Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Florida: Allison Dinsmore is a POS who has no shame. Instead of admitting that she left her pets to die, she concocts this elaborate lie about how a stalker ex-boyfriend made her too afraid to care for her cats and she just couldn't tell anyone to go get the cats for her b/c she was embarassed about being stalked by an ex-boyfriend and oh yeah, she was stressed out and just didn't think of the cats while she was vacationing and camping with her new boyfriend

FLORIDA -- After three days of trial, Allison Dinsmore took the stand Wednesday and tried to explain how she could abandon her apartment and let her two cats starve to death.

"I didn't realize that I was gone that long," she told a Palm Beach County jury.

"How could you not realize?" asked her attorney, Jordan Lewin.

"Now, I'm able to see that my life was consumed with school; with fear," she responded, sobbing. "I didn't realize it."

Dinsmore, 27, is charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty in the deaths of her two cats, Gizzy and Speedo. The former Congress Middle School teacher faces up to 20 years in prison on the charges.

The facts in the case are generally not in dispute: In February, 2009, Allison Dinsmore abandoned her apartment and moved in with her boyfriend. Her landlord went into her Boca Raton apartment after she failed to pay her rent and found the cats dead and decomposing.

Dinsmore's attorney has argued that she abandoned her apartment to escape a physically and emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend and forgot about the cats because of stress and depression.

Prosecutors counter that Dinsmore could have asked for help. Assistant State Attorney Phil Wiseberg tried to show that Dinsmore made a conscious choice not to return to her apartment, which led to the cats' deaths.

"It was a choice you made not to go back to that house," Wiseberg said.

"No, it was not a choice," Dinsmore replied. "During that time, I didn't think of it. My mind, I was overwhelmed with fear and school and I didn't think of it."

Dinsmore said she never called police about her abusive ex-boyfriend because she was afraid he would retaliate. She said she never told friends and family because she was embarrassed and worried they would blame her for the abuse.

The trial has hinged on two key concepts: intent and "reasonable remedies." The defense argues that Dinsmore never intended for her cats to die, which they say the state must prove for her to be found guilty.

The prosecution argues that Dinsmore had other means, or "reasonable remedies," to find ways to prevent her cats from starving to death — namely, asking someone else to take care of them.

Wiseberg pressed Dinsmore near the end of her testimony Wednesday on just that, saying she easily could've called her family or friends for help.

"There's a lot of could'ves and I didn't think of it," Dinsmore said.

"There are a lot of could'ves," Wiseberg said. "But the one thing we know is that your cats are dead though, aren't they?"

"And I'm very sorry that they are," Dinsmore said, sobbing.

Closing arguments are expected to begin Thursday. Afterward, the jury will decide Dinsmore's fate.

ALLISON DINSMORE didn't want to be bothered with these pets any longer. They no longer entertained her - her new boyfriend was much more fun - so she made a conscious decision to let them die. She couldn't be bothered - and she wasn't.

(Sun Sentinel - 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.”

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)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Florida: Larry Kruger, who claimes he's a 'cat rescuer', faces cruelty charges after 161 cats found in his house. Worse, the Escambia County shelter KILLED EVERY SINGLE CAT!

FLORIDA -- Officials in Florida say 161 cats were removed from the home of a man charged with animal cruelty. Eight dead cats were found in a freezer.

The cats all had to be euthanized because they posed a health hazard to the other animals at the Escambia County shelter, a spokeswoman told the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal.

BS. If that were really true, she'd have said what super-contagious disease they had that required this. The likely truth is that they were half-feral, suffering from fleas, mites, mange, ticks, skin conditions, upper respiratory infections, ringworm, etc. -- and the shelter simply didn't want to bother with them.

Animals taken from cruelty cases should get that extra chance at life. You rescue them to kill them? Lazy, lazy people at the Escambia County shelter. This is why there is a "bad shelter" label.

Larry James Kruger, 61, faces animal cruelty charges.

Neighbors told the newspaper the Kruger property reeked whenever it was hot or rainy.

Sheriff's deputies said the place was inundated with feline waste and ammonia.

"It was absolutely disgusting," Sgt. Ted Roy said.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel said neighbors knew Kruger had a thing for cats, but believed he was rescuing them.

Kruger is being held on $41,000 bond.

(UPI - March 29, 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.
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 .

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

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.


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.


William Davidson
Deputy Director Lake County Animal Care and Control

(Lake County News - March 15, 2010)


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)


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

Tennessee: The worst case of equine abuse in Tennessee history shocked the state. So why is legislation that would stop the abuse meeting so much resistance?

TENNESSEE -- The tan-and-white foal had to be carried to salvation. The colt could barely stand, was too weak to walk and likely hadn’t eaten since birth. His malnourished mother had no milk to feed him.

The starving colt was among 84 horses rescued from a farm in Cannon County last November by a team of local and national volunteers, representatives of Volunteer Equine Advocates of Gallatin and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), in the most infamous case of equine abuse in Tennessee history.

The mare, the foal and approximately 50 other emaciated horses, some unable to stand, were discovered in a foodless barn. A donkey foal was too far gone to save.

In the surrounding muddy fields, rescuers found other animals down. Tennessee Department of Agriculture staff located approximately 15 carcasses in various stages of decomposition.

Some of the animals were capable of moving on their own steam — but in a video documenting the rescue, HSUS equine protection specialist Stacy Segal aptly described them as "walking skeletons."

The surviving Cannon County horses suffered from ills other than starvation. Many had infected eyes, joints and hooves. Open wounds were common, as were abscesses, parasite infestations and a skin condition known as rain rot.

The most extreme cases required round-the-clock care at local veterinary hospitals. Metro government made shelter available for the others at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

Deliverance did not come cheap. Leighann McCollum, the Tennessee director of HSUS, estimates that the total rescue effort cost approximately $250,000. That sum doesn't include donated services, feed and equipment. Tractor Supply Co. was the biggest giver, delivering $50,000 worth of food and supplies as well as equipment that can be used for future rescues. McCollum says the outpouring of support, especially from the agriculture community, was the largest in HSUS history aside from responses to natural disasters, such as Katrina.

Two Tennessee legislators, alarmed not just by the kind of abuse found in the Cannon County case but its correlations with abuse against children, have sponsored a bill that would punish such cruelty with hard time. Ironically, however, it's facing enormous resistance from the agency that would seem to be most concerned with protecting the well-being of farms.

Why would an organization concerned with the interests of farmers oppose legislation that would try to put a stop to the conditions found in Cannon County? The answer is more complex than you might think.

The Anatomy of Abuse
The manmade disaster of Cannon County occurred on the farm of Eugene Howland and his son Clint. (Their day in court is scheduled for May 18.)

According to a WSMV-Channel 4 News report filed at the time of the rescue, "The Howlands are horse traders who said they were fattening up the horses before slaughter." When served with a warrant by Cannon County deputies, the Howlands agreed to forfeit the animals. The alternative was to post security to cover the cost of their rehab.

In an interview with News Channel 5 two weeks after the rescue — once they'd had a chance to consult with their lawyer — the Howlands denied any wrongdoing and said they intended to sue to get their animals back. When shown a photograph of a skeletal horse found on his property, Gene Howland commented, "The horse needs some weight on 'm." Clint Howland added, "I'm an animal lover. I care for horses, and they burst into our farm and took everything we owned."

After that less than successful interview, the Howlands now speak through their attorney, John H. Norton III of Shelbyville. Norton tells the Scene his clients' position is that "60 to 70 of the animals by no means met the standards for abuse, and CLAIMS that the 10 or 15 bad ones" were anonymously "dropped off at their farm or tied to their trailer" when the Howlands attended horse auctions.

"They were trying to nourish them back to health," Norton says. "Some of those horses the Howlands had had less than two weeks."

The attorney could not explain why, according to volunteer caregivers, after only three days of feeding at the fairgrounds, those horses formerly too weak to stand were getting up and down on their own.

In addition to blaming previous owners, Norton also tries to blame the rescuers. The attorney suggests that perhaps it was the 60-mile trip to the fairgrounds that caused some to be unable to stand.

"Hauling is stressful on a horse," he says.

Norton also strongly denies that his clients sold horses for slaughter.

"They're third-generation horse traders who know the industry," he says. "They buy and sell horses for trail riding and pleasure."

Norton says one focus of his defense will be lack of evidence.

"The district attorney is supposed to preserve evidence for examination by the defense," he explains. "Some of that evidence is the animals themselves. By the time I asked to see the evidence on Dec. 10, the Humane people had dispersed those horses all across the state of Tennessee."

Of course, had the Humane people not also fed, watered and cared for the horses by then, the evidence would have consisted of more carcasses.

Norton's legal strategy seems questionable, at least to the non-lawyer. But then the attorney has employed dubious methods before.

In 1987, Norton was censured by the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

In 2002, he received a one-year suspension. That suspension was converted to two years probation after Norton agreed to remain free of alcohol and controlled substances and admitted that he had neglected and failed to prepare two cases, failed to reasonably communicate with another client, and had a personal conflict of interest in a fourth case.

Even so, if the defense works, the sad news is that there won't be any shortage of other defendants willing to try it.

Equine Darwinism
While the Cannon County case represents the largest equine rescue ever attempted in the state, the horrific conditions found on the Howland farm are unfortunately not singular. Google "horse abuse in Tennessee" and count.

In July 2009, for example, the Warren County district attorney brought animal cruelty charges against Sid Stanton after investigators found four dead horses and dozens more starving on his property. In February of this year, Sumner County took five severely neglected and malnourished horses from Edward Whiticker of Portland. Police told the Tennessean that Whiticker had "twice declined instructions on how to properly care for the horses."

This past January, Sumner County authorities seized 20 starving horses, ponies and donkeys — and found two carcasses — from a farm owned by Donald Woodard. It wasn't the first time Woodard had generated complaints, according to the county's animal control officer, Sgt. Michael McLerran.

"We took over animal control in November of 2008, and the first call I got about Woodard came the next month," McLerran says. "He's stayed one step ahead of us." One Woodard tactic was "to keep the good horses where they could be seen from the road and put the bad ones where we couldn't find them."

Or McLerran would find the neglected horses, but the vet or the county agricultural extension agent — legally required to assess the horses' condition — would arrive too late.

"So by the time they get there," McLerran explains, "Woodard has moved the horses to another of his properties," sometimes in a different legal jurisdiction. "I heard that Trousdale County recently seized one horse from him," he says. "We think that he might have moved these other 20 from there."

After months of this equine shell game, McLerran finally nabbed Woodard because the 20 horses "were close to the road, the extension agent came right away, certified that the horses needed immediate attention, we got a warrant and he forfeited the animals."

"These days my most common cruelty calls are about horses," says McCollum of the HSUS. "Often it's about people who have a couple of horses. Many people don't realize how expensive it is to keep a horse." McCollum estimates "$200 per month, just for a minimum of food. And then there's shots, hoof trimming — it adds up quickly."

Other horse owners confirm average annual maintenance fees of $3,000-$3,500 for a healthy horse with good pasture. McCollum says, however, that the Howlands and Woodard are "different."

Sgt. McLerran explains the economics of large-scale equine abuse. "A guy buys a whole lot of horses cheap," he says, sometimes for as little as $25 at auctions and from the classifieds. The horses in good condition, he sells for a profit. The ones in poor condition, he turns out to pasture — which often, especially in winter, has no grazing value.

"So he feeds them some, but not enough, and there's no hoof or medical care," McLerran says. "If they die, they die; if they survive, they survive." Because of the minimal initial investment, he says, "it doesn't bother him to lose some."

Those horses that endure the winter — the larger and younger ones who can fight for any available food — pick up weight when the grass comes back in spring and summer, McCollum adds. Those that the traders can't sell for pleasure riding, she says, "They often ship to Mexico or Canada for slaughter" because horse slaughter is illegal in the United States.

"Horse slaughter is a profitable business," she says. The meat, largely consumed in Europe and Asia, "sells for $25 a pound."

The Law
As it stands, does the law strongly discourage this practice? Not really. The Howlands and Woodard are charged with animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor in Tennessee when pertaining to livestock. The Tennessee legal code definition of "livestock" is "all equine [horses, mules and donkeys] as well as animals which are being primarily raised for use as food or fiber for human utilization or consumption." The maximum punishment for cruelty to livestock is up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a $2,500 fine for each count.

OVERT CRUELTY to companion animals such as dogs and cats, on the other hand, is a Class E felony. Here the minimum penalty is a year in jail and a $3,000 fine per count. The distinction in penalties doesn't sit well with State Rep. Janis Sontany, who represents District 53 in southeast Nashville.

"Cruelty is cruelty whether it weighs 3 pounds or stands 16 hands high," Sontany says.

While the maximum for the misdemeanor and the minimum for the felony are theoretically close in severity, "judges rarely impose the maximum for misdemeanors," Sontany says. Abusers convicted of misdemeanors can walk with a $50 fine. "And prisoners usually serve only 30 percent of their sentence," she adds.

Sontany also notes that law enforcement departments, strapped for personnel and funding, "take felonies more seriously," as do those convicted of them. "A felony on your record can have a real life impact on, say, whether you can get hired for a job," she says.

To eliminate the legal gap between abuse of companion animals and livestock, Sontany and State Senator Bill Ketron have filed a bill (HB 3386/SB 3546) in the Tennessee legislature to make aggravated abuse of livestock a Class E felony as well. Their bill defines "aggravated cruelty" as "conduct that is done in a depraved or sadistic manner and that tortures or maims an animal and shall be construed to include the intentional deprivation of food and water ... where the deprivation results in the death of the animal or a substantial risk of death." This is a high hurdle for a prosecutor to prove.

Ketron says he's cosponsoring the bill because of "the well-documented and direct connection between animal abuse and child abuse. To break that cycle drives me more than anything." Sgt. McLerran says he supports the bill to felonize the abuse of livestock because it would "most definitely help" with enforcement and prevention: "Charging someone with a misdemeanor is like writing a traffic ticket; you give him a citation."

But there's a large and influential group that doesn't support the bill — and its opposition may keep horse abusers tearing up tickets for years to come.

Farm Bureau Follies
Horses have traditionally been defined as "livestock" in the Tennessee legal code because they were once part of the vital operations of farms, pulling plows and wagons. They took the farmer to market; they took his family to church. Today, unless they are used for racing or showing and thus can have value as breeding stock, equines are more likely to be used for leisure activities, such as trail riding or a simple canter on the back 40.

Yet despite their shift in status from utilitarian beasts of burden to luxury companion animals, equines have remained legally "livestock" — largely due to the efforts of one of the most powerful political entities in the state: the Tennessee Farm Bureau.

The Farm Bureau's power doesn't reside in throwing cash around. "They really don't contribute to campaigns, they don't have a PAC," Ketron says. "They just represent a lot of voters." The bureau's 646,000 members make it the largest farm bureau in the country.

The president of the Farm Bureau is Lacy Upchurch, a tall, courtly, white-haired man who raises beef cattle and sheep for lamb meat. Upchurch insists to the Scene that his organization "doesn't condone the mistreatment of animals." But he thinks such situations as found in Cannon County are "isolated instances." And most such cases "are not premeditated," he adds. "Even in Cannon County, I don't think those guys intentionally harmed those horses. Why in the world would they not want to give them enough nourishment?"

Upchurch says there are more malnourished horses in the last few years because of the recessive economy. "People don't have the revenue to take care of their horses," he says. "And there's no market for them."

When asked about the scale of abuse found on the Howlands' farm, Upchurch says he doesn't know the specifics. Yet he searches for excuses. Try: "Those guys may have bought the horses in that condition and didn't have time to get them in better shape." Or: "It could be they didn't know enough about nutrition and management." Third try: "I didn't see the horses, but the HSUS pictures [of the rescue] showed four or five hay rings full of feed."

Unfortunately for Upchurch's whitewash attempts, the hay was in the fields — but not in the barn — because "the Cannon County Sheriff's Department and concerned citizens had brought feed for the horses before the arrival of today's officials," according to a report filed the day of the rescue by the local Cannon Wire.

Nevertheless, Upchurch says the Farm Bureau opposes the Sontany/Ketron bill because a conviction for a second offense of livestock abuse "is already a felony." He also fears "the unintended consequences" the bill could produce.

It's only a felony the 2nd time if they actually were convicted or plead guilty. If they give them a Pass to Dismiss or give them Judicial Diversion and then they're caught again, it doesn't count because those are not considered convictions. Rarely do they get convictions on animal crimes.

"What is 'aggravated cruelty' with regard to livestock?" he asks. "Could it be applied to generally accepted practices of animal husbandry" such as de-horning and branding of cattle, or tail-docking of lambs? "The lay person might perceive this as cruelty because they just don't know anything about animal agriculture," he says.

Admittedly, as Upchurch notes, the non-farmer may not understand the conformational differences between roly-poly beef cattle and the dairy cow's bony profile, or mistake the swaybacked and ribby look of an aged horse for one that's not getting enough hay and grain. But no district attorney would prosecute complaints from such cases. And no one with a working eyeball could mistake the condition of the Cannon County horses for anything other than what it was: starvation.

Not to mention that the Sontany/Ketron bill specifically states that aggravated cruelty doesn't apply to customary farm practices — such as de-horning and branding — accepted by colleges of agriculture or veterinary medicine, as the Scene pointed out to Upchurch. And the intentional withholding of food and water to a death-threatening degree doesn't qualify as standard farm practice, as the Scene also pointed out to Upchurch.

His response: "There are certain people who would like to destroy animal agriculture. Sometimes they use the passion that people have for animal care to reach their objectives." When asked if the "certain people" included the Humane Society of the United States, Upchurch said: "Yes." When asked if by "to destroy animal agriculture" he meant to stop people from eating meat, he said: "Yes."

Unable to find anything on the HSUS website that advocates turning all Americans into vegans, the Scene queried McCollum. She sighed as if she's heard it all before.

"The HSUS is comprised of vegetarians and meat-eaters alike," McCollum says. "We know that most Americans eat animals, but most Americans also don't want to see them treated inhumanely. So we support efforts to reduce these animals' suffering." The HSUS does oppose attempts to legalize horse slaughter in the United States, a practice the Farm Bureau supports. "The horse is not a food animal in this country," McCollum says.

It's not just exaggerated fears about harassment of animal agriculture, though, that have made the Farm Bureau routinely insist on keeping livestock separate from other animals in cruelty statutes. There are strong financial incentives for the distinction built into Tennessee's tax code.

The person who farms for a living receives a number of sales and use tax breaks regarding their livestock, beginning with feed. Unlike pet food — or baby food, for that matter — livestock feed is exempt from sales tax. According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, in 2007 sales of livestock feed in Tennessee amounted to almost $548 million. Because most of those sales were tax exempt, this tax break saved livestock owners $38 million.

Sontany points out, however, that the bill she's filed with Ketron will have no impact on the tax status of livestock because it says nothing about the subject. "I don't want to start taxing farmers," she says. "I just want to stop people from starving their horses."

Speaking for the Victims
Sontany's concern for abused horses is part of her larger determination to protect the victims of the world. "Anyone who would mistreat an animal would mistreat a child," she explains. "They can't speak for themselves."

So Sontany speaks for them.

During her service in Metro Council from 1995 to 2003, she sponsored several animal-friendly bills, most notably for the funding and construction of a new Metro animal control facility because "the old one and its program were among the worst in the nation," she says. Sontany tried but failed to outlaw the chaining of dogs, and to require owners of fertile animals to pay a higher license fee than those of spayed or neutered ones in order to curb overpopulation.

Since Sontany's election to the State House in 2002, she's sponsored and/or supported numerous bills to tighten the laws against child abusers. On the animal front, she passed a commercial breeders' bill to protect consumers from inferior animals sold by puppy mills. She also succeeded with legislation to provide protection for the pets of families fleeing domestic violence.

"Often women won't leave an abusive situation because they're afraid of what the abuser will do to the pets," Sontany explains. "Now the animals can go to Nashville Humane and Metro Animal Control for two weeks."

Sontany says she has a "soft spot for animals" despite not having had any as a child. "When I was growing up, there were five children in our family," she says. "We didn't have pets because my mother said she had enough to do taking care of us. So of course the first thing we all did when we left home was to get a pet." Her current favorite is her dog Woody, who she says is "the only dog I know who can bark and pee at the same time. He does this when I let him out in the middle of the night. I'm sure my neighbors love it."

Sontany learned the responsibilities demanded by equine ownership when she and her then-husband lived on 90 acres in Arrington. "We had two quarter horses," she remembers, "and every six weeks the farrier came to give those horses a pedicure, whether I got to go to the hairdresser or not. It was just what you did."

In her legislative attempts to protect animals from abuse, Sontany discovered that what you did not do was tangle with the Tennessee Farm Bureau. When she was first elected to the House, she recalls, "representatives of the Farm Bureau asked to meet with me, I guess because they knew my council record." They strongly suggested "that I leave livestock out of any bill connected with animals." Sontany did so in order to have any chance passing legislation penalizing animal cruelty — until now.

"This time I've stepped across the line" drawn in the sand by the Farm Bureau, Sontany says. "And they are not pleased."

Running Scared
The displeasure of the Farm Bureau means the Sontany/Ketron bill has little chance of passing, according to legislative handicappers. Before the bill gets to the House and Senate floors it must pass through the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee.

"All the members of the House Ag committee are afraid of the Farm Bureau. Hell, the whole legislature is afraid of the Farm Bureau," explains one legislator who refuses to speak on the record because, well, he's afraid of the Farm Bureau.

Upchurch says the Farm Bureau's political pull is rooted in its organization. "We have a volunteer Farm Bureau board in every county," he explains. "We look at the issues in every county, and bring members in to discuss them from all over the state. Then the 300 delegates attending our annual meeting vote on our policies. So it's all truly grass roots."

Just how far these roots spread among Tennessee voters, however, is highly questionable. The 646,000 memberships include those multitudes who pay their $25 dues to participate in the Farm Bureau's well-respected insurance programs. Farm Bureau lobbyist Rhedona Rose failed to respond to repeated Scene queries regarding the number of farmers versus non-farmers in the organization's membership tally.

But according to participants in an early March meeting that Farm Bureau leaders requested with Sontany, Farm Bureau administrative officer Julius Johnson admitted there that only those who derive at least 50 percent of their income from farming — or spend 50 percent of their time farming — are informed of Farm Bureau policy issues and allowed to vote on them. Ron Smith, who attended the meeting, says Johnson also acknowledged that the voting membership of the Farm Bureau is approximately 7,900. The rest are considered "associate members," Smith says. Johnson did not reply to the Scene's request for confirmation of these stats.

One doesn't need Johnson's confirmation, however, to deduce that only a sliver of Farm Bureau members are controlling its stance on state issues. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture census, approximately 31,000 people in Tennessee farmed for a living in 2007. Let's say all of these farmers belong to the Farm Bureau and support the organization's stance against making aggravated abuse of livestock a felony — which are dubious assumptions, but still.

That leaves over 600,000 "associate members" who have no say in the organization's policies. It is entirely possible that a large percentage of them might want to make the torture and starvation of horses a felony. They might even be unpleasantly surprised to discover that Farm Bureau leaders make excuses for the starvers. And — note to legislators — many of these "associate members" might also cast their ballots for candidates who weren't terrorized by the Farm Bureau.

It's not exactly news that state legislators run scared from the special interests. What is news is that legislators aren't bagging big campaign dollars from the Farm Bureau for running. Farm Bureau leaders have a great game going in Tennessee: You don't pay your money, and you still takes your choice.

Not-So-Small Crimes
To abusers like the Howlands and Woodard, the equine animal is a commodity, a piece of property not much different from a car or truck. Once the repair and maintenance costs of a vehicle have outstripped its book or functional value, it makes economic sense not to put any more money in the machine. And all the law tells us is that we can't keep the rusting hulk in our yards.

But a living animal that feels hunger, pain and suffering is something else again. The distinction is evident to Annette Rader, a Hickman County resident who volunteered to help care for the Cannon County horses at the fairgrounds, her first foray into equine rescue.

Rader says she's been around horses for 45 years. While she's not a farmer, her mother's family was, and she's familiar with farm practices. She describes herself as "a practical person; I'm not a flag-waving activist. I know that you may have to put down an animal if it gets too old or sick.

"But there's a huge difference between normal life and death on a farm — butchering hogs or chickens — and what happened to the horses I worked with at the fairgrounds." Here Rader paused, her voice choking. "I just don't understand how people could allow their animals to suffer that way."

(Nashville Scene - March 11, 2010)