I think it's safe to say that most of us expected major hiccups with the transition of animal control and cruelty enforcement from First State SPCA to the State of Delaware Office of Animal Welfare. Unfortunately we've been seeing the worst case scenarios that we thought might occur, from people bitten who are frustrated because they don't know whether they need rabies shots to cruelty cases not being investigated.
As we so often see in other communities, "No-Kill" advocates are great at getting out and getting those photo opportunities with their political friends like Senator Blevins and Governor Markell. That's what attracts folks like Delaware's Senate President to the "No-Kill" folks in the first place. What better way for politicians to promote themselves, even if "No-Kill" is just a shell game to create better shelter statistics by turning animals away. For those that aren't aware, Delaware's state animal control doesn't accept owner surrendered animals at all.
The major downside with that OAW photo op time is that it's time that isn't being spent doing their jobs and preventing animal cruelty in our state.
Given this recent article concerning a man previously charged with torturing and killing 19 cats in another state who is alleged to be doing it again in our state, the Office of Animal Welfare appears too busy to investigate what clearly sounds like a potential cruelty situation. The writer did extensive research that should have already been done by the OAW, but we can only assume they didn't have time because they were attending every photo op under the sun. Anyone that cares about animals should be outraged.
"Many of those interviewed were highly critical of the Delaware Office of Animal Welfare, which investigates cruelty cases in the state. They said they had filed complaints about Anthony Appolonia as far back as January, calling the agency's investigation slow-footed, inept and anemic even as Appolonia allegedly continued to hunt cats.
Others said they had reached out to animal welfare officials several times and did not receive a call back.
"Delaware doesn't seem to care," said Lynn Spencer, a New Jersey actress and animal rescuer who alerted NJ Advance Media to suspicions about Appolonia after investigating him on her own. "This is an atrocity. The lives of kittens and cats are going unnoticed."
Mark Tobin, chief of the agency's enforcement bureau, confirmed in a telephone interview that Appolonia has been under investigation since early this year.
He said the probe had been hampered because the chief investigator had suffered a serious injury on the job and had been out for several months.
Reassigning the case had "caused a lag," Tobin said, adding that the new investigator was "planning on being proactive." - Article on NJ.com by Mark Mueller
How can the injury of one officer delay an investigation when the OAW has had several officers and the division leadership at a number of photo ops that the division has participated in?
It certainly shows that animals aren't the priority, and the legislators taking part in these photo ops should be ashamed of themselves given this recent article disclosing that cruelty investigations are not a priority. If the office has time to setup and run a "rescue summit"at a country club, they most certainly had the time to investigate the situation as thoroughly as the writer of the above article did.
Understand that I am not blaming the officers at the OAW. The fault clearly lies with the leadership in that office. Those who decide where the officers and other staff should be spending their time.
If Mr. Tobin or Ms. Hetti Brown are making those decisions for officers to attend the photo ops resulting in a lack of time for officers to do their job, then clearly leadership is at fault, and if there have been any cats tortured and killed as a result of the lack of investigation, then the leadership should be held accountable for the OAW neglecting their duties.
Lastly, this case highlights the dangerous situation that the State of Delaware is now placing it's residents in. Since the OAW doesn't accept owner surrendered animals like the First State Animal Center and SPCA did, how many residents are now using rehoming sites and Craiglist as those in the article did?
We all know that a number of serial killers started out torturing and killing animals, like Jeffrey Dahmer. It's sad enough that our state is willing to put animals at this risk, but they are also putting residents in danger as well, merely to get that next photo op as they make their statistics look better by turning animals away. Yes, Nathan Winograd and his small band of true followers will give them more pats on the backs, but the rest of the state sees this mess for what it is, a scam born out of collusion.
Respect is earned, and from what we've seen, the OAW leadership doesn't give a damn what residents think, because they have Senator Blevins and previously Senator Peterson to cover their asses. Unfortunately, that will work for a while, but when someone finally gets hurt, I have to believe that our lackluster legislators will get off their collective rear ends and start looking into what residents are telling them, and finally deal with the situation. It's unfortunate that it will likely take a tragedy for that to happen.
The article above has many of us wondering whether the OAW's lack of investigation into the case referenced in the article is because they fear like us, that Senator Blevin's CAPA has resulted in drawing people who want to commit cruelty to animals into our state with the policies that are leaving animals on our streets.
It's bad enough that our state has been recently been beaten up as being a corporate secrecy haven, but we may also now be a haven to those who want to hurt and kill animals as a result of CAPA. Not too great of a legacy for our current legislators running for re-election.