urine leaked from the upper crates and onto the animals in the lower crates.

When the officers arrived, the owner allegedly tried to block them from entering her home, which doubled as an indoor animal facility. She was arrested. Then the officers loaded up dozens of dogs, cats and rabbits and took them to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter.

The raided rescue was called Litl' Bit of Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, located near the small town of Carpenter east of Cheyenne. The owner, Marci Biesheuvel, has been charged.

At the time, Rob Shank, who oversees Cheyenne Animal Control, said filth was the overriding concern. Also, the water in the dishes for the dogs that lived outside was frozen.

Many came to Biesheuvel's defense, posting comments on the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's articles on WyomingNews.com and submitting letters to the editor, saying Biesheuvel was a big-hearted animal lover who made many sacrifices to do what many are unwilling to do — bring in people's unwanted pets.

Her defense attorney said she was a victim of her own compassion and that she isn't a criminal.

Study in contrasts
Drive 20 miles south and you'll arrive at the first rescue, Denkai Animal Sanctuary.

That's in Colorado. And for more than a decade, businesses and nonprofits there that operate as animal shelters, rescues, breeders, groomers and pet stores have had to be licensed and inspected.

The same goes for Nebraska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and many other states.

But in Wyoming, there are no standards or regulations for facilities that are in the pet business — for-profit and nonprofit alike.

"That's where Wyoming is really behind the times," said Floss Blackburn, owner of Denkai Animal Sanctuary. "A lot of it has to do with the fact that it's a rancher-orientated type of state. That's good and bad."

In addition, state experts say law enforcement officials don't consistently enforce what's already on the books.

Biesheuvel got two misdemeanor citations for animal cruelty: failure "to provide proper shelter" for the 37 dogs and 15 cats living in her house and the 53 dogs and four cats living outdoors.

Based on what state experts say, it's entirely possible that in another Wyoming county, officials would see no basis to charge Biesheuvel. As long as the animals were fed, watered, not being whipped and not being rained on, they could do nothing.

Today, the state's animal care law bars cruelty. But it only says this: Those responsible for an animal's care shall provide adequate food, water and protection from the weather.

Therein lies the big gray space.

"'Protection from the weather' — what does that mean?" asked Patricia Fazio of Cody. "The side of a barn? A windbreak? A roof over its head?"

The statewide coordinator of the Wyoming Wild Horse Coalition — who also advocates for the humane treatment of animals — went on to say that current law could work if applied liberally.

"If you want to say that means four sides and a roof and a door, you could interpret that as protection from the weather," Fazio said.

Law in the works
The Wyoming Legislature likely will vote on a law next session that sets more specific care standards for pets.

It's not outside the realm of possibility that regulations for businesses and nonprofits that deal with pets also could be considered.

Rep. Bernadine Craft, D-Rock Springs, supports this. She said officials have complained to her that they have seen some bad situations they couldn't do anything about.

Craft knew of one instance where residents took matters in their own hands. A group did a hostile takeover of the Sweetwater County shelter. Armed with their new memberships, they fired the director, voted out the board and spent days cleaning up the rat-infested facility; according to Craft, two women donned Hazmat suits.

Thanks to those efforts, she said, that shelter is now a showpiece.

Late in the 2009 session, Craft introduced a minimum pet care bill that proposed requirements such as making "actual water, not frozen water" available to dogs, cats and other pets, and keeping their living spaces "reasonably clean of filth."

That bill failed. Since then, the Wyoming Livestock Board has been looking at drafting "animal protection legislation that actually had some teeth in it," said State Veterinarian Dr. Jim Logan.

Ask any 10 people what the current law means, and you'll get 10 different answers, he said.

"There's no doubt in my mind we need to have some consistency," Logan said. "In my opinion, we need to be very proactive in getting this down so we aren't vulnerable to outside entities wanting to do things in their way in Wyoming. … We need to do it here."

It's uncertain right now if the legislation would result in pet business regulations, Logan said. There's no draft bill yet.

The next discussion on this issue will occur during this week's meeting of the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands, and Water Resources Interim Committee. He expects study on the issue to be "ongoing" throughout the summer.

Should the committee decline to sponsor a bill, Craft said she plans to take it on in the upcoming session.

It might be a tough sell to ranchers, she admitted. But the law would not apply to horses and other livestock.

"We're not talking about a horse standing outside in the cold without a blanket — that's what the ranchers are worried about," she said. "No one intends to run around and try to be do-gooders. But it needs to be a controlled industry."

She acknowledged that regulating pet industries would cost the state money, which is in short supply these days, though many of the costs could be offset by license fees.

Laws elsewhere
Others in the animal-welfare industry say regulations work well in other states.

Though the state's very name triggers angry sputtering and gnashing of teeth among some Wyomingites, Colorado has such a system in place.

"(The law) is nice because it fills in the space between what is clearly cruelty and the situation that doesn't quite meet that threshold but just isn't right," said Martha Smith.

She represents animal rescues on the advisory committee of the Colorado Pet Animal Care Facilities Act program.

Though some groups would like to see even tighter regulations in Colorado, Smith said rules are reasonable and it's a work in progress.

In Colorado, rescues pay an annual license fee of $175; shelters pay $350.

Some of the things the rules say:

— Buildings should be structurally sound and in good repair, with electricity, water, washrooms, heating and cooling and ventilation;

— Animal pens should be water resistant, cleaned of waste at least daily and have enough space for the animals to turn around;

— Animals should be given clean water and food that meets the animal's nutritional needs;

— All rescue and shelter pets should be altered before they're adopted out;

— Records should be kept on the animals, such as a physical description, source of the animal and medical treatment;

— All rescue agencies must have a working relationship with a veterinarian;

— An inspection is required before the first license is issued and regular ones will be made afterward.

"If people are not able to meet those standards, then they might think about doing something else," Smith said. "Just because you mean well doesn't mean that you're excused from taking proper care of the animals."

Blackburn, of the Colorado-based Denkai animal rescue group, said the law does have its drawbacks.

A complaint — which can come from someone "who hates us because we exist" — triggers an automatic visit from an inspector. That takes time away from the animals, she said.

But she'd prefer to have regulations than not.

"They help deter a lot of neglect and hoarding situations we'd otherwise have," Blackburn said.

Logan said earlier it was proposed that Wyoming consider adopting a version of Colorado's law. He thought it was "long and onerous and not applicable to Wyoming."

Even having specific minimum care standards for animals would help, Fazio said.

"The idea of having regulations is to show what is really neglect and what is not," she said.

She recounted a northern Wyoming case where two dogs were living in a small box where they could "hardly turn around," topped with a mesh roof that let in rain, snow and hot sun. But the sheriff said he couldn't charge the owner: They had food, water and shelter.

"There was no consideration for the fact they were in there 23 hours a day," Fazio said. "They're kennel crazy. If that's not cruelty, I don't know what is. That's just stupid."

(Wyoming News - April 18, 2010)

Earlier:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

California: Animal Care and Control Advisory Board issues final letter on neglect case

CALIFORNIA -- Lake County's Animal Care and Control Advisory Board has issued a final draft of its letter to the Board of Supervisors with findings and recommendations in relation to the handling of a horse neglect case involving a county animal control officer.

Dr. Susan Cannon, chair of the advisory board, provided a copy of the letter to Lake County News this week, which discusses the case of Officer Terrie Flynn, who in February received two notices of violation regarding the care of six horses.


One of the horses, a stallion with an injured penis, later was surrendered to Lake County Animal Care and Control, and it – along with another of Flynn's horses – was sent to Rehorse Rescue in Jamestown, as Lake County News has reported.

At a Monday meeting, the advisory board unanimously approved the letter drafted by Cannon.

The letter is being sent to the Board of Supervisors, although the Board of Supervisors' Office couldn't confirm this week if the letter had been received yet. As such, the matter has not yet been agendized for discussion by the board.


At the Monday advisory board meeting, Deputy Animal Care and Control Director Bill Davidson said the department had opened an investigation into the Flynn case, which County Counsel Anita Grant confirmed.

“It should have begun today,” Grant said on Friday.

“We're looking at the conduct of the people involved,” said Grant, who explained that the investigation is administrative in nature.

Grant said an independent private investigator will handle the case. She didn't have a timeline for how long the investigation would take to complete, but estimated a week or possibly a little longer.

She said the county, by moving forward with the inquiry, wants to make sure that the public has confidence that the matter was handled correctly.

“That's why we're taking this next step,” she said.


The letter is published below in its entirety.

April 13, 2010

To: Anthony Farrington, Chair
Board of Supervisors

From: Animal Care & Control Advisory Board Lake County

Subject: Animal Control Officer Neglect Case

Dear Supervisors:

Since the stated purpose of the Animal Control Advisory Board is “to provide liaison between the community, Board of Supervisors, and Animal Control Director” we would like to bring to your attention the following:

In February of 2010 the on-line newspaper “Lake County News.com” published an article describing how a horse belonging to Animal Control Officer Terrie Flynn had been impounded for neglect and malnutrition. Members of the Advisory Board immediately began receiving complaints and questions from the public, many of them speculating that Flynn was given special treatment, not only because she was an Animal Control Officer but because the Director of Animal Care & Control, Denise Johnson, is her mother-in-law. On March 22 and April 12, 2010, the Advisory Board held special meetings to inquire into the facts surrounding this case. Based on the information provided at these meetings the Advisory Board has come to the following conclusions:

1. We believe that Officer Flynn was given more leniency than a private citizen would have received under similar circumstances. Deputy Director Davidson issued two Notices of Violation on Feb. 9, 2010 which required Flynn to improve the care/feeding/and hygiene of the horses at both locations. After the Mendocino Sheriff’s Office Report was filed he then nullified those violations. That report apparently exonerated Flynn and found no violations. We disagree. Specifically, the report confirmed that Flynn had in fact left her horses without food or medical care for three days while she left the state and that she failed to seek veterinary care at the time of her horse’s injury. We also feel the report downplayed the malnutrition of Flynn’s horses. We feel Mendocino County AC Officer Hodgson failed to ask critical, obvious questions and that his report was incomplete. Whether this was intentional on Hodgson’s part is unknown, but it allowed Davidson to interpret the report in a more favorable light than it deserved.

2. That it was only because the Advisory Board began inquiring into the case that the Notices of Violation were re-instated. We believe that had there been no inquiry by the Advisory Board this incident would have gone unnoticed and the public’s desire for justice unfulfilled.

3. While on the surface the decision to request an outside investigation appears commendable, Deputy Director Davidson admitted that the only reason Mendocino County was called in was because the story was about to appear in Lake County’s on-line newspaper, more than a week after the initial impoundment occurred. This delay left an eleven day gap in the time line for the investigation which undoubtedly influenced the final results.

4. The decision to redact the officer’s names from the Mendocino County sheriff’s Office Report, which was supposed to be a matter of public record, contributed to the impression that the county agencies were “covering up” for Officer Flynn.

5. We found no direct evidence that Director Johnson was involved, other than the fact that one of the six horses in Flynn’s care actually belonged to Johnson and has since been returned to her. It was also suggested that Johnson may have known there was a malnutrition issue with Flynn’s horses months before this.


We recommend the following:

1. In the future, any Animal Control Officer who is suspected of abuse or neglect of any animal should be treated exactly the same as a private citizen. Attempts to minimize bad press may be well meaning but are ultimately destructive to the public trust.

2. Investigations of abuse within the Animal Control Department should be immediately investigated by someone outside the department, preferably with no prior ties to Animal Control. A neutral third party could also be asked to provide oversight (the Advisory Board being one such option).

3. Officer Flynn’s failure to provide adequate care for her own horses calls into question her fitness to investigate similar cases on the job. While Flynn’s actions may not have been criminal, they are an embarrassment to her department. Officer Flynn should receive appropriate disciplinary action for the reasons listed in the County of Lake Personnel Rule 1303 “Causes of Disciplinary or Adverse Action” Item (O), “Any failure of good behavior either during or outside of duty hours which is of such nature that it causes discredit to his/her agency or his/her employment.”

4. This Board does not believe Officer Flynn is representative of the officers of Animal Control or the department in general. In the eight years this Advisory Board has been in existence we have seen steady improvement in the quality of the services provided by Animal Control to the community. We believe the majority of our Animal Control Officers and staff are well trained, caring people dedicated to improving the quality of life of the residents and animals of Lake County.

5. Finally, we believe Officer Morgan Hermann should be commended for taking action in what was undoubtedly a very uncomfortable set of circumstances.

Sincerely,

Susan A. Cannon, DVM
Chair, Animal Care & Control Advisory Board


(Lake County News - April 16, 2010)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Connecticut: Pit bull "clamped its jaws onto Yellow Labrador's neck... going for the kill" at state park. West Rock Park Supervisor Lori Lindquist doesn't think it's a big deal.

CONNECTICUT -- Tim Follert took his dog Matty for a walk in West Rock State Park. Suddenly, a pit bull charged from the bushes and clamped its jaws onto the yellow Lab’s neck. It seemed to be going for the kill.

With the help of some shouting, a couple of passing cyclists, and a stick, Follert was able to get the pit bull off Matty. After a $300 visit to the veterinarian, the 7-year-old Labrador Retriever is recovering from his neck wounds.


The incident has left Follert nervous for his dog’s safety. He’s avoiding West Rock State Park for the time being. Given the pit bull’s killer instinct, Follert said, he wonders if it was a dog that had been trained to fight and then escaped to the park.

During a recent visit to Follert’s apartment in the Wintergreen complex in Westville, Matty trotted around the living room, clutching his stuffed alligator in his mouth. Pink spots showed through the shaved fur on the front and back of his neck, where the vet treated his wounds.

Matty has always been a good-natured dog, which makes it all the worse that he suffered an unwarranted attack out of nowhere. “That’s what sucks,” Follert said. “He’s just a happy go-lucky dog.”

Follert said he usually takes Matty for a walk up West Rock about three times a week. On the day in question, Thursday last week, the pair were coming back from the top at around 5:30 p.m. They were walking on the main road and approaching the main gate. Matty was on a leash.

Suddenly a brown pit bull with no collar, came rushing out of the bushes. “It went right for his neck,” Follert said. “It went for the kill.”

Matty seemed stunned and confused and didn’t fight back [Typical reaction from Labradors and Retrievers -- confusion, submission.]. Follert started shouting “Get the f*** off my dog!”

Two cyclists pulled up and jumped off their bikes. One of them may have grabbed a stick, Follert said. It all happened so fast, he couldn’t be sure.

Together Follert and the cyclists were able to drive off the pit bull. It ran a little way up the road, then stopped and started to come back for more. Follert drove it off again and it finally ran away.

It wasn’t until Follert got Matty home and took his collar off that he realized his dog had been hurt.

Seeing blood on his fur, Follert realized the pit bull had broken the skin. He took Matty to the animal hospital on State Street. Three hundred dollars later, Matty had a newly shaved neck, two antibiotic prescriptions, and a fresh rabies shot.

Is he nervous to take Matty back to West Rock Park?


“I am,” Follert said. For now, he’ll be walking Matty elsewhere.

The pit bull had no tags and no collar, Follert said. It may have simply escaped from somebody’s yard. But after seeing “the way he latched onto the neck,” Follert wondered if it might have been raised to fight.

LAZY PARK OFFICIALS CAN'T BE BOTHERED

Follert said he tried to call West Rock State Park officials and spoke with someone from the Department of Environmental Protection. He contacted New Haven animal control. He said his report about the pit bull was taken seriously, but there’s little to be done.

West Rock Park Supervisor Lori Lindquist, who works for the DEP, said on Wednesday she hasn’t heard any other reports of a pit bull in the park.

“What can they do?” Follert said last week. You can’t find a lone dog in the middle of a big state park.

“God forbid the dog goes after a kid,” Follert said in response.

HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR THE LAZY PARK OFFICIALS


  1. Get animal control or wildlife officers to set dog-sized humane traps to catch this vicious dog
  2. Step up officers' patrols in this area. Likely the dog lives nearby or is a stray that is now living in this part of the park -- and will attack again.
  3. Post warning flyers at all entrances, restroom areas, parking lots notifying people of this vicious pit bull roaming around.


(New Haven Independent - April 15, 2010)

Michigan: Dearborn home, where Kenneth Lang Jr was running a concentration camp for Chihuahuas, is demolished

MICHIGAN -- A Dearborn home where a man was found with hundreds of live and dead Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes has been demolished.

The home had been deemed unfit for human habitation and was torn down Thursday, with cleanup expected to take a few days.

 
 

Kenneth Lang Jr. pleaded guilty in January to one count of cruelty to 10 or more animals and was sentenced to five years of probation in a mental health program. He also was ordered not to own animals.

In July, authorities found Lang was hoarding the dogs. More than 100 live dogs were inside, along with 150 dead ones in freezers. They say some dogs may have been killed with an injection.

 
 
 
 
 

According to newspaper reports all but 10 of the dogs have been adopted.

(Toledo Blade - April 15, 2010)

Earlier:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

United Kingdom: Pit bull that savaged girl, 6, at birthday party 'had been spared after previous attack on child'

UNITED KINGDOM -- A dog which savaged a six-year-old girl at a children’s birthday party had escaped being put down after mauling another child three years ago.

Skye Jackson was scarred for life when she was attacked by the Staffordshire pit bull terrier, called Guinness, in front of 14 friends.


She needed more than 100 stitches and had two rounds of plastic surgery after suffering more than 15 deep puncture wounds in the attack.

She also had three months off school as she was recovering.

The attack kept Skye off school for three months.

Her parents, Andy and Lisa today spoke of their anger that Guinness was allowed out in front of the children.

Mr Jackson, 38, a warehouse manager, said: 'It’s appalling and disgusting. The police didn’t want to do anything about it initially, but I wouldn’t let it go.

'I had heard rumors that the dog had attacked a little girl in a lift before this. The first attacked happened in 2005 and even though it went to court, it was thrown out for some reason.'

PIT BULL HAD ATTACKED BEFORE

But as the dog’s owners, Richard Venables and Samantha Venables, were spared jail it was revealed that the pit bull had carried out a similar attack four years earlier.

Judge Witold Pawlak criticised Richard Venables, 33, saying he was more interested in watching television than keeping an eye on the dog.

The attack happened near her home in Edmonton, north London in February last year while Skye, now eight, was at a party with her elder sister Summer.

The horrific attack lasted several minutes before parents dragged the dog off Skye. Her arm was mauled and she was in hospital for a week.

Lisa, 37, said: 'I asked if the dog was safe around children and Mrs Venables answered, "Absolutely, yes".'

NO REAL PUNISHMENT WHILE CHILD VICTIMS PILE UP

Venables and his 38-year-old wife were each given a 10-week suspended jail sentence and banned from owning a dog for two years at Wood Green crown court on Friday.

The dog has been put down.

(Daily Mail - April 10, 2010)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Michigan: Jerome Nelson, 64, charged with felony animal cruelty in dead and starving dog case

MICHIGAN -- A Van Buren County man faces charges of animal abandonment and cruelty after police found four dead dogs and two others that were malnourished and emaciated on his property, authorities said.

Jerome Eugene Nelson, 64, was arrested Wedneday at his residence in the 16000 block of 62nd Street  and later arraigned in Van Buren County Disrict Court in South Haven, according to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office.

On March 18, three dead beagle hounds were found along the 14000 block of 60th Street, north of Bangor, after someone reported seeing a person throw garbage bags from a vehicle into a ditch. Police opened the bags and found three dead beagle hounds.


Investigators were able to identify Nelson as the vehicle’s owner by reviewing video from a surveillance camera at a private residence.

They searched Nelson’s residence and found a fourth dead dog chained inside its dog house and two live but malnourished and emaciated dogs on the property, police said.


Nelson posted bond Wednesday and has a court date pending, according to the sheriff’s office.

Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office press release
Incident No:  1779-10 updated April 7, 2010
Suspect: Jerome Eugene Nelson, date of birth October 10, 1945
Felony Charges Authorized:  Animals Abandoning-Cruelty to 4-10 Animals. MCL 750.50(4)(c)
Investigating Deputies: Deputy Kyle Romeo, Deputy Benjamin Downey.

Sheriff Dale R. Gribler reports that the Van Buren County prosecutors Office has authorized Felony charges of Animal Abandoning-Cruelty against the dogs owner, Jerome Eugene Nelson.

This afternoon Van Buren County Sheriffs Deputies arrested Nelson on the signed Felony Warrant at his residence on 62nd St without incident.

Jerome Nelson has been arraigned at the 7th District Court West in South Haven on the above listed charges. Nelson was able to post bond at the court house and has a pending court date.


(MLive - April 8, 2010)

Earlier:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Texas: Galena Park Animal control officer Juan Hernandez accused of killing puppy

TEXAS -- Mayte Guerrero smiled and laughed Wednesday as she played with Susie, her new cocker spaniel puppy, on the front steps of her Galena Park home.

But the 20-year-old's face flashes sadness and frustration as she talks about Perry, a puppy apparently killed in February by a gunshot wound and found in a trash bin. An animal control officer has been accused of shooting the dog, rather than taking it to the pound.

“If he did it to my puppy, what other animals did he do that to?” Guerrero said. “What other families did he crush? People get really attached to their dogs.”

Juan Enrique Hernandez, 40, is free on $2,000 bond after being arraigned Wednesday, charged with animal cruelty. He was arrested last week after being indicted on March 31.


Hernandez, who was in court with his parents, declined to comment.

“Why he went out and did this is beyond me,” Galena Park Police Chief Robert Pruett said. “We'll let the jury decide, but I'd say it's a clear-cut case. It's pretty cut and dried.”

Nicknamed Perry after the family started calling him Perrito — Spanish for puppy — the 2-month-old German shepherd mix was killed Feb. 16, investigators said.

Guerrero said her mother woke her up on Feb. 16 to look for the dog, who stayed in the fenced backyard.

After speaking to neighbors, Guerrero said she learned an animal control officer had taken the puppy. She went to the shelter, where she said Hernandez denied taking the dog.

Guerrero called the police, who spoke to the neighbors and Hernandez.

Later that day, Hernandez told a supervisor where the dog's body could be found, said Assistant Harris County District Attorney Belinda Smith.

Instead of answering why he may have shot the dog, Hernandez told investigators that he put the body in the trash bin on that day because it was scheduled to be emptied soon, Smith said. He told police he did not want the carcass to stay in the bin for another week.

State District Judge Mike Anderson ruled Wednesday that Hernandez have no contact with any animals. Hernandez said, through his attorney, that he did not have any pets.

Pruett said animals taken to city pounds stayed for three days before being euthanized by a licensed veterinarian. Pruett changed the policy to keep animals for five days after Guerrero filed her complaint.

Hernandez also was moved from his duties as a dog catcher to an administrative post in the city's public works department, Pruett said.

He said the city has hired a different animal control officer.

After Pruett and other city leaders learned what happened, they reimbursed Guerrero for a new puppy, which cost almost $300.

“As soon as I informed the mayor that Juan was under criminal investigation, the mayor said, ‘That ain't right. This lady needs to be reimbursed for her dog,'” Pruett said of Galena Park Mayor Bobby Barrett. “The mayor is very upset.”

Barrett, a part-time mayor for the small city in east Harris County, did not return calls for comment.

Hernandez's attorneys, Bernardo Aldape and Enrique Gomez, said they are still investigating the allegations.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of two years for the state jail felony.

(Chronicle - April 7, 2010)

New York: Pomeranian being walked on leash is attacked, mauled and killed by loose pit bull

NEW YORK -- Days and dogs. The two have something in common. They're unpredictable.

An unpredictable dog recently intruded into the lives of one family. It made for an unpredictable day.


"My aunt's husband went to take the Pomeranian, Chizie, for a walk. Now, the owner, who was my grandmother, just died four days prior to this happening," said Brenda Fred.

The man, Robert Rodriguez, was walking Chizie near the former home of Fred's grandmother on Second and Robin Streets in Dunkirk.

"He walked the dog around the corner," Fred said, "and as he was walking, a pit bull came out of a house and grabbed the dog."

The much-larger pit bull attacked Chizie. The Pomeranian was defenseless against the pit bull's strength. Rodriguez did what he could to try to pull the pit bull off of Chizie, attempting to save the small dog.

Eventually, Rodriguez managed to rip the pit bull off of the Pomeranian, but it was too late. Chizie was dead.

"He grabbed the pit bull's chain - there was a chain attached to the dog - and opened the door to the house and put the dog inside," Fred said. "He pounded on the door for someone to come help him, but there was nobody there. How the dog got out of the house, I don't know.

"We lost our grandmother, and now, we've lost her dog," she added. "My grandma has him now up in heaven, but it's just heart-breaking how it happened."

The owner of the pit bull signed the animal over to the authorities, and the pit bull was euthanized, confirmed Dunkirk Police Chief David Ortolano.

After an investigation, Dunkirk Police found that the dog was on a chain attached to the front porch. The pit bull attacked the Pomeranian after it broke free from the chain.

LAZY OFFICERS NOT BOTHERING TO FILE CHARGES

No charges were filed against the owner because the dog had been chained, Ortolano said.

"We have dangerous dog laws. We have running-at-large laws and leash laws, things of that sort," the chief said. "An owner could be charged, depending on the circumstances of each case."

Ortolano explained the dangerous dog law.

"Depending on the severity of the case or depending on the exact circumstances of the incident, we file - what is called - a dangerous dog complaint with the city clerk, and then, the evidence is presented to Judge (Walter) Drag," Ortolano said. "He determines whether the animal is a danger to the community or not.

"Then, at that time, he can put any stipulations on the owner of the animal that he feels necessary for the public safety."

Stipulations could include mandated muzzling, fencing, or euthanasia, among other things.

In this case, involving Chizie and the pit bull, rather than going through a dangerous-dog-complaint hearing in court, the owner relinquished the animal to be euthanized, Ortolano said.

It's no secret that pit bulls have a bad reputation, and incidents, such as this one, often cause people to call on their governments to ban specific dog breeds.

However, the pit bull advocates use the catchphrase, "Punish the deed, not the breed."

The city of Dunkirk has no breed-specific legislation.

DUNKIRK POLICE CHIEF DAVID ORTOLANO TRIES TO DOWNPLAY THE FACT THAT PIT BULLS ARE INHERENTLY DANGEROUS

While they tend to be aggressive and active, pit bulls are not the only breed to have attacked another animal, or even a person.

"Dogs - in general, not specific to this community but any community - you could have a pit bull, as well as a Pomeranian, that could bite somebody," Ortolano said. "Obviously, the larger, weight-wise, a dog is, you would be more concerned because they can be more overpowering.

"But that's not to say that a 20-pound dog would not bite someone versus a 70-pound dog biting someone."

The weight issue is especially of concern with children. A large dog would have no problem overpowering a small child.

"If people own large-breed dogs, they really have to make sure that they have control of them," Ortolano said.

PIT BULLS LOVE TO ATTACK, MAUL AND KILL POMERANIANS

This pit bull attack is not the first to happen in the city. In fact, it's not even the first to happen to a dog in Brenda Fred's family.

In 2002, Fred's dog - a Pomeranian named Sparky - was in her backyard on Lincoln Avenue when it was attacked and killed by a pit bull, she said.

Even after living through these two tragic attacks, she is not an advocate of banning pit bulls. She is, however, an advocate for responsible ownership of large dogs.

"Those owners that have pit bulls need to know what they're doing," Fred said. "When it happened to my dog in 2002, I was throwing a big fit. I was like, 'You know what? Muzzle your dog.' If you're going to walk your dog, put a muzzle on it. You believe that your dog doesn't have issues, but what will it do to small, helpless dog?

"They need to be careful with them," she added.

(Observer Today - April 8, 2010)

Ohio: Woman and her dog attacked by five pit bulls at Caesar's Creek State Park. Nothing to be done about it because they can't find the pit bulls' owner

OHIO -- A dog nearly lost his life in a sudden pit bull attack that lasted only minutes.

Bear's owner, Cori, said it happened during an Easter Sunday walk in Caesar's Creek State Park.

She says normal walk in the woods nearly proved deadly for Bear after he encountered five pit bulls.


Cori said, "I heard the most guttural sound I ever heard in my life. And I went running over there and I saw five of them on him and just came unglued as you can imagine."

Cori and the pit bulls' owner desperately fought the dogs to try to stop the fight.

After pulling Bear to safety, Cori rushed him to an emergency vet clinic.

"They didn't expect him to live," Cori said.

Bear's neck was slashed. Bite marks covered his body and staples replaced where rips and tears use to be.

Cori said, "His entire inside exposed. They ripped him to shreds."

Cori keeps replaying the attack in her head and has a few questions for the owner of the pit bulls.


"Why did you put me in that position? You knew you were in an off-leash area, you knew there were going to be other dogs and people you knew by asking me 'do [you] have dogs?' that there was going to be a problem," she said."

Cori's vet bills total more than five thousand dollars.

She says animal control can't help her because they don't know where the pit bulls are located.

Starting May 1st, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Officers say dog owners will have to put their dogs on a leash.

(WDTN - April 8, 2010)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Jersey: Richard Rotkiewicz, 62, told police his handgun was legally registered and that he shot and killed a pit bull after it and another pit bull attacked him and his Pug. That didn't stop police from arresting him and taking him to jail(!)

NEW JERSEY -- On Sunday, a gray pit bull was shot and killed by a Linden man who was then jailed for unlawful possession of a weapon and unlawful discharge of a weapon within city limits, according to Detective Lt. James Sarnicki of the Linden police.

Richard J. Rotkiewicz, 62, told police his handgun was legally registered and that he shot the dog after it and another pit bull attacked him and his pet pug near Roselle Street and Monmouth Avenue.


The pit bull that was killed had a collar, but no tag, and police could not identify its owner.

Rotkiewicz posted bail of $22,500 and will appear in court on April 9.

(The Star-Ledger - April 5 2010)