Allegations of Needless Killings and Bullying at the SPCA of Southwest Michigan

Stephanie Faulkner says she started working at the SPCA of Southwest Michigan in August 2011.  On the shelter’s “About Us” page, it says the SPCA is “dedicated to rescuing homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens from Southwest Michigan pounds and adopting them into responsible homes.”  The page emphasizes the shelter’s commitment to rehabilitation and ends as follows:

SPCA of Southwest Michigan is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit animal welfare organization. We do not receive funding from any government agency or national organization. We operate solely on privately donated funds and adoptions fees. Therefore, unlike county pounds, SPCA is not subject to any government regulations requiring euthanasia as a means of managing our population of rescued pets.

To my knowledge, there are no government regulations requiring shelters to kill pets for population control.  In any case, there is a law in MI that requires all licensed shelters – public and private – to report anual statistics to the state. The SPCA of SWMI last reported in 2008.  It does not appear they reported in 2011, 2010 or 2009.

Ms. Faulkner states that very soon after she started working for the SPCA of SWMI, she met a dog named Jay “when a coworker brought him outside during a break and he climbed into my lap like a big baby.”  Jay was reportedly killed for aggression shortly after that.  Ms. Faulkner was told that this was a very rare occurrence at the shelter so she did not become immediately suspicious of wrongdoing.  Her concerns began to grow just a few months later.  She writes (passages from Ms. Faulkner appear in red.):

In November, two dogs were euth listed. Jacobi and Lolly Doo (now Elsa). Jacobi growled at her kennel door, but once you opened it she was a peach. She was timid in the shelter but a happy, normal dog otherwise.

Elsa was there for 5 months, during which she ran from everyone and was completely terrified.  She was pulled [from the pound] because she was pregnant, and puppies are $375 apiece at the SPCA. After her puppies were adopted she languished in the kennel for five months, heart worm positive, and no one did any thing for her until it was announced she needed to be euthanized, along with Jacobi. So a coworker and I offered to foster them. Katie [Meskil, director] said that was not an option. We could either legally adopt them, or they would have to be euthanized. Did not make any logical sense to me, so I said OK, I’ll take Elsa. [The co-worker took Jacobi and] I took Elsa, and Katie had me sign this “waiver” she hand wrote.

Elsa is a shy dog, but she is absolutely not a bite risk, warms up to new people with ease, and loves my youngest dog. She’ll need a forever home that is aware that she will have to warm up to them and they will have to be kind to her, but absolutely not a euth candidate. She, like the others, has no assessment paper work. All I was given was that hand written “waiver” and a scant medical sheet that says she got a bordetella vaccination and tested HW+. I treated her heartworm and had her spayed and vaccinated, by vets who were strangers to her, without issue.

Elsa (formerly "Lolly Doo") adopted from the SCPA of SW MI by Stephanie Faulkner.  (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner.)
Elsa (formerly “Lolly Doo”), adopted from the SCPA of SWMI by Stephanie Faulkner. (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner.)

I note that in the waiver for Lolly Doo/Elsa, director Katie Meskil writes that the dog is “feral” and that her positive heartworm status is “contagious”.  While the former is an opinion, and not borne out by the fact that Elsa is obviously able to be handled, the latter is scientifically unfounded and outright false.  Furthermore, the disturbing bit at the end of the waiver, that Ms. Faulkner can never return the dog to the SPCA, strikes me as a condition no compassionate director would ever place upon any pet adoption, regardless of circumstances.

Elsa gets a kiss.  (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner.)
Elsa gets a kiss. (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner.)

The following month, two more dogs were killed for aggression. Ms. Faulkner writes:

Rex and Stephanie Faulkner.  (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner.)
Rex and Stephanie Faulkner. (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner.)
Banjo (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner.)
Banjo (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner.)

Rex was a shy guy who went into an inexperienced foster home. The first day he was there, the foster’s roommate leaned over to kiss his head and he nipped her in the face. I heard various stories of “plastic surgery!” and “dozens of stitches!” but when I spoke to the actual foster she stated she had a gash on her lip and they were really sorry and did want to foster him after his quarantine was up. He sat in “quarantine” for over a month.

Banjo was in the healthy kennel, available for adoption, until one day she had a “staff only” sign up. When I inquired with the operations manager Katie Meskil as to why Banjo was on “staff only” she stated she was a “bad dog” and “people are scared of her” which was not my experience with Banjo in the slightest. She had no bite record, never so much as growled at any one.

The day Rescue Waggin brought up 20 some puppies both Rex and Banjo were abruptly euthanized and their kennels filled. Supposedly they were assessed and failed, but Katie Meskil never offered up that assessment information to the staff. I expressed my displeasure with the situation, as I was close with both of them, but she refused any further information, told me this is what has to happen and I need to understand that, and then later told me that while the vet was euthanizing them she pointed at them and said, “This is what you get for being bad dogs!” I don’t care if this is excused as “care givers fatigue” because it was insensitive to me, and disgusting. I left off with telling her that I had many rescue connections and would have easily placed them elsewhere. I never saw a single assessment on them and NO ONE was told they were even candidates for euthanasia. We were told multiple times and in our handbook that in the event of a euthanasia decision, staff would be told and given the opportunity to say goodbye. There is also a form they have to fill out and I was not afforded the opportunity to look at that for either of them.

Rex and Banjo were callously euthanized in the office where we pick up our checks, their bodies left laying on the floor.

The next pair of dogs to be killed for aggression were Artie and Cobalt. Ms. Faulkner writes:

Artie the hound at the SPCA of SWMI. (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner.)

Artie was at the shelter for a year and a half, in and out of foster homes.  Then surprisingly Artie was adopted by a couple with a 5 year old son on April 4th 2012. He was returned Sunday, April 15th 2012.  The SPCA is closed on Sundays, so I was the only available person there. I talked with the man who returned him. He was very upset and explained that he did not want to return him, but his wife was afraid of him. The reason they were returning him was because while Artie was asleep in their bedroom on the bed with them their son opened the door in the middle of the night and Artie woke up barking at him.

The next day after I did the leg work I informed Katie I had gotten Artie into three different places and I would pay for his flight to any one of them. Katie stated she didn’t care and to take him. Tuesday she tells me a tale that the board said no, there is nothing she can do, so sorry. When I contacted [a board member], he informed me that the board is not involved in euthanasia decisions nor do they even know about them. When volunteers and I kept questioning why I could not send Artie to places he was wanted, Katie informed everyone that Artie had attacked a sleeping child and he needed to be euthanized and that was that. She began to verbally reprimand me daily for asking about him. I pleaded AGAIN that it would cost the shelter absolutely nothing for me to send him to these places and that they wished to talk to her about their credentials and ability to take him. She told me she could not afford to give me any time off to move him, and when I countered that I needed no more than one of the two days I ALWAYS have off a week, she said “end of conversation”.

Cobalt (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner)
Cobalt (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner)

Cobalt was set up to fail by staff. A staff member transported him to be neutered at a vet clinic, where they had a free range office cat. Cobalt began lunging and straining for the cat and rather than removing him from the situation he pulled away from her and bit the cat. He bit a dog at the shelter as well when another staff member put him outside with a small Jack Russell.  He was euthanized because of incompetent staff. Katie asked me if I could find a certified person to evaluate Artie and Cobalt (I had many) only to euthanize them both on my day off. I do not believe any evaluations ever happened, again. I was never able to locate even a file on either of them after they were killed.

This is the form Ms. Faulkner states is supposed to be a part of every killed pet’s records at the SPCA.

Buddy (Photo submitted by Stephanie Faulkner.)
Buddy (Photo submitted by Stephanie Faulkner.)

The last dog for whom Ms. Faulkner advocated before leaving the SPCA of SWMI was a puppy named Buddy.  Buddy came from the Carthage HS in Missouri via Rescue Waggin at the end of October 2012.  He was 8 months old.  Rescue Waggin had evaluated and passed him, which was a requirement for transport.  The Rescue Waggin website states they only deliver “behaviorally and medically sound dogs and puppies” to shelters.  After a few weeks at the SPCA of SWMI, Buddy was assessed and passed again.  A handwritten note on Buddy’s file describes him as “mouthy but very sweet” and “high energy”.

Buddy was adopted in December and returned a few weeks later.  Ms. Faulkner provided the portion of the owner surrender form that was completed by the adopter at his return.  The adopter stated Buddy was being returned due to allergies and her long work hours.  Buddy was adopted again immediately but returned after a few days for being mouthy and unruly.  (Ms. Faulkner has copies of all the documents in Buddy’s file here.  There was no surrender form from the second adopter in his file, per Ms. Faulkner.)  Buddy was placed in quarantine, despite the fact that no one had reported a bite.

Ms. Faulkner, who had already given her employer two weeks’ notice, was concerned that Buddy would end up being needlessly killed like the other dogs she had tried to save.  She decided to take her concerns to the public this time in hopes of getting a better result.  She posted about Buddy and her fears that he would be killed on Reddit (here and here) and on Facebook.  (Please take a few minutes to read the posts as their content is important to the story.)  In response to the posts, people began contacting the SPCA of SWMI to advocate for Buddy’s right to live.  Ms. Faulkner says she did not call or e-mail the shelter herself as she had no need to – she worked there.

Two days after posting publicly about Buddy, Ms. Faulkner received a phone message from a police officer at 9:30pm.  The call was apparently made from a cell phone.  You can listen to the message he left here.  This is a transcription of the call provided by Ms. Faulkner:

Hi, if this is Stephanie’s number, this is Tim Briggs with the sheriff’s department. Uh, I just wanted to call and let you know a complaint has been made against you by Katie and uh, basically I’m just calling to tell you to not send any more e-mails, not have any more of your friends send any more e-mails to her in reference to the dog shelter. Uh.. if it does persist and they keep doing it then uh.. we’ll find out who the other ones are- of course I already have their names and charges will be brought against you so.. hopefully if you just stop doing it that’ll be that. Also, Katie told me to tell you that uh.. you’re not to report to work any more. Apparently you.. already have given your notice and already have another job so… but you don’t have to report to work any more. If you have any questions, please give me a call [his apparent cell phone number]. Thank you.

Still with me, faithful readers?  Good,  Now please fasten your seatbelts and make sure your tray tables are in the upright and locked position as we prepare for takeoff to Nuckin Futz.

Although Ms. Faulkner stopped reporting for work, as directed by the officer, she still wanted her final paycheck that she was owed.  And since the officer never said anything about not going to the shelter ever again, nor had anyone from the SPCA contacted her to formally terminate her employment, she felt it was appropriate to go there to pick up her last paycheck on Wednesday, the regular payday.  She went to the shelter during regular open hours and entered through an unlocked door. She says there were cars in the parking lot.  While there, she visited Buddy and made two short videos of him to showcase his personality in order to aid the advocacy efforts on his behalf.  She posted both videos on Facebook that night.

The next day, Ms. Faulkner received another message from a police officer which you can listen to here and which she transcribed as follows:

Stephanie, This is deputy Robert Smith with the Kalamazoo County sheriff’s department and it’s Thursday, February 14th 7:20 PM. Might want to write this case number down. One three dash one four five six. I’m currently at 6955 West KL [address of the SPCA of SWMI] reviewing a video that you were in here sometime after deputy Briggs told you not to return. Now, breaking and entering even if you had the key is still a five year felony minimum. Might want to contemplate that because a five year felony will not do one’s career very well. It’s a real easy deal- Deputy Briggs told you to cease and desist on the calls and the Facebook and Reddit type stuff, but now that we got the copy of the video of you being in here- especially because you were next to a dog that didn’t come into the facility until 4:30 PM on Tuesday, you’re sort of going down a river without the paddle, you know what I mean? So here’s the way the games gonna be played: You cease and desist, or at any time they have the right to get a hold of their SPCA attorney and lay a five year felony on you. Now I’d suggest you put one hand on each side out and sort of weigh it out- is it worth it doing all this garbage? Or do I really want a five year felony? You can decide, I’m just letting you know how they want to play the game. I’m here right now if you’d like to document I’m actually here please feel free to call the sheriff’s department [number] and ask them if a deputy Smith came out to the SPCA and the case number’s one three dash one four five six. Hopefully deputy Briggs or myself won’t need to talk to you any further. Thank you.

OK, most of you probably just fell out so I’m going to pause here for a bit to let you regain consciousness.

[elevator music]

Let’s be clear.  The video shown to the deputy was not some sort of surveillance camera footage depicting Ms. Faulkner chucking a cinder block through a window of the shelter and climbing in to ransack the place.  The video shown to him was the one she posted on FB of Buddy being a big puppy lovebug who hadn’t yet been taught proper manners.  And last I heard, our justice system has not been reduced to the SPCA lawyer deciding who to “lay” five year felonies on.  I am neither a police officer nor a lawyer but I understand that many places have actual laws against bullying and harassment.  As long as we are putting one hand on each side out and sort of weighing it out, I guess I just wanted to toss that in there, for your third hand or whatevs.  I don’t know, maybe the Kalamazoo sheriff’s department and the SCPA of SWMI have a Secret Book O’ Lawz which says that shelters are required to kill pets for population control, the SPCA of SWMI does not have to report its statistics to the state, and individual lawyers walk around laying felonies on people their clients don’t like.

At the time Ms. Faulkner left the SPCA of SWMI, Buddy was alive but she was deeply concerned about him.  She contacted every rescue group she could think of in the area to see if they had taken him but never found him.

I contacted the SPCA of SWMI and requested an interview.  I spoke on the phone with Joni Smith who said she is the acting president and treasurer for the SPCA of SWMI.  Ms. Smith told me she was very proud that the shelter is an approved Rescue Waggin facility.  I asked her about dogs with behavioral issues and she said, “If we consider euthanasia, it’s a very last resort”, performed only after consultation with board members, 2 veterinarians (to rule out possible medical explanations for aggression) and their volunteer behaviorist/trainer.  I wanted to ask her about each individual dog Ms. Faulkner had written me about, but Ms. Smith declined.  She did speak to me about 3 of them.

Ms. Smith basically described Artie as kennel crazy and said he “attacked” a 12 year old sleeping boy, unprovoked.  She admitted the boy was not hurt.  Cobalt had a bite history and was “very aggressive” according to Ms. Smith.  Buddy was returned by the second adopter because he bit the man, per Ms. Smith.  A rescue group in Benton Harbor that specifically works with aggressive dogs was contacted about Buddy but said there was no hope and they could not help him.  She also disputed Stephanie’s claim that Buddy was a puppy.  She said she didn’t know his exact age but he was definitely over one year when they got him.  And she confirmed that the SCPA of SWMI killed him.

Ms. Smith’s description of the process for determining when euthanasia for aggression is warranted seems to be in line with this internal “Quality of Life” document provided by Ms. Faulkner.  I asked about getting copies of the records for the dogs who had been killed.  Ms. Smith said that the vet consults were often verbal and notes may not have been made.  I specifically requested to see the behavior evaluation sheets that most all behaviorists, regardless of methodology, use when evaluating dogs.  She declined.  I suggested that providing records which documented the extensive efforts that she says were made to save each of these dogs would be helpful in showing that the dogs were treated with compassion by the SPCA of SWMI.  She again declined and said that she felt she had provided me with enough information.

Before she ended our conversation, Ms. Smith described Stephanie Faulkner as a “disgruntled ex-employee” whose internet postings about Buddy “included profanity, name calling and untrue information”.  Ms. Smith said the police were called because, based upon the posts, the director felt “afraid for her personal safety and that of her daughter”.  She said Ms. Faulkner “broke into” the facility to take pictures of Buddy.  When I tried one more time to express how valuable sharing the information in the dogs’ records would be, Ms. Smith told me she felt comfortable having my readers decide whether to believe Ms. Faulkner’s claims in light of the information Ms. Smith had given me.

As of this posting, Ms. Faulkner has not heard from the  sheriff’s department again.  No charges were ever brought against her.  She has not heard from the SPCA lawyer.  Ms. Faulkner now works for an animal sanctuary in MI.

Elsa, the "feral" dog, saved from the SPCA of SWMI by Stephanie Faulkner.  (Photo submitted by Ms, Faulkner.)
Elsa, the “feral” dog, saved from the SPCA of SWMI by Stephanie Faulkner. (Photo submitted by Ms. Faulkner.)

68 thoughts on “Allegations of Needless Killings and Bullying at the SPCA of Southwest Michigan

    1. This entire thing makes me a little sick. Katie sounds like a pathetic excuse for a vet, and these other people couldn’t do anything about it because she runs the show. People like her are headstrong asshats who really need to comprehend a little further than their own wants/desires. This lady hopefully gets overthrown and placed back into the gutter like she belongs!

  1. They’re always ‘disgruntled’ ex-employees. GEE I WONDER WHY. Maybe because they had to put up with all this inhumane garbage from a hack ‘shelter’?

  2. I just want to vomit. I’ll ensure no dogs from my sanctuary nor for whom I may be driving a transport leg are Rescue Waggin dogs; they sound culpable if not naive by continuing to send dogs here for safety.

  3. That is one crazy scary story. I was wondering if Ms. Faulkner ever has tried to verify if the phone calls from the Police Officer’s actually were real? I mean, where I live a Police Office never would make such strange phone calls. They either would come to your door or ask you to come to the Station. This phone calls were pure intimidation and I have to question that even a Police Officer in Southwest Michigan would actually go that route.

    1. Hi Peter, I did verify that they were police officers. After I received the second voicemail regarding the five year felony the SPCA lawyer was going to bring upon me, I called the sheriff’s department and gave them the case file number. Officer Smith was actually quite polite in our phone conversation and informed me that there were no charges that he could bring. At the time, there was no written report from the first officer.

      I did contact a lawyer, but I was told it was not necessary and that I was not wanted for any sort of questioning.

      1. It was clear that they couldn’t file any charges since there was nothing to legally back it up. I’m just surprised a Police Officer is going down that road of intimidation. My first thought was that maybe they did a “personal favor” for somebody with this phone calls.

  4. Thank you again, Shirley. I really appreciate this, more than I can convey. These weren’t the only dogs, and they certainly won’t be in the future unless people start standing up to make a change. I didn’t get involved in rescue to see dogs needlessly euthanized without even a scrap of “sound” reasoning, much less ones that had places and people who offered to take them.

  5. I put my hands out and weighed both sides; Ms. Smith….Ms. Faulkner. Guess what? My hand on the side of Ms. Smith hit the floor! Logic tells me that there are many many problems at this place. Logic tells me that Stephanie does not need the grief that reporting this has brought her. She has a clear and obvious concern for what is happening there and wants to have it fixed.

    I suggest that SPCA South Michigan get a grip on reality. Their game is up and now they have to deal with it.

    Thank you to Stephanie for fighting for the animals. Thank you Shirley for shining the light where it needs to be focused.

  6. “I spoke on the phone with Joni Smith who said she is the acting president and treasurer for the SPCA of SWMI”.

    Isn’t that a little like leaving the fox to guard the hen house?

  7. Ms.. Faulkner is a hero. How pitiful are humans who prey on the misfortunate and kills with no regard? What kind of law enforcement gets involved in deception and bullies anyone? I know one day that vengeance will fall on every single person who has lied, murdered innocent animals, bullied and made victims of their deceit. God sees…. and waits.

    1. I agree, that is kind of shady. Aren’t police supposed to investigate rather than bully? It sounds like the person making these euthanasia decisions lies… a lot, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the police, hearing only her side of the story made bad decisions. Still, you’d think that police, who are used to dealing with people who lie, would be more discerning before making threats. It never ceases to amaze me what people have to go through in order to protect animals from other people.

  8. Omg, this is just so gutwrenching! Ms. Faulkner is terrific yet was not allowed to do all that she could do, and had to be around mindless, heartless, deceitful jackasses who do not truly know the dogs or want to save lives. And those men doing the illegal intimidation are NOT police officers, they are sheriff’s deputies. Basically they seem to have far lower standards to become a deputy – just check out how many are charged with assignor stupid things that they do! Is Deputy Smith related to Joni Smith, I wonder?

    I just hate such people – they are lowlifes who can’t stand that you can do something better than they can, and they are so stupid that they resent you for it instead of allowing people to use their individual abilities for a good, constructive purpose. I get so tired of such useless, obstructionist jerks.

    1. Typing on iPhone – have no idea what the word ‘assignor’ in my reply above was supposed to be!

  9. seems to me that Ms. Faulkner has grounds for a lawsuit herself, also grounds for intimidation by the SPCA of South Michigan. These people are nuts and not on the animals side. What a bunch of, well as my English better half would call them, toss pots.

  10. Stephanie – thank you for speaking out. I was fired as Animal Control Director for doing the same…speaking the truth and questioning peoples’ personal and evil agendas. It will never end if we do not shine the light in the dark places. It seem sthat you have a well documented case of retaliatory firing and harrassment. Not to mention Conduct unbecoming an Officer by the Sheriff’s Department and possibly also for Using position for personal gain and abuse of authority. I am as always sad and sorry for what happend to those of us who speak out and suffer wrongful consequences. Not so much for ourselves – but for the animals at these locations that no longer have us to advocate and protect them. Thank you Shirley for sharing.

    1. I’m sorry the same thing happened to you. I was not fired, but it was well stated and known among the employees that unless they had absolutely no choice but to fire it would not happen because they could/did not want to pay unemployment. Instead, my working hours went from 30 to 12 and I was put in the quarantine kennel away from the public. My “attitude” was cited as reasoning “despite my talent” which is a lot of baloney. I found somewhere to work that is actually in it for the dogs, not whatever the SPCA is in it for.

      Keep fighting the good fight!

  11. It sounds like a full blown investigation into the SPCA would be warranted. This reads to me like they started euthanizing dogs out of spite when Stephanie started campaigning for them. It’s outrageous that they will go to any length to hide their ‘dirty little secrets’ including making these innocent dogs pay the ultimate price. Buddy’s story in particular struck me as pure spitefulness and if that’s the kind of people running this alleged shelter…. well God help those animals.

    1. Ding, ding, ding! This Katie is definitely spiteful towards someone actually doing good for the dogs. Every dog had a rescue, sanctuary or special person willing to take them and transport so there was no reason to have euth.

      We think about places like shelters being a safe place but sometimes bad people get into that work to be bad I mean think about if you’re a twisted person who wants to hurt and has a complex then what better job than to “play God” over some charges? You see this dark side in every care type industry.

  12. Well, I can tell you what it sounds like to me – a power trip of the incompetent Katie Meskil. She isn’t very good at what she does, but she’s IN CHARGE, dammit. So what she says, goes. And if that means convenience killings, then so be it.

    The board members at this point should be demanding to see paperwork. ALL of the paperwork. Verbal evaluations without a signature are not acceptable because they allow for no accountability. But then, a professional would know that.

    A professional would also NOT work with a vet who scolded dogs for “being a bad dog” before killing them. I have seen vets put down dogs for being dangerously aggressive and they were nothing but regretful that these dogs had been failed by owners at some point in their lives. They also did everything they could to ease the dogs’ deaths including sedatives and comforting as much as possible (while maintaining personal safety). The fact that Ms. Meskil is comfortable working with a vet who chastises dogs before killing (and also apparently doesn’t fill out proper paperwork, either) them speaks volumes about her own character.

    Katie Meskil is obviously ill-suited to this work. She declares dogs feral when they clearly are not, thinks that HW is contagious (and yet allows a HW+ dog to stay in the kennel UNTREATED for months?!), and kills anything that doesn’t measure up to her arbitrary version of “a good dog” (especially if they have little money-making puppies coming in). The fact that she would not allow dogs to be transported out rather than killing them illustrates her vindictive nature and that she *likes* exercising the power of life and death over these animals. Yes, I think she enjoys it. It gives her a little high to be able to say who in her care lives and who dies.

    And woe betide anyone who tries to mess with her little fiefdom. As Stephanie found out.

    1. Exactly so. I have worked in rescue for many, many years, and it was people like Meskil that caused me the most grief and frustration during that time. What you say is EXACTLY true. These are people who have little real power or influence, but they do have the authority of life and death over helpless animals. And they like that smattering of power, they like it very much. It drives a kind of sickness, actually; I think they get off on the surge of emotion tied to ordering an execution. Most of us feel regret, sorrow, shame, horror at the long end of the short needle, and most rational, sane people want to feel that as seldom as possible, so they do everything in their power to make that result necessary as seldom as possible. But, there are certain sick individuals who feel a rush of power instead of horror, and they do NOT like it when their motives are challenged or their authority questioned. It is all a part of the underlying psych problem. You will know you have run into one of this sick mopes when you start seeing the number of animals killed in a facility slowly start to rise, and the excuses for moving dogs to the ‘euth’ column become more and more thin. For some there is a financial incentive;get the non-productive dogs out of those kennels so they can be filled with easily adoptable pups that can turn a profit for the shelter. But then the death itself, and the power trip, becomes and end in its own right. Worse than that, each starry-eyed kid who comes to rescue for the right reasons, and bumps head with one of these little death Nazis, will be treated exactly as Stephanie was. On one level, how dare they question the all-important Director, on any question, at any time… how dare they! Instead of working to solve problems for animals, it becomes about reinforcing authority. No, this dog will NOT be saved because *I* said it was going to die, and *I* get to decide. On another level, this employee is interfering in their ability to indulge their sick fetish with killing animals. Can’t have too much light on that; the guilty little pleasure must be defended and hidden so that it can continue. Too much attention means their routine is disrupted, their authority further questioned, and their power diminished. Unacceptable! Better to just can the employee and blow off any backwash as ‘disgruntled ex-employee.’ Then, when pressure is brought to bear from the outside, these types circle the wagons and lie, distort, obstruct, delay, and generally do whatever is necessary to refuse any attempt to correct the situation. These sickos quickly get defensive, and then vindictive… and more animals die. It is an ugly, ugly situation, and far too many small shelters fall into this category; with some fly-speck official with delusions of grandeur, often with enough connections in a small town to be able to bring the kind of intimidation tactics that were employed by SPCA against Stephanie. Police see animal control as part of their ‘system’ and generally choose to back any city official in their ‘official’ capacity no matter what evidence against them may be brought by a ‘mere citizen.’ And so it goes.

  13. “….told me that while the vet was euthanizing them she pointed at them and said, “This is what you get for being bad dogs” ???? THIS LADY IS SICK

    1. Wait…the vet didn’t say that, the SHELTER DIRECTOR did? I misread it the first time.

      Damn. That is…damn. This woman clearly needs serious psychological help and to be REMOVED FROM HER POSITION IMMEDIATELY. She clearly should not be around animals, children, the elderly or anyone who is vulnerable.

      1. Yes, it was a joke made to me by the director, which I have seen others defend with saying “but caregiver’s fatigue!” You can’t claim caregiver’s fatigue when you don’t care for the animals. Many dogs were referred to as “bad dogs” by the director. Yet, I was the one reported to the police as a threat to her. How about which one of us was a threat to the animals?

      2. And still is, sounds like. I do hope that the board is looking long and hard at her right now…

  14. I wish i could say I was gobsmacked / this rads like a bad nvel.. only it is true.. Thanks for all that you do Shirley.. i will be sure to pass this along to everyone I know.. the more people that understand how broken our shelter system is the better.. and Stephie.. you are a HERO ..

  15. As I read this article I have more then a few concerns. I will begin by saying I have worked with in the Rescue Community and have helped rescues throughout the United States, primarily in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. Evaluating dogs in shelters and even within some rescues need to be done by someone who understands fully the challenges “shelter” dogs present with. Generally those that deem a dog “aggressive” are more familiar with obedience training or the like. Now, don’t get your paws in an uproar here, IF someone is not fully knowledgeable of ALL types of aggression they are not going to know how to evaluate let alone rehab such a dog. There are way to many “shelters” and even “rescues” throughout the Country who euth dogs just for growling! There will come a time, and I truly believe it will be very very soon that there will be a “governing body” policing rescues and shelters now are suppose to be under the Department of Ag I believe, If I am wrong, please someone let me know. But they do NOT have the ability to evaluate either. There are very very few “behaviorist/trainers” who truly understand dog behavior and how to help them and evaluate them correctly. I am putting this statement out to the SPCA of SW Michigan, please contact me should you want my assistance, I specialize in aggression and am one of the few in Michigan who can help you and these dogs. Jackie Barnes, TLC Dog Training 517-937-2950

    1. I would hope they take your offer. I doubt it, but I can hope. They claim to have a behaviorist now that supposedly assessed these dogs, but have no real proof that this happened or any qualified behaviorist listed.

      1. I have seen many many people advocate for animals who growl or snarl or lunge or jump in a shelter environment to be killed. People are in general ignorant of the types of “aggression” or behavioral responses that are elicited with animals inside a shelter environment. Starved animals, animals in heat, non-spayed and neutered animals, sick animals, animals grieving for their lost families, pregnant animals…just the noises and smells can elicit behavior that is environmentally driven, fleeting, and only temporarily responsive.

      2. We are on the exact same page there, and it was one of the points that would frequently be used to declare dogs aggressive. “Aggression” was never actually looked into, and any logical offer of behavior explanation was dismissed. With Elsa, shortly before I even took her home she was approaching the bars of her kennel and allowing staff to scratch her head- but no! She is feral and must go! Never bit any one and was obviously afraid, but absolutely not worth any effort. I don’t think I need to tell you that the minute I got her into a home environment she was miles more comfortable. Treated her heartworm? Energetic, happy dog.

        And the SPCA can’t claim “shelters don’t have the resources!” here. I was the resource. I got stomped on.

      3. Animals rarely get a good exam upon intake. Only the obvious things are really every noted – and many of those aren’t even bothered with…especially when their is a “why bother we’re gonna kill them anyway” culture. I’ve had many dogs who had ear infections – or were deaf – and couldn’t hear or barely hear – and they were labeled as aggressive. When a closer exam was so very telling of a simple to address issue. I trained my staff to be the “Poop Patrol” – noting every day what they saw in an animals kennel told us a lot…UTI, Blood, Worms, diarrhea and more. But honestly – most government animal control facilities don’t do anything like this because they don’t treat anything with the animals.

  16. Regarding the two calls from Deputies Briggs and Robert Smith with the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department, I am sure Stephanie Faulkner can file complaints against both officers for “official oppression” – especially since she has retained the audiotapes. Both officers essentially threatened her and that is against all law enforcement policies and standards of conduct.
    Here it is in my state:



    Sec. 39.03. OFFICIAL OPPRESSION. (a) A public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he:
    (1) intentionally subjects another to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment, or lien that he knows is unlawful;
    (2) intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, knowing his conduct is unlawful; or
    (3) intentionally subjects another to sexual harassment.
    (b) For purposes of this section, a public servant acts under color of his office or employment if he acts or purports to act in an official capacity or takes advantage of such actual or purported capacity.
    (c) In this section, “sexual harassment” means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, submission to which is made a term or condition of a person’s exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, either explicitly or implicitly.
    (d) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

    I’m sure Michigan has some similar verbiage.
    She needs to follow up on this.

  17. Poisoning the well, which I assume is what they did against Ms Faulkner. is an old tactic.
    I think I would have contacted the police for an escort back to pick up my last pay check- did she get her last pay check? I don’t remember reading that. Anyway having the police escort her could have helped them see that she was not the monster she was made out to be.

  18. Ms. Smith/ officer Smith- wonder if they are related. I’ve seen this kind of Police involvement usually due to someone knows someone.
    Stephanie- a personal note- you did right by the doggies. Ive fired volunteers who had the same attitude as your boss did- when their attitudes and basic lies put animals lives at risk. I don’t tolerate that kind of behavior.

  19. Have you filed any official complaint yet?? At minimum, the non-filing of annual reports for three years could subject the shelter to a visit from the Department of Ag and fines.

    “How do I file a complaint against an animal shelter?

    Please contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development directly at (517) 373-1077 to file a complaint. Please have the name and location of the facility, as well as the time and date you were at the facility, if visited.”

    1. Sorry it took me a few days to reply, Mary Ann. There has been A LOT of response to this I’ve been covering in the last few days. They have in fact been reported, and folks have been contacting me every day to state they have reported them as well. I FOIA’d the shelter statistics and have yet to receive any, so hopefully sometime this week.

      1. Actually, I followed up myself with the Dept of Ag and directly with the shelter’s BOD. Have received the reports. BOD agrees the Reports are not complete and their record keeping – apparently done by volunteers – is not up to snuff. As I explained to them, if I had more time outside of work and home, I’d head right over there to volunteer and help get their records straight. Unfortunately, what little time I have is committed to volunteering for the MI Horse Welfare Coalition. I think it would be HUGE if instead of continuing the attack, those of us who could would volunteer to at least set things straight re reports, to, rather than blog, head straight to the Dept of Ag with complaints of improper handling of its euthanasia option. There are a lot of dogs and cats that find good homes through this organization – it will be a long road for them to get responsible and trustworthy people on board and their reputation back – but I think that would be a much more worthy effort. JMHO.

      2. Mary Ann, As a new commenter, you are being allowed one free trolling pass. This was it. In case you are unaware, coming onto someone’s blog as a new guest and going straight for the “don’t blog/don’t bash” card, is trolling. And it’s not allowed here.

      3. As the saying goes, you reap what you sow. This is what the director and BOD has decided to sow. The paper work is one very small piece in one very large mess. I worked there for a year and a half and many good volunteers were run off. The point of this is that people deserve to know what is really going on and a call to clean house there.

      4. Stephanie – couldn’t agree more that the paperwork – altho often a talisman of organizational success or failure – is a small piece of what sure looks like a big mess – especially when you have a Shelter Director who (among other big problems) believes that heartworm is contagious. I mean – that’s just irrational. If the desire is to make sure the widest number of people are aware of the situation, I would get in contact with the K’zoo Gazette and encourage them to do a piece on the situation. You can send them copies of the last 3 years mandated shelter reports to give them the flavor of the place. My idea of pointing out to the Dept of Ag the problems with the reports was intended to put the place on notice they are in danger oflosingtheir license unless they make a lot of changes. My suggestions did not go over well with the blog owner, and I don’t hold much hope for these (K’zoo Gazette and request Dept of Ag involvement) either. Good luck with your good effort to see that the animals at SW MI SPCA are better cared for!

      5. I think perhaps the situation here was misread. If not for YesBiscuit, this situation would not have reached as far as it has. I think it comes with the territory of exposing the ugly truth, but the blog or any other platform so far has not meant to be a bash piece- though I do believe the strong feelings that it has stirred up are warranted because there are big, big problems going on there. I am the last person that would like the shelter to close down, though. It’s a lovely facility that in the right hands could do so well for the community. The problem is that rather than acknowledge the issues the SPCA chooses to go routes such as.. trying to sick the cops on any one that didn’t follow the pied piper. It’s even more telling to me they attempted to file paper work only AFTER this all came out and if the issues are not investigated and resolved I do not see any effort being made by them to shape up.

        The Gazette was contacted, and I was told that a news channel is investigating. Hopefully the Dept of AG comes through as well.

      6. Not sure what paperwork was filed after YesBiscuit blogged, but glad to hear you have touched base with the Gazette. I encourage YOU to actually request an investigation by the Dept of Ag due to the indeciperable reports – it may need to be made clearer to the BOD that the shelter risks the loss of its license if reporting and operations continue unchanged. Good luck!

      7. Stephanie – was just now reading some FB posts this blog referred its readers to – it sounds like you’ve been trying to get the Gazette to investigate this since February?? That doesn’t bode well, does it. And I just have to ask, what’s with your “Kill Everyone” cover photo? I think there are a lot of young people that just don’t understand this, but that kind of thing on FB absolutly damages your credibility as a person to take seriously.

      8. Yes, but I was offered a contact that would look into it. I’ve found the media stuff is difficult unless you have an inside contact and people have been nice enough to offer them to me over general phone numbers/e-mails.

        The cover photo is a meme that I found humorous. The scenic mountain just cracks me up. I also have several profile photos where I cosplay Lady Gaga. I also am fairly tattooed. Some thing, some where along the line will change the way someone is viewed by every one. I’m not that young and I’ve offered facts and proof. If the SPCA or any one else would like to use such things to damage my credibility.. well, that and the police calls, are just further attempts to deflect from the issue at hand.

      9. Snrk. Wait until people make the effort to go through my Reddit account. Before it comes to light I.. I talk about dogs and.. there is profanity.

      10. For better or worse, “the court of public opinion” is part of the world we live in. It doesn’t hurt anyone’s cause to bear that in mind when hoping to galvanize the general public to accomplish good things Again – JMO (as shallow as it may be) – altho I know the blogmeister isn’t very happy with MO. Truly, Stephanie, – and you, too Biscuit! – I hope you’ve set the fire that will accomplish important changes at that place.

        (BTW, I wouldn’t worry too much about profanity – young people, and people “not that young,” often think it’s daring or edgy – but, really, it’s relatively meaningless and “Old School.”)

      11. Thanks. I’m aware and unconcerned. Like I said, the court of public opinion will find something, somewhere, no matter what. As a tattooed female I know it all too well. The positive here is that my personal life has nothing to do with any thing, and I’m comfortable with any aspect of it being brought it. I like who I am, profanity and all.

    2. Whoa! Had no idea that suggesting a different tack to deal with a problem was considered trolling. I’m a total “let’s make a list of what can be done – by us and others – to solve this problem” kinda gal. Didn’t mean to rain on your “lets’ just blog ‘n bash” parade. Carry on. I’m happy to go elsewhere. :)

  20. It is obvious in the years since I left the SPCA they have learned nothing! I’m pleased to learn someone has finally spoken up. Thank you and keep the faith Stephanie. Shawn Norris writing from California

  21. I believe every word, nobody would make this up! Animals deserve better, not killed when it suits the shelter, it’s disgusting x

  22. I was hoping to see that Director Katie Meskil is no longer director at that shelter, but did not. Maybe I missed it. Please, please, PLEASE tell me that this disgusting human being is no longer responsible for these precious dogs lives.

    1. She remains the director and the SPCA continues to support her. They also will not respond to any questions regarding this post. All public inquiries online they have deleted.

  23. That place is a mess. I used to volunteer there, but left when there was a leadership change when they got their new building. They weren’t “animal people” and had little insight into the behavior of dogs. Shame, shame on them. Pressure needs to continue for the sake of the dogs.

  24. Katie Meskil is having an affair with a married Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s deputy. True story!! Makes their involvement a little more interesting, doesn’t it? Hey, Phil – give ME a threatening call if you’d like! Love, your soon-to-be-former sister in law.

    1. Thank you, Carin. Some of us ex employees of Katie Timber formerly Katie Meskil got quite a kick out of this having personally known her and her.. activities. Sorry to hear your family was affected.

  25. Her boyfriend (my brother in law) is living in his “best friend” Tim Briggs’s basement. Interesting, no?

    1. I am completely reeling now, but that makes sense. We were looking for a tie to the SPCA when Tim Briggs’ called me from a cellphone that night, as there was never a report written by him and the second officer told me as such.

  26. All of you are so pathetic. Especially you Stephanie. I worked there for five years, along side Katie. She is probably the best thing that has ever happened there. Maybe if you would haveseen how it was before her then maybe you would understand. To everyone else who is saying she should be removed and what not, you don’t have a clue so shut your mouths please. Katie is my good friend and if it weren’t for her the SPCA would be shut down by now. Stephanie you don’t even have a clue what you’re talking about. Get a grip and move on.

    1. I wish you folks who would bother to respond in defense of that mess would have anything other than white noise to say. You guys literally parrot the same things, ALWAYS including “get over it” and “you don’t know what you’re talking about!!” It’s uncanny. It’s also uncanny none of you can take five minutes to read and listen to the things in this post. Or did but can’t process them.

      The SPCA should be shut down. How they still take animals and donations after filing for bankruptcy is beyond me.

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