Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ohio: Mayor says Girard Pit bull ban here to stay

OHIO -- The Mayor of Girard says he won’t give in to some residents who for the past six months, have been lobbying city leaders to end the city’s ban on Pit bulls.

Fans of the breed claim that the animal is misunderstood and they want the city to lift the prohibition.

It was 1987 when the city enacted the ordinance:


   (a)   No person shall own, keep, or harbor a Pit bull terrier, as defined herein, or any other type of vicious dog within the Municipal limits of the City of Girard.

Nearly thirty years later, Mayor Melfi still supports the ban.

 "I have done some investigating and the fact that most insurance companies won't insure home owners if they have a Pit bull is one reason we are not interested in lifting the ban,” said Melfi. “That means if a Pit bull harms someone or somebody else’s dog they are not insured to pay the victim any damages incurred by that particular dog."

The mayor says he is not against dogs. He says he loves them and even owns a dog. "Many of the lots in Girard are only 40 to 50 feet wide, and with the homes being so close together, who would want to let their kids play outside if a Pit bull was living next door?" asked Melfi.

Melfi claims that of all humans killed by dogs in 2014, 65 percent were victims of Pit bulls, even though the breed makes up only 6 percent of the dog population.

“That this not breed discrimination,” said Melfi. “You really don't see in the news where they say, someone was killed by a Beagle, or a Golden Retriever, or a Schnauzer so there is plenty of evidence speaking to this result. The bottom line is that elected leaders much protect people.”

(WFMJ - Jan 30, 2016)

Arkansas: Video showing men laughing and beating hog-tied deer in their car with a textbook

ARKANSAS -- Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officers say they're investigating a video being circulated on Facebook that purportedly shows a deer tied up in the back of an SUV being repeatedly beaten in the face with a textbook while it cries out in terror and pain.


In the video, the men are laughing while the animal struggles and cries out in pain and distress.

Someone alerted The Exposed, who posted the video, which was posted on Snapchat.

Officers said Friday they believe the video was made in Arkansas by three Georgia residents and one Arkansas resident. Agents say they've questioned one of the individuals and plan to get statements from the other three within the next two days.

The investigation began after agents were contacted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

According to the Arkansas Times, one of the men told police that the deer had been "hit by a car" and that they'd put it into the back of their car. Suddenly, they say the deer "regained consciousness" and so they apparently decided it would be funny to repeatedly beat it in the face with a heavy college textbook while they all laughed about it. 

"It was disgusting. That's not reflective of Arkansas values, especially outdoorsmen and hunters. It was hard to watch," said Keith Stephens, with Arkansas Game and Fish.

The agency says the person seen beating the deer could be charged with a misdemeanor, fined up to $1,000 and get up to a year in jail under the state's criminal animal cruelty law.

The other three could face aiding and abetting criminal violations, which carry fines $250.


(Valdosta Daily Times - Jan 29, 2016)

Australia: Judge rejects Adele Culverwell's appeal after she was convicted of leaving her dog in hot car

AUSTRALIA -- A Perth woman who left her dog locked in the car on a 100 F (38C) day had her appeal against an animal cruelty conviction denied.

Adele Culverwell, 67, was convicted of the offence in 2014 after she locked her three-year-old Borzoi dog Roxy in a van at the Carousel Shopping Centre.

Members of the public notified the RSPCA, who found Roxy suffering symptoms of heatstroke and dehydration after a ranger removed her from the car.

Culverwell, a dog breeder, was fined $5000 along with $30,000 in legal fee costs, with Roxy removed from her care and rehomed.

The 67-year-old applied to the Supreme Court to appeal the animal cruelty charges, but that appeal was dismissed this week.

“It was obvious that Roxy was at risk of harm by being left for some time in a vehicle on a very hot day…and the dog was distressed for some time on the evidence of the witnesses who observed her at the Carousel Shopping Centre,” Justice Michael Corboy said.

Justice Corboy found the RSPCA prosecution was “sound” and the original ruling “fair”, despite Culverwell claiming she was made a “scapegoat” by the conviction.

RSPCA WA spokesperson Amanda Swift said the case was a reminder for all pet owners not to leave animals in hot cars.

(Coast Live AU - Jan 27, 2016)

Massachusetts: Susan Robson, 46, charged with animal cruelty after selling a parvo puppy

MASSACHUSETTS -- The co-owner of a Tyngsboro kennel has been charged with animal cruelty, accused of failing to care for a puppy she was told was infected with the dangerous Parvo virus.

Susan Robson, 46, pleaded not guilty in Lowell District Court on Wednesday. She was released on personal recognizance and is scheduled for a pretrial conference on March 8.

Robson owns Just Pups at 28 Constantine Drive, Tyngsboro.

As part of her release, Robson was ordered to comply with any requirements by the state Department of Agricultural Resources, Division of Animal Health, and is prohibited from accepting any new animals.

Robson could not be reached for comment by The Sun. Robson' attorney Lawrence Beane said in a statement, "It is our belief that once all the facts come out, she will be deemed innocent of the charge.''

Her attorney insisted that Robson is a "good and caring individual who has been in this business for almost 20 years. She is heartbroken about the tragic loss of the puppy in this matter that arose from an unfortunate medical condition. Mrs. Robson has an unbelievable passion and love for dogs and has in fact placed so many dogs in happy, caring homes throughout the years.''

According to court documents, state officials were contacted on July 28 about a 3-month-old, male Yorkie puppy named "Bubbie." A veterinarian at Wignall Animal Hospital in Dracut diagnosed Bubbie with Canine Parvovirus, commonly known as distemper, which must be reported to state officials.

Canine distemper can be prevented by a vaccination required by state law. It is a contagious, serious viral illness with no cure that affects a dog's respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous system, according to the ASPCA. It is easily passed from dog to dog through sneezing, coughing and sharing of food and water bowls. The ASPCA says virus spreads rapidly and must be aggressively treated as soon as its discovered.

Sgt. Martha Parkhurst of the MSPCA and MDAR Animal Health Inspector Linda Harrod spoke to Robson, who denied having Parvo virus at her kennel.

Robson acknowledged receiving paperwork from Wignall showing Bubbie tested positive for the Parvo virus and that with aggressive treatment, including antibiotics and hospitalization, the puppy had a good prognosis and would likely survive, documents state.

Instead of providing the puppy with veterinary care, Robson kept the puppy at home and fed him sugar water and baby food, according to court documents. 

Bubbie died at Just Pups and was brought by Robson to the Lowell Road Veterinary Hospital in Hudson, N.H., five days later to dispose of the body, according to court documents. George and Donna Tevepaugh, of Dracut, purchased Bubbie on July 25 from Just Pups, owned and operated by Susan and David Robson for about 20 years.

The Tevepaughs, who are experienced dog breeders, chose the Yorkie because it was bred by Willard Shrock, of Meadow Pond Kennel in Arthur, Ill. The Yorkie was one of 10 puppies for sale at Just Pups. The Tevepaughs told officials that the puppy appeared fine the first day, but the following day he had constant vomiting and diarrhea, and was very lethargic. The couple contacted Robson to tell her the puppy was sick and asked if other animals were ill, court documents state.

The puppy had a scheduled veterinary appointment for later in the day at Wignall, but Bubbie deteriorated so quickly the Tevepaughs rushed the puppy to the vet earlier, documents state. At Wignall, the puppy tested positive for distemper. The Tevepaughs immediately notified Robson, who seemed skeptical, but offered to take the puppy back, documents state.

The Tevepaughs returned the sick puppy to Robson, who was provided with Wignall's records and the diagnosis. Robson allegedly told the Tevepaughs she didn't believe the diagnosis and placed the sick puppy in the pen with another dog, documents state.

The Tevepaughs were given a refund. During this investigation, officials also discovered Robson had "serious paperwork violations," documents state.

(Lowell Sun - Jan 30, 2016)

Three YELP reviews:

I puchased a puppy in January 2014 from them.  Within 2 weeks she became very sick.  The vet said she had giardia and pneumonia. I almost lost her! I notified just pups incase they had any other pups from that breeder. The owner did not even sugest a little financial help with the vet bill and was not fourthcoming with any info on the breeder. Fortunatly my pup pulled thru and we love her but I would not go back there in the future.. unhappy in New Hampshire

Do not buy your dog from here.  My dog was signed off by her vet on Friday and we got him on Saturday and he was sick.  They think that the has some parasite and also he has pneumonia.  I am very upset and dissatisfied with this place.

Yes, I too was foolish enough to purchase a dog here. Yes, she was positive for girardia, but according to vet, most puppies are so it wasn't a surprise. What I don't like about business is it's misleading. We were told puppy would be "easy to train" and come micro chipped. We've had the pup for 6+ months now and she is still not housebroken (small dogs are harder). Vet couldn't find a chip. No return on calls. No return if your home isn't the best place for the pup you pick out. Yes, the puppies do come from Amish puppy mills.

Arizona: Marquise Hennix charged with animal cruelty

ARIZONA -- Marquise Hennix (aka Marquis Jamal Hennix aka Marquis Jamall Marquis) charged with animal cruelty. No other information about this case could be found.

Name: Marquise Hennix
Sex: Male
Race: Black
DOB: 12/24/1989
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 180

Booking date: 01/30/2016



Booking date: 03/11/2016
Booked by: Maricopa County, Arizona

  • Criminal Trespass 2nd Deg

Name: Marquise Hennix
Booking date: 04/08/2016

  • Interfer W/judicial Proceeding

Name: Marquise Hennix
Booking date: 05/05/2008


Ohio: Jammy Hutchinson, 23, Arrested for Stomping Puppy to Death

OHIO -- A man is facing a charge of animal cruelty after authorities discovered a dead puppy inside a trash can Friday evening.

The Ross County Sheriff’s Office to a residence in the 20000 block of U.S. 23 north at 8:45 p.m. Friday in reference to a disturbance. Deputies arrived on the scene and could not get an answer at the residence, but could hear people inside, according to a news release.

Authorities said they observed blood on the porch and then discovered a dead puppy inside a trash can. Deputies said they received statements from witnesses that Jammy Hutchinson, 23, who lived at the residence, had killed the puppy outside, adding that the Ross County dog warden also was called to the scene for assistance.

The sheriff’s office said it made several attempts to locate Hutchinson over the weekend, but was unable to make contact. However, Hutchinson arrived at the sheriff’s office on Saturday, where he was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals.

Hutchinson was booked into the Ross County Jail pending his arraignment.

(Chillicothe Gazette - Jan 19, 2016)

California: San Jose accused cat killer Robert Farmer sexually abused at least one of the felines he tortured and killed

CALIFORNIA -- The man accused of stealing, maiming and killing 10 cats in the Cambrian Park neighborhood may have also sexually abused one, according to new documents.

An orange female tabby cat found dead of blunt force trauma in 24-year-old transient Robert Farmer's car during his Oct. 8 arrest also had dilated genitals, according to a necropsy report from the San Jose Animal Care and Services division.

A search of Farmer's car turned up a tub of petroleum jelly along with two cat collars, according to a San Jose Police Department report.

Farmer made a brief court appearance Friday morning but did not enter a plea to any of the 12 charges filed against him, including nine counts of felony animal cruelty, one count of attempted animal cruelty and one misdemeanor count each of battery and being under the influence of methamphetamine.

Farmer's attorney, Wesley Schroeder, instead requested a continuance in the case, which is now being presided over by Santa Clara County Superior Judge Sharon A. Chatman.

In a crowded hallway outside the courtroom, Deputy District Attorney Alexandra Ellis told dozens of people who came for the scheduled plea entry that the request for a continuance -- the third one -- was nothing to worry about.

"The case is proceeding as it should," Ellis said. "It's normal, there's not a problem" he added

Myriam Martinez, who owned Thumper, one of the cats Farmer is suspected of killing, shared the necropsy report with this newspaper; it states the orange tabby had vulva and rectal openings of more than one centimeter each. Martinez also shared crime laboratory documents that report a match between DNA found under the claw clippings of the orange tabby and Farmer.

"I can't describe how I feel for what he did to our pets," Martinez said. "The more we read court documents, the uglier it gets."

Farmer allegedly abducted and killed 10 cats in the Cambrian Park area from mid-September until his arrest near Hillsdale and Leigh avenues, where officers found him asleep in a car with a dead cat hidden inside. Since then, community members have regularly attended Farmer's court appearances, urging prosecutors to seek the harshest punishment possible.

Many attendees were asked by retired Santa Clara County Superior Judge John Garibaldi, who was sitting in for Chatman, to refrain from holding up photos of the cats inside the courtroom for everyone to see. Garibaldi said he believes in freedom of expression but explained that the signs could be considered a demonstration of bias on the court's part and the judicial process needs to be followed by everyone.

Martinez said the group is committed to seeing this case to its conclusion.

"We are here because we want to send a message," Martinez said. "We want to make sure justice is served."

Farmer is being held on $125,000 bail at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas. His next court date is Feb. 22 at 9 a.m.

(San Jose Mercury News - Jan 29, 2016)


Ohio: Tameka Smith pleaded not guilty to leaving her dog to die; trial set

OHIO -- The animal cruelty case against a Campbell woman will go to trial.

Tameka Smith, 23, is charged with moving from a home on Reed Avenue and allegedly abandoning her dog, Charlie, chained outside to starve to death.

The dog died from starvation and exposure to the cold.



Animal rights advocates have demonstrated at every court appearance by Smith. They want harsher penalties for cruelty to animals.


"We would like a felony in some of the animal abuse cases, but we realize that is going to take time for it to happen. But I think this case warrants jail time, someone should pay for that crime," said activist Holly Justice.

The defense attorney representing Smith contends that the dog did not belong to her and that she was not responsible for its care.

A trial date for the case will be set within 60 days.


(WFMJ - Jan 30, 2016)


Georgia: Burke County Animal Cruelty Suspect, Stephen Crooms, Now Facing Fraud Charges In Columbia County

GEORGIA -- A Burke County man who is accused of starving six dogs to death is now facing fraud charges.

Stephen Crooms (aka Stephen Matthew Crooms) was arrested in Columbia County on charges of Deposit Account Fraud.

No details about exactly what Crooms is accused of doing are available.


He was charged last year with six counts of Cruelty to Animals and one count of Not Providing Adequate Food or Water to three other dogs.

He has not yet gone to trial on the animal charges.

(WJBF - Jan 29, 2016)


Canada: Dog loses eye; owner Matthew Sprague convicted of animal cruelty

CANADA -- A man from Desbarats, near Sault Ste. Marie, pleaded guilty this week to one count of animal cruelty under the Ontario SPCA Act for failing to provide adequate and appropriate medical attention to an animal.

An Ontario SPCA officer attended a rural property in Desbarats on April 24, 2015, after receiving a report about dogs not being properly cared for. The officer arrived to find a yellow, Labrador retriever-type canine with a large, red eye.

After speaking with the owner, Matthew Sprague, it was determined no medical care had been provided and that the dog had been left in that condition for two weeks.

The owner voluntarily surrendered the dog to the care of the SPCA that day, due to his inability to provide the required medical care for the animal.

The dog was taken to a veterinarian where it was recommended her eye be removed to alleviate her pain and suffering.

The owner was charged with three counts under the Ontario SPCA Act and pleaded guilty to one. Sprague was fined $240.

"Allowing an animal you are responsible for to go without appropriate care and/or necessary medical attention is never acceptable, no matter what the circumstance may be," Senior Insp. Lynn Michaud of Ontario SPCA said in a release.

"If one is faced with the inability to provide the necessary and lawful care of their animal, then please reach out to the Ontario SPCA or its network of communities to learn what options are available for your animal."

(The Sudbury Star - Jan 30, 2016)

Ohio: SPCA employees 'forget' dog to die in van; no charges filed(!)

Note: I put a "hot car" tag because I don't have one that says "forgot in car".

OHIO -- A dog is dead and four SPCA employees have been disciplined after leaving the animal in a transfer van overnight last week.

According to SPCA Cincinnati Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Dr. Dave LeBourveau, a 1.5-year-old pit bull mix was being transported from the SPCA’s facility in Northside to its facility in Sharonville Thursday afternoon, Jan. 14.

Upon arriving in Sharonville between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Thursday, LeBourveau said, four employees assigned to unload and clean the transfer van failed to follow proper unloading procedure and left the animal in the vehicle overnight.

Roughly 16 hours later, SPCA employees discovered the dog suffering hypothermia Friday around 8:00 a.m. The dog was not expected to survive its injuries and was euthanized.

"The pet was deemed to be hypothermic at the time and unresponsive to treatment," LeBourveau said. "For that reason, the veterinarian...deemed that euthanasia would be the best outcome."

The incident, understandably, has left LeBourveau and his team emotional.

"Our job is to take care of animals who are unwanted and abused," he told WCPO Wednesday. "The last thing that we ever what to have happen is something like this."

LeBourveau said this was an extra transport run between facilities that day.

The four employees have been disciplined, LeBourveau said. No one lost their job as a result of the incident.

LeBourveau said the animal would have been found had the employees followed proper protocol.

"Whoever unloads the van, then they check off a roster to indicate that all the pets were there," LeBourveau said. "The roster in this case, there was some question whether it was accurate or not. The last person to unload the van usually goes in and cleans and checks everything.

"That protocol was not followed, so obviously this pet was overlooked," he said.

According to the 9 First Warning Weather team, the low temperature that night was 34 degrees Fahrenheit, just two degrees above freezing.

(WCPO - Jan 20, 2016)

New York: Jazmin Powell, 24, and Jessica Morehouse, 20, charged with animal cruelty

NEW YORK -- Two woman were arrested and charged with Misdemeanor Cruelty to Animals after police found starving and dead animals at their residence located at 31 Schroon River Forest in Chestertown.

NY State Police received a complaint on Monday, January 25, 2016 and began their investigation.

Upon arrival, they found numerous animals that were either dead or starving: dogs, a ferret and a rooster were still alive; dead chickens were found everywhere.

Jazmin A. Powell (aka Jazmin Basque, Jazmin Basque Powell), 24, has been charged with five counts of Animal Cruelty.

Jessica Morehouse, 20, who now lives in Bakers Mills, is to be charged with 3 counts of Animal Cruelty.

They're both set to appear in court to answer to the charges.

(MY OWN CONTENT - January 30, 2016)


Texas: Officer Juan Villarreal, 32, killed his K9 partner, Bruno. His punishment at work? Four weeks suspension, which he probably took as vacation time so he could still collect a paycheck

TEXAS -- A court date has been reset again for a Brownsville police officer charged with animal cruelty in the death of his canine partner.

Officer Juan Villarreal, 32, a nine-year veteran of the force, is charged with intentionally, knowingly or recklessly failing to provide necessary care or shelter to a non-livestock animal, court records show.

Villarreal is set to face Judge David Gonzales III in Cameron County Court-at-Law No. 3 on March 30 with the trial to begin April 4, officials said.

On April 24, 2015, an investigator from the Cameron County Sheriff’s department was sent to the 30000 block of FM 1561 in Rio Hondo to investigate the death of a Brownsville police dog, later identified as Bruno, court records show. Bruno was in Villarreal’s care.

Bruno, a 5-year-old Belgian malinois, had served on the force for three years, authorities said.

Brownsville Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez said that following an internal investigation, Villarreal was given a substantial suspension of four weeks without pay.

(Brownsville Herald - Jan 21, 2016)

Illinois: No animal cruelty charges for the officers who "forgot" pit bull in van for FIVE DAYS last year

Note: I put a tag in for 'hot car' because I didn't have one for 'forgot in car'.

ILLINOIS -- Three Chicago Animal Care and Control workers responsible for leaving a dog in a van for five days have been suspended, even though the city’s inspector general recommended two of them be fired.

A 1-year-old pit bull mix named Missy was accidentally left in a city dog pound van for five days last April, with almost no food or water.

When a volunteer found her Thursday night in a van parked in a city lot about a mile away from the CACC building, on the 2700 block of Western Avenue, she was "barely alive," the source said.

She survived, and later was transferred to a rescue group to be put up for adoption.

Missy — who’s been renamed Monkey because of her energy level — was adopted through the rescue group Found Chicago, and is doing well in her new home.

Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s office investigated the incident. In a quarterly report released Tuesday, the inspector general’s office revealed it recommended the employee who left Missy in the van and that employee’s supervisor be disciplined “up to and including termination.”


Instead, Chicago Animal Care and Control suspended the employee who left the dog in the van for 20 days without pay, and the supervisor for 10 days without pay. The supervisor has appealed that suspension. A third employee involved in the incident was suspended for three days without pay.

The inspector general’s office said Chicago Animal Care and Control also informed them it has updated its policies to more accurately track animals under its care.

Well, I guess we can't expect them to file criminal charges on these idiots when most police agencies don't charge officers who 'forget' their K9 partners in their vehicles either. 

(CBS Local - Jan 20, 2016)


Australia: Shawn Hemphill, 32, and Samantha Flood, 32, sentenced for 'appalling' animal cruelty crimes

AUSTRALIA -- A Belconnen couple have been banned from owning animals for five years after being convicted of animal cruelty charges described as abhorrent, appalling and an offence to the Canberra community.

Three dogs under the care of the couple were seized by RSPCA inspectors in late 2014 in a severely emaciated state with illnesses from inadequate worming.

Inspectors were appalled by the dogs' poor living conditions and an unwillingness to provide appropriate care. The couple kept the dogs on chains to stop them attacking each other, with one found with a bloody ear on inspection.

Shawn Hemphill, 32, became tearful when sentenced by Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday afternoon.

Ms Hunter said the dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Staffordshire pit bull mixes, were found in "a very, very deplorable state" that should have been an immediate concern for the couple. She said the dogs had been living in filth at the back of the property.

"They were supposed to be your family, your pets," she said. "The community finds it abhorrent and quite frankly so do I."

Hemphill said photographic evidence proved there was food available for the dogs despite being severely underweight.

According to a pre-sentence report, Hemphill had admitted to smoking cannabis around the time of the offences and believe the animals had been treated appropriately.

According to a veterinary statement, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was severely emaciated due to starvation and illnesses caused by inadequate worming and no veterinary care.

The court heard Hemphill objected to the seizure of his dogs and he threatened RSPCA inspectors over the phone after they were taken from his property.

Ms Hunter said Hemphill, who is unemployed and receives a Centrelink payment of $285 a week, had a criminal record of threatening behaviors and she was appalled he had chosen to re-offend.

"These inspectors are trying to do something for community and should not be treated in that way," she said. "I take it as a serious matter."

Hemphill was also ordered to serve 350 hours of community service with a three-year good behavior order.

Hemphill's partner, Samantha Flood, 32, was also sentenced to a two-year good behavior order and 30 hours of community service, to be completed over two years.

Ms Hunter accepted the dogs did not belong to Flood but found she was responsible for their care and responsible for their poor condition.

She also took into account the fact Flood was employed and was not at home for the duration of the day.

During the preparation of the pre-sentence report, Flood expressed shame about the way the dogs were treated and became tearful when describing their conditions.

(Canberra Times - Jan 18, 2016)

Arkansas: After Region 8 News investigation, dogs removed from Jonesboro home

AKRANSAS -- The dogs that are at the center of a disturbing video posted online have now been removed from a Jonesboro home.

Circuit Judge Thomas Fowler entered an order in the Second Judicial District Juvenile Court around 3:40 p.m. Tuesday saying the dogs involved needed to be picked up by Jonesboro Animal Control.

The dogs were removed from the house shortly after.

They will be held pending a juvenile court case regarding the matter.

Jonesboro police cited a juvenile for animal cruelty after he was caught on tape beating and kicking dogs, according to a police report.

Police visited a home on Monroe Avenue for a welfare check on several dogs after a witness sent a video allegedly showing the incident.

The witness told police he heard dogs growling and crying so he went outside to see what was happening.

He told police he saw two dogs fighting and a male standing over the dogs hitting them with a stick or broom.

According to the witness report, the male then jumped on top of the dog house. This is when the witness started to tape the incident.

Once he started filming, a second boy came into the yard and started beating the dogs with a leash or rope. Then he began to kick the dogs as well.

The witness told police after a few minutes the suspect brought the dog to the front of the house limping and whining.

Police contacted the dog owner and the juvenile who told police he was not hitting the dogs.

Police cited the juvenile with animal cruelty and turned the case over to the juvenile department.

(KSLA - Jan 27, 2016)

California: Firefighters rescue 23 animals from burning home

CALIFORNIA -- Firefighters saved the lives of nearly two-dozen animals after a fire engulfed their California home.

Investigators in Sacramento say the fire started Thursday in the garage and quickly spread to the attic.

Tamara Murray says she heard a popping sound. It quickly turned into much more.

"It was by my garage door, and I opened it up and I see flames shooting up," Murray said.

Murray attempted to rescue all her pets, but when she couldn't, she employed the help of the firefighters who rushed to the scene.

"I said, 'Don't grab anything else, just grab the animals,'" she said.


A SAC-Metro firefighter rescued a frightened Maltese and gave it oxygen, a touching moment in a time of uncertainty.

"These guys are my kids," Murray said. "I don't ever had, I never had kids."

One firefighter said even as the animals were free roaming throughout the house, they were able to rescue most of the animals, which included 14 dogs and four cats.

Five birds were also saved, but one died in the fire.


Murray says she's grateful to the firefighters as these animals are more than her pets.

They are her family.

"These guys sleep with me," she said, with a laugh. "Don't give me much room in the bed."

Investigators are working to determine how the fire started.

(ABC13 - Jan 24, 2016)

Oklahoma: Cat hoarder has animal cruelty case dismissed; fined $49

OKLAHOMA -- Mid-November, a story popped up in the news about a Shawnee family who was cited for having dozens of cats at their home just north of town.

“The cats case is resolved,” City Attorney Mary Ann Karns said. “She has only three, and they have been spayed, neutered, vaccinated, etc. The case was dismissed on payment of $49 costs, which has been done,” Karns said.

On Aug. 12, Shawnee officer Abel Esparza observed what he believed to be an unhealthy situation.
In Esparza’s police report, an older woman –– referred to as Mrs. Dockery –– was in poor health.

The report reads, “There were at least 10 cats on the resident’s porch. … many cats inside her house, … the house smells of cat urine and feces. The odor was very strong, … she had several dogs and cats on her bed, …”

Support Services Administrator Chris Thomas confirmed, “Abel says that they conservatively saw 50 cats outside, but they do not know how many were inside. There were cats in the garage, behind and under the house and all over the place.”

Thomas said social services was notified.

After multiple rechecks, a citation was issued Sept. 4. The court date was Sept. 9. The officer was to do a recheck again Nov. 19, but the family’s lawyer was allowed a continuance, so the date was pushed back to Nov. 30.

According to city code, Shawnee residents can have up to six cats –– if all six cats are spayed or neutered. Residents may only have up to three cats if they are not spayed or neutered.

There was only one citation issued (for too many cats) –– at a cost of $249, according to the citation.
Karns said, “Technically (the family) could have been written a citation every day the violation continued, but the city had no plans to do that.”

Karns said the City prefers that homes be found for cats.

Karns said every employee at Animal Control is an animal lover. “So is the judge, and so am I,” she said, adding, “The rescue groups need more public support so they can continue with their mission.”

There was no order at any time to put down the cats.

(News Star - Jan 28, 2016)

New Jersey: Raccoon which mauled six-year-old boy walking to school tests POSITIVE for rabies

NEW JERSEY -- The raccoon that mauled a six-year-old New Jersey boy as he walked to school with his mother has tested positive for rabies, it was confirmed Friday.

Aryan Gavali had to get nine stitches on his face and received a deep cut under his right eye before he was saved by a heroic neighbor during the vicious attack Wednesday morning.

The child was on his way to the 16th Avenue Elementary School with his mother, Monali Gavali, when a large raccoon jumped on his back and and proceeded to bite and scratch him in the face.

Aryan was released from the hospital on Thursday as his family awaited the results.

Pratap Gavaili, the boy's father, said the doctors' are ready to start any necessary vaccinations and that his son is 'eating well and sleeping well'.

'But it's going to take a little bit of time to heal his stitches on his face,' Pratap told The Record.

'It's still swollen and there's a little bit of pain there. He's on antibiotics right now.'

Elmwood Park resident Danny Walls was driving back home to get gas before heading to work when he heard the screams of Aryan's mother.


'Within a second, he screamed, "Mommy"', Monali told NBC New York. 'Then I turned around and saw that he was on the ground...something was there, something was on his back.'

Walls saw Monali 'screaming hysterically' for help and then saw the raccoon clawing Aryan's face.

'I've never seen anything like it, the most vicious thing I've ever seen in my life,' he told The Record.

'He was gnawing at his a dog playing with a toy. And he was growling so viciously.'

'At that very moment, I felt that was my son. It was really emotional, and I knew that I had to actually kill that raccoon.'

Walls grabbed a pole, made of fiberglass and aluminum, that he used for work and separated the raccoon from Aryan so he would have enough space to kill it without hurting the boy.

'The raccoon screamed and I gave it more effort,' he told the newspaper. 'But he still wanted to attack the boy. He had so much fight in him.'


But Walls, who has a son and stepson, said Aryan was tough too - doing his best to fight back.

Walls visited Aryan at the hospital on Thursday for an emotional reunion where the boys' family expressed their gratitude.

'He was happy to see me, he smiled at me,' Walls said. 'That was good enough for me. That was beautiful. He made me even more emotional than I already am.'

 “He was happy to see me, he smiled at me,” Walls said. “That was good enough for me. That was beautiful. He made me even more emotional than I already am.”

(Daily Mail - Jan 29, 2016)


New Jersey: Howell woman who saved squirrels won't take plea deal

NEW JERSEY -- The Howell woman fined by the state for keeping two baby squirrels in her home after their mother abandoned them is standing her ground.

Maria Vaccarella, a mother of three who works part time in a nursing home, rejected an offer Wednesday to plead guilty to unauthorized possession of wildlife in exchange for a suspended fine and $35 in court costs, she said.

“I can’t plead guilty to saving a life,” Vaccarella said. “It’s ludicrous.”

Her attorney, Doris Lin of Freehold Township, an animal rights advocate who is representing Vaccarella for free, said Lin’s case was transferred from Howell to Freehold Township Municipal Court because Vaccarella knows the municipal court judge in Howell.

On Wednesday, Vaccarella and Lin went to see Freehold Township Prosecutor Anthony Vecchio, who made the plea offer, they said.

Vecchio told Lin that he could not accept the counteroffer of dismissing the summons because the state Division of Fish and Wildlife refused to accept that.

Bob Considine, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the division, declined to comment.

Vecchio did not return a call.

Lin argued that the law was unconstitutionally vague, that the Legislature never intended the law to penalize people like Vaccarella, that the case was not worth wasting the resources of the state Division of Fish and Wildlife and that a licensed wildlife rehabilitator told Vaccarella to hold onto the squirrels until May because the rehabilitator had no room for them.

Vaccarella’s husband Anthony found the squirrels’ sluggish mother after the Fourth of July holiday. She gave birth to the two squirrels and when the mother fled, Vaccarella started taking care of them.

Vaccarella called wildlife rehabilitators but could find no one to take the squirrels, she said.

Caring for the baby squirrels took time and effort. They have to be fed every two hours, Vaccarella said.

When autumn arrived, she felt like her options were to let them go in the cold or keep them until May, she said.

“I wasn’t keeping them as pets,” said the mother of three boys. “I didn’t want these things running around my house.”

In late October, as she and her 9-year-old son Anthony were about to head out and go trick-or-treating, two division officers knocked on her door. They had seen Facebook photo of one of the squirrels, they told her.

After being told it was against the law to keep them, she complied and gave the officers a cage to take the squirrels away, she said.

“I figured that would be the end of it,” Vaccarella said. “That wasn’t the end.”

She received a summons in the mail for unauthorized possession of wildlife, which carries a fine of $100 to $500.

The next court date for Vaccarella, and where the trial will be heard, is still up in the air, Lin said.