Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cease and Desist Adopting Out Dangerous Dogs

No-Kill Delaware appears to be upset that Kevin Usilton, Executive Director of the Kent County SPCA sent them a cease and desist notice to stop the slander and libel against himself and the shelter.  There is no doubt that a cease and desist was warranted.  NKD's post cited various court rulings concerning censuring public officials and charging official misconduct to parody.  Well unfortunately posts by NKD has a habit of stepping beyond those bounds over and over.


To understand why a cease and desist request was necessary, we have to start back on Monday, Oct 1st.  On that day, a dog under the care of Faithful Friends Animal Society was being walked by an employee of the shelter off leash in Canby Park, which is a regular park where dogs are required to be on their leash.  The dog named Paco darted after another dog once he was unleashed and attacked.
"After Howard unleashed Paco, the pit bull spotted a small 7-year-old terrier mix named Fitz being walked on a leash by his owner, and attacked the small dog, grabbing it by the neck and shaking Fitz from side to side, Whipple said." - DelawareOnline
The shelter employee and the resident who owned the victim dog tried to separate the dogs to no avail, so the resident who's dog was being attacked shot Paco.
"Police say Howard and Blythe tried unsuccessfully to separate the two dogs. Blythe then got the pit bull into a head lock, pulled out a .9mm handgun and shot the dog in the head. Paco died instantly." -
Needless to say, this was a tragic event for everyone involved.  I'm certain the shelter employee feels horrible that this occurred under his watch, and I'm sure the resident that shot the dog felt bad for Paco, but he did what was necessary to save the life of his own dog.  Fitz, the dog who was attacked was taken to a nearby veterinary practice and is expected to recover.  

What was concerning about the attack is the fact that the dog was offleash depite the following statement under it's profile on the shelter website.  
Paco is good with children
Paco does not get along with other cats, other dogs
I had spent the last weekend watching animal advocates beat up on a Tennessee family who asked that the dog who severely mauled their daughter be euthanized, so this local local story of a dog attack was another eye opener. In the Tennessee case, the activists believed this dog should be saved despite the fact that this beautiful 4 year old girl required 200+ stitches, 5 days in the hospital, and months to recover physically and emotionally, as a result of the attack.  The activists argued that this dog that attacked the little girl could go to an adult only household, but there is always the potential for a dog to get loose and place the public at risk.  The most disturbing part of the comments on that story was the number of people that said the child must have done something to the dog to provoke it.   But what the activists ignored was the fact that in that case the local shelter released the unneutered male dog to the family to provide foster care, and that shelter bears a great deal of the responsibility.  To place an unneutered male into a foster home with a child and a female puppy that had not been spayed does not make sense.  Shelters are supposed to be the professionals, should have known that 70 percent of all bite cases involve an unneutered male, and when you add in a female dog approaching puberty, it was a recipe for disaster.

So seeing the dog on dog attack in Delaware was another reminder that public safety standards are being set aside in the desperate scramble to increase live release rates across the country. I'm not saying it is limited to no-kill shelters.  In fact, my concern is that no-kill animal activists are harming animal welfare across the spectrum when they try to save aggressive animals, or shout down other shelters that euthanize dogs with questionable behavior traits.   We saw similar shouting by NKD regarding Peyton, a dog that Delaware Humane had concerns about after he tore part of the ear of another dog in a fight. Considering that thousands of dogs are euthanized in Delaware, I would think that there would be a higher priority placed on using our precious cage space for safe and well adjusted animals. 

Cease and Desist

So why would Kevin Usilton send a cease and desist request?  The fact is No-Kill Delaware has shown a disregard for the truth, and lack of basic decency from their start.  

For 11 days from December 22, 2010 until January 2, 2011, this group allowed a statement to stay on their Facebook page that said the previous director "should IMMEDIATELY be executed".  Wasn't that great Christian spirit during the Christmas holiday season.  And you didn't see one no-kill shelter in the state who spoke against it, which in my opinion says something about their values.  

I could go on and on, but we will jump ahead to this week.  The day after the Faithful Friends incident, No-Kill Delaware posted the following statement in the screenshot below.  As noted in the DelawareOnline story, KCSPCA responded to the scene, they didn't shoot the dog.  So the statement shown in the screenshot below is absolutely incorrect.  There is no parody in this statement or censuring of misconduct of the officer that responded to the scene, so I really don't think this is protected speech, and the Mr. Usilton had just cause to ask for the lies to be taken down.

Paco - Original Post

Ms. Meier of NKD did edit the statement hours later, but it's difficult to say how many read this lie before she corrected.  To establish libel, the KCSPCA merely needs to show that it was likely they lost some donors as a result of the incorrect statement being on the page for hours.  

Paco - Corrected Post

Other Statements KCSPCA Attorneys Should Investigate As Defamation

Ms. Meier also wrote a recent post called "One-Day Employee Tells of Sickness, Suffering and Death at Kent County SPCA".  Her post is based on a statement by one of NKD's followers Ms. Gannon.  

There are a number of issues with the Gannon statement that should have concerned the various no-kill advocates that have posted this persons statement or reference to it, like NKD site and FB page, Kent County Delaware Dog Control - Pro/Con FB Page, and even a local independent candidate.

The first sentence should have raised alarms.
"I was asked by a fellow vet tech to come work there..that they needed trained staff desperately. I was taken on a walk through" 
And here is the first line of the NKD post.
"This story was posted on Facebook today by a person who worked at Kent County SPCA for one day, January 3, 2012.  She quit immediately due to her horror at what she saw and refused to take pay for the day’s work."  
When I looked at this person's FB page, I saw that under the Work and Education section she listed Faithful Friends, and Ashworth College -Veterinary Technician Animal Care specialist.  So I decided to see when she was licensed as a veterinary technician in Delaware.  Obviously you don't do a walk through or work one day if you aren't licensed to do the job, so I searched Delaware's license verification system for Ms. Gannon, but she is not listed as a licensed veterinary technician.  So it certainly brings into question why she would be doing a this walk through or work day if she wasn't licensed.  And it also brings into question whether she is working at Faithful Friends as a veterinary technician without a license.  A person can be licensed through reciprocity, but even a temporary license should be showing as pending.  And the state's website makes it clear that a license is required, so this is also something that Delaware Division of Professional Regulation should investigate as well.
"Under no circumstances should you begin practicing as a veterinary technician in Delaware before the temporary license is issued." - State of Delaware   
It's ironic that the various no-kill advocates and KCSPCA haters page always seem to say they have documentation of wrong doing at the Kent County SPCA, but so much of it always ends up looking false, or at the very least questionable. It's especially questionable when you take into account that Ms. Gannon has been posting complaints on NKD for some time and you can see in the following posts that despite the various other complaints, there is no mention of the currently alleged work day.

It's especially concerning since it appears that Ms. Gannon was already working for Faithful Friends back in April 2011 when she mentioned the vet exams of these beagles below.  Since she appears to have such contempt for euthanizing animals in her other FB posts, I wonder why would she leave Faithful Friends to allegedly go to a shelter that has to euthanize animals due to their intake volume for a day?  And wasn't it nice of Faithful Friends to take her back if that occurred.

Considering the various pieces of the puzzle above, any reasonable person would find it suspicious that a Faithful Friends employee came out with such an elaborate story about the Kent County SPCA only 2 days after Faithful Friends ended up in the spotlight when one of their dogs attacked a local residents dog.

Of course I was not surprised that local no-kill advocates were willing to jump on the bandwagon and declare the allegations as fact.  From No-Kill Delaware with her blog post and Facebook posts, to the KCSPCA haters page, to a local State Senate candidate.  Not one of them have questioned whether the allegations are true despite the fact that it happens to be a Faithful Friends employee who is making this allegation only 2 days after her own shelter was in the news due to a negative incident, and that she could have a motive of trying to take attention away from from Mondays dog attack by a Faithful Friends dog.

I guess the Delaware Attorney General office will have yet another long drawn out investigation on their hands now.  Considering there are already cases that have been investigated for over a year, I certainly hope we don't have any murderers or criminals that need to be prosecuted in our state because eventually CAPA investigations with be the only thing the AG office will have time for.  The Division of Professional Regulation should also be investigating.  Hopefully other localities considering CAPA legislation, like Oahu and Norfolk, will see the drama and cost that CAPA and "no-kill" will bring to your area, and stay clear of the harm that it will present to your animal welfare community and the cost of it.

To the KCSPCA, the various posts of this week should be pursued legally.  These hate groups will continue making defamatory statements otherwise.  Yes there is free speech in our great country, but individuals must at least perform a reasonable level of due diligence to be protected from liability.  So whether it is claims of a shelter ACO shooting a dog, or other defamatory statements, it seems there are some individuals that need to be taught that there are consequences for running their mouths before they know what they are talking about.

There was one bright spot on the hate page shown below.  It's nice to see that the individuals that brought us CAPA are being dragged into the constant drama they created by this law that allowed the lunatics to take over the asylum.

Especially since I hear a few of those listed in the post above have been lobbying various factions with promises of a new agency under Public Health and $6 million dollars, which is a substantial amount more than the current $2.725 million currently paid towards dog control.  It seems strange that this lobbying effort is being done when the Animal Welfare Task Force has just begun, and as I've previously noted before, Delaware is one of the only states to not have a Public Health official on the task force.  It's too bad the other members of the task force are spending time analyzing the issues to only find out they are merely pawns to give credibility to some plan that was probably hatched long before the task force was even proposed.  As a voter, I have to wonder whether this is a sign that Governor Markell plans to go on a spending spree once he is elected to a second term and no longer has to worry about re-election.  It's certainly something his opponent Jeff Cragg should ask about.

Well at least if animal welfare does eventually go to Public Health, maybe there will be some concern about the public safety and ensuring that we don't adopt out dangerous dogs.  Hopefully Public Health will ensure that we don't end up with the same situation as Austin where their bite rate increased 35% from 2009 to 2011, despite the fact that their population only increased 4%. Improving live release rates is a great goal, but it shouldn't be done at the expense of public safety.  Our children and our pets safety need to be part of the equation.

Here is a link to read a KCSPCA employee rebuttal of the allegations made on NKD.