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The three were part of the United Animal Coalition, which ran both shelters until the nonprofit organization’s license was revoked in August, about a month after investigations into the two shelters began.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
Citing 75 incidents of animal cruelty and a “systemic failure to care for animals,” the N.C. Department of Agriculture on Monday yanked the United Animal Coalition’s license to run animal shelters in Davidson and Guilford counties.
The non-profit organization has been running Guilford County’s animal shelter since 1998, when it was hired by the county to improve conditions.
Seventeen years later, the same sort of allegations have resurfaced during continuing investigations by state and county officials as well as the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
Department of Agriculture reports mention more than 100 cases of animals receiving inadequate medical care, including a cat with a broken leg and internal bleeding that went seven days without being seen by a vet and a dog with a gunshot wound to the face who went 12 days without medical attention before being euthanized.
The former shelter director in Guilford County, Marsha Williams, was suspended with pay earlier this month. As of yesterday, that pay was halted and Williams was officially terminated under the orders of the county commissioners.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners convened an emergency meeting Monday, voting unanimously to revoke the United Animal Coalition’s contract and to place the shelter under the county’s control on an interim basis.
A letter of revocation was delivered by hand to the shelter yesterday.
“The things we’ve learned are very disturbing and unacceptable, as I know it is for the community as a whole,” Commissioner Hank Henning, the board’s chairman, said at a press conference after the county commissioner’s meeting. “Our goal is to put transparency and a culture of efficiency back into the shelter, so the community at large can get the services and the shelter that it wants and deserves.”
The N.C. Department of Agriculture has been investigating both shelters for about a month following complaints about animal care and conditions, according to the Greensboro News & Record
The Davidson County investigation began after the state agency received a complaint that a dog had arrived at the shelter with a broken back but received no veterinary care.
The federal Drug Enforcement Agency continues to investigate potential unspecified violations at both facilities.
Also still investigating are the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and the Lexington Police Department.
“To be quite frank with you, I expect to see criminal charges come out of this,” said Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes.
Deputy County Manager Clarence Grier will serve as interim director of the Guilford County shelter, which will remain closed the rest of the week.
The facility is expected to reopen Aug. 22.
(Photo: Former Guilford County Animal Shelter director Marsha Williams; by Lynn Hey / Greensboro News & Record)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 18th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, animal cruelty, animals, care, cats, closed, contract, contracted, davidson county, director, dogs, greensboro, guilford county, inadequate, lexington, license, marsha williams, medical, non-profit, north carolina, pets, revoked, shelters, terminated, united animal coalition, veterinary
When Randi Hileman came upon a trail of dead dogs and cats on the highway in North Carolina, she did what most folks do nowadays. She got out her phone and took some pictures.
She was distressed enough by the scene that, after moving the corpses to the side of the road, she posted the photos on Facebook and called the news media — all in search of some sort of explanation.
And when, earlier this month, the explanation came, she — and a lot of other people — got even angrier.
What little official response there was went something like this: Someone failed to properly latch the tailgate of a truck transporting dogs and cats that had been euthanized at the Davidson County Animal Shelter.
Rather than ending up at their destination, a landfill, their bodies were left strewn along U.S 64, near Interstate 85.
Judy Lanier, the shelter’s director, told inquiring reporters it was a non-story, and apparently convinced a lot of them of that.
Not too many accounts of what happened can be easily found on the Internet, other than this one in the Winston-Salem Journal.
“It was an internal employee mistake that’s been dealt with in less than 30 minutes,” Lanier told columnist Scott Sexton. “Basically it’s a nonstory. There is one thread on one Facebook page where you’ve got less than 10 people beating a dead horse.”
Between being one of only eight counties backwards enough to still use gas chambers to put down dogs, the public opposition to that, the county’s dismal adoptions figures (it reportedly euthanizes 6,000 dogs a year), Lanier’s defensive reaction and the vivid images of what her employee left, however briefly, on the highway, it’s not too surprising that some people are calling for the shelter director’s resignation.
Lanier, while she’s not granting many interviews with the media, is responding to what people are saying on Facebook.
“I never took it lightly,” she says in one comment. “I dealt with it a week ago in a professional expedient fashion … I take issue with this non story that was simply an error of equipment usage being used as another platform for attacking our shelter, our staff and our ethics … Not one cat was adopted due to this story being spread all over face book. Not one of these so called activists stepped through the door to help lessen the overcrowding that requires that truck to make that trip several times a week. Shame on those who criticize that which they don’t understand and those who don’t intend to put their words into action. Journalism when practiced honestly does not require ambushing and exploitation. That’s just his personnel (sic) self aggrandizement in print.
Lanier wrote that none of the animals found on the road had been put down in the gas chamber, and said the shelter uses lethal injection three times more often than it uses its gas chamber. Opponents of the gas chamber, she said, are using the dead animal spill to fuel their campaign against the use of gas.
“Those animals are the visual picture of what happens in a community that does not spay/nueter (sic), thinks of animals as disposable property and expects a small shelter to absorb their decisions and re home each one. That’s a fact not an excuse but reality.
In another comment, she gets in a shot at the reporter: “Must be a slow day in the newspaper world when a columnist can only report week old news and quote a no comment voice mail to make a punch line … Mr. Sexton burnt a bridge he won’t ever cross again today.”
Lanier further states that she wishes people criticizing the shelter would spend that energy instead on volunteering at the shelter, helping get dogs adopted and educating the public on spaying and neutering.
Amid her comments, an apology can be found.
“The incident where animals were found on Highway 64 on Tuesday, August 8, 2014 was an unfortunate error caused by the tailgate on the animal shelter truck being inadequately secured. The animal shelter truck was in route to the county landfill at the time of the incident. The animal shelter staff acted as soon as possible to correct this error and the staff member involved was extremely sorry and devastated that this had occurred. The shelter staff member is an excellent employee who performs above and beyond every day at the shelter. Measures have been taken by the staff to make sure this never occurs again.
“The Davidson County Animal Shelter apologizes to the public who witnessed this incident. We are aware of the impact this has had on our citizens. The entire incident was due to human error and is regrettable.”
Probably she should have provided that statement to reporters and stopped there, rather than telling them they were “beating a dead horse.” And probably she should have held back on criticizing animal advocates who want to see the gas chamber dismantled.
Criticizing those who see the issues differently is bad for public relations. Badmouthing reporters is bad for public relations. The gas chamber is bad for public relations. Dead dogs on the highway is bad for public relations.
Davidson County officials have the power to do something about one or two of those, or perhaps all four.
(Photos from Randi Hileman’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 25th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption rates, animals, bodies, carcasses, cats, davidson county, dead, director, dogs, euthanized, facebook, gas chamber, judy lanier, lethal injection, neuter, north carolina, pets, photos, put down, rescues, shelters, spay, spill, tailgate, truck
The Humane Society of the United States may not have Jerry Brown on a leash, but the organization’s state director takes the California governor’s dog out on one — nearly every day.
Jennifer Fearing is a regular dog walker for Sutter, the governor’s corgi, and gun rights groups are saying the free service she provides — on top of giving the lobbyist undue influence — may amount to an illegal contribution.
“Does the hand that holds the leash of California’s ‘first dog,’ cuddly corgi Sutter Brown, also have a hand in guiding policy with the dog’s master, Gov. Jerry Brown?” an article in the San Francisco Chronicle asked.
Gun rights groups point out that all six pieces of animal rights-related legislation Fearing lobbied for in the most recent legislative session were approved and signed by Brown, including Assembly Bill 711, which, over the objection of hunters, banned the use of lead ammunition.
“The question needs to be asked,” said Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for Free California, a gun-rights group that opposed the lead ammunition ban. “Is there a conflict of interest with such a close relationship between a lobbyist and a governor.”
Kerns said gun-rights and hunting groups are considering filing a complaint with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission
Critics say Fearing may be breaking the rules because she hasn’t reported the dog walking as an in-kind contribution.
“For someone who did not hesitate to take the moral high ground in denigrating the ethical standards of hunters during the campaign to ban lead ammunition, it is disappointing to see that Jennifer Fearing does not hold herself to those same ethical standards in properly disclosing her relationship with the governor,” Chuck Michel, California attorney for the National Rifle Association, said in a statement.
Fearing has been walking Sutter around the Capitol grounds since Brown took office in 2011, and their trysts have never exactly been a secret. The two toured the state together to campaign for the governor’s pet tax increase, which the Humane Society was in favor of. Last year, Sutter and Fearing joined the governor and animal rights activists to push for California’s Pet Lover’s license plate.
While it’s true the way to a governor’s heart is through his dog, Fearing and Brown (and we guess Sutter) are already of pretty like minds when it comes to animal welfare, so walking his dog isn’t likely changing the course of history. And as Fearing points out, the volunteer gig doesn’t give her direct access to the governor’s ears, just Sutter’s.
“I wouldn’t misuse that relationship,” Fearing told the Chronicle. “I deal with staff, and I go through the right channels,” she said.
Still, the arrangement provides gun groups with some ammunition, and their ethical concerns aren’t entirely off target.
Fearing says her love of dogs — not political gain — is what motivates her to walk Sutter.
“I would like to believe that we live in a civilized society where you can do neighborly things like walking people’s dogs.”
(Photo: Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, with Gov. Brown’s dog, Sutter; by Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ammunition, animal rights, animal welfare, animals, california, corgi, director, dog, dog walker, dog walking, dogs, free california, governor, guns, humane society, humane society of the united states, jennifer fearing, jennifer kerns, jerry brown, laws, legislature, lobbying, lobbyist, pets, politics, sutter
Two months after being put down, a little shih tzu named Rollie is still causing big problems for — and leading to some positive changes in — Carson City, Nevada.
On July 25, Jeraldine Archuleta’s lost dog was picked up and brought into Carson City Animal Services.
The next day, Archuleta tried to retrieve the dog but was told she needed to pay $100 within 72 hours.
Archuleta couldn’t come up with the money, and her requests for more time were denied. Rollie was euthanized by the shelter five days later.
The heartbroken pet owner wrote a letter to the editor about the incident to the Nevada Appeal, and its publishing prompting widespread public outrage. Last month, Gail Radtke, the manager of Carson City Animal Services, was fired. A health inspector was put in charge of the facility temporarily, and a second health department staff member was assigned to monitor front desk personnel.
All shelter staff are undergong new training, and policies are being reviewed as the city tries to “refocus the directions and goals” of the department, it said in a press release.
This week, city supervisors voted to pay Archuleta $41,500 to settle a lawsuit she filed over Rollie’s euthanasia, according to the Reno Gazette Journal
Meanwhile another lawsuit is pending against the city, filed by Radtke, who says she was defamed and unfairly ousted from her job because of public outrage over Rollie’s death.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animal services, animals, carson city, director, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, fired, lawsuit, nevada, owner, pets, policies, rollie, shelter, shih-tzu, training, waiting period
The executive director of the Capitol Humane Society in Lincoln, Nebraska escaped unharmed in a high speed chase involving his bicycle and three pursuing dogs.
“It just scares the daylights out of you,” Bob Downey said after the Saturday afternoon incident.
Downey, the Lincoln Journal Star reports, was riding westbound on West Fletcher Avenue when three dogs started after him. Two of them, a Labrador and a cattle dog, pursued for perhaps half a mile, Downey said.
While the Labrador wasn’t behaving in a manner Downey deemed threatening, the cattle dog was snarling and showing its teeth. Downey said the dog bit his bike and shoe.
The pursuit came to an end several blocks later when when Downey threw his water bottle at the dog.
The dog took the bottle and ran off.
The sheriff’s depapartment said the owner of the cattle dog was cited for having a dog at large.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 13th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bicycle, bike, bite, bitten, bob downey, capitol humane society, cattle dog, chase, chased, director, dogs, humane society, labrador retriever, lincoln, nebraska, news, ohmidog!, pets, shoe, snarling