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Tag: county

Brain-damaged lawyer in Iowa continues to fight — and fight roughly — for dogs

mcclearyA Des Moines attorney known as “the dog lawyer” has been creating some major headaches since unleashing himself on the judicial system.

Jaysen McCleary, who has a mental disability linked to a trash can falling from a garbage truck onto his head, won a $2.1 million settlement from the city of Des Moines.

And he has gone on to fight for dogs in the area, often challenging local ordinances that regulate pit bulls. In the process, though, his critics say, he has filed frivolous claims, made a “farce” of the judicial process and offended countless judges and fellow attorneys.

He was profiled last week in the Des Moines Register — in an article whose publication he sought to block through a lawsuit.

The Register portrayed the 47-year-old former investment adviser as a man of above average intellect, with a law degree, 10 years of legal experience and the support of many of his clients — including the 10 whose dogs whose lives he helped save.

To do that, though, he has resorted to dragging his cases out, filing numerous ethics complaints against judges and demanding extra time and support because of his disability. He has made criminal allegations against another lawyer, and once told a Polk County judge he was “no better than the scum” sitting in the county jail.

McCleary has tied up his opponents with litigation and overlapping lawsuits that have cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees, the article said.

He blames his outbursts on attention deficit disorder and an acute working-memory deficiency, both a result of the brain injury that was caused when a trash can full of frozen dog feces fell off a truck and landed on his head.

“My disability has caused me to be extremely misunderstood and, as a result, less effective,” McCleary told the Register in November.

Over the past six years, he has filed at least 34 lawsuits, many of which include overlapping claims. In 26 lawsuits in which he has been involved, a city, county or their animal-control unit is named as a defendant.

Des Moines officials say that over the past 16 months, the city’s legal department has devoted at least 500 hours of staff time, all at taxpayers’ expense, to litigation involving McCleary.

In September, the chief judge of Iowa’s 5th Judicial District sanctioned McCleary for using the courts to harass Des Moines city officials and needlessly increase the city’s legal expenses.

In the past five years, McCleary or his co-counsel, Cami Eslick, have asked at least 18 judges to recuse themselves from cases in which McCleary is involved, in some cases citing the judges’ alleged bias, “personal animosity” or “deep hatred” of McCleary. The two attorneys also have filed ethics complaints against 10 judges.

Eslick said McCleary believes the city isn’t following its own laws and policies when it comes to euthanizing dogs it considers dangerous.

“These animals don’t have a voice,” she said. “He wants the court to take these cases seriously, and sometimes they don’t. … He’s incredibly smart, and he has a passion to help these animals.”

(Photo: Jaysen McCleary)

Woman’s complaint leads to policy change

An animal control officer in Durham declined to free a dog from a hot parked car for about two hours Saturday, despite the pleas of the woman who reported the situation.

As temperatures inside the car climbed to 117 degrees, Jennifer Miller urged the officer to take action, angrily posted pictures on her Facebook page, and pushed ice cubes through the cracked window of the car to the panting pit bull inside.

Miller, of Danville, Virginia, had called animal control Saturday afternoon after seeing the dog in the car, parked at The Streets of Southpoint Mall.

The officer who arrived checked the car, stuck a probe inside to take the temperature, but declined to take any action to remove the dog.

Instead, Miller said, he sat in his air conditioned vehicle and waited for the owners to return.

Miller, who serves on the board of a wildlife rehab center and volunteers with a humane society, said the dog, about six months old, was showing signs of heat stroke, but the animal control officer seemed unswayed by her opinion.

“He (the dog) was panting. His gums had actually already started to turn white,” she said. “It looked like he was kind of foaming at the mouth, that really thick saliva. And he was unsteady.”

The owners of the car, which had Maryland license plates, finally showed up about 4 p.m. The officer filed no charges, but told them to take the dog to a vet to be checked out.

Miller wasn’t satisfied with that ending. She continued to complain about how the incident was handled — and it paid off.

On Monday evening, the Durham County Sheriff’s Office announced a change in policy concerning animals left in vehicles.

Officers will no longer have to wait for animals to show signs of distress.

Under the revised policy, deputies will document the interior and exterior temperatures of a vehicle at least twice, and the deputy will use his or her discretion in determining whether the animal should be removed from the vehicle.

The new policy also allows deputies to decide whether to return the pet to its owner or pursue criminal charges after taking the animal to the local shelter.

“The Durham County Sheriff’s Office appreciates and listens to feedback from concerned citizens,” said the statement from the sheriff’s office statement.

Miller, despite winning a victory of sorts, sounds like she continues to be disturbed by it all.

“It is very clear that they could have charged this person. They did not have to wait two hours to get the dog out,” Miller told ABC11. “But the officers were not listening. They were very rude and belligerent. And it was very sad the dog suffered for two hours at least.”

Sheriff department’s dog raffle called off after flood of complaints on social media


The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Department in North Carolina has been holding a dog raffle for years, but this year’s contest has been called off after a flood of criticism on social media.

The raffle, held to raise money for the department’s canine unit, is part of the county fair and it offers a chance to win a German shepherd pup for $1.

But after posting details of this year’s raffle on its Facebook page, the department drew thousands of complaints — most of them calling the contest irresponsible and objecting to randomly awarding a dog to a family that had not been screened first.

“I’m sure this is being done with good intentions. However, please reconsider,” one resident wrote. “You have no way of knowing what kind of home this pup will go to… Perhaps you could pair up with the local shelter and do a fundraiser with them and in turn encourage residents to adopt from the shelter.”

Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman did not comment on what precautions might be taken to screen the raffle winner when contacted by the Shelby Star.

But Captain Richard Acuff later said the sheriff’s office has used a screening process in the past, including a visit to the winner’s house to make sure it’s a safe environment.

Nevertheless, on Friday, the sheriff’s office posted notice on its Facebook page that the raffle was cancelled:

“The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office has cancelled the raffle for the German shepherd puppy that was going to be raffled at the Cleveland County Fair. Our original post did not state that in the past years we have required the person that won the drawing to be subjected to Cleveland County’s Animal Adoption Policy.

“Due to the overwhelming outcry we have teamed with a reputable 501.C3 animal rescue that has agreed to help in finding a suitable owner for this puppy… The Sheriff’s Office will be looking into other fundraising projects to help support our K-9 program. If you purchased tickets you will be contacted and your money will be refunded.”

A spokesperson for a local animal rescue group says the raffle is risky because the puppy could end up in the wrong hands.

“Just because someone can afford a dollar for a raffle does not mean that they can afford lifelong care for an animal,” Brianna Duffy, a spokesperson with Catering to Cats and Dogs told Fox 46 News.

“We rescue a lot of dogs that have been used as bait dogs, dogs that have been sold to any person on the side of the road to just have it for their own personal use, which is not positive,” she added.

A GoFundMe page was set up Friday on behalf of the sheriff’s department.

Posted by The American Pit Bull Foundation in Charlotte, it seeks to raise enough funds to cover what the sheriff department would have made through the raffle.

Get off your butt, Butte


A proposal that would have allowed leashed dogs — leashed dogs! — at all public parks in Butte appears all but dead.

While Butte-Silver Bow County commissioners endorsed the idea of looking at a second dog park, they didn’t budge Wednesday night when it came to a proposal to alter the local law that bans dogs — even those on leashes — in all of the other parks in Butte.

Because, as one commissioner said, “dogs don’t belong in parks.”

Even in a town as stuck in the past as Butte — the “richest hill on earth,” the home of our good friend, the Auditor — that kind of thinking can only be described as medieval.

The council endorsed a measure 7-4 Wednesday night that would open the door for future designated dog park areas, like the one that exists at Skyline Park on Butte’s east side, but the local law that bans all dogs in all other parks appears likely to stay in place for now, the Montana Standard reported today.

Commissioners recently approved an “emergency ordinance” allowing leashed dogs in Skyline.

But it hasn’t acted on a broader proposal to allow leashed dogs in all parks, on public trails and in open spaces.

Commissioner John Sorich moved that the council reject that proposal but leave open the possibility of having other designated dog areas.

“I too love dogs,” Sorich said. “I have a 10-week-old puppy I’m trying to train, but I don’t believe they belong in parks. I don’t have a problem with walking trails.”

Other commissioners backing the ban say many dogs are mean, and leave messes behind them.

“We spent a long time getting dogs out of parks in Butte-Silver Bow County, and a large majority (of people) don’t want to go back,” Commissioner Jim Fisher said. “I’m a messenger for the people, and they are telling me no dogs in parks.”

Ordinances ban dogs from all parks in the county, but not from public trails.

Commissioner Bill Andersen said dogs are an important part of many people’s lives and should be allowed in more parks.

“I like my dog better than most people,” he said.

Kelley Christensen, the county’s special events coordinator, also spoke in favor of the proposal to open parks up to dogs, saying many people have dogs and they should be welcome in more parks.

“We feel this is giving our community a way to walk out in nature with their pets,” she said.

Opening parks in the county to leashed dogs was part of a proposal put forth by Parks Director E. Jay Ellington. He said the ban and large “no dogs allowed” posted at parks signs sent an unwelcome message about Butte.

Ellington recently announced he was leaving Butte to take a parks job in Texas.

(Photo: Walter Hinick / Montana Standard)

A modest proposal: Let’s lose “control”

I have a simple and modest proposal — one that would involve only a name change, a slightly new way of thinking, and maybe some new stationery.

It has long been in the back of my head, but was brought to the forefront by recent cellphone videos gone viral — one (it used to be above but was removed from YouTube) of a dog being dragged through the halls of an animal control department in California; one (below) of a police officer slapping and otherwise berating a homeless man in Florida.

Both are examples of what can go wrong — and often does — when you give one group power over others. Both are about control.

Seeking, seizing and holding “control,” necessary as it sometimes seem in a so-called civilized society, almost always leads to bad things, including most of the dog abuse that occurs in our country. We get a little too caught up in the whole idea of having control — over our fellow man, over other species, over other nations, over nature itself.

Those put in control, as today’s videos show, tend to lose control when they see their control being threatened.

Hence, I propose that we do away with the term “animal control” and rename all those county animal control offices “animal protection” departments — protection being what they are mostly about, or should be mostly about, in the first place.

I’m not suggesting doing away with regulating and enforcing in the dog world — only that those doing it go under a different moniker, which, just maybe, would allow them to be seen by the public, and see themselves, less as heavy-handed dictators, more as noble do-gooders.

And animal control offices do do good. They operate shelters, find dogs new homes, rescue strays from the streets and abusive situations. The new name would put an emphasis on that, and take it away from “control.”

The term “animal control” is archaic — not much better than the even more outdated “dog warden” — yet most counties continue to use it. Employees see it on the sign when they pull into the parking lot, when they walk through the front door, on their memos and their paychecks. It’s a constant reminder, even though most of their duties are aimed at helping dogs, that they are, above all, strict enforcers and inflexible bureaucrats.

A simple name change could help fix that.

I, for instance, would love working as an animal protection officer; I’m not sure I’d want to be an animal control officer — even though most of what they do is about protecting animals. The name change could attract job applicants who see the mission as helping dogs, and possibly help weed out those who see all dogs as nuisances, and control as paramount.

In addition to improving employee self-esteem, it could help change the negative public perceptions that come with being the agency that tickets dog owners for leash-less or unlicensed dogs, euthanizes dogs when their facilities get too crowded, and sends the “dog catcher” out on his daily rounds.

There’s no reason — assuming a stray dog is being captured humanely, and treated humanely in a shelter, and put up for adoption — that the “dog catcher,” traditionally portrayed as a villain, can’t become a dog savior in the public view.

Having “Animal Protection Department” written on the side of the truck, instead of “Animal Control Department,” would go a long way toward that.

A simple shift in emphasis, and in how some agencies present themselves to the public, is all I’m talking about. It wouldn’t be only a matter of spin, though. Being an animal protection department would require actually protecting animals — and seeing that as a primary mission.

It wouldn’t make the world a kinder place overnight, and it wouldn’t keep cranky police officers from slapping homeless people — like I said it’s a modest proposal — but it could be a start, at least in the dog world, to a new way of thinking both about and among the government employees we entrust those duties to (and pay the salaries of).

They would be more about helping and educating, less about controlling.

A handful of agencies have at least worked “animal protection,” or “animal care” into their names, but most can’t quite bring themselves to let go of the term “control.”

Thus you have, for instance, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control.

Maybe they think losing “control” would be a sign they are losing control.

The term “control” might be appropriate when it comes to those agencies dealing with things like disease and traffic.

But not for those dealing with our family members.

Ohmidog! I want that rug


(An update to this story can be found at the bottom of this page.)

A Florida sheriff’s office sees it as an embarrassing mistake.

I see it as a collector’s item, and I want it.

After installing some official rugs with the county’s official seal on their official lobby floors, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office noticed a printing mistake on one of them. Instead of saying “In God We Trust,” it said “In Dog We Trust.”

After a deputy noticed the error Wednesday, the rug was rolled up and stored, according to WFTS in Tampa Bay — but not before the station got some pictures. The large green rugs with the black and yellow Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office logo cost about $500.

The Sheriff’s Office said the manufacturer of the rugs, American Floor Mats, has taken responsibility for the error and will replace the one with the error.

Headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, the company calls itself “a premier supplier of floor mats and matting. With over 25 years of floor mat experience, our customers rely on our vast knowledge and expertise …”

As for what becomes of the “In Dog We Trust” version, I’d love to have it, but I have some other ideas, too.


Put it back on the floor. There’s nothing wrong with trusting in dog, and God would understand.

Wouldn’t He?

At the very least, give it a home in the department’s 12-man K-9 unit.

Given the rugs look pretty lush and comfortable, Pinellas County Animal Services might find one of them useful — either as decor or dog bedding.

Or, it could be auctioned online. Who knows, they might be valuable — like those rare coins with mistakes on them.

Then again, American Floor Mats might want it back, so their boo-boo doesn’t live on.

The best solution? Dog only knows.

Update: An online auction it is: Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says that the rug in question will be sold to raise money for a nonprofit rescue group called Canine Estates.

(It’s the rescue from which he adopted a 13-year-old Maltese last year.)

As of Friday afternoon, bids had gone over $2,600 for the rug.

Gualtieri says his office has been getting calls from all over the world from people saying, “‘Oh my God, don’t throw it away.”

“We’re so excited,” Canine Estates’ founder Jayne Sidwell told The Huffington Post. “We need the funding so bad.”

The auction closes at 4 p.m. next Wednesday, Jan. 21. Bids are being accepted at OnlineAuction.com.

Another update: The rug sold for at auction for $9,650. Details here.

(Photos: WFTS)

Alabama town bans pit bulls after sheriff shoots what he thinks might have been one


Citywide pit bull bans are often knee jerk reactions — maybe even more so when a county sheriff”s knees are involved.

One week after Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale was approached in his yard by four dogs “acting aggressive and looking like pit bull breeds” — and fired a shotgun at them, grazing one — the Alabama city of Clay passed a “vicious dog” ordinance banning pit bulls and pit bull mixes.

sheriffhaleThe sheriff, according to a spokesman, fired a warning shot into the ground, then another round of “bird shot” in the direction of the dogs, leading them to turn away. Animal control arrived to round up the dogs, and their owner was charged with letting them run at large. The dog hit by Hale’s shot survived, AL.com reported.

That incident prompted the city council in Clay, with a speed seldom seen in government affairs, to pass an ordinance banning pit bulls and other “vicious” or “dangerous” dogs. 

The ordinance bans new pit bulls and mixes that include pit bull. Such dogs already kept in the city limits are grandfathered in but must be registered with the city in the next 60 days. The ordinance requires they be kept indoors and mandates owners post a prominently displayed “beware of dog” sign. Owners are also required to have $50,000 in liability insurance. Violations can be punished with a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.

Having sought little public input before passing the law on June 3, the city council has gotten some since, AL.com reports.

A standing room only crowd filled Monday night’s meeting of the Clay City Council, with most citizens arguing the breed is not “inherently dangerous” and criticizing the law for unfairly penalizing responsible owners. Many, including a representative from the Birmingham Humane Society, urged the council to consider a non-breed specific dangerous dog law instead.

One speaker continued to voice his concerns after his turn to speak was over. When told he was interrupting, he continued his comments, leading Mayor Charles Webster — perhaps deeming him to be inherently dangerous — to ban him from the room.

“You are turning us all into criminals,” the man, identified as Mark Lawson, said as a deputy led him outside.

City Attorney Alan Summers said he would try to have a new or modified ordinance for the council to consider at its next meeting on July 1.

(Top photo by Jeremy Gray / AL.com)