Alleged Arizona Shooter was Shelter Volunteer

In the inevitable attempt to understand what sort of person commits mass murder, the media is digging into alleged Tuscon shooter Jared Loughner’s past.  He apparently liked dogs and some neighbors remembered he used to walk his own dog around the neighborhood.  One year ago, Mr. Loughner volunteered to walk dogs at the Pima Animal Care Center in AZ.  Shelter staff became concerned when he was allowing dogs to play in an area designated off-limits due to a recent parvo virus infection:

“He didn’t think the disease was that threatening and when we tried to explain how dangerous some of the diseases are. He didn’t get it,” [manager Kim] Janes said.

He wouldn’t agree to keep dogs from the restricted area, and was asked to come back when he would. He never returned.

I don’t know if that tidbit provides us any insight into Mr. Loughner’s mindset.  Or if anything ultimately would.  But I find it interesting that he apparently failed to comprehend that he was putting dogs’ lives at risk by his actions at the shelter.  And that rather than change what he was doing, he opted to abandon any commitment to the dogs at the shelter.

18 thoughts on “Alleged Arizona Shooter was Shelter Volunteer

  1. obviously not an “animal abuser’ unless you call not following directions abuse.. and look at the violence he perpetrated on society.
    I do not believe we should have a “registry” for people convicted of animal abuse. The only other registry is for sexual abusers.. I do not compare the two..
    I do call for the strict prosecution of animal abusers.

    1. I know the topic is not animal registries for convicted animal abusers…but I have to ask – since you brought it up. Why don’t you think an animal abuse registry is a good idea?

      While I can see it morph into a way for people to be “attacked” by others ( I mean this in a nonviolent but still threatening way – as we know all too well words can hurt/scare people too). I still think that it would be a great tool for people trying to place animals to have to check and make sure their new adopter isn’t John Q Animal Abuser and just going to take their loving animal and harm it. Especially, given the rise to people posting free animals to be rehomed on Craigslist…where I have heard some horrible stories about thinking the person was so nice – only to find out their beloved Fido was subject to abuse and now dead. AND it would help shelters/rescues to do a quick background type search through a specific data base to find out if they have any problems with animals and what they might be. I think it is a wonderful tool for people trying to place animals and welcome a discussion on both sides as to why it is and isn’t a good idea.

  2. I wonder if Mr. Loughner was mainly looking for some community service hours to list on college applications? He may have applied to schools that are harder to get into than the community college he attended, and more competitive schools typically like to look at community service as well grades and test scores. What could be easier than walking dogs, especially if you like them anyway.

  3. Sorry, but I fail to see any connection there whatsoever. People are going to try to make all sorts of “connections” to this guy. Maybe it’s the school he went to, that taught him to kill? Maybe his church brainwashed him into thinking Giffords is the antichrist? I think he had a habit of putting his left shoe on before the right… Oh, wait- didn’t he drink milk as a kid? That’s got to be it. Something in the milk…. So he also tried to volunteer at the local animal shelter, but wasn’t mature enough to understand the WHY of their rules. It’s not as if he dipped his bullets in parvo virus, a little trick he’d learned from his days at the shelter… Are we to assume now that all shelter volunteers -or the ones who for whatever reason get turned away- need to be watched under the Patriot Act? I wouldn’t be so quick to jump on the bandwagon of making assumptions about this latest case in world-wide attention.

    1. As this is your first comment, I’d like to both welcome you and request that should you decide to post a second comment in future, please read the post before doing so.

      1. Thank you for the welcome and I’ll ignore the insult to my intelligence in the same sentence. My whole point was that we can’t make a connection between the guy’s failure to follow orders at the shelter with the deed he ultimately did. There’s just not enough information given to form an accurate conclusion. Like Jennie says below, we don’t know if the volunteer supervisor actually explained the situation with pesticides in a way he could understand and comprehend, or if she/he just barked orders and expected them to be followed without question. Kids do tend to question everything, just because they can’t believe their elders might be right. That in itself does not make somebody an abuser or killer, any more than the flouride in his milk would. But thanks for hearing me out and not just deleting!

      2. I’m not connecting what reportedly happened at the shelter with his alleged mass murder. That’s why I believed you hadn’t read the post. Now you’re repeating that and tossing in something about pesticides which is making me again question if you read the post. At any rate, it’s certainly possible that I wrote the post badly and didn’t communicate myself clearly. If that’s the case, let me be clear: It’s a tidbit of information *I* (as in me, personally, in my own brain) found interesting. I don’t know that it tells us much, if anything, with regard to the shootings. Grasping at tidbits is just something people do in the wake of senseless tragedies like these as we so want to try to make some kind of sense out of them. Ultimately, I don’t know that we ever do. But it’s a common and IMO normal reaction.

  4. It maybe suggests that he was “not quite right”; a normal person would have accepted that disease controls are reasonable in a shelter.

    That said, most people who don’t have normal capacity to function don’t go on to become mass murderers.

  5. Or it may suggest that, despite what the shelter employees are telling you, they were not nearly that gentle with the man and he never came back because of how he was “asked to stop”. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened. It also wouldn’t be the first time people have come out with a new spin on the way they treated a person after a spree killing.

    It’s also possible any mental illness he has included the inability to fluidly interact with people socially. Often people who simply cannot grasp social interactions are keenly aware of it and will shut down even if politely and gently reprimanded or asked to do something differently. What would be a “oh, okay, whatever” moment for most of us is debilitatingly embarrassing for them.

    Or maybe he just plain didn’t understand, like you said.

    Those are at least two plausible scenarios that do not suggest he wasn’t “committed” to the animals. In the wake of tragedy we all like to examine and suppose, and I’m okay with that as a way of healing. What I’m not okay with is assuming we actually know what he was thinking.

    1. I think another point that you didn’t make that stood out to me was that- maybe an inability to interact with people socially is what drew him to animals in the first place.
      Whenever we have openings at the shelter, we get a rash of applicants who love animals more than people- because they can’t relate to people
      (we steer clear of those applicants)

      1. I understand why you’d want to steer clear of those applicants – but even I admit that some days are better spent with my dogs than facing the general public….people are mean and so nasty sometimes!

        I have noticed that there are a lot of people that have mental conditions that actually have connections with animals and those connections seem to fulfill some piece on interaction/connection that they need on a basic level. I’m sure a big piece of it is the unconditional love that an animal gives you. I have a cousin that is autistic and mentally retarded – and while asking for extra food at a family gathering ( he had laready had 3 plates) his mom told him no he couldn’t – problem is that he can’t comprehend the reasons behind why he can’t. To him he wants to eat and should be able to – but my aunt knows all too well what happens if he over eats and she tries to avoid it at all costs, especially when away from home. Well, my cousin acts like he’s been smacked and goes back to sitting on the couch staring into the TV, ignoring everybody for a while. Once he’s forgotten about it he’s back to his normal self – but he goes through those moments when he doesn’t want anything to do with anyone. I have seen the same thing happen with a special needs (also autisitc & mentally retarded) young man who is a neighbor.

        Does anyone know Kim Janes well enough to be able to say that she spoke with him without being nasty & offensive? I mean, even if she was as polite as punch – if there is a form of mental illness involved then I understand why he left and never came back. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and speculate all kinds of things…this could’ve happened at the shelter if he was that upset with them after all – but it appears that he loved animals, or at least dogs. I guess this is one that maybe we’ll be left to contemplate….or maybe before the day is out we’ll hear more about him from people who knew him and find out something that helps us wrap our heads around this issue.

        Regardless, my heart goes out to the family & friends that are suffering today in the aftermath of this tragedy.

        And you know YesBiscuit – I never got a welcome…even to be followed with a reprimand! LOL Just kidding!

      2. My bad. Welcome and watch it. ; )

        I think that for the average volunteer – not saying the alleged shooter qualifies as that – if the shelter staff tells you to do X, you’re going to do it (assuming it’s not something morally objectionable or some other extreme). If they said for example “Keep dogs out of this area”, you’d just do that. If you had the benefit of an explanation of why, such as ‘The area is still potentially contaminated with parvo which can be deadly to dogs”, again, I’d think you’d comply. I don’t know what Mr. Loughner’s reported non-compliance tells us, if anything, with regard to the bigger picture, but I found it an interesting tidbit.

      3. ha!- totally. People can be crazy when it comes to animals.
        But even if our employees don’t have to work with customers, they still have to work with their coworkers :-)

  6. The city of Salinas CA has “accidently” killed two beautiful dogs that were spoken for and being picked up by rescues at the Salinas Animal Shelter.

    Please read this on

    I just couldn’t get the tips email address to work.

  7. It’s just all so tragic…the disturbed young man may have not understood the reasoning for the parvo isolation – but only understood the reprimand – leading to more isolation for him in his mental illness? Just a guess and it’s all too sad.

    But one thing I found interesting and encouraging is he will be represented by a famous (a lawyer’s lawyer) defense attorney out of San Diego – Judy Clark. She takes high profile criminal defense work most attorneys would run from – she defends her clients to prevent them from getting the death penalty (all progressive nations have eliminated the death penalty – but not the U.S.) In doing so she is meticulous in getting the client’s story by gaining their trust – and as a result of her work maybe…hopefully we can learn to understand what causes such violence…and prevent it.

  8. yesBiscuit said: “Now you’re repeating that and tossing in something about pesticides which is making me again question if you read the post.” -NoBiscuit, I didn’t attribute the pesticides remark to your post. That’s what the news media are saying, as being a cause of Parvo. It’s all kind of confusing, and I doubt they even know themselves half of what they are reporting. But you’re right that it’s just a tidbit of information. What bothers me is not your post, but the fact that so many people WILL make that connection in their own minds. The first two sentences of this post (tho I know they’re media and not your own words) help plant this idea. -Just like the silly connections I made in my first comment would if the media published them. When I post satire on my own blog, you’d be surprised how many people ignore the disclaimer of its being satire, and take it as gospel truth! Anyway, I’m not here to pick a fight with you. Just stating my own opinions. You post ’em and I promise I’ll read ’em…

    1. Don’t we, as animal people, know that though! But that’s what the media said. The area had been sprayed and they were concerned about parvo… Maybe that’s why the guy questioned the order not to walk the dogs there?

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