The sheriff of Guilford County is making it clear he disagrees with the district attorney’s decision not to file animal cruelty charges against former managers and employees of the Guilford County Animal Shelter.
Sheriff BJ Barnes took to Facebook to voice his displeasure with the decision.
“We still have missing animals that cannot be identified by records available. We have dead animals stacked five foot high in the shelter freezer with no explanation as to why, the shelter had a crematorium. We still have computers to review, but it seems that criminal charges for abuse are not going to happen,” Barnes wrote.
The DA’s office announced earlier this week that cruelty charges would not be pursued against three employees, all of whom also worked at the Davidson County Animal Shelter and still face charges there.
The three were part of the United Animal Coalition, which ran both shelters until the nonprofit organization’s license was revoked in August, about a month after investigations into the two shelters began.
Barnes said the sheriff’s office presented the Guilford County DA with the “five most horrendous cases of abuse we found at the shelter … I will not go into particulars out of respect for those like me who love animals, but know it involves broken bones, open wounds and some missing body parts,” he wrote in a post on his Facebook page.
Barnes said prosecutors thought it would be too difficult to prove who was actually responsible for the abuse.
“The ultimate decision was the shelter manager’s, but her defense could be she was not told of the situation by her subordinates and the documentation was so poor (also the managers responsibility) that it became one person’s word against the other person’s word, both with vested interest.”
Barnes added, “The atrocities that occurred at the shelter are hidden by poor management, poor oversight by management and the board and poor oversight by both the state and the county. I’m saying this now because since the DA is not going to prosecute the facts can be brought out without fear of hurting the case.”
The sheriff said that the shelter, since its operation was taken over by the county, is “in better shape now … and things have been put back in order. Someone should have to be held accountable for the pain and suffering of the animals at both shelters…”
The DA and Guilford County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the shelter in July, looking into allegations of animal cruelty and financial misappropriation at the shelter. The Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the potential financial misconduct by the nonprofit group running the shelter.
A similar investigation in Davidson County resulted in indictments against the same three employees on felony animal cruelty charges — former shelter director Marsha Williams, her daughter Dana Williams-King and Marissa Studivent, a veterinary technician.
Studivent’s husband told FOX8 he is not surprised that Guilford County decided not to pursue charges against his wife. He said Davidson County should not have, either.
“These charges were unjust and unfair and never should have happened,” Michael Studivent said. “And the fact that Guilford County has turned around and said there’s nothing here — yeah that does validate my point.”
In addition to animal cruelty, Williams faces two charges of keeping a controlled substance at the Davidson County shelter as well as two felony counts of obstruction of justice.
Davidson County officials said Monday they are still reviewing the charges the three employees face there.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 4th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal shelter, animals, charges, cruelty, davidson county, director, dogs, dropped, guilford county, indictments, marsha williams, pets, shelters, united animal coalition
A grand jury returned animal cruelty indictments this week against three former employees of the Davidson County Animal Shelter as investigations continue into allegations of abuse there and at the Guilford County shelter.
Arrest warrants were issued yesterday for Marsha Williams, the former executive director of both shelters, as well as her daughter Dana Williams-King. Also indicted was Marissa Studivent, another director of the Davidson shelter.
Williams also faces two felony counts of obstructing the investigation and one felony count of possessing a controlled substance at the Davidson shelter.
Both facilities were managed by the United Animal Coalition, a Greensboro-based nonprofit that took over operation of the Guilford shelter in 1998, and took control of the Davidson shelter in December.
Both shelters had their licenses revoked by the N.C. Department of Agriculture in August.
The indictments stem from claims that the three women neglected to provide humane treatment to a dog admitted to the Davidson shelter in May with a broken back, the Greensboro News & Record reported.
The dog had been diagnosed with paralysis from the shoulders down, but she languished in her kennel for three days with no veterinary care before being euthanized.
That was the incident that sparked an investigation by the state Department of Agriculture, which found abnormally high numbers of animals had died in their kennels at the Davidson shelter.
The Lexington Police Department has been investigating the shelter, as has the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
Despite the indictments, those investigations remain ongoing, as does a a separate investigation into the Guilford County shelter, by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office.
(Photo: Marsha Williams, by Lynn Hey / Greensboro News & Record)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 10th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal shelters, animals, cruelty, Dana Williams-King, davidson county animal shelter, director, dog, dogs, greensboro, guilford county animal shelter, indictments, investigations, lexington, Marissa Studivent, marsha williams, neglect, north carolina, pets, united animal coalition, warrants
A UPS driver in California was caught on a surveillance camera kicking a small dog, then shoving his owner outside an assisted living facility in Atascadero.
“That guy just came out of nowhere, like a tornado,” Tim Paulsen, the owner of 10-year-old Patch, told KSBY.
The video, from May 28, shows Patch running up to the driver, the driver kicking the dog in the chest, and the driver shoving Paulsen when he approached.
Paulsen says he was working at the senior living facility and had brought his dogs with him to comfort Alzheimer’s patients.
Paulsen said the driver told him he’d been attacked by a dog before.
“He was telling me how much he hates dogs and that he would kick me too,” Paulsen said.
UPS corporate officials say they have taken “disciplinary action” against the driver, but declined to disclose details. They say they have contacted Paulsen and apologized.
Paulsen says he doesn’t want the driver fired, but hopes UPS will “reevaluate this driver. He definitely needs some sort of therapy.”
He said the driver is still working for UPS.
Atascadero Police say Paulsen filed battery charges against the driver.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 9th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, animals, atascadero, brown, california, company, corporate, delivery, dog, dogs, driver, kicked, kicks, patch, pets, ups
Around the end of May, sad images of a pit bull mix who was found with her muzzle tightly wrapped in electrical tape were going viral.
The 15-month-old dog had been found wandering the streets of Charleston, S.C., with her muzzle bound so tightly in tape that the blood flow had been cut off and her tongue was trapped between her teeth.
Her owner was charged with ill-treatment of animals, and Caitlyn, as her case received international news coverage — all featuring that horrible photo of her taped-up snout — underwent a series of surgeries.
Only a month later, Caitlyn is recovering, in a foster home — and showing a much happier face in a series of calendar photos.
Caitlyn was asked by the Charleston Firefighters to star in their 2016 calendar.
The calendar — featuring firefighters, often without their shirts, is put together by the Charleston Animal Society, which has been taking care of Caitlyn since she was found.
The money raised by the calendar will go to Toby’s Fund, which provides medical care for animals in need, according to a report on TheDodo.com.
Caitlyn now has her own Facebook page called Caitlyn’s Comeback.
(Photos: Charleston Animal Society)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 1st, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, caitlyn, calendar, charleston, charleston animal society, cruelty, dogs, electrical tape, firefighters, jaw, mix, muzzle, pets, pit bull, snout, south carolina, taped, toby's fund
It was last year I decided that I’d had enough of the “Worlds Ugliest Dog Contest” — a cute little idea that has become too big, too cutthroat and, by putting so much emphasis on appearance, too much like all those beauty contests whose superficiality it was created to counter.
What finally sent me past the tipping point was that last year’s winner, Peanut, was said to look the way he looked at least in part because he had been abused — back before he was rescued by a loving family.
Giving prizes to dogs whose appearances have been mangled by humans — though that’s kind of what happens every year at Westminster — is a bad idea.
Giving prizes to dogs who are deformed, or just plain ugly, was a sweet concept at first. Then, despite its good intentions, it grew into a beast.
So with a nod to this year’s winner, Quasimodo — that’s him above in an Associated Press photo by Noah Berger — we reprint last year’s ohmidog! post on the topic, which asked the question, “Has the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest run its course?”
It seems like every year I’ve teetered a little closer to disliking the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.
A cute concept at first — and one that helped remind us what a superficial thing beauty can be — it seems to have grown into a pageant that, despite its focus on “ugliness,” inches ever closer to reflecting many of the same negative traits of purebred dog shows and beauty contests.
As the quirky little contest at the Sonoma County Fair in Petaluma has grown huge, and the title more sought after, there has been a concurrent increase in cut-throat competition, campaigning and hype.
But it’s the choice of this year’s winner that may have finally pushed me into being a fan no more. The title of World’s Ugliest Dog was won by a dog whose unusual appearance is the result of being abused.
And that troubles me.
This year’s winning dog, Peanut, a two-year-old mixed breed, is from Greenville, N.C. He was adopted from a shelter after being found abandoned and severely abused. It is suspected he was set on fire. While he’s healthy now, his eyelids, lips and patches of hair on his body were burned off, which accounts for much of his unusual appearance.
His owner, Holly Chandler, held fundraising campaigns to travel to California and enter Peanut in the contest — all, she said, to help raise awareness about animal abuse.
Given that’s a large part of this website’s mission, too, I have no problem with that cause.
I’m all for celebrating dogs who look different. I’m all for celebrating dogs who have overcome harsh odds. I’m all for abused dogs recovering and becoming rich and famous while their abusers rot in prison.
Where my discomfort comes in, I think, is placing abused animals in a “contest” context and, within that party atmosphere, picking a winner whose looks are the result of being horribly mistreated at the hands of man.
Abuse, it seems to me, should not be connected to pageantry and cash prizes, no matter how circuitous that link is.
Yesterday, I watched a local TV report about Peanut winning the contest. The anchor people, while noting Peanut had an inner beauty, laughed and joked about his appearance, as I’m sure the crowd did at the contest.
Peanut beat 24 other dogs to win the contest Friday, receiving more than double the votes the second-place dog received.
While his owner seemed sincere in her purpose, and probably did raise awareness about animal abuse, I can’t help but wonder whether we should all be chuckling — even while feeling sympathy and love for Peanut — at his appearance, at his prominent teeth, or his eyes that never close, given it was all the result of a cruel criminal act.
On the other hand, the world should know Peanut’s story — and the contest was a way to make that happen.
Maybe, though, there are better, more dignified ways, such as writing a book, or taking him to schools, or sharing his story with the news media — ways that might avoid the appearance of exploitation and have a little less of the circus atmosphere that seems, in my mind at least, to clash with serious nature of animal abuse.
I doubt there is any danger of people disfiguring their dogs in hopes of winning the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, but — given the world can be pretty ugly — stranger things have happened.
I think it would be wise, and in good taste, for contest officials to impose and enforce a ban on dogs whose “ugliness” or unusual looks are a result of actions taken by humans — whether those actions are heinous criminal acts or cosmetic steps, like dyeing, taken for amusement purposes.
While the contest’s web page states that “all the dogs must provide a veterinarian’s paperwork asserting that they are healthy and are ‘naturally ugly,’ Peanut’s victory casts some doubt on how strongly that’s being enforced.
All that said, I don’t find any fault with Chandler entering Peanut in the contest. She was on a mission. She made her point.
Maybe the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, after 25 years, has made its point too. A cute and well-intentioned gimmick with a sweet message, it might be growing into a bit of a monster. Maybe it should fade way before it becomes too Westminstery.
I have problems with contests that award people, or dogs, for good looks and conformity. Maybe I have issues with awarding them for “bad” looks and non-conformity, too.
Definitely I don’t like the idea of people laughing and finding amusement in a dog’s misery, which, in a very distant, removed and indirect way, is what’s going on.
That’s the best I can do at explaining the ill-at-ease feeling Peanut’s victory gives me.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 29th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, appearance, beauty, california, contest, contests, deformities, dog, neglect, petaluma, pets, quasimodo, ugliest
For those businesses in North Carolina that have something to hide, hiding it became much easier this week.
Both the state House and Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill that muzzles whistleblowers who call public attention to anything from agricultural atrocities to elder abuse.
Dubbed an “ag-gag” measure by its critics, the bill gives businesses the right to sue employees who expose trade secrets or take pictures of their workplaces.
Animal rights groups say the measure is aimed at curbing the kind of undercover investigations that have exposed brutal and abusive practices in factory farms and slaughterhouses.
But House Bill 405 (click on the link to see its final version) could curb far more than that.
Nursing home employees might be discouraged from reporting possible abuse cases. Animal shelter staff could be dissuaded from reporting horrid conditions or cruelty to dogs and cats. Even journalists could be hauled into court for simply doing their jobs.
Only government agencies would be safe to shed light on criminal corporate behavior — whether it’s stomping on chickens at poultry farms or mistreating veterans in need of medical care.
Concerns that the bill reaches too far were behind Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of the bill.
The governor said he agreed with curbing the practice of people who get hired merely so they can film undercover or gather corporate documents, but he said the bill doesn’t protect those “honest employees who uncover criminal activity.”
The House voted 79-36 to override his veto, and the Senate quickly followed suit, voting 33-15 to override.
Among those against the bill were animal rights groups, journalism organizations, the Wounded Warrior Project and the AARP, which said the law could have a chilling effect on those who might come forward with evidence of elder abuse.
“To give one relevant example, allegations surfaced last year that employees at Veterans Affairs facilities in North Carolina had been retaliated against for whistleblowing,” wrote Steven Nardizzi, chief executive of the Wounded Warrior Project. “As an organization dedicated to honoring and empowering injured service members, we are concerned that this legislation might cause wrongdoing at hospitals and institutions to go unchecked.”
The sponsors of the house bill said critics were wrongly characterizing it, WRAL reported.
“It doesn’t stop good employees from reporting illegal activities to other authorities,” said Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland.
That much is true. All the bill does is make it easy for large companies and their lawyers to go after those honest employees and ensure that, when they open their mouths, they’ll be stomped on too.
Republican backers of the measure said it was important to protect businesses from bad actors.
As for who’s supposed to protect us from bad-acting businesses engaged in harmful practices, well, that’s not covered in the bill.
“Not only will this ag-gag law perpetuate animal abuse, it endangers workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees, and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply, said Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals. “This law is bad for consumers, who want more, not less, transparency in food production.”
(Photo: Inside a North Carolina poultry plant; by Bethany Hahn / Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 5th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, ag gag, agriculture, animal shelters, animals, business, companies, corporations, criminal, dogs, hb 405, house, lawsuits, legislature, mistreatment, neglect, north carolina, nursing homes, override, pets, poultry, senate, veto. mccrory, whistleblowers
The Swiss mountain resort of Zermatt has banned Saint Bernards from being used in photo sessions with tourists.
The town’s council came to the decision after complaints by an animal protection organization that the dogs being used by two local businesses were being kept tied up without access to food and water and forced to carry children on their backs.
Posing with the dogs with the snow-cappped Matterhorn in the background has long been popular with tourists — even though St. Bernards are no longer commonly used in rescue operations. Nowadays, Alsatians are more often used to find lost skiers and avalanche survivors.
Still, Saint Bernards — with or without the whiskey barrel around their necks — remain a symbol of Swiss mountain heritage, and getting a photo with them is a must-have souvenir for many a tourist.
Swissinfo reports that at least two entrepreneurs are making a living supplying Saint Bernards for photo ops for tourists.
The Swiss Animal Protection Agency, which recently published a report on the dogs’ mistreatment, welcomed the decision ending the practice.
By banning the practice, Zermatt shows that “it loves these animals, and it will put an end to the contemptible and dangerous shows these dogs were made part of by being used as tourist props,” the organization said in a statement.
In March, the agency filed a legal complaint against the Saint Bernard owners, claiming that the dogs’ living and working conditions were abusive.
Concerns had been raised over the dogs being forced to pose for hours on end without moving and sometimes having to carry children on their backs. The dogs were also tied up for hours, not taken for walks and often went without food or water for long periods, the report stated.
Zermatt Mayor Christophe Buergin said the two local firms providing the service were in talks with tour operators to come up with alternative offerings for visitors to the Matterhorn, such as posing for photos with a person in a Saint Bernard costume, or posing with an alphorn, a traditional herdsman’s instrument.
The mayor says the practice of offering photos with Saint Bernards would be phased out by next winter, allowing the companies to honor existing contracts.
(Photo: Keystone, via Swissinfo.ch)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 29th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, companies, complaints, dogs, matterhorn, mistreatment, neglect, pets, photo ops, photographs, photos, resort, saint bernard, saint bernards, souvenir, st. bernard, swiss, switzerland, tourism, tourists, zermatt