NM Pound Returns Hero Puppy to Abuser

Gabriel Garcia of Las Cruces, NM was indicted by a grand jury last month on one count of first-degree kidnapping, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, battery, criminal sexual contact and assault. The indictment stems from a May 31 incident in which a female victim reported that she was held in Garcia’s home against her will while he physically assaulted her, made sexual advances toward her and threatened her with further harm if she told anyone about the crimes. At one point during the ordeal, Garcia allegedly ordered his 9 month old pitbull puppy to bite the victim but the dog bit Garcia instead. This allegedly further enraged Garcia further who grabbed a hammer and stepped up his threats.

The victim was finally able to escape the home and police arrested Garcia, who bonded out of jail. AC impounded the dog for a standard 10 day bite quarantine at the city shelter in Las Cruces. At the end of the quarantine, the pound gave the dog back to Garcia.

“From what I have heard, there was no reason to believe the dog would be in any danger in returning it to the owner,” [Curtis] Childress [Animal Cruelty Coordinator for the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office],wrote in an email. “As for the owner, he has a right to have his property returned. Animals in New Mexico are considered personal property.”

No reason to believe the dog would be in any danger from a violent twit who is likely holding a grudge against the dog.

“Animal Control had no cause to keep the dog,” Childress wrote in an email. “The decision to return it would have come from the animal shelter.” […]

Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, the shelter that housed the dog, did not reply to a request for comment. Childress speculates that it’s “unlikely” the shelter hesitated to return the animal.

No hesitation.  Because a dog is exactly like a lamp.

The Las Cruces pound states on its website:

The Mission of the Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley is to provide safe shelter for all lost, mistreated, and abandoned animals of the Mesilla Valley and surrounding communities. The Center (ASCMV) utilizes all avenues available to it in placing each animal into a safe, loving and permanent home whenever possible. We strive to meet highest standards of humane animal care and to promote responsible pet ownership through public education and outreach.

Safe shelter for mistreated animals.  Safe and loving home.  Responsible pet ownership.

It’s not at all clear to me how returning the dog to Garcia is in any way consistent with the stated mission.  ASCMV had a dog who was being mistreated by the owner – and make no mistake, anyone who attempts to sic his dog on a victim he’s hoping to rape is mistreating that animal – but instead of protecting that dog, they returned him to the abuser.

This failure is the result of a culture of killing within our broken shelter system.  Animals are devalued to the point where anyone on the job who might care is broken down and made complicit and monsters who actually enjoy hurting animals are attracted to the job.  Within this backwards structure where animals are supposed to be protected but instead are killed for convenience on a mass scale, is it so surprising that no one would “hesitate” to return an animal to an abuser?  Because in the end, what’s the difference?

(Thanks Arlene for sending me this story.)

Mental Health Break: Link

Pets are family.

Family members protect each other.

Do not mess with family.


"I love my dog. She's a great dog." - Kathryn Larkin

South Carolina:  Five years ago this dog was in a shelter.  Kathryn Larkin selected her for adoption, saving her life.  Ms. Larkin named her Maggie.  This month, Ms. Larkin was returning from a walk with Maggie when she fainted in her carport.  The 83 year old woman hit her head and was out of sight of any neighbors.  Maggie ran to the street:

Aiken Public Safety Animal Control Officer Jeff Wilson got a call that a leashed dog was loose in the area. He got a glimpse of Maggie a block away from her home, and when he spotted her, she darted toward the back of the complex and led him to the townhouse.

“When I pulled up in the driveway, I saw the dog in the driveway,” Jeff said. “When I approached the dog and came to this point is when I saw the victim laying by the tire.”

Kathyrn’s not sure how long she was on the ground, but she was already feeling sick and cold. “My legs collapsed on me, and I went down and smashed my face. Next thing I knew a man was coming up the driveway, and he said, ‘The dog just saved your life’.”

What a wonderful chain of events and people, including the good Samaritan who called AC to report a loose dog with a leash attached and the ACO who responded promptly.  Some shelter directors might look at Maggie as a plain-brown-wrapper dog, unlikely to be selected for adoption and thus denied a spot on the adoption floor.  In many shelters, she could easily end up on the kill list if unadopted after a few days.  I’m glad we never had to find out how this world might have been different without Maggie and Ms. Larkin.

Happy Thanksgiving

One kid who knows what she is thankful for today.

This 4 year old was out walking with her family in MA when a fox ran up to her and grabbed her by the pants leg.  The family Basset Hound and Pitbull chased away the fox and, typical for their breeds, the hound stayed on the fox’s trail while the Pitbull went back to check on the little girl.  Nobody was injured in the attack.  The fox reportedly tried to attack some other people as well and was acting strangely so police killed him.

The Problem with Oops at Kill Shelters

Anyone can make a mistake.  Some people exercise more care in their work to avoid mistakes than others but even so, mistakes happen.  Your doctor’s office might bill your old insurance instead of your new insurance; the furniture store may advertise a couch at one price but have it marked as a different price in the store; etc.  These kinds of things can be frustrating, especially when you suspect incompetence and/or a general uncaring attitude led to the error.

Fortunately, nobody is going to die as a result of the wrong price being advertised on a piece of furniture.  But when your business is killing pets – as is the case in most public animal shelters – your mistakes result in the death of beloved family pets.  And these mistakes happen far too often:

  • In Putnam Co WV, the local shelter insisted on seizing a man’s cat for quarantine after it bit him.  When the man attempted to reclaim his pet at the end of the quarantine period, he learned the shelter had accidentally killed his cat after the pet got “mixed up” with some feral cats at the shelter.
  • A lady in Sugar Land, TX had been feeding two homeless kittens.  She brought them to the local shelter whose policy is to hold for at least 72 hours then, should the kittens remain unadopted, contact the surrendering party to give her an opportunity to reclaim.  Instead, the shelter killed the kittens upon intake then contacted the woman to issue an official oops.
  • You might remember the story of a NC man whose dogs got out of his fenced yard through a hole and were picked up by animal control.  He fixed the fence and tried to redeem the dogs but animal control had “mistakenly” killed them.  They could not explain why.  Adding insult to injury, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control then sent the owner a bill for $100.
  • At Matthew Pepper’s old shelter in Caddo parish LA, a puppy who had been adopted by a family was accidentally killed by the shelter after he got “lost in the system”.
  • In NC, a family desperately wanted to adopt a very friendly dog they found but the shelter mistakenly killed the dog despite the family’s efforts to make sure that didn’t happen.

This week, a dog who had saved the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan and was adopted by one of them, was killed by mistake at an AZ shelter.  The dog had slipped out an open gate at Sgt. Terry Young’s home and he checked the local pound’s website for found dogs.  He saw his dog’s photo and thought, “She’s in the pound. At least she’s safe”.  When he went to the shelter to redeem his dog, he learned of the killing and had to explain what happened to his wife and kids:

“The 4-year-old is really taking it hard right now,” Young said. “She’s saying we need to get the poison out of her so she can come home. She can’t grasp the idea that she’s gone.”
I wish it could work like that kid, I really do.
Thank you Clarice and Sheenagh for the link to this story.

Friday Feel Good

Would these two dogs – one a Pitbull and the other a Rottweiler mix – be banned in your town? If so, they wouldn’t be able to save any babies from drowning like they did in Australia in 2007.  A 2 year old boy apparently wandered on to a neighbor’s property and into a dam where his family pets saved his life:

The owner of the property had heard a noise about 11am and had run to the dam, which was about 100 m from the house.

The woman found the boy lying on the embankment of the dam covered in mud with the two dogs, usually thought of as aggressive breeds, by his side.

Police said there were drag marks from the waters edge to where the boy was lying and small scratches on his arms from the dog’s claws.

“We are certain the dogs pulled him out of the dam,” a police spokesman said.

“It is an amazing story.”

“Usually thought of as aggressive breeds” – tuh!  Maybe by dumb grown-ups but certainly not by saved babies.  I imagine the tot’s parents weren’t too displeased with their dogs either.  The dogs received a special award from the RSPCA for their heroism in 2008.


This is why dogs rule.

A German Shepherd Dog called “Buddy” was hanging with his owner in the workshop next to their home earlier this month when the place caught fire.  The owner suffered minor flash burns on his face and told Buddy to get help.  Buddy dutifully ran out to the nearest main road and flagged down a state trooper responding to a call about the fire.  The officer’s dashboard cam captured Buddy leading him in the dark through the winding back roads to his house.  Today, Buddy will be honored by the Alaskan State Troopers with a special award.

Now don’t get me wrong – I loves me some kittehs – but you don’t see any copper dashboard cam vids of cats in the snow, getting help for their owners.  Just sayin’.

Pitbull Owner Testimonial

Anyone NOT cry listening to this story?