More on Pets Seized from FL Rescue

(Read the original post from yesterday.)

What would you expect to find if you walked into a pet rescue facility housing more than 100 dogs and cats first thing in the morning?  I would suggest the following:

  • Cats whose litterboxes need cleaning and whose food and/or water dishes may be empty or have litter scratched into them.
  • Dogs in kennels and/or crates who have pottied overnight and whose food/water bowls might be empty or overturned.
  • Sick pets awaiting their a.m. treatments as prescribed by a veterinarian.
  • Special needs pets living with disabilities but not suffering.

When police raided the ARK animal shelter in Deland, FL, they apparently found some form of all the circumstances above.  In combination with the facts that they had been to ARK in July regarding violations (which were rectified) and had received multiple complaints about ARK since that time, police sought a warrant to seize all the animals.

Police say conditions at Ark put animal lives in jeopardy, including a cat that had puss all over its face and its eye encrusted.

A vet documented an ulcer on the cornea of another cat with blood discharging from it. The cat could lose the eye. A kitten found in the facility died Saturday.

Officers said things were deplorable inside and out, with cats and dogs everywhere — too many to a cage.

Watch the videos, read the ACO’s affidavit documenting the history and post a comment with your thoughts.  Do the videos and affidavit help you to form an opinion on whether authorities needed to take every pet from the facility?  Do you believe charges should be filed against ARK?

13 thoughts on “More on Pets Seized from FL Rescue

  1. I watched the video and also was reading the ACO’s affidavit. My conclusion is that we must raid every single animal shelter and rescue in the US and file animal cruelty charges against every one of them. Better yet, let’s go ahead and kill all animals in every single shelter or rescue in the US because the shelters and rescues can not offer them a perfect life.
    I also would like to suggest that we get rid of the current shelter system and replace all animal shelters with slaughterhouses. That way we can make sure that no animal will be harmed in a animal shelter.

    On a more serious note, the only thing I find not ok in that video is the large amount of dogs in small crates. But then again, we don’t know if the dogs are in the crates just for the night or all the time.
    Basically you can walk in to any shelter or rescue at 8:55AM in the morning and I’m almost certain you will find a sick cat with discharge from the nose or eyes. We currently have about 20 cats in our quarantine room, most of them have URI. They get medicated twice a day, cages will be cleaned and disinfected once or twice a day and food and water will be distributed twice a day. If you walk in to our quarantine room between 8AM and 9AM, you will see many cats with runny eyes, runny noses, empty food and water bowls and dirty litter boxes. I guess that is because we are extremely cruel to our cats.
    Of course, if you walk in to our quarantine room between 10AM and 11AM it looks totally different.
    But i guess the only important thing is how it looks like between 8AM and 9AM.

      1. I believe there is a history in this case that we do not know of. I just don’t believe that Karen Clark, director of another animal-welfare group, woke up one morning, looked out the window and thought let’s just file some complaints and shutdown that other rescue. I’m almost certain there was more going in the past between Karen Clark and the ARK.
        Things like this just don’t start from one moment to the next out of nowhere.

    1. I have seen this happen time and time again. These animal rights extremists, carefully plan their “rescue” raids in the early morning hours before the shelter workers and volunteers HAVE A CHANCE TO DO THEIR MORNING CLEANING AND FEEDING. That way, they get to take pictures of dirty litter boxes and cages and empty food dishes to prove neglect. It is all totally deceptive, set up and contrived and something needs to be done in the legal arena to put a stop to it. Also, “evidence” collected by spies from PeTA and the HSUS should not be allowed in court and nobody should be charged based on pictures or videos obtained through deception. Doesn’t everybody know how easy it would be to stage evidence that way?

  2. I did not see anything terribly disturbing in the video. I don’t know if the dogs in crates were housed properly or not as I don’t know much about dogs. The cat with discharge coming from eyes and nose obviously had a URI, the video makes no mention as to whether that was being treated.

    The affidavit I did find a mildly disturbing, mainly because the house was inspected at different times on different days (10 AM, 10:15 AM, 1:20 PM, and 3:47 PM) and the conditions were almost always the same, no food or water, feces on the ground and litter boxes very dirty. If the animals were fed 2X daily, it’s reasonable to expect no food except during feeding time, but no water each time they’re inspected (except the first re-inspection when they passed)? That being said, I also realize that water bowls can get spilled or empty very quickly, perhaps the shelter should have devised a plan to check on them more often, and clean more often as well. It’s also hard to tell from the affidavit how many animals were without water, and how many had feces or dirty litter boxes. Was it just one? was it most? we can’t tell, and this to me is an important point. A few animals means they messed themselves recently or spilled their water recently, but most would indicate more general neglect.

    I do think things could have been handled differently though, these people did have multiple violations, but nothing horrendous. No piles of feces stacked X inches high, no dogs living in crates with damaged feet, no matted animals, no gaping holes in animals, no abuse, nothing except for some empty water bows, and dirty litter boxes.

    It seems to me a more prudent course of action would be to order the shelter to reduce the number of animals it housed, so it can do a better job caring for all of them, and then give them a reasonable amount of time to comply.

  3. I forgot about the cat with the bloody eye, that part was a bit disturbing, but not being a vet I don’t know how serious that is.

  4. My work has both of these things blocked so I can’t watch the video or read the affidavit;however, from working at an animal and seeing many animals with URI, the picture of that cat’s eyes looks pretty bad. If they are not treating it properly, then I can’t say they shouldn’t have taken them away. I totally agree with Vania’s statement. With the number of shelters that are overcrowded and to have a shelter staff that may care about their animals (I’m not sure), they should try to show them what needs to happen instead of writing continuous citations. Maybe they do just have too many animals and overstretched on how many they could help. Some people are just visual learners and showing them may have helped them correct it. I wish I could see the video but I know at 8:55 at my shelter, I haven’t even started cleaning except for maybe picking up a little poop as I am feeding them.

  5. The two cats filmed separately look to me to be in bad shape, but with the information given – or rather not given – it’s difficult to assess their care. The most I can say is, based on the presence and extent of the dried crusts, they could’ve used more frequent wipe downs, and the one with kitty flu looked to be panting, like he was too clogged to breathe. Both certainly needed good vet care but it’s not mentioned one way or the other.

    The one litter pan shown clearly, in the fourth video, looks bad – it’s about what I’d expect of two adult cats in 24 hours, which is too long to leave a pan uncleaned in a tiny cage. The lack of water was also disturbing, especially in conjunction with the auto-feeder full of kibble at the back. It looks to me like someone had refilled the auto-feeder recently, but neither refilled the water nor cleaned the pan, and the very presence of an auto-feeder raises questions. Do they use it because they leave the cage unattended for long periods of time, as suggested by the pan?

    All told … the place sounds overloaded and marginal to me, obviously – going by the affidavit – capable of improving with supervision and hard work, but also prone to back sliding, possibly because they’ve just too many animals for the space and number of workers. The history of complaints also suggests the neighborhood wanted them out, and was going to keep up the pressure until that happened.

    1. In one of the previously linked articles, I recall some complaint from ARK about how the police would not allow them to clean, feed or medicate any animals during the raid. Also that they separated the animals from their records. While I understand the former to be a normal protocol during any sort of raid (the police don’t allow suspected meth manufacturers to “go tidy up my kid’s science experiments in the basement” during a raid either), I am troubled by the latter allegation. If true, it indicates to me an agenda that included having the animals evaluated for the court at their worst. That is, presenting a sick cat to a vet and saying, “We have no records indicating this animal was ever seen by a vet or has been prescribed any treatment”.

      While I don’t want to imply that I know for certain all these pets were being treated by a vet, ARK gave the impression they were and again, I EXPECT a rescue of this size to have sick animals, malnourished pets and others in rough shape. I would further argue that the absence of any sick or otherwise compromised pets among the 135 would be a red flag to me – as in a rescue who cherry picks healthy animals for quick turnover and profit. My main concern is the swooping in/removing every living creature from the place and sending them to (some) places that kill. It seems to me this type of action should be reserved for the worst cases – like MAS for example – where there is ample evidence that every pet there is at immediate risk of suffering and death if authorities don’t seize them. I think I should write a post on this maybe. There is lots to think about.

      1. There’s certainly evidence in the affidavits that ARK could function well with good supervision, which indicates to me that the raids were unnecessary – that the issue could’ve been handled another way, such as hooking them up with local aid, transferring some to other rescues, and providing some continuing supervision. Especially since the alternative is apparently a kill shelter only to happy to give sick pets the needle rather than care.

        The absence of context provided is disturbing – your comparison to a drug raid is likely apt, but it’s not a reasonable approach when the issue at hand is the care given over time to living beings. As you note, sick pets at a rescue are to be expected – the real issue is, how did they acquire their illnesses, and was their care adequate? And neither the videos nor the affidavit offer any answers.

  6. This is far too long, but I have soooo much to say . . .

    I watched several video reports about the animals and raid there. In those, I saw animal after animal that appeared well-fed, clean, and certainly healthy. There was one photo of a cat with URI-typical green goo, but there isn’t a single shelter ANYWHERE that doesn’t have health cases. After all, rescues DO take in animals with injuries and health problems.

    As for stacked crates: Doesn’t EVERY shelter have stacked crates (or their equivalent)? Would you call the cage banks at shelters “stacked 3-4 high” and then claim conditions are “deplorable?”

    I also read the affidavit. I have a bit of a pet peeve about behavior evaluations being subjective and not objective. Same applies to this report. When you say that dogs were in cages/crates “too small,” based on what? How about saying, instead, that a 75-lb dog was housed in a crate that was 30″x24″?

    As for dogs standing in feces and urine — yeah, if they pee/potty in their crate overnight. I’ve been to shelter kennels with conditions that are FAR worse than that. I see pee everywhere, it stinks there too (concrete and all), and there are 8 piles of poop (my dogs only poop a couple times a day — so that tells me someone isn’t cleaning the kennels there, either).

    As for empty water/food bowls, or litter in the water: This ALWAYS happens overnight in kitty condos. Just as in shelters (who house cats in tiny cage banks, as opposed to the tall condos that we use), we come in and the water is tipped over, the food may be gone, and they have obviously used their litter boxes and scratched litter into their dishes. But daily, we clean them all and start again.

    As for the smell: We get this from our landlord who likes to pop in once or twice each fall on his way to Florida from New York state. Just this past weekend, he stopped by right when we opened. We had just gotten in 8 puppies covered in feces from their road trip to us, and we were working on bathing them all. Our volunteers were just starting to arrive to clean kitty condos (along with puppy foster families to pick up their newly arrived foster charges). Bottom line, feces does smell. And when you arrive first thing in the morning, it’s pretty smelly. But you clean up and move on from there. Besides, I believe the ACO said in one of the videos, something like “Imagine what it would smell like if you had 130 animals with all the urine and feces.” YEAH — LIKE A SHELTER. Duh.

    As for “unventilated”: Again, what on earth does this mean? I’m sure there is air flow of some kind. My local county shelter has no ventilation SYSTEM or heat in their stray-hold kennel area. And it is always wet. It always stinks. But the kennels open to the outdoors, and air does indeed come in. Did they use an ammonia meter to measure that? The fact that there was no mention of any ammonia smells suggests that the litter boxes WERE being cleaned daily. If they had not been, the place would have a measurable ammonia level.

    As for lack of food/water: I don’t think they have to have water/food at all times. They just need to be fed and watered. Were any dehydrated, as evidence of insufficient water? Were they emaciated and starving? If some were, that might be expected in a shelter facility. But since nearly all looked fine, it suggests that care is entirely adequate. By the way, I crate my dogs at home all day and I do NOT leave them with water. They have water all morning before I leave and evenings when I’m home. They are fine and healthy, and not peeing in their crates (and therefore not “standing in urine”).

    Last I looked, abuse and cruelty doesn’t equate with using dog crates to house animals (if so, we’re all guilty), stacking them “2-high” (so what, cage banks are worse), keeping a dog in a crate that allows it to turn around but perhaps not do much more (they sleep most of that time, and it’s den-like and big enough for that), or managing food/water consumption by offering it only at certain times during the day.

    If I were going to appear in court, I would have my attorney bring documentation of these very same conditions at every other shelter, including the ones where my own rescue animals were brought. And, I would “map” to those statements in the affidavit.

    I saw a very similar thing happen to a rescue in my area, and it involved some politics between groups as well: an incontinent dog was sleeping on a bed with a plastic sheet, and they claimed it was abusive. The dog was seized and killed at the receiving shelter. Another dog was being treated for cancer under the direction of a veterinarian (and admittedly quite ill). That dog was also killed (“humanely euthanized” as they said). A few dogs were being rehabilitated for aggression issues and doing very well — until they were seized and then killed as “dangerous” — which they weren’t, just needed some rehab work. (They were German Shepherd Dogs — notoriously nervous and don’t do well in shelter settings.) And all news video showed nothing but dogs that were obviously healthy and well-fed.

    One of the greatest problems I see in my own state (New York) is that one “SPCA” per county can have cruelty/abuse investigatory authority and police powers, no more than one. And usually it is the first one that was incorporated in the state. I ask this: Who polices the animal control police, especially if they are standalone (and competing) nonprofit animal welfare organizations? And they have the authority to go after their “competitors?”

    There is a severe abuse of power here with absolutely no checks and balances nor public accountability. And the “kill” shelters continue insulate themselves from public scrutiny by claiming that rescuers are hoarders, and then using raids like this to distract the public from the REAL abusers in our midst — THEM.

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