Abuse of Power at Virginia Beach AC

This is one of those stories where I know some compassionate person who isn’t a regular reader is going to stumble across it and feel certain I’ve made it up.  For what it’s worth, I’m not making it up.

Virginia Beach animal lover Tiffany D’Andrea says 3 pregnant mama cats showed up in her yard one day this spring and shortly thereafter had kittens in her garage.  She fed and watered them while they raised the newborn kittens and left the door open so they could come and go at will.  After about 6 weeks, Ms. D’Andrea was preparing to go back to work and wanted to be sure the families were looked after in her absence so she  brought them to VA Beach AC.  She describes the kittens as generally healthy:

Once there, D’Andrea and her daughter said they didn’t want to turn over the cats until they could speak to someone about euthanasia policies, so that they could be sure the kittens wouldn’t be put down.

“He went to grab the box and my daughter said no we’re waiting for someone to come out and talk to us first,” D’Andrea said.

Smart thinking.  However another worker talked them into handing over the cat families.  When that employee returned 2 minutes later and began whispering to her co-workers , Ms. D’Andrea overheard the word “euthanized”.  All 6 kittens had been immediately killed upon impound.

But in their haste to kill kittens, VA Beach staff failed to follow protocol and get Ms. D’Andrea to sign over the 9 cats so they weren’t officially impounded.  Once the kittens were dead, an ACO repeatedly attempted to obtain Ms. D’Andrea’s signature on a surrender form but she refused.  She says a worker told her she had no legal rights to the cats since they were strays:

“Once they realized that I hadn’t signed anything, they were in trouble. They just killed 6 kittens illegally.”

After failing to cover their asses legally, the pound tried a new tactic:  charging the good Samaritan with animal cruelty.  The worker changed her stance from “you don’t own them because they’re strays” to “you own them because you fed them” and charged Ms. D’Andrea with 6 animal cruelty charges and 3 counts each of failure to obtain a city license and failure to obtain rabies vaccines.

I reiterate:  not making this up.

For its part, the pound claims its vet evaluated the 6 kittens and determined all were in need of killing within 2 minutes.  In court, Ms. D’Andrea obtained a favorable ruling at the initial hearing and was able to get the 3 mama cats back.  She took them to a different shelter.  But the 12 charges against her have been continued until September.

(Thanks Jan for the link.)

30 thoughts on “Abuse of Power at Virginia Beach AC

  1. Yep – I’ve seen it first hand…and witnessed it by AC staff in Tennessee. ALL of these steps. SHELTER REFORM is the answer…but it’s gonna take us ALL working on it.

  2. Yes, I’ve been reading your blog for a very long time and have no doubt that this happened. Keep shining the light.

  3. There is no excuse for killing kittens. No excuse at all. I hope the woman stays on top of this and that someone will make some changes to provide true “shelter” for these unfortunate animals.

  4. They’re so very eager to kill kittens, but we’re not supposed to blame them because they’re “doing their best”. Bullshit.

    1. Hey, they have a vet who determines whether kittens are medically hopeless and suffering within a few SECONDS. You don’t see that every day!

      1. I wonder if the vet was even there that day. And how he/she feels about being labelled the one who determined that the kittens should be killed immediately.

        The whole thing is beyond disgusting. These people never, ever get to say, “But no one WANTS to kill kittens!” because obviously, they do. They couldn’t wait to do it. They were practically jockeying for the job when she walked in.

  5. Virginia Beach AC is the same place that did this earlier in the year . . .


    . . . and the same person is still in charge. Back in February, he said he’d be reviewing their procedures regarding leaving dogs out overnight to freeze to death, but apparently he hasn’t realized that they also need to make a rule that kittens shouldn’t be needlessly killed.

  6. Our group regularly hears from people who won’t go to their municipal shelters precisely because of these kinds of situations. People need to know there are alternatives and should never be penalized for caring. One of our volunteers contacted WTKR (linked in the post) about this story, and two days later they aired a story about TNR: http://wtkr.com/2013/07/04/spay-and-neuter-programs-offer-way-to-control-feral-cat-populations/

  7. This must STOP, make it go VIRAL, get the ANGER going, and STOP these KILL SHELTERS…… There ARE other alternatives.

  8. The SPCA in Fredericksburg, VA did the same to my cat in Feb. 1996. We were moving a few states away to a place that did not allow cats. We thought taking him there, would get him a new home. He was so upset in the crate on the way there, he peed himself. Now he was messy & smelly. My boyfriend dropped me at work and took kitty to the SPCA. His story is that he told them kitty was a stray (we felt guilty so lied) asked how long kitty had before being euthanized and they said 3 days. That night I was so distraught that he was gone that I decided I would get him back the next day even if I had to pay a fee. I figured we would sneak him into our next home. I went and asked about kitty and I was told he was already put down. I was stunned. I had him since he was a kitten. I screamed & yelled at them that they murdered my baby,that I was there to take him home. They got angry and said my boyfriend lied to me, that they told him there were no guarantees, that he could go anytime. We think they were angry he had pee on him & just killed him. Since then I have NEVER given one cent to any SPCA anywhere & never will!! What kind of people can do that job?? I’d rather be jobless.

    1. Every SPCA is run individually- they don’t get money from ASPCA and they aren’t connected at all.

      The Virginia Beach SPCA actually would have taken these kittens and found them homes, but Virginia Beach rules prohibit VBSPCA from taking in “strays”.

  9. What I don’t understand is the idea that people who work in shelters must have cared abt animals to be there in the first place. How does their turnabout happen that they not only close their eyes but also participate?

  10. Please tell Tiffany, if you can, that there are now thousands of us out here who know about her and support her. If we need to start a petition on Care2Causes to pressure the “authorities” to drop the charges let me know. She’s not in this alone! Thank you for writing about this : )

  11. Saw it in Rochester, NY the day of their fundraising telethon. A co-worker took her 6 moth old kitten there on a Saturday because it soiled the carpet. I had the siblings. Monday morning before the doors opened I was there to get the kitten back. I was told that it was euthanized on Saturday morning… minutes after they dropped it off and made the cursory “donation” to the shelter of $35. The girl told me “when we are full do you actually think we take an animal out of a cage, kill it, and put yours in???” No room in the inn… they’ll take it so YOU don’t kill it inhumanely but it will die either way. :(
    Lollypop Farm aka Rochester Humane Society.

  12. We need to seriously investigate these shelters. We constantly hear about abuse of power and neglect. These places are called shelters, a place that is suppose to provide help for homeless and unwanted pets. Most shelters are nothing more than slaughter houses where pets do not even have a chance.

  13. This is totally disgusting! Just when I think things can’t get worse, I hear this! What is their obsession with killing? The people need to be replaced and people with hearts put in these positions! The amount of killing and cruelty is overwhelming! It’s like a virus that keeps spreading!

  14. The fact that the caretaker described the kittens are ‘generally healthy’ (as opposed to perfectly healthy) makes me strongly suspect they had either herpes or URIs. Sooo…goopey eyes and maybe sniffles/sneezing. I bet anything that was the justification for killing them. Normal kitten diseases that are easily treated, but many shelters don’t want to waste time on. I feel so terrible for her, and I hope she gives the bastards everything she’s got.

  15. This is only the tip of what happens at VBAC, under the management of the current director. I am a volunteer there and can tell you that I have seen much worse, but every time you bring it up this woman, along with her sidekick will sit you down and basically threaten the hell out of you. And if you still don’t give in then the animal you have been working with or really care for ends up being euthanized for some made up reason, such as “he attacked another dog” or “She attacked one of our caregivers”. Of course when that happens it’s only seen by shelter management. But since everything there is video taped it would make sense that you would be able to see it on video if yo asked. That’s not even close to being true. If you ask to see the video you get a much harsher threat, including them taking your badge away so you can’t help any animals at all.

    So everyone stays in line, the way they want and do the best they can to make a difference and get as many animals out of there as possible. As a reward for sitting in her office all day long and threatening people, Juleen Balance, the shelter director, collects a nice salary of about $80,000 a year. To her the paycheck is the motivator and if she has to order the needless death of a few animals along the way, well, that’s just the price of her doing business, as far as she’s concerned.

    A change needs to be made and it needs to me made NOW! The city mayor and town council need to get involved since the police captain and chief are as useless as you would imagine in investigating anything that has to do with the city shelter. If they even cared a little bit then something would have been done after Batman was left outside to freeze to death earlier this year. But instead it was covered up as best they could and the caregiver protected from any repercussions.

  16. While I don’t understand why adoptable kittens would be euthanzied within minutes of their arrival, I do know the VBAC along with the SPCA are always stuffed full with peoples’ unwanted pets and strays. To help stop the influx the public needs to understand that spaying and neutering our pets would cut down shelter populations. Altering your pet also helps them live longer and healthier lives. The breeders out to make a quick buck also need to stop their production lines of animals, and those *designer breeds? Come on people, mixing 2 different breeds of dog means the puppies will be mixed breeds, mutts if you will. And then there are the people who don’t believe their pets are their lifetime family members as I know of a man who walked into the VBSPCA one day to surrender his elderly dog with health problems. Once the dog was surrendered, the man proceeded to go to the other side of the building to look over the dogs and puppies. That’s beyond wrong! I know at the end of each day those employees leave exhausted both mentally and physically.

  17. I have volunteered and worked in shelters since I was 17. All my life I wanted to be a veterinarian. I have my euthanasia certificate. I know there is a need currently to euthanize animals in shelters and I find comfort in knowing that if I am the one doing it I can at least make sure that they went out of this miserable world with one person caring for them and comforting them as they go to sleep. I refuse to work within animal groups ever again and also hate the idea of being a veterinarian because the people running the show are greedy, elitist bureaucrats. I have seen good veterinarians threatened and verbally beaten down for doing not only doing the right thing but the medically ethical thing simply because it wouldn’t increase their profit. My job was threatened when I offered to help someone after work with a pregnant stray they found that was in a complicated labor. I was going to assist with the cost at an emergency clinic because my shelter clinic turned them away even though we had done it many times before for more “influential” clients at our discount cost. I still feel the guilt of giving in to the threat and I will never put myself in that position again! When I brought it up later that they had no business in what I do outside of work, the shelter director tried to claim that my “need to help animals” was a sign of some emotion instability I was trying to fill. No, that emotion instability is called a heart and she obviously lacked one.

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