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Tag: investigation

Number of animals removed from overwhelmed N.C. shelter rises to 700

The number of animals taken from a no-kill shelter in Hoke County, N.C., has risen to nearly 700.

Hoke County sheriff’s deputies and about 140 ASPCA staff members cleared the last of the animals off the 122-acre property Saturday, officials said Monday.

The state shut down The Haven – Friends for Life shelter on Jan. 27, charging its owners, Linden and Stephen Spears, with four counts of animal cruelty and three counts of possession of a controlled substance.

The Spears, who had been barred from their home by court order, are now able to return, said sheriff’s Capt. John Kivett.

“The investigation is still continuing, and possibly more charges will be brought in the very near future,” Kivett told the Fayetteville Observer.

The ASPCA has taken temporary custody of the animals — more than 300 dogs, 250 cats, as well as horses, birds and pigs — and they are being cared for at undisclosed locations across North Carolina.

Investigators also found the remains of 15 dogs buried on the property.

As of Monday, about half of the adult dogs and 182 cats were in isolation due to respiratory illnesses and other contagious conditions. Ten veterinarians have been treating the animals, some of which have open wounds and some of which appeared malnourished.

“Hopefully, they’ll continue to recover,” ASPCA spokeswoman Kelly Krause said. “We will be making sure they are staying healthy, treating them and making sure they have care.”

Once healthy the ASPCA hopes to make the dogs and cats available for adoption, but that can’t happen until a court determines the custody of the animals, she said.

The next court appearance for the Spears is scheduled for Feb. 10.

Stung: Escort charged with trying to sell dog who disappeared from Poconos monastery

busted

A 21-year-old woman who police say was trying to sell both herself and a stolen German shepherd on Craigslist — in separate ads, of course — was arrested at a motel in the Poconos this week.

The German shepherd, named Shiba, was reported missing Nov. 23 from St. John the Beloved Coptic Orthodox Monastery in Canadensis, Pa.

Among those looking for the nine-month-old dog was a group called Hound Hunters of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and among the places they were looking was the Internet.

Craigslist ad

Craigslist ad

They were tipped off about an ad on Craigslist, featuring a photo of a dog who appeared to be Shiba, in what appeared to be a motel room. All the owners were asking for was a “small re-homing fee.”

The first thing Hound Hunters did was call the number listed and arrange to buy the dog.

The second thing they did was search the Internet a little more, and discover that the woman trying to sell Shiba was also advertising herself as an escort.

The third thing they did was go to police.

The Poconos Regional Police Department began its own investigation, confirmed the woman had the two ads on Craigslist, and was promoting herself on other escort sites as well. On one of them, she had posted a message for police: “Hey Mt. Pocono PD catch me if you can.”

That taunt may have inspired police to take a little more interest in what they might have previously viewed as a run of the mill stolen dog case.

Police and members of Hound Hunters met in a vacant lot near the Travelodge motel and finalized their plan, in which Hound Hunters of NEPA President Christine Cahill and member Donna Barney, who had set up the meeting, would knock on the woman’s motel room door.

The reunion

The reunion

Here, we’ll let Cahill, pick up the story.

“Donna and I would go in by ourselves,” she wrote in a detailed Facebook post. “We were to knock on the door, and when she answered and we confirm that she and the dog are actually there, Donna was to hit her call button on her phone to alert the detective…..and they would be there in the blink of an eye. They told us if anything didn’t seem right, we were to immediately get away from the door/window and take cover.

“First, let me tell you, just looking at this place (a motel), would give anyone the creeps. Second, with the info we found on this person, anyone would be crazy to just walk right up and knock on the door … but, yes, that’s exactly what Donna and I did.

” … I knock on the door, she pushes the curtain aside to look out, then opens the door, just a crack. We see a beautiful black nose sniffing through the crack … We were invited inside, but I asked if we could bring the dog outside (especially when I saw a man sleeping in the bed just inside the door).”

(At that moment, Donna was hitting the button on her phone to alert police, but she had lost her signal, as can happen in the Poconos. She excused herself, walked around the corner, picked up a signal and hit the button again.)

“Just as the girl stepped back outside, the police came around the corner,” Cahill wrote.

kingstonKaynie L. Kingston, of Mount Pocono, was taken into custody. A check of the dog’s microchip confirmed she was Shiba.

Kingston was charged with receiving stolen property and taken to Monroe County Correctional Facility.

Police said she will also be charged with theft of lost or mislaid property and solicitation to commit prostitution.

Shiba was reunited with her owners, who were visiting from New York when Shiba went missing. They made the two hour drive and picked Shiba up at the monastery.

“Donna and I are still bursting with adrenaline after our first ‘sting’ operation that actually included the police,” Cahill wrote in the Facebook post. “We’ve done this before, but not on the level of needing police back-up. As we like to say….. ‘This isn’t our first rodeo!’ And, I’m sure it won’t be our last.”

(Photos from the Hound Hunters Facebook page)

Making a mountain out of a … poop bag?

vandy

Vanderbilt University may well have some racial inequities worth addressing. And some racist acts may take place on campus from time to time. But Marley’s poop was not one of them.

A sack of dog poop left on the front steps of Vanderbilt University’s Black Cultural Center — discovered the day after a student demonstration to show support for protesters at the University of Missouri — was quickly decried by a student organization as a “vile” and “racist” act.

In reality, the bag was left there by a blind student who cleaned up the mess left by her guide dog, Marley, but could not find a trash receptacle to place it in.

On Monday, about 200 Vanderbilt students staged a walkout over campus race relations — one described as a show of support for the Missouri students, but also held to draw attention to Vanderbilt’s own problems when it comes to racial imbalances.

On Tuesday, the bag of feces was found in front of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center.

Backers of a university campaign called Hidden Dores, the mission of which is to “draw attention to the racial and ethnic minority experience on a predominantly white campus,” quickly placed a post on Facebook decrying the deed.

“The Hidden Dores team is appalled to announce that our demonstration yesterday was met this morning with a vile act. This morning someone left a bag of feces on the porch of Vanderbilt University’s Black Cultural Center. The center has served as the nexus of many aspects of black life on Vanderbilt’s campus since its inception 31 years ago. The violation of a place that in many ways is the sole home for black students is deplorable.

“As many of us sit in grief, recognize that these types of actions are what we speak of when we note the reality of exclusion and isolation of students of color and specifically black students on our campus. This act has hurt many and will not be received lightly. We will not allow for the desecration of the place we call home. As we announced yesterday and reaffirm today, we will not be silent.”

Campus police launched an investigation immediately. After surveillance camera footage was reviewed, officers contacted the student who appeared to have left the bag of feces there.

“The investigation found the bag was inadvertently left by an individual with a service dog who was authorized to be in the building who could not find a trash can near the entrance and did not wish to take the bag inside. VUPD has concluded, based on their investigation, that there was no criminal or malicious intent in this action, and the investigation is considered closed,” Vanderbilt News reported yesterday.

The blind student posted her own account of what happened on Facebook:

“I would like to inform everyone on this campus that no racial threat occurred. I am a blind student on this campus with a guide dog. I was meeting with a group last night to go over our debate for one of my sociology classes. My dog did her business outside on the grass and I picked it up and put it in a bag like always … I did not want to bring the feces inside and make the building smell, so I left it outside by the door … Everyone is going to point me out now as the blind girl who left her dog feces by the black cultural center. I am sorry that I do not know where all the trash cans are on main campus…”

Leaders of the Hidden Dores campaign put a new post on its Facebook page, apologizing to the blind student, and for reacting a little too swiftly.

“Given the recent elevation in polarization on this campus in the aftermath of our silent protest this Monday, evidenced by tough personal exchanges and anonymous targeted posts, it was too easy for us to believe that a member of our community would stoop low enough to maliciously leave fecal matter at the Black Cultural Center,” the Facebook post said.

“Nonetheless, we apologize to the Vanderbilt community for jumping to conclusions and for any personal trauma caused by the quick escalation of this situation.”

(Photo: Hidden Dores Facebook page)

You’d almost think dog lives don’t matter

No dog has ever killed a police officer in the line of duty.

And yet police officers, in the line of duty, shoot about 10,000 dogs a year in America, according to Department of Justice estimates.

One of the latest fatalities in the epidemic was Duchess, shot down Tuesday by an officer who acted quickly, if not wisely.

Within the space of about two seconds, a Florida City police officer determined the dog running out a front door he had knocked on was a threat and shot him three times.

The 40-pound pit bull mix died almost instantly as a surveillance camera recorded the incident.

Gillian Palacios said her two-year-old dog ran out of the front door when she started to open it.

The officer had knocked on the door to let the family know their car door was open.

“Before I could even do anything, the officer had his gun out and shot her three times in the head,” she told WPLG.

“She was curious. She wasn’t barking (and) she wasn’t growling,” Palacios said. “There was no reason for him to think she was aggressive in any way.”

“There were a million things he could have done other that shoot her three times in the head,” she added.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

Florida City police spokesman Ken Armenteros defended the officer’s actions.

“We don’t have the luxury of hindsight,” Armenteros said. “We have to use the information that is given to us in a split second. So, the officer has to make that decision with the information that he has available.”

What about the luxury of foresight, though, we’d ask?

What about a mandatory program that trains all of a police force’s officers in canine behavior, how to interpret it, how to deal with it and how to make their split second decisions a little more wisely, a little less rashly?

All state legislatures should require such training, all police forces should get it in place. Only then will the “shoot first” mentality, and the thinking that dog lives don’t matter, begin to subside.

(Tomorrow: A look at a new documentary that explores the epidemic, “Of Dogs and Men.”)

Homeless man in Paris gets his dog back

Amid a police investigation and a public outcry, animal rights activists have returned the puppy they seized from a homeless man in Paris last month, according to news reports.

Activists from Cause Animale Nord, an animal rights group based in Lille in northern France, snatched the puppy in September from a homeless man on a street in central Paris. Members later said the homeless man had drugged the dog and was using it to assist him in begging.

The incident was caught on camera and, since being posted on Facebook and elsewhere, it has been viewed more than 1.7 million times.

parisA petition on the website Change.org calling for an investigation into Cause Animale Nord’s actions has been signed by nearly 250,000 people.

A police inquiry was launched a on September 25, according to The Telegraph.

The president of Cause Animale Nord — seen taking the dog on the video — was brought in for questioning, but released after promising to return the dog to its owner.

The group had placed the dog in foster care, and was offering it for adoption for a fee of €175.

23 dogs seized from home outside of Charlotte in dog fighting investigation

dogfighting2

More than 20 dogs believed to be part of a dog-fighting operation were seized yesterday by police in Huntersville, N.C., as part of a joint investigation with the ASPCA.

“We’re not going to put up with that in Huntersville,” Police Chief Cleveland Spruill said.

Officers have questioned residents of the home on Statesville Road, but have yet to file any charges.

In addition to seizing 23 dogs, a treadmill and other items commonly used to train fighting dogs were also taken as evidence.

ASPCA Director of Investigations, Kathryn Destreza, said that 16 adult dogs and seven puppies were tethered to heavy chains and removed from filthy conditions.

“That’s how they live their life,” she said. “If they’re not fighting or being conditioned to fight they live their life on the end of a chain.”

According to an ASPCA news release, “Some were thin and exhibited scars, bite marks, broken teeth and other injuries commonly associated with dog fighting … Dog fighting paraphernalia was discovered, including conditioning and training devices, indoor and outdoor fighting pits, and medication common to treating wounds associated with dog fighting.”

dogfightingHuntersville police said that after receiving tips, they obtained a search warrant for the property.

It was executed with assistance from ASPCA investigators and Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s animal control department.

Police Chief Spruill said the puppies will likely be able to be adopted, but that will have to be decided by a judge.

“The ASPCA’s goal is always to rehab as many animals we can from any criminal situation,” the ASPCA’s Destreza said.

Where the dogs were being taken was not divulged.

Destreza said numerous dogs chained in a back yard is often an indication that dog fighting might be taking place.

A woman who described herself as the dog owner’s aunt told WBTV in Charlotte that the dogs were being raised to be sold. She denied that they were involved in dog fighting.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact Lt. Andrew Dempski at 704-464-5400.
dogfighting3

(Photos: ASPCA)

Another N.C. shelter accused of cruelty

stokesshelter

Another North Carolina animal shelter has come under fire from the state Department of Agriculture — this time the county-operated shelter in Stokes County, where an investigation found dogs were being inhumanely euthanized.

The Veterinary Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture released documents Friday showing inspectors found credible evidence that shelter director Phillip Handy and employee Darryl Sheppard “performed, participated in and/or witnessed the inhumane euthanasia of multiple animals that involved improper euthanasia administration.”

The allegations, now being investigated by the state Bureau of Investigation, include putting down one dog by gunshot, failing to confirm the death of an animal, and improper disposal of an animal. The report also accuses the two men of putting dogs down prior to the 72-hour holding period.

The shelter (pictured above) is located in a cinder block building in Germanton.

The division revoked both Handy and Sheppard’s certifications to perform euthanasia, and both have been relieved from duty, according to Stokes County Manager Rick Morris.

This summer has also seen the Department of Agriculture revoke the licenses of animal shelters in Guilford County and Davidson County, citing a “systemic failure to care for animals.” Both were run by the United Animal Coalition under contracts with the counties.

And last week, news surfaced of a dog at the Forsyth County Animal Shelter being mistakenly euthanized.

The Stokes County shelter was closed for two weeks in July, for what county officials said was state-ordered maintenance and repairs.

County Manager Morris assured the public then that animals housed there at the time would not be euthanized.

The revocation notice from the state — instructing the shelter to cease all euthanizations — was issued two days before the temporary closure.

Animal advocates in Stokes County have been working to improve the shelter and are raising funds to open a new no-kill shelter, with around $180,000 raised so far.

(Photo: By Jennifer Rotenizer / Winston-Salem Journal)