Burlington Co SPCA Picks on Compassionate Elderly Rescuer

Kate Decker is a 68 year old retired public relations executive living in Burlington Co, NJ.  She has two homes on her property – her own (she is a widow) and the one formerly occupied by her parents, who are now deceased.  Over the past 30 years, she has dedicated herself to saving dogs, many of them Pitbull types, who would otherwise have been killed in municipal pounds:

Instead, she said, she trained them to be therapy dogs she takes to nursing homes or to work with the mentally impaired, such as autistic children.

[…]

Decker recalled taking a therapy animal to a nursing home and watching an Alzheimer’s patient talk to the dog, then to her. On the way out, she said, health-care workers were amazed, saying they had never seen the woman speak.

Ms. Decker keeps a couple dozen dogs and works with them daily, along with two assistants, to make sure each animal receives exercise, training, fresh air and quality time with people and other dogs.  The outdoor dog yards are fenced.  The dogs are housed throughout the two heated homes as well as a heated garage on the property.  Her neighbor reports that the dogs are no trouble whatsoever to the neighborhood and that Ms. Decker is devoted to their care.  There are no pet limit laws in the county.  A reporter who recently spent three hours visiting the property observed happy, healthy dogs being well cared for and described the home as “stately”.

You are probably thinking this lady is up for some sort of community service award.  Hold that thought.

In October 2012, the Burlington Co SPCA reportedly received an anonymous complaint about Ms. Decker.  An officer visited her home in response.  Ms. Decker says the officer forced her way inside the house.  Cheryl Mosca, recently appointed deputy chief and treasurer of the county SPCA, says Ms. Decker invited the officer inside but was “not completely cooperative” in allowing a thorough search:

Decker said the officer looked around and asked to see veterinary records. She retrieved the records from another room, and the officer left after reviewing them, she said.

Several days later, Decker said, she noticed that a gold watch given to her by her parents when she was 16 was gone. She filed a theft complaint, alleging the animal welfare officer was the only one who had entered the house between the last time she saw the watch and when it disappeared.

Moorestown police investigated. No charges have been filed.

In December 2012, Cheryl Mosca led a raid on the property after a search warrant was obtained:

Wayne Becker, Decker’s neighbor across the street in Moorestown, said he recalled the day of the raid. He saw several vehicles outside the house and checked whether Decker needed help.

Becker, retired from the Coast Guard, said one of the officers, who was armed, blocked him and ordered him to leave, which he did.

“This was like a military operation, but it did not have the discipline of the military,” Becker said[.]

Ms. Decker states that during the raid, she was prevented from calling anyone or caring for her dogs for five hours.  She says officers threatened to seize and kill her dogs.  She was subsequently charged with 66 counts of animal neglect:

Half of the charges are criminal, half are civil. Authorities allege she failed to keep water in all of the crates, and stacked some crates two high without a barrier between the top and bottom crates.

[…]

Charges against Decker do not include allegations of abuse or that animals were malnourished, dehydrated, or denied veterinary care.

[…]

During the raid, there was a strong animal odor, animal waste in the home, and the house was not clean, Mosca said.

If this seems like petty retaliation and abuse of power to you, you may be on to something:

The county SPCA has a checkered past. An investigation of the enforcement agencies statewide in 2000 found that many, including Burlington’s, did not comply with state and federal regulations.

In Burlington County, the former treasurer was convicted of stealing.

Maybe the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in Burlington Co political circles.

Ms. Decker must face a municipal trial next month and if convicted, could be fined up to $66,000.  She is refusing to give up any of her dogs because she considers them to be family members.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

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15 Comments

  1. mikken

     /  November 30, 2013

    Evil. The whole thing is evil.

    I guess if we ever have any sort of authority visit our property, we should video record them at all times and immediately put it on the web? So when they come back later with bogus charges, we can prove that they’re lying and that it’s retaliatory?

    Reply
    • Lock your door, yell at them from the other side to hold up a copy of the search warrant or get off your property. If they do have a search warrant, get out the video camera and follow them around if possible. If not, film them as best you can from wherever you are physically restrained. If no search warrant, the conversation is over.

      Reply
  2. Clearly retaliation… We’ve given law enforcement entirely too much power!

    Reply
  3. I hope her neighbor is on her side and will help the next time…can she afford the legal cost she’s facing? should a fundraiser be started?
    I am outraged..

    Reply
    • Dot,

      I am a friend of Kate (she is not computer literate so she doesn’t do much online). Kate is in need of help with the legal bills. I have created a Go Fund Me site to help raise money for the legal cost. Any help you can give to help spread the word about this would be appreciated!

      ~ Lynn Hardy

      Reply
  4. Eucritta

     /  November 30, 2013

    I would also be interested to know if anyone is raising money for Ms Decker.

    Shirley’s advice is excellent – if there’s no search warrant, don’t open your door. Don’t volunteer any information either. Keep quiet, keep it as non-confrontational as you can. If they won’t allow you to record while they’re there, get what you can, and take a photographic record of the house immediately after. And call a lawyer, or contact any local low-cost legal services.

    Don’t assume that because you’re innocent, you’re safe.

    Reply
    • Eucritta,

      I am a friend of Kate (she is not computer literate so she doesn’t do much online). Kate is in need of help with the legal bills. I have created a Go Fund Me site to help raise money for the legal cost. Any help you can give to help spread the word about this would be appreciated! (I have never done fundraising for a cause like this before)

      ~ Lynn Hardy

      Reply
  5. Kittypurr

     /  December 2, 2013

    Their is a push everywhere- this is conning from the Absolute need and demand to control every facet of our lives. The animal controls have taken their lessons learned from HSUS PeTA and ASPCA – honed them and are hung ho to have total power and control over citizens. Harming or threatening to harm ones furry family members usually gets them the control they so desire in their puny existance. Lock and load!!

    Reply
    • Eucritta

       /  December 2, 2013

      Actually, I think they’ve more likely learned from the police, who’ve become increasingly militarized, brutal, secretive, and estranged from ordinary society.

      As much as I dislike the practices and some of the policies of the named organizations, what they provide in these sorts of contexts is cover, in the form of ready-made excuses for inexcusable behavior among animal control and other law enforcement. They do seem to have a fetish for uniforms, though that’s far more widespread as well, sad to say.

      Reply
  6. Sandra D.

     /  December 2, 2013

    Seriously, is anyone helping this woman? A lawyer? She should counter-sue the shelter and the officer who forced his/her way inside without a warrant.

    Reply
    • IDK Sandra. I Googled for more info on the story before posting and came up empty. IDK if anyone is helping her, if she needs a little help or a lot of help or what. If anyone sees anything, please share.

      Reply
      • I am a friend of Kate’s (she is not computer literate so she doesn’t do much online). I have been with her from the beginning of this entire ordeal. It has taken quite a toll on Kate financially and she would be ever so grateful for any financial help that can be given for her legal bills.I have created a Go Fund Me site to help raise money for the legal cost. Any help you can give to help spread the word about this would be appreciated!

        ~ Lynn Hardy

  7. Since when did we become a military Country! This makes me sick to my stomach. I, too, would like to know what is protecting this woman. ‘I’ll bet that down the road they’ll try to kill the dogs! I’M SICK OF THE ”’BLUE LINE’ that makes them invincible! This is happening everywhere and something must be done to stop it!

    Reply
  8. I have known Kate Decker for over thirty-five years and am up-to-date on her incredible ordeal.
    Shirley Lyn – Please e-mail me and either call me or tell me where I can call you. (My number is on my website) I’m leaving tomorrow for a week but read your blog piece about Kate and hope you’ll give me quick call before I leave.
    PS Incidentally, the bit about the “smell” was nonsense and was completely refuted by responsible witnesses.
    Many thanks,
    John Milnes Baker

    Reply
  9. Andrew

     /  August 29, 2017

    I know Mrs. Decker; she does not believe in and refuses humane euthanasia for her dogs, even when strongly recommended by a veterinarian. She allows the dogs in her custody to die a slow and horrid death. I have buried 3 of them for her.

    Reply

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