Sunday, December 23, 2012

Animal Cruelty - Be Part of the Solution

Be Their Voice And Stop Animal Cruelty

We've all seen the headlines over the last year. Animal cruelty, especially hoarding cases, are becoming all too common.  Delaware has certainly seen it's share of these cases in the past year.

There was a recent article that discusses the financial impact these cases have on shelters across the country.
Agencies also victims
Across Pennsylvania, shelters like the ARL take in the victims of animal abuse cases, holding the animals until their owners have their day in court. But as costs build - oftentimes through lengthy appeals and the owners' refusal to surrender the animals for adoption - the agencies become victims themselves, shouldering thousands of dollars in costs as their space for new animals runs thin.
"This is one of the reasons why it puts such a stress on shelters," Brown said. "You'd be surprised how many shelters look the other way because they know they're going to be stuck with them for months or years." -

While our task force it looking at the various issues that impact animals in our state, they need to consider funding shelters for the care required when animals are held before an animal cruelty case goes to court. Especially now that shelters are facing more and more hoarding cases.

What Can We Do As Citizens 

The fact is, these cases would be more manageable, and more animals can be saved if the public becomes part of the solution.

People are reluctant to speak up about animal cruelty for any number of reasons.  They don't want to make enemies of a neighbor.  They don't want to upset their employer.  They are worried that people will blame them if some of the animals need to be euthanized.

But the Caboodle Ranch case is a good example of why the public needs to overcome reasons like above, and help the animals as soon as they know cruelty is happening.  While there was an extensive effort to save the cats, and most of the cats were saved in that case, the fact is that dozens of deceased cats were found on the property and many other cats suffered before the rescue occurred.  Had more people spoke up earlier, the suffering and deaths that resulted could have been prevented.
"These cats have been through so much. At the Caboodle Ranch where they were rescued by the ASPCA and local officials in February, investigators found cats that were in desperate need of immediate veterinary attention. Some were having difficulty breathing; others were sneezing and lethargic. One cat was soaked in urine and feces and could not stand, and another's eyes were matted shut. Dozens of deceased cats were also discovered throughout the property." - Huffington Post
While I think our state should pay for the costs associated with these kind of cases, I also believe we need to  do our part as citizens that care about animals.  Even if your decision to report such cases may bring grief in the short run, most people will know that you are the hero that stopped the suffering of the animals involved.  The animals don't have a voice to speak up, so we need to be that voice !!!

The Solution - Eddie Kirkland
"In the middle of the mess
In the center of the storm
I am right where I belong here
Where the shadow people walk
And the light is all but gone
I am right where I belong here

I'll be a light for the eyes that cannot see
I'll be a voice for the lips that cannot speak
To the broken I will carry your love
I will be part of the solution"

How To Report Cruelty In Delaware

If you witness animal cruelty, make a report with the state police as soon as possible.  Because cruelty statutes are handled by the State Attorney General office, the state police will be more familiar with dealing with the state Attorney General agency.  If the state police will not take your report, then make your report with the State Attorney General office in your county.

Below are the contact numbers you will need.

Delaware State Police: Troop 1
603 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE 19809
Delaware State Police: Troop 5
9265 Public Safety Way
Bridgeville, DE 19933
Delaware State Police: Troop 2
100 Lagrange Ave
Newark, DE 19702
Delaware State Police: Troop 6
3301 Kirkwood Highway
Wilmington, DE 19808
Delaware State Police: Troop 3
3036 Upper King Rd
Dover, DE 19904
Delaware State Police: Troop 7
18006 Coastal Highway
Lewes, DE 19958
Delaware State Police: Troop 4
23652 Shortly Rd
Georgetown, DE 19947
Delaware State Police: Troop 9
414 Main Street
Odessa, DE 19730

Delaware State Attorney General Contact Information

 Wilmington Office:Carvel State Office Bldg
820 N. French Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

8:30 AM - 5:00 PM Mon.-Fri.
Criminal Div.:(302) 577-8500 
Fax:(302) 577-2496

 Dover Office:
102 W. Water Street
Dover, DE 19904

8:00 AM - 4:30 PM Mon.-Fri.

Get Directions
Criminal Div.:(302) 739-4211
Civil Div.:(302) 739-7641

 Georgetown Office:114 East Market St.
Georgetown, DE 19947
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM Mon.-Fri.
Phone:(302) 856-5353
Fax:(302) 856-5369

Cruelty Law Summary

Confronting Animal Neglect in America - This publication by provides a good summary of Delaware's animal cruelty statute.


SUMMARY: The “cruelty to animals” statute includes “cruel neglect” and specifically defines
what proper feed, shelter and veterinary care include, as well as a definition of “cruel neglect.”
DEL. CODE ANN. tit. 11, § 1325 (2004). Cruelty to animals; class A misdemeanor; class F felony. 
(a) For the purpose of this section, the following words and phrases shall include, but not be limited to, the meanings respectively ascribed to them as follows:
(1) "Cruel" includes every act or omission to act whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused or permitted. 
(2) "Cruel mistreatment" includes any treatment whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused or permitted. 
(3) "Cruel neglect" includes neglect of an animal, which is under the care and control of the neglector, whereby pain or suffering is caused to the animal or abandonment of any domesticated animal by its owner or custodian. By way of example, cruel neglect shall also include allowing an animal to live in unsanitary conditions, such as keeping an animal where the animal’s own excrement is not removed from the animal’s living area and/or other living conditions which are injurious to the animal’s health.
(4) "Cruelty to animals" includes mistreatment of any animal or neglect of any animal under the care and control of the neglector, whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused. By way of example this includes: Unjustifiable beating of an animal; overworking an animal; tormenting an animal; abandonment of an animal; failure to feed properly or give proper shelter or veterinary care to an animal. 
(8) "Proper feed" includes providing each animal with daily food and water of sufficient quality and quantity to prevent unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering by the animal.
(9) "Proper shelter" includes providing each animal with adequate shelter from the weather elements as required to prevent unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering by the animal.
(10) "Proper veterinary care" includes providing each animal with veterinary care sufficient to prevent unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering by the animal.
* * * * * 

If we don't speak for the animals, who will?  

Be an animals's hero, and be part of the solution.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kent County Levy Court - Get Your Story Straight

Are there Kent County residents looking for their lost dogs that might have already be found?  Considering there are 120+ Kent County dogs sitting in boarding kennels in addition to those in Safe Haven, that may be the case.

The Kent County Levy Court and their vendor can't even get their stories in sync regarding the shelter's hours open to the public.  The main image here is from the Kent County Levy Court quarterly newsletter, and the bottom right insert is from Safe Havens website. I wonder how many Kent County Residents can't find their dogs as a result of this incompetence?

Even though the recent Cape Gazette article referenced 120 dogs in boarding kennels and 80 in the shelter, there aren't 200 dogs listed on their website. Considering Safe Haven isn't open normal business hours like other shelters to physically look for your missing dog, and the fact that residents are continually being given incorrect information by our county, having pictures of ALL dogs is crucial to ensure misinformed residents can find their dogs.
By law, all animal shelters are required to keep regular hours to allow the public to view and adopt animals. Until Oct. 26, Safe Haven had no public hours, instead prompting residents to view dogs online and then call to make an appointment.
Gryczon said she has 28 employees, but they are not ready or fully trained in order to open the six days a week more typical of shelter operations.
Of the nearly 200 dogs in Safe Haven’s care, only 80 are living at the Shingle Point Road facility outside Georgetown, Gryczon said. The remaining 120 dogs, Gryczon said, are divided among two off-site kennels, one in Kent County and one in Sussex, she said. - Task force to hear animal welfare concerns by Rachel Mavity - Cape Gazette - Nov 23, 2012
If any Kent County resident has lost a dog in recent months and hasn't been able to find it, please contact your Levy Court Commissioner and request access to Safe Haven, and all kennel facilities where they are holding dogs, so you can look for your dog!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Shelter Inspections And Real Standards Demanded

It was nice to see so many residents attend the Public Hearing by the Delaware Animal Welfare Task Force on November 29, especially considering that some media outlets didn't post about the upcoming meeting until the day of the hearing.  There was one consistent theme that came out of the meeting, the need for inspections of our animal shelters, and real standards of care that ensure animal health and welfare.
Erin Giebel, a veterinarian at Savannah Animal Hospital suggested a local physician or committee under the Department of Agriculture should oversee shelters. She said this person or committee could inspect shelters to ensure they are following animal standards laws.
“They could be doing spot checks and unannounced visits,” Giebel said. “They should also limit the rescue groups and create a list, so anyone can find them.”
Giebel also wants guidelines for animal vaccinations and alterations for all animals. Similar to guidelines for vaccinating children, Giebel said a timeline for vaccinating and fixing animals is not difficult to establish. - Article by Rachel Mavity - Cape Gazette
The Cape Gazette article will provide you a great deal of information regarding the various speakers at the public hearing.

Lindsay, who is now employed elsewhere as a vet tech, said all shelters should be held accountable for what goes on at animal shelters.
“Safe Haven has become a hoarding situation and something needs to be done,” Lindsay said.  - Article by Rachel Mavity - Cape Gazette

Demanding Random Unannounced Inspections And Real Animal Shelter Regulation

I've said for some time that Delaware's CAPA, or as the politicians like to call it "the shelter standards", has never been what most of us would consider to be real standards that ensure healthy and safe conditions for our animals.  There are consistently complaints about various shelters, on both sides of the no-kill battle here in Delaware.  So it's time for our legislature and governor to come up with a solution by enacting comprehensive animal shelter and rescue regulation, especially now that there appears to be common ground for both sides requesting regulation.  Regulations that ensure an animal is fed and watered appropriately, proper sanitation, proper cage space, etc.  North Carolina passed similar legislation in recent years, and it's shameful that in Delaware there is not one agency authorized to inspect a shelter, or address most of the issues brought up at the recent public hearing.

Unfortunately our CAPA, which is reminiscent of a teenager pact by the self proclaimed cool kids to bully everyone else, needs to be replaced with a grown up laws like the North Carolina one.

Amusing Highlight

I think the most amusing comment of the night was by Lois Fargo, a board member for the Safe Haven organization.  There appeared to be a great deal of excuses and claims that Kent County SPCA had of "coordinating a smear campaign against the Georgetown shelter", but the fact is that the people who spoke against their shelter was an employee that left on good terms, and a volunteer who had volunteered as a foster caregiver for Safe Haven.  Neither has any connections to the Kent County SPCA, and in fact do have first hand knowledge of Safe Haven, so it's obvious that Ms. Fargo's claim of a smear campaign couldn't be more wrong.
Safe Haven co-founder Lois Fargo disputed those claims, insisting that the agency is the target of harassment because of its no-kill policy.
"It is a group of people led by one woman who worked with us for two weeks and she later told our board of directors that she really wanted the executive director job," she told the task force. "Marleen here tried to break into our facility to steal a dog but we did not press charges." - Article by Stephen Goss - Dover Post

Ms. Fargo's comments reached the pinnacle of ridiculous when she even accused a woman than runs a rescue in New Castle County of trying to steal one of their dogs.  This rescuer had posted on a public Facebook page that she was going to go to Safe Haven back in March to see how far along their construction had progressed, and even has video of her self guided tour outside of the facility.

Based on the construction workers casual interaction with the rescuer in the video, I'm just not hearing the theme song from Mission Impossible in my head, or picturing Marleen with a grappling hook and camouflaged  face for this alleged theft attempt. Considering she has enough on her plate trying to find homes for the dogs already in her care, it does seem ludicrous to believe that she would go to Safe Haven steal a dog.  But I will certainly entertain the fact that there could be a ghost dog from the Safe Haven directors Kentucky past in one of the empty kennels seen in the video that Ms. Fargo thought Marleen was out to steal, and would welcome any ghost busters out there to view the video to search for the dog that the rest us us can't see ;)

Speaking up

I hope the Delaware Animal Welfare Task Force has the next Public Hearing in a larger venue.  The rhetoric since the meeting is getting more intense, which will bring more people forward for the next hearing.

I know that that some of those that spoke had concerns about the fate of the animals if they came forward. But for anyone who hasn't some forward, please keep in mind that the more animals that end up warehoused, the less likely authorities will be able to save as many as possible.
Of the nearly 200 dogs in Safe Haven’s care, only 80 are living at the Shingle Point Road facility outside Georgetown, Gryczon said. The remaining 120 dogs, Gryczon said, are divided among two off-site kennels, one in Kent County and one in Sussex, she said. - Article by Rachel Mavity - Cape Gazette
So if you, or anyone you know, has concerns that need to be brought forward, please contact anyone and everyone concerning those issues.  Contact the Attorney General office, and your state senators and representatives, and the governors office.  Don't wait until we end up like Lied Animal Shelter in Las Vegas where 1000 dogs and cats had to be euthanized due to crowded conditions and disease outbreaks. The more animals that become involved, the less likely that there will be a good outcome for as many animals as possible.