UPDATED: More on Klein Animal Shelter Cruelty

Texas – In addition to the Klein Animal Shelter’s director, who was charged with multiple counts including felony animal cruelty, another former employee who was certified to kill animals has been arrested and charged with cruelty.  A third arrest is expected today.  The Jacksonville police chief is asking former pound employees who witnessed crimes to contact police and give a statement.

The cities who contracted with the Klein facility for animal control are all developing individual plans for handling lost and homeless pets.  Tragically, the city of Tyler “is developing euthanasia guidelines to manage populations long term” instead of embracing a proven model which would make lifesaving a priority.

Klein is being emptied out by private rescue groups.  All the cats are now out of the building and a number of dogs have been removed as well.  The killing apologist who was “not surprised” to hear that dogs were being kicked to death and cats were being strangled at Klein because it’s a hard job and blah, is quoted in several articles complaining that no one is giving her any animals.  I put that down as a win for the pets.

Meanwhile, KLTV decided to follow the money.  Specifically, the city of Tyler has been contracting the Klein facility to take its animals since 2007:

Invoices on record with the city of Tyler indicate that Klein Animal Shelter was paid between $43.00 and $72.00 for each domestic animal. Over the past five months, the charges totaled $57,341.50 paid to the shelter for 557 cats, 626 dogs, and one ferret.

Tyler is just one of several cities that reportedly paid Klein for AC services.  I wonder if Klein’s books will show how the money was spent, seeing as strangling cats to death is you know, free.

KLTV also raises the issue of accountability:

With charges against shelter employees mounting on the heels of a six-month investigation by police, the scrutiny now turns to whether any entity was required to monitor the shelter.

[…]

[Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 823] requires that the shelter separate animals by species, sex, and size; comply with housing and sanitation laws; and that the governing city or municipality appoint an advisory committee to assist with compliance.

So was there an advisory committee?  And if so, what have they been doing all these years while animals were being tortured and killed on the taxpayer’s dime?  Where is the committee now?  Maybe they are with the Klein Animal Shelter board of directors – in a spider hole.

Our shelter system is broken, in part due to the fact that there are little to no legal requirements for transparency and accountability.  Too many cities and counties attempt to hide what’s happening at the local shelter while shielding the animal abusers who work there.  Employees at these facilities know they are free to starve, torture and kill animals at will.  And it’s literally no one’s job to poke their head in the place once a year to see what’s going on and file a public report.  Municipalities keep taxing their residents, writing checks to animal abusers and calling it a day.  Taxpayers deserve better.  Animals deserve better.  Only one of us can advocate for reform.

(Thank you Clarice and Arlene for the links.)

UPDATE, added January 22:  A total of three Klein employees have now been arrested and charged in connection with this case.  Director Angela Wallace was arrested last week and KLTV reports some details on the other two:

Jason Craft was charged with misdemeanor cruelty to non-livestock animals. His bond was set at $1,000. Ashley Ruhl was charged with felony cruelty to non-livestock animals – torture. Her bond was set at $2,500.

Both Craft and Ruhl posted bond and have been released.

From there, the article spirals down into blame the public hysteria and the myth of pet overpopulation so be forewarned.  It seems that even in the face of criminal charges against shelter workers, some people are still willing to levy their harsh judgment against us regular folks who happen to love and own pets.

(Thanks Clarice for the update.)

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9 Comments

  1. This is an excellent & very eloquent report on a ghastly situation. On a side note, your reference to Texas code mandating local shelter advisory committees reminds me that we must try to institute similar measure here.

    Reply
  2. Susan Shaddock

     /  January 21, 2015

    What the hell is wrong with humans? How can we continue to hide our heads in the sand while such atrocities continue unchecked and unabated? It is such a frustrating uphill battle and while every little victory may represent progress, usually they serve primarily to highlight what remains to be done. The few of us who do care have to demand accountability and transparency even though we know that our successes will be few, far between and hard-won. Perhaps if we make it clear that we are watching, some of the more egregious offenders will grow discouraged — but that makes me fear for subsequent targets of their cruelty. And Marianna I hope you aren’t holding your breath. North Carolina sucks as bad as Texas.

    Reply
    • In my heart I know you’re right but there is a new head of Ag Dep’t. Animal Welfare Division & maybe there is a glimmer of hope. We should mount a campaign …

      Reply
      • Susan Shaddock

         /  January 21, 2015

        True and I hope that indicates imminent change but the GOBs are still in control and they resist and resent suggestions for change.

  3. Angela Shiver

     /  January 21, 2015

    I’m sick of reading about so called humans doing unspeakable things to innocent, defenseless animals. Whatever it takes to stop this is what needs to be done, period!!!
    I absolutely have no sympathy for anyone to would harm an animal. Maybe shelters should be closed altogether. Just sayin…

    Reply
  4. Betsey

     /  January 21, 2015

    “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”…….Gandhi

    Reply
  5. I am the reporter that has worked on Klein for several months. My story is with the editors now and hopefully in a few days they will have reviewed everything, however, I can certaintly share things with this group. Here are some excerpts backed up by documents.

    Those arrested were Angela Wallace, 39, charged with “a felony, cruelty to non-livestock animals; torture and a misdemeanor, cruelty to non-livestock animals,” said Judy a County Attorney spokeswoman. Ashley Ruhl, 29, who was released on a $2,500 bond faces “a felony, cruelty to non-livestock animals and torture,” said Judy. Jason Craft, 29, faces a misdemeanor charge of “cruelty to non-livestock animals” and was released on a $1,000 bond Judy confirmed. CBS-affiliate also reported on the arrest of the three former shelter workers.

    After receiving a complaint, “that there was no one at the Klein Animal Shelter looking after the animals,” Dr. Melinda Hergert, a veterinarian and state health inspector said in a January 14 report obtained by Digital journal through an open records request, she along with inspector Angela Hopkins paid the shelter a surprise visit. What they found were shocking, almost unspeakable instances of animal cruelty. Report is here https://www.scribd.com/doc/254945194/1-14-15-Inspection-Report

    The most serious evidence of cruelty and neglect investigators found include;
    The facility was not structurally sound which would prevent the animals from being injured and prevent the transmission of disease.
    Two dead puppies in cages.
    A sick puppy that eventually died which Wallace admitted had been left outside in freezing weather.
    A Schnauzer that had been at the shelter for six days with a broken back was found lying in its own feces.

    A volunteer was found washing dishes in filthy water and Hergert wrote in her report, “This is not an unusual finding,” saying Wallace, “has been told before about the dirty dish and mop water.” by state health inspector Samantha Puttick obtained by Digital Journal through a records request say Tamra Herring a veterinary technician called several times complaining about the method shelter workers were euthanizing animals and how she witnessed Ruhl cruelly kick the cat.

    On April 25, 2014 Puttick writes, “The caller [Herring] then described an instance of animal cruelty she witnessed on April 20, 2014.” While in the process of getting a cat back into its cage, Ruhl who had previously been “warned that it was mean,” was bitten. After getting the cat on a catch pole, a device that is supposed to humanely be placed around the front of a cat, but not its neck, Ruhl closed the wire around the cat’s neck “to the point of strangulation and proceeded to kick the cat. She proceeded to kick and drag the cat from the isolation room to the quarantine room. At some point the cat lost consciousness.” When Ruhl described what happened to members of shelter management, “She used an expletive to describe the cat and said, ‘bu that’s okay…it has boot prints now'” Puttick wrote.

    Health department records show that Herring also expressed concern about the different ways animals were being put to sleep, and the extreme suffering some endured during the process.

    Herring told Digital Journal, “They’re not dying, they’re still alive, they’re still breathing and then they would take them and stack them up in kennels and cages together.” Herring added, “Then they started to get where they were bagging them and throwing them in the freezers while they were still alive.”

    Speaking about the method Craft used to euthanize animals Herring recounted, “He took a syringe smaller than a 10 ml and put down two adult pit bulls and an adult German Shepherd Dog…. None of the three died, o.k….they bagged them up and put them in the freezer.”

    Herring provided health inspectors with photos taken by her documenting the cruel and unsanitary conditions at the shelter as well as Craft violating state law by euthanasia kittens in front of their mother. According to Hergert’s notes concerning the shelter, she asked Wallace about the photo of Craft euthansing the kittens in the presence of their mother during her May 14, 2014 inspection.

    Hergert also questioned Craft about euthanizing the kittens during her may 14, inspection. “I asked him if he knew how many counts of Class B misdemeanors are in each of that picture,” Hergert said in her notes. “I explained to him each count of using a dirty needle, each count of him doing it b/c he is not trained, each count of him doing it in front of the live mother reaching out of her cage towards the kittens, each count of him doing it in front of a live kitten and each count of him doing it in front of dead kitten. That added up to 6×5 = 30 Class B misdemeanors just in that room alone.”

    Hergert also showed Craft photos she had of animals that “did not die peacefully most likely due to incorrect dosing and administration,” of the solution Hergert wrote.

    When questioned together by Hergert, both Wallace and Craft admitted the manner in which animals were euthanized was wrong.

    Reply
  6. As far as the money goes, I reviewed how much the shelter got paid in one year, 2013 https://www.scribd.com/doc/254983403/Jacksonville-Payments-to-Shelter and compared it to the amount of animals the shelter received https://www.scribd.com/doc/254983434/Jacksonville-Animal-Control-Documents. They made $130.00 ON EVERY SINGLE animal.

    Oh from a review of their 990’s which Jennifer Lee always maintained she didn’t have to provide,the shelter received $1,614,645 from 2009 through 2013. As far as Jacksonville goes the shelter was paid in 2013 $75,636 and were given 582 animals. That means the shelter was paid $130 PER ANIMAL. That is outrageous for major northeast cities much less some rural out of the way shelter in Texas. In 2013, according to its 990 the shelter paid $4,616 for “bookkeeping” to Design Plus – owned by Jennifer Lee, yet they have had the same accounting firm for years. Lee doesn’t even do bookkeeping. You can get some of the most recent 990s from guidestar and see for yourself. That is just for starters. There are some very serious issues with the shelter’s 990 returns.

    In 2013, Wallace was paid $43,000 and the shelter paid a mere $25,000 on vet care and medicine. There is so much more. You can obtain the 990s off the Internet but I am providing a copy to you all. https://www.scribd.com/doc/255020913/Klein-Shelter-2013-990

    Reply

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