HSUS Pokes Their Nose in Forrest City Shelter Abuse

Regarding the Memorial Day abuse of dogs at the Forrest City Animal Shelter in Arkansas, the Mayor has already weighed in, characterizing the incident as an “oversight”.  Now the Mayor appears to have a new BFF in Desiree Bender from HSUS who met with him and subsequently called the abuse a “mistake”, laying blame at the feet of the shelter volunteers.

From Ms. Bender’s comments on a Facebook page called Coalition to Change Forrest City Animal Shelter:

I went over the facts of this incident today. There was zero intent of cruelty in this case. Yes, there was a mistake and it resulted in the tragic death. However, to have a crime you must have intent. The Forrest City Shelter in my opinion is in the top 20% of shelters in Arkansas. Huge runs, play yards, city allows the HS kennel space to hold dogs, city allows HS 24/7 access which is unheard of and euthanasia is carried out by a veterinarian. It is time to stop the attacks on the city. Animal advocates volunteering at shelters should be starting programs to increase awareness and lower euthanasia rates such as foster, spay/neuter, outreach and education programs.

It’s time to stop the attacks on the city? Perhaps this is just me being petty but I’d like to point out that the volunteers were the only ones trying to help save the dogs that weekend.  Not only did Ms. Bender fail to meet with them during her visit, she proceeded to smear them on Facebook afterwards.  Via KC Dog Blog:

Traveled to Forrest City today to meet with the mayor and Chief of Police. Discussed all the issues and visited the shelter. What continues to harm the animals in this city is the lack of cooperative collaboration. Animal welfare organizations should strive to partner with municipal agencies to create proactive programs to curb the overall issues facing animals.

How about – It’s time to stop the attacks on the shelter volunteers?

Ms. Bender, state director for HSUS in AR, says the cruelty at the shelter was not criminal, just a mistake.  Ms. Bender, meet the HSUS definition of cruelty, via the HSUS website:

Animal cruelty can be either deliberate abuse or simply the failure to take care of an animal. Either way, and whether the animal is a pet, a farm animal, or wildlife, the victim can suffer terribly. Don’t despair, though—anyone can take steps against cruelty.

[…]

Neglect is not giving an animal the right food, water, shelter or vet care. Because their misery goes on for so long, animals who die of neglect can suffer just as much as animals who are harmed on purpose.

[…]

While there is life, there is hope.

Except where there is Desiree Bender, apparently.

A response to Ms. Bender’s comments, from Gayden Schwartz, on behalf of the Forrest City Humane Society:

With our presidents approval I will release my response to Ms. Bender’s professional opinion of our situation in Forrest City. In the meantime I would like to thank you all for your support and interest in our effort to make some positive changes in our Animal Shelter. Ms. Bender’s assessment of our situation was based on her conversation with Mayor McCoy, the Animal Control employees and the Chief of Police. I am sorry Ms. Bender didn’t make the time to talk with us. I would have told her we indeed have tried over and over again to work with the Mayor and certainly all of the ACO’s. I desperately tried to tell her this about 8 months ago, but she was so busy verbalizing her displeasure with the City at that time, she did not listen to me then. Now the Police Chief has taken over and we of course will try to work with him as well. Getting along with one another is not a novel concept.
As far as the graciousness of the city for letting the humane society come and go 24/7 with keys to the shelter, that was part of our lease agreement with the City. We own the land and had a lease agreement with the City, which we later discovered was not signed by the previous Mayor. When there were incidents or problems at the shelter we presented our observations and concerns to the Mayor and they were ignored or greeted with retaliation. He blasted us in public meetings and in the local newspaper, he attempted to change the building security code, threatened to change the locks, and more, including suing us. Ms. Bender’s remarks imply that we have been everything other than what we are. We are polite and respectful to the Mayor, the City Council members and all City employees and yes we have tried to work with them and will continue to do so. I resent Ms. Bender, as a representative of The Humane Society of the United States, stating anything to the contrary.

Why did HSUS even get involved in this case?  They didn’t think the local volunteers were already facing enough obstacles in trying to reform the shelter?  Dang, Ms. Bender just made this difficult situation a whole lot worse.  I hope the locals working toward improved care for the community’s pets can achieve their goals, despite the HSUS representative pissing on their cereal.

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19 Comments

  1. alice in LALA land

     /  June 11, 2010

    Does killing dogs by VET get a shelter into the “top 20 for the HSUS? wowo that is some bar..let’s hop other shelters try NOT to measure up and actually go no -kill.
    If this “incident” had happened on private property we would hear the hue and cry of the HSUS for NEW LAWS across the country.

    Reply
    • I agree. Take this whole mess and set it on the property of a Labrador Retriever “puppymill” breeder: The puppymiller just wanted to get the hell out of dodge for the holiday weekend so left intact dogs together w/out water in the heat resulting in horrible maiming and death. HSUS would surely be screaming CRUELTY at the top of their lungs over these same events.

      Reply
  2. EmilyS

     /  June 11, 2010

    oh, this is a way HSUS will counter the criticism that they don’t “help local shelters”.

    Reply
  3. SemaviLady

     /  June 11, 2010

    In so much of the new proposed legislation regarding animal issues, do take note that many of them (often supported by HSUS) provide exception in that shelters and sometimes specific animal care organizations are written into the proposed bills as being exempt from being charged with the same crimes or alleged animal abuses.

    Reply
  4. “Why did HSUS even get involved in this case? ”

    To get on the city’s good side so they can use their AC and police/sherrif dept to help them seize animals the next time they find someone to victimize.

    Reply
  5. Lee McAllister

     /  June 11, 2010

    Neglect is not giving an animal the right food, water, shelter or vet care. Because their misery goes on for so long, animals who die of neglect can suffer just as much as animals who are harmed on purpose.

    NEGLECT IS ANYTHING THAT IS DONE WRONGFULLY TO A PERSON OR ANIMAL THAT IS NEEDED IN DAILY LIFE! MISS BENDER AND THE OTHERS THAT WERE INVOLVED IN THIS HORRIBLE INCIDENT NEED TO BE PUT IN A CAGE AND HAVE DONE TO THEM WHAT WAS DONE TO THESE POOR ANIMALS! I FOR ONE WOULD BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO DELIVER THE PUNISHMENT TO THEM THAT THESE POOR ANIMALS RECEIVED BECAUSE THEIR PREVIOUS OWNERS DIDN’T GIVE A RATS ASS ABOUT THEM. THE ONLY NEGLECT THAT I SEE IN THIS IS THAT OF THE ELECTED OFFICIALS AND THOSE THAT WERE HIRED TO WORK AT THIS SHELTER! THE NEGLECT BEING THEY DIDN’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THERE JOB OR THESE ANIMALS. I WOULD LOVE TO WORK AT AN ANIMAL SHELTER BECAUSE OF MY LOVE FOR ANIMALS. ALL THE ANIMALS IN MY HOUSE ARE ADOPTED. THAT INCLUDED ONE OF 3 FISH, AND 4 DOGS.I SURE IN THE HELL WOULD DO A BETTER JOB OF CARING FOR THESE ANIMALS THAN THE ONES THAT WERE THERE. ALSO ANOTHER THING THAT SHOULD AND COULD EB DONE TO THESE UNETHICAL IDIOTS IS TAKE THEIR PETS AND CHILDREN AWAY FROM THEM!

    Reply
  6. The first excerpt is the most offensive (I didn’t get the outrage based on the second excerpt, because quite frankly, it didn’t blame volunteers or imply anything negative about the HS).

    My favorite part however is: ” to have a crime you must have intent.”

    Actually, you don’t. Negligent homicide and manslaughter are examples of crimes in which those pesky mistakes (like speeding or leaving your soon-to-be dead baby unattended with a dog) lead to criminal charges without intent being a qualifier. People don’t intend to kill someone when they drive over the speed limit. Mothers don’t intent for their friend’s dog to rip the throat of their infant child. And yet.

    I would suggest that criminal charges are entirely appropriate. If this had been a member of the general public, they would have been charged with neglect and animal cruelty* for the fighting and dehydrated dogs. Animal control officials know better and, as such, should certainly be held accountable for the suffering they inflicted (inadvertently or otherwise) on those dogs.

    *Depending on location, of course.

    Reply
    • My take was that she implied something very negative about the volunteers in that second quote: that *their* lack of cooperation with the city was what was causing harm to the animals (as opposed to the city employees who actually caused the harm). That would appear to be the interpretation of the volunteers as well, thus the response posted above.

      I agree with your point about intent. I really resent the Mayor and HSUS calling this an oversight/mistake. That makes it sound like an oopsie which is not at all how I see it.

      Reply
      • I guess I could see that. In of itself, though, I agree with the statement – of course animal welfare agencies and municipal agencies should work together. This could be a valid problem with the humane society and municipal shelter. Out of context with the other statements, I didn’t see it as finger pointing.

  7. Hamilton

     /  June 11, 2010

    Ummmm… so if I understand this correctly, she never actually visited the shelter?

    Reply
  8. Nicole

     /  June 11, 2010

    Glad I stopped giving $ to them awhile back!!!

    Reply
  9. Leslie Jo

     /  June 11, 2010

    If HSUS can’t stand up for the animals, then they don’t need to exist. The video is clear. It wasn’t a “mistake” or an “oversight.” And it doesn’t matter if the animals eat caviar and have beds of their own. The shelter needs a HOUSECLEANING of staff, period. Nothing else is acceptable.

    Reply
  10. As for the “working together” remark, let’s explore it a little. If a teacher is caught molesting students, does the PTA need to “work together” with them? Would a representative of any child welfare organization that anyone is aware of say something like that?

    Reply
    • heh… The reason schoolkids continue being molested at our school is because the PTA won’t cooperate with the pedophiles. After all, the molesters let the PTA have free coffee during their meetings which is unheard of elsewhere! It’s time to stop the attacks on the pedophiles.

      Reply
  11. JUNE DENOMIE

     /  June 11, 2010

    THIS ENTIRE LETTER FROM MS. BENDER NEEDS TO BE SENT TO HSUS MAIN OFFICE TO MR. PAECELLE.(sp) MS. BENDER HAS JUST MADE HERSELF L@@K LIKE A COMPLETE IDIOT!!! WHEN SHE WAS PRAISING HOW WONDERFUL THE SHELTER IS, NOTICE HOW SHE LEFT OUT THE PART WHERE THE GASTRIC JUICES ARE FLOWING OUT OF THE BOTTOM OF THE DUMPSTER INTO “PUDDLES” AND ARE COMPLETELY … See MoreCOVERED IN MAGGOTS!!!! HOW THERE IS MICE POOP IN EVERY ROOM AND DRAWER IN THE SHELTER!!!! HOW THERE IS BLOOD ON THE WALLS IN THE SHELTER!!!! HOW THERE WAS AN X~RATED VIDEO FOUND IN THE VCR WHEN THERE WAS AN UNDERCOVER PERSON SENT TO THE SHELTER!!! WERE THE VOLUNTEERS WATCHING THIS MOVIE THE NIGHT BOZO WAS KILLED????!!!! HOW THE GRASS IS SO OVERGROWN ON THE SHELTER GROUNDS, IT L@@KS LIKE IT HASN’T BEEN CUT IN MONTHS!!! AND, SHE SAYS THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE SHELTER!!! NOTICE HOW SHE NEVER, EVER MENTIONS THAT, WHAT’S HIS NAME (CAN’T REMEMBER WRIGHT NOW) THE SHELTER MANAGER, THAT MOVED TO THE WATER DEPARTMENT!!! I GUESS EVEN THOUGH ALLLLLLL THE DISGUSTING MESS THAT I NOTED ABOVE, WASN’T HIS FAULT EITHER!!! JUST LIKE HE DIDN’T GET HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR BOZO’Z DEATH!!! SO, THE MAYOR THINKS MR. (FATSO) SHELTER MANAGER ISN’T TO BLAME FOR BOZO’S DEATH AND THE OTHER MISTREATED ANIMALS EITHER???!!! GIVE ME A BREAK!!! WHAT DO THEY THINK, WE ARE A BUNCH OF WIMPS THAT ARE GOING TO LAY DOWN AND LET THIS ABUSE CONTINUE???!!! MS. BENDER JUST FLAT OUT LIED BY NOT REVEALING EVERYTHING THAT IS REALLY GOING ON WITH THIS DUMP SHELTER???!!!! 80(((
    MS. BENDER IS NOT DOING HER JOB EITHER IF SHE DOESN’T DEMAND IMMEDIATE CHANGES TO TAKE PLACE AT THIS SHELTER!!! THE HOME OFFICE AT HSUS NEEDS TO KNOW EVERYTHING THAT IS GOING ON WITH THE SHELTER SO THEY CAN SEE THAT MS. BENDER IS “NOT” DOING HER JOB EITHER!!!!!80((((

    Reply
  12. Like many of those at HSUS it appears that Desiree is mostly a fact ‘bender’.

    Reply
  13. Why is anyone associated with the HSUS involved at all??? This should be the concern of the locals. Keep Bender out of your shelters and government…

    Reply
  14. Mark Bieber

     /  June 11, 2010

    Ms. Bender was told six months ago we did not want her help and to not come to Forrest City. It appears she wants to have her nose in everything. She slipped in like a thief in the night to meet with the Mayor & Chief of Police and was gone as quickly as she arrived. Her comments are word for word from the Mayor’s mouth. She NEVER contacted anyone with our local HS regarding a visit. We learned she had been here from a comment she made on FaceBook. Is it obvious to you yet that she is not concerned with the FCA HS? She is nothing more than a lying busy body. Which is the reason we have been refusing her help (or lack of) for 6-7 months now. Actually, she come to our town and our shelter after previously being told not to. I chuckle to think how would like a citation for trespassing on OUR property. This woman is a loose canon and needs to step down from her position. I will personally not rest until I have her removed from the HSUS.

    Reply

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