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America’s toughest sheriff coddles dogs

arpaio_underwearAmerica’s toughest sheriff seems to have a soft spot for pooches.

That, in part, explains why Sheriff Joe Arpaio runs an animal shelter out of the old Maricopa County jail in Phoenix — one complete with air conditioning, a luxury Arpaio has never seen fit to afford the incarcerated humans entrusted to his care.

Arpaio — a strong supporter of the death penalty, cracking down on illegal immigrants and providing the bare minimum, or slightly less, for inmates – has long been criticized for inhumane practices in the county jail, from the use of chain gangs to housing inmates in tents to mandating all inmate underwear be pink.

He once told CNN he was proud of the fact that the no-frills county prison system spent $1.10 each a day to feed its guard dogs, but only 90 cents each to feed its inmates.

His no-kill animal shelter, on the other hand — called MASH (Maricpopa Animal Safe Haven) – offers a cool and comfortable, supportive and nurturing environment for pets.

Prisoners help run the shelter, and news reports recently highlighted the story of two emaciated Rhodesian Ridgebacks who were nursed back to health by female inmates. The dogs were taken in after their owner, 34-year-old Jonathan Eder, was arrested on animal cruelty charges in August, ABC15 in Phoenix reported.

Named Bazzele and Frank, the dogs had been deprived of food and water for so long that the outlines of their rib cages  were “drastically visible.” Bazelle reportedly weighed only 48 pounds, Frank  57.  At the shelter, both have recovered.  Bazzele now weighs 71 pounds and Frank 73. Both are up for adoption for $100 each.

The shelter was created to house and care for animals that, because of abuse or neglect by their caretakers, have been seized by the county’s Animal Cruelty Investigative Unit and must remain in custody until the court cases are resolved. After that, the sheriff’s shelter finds adoptive homes for the dogs.

Arpaio opened the shelter in the First Avenue Jail, which was closed for repairs in December 1999, then reopened for pets after getting refurbished.

“Some critics have said that it’s inhumane to put dogs and cats in air-conditioned quarters when inmates don’t have air conditioning,” the sheriff’s website says. “A good answer came from one of the inmates assigned to care for the dogs. When asked if she was resentful about not having air conditioning, she gestured to some of the dogs and said, ‘They didn’t do anything wrong. I did.’”

It all makes for a fascinating contrast — the touchy feely tone of the sheriff’s animal shelter website versus the record and rhetoric of America’s toughest sheriff.sheriff

Consider the case of Schultz, the mastiff pictured to the left, also known as #1001.

“My owner kept me locked in a crate so I wasn’t allowed to go outside to use the bathroom, they also failed to provide me with the necessary food & water,” he says on the sheriff’s shelter web page that lists available animals. “I was brought to the MASH Unit in August, 2007, in which I received the medical attention and the love I needed to get better and recover …”

You won’t find many testimonials like that from the humans Arpaio oversees.

In Maricopa County, for an inmate to be treated like a dog would, literally, be an improvement — and, contrary as nurturing an inmate would be to the highly popular Arpaio’s philosophy, maybe it would keep some of them from biting again, once they are eventually released from their crates.

Comments

Comment from Anne’n'Spencer
Time December 9, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Oooh, talk about mixed feelings–I’ve got ‘em. This man’s jail is so notorious it seems to spark questions about cruel and unusual punishment. Not that convicts deserve rooms at the Hilton, but there has to be a happy medium in there somewhere.

Comment from vida
Time December 9, 2009 at 8:23 pm

I wouldn’t pay much mind to his self promotion, his swat team is kind of famous for burning a dog to death not so long back. And laughing at the families grief.
http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6339
One of the most appalling cases occurred in Maricopa County, Arizona, the home of Joe Arpaio, self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America.” In 2004 one of Arpaio’s SWAT teams conducted a bumbling raid in a Phoenix suburb. Among other weapons, it used tear gas and an armored personnel carrier that later rolled down the street and smashed into a car. The operation ended with the targeted home in flames and exactly one suspect in custody—for outstanding traffic violations.

But for all that, the image that sticks in your head, as described by John Dougherty in the alternative weekly Phoenix New Times, is that of a puppy trying to escape the fire and a SWAT officer chasing him back into the burning building with puffs from a fire extinguisher. The dog burned to death.

Comment from Anne’n'Spencer
Time December 9, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Vida, that’s a pretty interesting (if sickening) article. Reading your post made me think of a certain world leader who promoted himself as a vegetarian, a friend of animals, an opponent of vivisection and someone who wanted to save animals from their suffering. Adolf Hitler.

Comment from Irie Belle
Time December 11, 2009 at 1:40 pm

A second chance for both dogs and humans is always great. Here’s a story about a prisoners rehabilitating pups program: http://bit.ly/1rwfCp

Comment from jimmy
Time December 15, 2009 at 5:00 pm

The problem with Arpaio is that he has no respect for the law and a policeman with no respect for the law is just a thug in uniform.

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