Amended Animal Cruelty Bill Clears House Ag Committee

18 02 2011

We were alerted of this story via the Clarion Ledger. One state steps up to make animal abuse a felony beginning at the second offense. Kudos Mississippi!

Animal cruelty legislation that has repeatedly died in the House Agriculture Committee cleared that group today with compromise amendments.

The Humane Society of the United States and Mississippi Farm Bureau agreed to the changes that include a felony provision for second-offense aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat.

Senate Bill 2821, introduced by Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, passed the Senate on Feb. 9. The substitute version contains exemptions for killing animals in order to protect livestock. It moves on to the House Judiciary B committee. If it clears the House, it will have be sent back to the Senate for concurrence.

“Updating the antiquated cruelty laws in Mississippi has been a top priority for The Humane Society of the United States, and we hope this bill passes for the protection of Mississippi’s pets and citizens,” Lydia Sattler, The Humane Society of the United States’ Mississippi state director, said in a news release. “The compromise reached today by the agricultural committee, and agreed to by both groups, will provide meaningful penalties for the worst cases of animal cruelty and we look forward to passage of this important legislation.”

“We feel this will protect agriculture and rural Mississippians and applaud the committee for diligent work to balance the rights of our members and animal cruelty concerns,” Randy Knight, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation president, said in the news release.

 The Arkansas Farm Bureau reached a similar compromise with The Humane Society in 2009, when Arkansas became the 46th state to enact a felony law for certain acts of cruelty to animals.

“I have taken criticism for not passing earlier versions of this bill,” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Greg Ward, D-Ripley, said in the news release. “But on important matters like animal cruelty, which have significant implications for farmers and rural Mississippians, I think it’s best we take our time and make sure we get it right. This bill protects animals and it protects farmers, and I’d like to see it become the law.”

Senate Bill 2127, authored by Sen. Billy Hewes, R-Gulfport, that would have made aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat a felony on the first offense died in committee today.


Pet Talk: Does the time fit animal-abuse crime?

15 02 2011

Reaction was immediate and intense. When Samuel Walker was sentenced last week to 90 days in jail for felony animal abuse (plus probation, court costs and community service), animal lovers had plenty to say. Most wasn’t pretty.

Indira, who had no known name for the first eight years of her life, was part of a rescue of 99 dogs from a breeder in Colorado.

By Connie Miller
USA Today
Walker gained national notoriety two years ago after 99 sled dogs, most starving, many ailing, were rescued (several corpses of starved-to-death dogs also were found) from his Pawsatrak operation near Hartsel, Colo. The animals were distributed to several shelters for care and rehabilitation, a year-long process for some.
It was a painful chapter in this dog-loving state, and interest in Walker’s sentencing was huge.
“Not enough,” raged hundreds of people online and on radio call-in shows last week. But as long as Walker was to be confined (even if not nearly long enough), as his dogs had been (though under far better conditions), many suggested he receive the same treatment the dogs got — insufficient food and water, and no treatment if he gets ill or develops an abscessed tooth or cancer.
I had some personal interest in this case. I saw first-hand the condition of many of those dogs, ribs and hip bones protruding, weak and sickly, some so unaccustomed to human interaction they cowered when a hand was outstretched in friendship.
In fact, I fostered one for 10 months: an American Eskimo dog mix, probably 7 years old. She was rail thin when she arrived at the shelter where I volunteer, crippled, in horrid pain, unable to walk more than a few steps because her rear kneecaps had slipped when she was very young (according to the orthopedic vet who later examined her), causing ligaments to grow crosswise and her legs to become deformed and atrophied. Moreover, we later discovered, she had several rotten, infected teeth (extracted once she was healthy enough to survive surgery), some malformed teeth (the sign of desperate chewing, month after month, to escape confinement), as well as cancerous mammary tumors (removed, and the prognosis is excellent).
Somehow Indira, as the shelter named her, was able to recover from all this, build enough muscle through gradual exercise that she can walk again (though she’s still deformed), and believe in the good intentions of people. She was adopted by a wonderful couple determined to make up for the horrors of the first half of her life.
So let’s just say I can definitely understand the outrage people felt.
But was the Walker sentence out of line, contextually speaking?
I contacted Joyce Tischler, founder of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which monitors these kinds of matters.
She searched the database the ALDF keeps and shared sentencing details of some multiple-dog starvation cases, including these:
• Danielle Assante of Pike County, Pa., left her pets alone and without food for three weeks. A border collie, three pitbulls, three cats, a rabbit and a cockatiel were found dead after a neighbor called authorities; three severely emaciated dogs were still alive. Assante, a professional show-dog trainer, got 90 days in jail and a $600 fine.
• Dawn Postma of Kent County, Mich., was found guilty of four misdemeanor animal cruelty charges after authorities found a dead German shepherd frozen to the ground and two live but emaciated dogs (euthanized because they were too weak to fight a virus). A fourth dog had been taken from her yard to the shelter by a delivery person alarmed at its condition. Postma was sentenced to 93 days in jail and two years of probation, during which she couldn’t own animals.
• Marion Key of Limestone County, Ala., pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty after authorities discovered the bodies of several dead greyhounds in cages, and four almost-dead dogs (one died on the way to the dog pound, a second the next day — both were one-third of normal body weight). His sentence: 90 days in jail, which was suspended; two years of probation, during which he couldn’t have animals; and $1,570.71 in restitution.
Tischler understands the outrage over the Walker plea-agreement sentence. She’s always cheered by public sentiment that could ultimately lead to stronger law.
Yet, the fact is, “in comparison to others,” Walker’s sentence is “not unreasonably mild,” and it had “some important elements,” she says.
Not only does it include jail time, but also it’s a felony conviction and all that implies. And the two-year probation is “supervised, not just the honor system, and that’s an important distinction,” she says.
Moreover, Walker’s prohibition from having more animals or engaging in animal-related business during probation “is also very important.”
There’s also, for the record, 48 hours of community service, $6,219.50 in court fines and an additional $6,224 in restitution (the latter left open by the judge, allowing Walker to appeal that figure).
Colorado is “in the top tier (No. 15) when we look at animal-protection laws that currently exist,” says Tischler. “We always want to see as many tools as possible on the state level.” And it appears that they were used reasonably in this case.
So now we know.
As for Walker, he was instantly remanded, so he’s already behind bars. Oh, and the judge granted Walker’s request that he be released briefly from jail to attend his daughter’s wedding.
No doubt a very proud moment for the bride.

Animal Rescue Owner Charged With Neglect, Cruelty

12 02 2011

We were alerted to this story from This woman is charged with 100 counts and yet only a misdemeanor??  When will it end??

The owner of a Tinley Park animal rescue has been charged with neglect and cruel treatment after more than 100 animals, many malnourished, were found at the rescue site, according to Cook County Sheriff’s Police.

Dawn Hamill, 41, was charged late Friday with misdemeanor neglect of owner’s duties and cruel treatment. The charges come after sheriff’s officers served a warrant at Hamill’s Dazzle Painted Pasture Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, in the 5500 block of West 175th Street in Tinley Park, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

The investigation arose from tips to Cook County Animal Control about conditions at the pet rescue.

At the animal rescue, investigators found a dead 3½-year-old miniature horse in a stall in a barn and a dead Himalayan cat. Officials euthanized two dogs, one because of age and the other because of health, and one cat later died.

Police, Cook County Animal Control and Animal Welfare League officials took 63 dogs, 31 cats, 6 rabbits, and 30 pieces of livestock, including horses, sheep, goats and llamas, from the rescue. They had been housed in unhealthy conditions in barns, trailers and sheds, many of which were unheated and without water, according to the release.

The animals had various health problems, ranging from respiratory diseases in all the cats and ear and eye infections in many of them; eight puppies had been exposed to Parvo virus and housed in an unheated garage without food or water. Many of the dogs had skin problems and one had difficulty walking, according to the release.

Dazzle Painted Pasture was founded in 2006 by Hamill, and investigators found Hamill had been increasingly unable to care for the animals she took in and “After her arrest … thanked investigators for intervening in a situation that had grown out of control,” according to the release.

Hamill told TribLocal this week that she had been in touch with county animal control and the Illinois Department of Agriculture regarding conditions at the Dazzle Painted Pastures and denied that the facility was shutting down. She said she had about twice as many dogs as her facilities could handle.

The domestic animals taken from Hamill’s facility are being housed at the Animal Welfare League, 10305 Southwest Highway, Chicago Ridge.

Animal Rescue Group Wants Vick’s VA Home

8 02 2011

NORFOLK, VA (CNN) – An animal rescue group has an idea for what to do with NFL player Michael Vick’s unsold Virginia home.

The property once used for dog fighting would make a perfect rehab for abused dogs.

The non-profit Dogs Deserve Better launched a campaign on Facebook to raise $600,000 to buy the property and turn it into an animal rehab center.

Esther Williams, who runs the volunteer-based Rainbow Animal Rescue in Norfolk, VA, supports the plan.

“This, I’m assuming, would be a well-organized rehab center where they’re going to have behaviorists and trainers that can re-socialize the dogs with the problems,” Williams said.

Williams said the rural setting, wide open spaces and centralized location is a huge plus.

“The animal controls have to take anything that comes in. They can only take so many,” Williams said. “Once they run out of space then they have to start euthanizing and there are some really, really good dogs that are being put down.”

Vick’s new career with the Philadelphia Eagles is flying high after he spent nearly two years in prison on a federal dog fighting conviction. The NFL recently named Vick “Comeback Player of the Year.”

Copyright 2011 CNN. All rights reserved.

Editorial: Responsibility for animal abuse

3 02 2011

This editorial was brought to our attention and I felt it worthy to share with our followers, supporters and fellow animal lovers. Please, feel free to share this with your friends. Although the article is out of Vancouver, it brings up points that can be discussed anywhere. It’s time to make a difference for our animals.

Any feeling person would be disgusted by the cruel slaughter of 100 sled dogs because business was down at a Whistler outdoor adventure company. The dogs weren’t humanely destroyed after other alternatives had been sought. They were slaughtered in a sloppy two-day bloodbath because they were in an inconvenient expense, not even worth a decent death.

We are, as a society, divided on many animal welfare issues. Most of us accept that animals can be killed for our use, but would like their treatment to be humane.

But we don’t take responsibility for ensuring that happens. Canada’s regulations, for example, allow cattle, sheep and goats to be transported in trucks for up to 52 hours, barely able to move and without food or water. The European standard is 12 hours.

A freedom of information request last year that obtained three months of Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports from just some regions found 650,000 animals had died in transport — more than 7,000 a day.

And most of us accept things like commercial sled dog rides, without thinking too much about what happens when business drops or a dog is injured or too old to keep working.

We prefer to ignore the fact they will be killed, or at least trust the deaths will be humane.

It’s a happy and self-serving partnership. The agriculture industry, for example, doesn’t want too much public attention paid to the treatment of animals on their way to slaughterhouses (or when they get there). And the public doesn’t want to think about how those lamb chops got to their plates.

Our moral failing allows cruelty to be casually entrenched. We have, at least, the obligation to face our role in determining the way animals are treated in a honest fashion and consider the standards we expect.

Our wilful blindness also make it easy for government to avoid its responsibility.

The B.C. government, for example, is among the few in Canada that provide no funding for investigations of animal cruelty and abuse.

The B.C. SPCA, which has responsibility for the investigations, once received money for agent training and general operations.

The government eliminated an annual grant in 2009; gambling grants — $475,000 in 2003 — have been reduced each year, and now eliminated. The maximum fine in B.C. is $5,000; Saskatchewan increased the maximum to $25,000 last year.

High-profile cases attract much public attention. (Sadly, often much more attention than is paid to the avoidable deaths of children in this province.)

Our unwillingness to face our own role in the mistreatment of animals leads to much suffering.

It’s time we had an honest public discussion about what will tolerate and how we will eliminate abuse beyond that norm.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

Read more:

Animal Abuse Allegations Draw Concerned Crowd

2 02 2011

Cumberland County Residents: We were alerted to this story and thought it would be interesting to you. If you can get involved – we encourage it – for Bruno’s sake!

By CookevilleTimes

Story Published: Feb 2, 2011 at 12:23 AM CST

Story Updated: Feb 2, 2011 at 12:23 AM CST

The crowd of over 100 people in the Cumberland County Courthouse last Thursday were hoping for change, or, at least an opportunity to talk about change.   But the committee chairman of the building and grounds committee, Mike Harvel (7th District Commissioner), told the assembled crowd that discussion of officers, shootings or investigations were not appropriate to the Thursday meeting and encouraged the crowd to focus on policy and procedures at Cumberland County’s Animal Control facility.

The assembled citizens, carrying signs that sad “Shame On You” were present as a result of two weeks of petitions and discussions related to the alledged abusive behavior of Animal Control Officers in Cumberland County. 

The allegations as discussions crossed in email over the past two weeks spurred an investigative reporting piece on Knoxville’s WATE station.  Photographs of a blood-spattered dog pen and a blood-soaked snow path were chilling as volunteers told reporters about “Brutus,”  a dog that had been scheduled for rescue the day after he was shot in his kennel.   Volunteers believe that the dog was eating and that he was shot in the top of his head, and state that the claim that he was viscious and charging the officer is not credible. 

Animal Control Officer behavior has been under fire as these volunteers and others have exchanged information over the past two weeks.  Allegations include the shooting of a schnauzer type dog fleeing capture, who was hiding under a car, rough handling, and gross neglect of animals in need of urgent medical care.

According to the leadership Thursday night, county attorney Randal Boston is reviewing state policies and will make recommendations following his investigation of the matter.

Asked to review the current policies of the facility, Harvel said that there was no policy in place today, but that state law regulations were followed.  Those regulations state that animals will be held from three to five days before they are euthanized. 

One woman in the meeting quesitoned the need for Animal Control Officers to carry guns, suggesting that they should carry tranquilizer guns instead.  When several people began to shout and cheer, Harvel said “We’re not going to get into that tonight.” 

After some discussion about the liabilities should a volunteer be bitten (a matter raised by the commissioners, not by the crowd), a motion was made by Commissioner Presley to ban volunteers from working at the county animal shelter.  Commissioner Seiber supported the motion, which prompted an eruption by the crowd holding the “shame on you” signs.

The motion failed, though Presley and Seiber continued to support it.  Voting against that motion were Commissioners Safdie, Carter, Harvel, Rimmer and Lynch.

Harvel indicated that the matter would be on the agenda next month, when an update from the attorney would be expected.

Police: Woman Loses 9 Dogs in Animal Rescue Fraud Probe

1 02 2011

Can someone please tell me how things like this continue to happen?  This post is being reprinted from The Shelby Star out of Shelby, North Carolina.

SHELBY — Authorities say a woman who claims to rescue unwanted animals is doing more harm than good.

Lisa Lewis Hendren, 26, was charged Sunday after police say she posed as the head of a nonprofit called Liz and Lizards in order to get nine dogs.

But it’s not the first time Hendren’s love for animals have put her at the core of a multi-county investigation. Her legal troubles span at least two years.

 “She has sold puppies, claiming they are humane society puppies and that she is foster caring for us,” said Marguerite Mebane, president of the Cleveland County Humane Society. “Many have been sick and some have died soon after they have been purchased from her.”

Craigslist ad sought adoption

 On Saturday, two men from Gaston County came to Shelby to drop off nine mixed-breed dogs to Hendren’s home on Dodd Street, believing they were placing them in a good home, police said. The men posted an ad on Craigslist earlier that week stating they needed to place the dogs because they could no longer care for them, according to police.

“They were reaching out for some type of animal rescue organization to take the dogs,” said Shelby Police Officer Jake Zaludek. “Their biggest concern was that they didn’t want them to go to a kill shelter.”

But when the men met Hendren at her Dodd Street home with the dogs, food, shelter and fencing, they grew suspicious, Zaludek said. They eventually left, but had concerns about the dogs’ welfare and contacted police the next day, according to the report.

 27-dog capacity

Hendren’s boyfriend, Demario Ross, said their home is one of many foster homes under the nonprofit Liz and Lizards. Ross said they take in unwanted animals with a maximum capacity of 27 dogs.

 “This man said he wanted these dogs to have a good home,” he said.  “We wanted to provide them with a good home.”

Hendren remains in jail under a $25,000 secured bond.

Ross said Hendren “loves animals to death” and agrees to take in and care for breeds that most people don’t want.

 Dogs still in need of homes

Hendren’s claims of being a foster home for the Humane Society angers Mebane, who has worked in the business in for 20 years.

“We work so hard to have a good reputation of placing healthy animals,” Mebane said. “We are regulated by the state and licensed by the state. They are high standards of care.”

Police were able to return the nine dogs to the men on Saturday. Mebane said she has been in contact with the Humane Society of the United States, which is on standby to help place those dogs into good homes.

 “We would love to be able to get a hold of these animals and get them placed into rescue programs,” she said.

 Reach reporter Olivia Neeley at 704-669-3332  

Hendren has history of animal complaints, investigations

Several complaints have been filed with Cleveland County Animal Control in reference to Lisa Hendren selling “very sick dogs,” according to a police report. In one case, an animal died an hour after the adoption took place, according to the report.

  One woman told police that Hendren advertised full-blooded black Labrador puppies on Craigslist. When the hopeful buyer made the trip in March from Charlotte to adopt, the puppy was not the same one that was in the photograph online, according to the report.

  The buyer told police the puppies were in very poor health. The woman bought two puppies and took them to her veterinarian for treatment, but they remained in poor health.

  In December 2010, Hendren was charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals after police say she wounded and starved a horse.

Animal control officers got a complaint about the horse not being cared for properly, said County Health Services Coordinator Sam Lockridge.

“The horse kept wrapping itself in the chain that it was tethered with, causing injury to its hooves,” Lockridge said. “The animal did not have adequate food or water.”

The horse was seized, but died the next day, according to police.

In June 2009, a state employee found a flier in Gaston County that advertised vaccinations offered by Hendren, state investigators have said. But Hendren moved out of the county and disappeared until investigators learned she resurfaced in Cleveland County the following year.

Police arrested and charged Hendren with two counts of practicing veterinary medicine without a license in both Cleveland and Gaston counties in April 2010 after a state undercover investigation.

Authorities said Hendren ran an illegal animal rescue group, giving vaccines without a license. They also found 21 dogs, 11 belonging to Hendren, according to police.

State investigators said at the time, they didn’t know how many animals she vaccinated over a two-year period or adopted out because Hendren was so mobile.

Gaston County Animal Control has also investigated multiple complaints against Hendren — four of which resulted in civil fines for failing to comply with the county’s ordinances, according to previous reports. Those fines amounted to more than $2,000.