PETA Can Shove Its Fruit Basket Up Its Walk-In Dead Pet Freezer


When PETA got caught on surveillance camera trying – and failing – to lure an owned Chihuahua named Maya off her porch last year, ultimately stealing and killing the beloved pet, the group sent the cranks back to the scene of the crime.  They knocked on the door, told the family they had killed their dog and gave them a fruit basket.

As it turns out, the heartbroken owners didn’t feel PETA’s basket of crazy was fair compensation for killing a member of their family.  Wilber Zarate and his daughter Cynthia are now suing PETA and the two screwballs, seeking more than $9 million:

Cynthia was distraught after Maya was killed, Zarate said of his daughter in the lawsuit.

“She cried for weeks, became lethargic, lost sleep, refrained from eating and lost weight,” he said. “Maya was irreplaceable.”

Apparently a fruit basket did not make it all better.  So weird.

Before anyone has a sad because PETA may have to cough up $9 million, let’s remember that PETA collects that amount many times over every year from donors.  Some donors are probably honestly duped into believing the group does the opposite of things like operating a pet slaughterhouse, others are willfully ignorant but eager to congratulate themselves on their charitable giving.  I tend to toss celebrities with deep pockets and small brains into that latter category.

The money won’t be a problem for PETA.  The lawsuit, and the media attention it will hopefully attract, will be.  Look how many people had their eyes opened by the press coverage of PETA’s 2007 Piggly Wiggly dumpster trial.  Any opportunity to shine a light on PETA’s pet killing is worthwhile.  Nothing can bring Maya back, but by suing for such a large sum of money, her family is sending a clear message bound to garner widespread attention:  Pets are family.  PETA kills pets.

(Thanks Laura.)

Sumner County’s State of the Art Shelter Stands on Crappy Floors

Sumner Co AC in TN is a hot mess.  After the pound’s vet was caught on hidden camera heartsticking fully conscious dogs in 2007, reform was promised and the pound was put under the control of the sheriff’s department.  Taxpayers spent $1.3 million to build a new facility in 2011.

The sheriff ended the volunteer program, won’t let anyone post pictures of the animals online and in fact, won’t let anyone past the lobby.  If you want to save an animal, you have to look at pictures the sheriff’s office provides in the lobby.  Despite all these swell reforms, killings are up and live release outcomes are down.  So weird, right?

And there’s more bad news:

When taxpayers spent $1.3 million dollars on this state of the art shelter in 2011, complete with its own flushing system, concrete crews poured a flat floor— a $52 thousand dollar mistake.

As a result, urine and feces pools on the kennel floors, which should have been built sloped in order to allow debris to drain into the flushing system.

A great dane named Chief was held at the Sumner Co pound for 10 days in August following a bite.  Owner Jason Corlew was on vacation but called several times to make sure his pet was ok.  He says none of his calls were returned.  When he picked Chief up from the pound, he was startled to see the dog’s condition:

“He comes out covered in feces, and has urine burns all over him,” recalled Corlew. “His paws, the skin was peeling off because he had been standing in feces for so long.”
Corlew estimated Chief lost about 40 pounds and also had a blood infection.

burned paw

One of Chief’s burned paws, as shown on the News Channel 5 website.

Mr. Corlew has filed a lawsuit against Sumner Co:

The lawsuit is seeking $1,000 to cover bills from the veterinarian. It is also asking the county to upgrade the facility to improve the floors so feces and urine will properly drain away from the animals.

I doubt a lawsuit will do what has clearly needed doing at the Sumner Co pound for many years – put a figurative match to the place, run the pet killers out of town on a rail and start doing the work to actually shelter animals.  Taxpayers need to make their voices heard if any not-fake reform is to ever happen there.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Lawsuit Alleges Animal Abuse at Fresno Shelter

Fresno County, CA contracts with Liberty Animal Control Services to provide its AC services.  In a lawsuit filed this month, both are being sued by two former employees for wrongful termination and whistle blower retaliation.  The suit alleges:

  • Liberty AC was contracted in September 2012 without the county verifying credentials of the three main operatives – specifically that the veterinarian had been disciplined by the state vet board for negligent animal care and that the state certified animal humane officer was not certified.
  • The plaintiffs were hired in January 2013 – one as an ACO and the other as an office manager.  Both observed cruel and illegal treatment of animals while on duty and complained about same repeatedly.
  • Liberty killed fully conscious animals via heartstick.
  • Liberty killed animals using dosages of drugs that were less than the recommended dosages.
  • Liberty ordered to staff to kill animals in front of other animals.
  • Liberty lied in its reporting about the number of animals killed and instructed staff to lie about how and when animals were killed, including to owners trying to redeem lost pets.
  • Liberty starved animals to death in order to avoid paying for injectable drugs and syringes to kill them.
  • Liberty mixed healthy animals, including newborn litters, with sick animals in order to ensure the spread of disease resulting in death so the company did not have to pay for injectable drugs and syringes to kill animals.
  • Liberty failed to purchase cleaning supplies and failed to clean kennels in order to ensure the spread of disease resulting in death so the company did not have to pay for injectable drugs and syringes to kill animals.
  • Liberty mixed aggressive, starving dogs with mild-mannered, starving dogs to encourage fights resulting in death so the company did not have to pay for injectable drugs and syringes to kill animals.
  • Liberty threatened staff members that if they became injured trying to break up a fight between the starving animals, they’d be fired.
  • Liberty failed to vaccinate animals but represented them as vaccinated.
  • Liberty encouraged employees to falsify records, labeling friendly animals as aggressive and healthy animals as sick in order to kill them.
  • Liberty’s three main officers used Fresno Co taxpayer money and resources for personal gain, including providing AC services to other cities.
  • Liberty solicited donations from the public while misrepresenting itself as a 501(c)3 organization.
  • Liberty sold donated goods and pocketed the profits.
  • The ACO plaintiff witnessed a pitbull being unlawfully killed by Liberty in June or July 2013 and questioned the killing.  The dog’s owner was told by Liberty the dog had died of a heart attack.  The ACO complained and was fired shortly thereafter.  He was informed the county had decided to stop funding his position.
  • The office manager plaintiff told her employer she was going to take her complaints to a government agency in September 2013.  She was fired shortly thereafter and informed the county had decided to stop funding her position.

Neither Fresno Co nor Liberty AC Services has commented on the lawsuit.

(Thanks Nathan for sending me this story.)

Potential Good News for Whales (Giant Asterisk)

Warning: Second link contains an image of a dead whale.

Minke whale, [x]

Minke whale, [x]

In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling but this did not prevent countries from hunting whales.  Indeed, a few countries dropped out of the IWC or simply “opted out” of the ban in order to continue killing whales for profit.  The 1986 ban also offered exceptions for aboriginal people, such as those in Alaska, to continue their traditional whale hunts and for the killing of whales in the name of science.  Japan has infamously made use of the scientific research exception, killing hundreds of whales every year, including endangered species.

Australia filed suit against Japan for its whale killing in the United Nations’ International Court of Justice.  This week, the court agreed with Australia that Japan’s whale killings do not appear to be scientific in nature, citing:

  • Japan could use non-lethal methods to collect the data it purportedly seeks.
  • The sample sizes are not justified.
  • There is no time-frame for the research to be concluded.
  • Japan doesn’t talk whale science with other whale scientists.
  • Very little scientific output has been produced as a result of the mass slaughter.

The UN Court determined Japan’s science was not so sciencey and ordered the country to stop hunting Antarctic whales.  Japan says it will comply with the order but Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who regularly eats science whale meat, vowed to “closely examine the ruling and swiftly figure out ways to continue whaling” which doesn’t exactly scream Compliance so much as it does Sinister Scheming 2.0.  The ag minister seems very enthusiastic about continued killings, apparently because science must not be thwarted whale meat is ALL THE DELICIOUS.

There do not appear to be any meaningful repercussions if Japan decides not to comply with the order or comes up with some new loophole to exploit.  And the order only applies to large whales, meaning that Japan’s slaughter of dolphins and small whales in Taiji Cove will continue.  But the ruling is significant in that it calls out fake science (more, please) and puts additional international pressure on Japan to stop the killing, for what it’s worth.

By the way Australia, next time we run into each other I’ll be giving you a long hug, past the point of awkwardness and bordering on creepy.

Town of Hempstead Kills Owned Pets, Owners File Lawsuit

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Last month, 2 mixed breed dogs called Cici and Yankee escaped their yard and went for a run around the neighborhood in Long Island, NY.  Both were known by neighbors to be friendly and playful.  But apparently any loose animal that looks like a Pitbull type dog in Nassau Co warrants the summoning of the National Guard:

An incident in Lakeview involving Pit bulls three days prior caused  police to send multiple police officers including detectives and a police helicopter.

Nassau Co police responded to a report that Cici and Yankee were chasing kids and started shooting at the dogs, hitting Yankee.  The dogs ran home and the Town of Hempstead sent an ACO to the residence where police had gathered.  The owner, who is unable to read English, signed a form he was given by the ACO and the dogs were taken to the pound.

There are no reports indicating the dogs bit anyone, growled at anyone or even cast a stern glance in anyone’s general direction.

The family went to the pound the next day it was open to reclaim Cici and Yankee and were told both had already been killed.  The form the owner signed without understanding what it said due to the language barrier reportedly transferred ownership of the dogs to the Town of Hempstead to do with as the pound saw fit.  The family was apparently so shocked at this news that they went home and returned the next day, believing they must have been given the wrong information.  But they were again told their pets had been killed.

The Town of Hempstead, well known for its alleged abuse of shelter animals, offered this response to a reporter:

“We are confident that the police don’t throw their weapons and shoot at animals unless they present a danger to the public.”

Oh the Town of Hempstead is jokes.  If police shot at the dogs, they must be the spawn of Satan because police.

Cici and Yankee’s owners have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead for killing their pets without due process.  The town is apparently rolling in dough.  I hope the owners get every penny and just maybe, some stuffed shirt mooching off taxpayers there will take notice and effect change.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Stockton Pound Sued for Killing Animals Illegally

Last month, a couple whose dog had been impounded by the Stockton pound in CA spoke to the city council about their experience.  Their microchipped, neutered, vaccinated dog had escaped through a gate accidentally left open in their yard.  When the owners, both newly unemployed, tried to reclaim their pet, the Stockton pound demanded $180.  The owners couldn’t come up with the entire fee so offered a partial payment and a promise to pay the balance in installments.  The pound refused, leaving the crying owners no other option but to beg for their beloved family member’s life.  Stockton killed their pet.

As might be expected, this is not an isolated incident at the Stockton pound:

A review of 2013 documents found instances in which seven dogs belonging to five people were euthanized because the owners could not immediately afford to pay impound fees.

The Stockton pound is no stranger to controversy.  Mayor Anthony Silva put together a citizen commission to examine allegations of wrongdoing at the facility one year ago.  The group has been trying to present its findings since January but have yet to be allowed to speak at a city meeting.

Now local advocates have teamed up with the Animal Legal Defense Fund and filed suit against the Stockton pound.  Using a year’s worth of pound documents obtained via public records requests, the plaintiffs in the suit allege:

  • Stockton killed more than 1500 cats and dogs during their legally mandated holding periods.
  • The pound kills owned pets without making meaningful efforts to return the animals to their owners.  One case involved a dog who was killed because the owners couldn’t speak English.
  • Pets who are medically hopeless and suffering are forced to linger in their cages for days before being euthanized.

ALDF attorney Jenni James says no money is being sought in the suit:

“Our request is very simple,” James said. “We’re asking the court to demand that the city of Stockton follow its own laws, and for the city of Stockton to acknowledge that the laws it passed apply to the shelter.”

The pound’s director went the predictable route in response to the lawsuit:

The city of Stockton said it cannot comment on the lawsuit and neither can the Animal Services director — but she did say the shelter does the best it can for the animals.

“People who come here see the impact and how many dogs come into the shelter,” Animal Services Supervisor Pat Claerbout said. “It’s extremely limited, and we can’t keep every animal.”

We’re doing the best we can. We can’t keep them all.  Ergo, the law doesn’t apply to us and if your broke ass can’t come up with the ransom to bail your pet out of our kill factory, sux being you.

(Thanks Clarice and Eileen for the links.)

Owner of Seized Dogs Files Civil Rights Lawsuit in Federal Court

A lawsuit filed by Mississippi pet owner Deborah K. Alverson alleges that on March 26, 2013, her two dogs were sunbathing in her yard.  The dogs were China, an 8 year old pug with some vision and hearing problems, and Black Betty, a 4 year old puggle with severe hip dysplasia.  Both dogs were receiving regular vet care.  A Harrison Co ACO, operating under the sheriff’s office, questioned Ms. Alverson’s neighbor about the dogs and was told they were not being neglected.  The ACO seized the dogs without a court order and brought them to the Humane Society of South Mississippi.  He charged Ms. Alverson with animal cruelty.  She immediately tried to get her dogs back, without success:

Alverson was not allowed to retrieve them and tried to request an emergency hearing in Justice Court, but allegedly was unable to have a hearing because the officer failed to turn in the paperwork on the seizure.

Alverson complained to sheriff’s officials but was told the officer’s actions were proper. Alverson believes the charges were filed against her in retaliation.

The lawsuit goes on to allege that China died in the care of the Humane Society of South Mississippi, that Ms. Alverson was not informed of the death in a timely manner and that she was refused permission to take China’s body home with her.  The charges against Ms. Alverson were dismissed for lack of evidence several months later.

Ms. Alverson filed a civil rights suit in December against the Harrison County Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Melvin Brisolara and the ACO, who reportedly has since left the sheriff’s office.

Alverson alleges she was not afforded due process and was the victim of malicious prosecution under color of law.

Some details of the case are unclear and I do not know if the owner ever got the surviving dog back.  The article in the Sun Herald rightly points out:

A lawsuit represents only one side of a complaint.

In this case, it represents Ms. Alverson’s version of events.  I searched the internet in an effort to find the other side of the story but failed to find any mention of the original case online.  I also contacted the Harrison Co board clerk to ask if the board had yet responded to the lawsuit.  As of this posting, I haven’t received a reply.  If the lawsuit proceeds in the courts, I imagine the Sun Herald will report on it.  Let’s keep our eyes open.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Lazy, Lying Kitten Killers at AL Pound Get Served

When a freshly bathed, neutered kitten called Porkchop accidentally got out the door of his owner’s apartment in January, he was found by an upstairs neighbor and taken to the Mobile Co pound in AL.  The pound killed the kitten within minutes of his arrival.  Now the owner has filed a lawsuit.

At issue is the pound’s failure to hold the cat for the mandatory five day stray holding period so that his owner could reclaim him.

The lawsuit names Mobile County and three employees, Andrew Stubbs, Carmelo Miranda and Donna Jones as defendants, claiming the employees violated a shelter policy placing a five-day hold on animals between the time they are received and when they are euthanized. There are a total of four counts including outrage, conversion, conspiracy and negligent supervision. Hughes is asking for a jury trial to consider compensatory and punitive damages.

“[The shelter] has a five-day stray hold policy for this very reason, if somebody lost a pet,” Barnard said. “It’s certainly not a 30-minute stray hold policy.”

Making a tragic situation worse, the pound staff attempted to cover up the unlawful killing when the owner came looking for her pet.  The staff eventually admitted they had killed Porkchop but later claimed he had been brought to the pound in a trap and was determined upon impound to be feral.

The owner’s attorney has obtained “a statement and pictures from the neighbor showing that the cat rode to the shelter in his lap and was acting like a normal, domesticated pet.”  The attorney contends that because Porkchop was admitted near the end of the day, the pound staff was too lazy to set up a cage for him so killed the pet instead.  Mobile Co is in the wrong here, in so many ways:

  • Killing healthy/treatable cats, whether tame or feral, is wrong.
  • Killing cats upon impound is wrong.
  • Evaluating cats’ behavior at time of impound is wrong.
  • Failing to hold a cat so the owner can find him is wrong.
  • Lying to the owner who is looking for her cat is wrong.
  • Fabricating a story about the cat being feral is wrong.

Anyone advocating for the removal of mandatory holding periods for stray cats lacking identification needs to remember Porkchop.  His owner was looking for him and wanted him back.  Had the staff at the Mobile Co pound done their jobs as required by law, Porkchop would be living at home today.  Presumably most AL shelters, though not Mobile Co obviously, abide by the law and hold unidentified stray cats so their owners can reclaim them.  If the stray holding period law were to be removed, there would be no legal protections in place to allow cats like Porkchop to be returned to their rightful owners.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Scammy and Killy: Best Friends Forever

A federal lawsuit was filed in September by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Detroit and a Massachusetts based charity against a Texas company, American Textile Recycling Services (ATRS).  The lawsuit involves the clothing recycling bins that we have all seen in shopping center parking lots.  But apparently these bins represent a billion dollar business in the U.S. and where there are that many zeroes, there are shysters looking to lie, cheat and steal their way to personal profit.  That’s basically what the lawsuit accuses ATRS of doing.

St Vincent de Paul had several of these clothing recycling bins in the Detroit area which their representative says they use to help people in need.  Their lawyer reportedly has a deposition from a man who admitted he had been hired by ATRS last year and has been towing away St. Vincent de Paul clothing donation bins and selling them for scrap metal.  In addition to the money he made selling the bins, ATRS paid him $150 for every bin removed and replaced with a bin from ATRS.  He stated ATRS ordered him to hide the company’s involvement.

Need more sleaze?  We got that:

The suit claims that ATRS would draft letters, sometimes fraudulently, saying that the charities no longer had permission to have bins at a particular location and giving the charities 72 hours to remove the bins.

The letters were then mailed on a Thursday, not to the local office in Detroit but, in the case of St. Vincent de Paul, to the national office in St. Louis. By the time the charities had received the letters, 72 hours would have passed and the bins, which cost about $1,300, would already have been removed before the charities could react.

ATRS denies any wrongdoing:

An ATRS spokeswoman said last week that the company had not received the lawsuit and could not comment on specifics, but denied that the Houston-based company was involved in any shady dealings involving metro Detroit donation bins.

St. Vincent de Paul is still determining its total losses from the alleged scam but a lawyer involved in the lawsuit puts into words what many people are probably thinking:

“It’s unbelievable, it’s totally unbelievable,” said Dan Dalton, the Bloomfield Hills-based attorney representing the charities, as he discussed ATRS’ alleged tactics. “Like who would do this kind of stuff?”

But ATRS still has at least one friend in the local charity community:  Michigan Humane Society which has been in league with ATRS since April 2012:

ATRS bins in the region get to include a Michigan Humane Society logo, and then ATRS cuts the Humane Society a check for the donated materials — $20,000 so far, according to the Humane Society.

[…]

“They (ATRS) have been a supporter of the Michigan Humane Society and, to our knowledge, they have been upholding all legal and ethical standards,” [Michigan Humane Society spokesman Ryan] McTigue said.

A ringing endorsement from a large, wealthy pet killing facility which holds no animal control contracts.  That is, Michigan Humane doesn’t have to take in homeless pets by agreement with any city or county, they want to take in all these animals, most of whom they send to the landfill.  Imagine how much Fatal Plus $20 grand buys.

Michigan Humane has no plans to change its relationship with ATRS according to the Detroit Free Press.

(Thank you Mark for the link.)

PA Rescue Group Prevails in Court after PSPCA Seizes Dogs

In April 2010, a Pennsylvania dog warden reportedly stopped a vehicle transporting 16 dogs from the south to a group called Sixth Angel Shepherd Rescue.  The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seized the dogs, releasing all but 3 of them to other parties.

The final 3 dogs belonged to Sixth Angel – a PSPCA approved rescue group – and were kept in crates and not properly cared for while at the shelter, according to a lawsuit brought by Sixth Angel.  The PSPCA reportedly advised Sixth Angel that the 3 dogs would only be released to another rescue group or adopter.

The plaintiffs sued under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, alleging that the defendants took the dogs in violation of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to property and liberty with procedural and substantive due process.

[…]

The record shows that on April 21, 2010, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction based on the conversion claim, and ordered the defendants to return the dogs to the plaintiffs.

The trial judge did not address the merits of the plaintiffs’ Section 1983 claims.

The PSPCA appealed the decision but it was ultimately upheld.  Sixth Angel then went after the PSPCA in U.S. District Court for attorney’s fees and court costs.

[Berle M.] Schiller, the judge, noted that while attorney’s fees are typically not recoverable on a conversion claim in Pennsylvania, they can be awarded to a prevailing party in an action to enforce Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act.

There was much haggling over the dollar amounts on both sides, including:

The PSPCA also asked the court to reduce the attorney’s fees by $6,919.06, which represented the cost of the veterinary care administered to the plaintiffs’ dogs after their confiscation.

Sixth Angel prevailed in a decision announced this week:

“The Court found that ‘[d]efendants unquestionably deprived Plaintiffs of their right in their property, an intrusion to which Plaintiffs certainly did not consent, and for which Defendants fail to offer any lawful justification,’” the judicial memorandum states.

[…]

Schiller also declined the defense request to take off the more than $6,000 for the veterinary care given to the dogs, writing that the court would not “reward Defendants for improperly confiscating Plaintiffs’ dogs.”

The PSPCA has been ordered to pay more than $50,000 to Sixth Angel Shepherd Rescue in attorney fees and litigation costs.

***

Related Reading:  Section 1983 to the Rescue

(Thanks Arlene for sending me this story.)