Workers at CA Shelter Allege Neglect Causing Animal Injury and Death

The non-profit Peninsula Humane Society is contracted by San Mateo Co in California for animal control.  Sixteen PHS employees held a press conference in the shelter’s parking lot this week. The workers allege that sub-standard conditions, understaffing and neglect have led to the injury and death of several animals at the facility.

ACO Dylin Skiles said a dog named Max was recently put into a kennel that had a hole in it:

[I]t had not been fixed despite the fact that we had asked several times.

The workers have video of Max with his head and leg stuck through the hole along with blood beneath the dog. A still from that video:


Lisa Van Buskirk, Sr. VP of Community Engagement with the Peninsula HS, said the kennel did not have a hole in it at the time Max was placed inside:

That dog had recently come in and clearly wanted to get out – was biting at the fence. It did cause his mouth to get scratched up.

That dog.  So apparently it was just a mouth scratch and it was the dog’s fault anyway. Got it.

Except the ACO is not having any of it:

“What I saw was a dog that had [his] neck cut,” Animal Control Officer Dylan Skiles said.
Skiles said he requested management inspect all of the kennels weeks before the incident, after a previous incident where a dog was injured trying to escape a broken cage.

The workers further allege that several kittens died in foster care over the summer because they weren’t fed properly.  Van Buskirk again defended the shelter stating basically eh, kittens die. But others lived so, where’s the love?

Employees say a dog was oops-killed at the facility last December due to chronic understaffing. Van Buskirk says the employees involved failed to follow proper procedures and were fired.

Another employee reportedly left an overheated dog who had been rescued from a hot car in the back of the animal control truck until he finally died. That ACO was also fired, which appears to be a satisfactory resolution for Van Buskirk, but workers say the lack of air conditioning in the truck has never been addressed.

And then there’s this:

The whistle blowers said they have tried to have a conversation with Ken White, the president of the shelter, but said he has requested meetings without a union representative present.

Van Buskirk said White was on an extended vacation overseas and the timing of the allegations is suspicious considering the group has been in ongoing contract negotiations with the union for more than a year.

Speaking of suspicious, Mr. Extended Overseas Vacation gets paid more than a half million dollars a year to run the non-profit (I mean: non-nudge-nudge-wink-wink-profit). He has reportedly promised improvements to the 60 year old buildings but failed to deliver.  To be fair, it’s probably pretty difficult scrounging up motivation to tell someone to fix broken stuff in a CA shelter while sipping drinks on the French Riviera.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Weekend Jade


Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments, anytime.  New Open Threads are posted weekly.



KY Study Exposes Troubling Failures at Municipal Shelters

Warning:  Toward the end of this post, there are some graphic photos which may be disturbing to some readers.

In 2004, the state of Kentucky went from an Anything Goes type of attitude toward animal control facilities to a Well, Not Literally Anything Goes view with the enactment of the KY Humane Shelter Act.  Counties were given 3 years to comply with the new law.  It covers the bare bones of humane treatment for shelter animals, which is to say, probably most of the animals won’t end up as bare bones if the facilities provide at least these minimums.  Provisions in the law include:

  • Cages big enough for the animal to stand up, turn around and lie down in
  • Clean cages with adequate protection from the elements
  • Clean food, daily
  • Clean water, always
  • Provide sick and injured animals with veterinary care or kill them
  • Maintain basic animal records such as dates, coat color, whether the animal was reclaimed, adopted or killed
  • Provide quarantine areas for rabies hold cases
  • Be open to the public at least 24 hours per week with hours posted so visitors can see them

As noted in the recent report issued by the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine, there are a number of shortfalls with the law.  Namely, there are no inspections to determine if any of the 90 county shelters in the state are in compliance and it falls upon private citizens to file a lawsuit against any facility believed to be operating outside the law.  In fact, no one has apparently ever checked to verify that the state’s shelters are meeting the law’s very basic requirements for animal care.  So the vet school conducted a study to determine the level of compliance throughout the state.  Below is my summary of some of the findings:

  • Only 17% of Kentucky’s shelters were determined to be in complete compliance with the Humane Shelter Act.  Approximately half were failing to meet 3 or more of the law’s provisions.
  • 7% of shelters were either possibly or definitely not feeding the animals daily.
  • 11% of shelters were either possibly or definitely not providing clean water to all animals.
  • 6% of shelters kept no records on the animals.
  • 5% of shelters housed animals in cages too small for them to stand up or turn around.
  • 73% of shelters were over capacity with multiple animals per cage.
  • 12% of shelters were either closed to the public or open less than 24 hours per week.
  • 22% of shelters did not have hours posted.
  • 10% of shelters housed animals in a closed room with no air circulation.
  • 24% of shelters were either possibly or definitely not providing heat for indoor housing areas in winter.
  • 37% of shelters kept animals in dirty cages.
  • 42% of shelters had no quarantine area.
  • 23% of shelters did not take cats.

The study does not include a statistic on how many of the shelters provided vet care but does reference the lack of vet care as a problem:


A KY shelter puppy in obvious need of veterinary care (Photo from the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine study)


A KY shelter dog in obvious need of veterinary care (Photo from the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine study)


KY shelter kittens in obvious need of veterinary care (Photo from the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine study)

Bearing in mind how low the bar is for KY shelters – feed and water the animals, put them in proper sized cages, clean the cages, write down “brown male dog” on a card, etc. – it is completely unacceptable that any of the state’s shelters are not meeting these most basic requirements. What’s worse, with no mandated monitoring or enforcement, the burden of attempting to hold non-compliant shelters accountable falls to the taxpayers who are already footing the bill for these failing facilities. I hope the study will be useful for animal advocates trying to drag the state forward on these issues. In the meantime, animals are suffering in KY shelters and will continue to suffer while staff gets paid to not do their jobs.

(Thanks Clarice.)


Treats on the Internets

While cleaning at the Bedford Co Animal Shelter in VA, employee Bryan T. Skinnell allegedly beat a cat so severely that a vet could not save the animal. Skinnell has since been fired and charged with felony cruelty.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)


A young woman who volunteered at the Gwinnett Co pound in Georgia for two months was fired because the powers that be decided her dyed hair, tattoos and piercings did not conform to the county’s grooming policy. After two months. Gee, if only she looked more like Mr. Skinnell, whose appearance was sufficiently acceptable to give him a job, never mind accept him as a volunteer. Because appearance directly correlates to compassion, obviously.  (Thanks Valerie.)


Case Update:  Appomattox Co in VA finished investigating itself in the killing of shelter dog Sam.  The report released by the county basically says no wrongdoing by the county, other places are worse, and describes the facility’s number as “exemplary”.  The hastily named Animal Welfare Action Group opted to take no action for animal welfare, simply stating that they found details of the report to be inaccurate but they don’t want to make waves.  (Thanks Clarice.)


Case Update:  Mary Jo Frazier, former head of Boulder City AC in CO charged with felony animal abuse, accepted a plea deal to avoid trial.  Frazier who allegedly killed shelter pets illegally “for fun”, pleaded guilty to two felonies relating to two pets:

“You did willfully, unlawfully, maliciously and feloniously torture and or unjustly maimed, mutilate or kill a male dog names Oscar and or a pit bull puppy named Lotus,” said Judge Susan Johnson, in reading a description of the crime.

Frazier is free on bail and is scheduled for sentencing on January 31, 2017. The judge has ordered her to keep away from animals.  (Thanks Clarice.)


Dr. Todd Hayden, the interim director of the Montgomery Co pound in Texas, alleged at a public meeting last month that employees were using the shelter as a dog flipping operation:

“In our county, if you lost your dog and you were on your way to work and it was picked up and brought to our shelter, it was probably flipped before you got home,” he said. “It went to a rescue and it was sold. A lot of people made a lot of money.”


The interim director said he had counted 228 animals sold before the [three day] stray hold was up, including 56 that went the same day they were brought in.

The sheriff’s office is investigating the claim.  (Thanks Jan.)


The Lake Co pound in FL, run by the sheriff’s office, released some statistics to demonstrate supposed improvement at the facility.  However, more than 900 animals appearing on the report have no outcome listed rendering the stats useless. You are probably wanting an assplanation. Got it:

Lt. John Herrell, spokesman for the sheriff, wrote in an email that “there are so many variables in these calculations, coupled with the fact that the software system is calculating the figures, there is no way I can explain the stats and percentages the program generated.”

There. Is. No. Way. I. Can. Explain.

This is excellent and I’m going to start using it at my job too.  (Thanks Davyd.)


I’m sorry everything is awful.  Here, have an I Don’t Give a Damn cat:


Jack (photo by Casey Post)


Weekend Jade


Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments, anytime.  New Open Threads are posted weekly.



Name That Animal

This is just for fun and the only rule is:  no researching.  Post your guesses in the comments.  Reading other people’s answers before posting your own is look we’ve got enough problems so just don’t optional.  Answer will be posted in the comments tonight.


Case Update: Klein Animal Shelter Director Guilty of Cruelty

Many readers likely recall the horrors documented by the state of Texas at the Klein Animal Shelter in Jacksonville.  For those who don’t, click through using caution because the images are very disturbing.  In a nutshell, the untrained staff was physically abusing animals, leaving injured animals to suffer in filth without treatment, cruelly killing animals in view of other animals, mixing dead animals with live animals in cages – all while the director spent her days running a fight club of which the staff were members.  The facility has since closed, and some of the rural counties which contracted with Klein for AC have failed to secure new contracts, instead taking found animals to private vets to be killed.

Today, an update on the case.  Former shelter director Angela Wallace will spend zero days in jail:

Ms. Wallace pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor offenses in late June: Cruelty to non-livestock animals and illegal euthanasia.
She was sentenced to two years probation – the maximum length of time for misdemeanors.
She was charged $3,000 in fines and $594 in court costs for both charges and was ordered to perform 140 hours of community service, Cherokee County Attorney Dana Young told the Progress. Other conditions of probation included completing anger management classes and not owning any pets. Ms. Wallace cannot work with animals again.

If you are wondering what happened to the felony charge against Wallace, she utilized a state law which allowed her to admit guilt while not being prosecuted for it. If you are wondering where the justice is for the animals who suffered such heartbreaking abuse during Wallace’s time at the shelter, I got nothing.  I also have no information on what is happening with the other two employees who were charged in connection with the case but presumably, if the person in charge got off with probation, the subordinates will probably get less.  Maybe a bouquet with a “sorry we charged you” card from the DA’s office, I don’t know.

(Thanks Stephen, Clarice and Nathan.)

Weekend Jade


Happy birthday John Lennon.