Update from Steve Markwell of Olympic Animal Sanctuary

Many readers here have been following developments involving anonymous accusations against Olympic Animal Sanctuary (OAS) in Forks, WA.  I’ve made my position clear.  Accordingly, I contacted Steve Markwell directly when anonymous accusers recently resurfaced in the blog comments to dredge up old news as if it’s new again.  I am reprinting his response here in its entirety.

At issue is an alleged cruelty citation which appears in a Forks police report about OAS spanning October – December 2012.  I posted about OAS in April and linked to an April article in an area newspaper which said:

“Conditions at the sanctuary also were investigated last fall in a six-week animal-cruelty investigation by the Forks Police Department that showed no evidence of cruelty, Bart said.”

Bart is Forks Police Administrator Rick Bart.  I asked Steve for an update and specifically to address the apparently contradictory information about the alleged cruelty citation:

First and most importantly, the citation was never issued — I was not charged with anything, never knew there even was a citation until I got the records myself, and still don’t even know what dog they were talking about. They said I had a malnourished dog, but as you know an animal can be thin for reasons other than malnutrition — a vet would have to determine the reason the animal was underweight, and of course no vet was ever consulted. As I said, I still don’t know what dog it is.

To understand the police report there are a few things one needs to know, and I have kept quiet about them because I have been in ongoing talks with the city over this. I see no reason to keep things quiet now, though, so here is a brief rundown:

1. A report was made to the city by Scotlund Haisley from Animal Rescue Corps. If you are not familiar with Haisley I strongly suggest googling him. It helps to add the word “lawsuit” to your search. Haisley’s report was based on the photos and accusations made by Pati Winn, the admin of the anti-OAS Facebook page. It was delivered to the city two years after Pati left. The statutes of limitations on misdemeanors are one and two years, by the way. So one might be inclined to think that someone who took photos of dirty kennels instead of cleaning them was waiting it out.

2. The police officer who investigated the complaint did so only after I and two other concerned citizens went to the city to discuss problems with the city animal shelter, of which she had been put in charge. Her name is Julie Goode, and she is another one to google. She was responsible for an illegal raid on a family farm at her last job in Kitsap County that resulted in half the shelter administration resigning and almost got the shelter shut down altogether. Now she works here.

3. Julie came to OAS and made a number of false accusations with regard to my dangerous dog licenses. She then told me about the ARC complaint, but not who had made it. (I already knew because they tried to go to the county authorities first and they asked me if I knew Haisley and ARC.) She went on to say that if I didn’t submit to a search, she would come back with a warrant, and then if she found any violations she would charge my two workers. I allowed her in only to protect my workers.

4. Julie did her search and while there were some problems — we were struggling financially at that time — she could not point to any actual violations. Still she said I had to downsize or she would confiscate all the animals and send them to kill shelters. She expected me to do this on an arbitrary timeline and said if I didn’t, she would shut me down. Again, no legal basis for any of this, just ‘I’m a cop and you have to do what I say.’ So I researched her and saw that she was taking a similar course with me to what she had done in Kitsap, and I hired a lawyer immediately and made a complaint to the city. He happened to be the same lawyer that had sued her over the Kitsap case. Julie was pulled from my case. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, since when does the person being investigated get to have the investigator pulled if there hasn’t been wrongdoing on that investigator’s part? Second, Julie was pulled on November 12. Keep that date in mind with regard to her report and the ‘citation.’

5. I got Julie in trouble, before she wrote up her report, and that is reflected very clearly in what she wrote up. She was sure to address my specific complaints by making statements that I willingly let her in without being coerced, making no mention of threatening my workers, etc. But she went further and twisted the truth or simply made things up. She claimed that I told her I don’t provide vet care, that I told her I can’t handle my own animals, that I told her I wanted to dose the entire place with Ketamine. All lies, and Julie, while unable to file charges, was allowed by her supervisor to create this false report and write a citation up and put it in my file. Imagine if the DMV was allowed to put unissued speeding tickets in your driving record, that any employer who pulled your record would see. That’s what was done here. We have emails between Julie and her supervisor where they discuss trying to get another officer to issue the citation, but that never happened, I assume because no officer would agree to issue it. We also have emails where both she and her supervisor state that this case is personal because I hired a lawyer — this is a clear sixth amendment violation.

6. Currently Julie is still off the case and it is my understanding that she is not allowed to even speak to me. My dealings have been directly with her supervisor and the city attorney. Both have stated to the media that I am breaking no laws, in spite of what Julie’s report says. The city attorney has admitted to my attorney that Julie’s report was based on Scotlund Haisley’s complaint, not on her own search. Frankly I don’t know how she still has her job.

People are claiming that the city is protecting me and that I have all these political connections. The truth is that the city has been harassing me since November and in that time I have distanced myself from everyone I know in government so there wouldn’t be any appearance of impropriety. The reason they are giving me a hard time is not that they think I am breaking the law or that they want me out of here — they have been very clear about that. The reason they are giving me a hard time is that the city attorney says he doesn’t like all the phone calls he is getting and wants them to stop, and he believes the only was he can make them stop is by proving that he is ‘doing something’ about OAS. He is probably right — these people won’t stop until all the dogs are dead. Their goal now seems to be to cut off my support so the animals will starve, but I’m the bad guy.

The big question is this — how is it that Elizabeth Schlitz, the same person who created the fraudulent petition to shut down OAS, got these records when I still have not received a copy of the ARC complaint that I requested in November? We still do not have this complaint, the document that started it all, so we still don’t know if it contains blatantly false statements, and this is important, because if it does, as we suspect it does, Haisley and Winn made a false report to the police. It looks to me like they are the ones being protected, not me.

A few other things to note: Pati Winn uses the aliases Petey/Peter First and Sarah Elliott. Colleen Lynn is also part of this group — I don’t remember what alias she is using. You probably know who she is, but if not, google. Others, like Jason Victory, real name Airick Heater, are members of ALF, and some are just sad, lonely people who do nothing but have flame wars on Facebook all day long. In total we are looking at about ten people — ten people are going to get all these dogs killed if we can’t get some support. I can give you more names and info later if you are interested but right now I need to get to work.

Steve

MS Pet Holding Facility: Hell on Earth

The city of Ellisville in Mississippi does pick up stray pets but doesn’t offer pet adoptions. Instead, it holds the pets in rusted cages inside a small concrete building with just 2 windows and no air conditioning.  A quick check of the weather forecast for Ellisville shows temperatures in the 90s this week with humidity this morning at 85%.

Image posted on Facebook.

Image posted on Facebook.

If no owner claims the animals after 5 days, they are killed.  It’s unclear to me how an owner would find their lost pet at this building since no one actually works there.  There is a city employee assigned to feeding, watering and cleaning the facility but that person works in a different department and tends to the animals on the side.  The mayor says everything is fine:

[Mayor Tim] Waldrup added the facility is not new, but it’s adequate and it meets all the laws they need to meet. He says animals brought to the facility are humanely euthanized after five days at an area veterinarian if not claimed by the owner and the city pays for a proper burial.

How thoughtful.  After keeping the animals in a hellhole for 5 days then killing them, the city “pays for a proper burial” which evokes images of a pet cemetery and floral arrangements.  In reality, what the city is paying for is probably dumping the bodies of pets at an area landfill.  Ellisville taxpayers must demand better of their elected officials.

(Thank you Arlene for sending me this story.)

Murray Co Pound Conducts Mass Killing after One Case of Parvo

Shelter directors who fail to vaccinate all animals prior to or immediately upon intake, utilize standard disease prevention cleaning protocols and/or maintain good housing practices are failing to prevent the spread of diseases such as parvo.  Their failure inevitably leads to needless killing of shelter dogs.

The Murray Co pound in Georgia took in a surrendered puppy earlier this month.  They did not vaccinate or quarantine the puppy, instead housing him in a kennel with other dogs in general population.  The puppy apparently had parvo and Murray Co reported the disease to the state Department of Agriculture.

[Shelter director Diane] Franklin said, “We are following their protocol. They said immediately euthanize the kennel where the animal was discovered which we did. And then from there on, any animal you feel could shed the disease or was an exposure which we did.”

The director was also given the option to quarantine dogs who had been potentially exposed through the director’s own negligence but declined that option.  On July 12, Murray Co killed 31 dogs.  The facility then closed for the sort of cleaning which should be performed regularly but obviously is not.

“It was a terrible decision. I didn’t sleep last night. I hated doing that, but I’ve got to do it to protect the citizens and the animals of Murray County to try to stop the disease immediately,” Franklin said.

Lost a night’s sleep?  Gee I wonder what kind of sleep 31 dogs are getting in the pound’s dumpster.  As far as stopping the disease “immediately”, maybe someone should have thought of that before operating the shelter in a sub-standard and negligent manner.  Barn door, open.

Murray Co is considering implementing a vaccination protocol in keeping with science.  While the possible advancement of shelter vaccination protocols will probably give the director a good night’s sleep, it is of little comfort to the 31 dogs in garbage bags and the families they will never know.

Even if the Murray Co Animal Shelter does bring its vaccination protocols into the 21st century, it still has a long way to go to actually fulfilling the mission implied in its name.  From the facility’s website:

The shelter does not adopt out aggressive, sick, injured, or nuisance animals. No pit bull or Rottweiler adoptions are allowed.

A check of the Murray Co Petfinder listings shows 17 pets up for adoption, 16 of whom are cats. When I clicked on the dog, the text read “more dogs available” and showed photos of 2 other dogs with no specifics.  Apparently the Murray Co director deemed all the other animals in the place either aggressive, sick, injured, nuisance, Pitbull or Rottweiler.  No sleep lost, I guess. 

I’m working up a joke for the next Murray Co shelter meeting that will go something like this:

“How does a dog get sick at Murray Co?”

“Walk in the front door.” 

It should be followed up with:

“How does a dog get out the back door at Murray Co?” 

“Get sick.” 

Total lawl, amirite?

(Thank you Clarice for sending me this link.)

Open Thread

Share animal related updates, stories, questions, links, etc.  You’re the boss.

History Rewrite: Miami-Dade No Kill Funding Referendum No Longer Will of the People

In Miami-Dade Co, a shelter funding referendum was passed overwhelmingly by citizens last November. The initiative would have provided nearly $20 million in annual taxpayer funding for programs aimed at reducing shelter intake, such as low and no cost neuter, as well as programs aimed at increasing live release such as an expanded foster program.

The vote was a non-binding referendum and therefore up to politicians to put it into effect.  Despite previous promises that they would honor the will of the people, the county commissioners and mayor have shredded the plan.  The Miami-Dade pound will now get zero dollars of the revenue brought in by a tax increase which people said they were willing to pay to help save shelter pets.  As a consolation prize, the mayor scrounged up 4 million “extra” dollars – not from any tax increase – to give to the pound.

[Mayor Carolos] Gimenez said that “common sense’’ dictates that more people oppose a tax increase than those who actually voted for it, and that he was listening to the will of the people in rejecting the Pets’ Trust proposal.

However, no one spoke against the tax increase during some five hours of public comment on Tuesday, and hundreds of emails to his and other government offices — a nearly three-inch stack, when printed out — tell a different story.

[…]

Among those who addressed the commission in person: Zoo Miami spokesman Ron Magill, his voice shaking with anger.

He said that as one of those who volunteered to raise their own taxes, he was “insulted’’ that anyone suggest he didn’t know what he was voting for, an argument that several commissioners made.

“I was keenly aware of what I was voting for,’’ Magill said. “Any one of you would love to receive [those votes], yet here we are still here today trying to convince you…It costs five times as much to euthanize an animal as to sterilize it.’’

The will of the people is overwhelming support for a tax increase to fund no kill programs at the shelter.  But the mayor doesn’t find it politically expedient to save shelter pets and so has determined that it’s only logical to believe that the will of the people is not represented by how they voted but rather by something he fabricated to fit his political career plans.  And he’s all for abiding by the will of the people.  The made up one.  Not the one in Uppity Reality Land.

The bottom line:

The mayor said […] he was elected on a platform to shrink government.

Translation:  Doing the people’s bidding does not necessarily equate with votes.  And it’s all about the votes.  Shelter pets be damned.  More.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

No Kill Conference Open Thread

The 2013 No Kill Conference was held in Washington D.C. last weekend.  This is the first time in recent years that I can recall such a dearth of liveblogging from the event.  Alas I found just a single post:

Feral Nerd Guy’s Guide to Community Cat Activism: Peter Wolf at the 2013 No Kill Conference – Christie Keith

I hope more people with laptops will consider liveblogging at next year’s conference.  There is obviously a need.

The No Kill Advocacy Center has made available a link for downloading information from the speakers at the conference:  http://bit.ly/12H35CV

If anyone has any additional links for conference info, please share.  Alternatively, if you attended the conference and would like to share your notes, thoughts or impressions, please consider this an open thread for conference related comments.  We want to hear from you!

Lost Cat Deemed Feral Upon Impound at Jefferson City Pound, Gassed to Death

On a December afternoon in 2012, a black cat named Stella went missing in owner Linda Laucks’ Jefferson City, Missouri neighborhood.  Ms. Laucks contacted the Jefferson City pound the morning after Stella didn’t come home and asked the director if a black cat had been impounded.  The director said no.

Ms. Laucks then sought out a neighbor who had put out a trap for a pair of feral cats she was trying to help.  The neighbor told Ms. Laucks that one day earlier, Stella had been caught in the trap intended for the feral cats and when the ACO came to pick her up, the neighbor had advised that the cat was not feral, not one of the pair she was trying to help and looked like a pet who lived in the neighborhood.  The ACO took Stella anyway.

Ms. Laucks called the pound back and confronted the person who answered the phone with the report from the neighbor.  She knew her cat had been impounded and demanded she be allowed to pick her up.

“They put me on hold for about three to five minutes, and the girl came back on and said, ‘Well, we did have her, but we don’t have her anymore,’” Laucks said.

At the Jefferson City pound, which kills 56% of the cats in its care, Stella had been scanned for a microchip (which she didn’t have) then deemed feral and put into the gas chamber.  All within 1/2 hour of impound.

[Ms. Laucks] said she went to claim Stella at the shelter, and the feline was unrecognizable to her.
“Foam was coming out of her mouth and her claws were protruded,” Laucks said. “It looked like her head was bent in towards her chest.”

Ms. Laucks is now committed to getting the pound’s feral cat policy, which appears to be stuff-any-unchipped-cat-into-the-gas-chamber-as-fast-as-you-can, changed.

Stella had a right to live and to be reclaimed by her owner.  Feral cats too have the right to live and to be returned to their home, which is the community, after being neutered and vaccinated.  And no animal, regardless of any shelter worker’s opinion on whether the animal is wild or a housepet, should be gassed to death.  The Jefferson City Animal Shelter director and staff need to start doing their jobs to shelter animals.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Harford Co Humane Society Harasses Then Kills 18 Year Old Lost Pet

The Harford County Humane Society in MD kills a lot of the cats in its care – most of them actually:

[Humane Society’s board president, David] Fang said the shelter took in just over 3,000 cats in 2012. Of those, 581 were euthanized because they were feral, 637 were euthanized for medical reasons, 222 were put down because of their temperament, 65 were returned to owners and 876 were adopted. The remaining cats were either dead on arrival, given to rescue groups or put down because of lack of space or at the owners’ request.

On June 28 the Harford Co HS impounded a frightened elderly cat.  She had been found by an area resident who described her as friendly and assumed she was a lost pet.  He was right.  The cat, named Mistoffelees, had been an indoor pet for 18 years and lived in the neighborhood, unbeknownst to the man who found her.  She had been spayed and declawed.   Mistoffelees accidentally got outside when her owner, Robert Brooks, was out of town.

At the Harford Co HS, Mistoffelees was understandably scared.  She had spent 18 years living indoors and now found herself in a cage at an animal shelter.  Rather than leave her alone and give her some quiet time while searching lost pet reports and posting her information online so she could be reunited with her owner,  the staff immediately and repeatedly approached her in the cage.

Astonishingly, workers did not take a cue from the cat’s initial hisses and swats but instead began poking her with a fake hand on a stick.  In what will come as a surprise to no one with a brain, Mistoffelees didn’t respond well to that either.  So the Harford Co HS sedated her, scanned her for a microchip (which she did not have), failed to find her spay scar or note that she was declawed, deemed her feral and killed her.  All within one hour of impound.

For its part, the HS board blames the owner for not microchipping his cat and defends the staff as dedicated, hard working and blah.  There is a plan to discuss the facility’s holding policies.  The article states:

Harford County code does allow for immediate euthanasia when an animal is deemed violent or dangerous.

But the Harford Co HS website gives a rather different impression about how long owners have to find their lost pets:

Q: For how long do you keep animals?
A: HSHC meets State and County mandated holding periods for stray dogs and cats. These holding periods are designed so that pet owners have a reasonable amount of time to find lost pets. The stray hold periods are:10 days for dogs wearing a license, 4 days for dogs with no identification and 3 days for cats, excluding Sundays and holidays, Once the holding period is up the pet becomes the property of HSHC. HSHC then determines the best course of action, which often means making that pet available for adoption as soon as we have completed some basic medical screening, vaccinations, and whatever else the animal might need to fit this criteria.

Depending on the situation, HSHC might hold an animal longer than even our stray hold period or place them into foster care.

I don’t see anything about one hour in there.

Mr. Brooks is heartbroken.  Mistoffelees was a family member.  He has retained an attorney.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Through a Glass, Darkly

A mama dog and her 3 crated pups as seen through the glass on the door to the owner surrender room at the Memphis pound on June 29, 2013.  (photo by Jody Fisher)

A mama dog and her 4 crated pups as seen through the glass on the door to the owner surrender room at the Memphis pound on June 29, 2013. (photo by Jody Fisher)

On Saturday, June 29, Memphis shelter pet advocate Jody Fisher was at MAS trying to help save lives. She saw what appeared to be a healthy, adoptable family of dogs (mama and four pups) being surrendered to the pound. When the dogs didn’t show up on the PetHarbor listings for MAS, she e-mailed the above photo in an inquiry on Monday, July 1st and learned they had all been killed.  None were ever marketed for adoption.  None were listed online or housed in an area accessible by the public.  The only reason anyone outside MAS even knew of the 5 dogs was because Ms. Fisher photographed them through the glass.

The entire healthy, adoptable family was slaughtered while the facility was closed to the public.  They never had a chance.  Their records, obtained via FOIA request, can be viewed here.

On Saturday, July 6, Ms. Fisher returned to MAS to again try to save lives. She found the glass on the door to the owner surrender room had been covered with a garbage bag – the same kind MAS fills with dead pets – so no one could see the pets being surrendered. I guess that’s the punishment for asking questions and trying to save lives. Transparency, anyone?

What cowards do.

What cowards do.

If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it MAS.

Treats on the Internets

A member of the so-called irresponsible public in Hyde Co, NC opened her own shelter after county officials failed to do their jobs regarding the community’s pets.

The Macon-Bibb pound in GA killed 5 puppies after one confirmed case of parvo.  The facility is now on quarantine.  The article states that a six week old puppy was adopted and died from parvo within days.  Six weeks of age is too young to separate a puppy from her dam and littermates although the article doesn’t indicate whether a dam and/or littermates were sheltered with the pup.  Parvo is not a license to kill shelter dogs.

Raised by Wolves explains what due diligence entails these day when researching a rescue or other charitable animal organization.

Three police officers in CA were taken off the streets last week after a video of them shooting a man’s dog went viral.  The action was not disciplinary in nature but a response to alleged death threats.

American dogs have been genetically traced back to Asia, not Europe, in a new study.

Scientific American:  “Seeding events in forests, on the rise due partly to climate change, provide more food for invasive mammals and could be the cause of a boom in their populations.”  (Warning:  photo of a dead stoat at link.)

A pig.  With a furrowed brow.  That looks like Yoda.

And from reader Claire, a video of one Beagle pushing another in a shopping cart.