Warrant Issued for Arrest of Rescuer/Shelter Advisory Board Member in Barry Co

The following is taken from the About page of the Pyr rescue website belonging to Marcie Tepper of MI:

When it comes to selecting a home for these big guys Marcie is pretty selective so please be patient with the questioning and process. A fenced area adjacent to the home is required, as these guys CANNOT be taught boundaries.
Potential adopters must be willing to have vet references, personal references and a home visit performed.

Adopters must agree to appropriate medical care, which includes but is not limited to annual vaccinations, annual heartworm testing and preventative, emergency care, grooming, licensing and containment of the dog. Adoption fee is $300 on average, this can vary due to individual circumstances.

Ms. Tepper currently has a warrant out for her arrest for animal neglect.  The bank foreclosed on her home and the new owner went inside recently to find the 10 year old house was unsalvageable.  The floors are covered in dog feces, there is garbage piled everywhere, and filthy dog crates are strewn throughout the home which reeks, as one might imagine.

Tepper spoke to 24 Hour News 8 Friday off-camera. She said has worked with the Barry County Animal shelter 17 years. During the last two, she said, she struggled with losing her home, felt pressured to take in animals, and was unable to pay rent because she spent so much on the animals.

Tepper said she’s working on getting treatment and plans to turn herself in Saturday on that neglect charge.

The new owner of the home also discovered a number of dead dogs who had been bagged and left on the property:

[S]he said she euthanized dogs at her house because she was embarrassed she could not find homes for the dogs.

Ms. Tepper is not a veterinarian to my knowledge.  I have no idea how she was killing the huge dogs in her care but it’s hard to imagine any scenario where she was doing it legally.  Does this activity fall under the “neglect” charge?

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf declined to discuss Tepper’s case, citing an open investigation.

The Barry Co pound is under the sheriff’s supervision.  In 2011, the pound killed 62% of the animals in its care.  Marcie Tepper is a member of the Barry Co shelter advisory board.  It would seem likely that the sheriff is well acquainted with Ms. Tepper.  I will post updates on this case as I come across them.

Dog #98612, one of the eighteen pets listed on Petfinder at the Barry Co pound in MI.

Note: The dead dogs are blurred out in the video at the second link – only the home’s filthy conditions are shown clearly.

(Thank you Clarice for the links on this story.)

17 thoughts on “Warrant Issued for Arrest of Rescuer/Shelter Advisory Board Member in Barry Co

  1. This so depressing. As there is steady progress in getting shelters to work with rescues, and rescues making real contributions to reducing the number of pets killed in shelters, stories like these will be abused by opponents for shelter reform. They will say “Rescues are hoarders”, “they cannot be trusted” etc. But we have to remember people like Ms. Tepper are exceptions. Exceptions we do not want t apologize far, but seek out and stop while at the same time understand there thousands of rescues working to save lives every day and live up to their mission. With a county pound killing 62 percent of the animals “in their care”, rescues are needed to start saving every possible animal. Unfortunately, Ms. Tepper’s organization did not have the right to be called a rescue. In addition, just as we judge each pet individually, we have to do the same with potential adopters. There were euthanized dogs in her house because “She said she euthanized dogs at her house because she was embarrassed she could not find homes for the dogs.” This is outrageous and I am consistently encouraging rescues and shelters to look beyond whatever check box application they have. Could there really have been no one willing to take these animals? Or was it the arrogant self righteous interview, process and home inspection that eliminated any chance they could have went on to live a good life? When we consider a potential adopter, we must always consider, is this pet better off with this person or dead? Because when we refuse to give someone a pet due to a check box or our own standards of pet care, we are endangering the life of that pet in many circumstances to the whim of a shelter or rescue killing for overcrowding, money or some arbitrary reason. I never want t see a homeless pet go to an abusive home, fighting ring, or the like. But when we say no to people that are not up to our own standards of pet care, this hubris costs the lives of homeless pets. And it is the only thing that matters – saving EVERY healthy and treatable pet

    1. Something that occurred to me as I read the story – after the anger and sadness at the pets who suffered and died for this woman’s incompetence and despair – was, how readily available is information on how to run a rescue? I mean, how to assess its feasibility, how to network with other local groups and line up sources of funds beyond your own pocket, how to budget, day-to-day operations … the nuts and bolts of it. Are there any websites or books that go into it in detail?

      1. Great info, but that’s not what I meant. What I have in mind is much more close to the ground – assessing specific local resources, finances, putting together a budget that accounts for usual costs for small-scale animal rescue, basic accounting, basic health and safety etc., in terms useful for small, start-up rescues operating out of homes.

      2. Eucritta, From my work with rescues, they are usually very open to talking to anyone saving lives. I personally prefer to work with rescues so never started my own. But I know if someone wanted to start one here in Colorado and asked me, I would point to a few that I like and have them call the president or other officer and just ask for advice. Although these people are usually spending a lot of tier free time on their own rescue, I think you will find them open and helpful time permitting. If you really want to do it, just ask to be the assistant to the president of a successful rescue in your area for months and learn everything you need to know. They get a free motivated volunteer, you get on the job training. Also, you may help them as many of these groups need a fresh view to come in once in a while to get out of the box. Lastly, please do read everything at the link I gave you previously. The tenants of the No Kill equation pretty much work the same for a rescue as a shelter. You may have to search for more detail, but your bullet points to flesh out are there. Good luck

      3. Great info, but not what I meant either. Nor am I looking for myself.

        Here’s the thing: I was an in-shelter volunteer and foster for years, and I learned a fair bit about basic care, health & safety, but no-one ever took me aside and said, ‘Let’s look at the books,’ or ‘Here’s how to apply for a grant.’

        A small-scale rescue is a nonprofit business, yet information on the nuts-and-bolts of them as businesses seems to be very thin on the ground. We’re expecting people to learn through ad-hoc apprenticeships and networking, on their feet.

        That’s what I mean. There ought to be some source of at least lists, of things to budget for, how to find out local costs, what aid is available, what government forms must be filed. I don’t have the knowledge – like, I suspect, a lot of people who’ve done volunteer work, I know how to care for a pregnant cat, assist a birth, bottle-feed kittens … but do the books? Not a chance.

      1. OMG.. that’s disgusting.. a wonder how long the house was empty of a human? Did she abandoned dogs there to starve and die alone? This just makes me cry..

  2. Hi,

    I’m a long-time lurker but I had to comment on this sad case. The first thing that came to mind was the tragedy of making perfect the enemy of good. While Pyrs may be large and expensive dogs, taking the chance on ‘ok’ homes rather than ‘great’ homes would have led to far more dogs being placed (and most of them successfully to boot) instead of being killed in slow and nasty ways.

    The second thing that comes to mind is that it illustrates how dangerous it is to become isolated. Things happen — and if you can’t reach out, you’re liable to sink. She’d very possibly still have a home and those dogs be alive if she could have given them up. It’s not dumping — if you can’t cope, it takes courage to acknowledge that the situation makes more sense and a sense of humanity to seek the next best alternative.

    The third is… her position as advisor on the shelter speaks very ill indeed of that organisation. Her values as a rescuer are all things that make a shelter a slaughterhouse: better dead than imperfect, go it alone, there is no Plan B… The notion of not teaching dogs boundaries definitely doesn’t help — somehow it’s a rare person who likes a large, territorial dog that doesn’t listen.

    Terrible all round.

      1. There is this issue of the shelter that remains the first line of defense to SAVE animals. Rescues are needed to make a shelter successful, but if the shelter does not embrace and support rescues, there is more opportunity for things to go south as it did in this case. But we have to hold both accountable for the treatment and killing of healthy dogs and cats. Shelters need to embrace rescues, but they also need to monitor activity. Clearly this shelter saves a paltry 1 in 3 animals it takes in.
        One of the most common objections shelters use to not work with rescues is that they are “hoarders”. Well, having a lot of animals and truly getting them homes is what a shelter should be doing. If the shelter is killing them and leaving them in cages for days or weeks without socialization, fresh food and water, and a myriad of other things bad shelters fail to do, it’s not a very high bar to have a better rescue.
        So although I would like to see every rescue have pristine homes for animals to live in, plenty of resources in people and money to take care of them properly, I will settle for people doing the best they can with the animal’s interest in mind in a healthy, social, clean if a bit crowded environment.
        I am not defending actual hoarders. But I have had as many as 6 dogs (half fosters) when a rescue was in dire need. They stayed with me a s little a time as needed to get them to a new life. But they would have died in the shelter we rescued them from if we didn’t. My house is not ideal for animals. They may not have gotten walked or to the dog park as much as I would have liked. But they were well taken care of to the best of my ability and certainly not cruelly treated, and alive.
        The reason I first commented on this article was because it is necessary to expose people like this that with the best of intentions originally, turn into the people they probably criticize for killing and abusing animals in shelters. But as a rescue volunteer and supporter, I like people to realize these are exceptions. I work with rescues that place between 50-200 dogs every year in good homes.
        This is more common. Rescue that RESCUE. And they need the support of compassionate people to volunteer inside their capacity to do work.

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