Sunday, March 12, 2017

Massachusetts: Greyhound Friends director Louise Coleman charged with animal cruelty

MASSACHUSETTS -- Greyhound Friends built its reputation on rescuing race dogs and finding good homes for them. And the shelter raised millions of dollars from dog-loving donors eager to help since opening 34 years ago.

But in a pile of letters and emails released by the town Friday afternoon, representatives of animal rescue groups from across the state tell a far different story.

They accuse Greyhound Friends of keeping dogs for months if not years in kennels - and in some cases filthy conditions; housing more dogs than it could handle, not providing timely veterinary care or medicine and failing to meet the dogs' emotional needs.

According to GHF’s own records, some of the dogs had been kept there for months or years, and we found many were suffering from kennel stress. One volunteer told us that there were some GHF dogs kept in boarding facilities and that there was little effort made to get them adopted."

She also worried about the care of the dogs.

"Despite importing dogs from states where heartworm disease is prevalent, it appears from the records provided to us by GHF that the organization was not consistently testing the dogs or providing them with medications that would have potentially protected them against heartworm disease," she wrote. "Some of the dogs we took in from GHF contracted heartworm."

According to documents obtained by the Daily News last week, the Division of Animal Health looked into complaints in 2015 and 2016 that the shelter was overcrowded with dogs that were confined to crates in a conference room, kitchen, veterinary office and shelter office.

In a March 2016 report, Borgal said too many dogs were languishing in the kennel for too long. He said individual kennels are half the size they should be.

The Daily News requested kennel inspection reports on Feb. 16, 2016 by the Hopkinton animal control officer from the past five years, but they were not made available as of Tuesday afternoon.

Greyhound Friends received a cease and desist order from the state's Department of Agricultural Resources on Jan. 20 preventing the organization from bringing on new dogs. The order would not be lifted until the organization created procedures for cleaning, veterinary and care and taking dogs from out of state.

On the same day, the town ordered Greyhound Friends to close and to paint and repair kennels, walls, fences and ventilation at the Saddle Hill Road facility.

Louise Coleman, 72, is facing an animal cruelty charge after a comprehensive investigation revealed "continuous unsanitary" conditions at the kennel, police said.

Coleman, of Sherborn, was charged with one felony count of animal cruelty by the Animal Rescue League of Boston. The charge was filed in Framingham District Court.

Coleman found out about the charges after reading the Daily News website Tuesday morning and is hiring a criminal lawyer.

"This is something I had no clue about," she said. "I think this is totally erroneous."

“I guess I’m stunned,” said Coleman, who established the nonprofit in 1983. “I don’t think I’ve done anything that’s cruel.”

(Wicked Local - March 8, 2017)