CA Pound Causes Puppy to Needlessly Suffer

Pat Claerbout allegedly blacklists rescues who question killing at any pound she runs.  She is also accused of killing pets rescuers want to save in retaliation for asking questions.  Ms. Claerbout is currently in charge of the Stockton pound in CA, which came to my attention on Saturday, July 7, when I saw this photo on Facebook:

Puppy #A186033 at the Stockton pound in CA, as posted on Facebook.

Along with her photo, the group Central CA Pets Alive had indicated that the puppy, who was obviously suffering and in need of immediate vet treatment, was stuck at the pound for the remainder of the weekend due to rescuers being turned away on Saturday. The puppy had sat in this condition, without treatment, since her impound on July 2.  When rescuers came for her on the 7th, they were refused.  The staff at the pound had a host of excuses why they wouldn’t release the puppy, including at one point a claim that the pound had to hold the pup for a few more hours to give the owners a chance to reclaim her.  Rescuers offered several alternative options, including foster.  These were denied with similarly lame excuses.  So this poor puppy had to suffer in the pound for an additional two days without the care she desperately needed, even though the opportunity for care was available.

On Monday, June 9, Pat Claerbout released the puppy to Eileen McFall of Central CA Pets Alive, reportedly indicating that a puppy in this condition would not be released back to the owners, had they come to claim her because, “That’s animal cruelty.”

Let’s be clear: Causing this puppy to suffer without treatment for an entire week while turning away rescuers is animal cruelty.  I don’t see any way around that.

The good news is that the puppy was taken from the pound to a vet clinic and received treatment for her fever, mange and bloody sores.  She went straight from the vet clinic to her foster owners in Seattle.  She is now called Fiona and has settled in to the kind of life she deserves.

Fiona with foster family, as posted on Facebook.
Fiona at home, as posted on Facebook.

Thank you to everyone who helped Fiona. But hearing her story makes me wonder how many other pets are suffering at the Stockton pound, in the locked stray area, with no one advocating for them and an astonishing level of disconnect from the few paid staffers who know they are there.  The Stockton police department stands behind Ms. Claerbout 100% and Ms. Claerbout told the local news she is proud of her work.

23 thoughts on “CA Pound Causes Puppy to Needlessly Suffer

  1. I’m sorry, but is there a box to check on shelter administrator application forms for stupid? evil? vindictive? immoral? cruel?

    I am so glad that the rescues did not give up on little Fiona, though, and that she is out of the hellhole that is the Stockton Pound.

    And, yes, how many other Fionas are there?

    1. There are laws. Stockton is breaking them, as are many other “shelters.” In some cases we need more or better laws but in this case we need enforcement. Stockton’s pound is part of the Police Department!

      1. sounds like MAS.. the police dept is supposed to be watching the web cams.. and they don’t see anything wrong ..

  2. I continue to be surprised about how shelters seem to operate outside of animal cruelty laws. I’m trying to think of a similar situation in another industry and I’m not coming up with anything…

  3. Thanks for sharing Fiona’s story. Unfortunately, as awful as she looks in that photo, Fiona’s one of the lucky ones who made it out alive. Stockton kills 70% of animals, many illegally. Full info, data analysis, and links to records are here: or formatted for the iPhone

    Check out Gracie’s story there, too, as well as Speranza, Xena, and Siouxsie’s stories on Facebook at Central California Pets Alive and XMutts. Thank you, yesbiscuit, for bringing attention to illegal killing and horrible shelter management in Stockton, California and beyond.

    Lest anyone think it’s inevitable in the depressed central valley that shelters kill so many animals, the City of Sacramento Animal Care Services has more than doubled its live release rate in less than a year since appointing a Compassionate Director, Gina Knepp. Central California can save lives.

  4. This is Fiona’s foster Dad with a quick message… She is doing A LOT better, and I think both physically and emotionally she is well on her way to a full recovery. I have met few dogs in my life who are sweeter than little Fiona and I am so glad she is now going to have a chance to live that life she deserves. And all credit for making that happen goes to Eileen, because it is through her determination, persistence, and “bulldog” tenacity that she was able to make it out– she was literally hours away from being killed. Let’s hope that Fiona’s story is one that brings enough attention to the Stockton Animal Shelter (and it’s leadership) to get things changed!

    1. Thanks, Tom, for taking this precious dog in so she could heal and be ready for the next chapter of her life. Blessings to all of you who are making a difference for the animals of Stockton.

      I hope that by bringing this into the light of day, things will change for the animals and people who love them.

    2. Thank you Tom & Eilene both for saving another precious life. I am so glad to hear Fiona is doing well with you & hope more folks like you will take notice & adopt from shelters to save more Fionas needing homes.

      You’re both heros/sheros.

  5. Ugh. As someone above mentioned, this just happens way too often. But fortunately for little Fiona, she made it out alive while many other pets do not. So thank you to everyone who helped get her out, including her foster parents. :)

  6. Thank you, Yesbiscuit, for telling Fiona’s story. Anyone who reads and reacts to it, please, please take a moment to contact one or more of the Stockton city leaders. Fiona is one of thousands illegally denied veterinary care or killed there, and Stockton’s leaders still have their heads in the sand. Contact info is contained in this note–thanks!

  7. These shelter employees need to be arrested for animal cruelty! If I owned a dog that looked like this, I would be arrested for animal cruelty, not providing vet care.

    1. True, and oddly enough, Pat Claerbout herself said to me when I picked up Fiona that she would never return a dog in such condition to its owner as that would be animal cruelty. She said it without the slightest recognition that taking in such an animal and NOT PROVIDING ANY CARE is also animal cruelty!

  8. I hope someone sends this story and photo to every media outlet in that area. When you have people like this running a “shelter”, then only thing that seems to make any difference is negative media attention and mass public outrage sent to elected officials over this “shelter”.

  9. Stockton is a shithole in more ways than one. There’s much that needs fixing in that city, and I’m unsurprised to see that the sheltering system is one.

  10. There are sadistic people working in shelters! These people need to be investigated, fired, and prosecuted for animal cruelty.

  11. Fiona has been adopted by her foster family. She had her first negative skin scrape today and will likely be free of demodex from now on. Pat Claerbout is still director, still killing animals on intake and not providing veterinary care to animals like Fiona. The Stockton police department completed its investigation. Although a department spokesperson said in a news story that the investigation was not into one or two people but into the pound as a whole, they’re now claiming it was a personnel matter and not subject to the public records act. So far, we have heard nothing of any changes to result from the investigation.

    Here’s Fiona with her “dad.”

  12. When I lived in Placerville and belonged to Hangtown kennel club
    Pat was the director at the shelter. She would refuse to let breed clubs
    Take dogs because she wanted pure bred dogs for people to adopt. This was before the rule that stated dogs must be sterilized before adoption. She didn’t care that was promoting unwanted puppies by releasing intact animals.
    She also was in Sacramento speaking in favor of AB 57.
    She is evil.

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