Florida Dog Bite Statute May Be Ruled Unconstitutional Today Due to Mandatory Killing Aspect

Padi, as pictured on Facebook.

Padi, as pictured on Facebook.

Florida veterinarian Paul Gartenberg performed surgery on a stray dog who had a rusty chain embedded in his neck.  Although his intention was to find a home for the dog, he ended up falling in love with him so made the dog part of his family.  He named him Padi, due to the padlock on the embedded chain he was dragging when found.

Padi came to work every day with his owner and was beloved by hundreds of clients at the vet clinic.  In June, a 4 year old boy was interacting with Padi at the clinic.  At some point, Padi attempted to hide under a desk but the boy reportedly followed him into the tight space, lunged at the dog, and Padi bit off the child’s earlobe.  Padi was seized by Manatee Co Animal Services for killing:

The state’s “Damage By Dogs” statute says that a dog that bites a person without provocation is to be “immediately confiscated by an animal control authority, placed in quarantine, if necessary, for the proper length of time, or impounded and held for 10 business days after the owner is given written notification, and thereafter destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner.”

Dr. Gartenberg hired an attorney to fight in court for Padi’s right to live. After 11 weeks, Dr. Gartenberg received permission from the court to bring Padi home from the pound.  But the legal battle has continued, with Padi gaining support from many animal activists.

The legal argument being made on behalf of Padi is that the Florida statute requiring automatic killing is unconstitutional as it robs the owner of his due process – that is, a chance to offer a defense by explaining to a judge the circumstances of the bite.  There is a hearing scheduled in Manatee Co for this afternoon at 2:00 during which the judge could decide that the statute is unconstitutional.  In that case, Padi would be allowed to live.  State legislators are already working on amending the law.

Animal Advocates Continue to Protest Legal Decisions in KY Dog Case

In April, Boyle Co Animal Care and Control in Kentucky seized twelve presa canarios from owner Christopher Pope who was charged with twelve misdemeanor animal cruelty counts.  Five of the dogs were returned to him while the other seven were housed at the local HS while the court case proceeded.  In June, Pope’s house caught fire and three dead presa canarios were found on the property – two in a bathtub and one decomposing in a plastic bin.  The cause of death was never sought.  Last month, Pope made a plea agreement with Boyle Co on reduced charges.  His seven dogs were returned to him despite protests from rescuers:

Boyle County Attorney Richard Campbell decided to release the dogs into Pope’s care despite some public outcry and requests from “rescue” organizations to take the dogs. Campbell said in a recent interview that he made the decision because if Pope went to trial on the charges and was found not guilty, he could rightfully reclaim his dogs.

Days after Pope put the dogs in kennels on property in Lincoln Co, six of them chewed through the fencing and escaped.  They reportedly mauled a woman in her yard, causing her serious injuries.  One dog was shot to death at the scene and the others, including a pregnant dog named Fiona whose belly was too fat to escape the kennel, were taken to Lincoln Co AC.  There, Fiona whelped a litter of ten puppies.  Local animal advocates hired an attorney to fight for Fiona’s right to live along with her puppies, noting none of them were involved in the attack.

Lincoln Co judge executive Jim Adams ordered all the dogs, including Fiona, killed on August 10.  All ten of her puppies are also reportedly dead, although the county is refusing to say exactly how they died.  Adams has also put a stop to rescues and volunteer transporters pulling animals from the pound, citing liability concerns.  Animal advocates protested the judge’s decisions on the steps of the Lincoln Co courthouse this weekend.

The case appears to have been mishandled from the beginning with multiple points along the way where the counties involved could have prevented further harm.  Instead, they have ended up with a seriously injured resident, a pile of dead dogs and puppies, protesting animal advocates, and presumably more dogs languishing at the pound.  Maybe they figure they’re in a hole and it’s too late to stop digging now, I don’t know.  I hope the locals stay on them.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Cumberland Co Kills Dog Whom Owners Wanted Back, Calls Family Liars

Debo, as pictured on the ABC 11 website.

Debo, as pictured on the ABC 11 website.

People tend to think that animal shelters shelter animals and that everyone who works there is an animal lover who would never hurt a pet.  Tragically, this is far from the truth in too many shelters.  Sometimes people only find this out when their pet ends up at the “safe haven” and is killed there.

On June 15, a 10 year old Rottweiler named Debo reportedly bit a person.  A Cumberland Co, NC ACO came to the home and advised owner Yolanda Streeter that Debo had to be quarantined for 10 days – either at home or at the pound.  Since the family was about to go away on vacation, Mrs. Streeter’s husband chose the option to quarantine Debo at the pound and signed the form the ACO gave him.

On June 17, Mr. Streeter called the Cumberland Co pound to make sure it was known that the family was going away but would be back to pick up Debo on June 27.  He wanted the date to be clear since it was two days after the quarantine ended.  The family also went to the pound that day to visit Debo and reiterate that they would be back to pick him up on the 27th.  Mrs. Streeter says the staff agreed with the arrangements.

But when Mr. Streeter called on June 27 to ask if he needed to bring a fee with him when he picked up Debo, he was advised that his pet had been killed on the 25th.  Because that was the day the quarantine expired and he’d signed a form surrendering ownership of Debo to the county.  And since the staff could legally kill him, they did:

Officials said Wednesday that the paperwork the Streeters signed gave them possession of an aggressive dog. The animal release form Mitchell Streeter signed on June 15 is marked for a “Code 2,” which released Debo to the county.

Yolanda Streeter said they thought they were simply signing the dog off for quarantine.

“Believe me, the last thing we want to do is put an animal down,” said Dr. John Lauby, Director of Animal Services.

I’m going to go with nah on that one.

Adding insult to injury, county officials told the local news the Streeter family never said anything about coming back to pick up Debo and the fact that they called and visited means nothing since owners who know the county is going to kill their pets do that too.  Which apparently happens all the time in Cumberland Co.  Sheesh, I hope these county officials aren’t on the tourism board.

The Streeter family is heartbroken and has no closure:

“Honestly, I feel like somebody who had a loved one who was murdered or killed or something,” Yolanda Streeter said. “And they don’t have the body back.”
“If I’d known what was going to happen, I would have never sent him there.”

Pets are family.  Having an owned pet in the care of people who kill pets for convenience ends tragically all too often.

If “the last thing” the pound truly wants to do is kill pets, I have a suggestion:  Instead of calling the Streeter family liars, Cumberland Co needs to investigate why the staff failed multiple times to note in Debo’s records that the family was coming for him.  Start by asking the ACO whether he explained clearly to Mr. Streeter that he was signing over his pet to be killed and whether Mr. Streeter indicated to the ACO the family would be reclaiming the dog.  Then find out who at the pound took Mr. Streeter’s call verifying he would be there on the 27th and failed to note the date in the records.  Then talk to the staffers who spoke with the family during the visit when they reiterated they were coming back for him.  See if any of them have reasonable explanations for their failures.  If not, fire them and get people in there willing to do their jobs.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

WV Animal Control Officer Violates Law in Dog Killing, Will Keep Job

A Fayette County dog bit a child on March 11, 2014 and stitches were required as a result of the injury. Fayette Co ACO Russell Parker seized the dog and was advised by the owner that the dog had not been vaccinated for rabies. The owner stated the dog had attacked another person in past and agreed to have the dog euthanized.

The Fayette Co animal control director is the only person licensed to euthanize animals for the county and she works at a veterinary clinic. When ACO Russell was advised by the county health department on March 12 that the dog’s head needed to be sent to a lab for rabies testing ASAP, the individual licensed to perform euthanasia was contacted. She stated she would come to the county facility after her shift ended at the clinic that afternoon to perform the euthanasia. The dog’s owner had already paid the vet clinic for the euthanasia.

ACO Russell decided the euthanasia could not be delayed and opted to shoot the dog to death with a small caliber rifle. He did not inform the animal control director of his intentions.  Nor did he exercise the most obvious option of immediately transporting the dog to the vet clinic for the euthanasia. After killing the dog, he reportedly used some sort of tool to remove the head and sent it to a lab for testing.

West Virginia code allows for the shooting of dogs under limited circumstances and there are specific protocols which must be followed:

(c) In an emergency or in a situation in which a dog cannot be humanely destroyed in an expeditious manner, a dog may be destroyed by shooting if:

(1) The shooting is performed by someone trained in the use of firearms with a weapon and ammunition of suitable caliber and other characteristics designed to produce instantaneous death by a single shot; and

(2) Maximum precaution is taken to minimize the dog’s suffering and to protect other persons and animals.

The animal control director filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office regarding the killing. The sheriff’s investigator determined that ACO Parker was in violation of the law as he did not use a firearm capable of killing the dog with one shot. In fact, ACO Parker shot the dog three times before he finally died, causing needless pain and suffering.

Fayette Co sheriff Steve Kessler concluded that despite the violation of the law which resulted in the dog’s agonizing death, there were no grounds to fire ACO Parker. His reasoning:

  • ACO Parker was trying to to get the dog’s head to the lab as quickly as possible for the sake of the bitten child and thought this was the only way to do it.
  • Using a weapon of insufficient caliber to kill the pet with a single shot as required by law is exactly the same as when a technician tries to euthanize a pet by injection, misses the vein and must re-insert the needle.
  • Serving as an ACO is a “dirty, nasty” job which pays slightly more than minimum wage.

As to the first point, it does not seem credible to me that ACO Parker thought shooting the dog to death was the only way to get the head submitted for testing right away. He didn’t even explore the alternatives such as driving the dog to the clinic himself or requesting the services of another clinic. Regarding the second point, a missed venipuncture with a small needle is in no way, shape or form the equivalent of a small caliber rifle shot. One does not cause the same pain and suffering as the other, as posited by Sheriff Kessler in his press release.  And lastly, whether or not the sheriff thinks sheltering animals is a “dirty, nasty” job is irrelevant, as is the pay.  The sheriff is sworn to uphold the law which in this case, was violated.

Local animal advocates had been calling for ACO Parker’s termination.  Sheriff Kessler stated that ACO Parker has been disciplined but refused to elaborate.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

#DeadDogLulz in Maricopa Co

As we are so often told about people who work in pet killing facilities:  Nobody WANTS to kill animals.  But apparently when they do get to kill them, it’s too fun not to gloat about it on social media.

A Maricopa Co dog called Mickey was reportedly minding his own business in his fenced backyard one day last month when someone let their 4 year old child wander into the yard.  When the child took Mickey’s bone, the dog bit the child in the face causing a severe injury.  Mickey was seized by the Maricopa Co pound and his family is fighting in court to keep him alive.

A Facebook group in support of saving Mickey’s life has more than 32,000 likes.  Vanessa Martinez, a Maricopa Co pound employee, visited the page and taunted those hoping to save Mickey:

“This is stupid… you guys doing all of this won’t help any. He’s going night night.”

Ooh, burn.

The pound’s director has defended Ms. Martinez’s comments as free speech.

A judge is scheduled to make a determination on Mickey’s fate by March 13.

A spokesperson for MCACC says Martinez is still employed. A petition is circulating on the Internet calling for Martinez to be terminated.

That petition and 5 pennies will get you a nickel and someone who likes killing animals.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Bakersfield Pound Oops-Kills Well Loved Pet, Lies to Owner

Screengrab from a KBAK newscast depicting Captcho's owner discussing his killing at the Bakersfield pound.

Screengrab from a KBAK newscast depicting Capatcho’s owner discussing his killing at the Bakersfield pound.

Kern Co, CA – On October 8, a dog named Capatcho was impounded by the city of Bakersfield after reportedly biting a neighbor.  The dog lacked identification and was listed as a stray upon impound at the Bakersfield Animal Care Center.  The owner, Bree Dedmon, went to the facility to identify her dog.  She was told Capatcho had to be held for a 10 day rabies quarantine period and that she’d be able to pick him up on October 19.

Ms. Dedmon returned to the pound many times during the quarantine in order to visit with her pet and the staff came to recognize her by face.  Ms. Dedmon told a local news outlet that she was “all excited” when she went to pick up Capatcho on October 19.  When she arrived at the pound, a staff member told her that Capatcho was “missing”.  When the distraught owner pressed the staffer for details, she was told he had been killed one day earlier.  Oops.

The dog was put down after the quarantine period, because an owner for Capatcho was never documented by the shelter staff.


Following the notification of death, police were called into the shelter to help staffers with Dedmon, according to one center official.

Yeah, I can imagine how someone might temporarily lose it after being informed her family member was “missing” only to find out that was a lie and in fact, the pet had been oops-killed.

“Until I got Potch, I never understood how people could be so close to their animals,” she said. “I just mainly wanted to get the word out, and for people to know that his life meant something and he meant something to his family.”

We get it Ms. Dedmon.  Pets are family.  Animal services=family services.

The pound, in typical fashion, told the news outlet that people need to keep their pets on their property and wearing ID tags in order to avoid these kinds of situations.  Which sounds like something out of The Sopranos if you think about it.  Never have an oops with your pet because if you do, there’s gonna be the kind of oops you’re gonna regret.  Oh and the pound also warned the public that quarantine costs more than $200.  Stay classy, Bakersfield.

In addition to blaming the owner for the killing, the pound says it’s taking responsibility (I think they have a different definition of that term than the rest of us) and has relocated a staff member.  Which means nothing.  Until Bakersfield commits to doing its job to shelter animals instead of killing them, nothing will change.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Instant Karma in South Carolina

An investigation by the Florence County sheriff’s office led to a vacant lot in a wooded area last weekend.  Authorities found a dogfighting ring along with firearms and cocaine.  The eight manly-men who were allegedly participating in the event tried to scurry off but were apprehended by police, with an assist from an unlikely candidate:

A pit bull was turned over to environmental services, while the other canine escaped after attacking one of the fleeing suspects.

I hope, since the guy was running away, he got bit in the ass.

No word on the status of the one dog who was seized.  I hope both dogs wind up in the care of compassionate people.

Orange Co Animal Services Wrongly Says State Law Requires the Killing of Biting Dogs

Rufus, a 1 one year old Beagle in Orange Co, FL was surrendered by his owner to AC after he bit a kid in the face.  The owner, Nicole West, was reportedly filling the dog’s food bowl when her 4 year old son came up behind the dog and accidentally startled him.  Rufus bit the kid’s lip and sutures were required.

West says she was told the beagle would be “tested for aggression,” and if he was found not to be aggressive, Rufus would be put up for adoption. But last week, West learned that her former pet was scheduled to be euthanized because of the severity of the bite.

The West family never believed there was any chance that Rufus would be killed and when they learned otherwise, they retained a lawyer to fight for his right to live.  The attorney has filed an injunction to stop the killing temporarily and the family has utilized social media to spread awareness of the dog’s plight.  Not only is the local news following the story now, but the mayor is involved as well.  She has issued a statement saying that the dog will be well cared for by the pound while the legal case proceeds.

One of the most troubling aspects to this case is the pound’s position that Rufus must be killed because FL state law says so:

Orange County Animal Services has gone on record, saying because of the severity of the injury, state statute says they must euthanize Rufus even if the dog is not found to be aggressive.

Read the FL statutes about dogs who bite for yourself.  I am not a lawyer but what I see is an outline for a legal process to determine whether a dog is dangerous after his first bite.  I see nothing that indicates the pound is required to kill any dog after his first bite, regardless of the severity.

The pound’s position makes me concerned not only for Rufus but for all the other dogs who may have bitten a person or animal in Orange Co.  How long has the pound been misrepresenting the law with regard to killing dogs who bite?  How many dogs have they killed already and how many are they going to kill under this false representation that the state law requires it?  Many dogs don’t have an owner with an attorney to protect them from Orange Co Animal Services.  Is the mayor concerned about that?

(Thank you to everyone who sent me links about Rufus.)

Discussion: Are we blinding ourselves to dangerous dog behavior in bully breeds?

Dr. Stanley Coren writes in Psychology Today that we tend to explain away what he describes as “a disproportionate number of dog bite related injuries and deaths [by Pitbull type dogs]” because we love them as family members.  Does his thinking ring true to you?

(Thanks Christine for the link.)

Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co Committed to Killing Truffles

Truffles is a 2 1/2 year old spayed female mixed breed dog at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co, a private shelter in TN. There is a video of her posted on YouTube which promotes her as an adoptable dog. I am neither a behaviorist nor an expert but in my layman’s opinion, Truffles looks uncomfortable in this video, especially when she has her personal face-space invaded, which is often. It’s obvious the people doing the invading love her and are trying to help her get adopted but don’t seem to read her in the same way I am. The thing that most impressed me about Truffles was the continued restraint she exhibited every time she felt uncomfortable. She never bares her teeth, nips or bites. And certainly a dog with less restraint would have done so in my opinion. Watch the video for yourself and see what you think:

Truffles was reportedly adopted and returned recently after a child kissed her on the head while the dog was asleep. Truffles apparently bit the child in the face. Based upon what I saw in the video, this does not surprise me. Awake Truffles will choose again and again to exercise restraint when someone gets in her face-space. Sleeping Truffles does not have that luxury. When she was startled awake by a kid in her face, she reacted with a bite. I am sorry for the child who was bitten and for the family who adopted Truffles. I do not know what sort of counseling they were given by the HS when they adopted Truffles. Nor do I know whether the child was given appropriate instructions on interacting with the dog. Sometimes children don’t follow directions. That happens.  The results of which account for many dog bites involving children unfortunately.

At any rate, I have been contacted by several individuals who are concerned because the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co is reportedly going to kill Truffles on Tuesday. The HS has apparently refused all offers to save Truffles’ life, including signing any waiver of their choosing and placing her with a rescue group or sanctuary. I have reached out to the HS several times but have not received a response. There may be more to Truffles’ story but if there is, the HS is not telling it.

The bottom line is this: Truffles has a right to live. There is no court order requiring the HS to kill Truffles. She has not been given any chance at long term behavioral modification by a qualified behaviorist or group. She reportedly failed to exercise restraint once out of countless opportunities.  She made a mistake.  People around her may have made mistakes too.  She should not be killed for it.  As I said, I am just a layman but it seems obvious to me from the video that this dog could be safely placed in an appropriate environment and represent no threat to the public. Why is the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co refusing to advocate for Truffles’ right to live? Worse still, why is the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co determined to kill Truffles in the face of reasonable alternatives?

On the FAQ page of the HS website, it says:

I would like to report animal cruelty. How do I do that?
Please call our cruelty investigator at 901-937-3910 with the address of the animal, as well as the potential violations.

But who do citizens call if the cruelty is happening at the HS?   Killing a healthy/treatable pet, which is what Truffles appears to be, is the ultimate form of cruelty.  Is there anyone who will advocate for Truffles?