Sunday, November 23, 2014

"No-Kill" Supports Irresponsible Dog Tethering Owner

The "No-Kill" movement never ceases to amaze me with the depths they will go to attack other animal welfare organizations.  I'm not sure whether this occurs because they hope to cannibalize the donations of those other organizations, or whether it's because the true animal welfare organizations have on many occasions taken down the very shelters and rescues that "No-Kill" have supported like Caboodle Ranch.  In some cases those animal welfare organizations have also had to clean up the messes that "No-Kill" makes like our very own Safe Haven in Delaware.  

This past week was no different. When a report came out about PETA allegedly stealing a dog in Accomack County, various "No-Kill" entities began their normal assault against PETA like a pack of rabid dogs. If you watch the video on this story that originally aired on Wavy.com, it's interesting to note that the media outlet attempted to make the story even more dramatic by splicing out 17 seconds on the tape from 1:52:16 to 1:52:33. It seems they wanted it to make it appear as if the PETA workers walked right up on the porch and got the dog who had already been off the porch once, and then right back off the porch.  I don't know what occurred during that 17 seconds, if the workers knocked on the door to see if the at large dog had gone back to it's home, but it's sad that the media attempts to sensationalize stories when there was more than adequate time during the story to show the whole video sequence.  

"Commonwealths Attorneys cannot always make popular decisions, rather they are charged with making responsible decisions. Prosecutors must decide if evidence gathered provides proof beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the criminal offense. The criminal intent required to convict someone for theft or property (or dog) it must be shown that the defendant intended to steal the property (or dog) it must be shown that the taking was coupled with the intent of depriving the rightful owner of their property. 
The facts appear be that PETA was asked to help when an adjacent landowner reported that they should see how his cow with her udders ripped up from abandoned and stray dogs in the trailer park area amounted to a menace not to be tolerated. He complained to PETA that the abandoned and stray dogs attacked his livestock, injured his milking cow, killed his goat and terrorized his rabbits. Abandoned and/or stray dogs and cats have appeared to have been considerable in what is known as Dreamland 2. PETA responded and the trailer park management encouraged their efforts in an attempt to gather stray/abandoned cats and dogs. Additionally the leases provided that no dogs were allowed to run free in the trailer park.
Approximately three weeks before Mr. Cerates dog was taken by the women associated with PETA, Mr. Cerate asked if they would put traps under his trailer to catch some of the wild cats that were in the trailer park, and traps were provided to him as requested. Additionally, parties associated with PETA provided Mr. Cerate with a dog house for two other dogs that were tethered outside of Mr. Cerates home.
On or about October 18 a van that was operated by the ladies associated with PETA arrived the at the trailer park. The van was clearly marked PETA and in broad daylight arrived gathering up what abandoned stray dogs and cats could be gathered. Among the animals gathered was the Chihuahua of Mr. Cerate. Unfortunately the Chihuahua wore no collar, no license, no rabies tag, nothing whatsoever to indicate the dog was other than a stray or abandoned dog. It was not tethered nor was it contained. Other animals were also gathered. Individuals living in the trailer park were present and the entire episode was without confrontation. Mr. Cerate was not at home and the dog was loose, sometimes entering the shed/porch or other times outside in the trailer park before he was put in the van and carried from the park. The dogs owned by Mr. Cerate that were tethered were not taken.
Whether one favors or disfavors PETA has little to do with the decision of criminality. The issue is whether there is evidence that the two people when taking the dog believed they were taking the dog of another or whether they were taking an abandoned and/or stray animal. There have been no complaints on the other animals taken on that same day, and, like the Chihuahua, had no collar or tag. From the request of the neighboring livestock owner and the endorsement by the trailer park owner/manager the decision as to the existence of criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt must be made by the prosecutor. More clearly stated, with the evidence that is available to the Commonwealth, it is just as likely that the two women believed they were gathering abandoned and/or stray animals rather than stealing the property of another. Indeed, it is more probable under this evidence that the two women associated with PETA that day believed they were gathering animals that posed health and/or livestock threat in the trailer park and adjacent community. Without evidence supporting the requisite criminal intent, no criminal prosecution can occur. 
The animals were not euthanized in Accomack County, so this jurisdiction makes no determination on those issues. 
Signed,
Gary R. Agar
Commonwealths Attorneys Office"

So while it's unfortunate that this Mr. Cerate's daughter lost a dog that she loved, let's address the real culprit whose actions resulted in the death of this dog. That would be the the father who allowed his dog to run loose without tags after PETA had previously assisted him by providing shelter for his tethered dogs.  His actions were especially reckless given a similar round up of 27 dogs by the county animal control agency less than a year ago.  
"Stray dogs are terrorizing an area surrounding Dreamland Two Mobile Home Park in Hopeton, residents of the area say.
Matt Cormons was one of three Dennis Drive residents who spoke about the problem during a public comment period at the Accomack County Board of Supervisors meeting.
David Van Dessel gave board members a map marked with the location of six recent dog attacks on household pets, livestock and two raccoons found torn apart in a field in the neighborhood.
“We in the Hopeton area are having an increasing and rapidly accelerating problem with wild dog packs,” he said.
He spend $850 in veterinarian bills resulting from attacks on two family pets, both cats, and his mother’s cat was killed by the dogs, he said." - DelmarvaNow.com

It is deplorable that the "No-Kill" movement has chosen to stand by an individual who not only tethers his dogs when he is not home, which essentially makes those dogs sitting ducks for other vicious dogs roaming that were harming pets as listed above, but a man who also contributed to the roaming dog issue by allowing his own dog to run at large without identification.

But given Delaware, the only state foolish enough to pass Nathan Winograd's CAPA, passed an obviously unenforceable tethering bill in recent years, I guess it shouldn't surprise me to see "No-Kill" advocates across the country standing in support of a man who seems to lack any sense of responsibility for the care of his family's pets.  And maybe our legislators in Delaware wrote the unenforceable tether law in Delaware because "No-Kill" really didn't want a real law because they don't care about quality of life.

After seeing what I assume is Mr. Wilber Cerate's (Zarate) business page, and the press pass that he is wearing, I have to wonder if the dog in this case is truly the reason for this story that resulted in attacks on PETA, or if there is another motive.  Especially if Inside Edition is actually going to report on the case as mentioned on a page created for the dog.




The Hype Versus The Reality

The various media outlet's actions in generating the hype around this story show the fact that investigative journalism is unfortunately a dying art which has been replaced by 'reporters' whose primary goal is to write a story that catches the attention on social media, no matter whether it only includes part of the story. The one thing the media can count on when doing a story about one of the big 3 animal welfare organizations is for Richard Berman's HumaneWatch and Nathan Winograd's "No-Kill" movement to join hands and pass on the hype, whether there was more to the story or not.

Here are just some of the screenshots showing who generated interest in news reports that only told half of the story, and the petitions and fundraisers that resulted.

HumaneWatch Facebook Page


Nathan Winograd Facebook Post


Mike Fry Blog post / Donation Request

Make sure to read the fine printer below from Mike Fry's donation request above to see who will likely benefit given the fact that the Commonwealth Attorney had already said the case was not being prosecuted.  I will also post it here since it is so minuscule.
"If information is not obtained leading to a conviction, funds will be used to help end killing in animal shelters across the USA."

Mike Fry Blog Post / Donation Request Closeup

It was rather amusing to watch Mr. Fry avoid answering this gentleman's question on the dogs Facebook page when he asked what the funds would be used for.  Love the tactic of spouting out alot of nothing to avoid the real question.  Mr. Fry must be practicing to be a politician.


Mike Fry NOT Answering Question About Donations


No-Kill Nation Facebook - Not surprised they don't even have time right.

Hope For Delaware Dogs Facebook page

There are many more screenshots that I have archived, but I'm sure you get the point.  Whether it be organizations that hope they can get a piece of PETA's funding, more name recognition, or a lobbyist that wants to stop PETA from busting his clients, there are clearly questionable motives to the hype around this case.  It will be interesting to see whether the media continues to cater to social media, or whether they actually act like journalists and look at the whole story.  

But ultimately the questions for "No-Kill" are:
  • Where was "No-Kill" when the dogs were tethered without shelter? 
  • Where was "No-Kill" when the farm animals and people's pets were attacked by stray dogs?
  • Where was "No-Kill" when stray dogs were killed on the road?
  • Where was "No-Kill" when Mr. Cerate had PETA trap stray cats on his property?
Oh, that's right, they were on the magical mystery tour called "No-Kill" is Love and promoting themselves to sparsely filled theaters, rather than actually helping animals.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Friends In Low Places

Political Connections Pay Off


A number of the "No-Kill" pages in Delaware keep referring to the New Castle County audit of Kent County SPCA that New Castle County itself must have discounted given the fact that they again contracted with the shelter again after the audit.  Maybe the county saw the inappropriateness of their auditor being the one to request the audit given his board leadership of the "No-Kill" shelter that brought us CAPA.

The irony of their obsession with attacking Kent Count SPCA, now known as First State Animal Center and SPCA, is the fact that they ignore the corrupt politics that has resulted in the atrocities that were occurring at Safe Haven last year, and the continual corrupt politics that continues to pervade our state legislature in Delaware.

One only needs to look at the lack of common sense that our legislature has shown the last several years in animal welfare, to see that we need a substantial change in leadership to stop the cronyism that currently occurs, not to mention the various other scandals that the state has faced like the Tigani illegal contributions. Our legislatures actions have been costly to taxpayers wallets and costly to animals in the suffering that CAPA has created on many fronts from Safe Haven to the animals now left on our street.



This summer brought us more of the same kind of cronyism that we've seen in recent years with Senate Bill #253.  The bill's primary sponsor was Senate Majority Leader David McBride. additional sponsor Representative Michael Barbieri, cosponsor Senate President Patricia Blevins, and cosponsor Representative Michael Mulrooney, and of course eventually signed by our Governor Jack Markell who the shelter involved has acknowledged having connections with in the past.  Here is the bill's synopsis:
"This legislation authorizes the conveyance of the Airport Road Division of Motor Vehicles facility over to the Colonial School District. The legislation also directs the Colonial School District to subdivide, and convey a portion of the parcel to be transferred to Faithful Friends."



It was particularly concerning that our governor and legislature was handing over rights to property worth millions to an animal shelter whose last published financial statement on record at the time was for the year ending June 30, 2010.

What responsible lawmaker would hand over valuable land that could be sold to cover part of the shortfall that our state budget continues to face every years, especially when these same politicians keep proposing new taxes and fees on the average Delaware citizen that is finding it difficult to make end meets?

And how do the politicians think the shelter will develop the land when their assets on the last financial statement available when the bill was signed were under $35,000, and then also pay for the operations afterward?  I guess the answer is that we don't have responsible lawmakers and they apparently didn't learn anything from the Safe Haven debacle.

It gets even better.  When talks first began about this property, the shelter in question also owed $21,029.31 to the State of Delaware Department of Labor.



The initial complaint was filed on June 21, 2011.  So not only is it sad that our governor and legislator would want to hand over money to a shelter who hadn't filed a financial statement since mid 2010, but a shelter who also owed the state of Delaware substantial funds.

The other question that arises is - what is wrong with the State of Delaware Department of Labor that this debt was allowed to linger for nearly 3 years?  We've all seen the mess that has occurred in Delaware with the Medical Examiners Office in recent months, but things like this debt make me wonder whether the press shouldn't be investigating other agencies as well.

Does Labor Secretary John McMahon just file complaints and then hope they eventually pay or was this a special case because the shelter has friends in low places like our legislature?  I don't know the answer, but it certainly seems odd that an agency files a complaint, and then just lets it sit for years.

It appears the Department of Labor judgment was "satisfied" on March 5. which hopefully means that our politicians told Faithful Friends that their debt would have to be paid before the legislature would hand over valuable property to the shelter, but looking at the situation as a whole there is no doubt that our legislature and governor are ignoring their fiduciary duties to the taxpayers of Delaware and ready to head down the same failed path that we just did with Safe Haven.

Since the legislation was signed, the shelter has FINALLY completed their financial statements for 6/30/11 and 6/30/12, but considering the shelters assets were $26,445 before the judgment of $21,029 was satisfied, there wouldn't seem to be alot left over to build with.  You have to seriously wonder what our politicians were thinking, especially after watching Safe Haven build a shelter that now lies vacant and the many businesses that were left with debts in Safe Haven's wake.

For what it's worth, we realize that there are alot of good people that volunteer their time for Faithful Friends, and addressing the political issues that revolve around the leadership of this shelter in no way reflects on them. But as long as the Shelter Director, the President of the board, and other board members that we've watched participate on pages that have bashed every other shelter in Delaware, than it is all the more appropriate to show the political games the leadership of Faithful Friends has been part of.  The public needs to see just what kind of people are casting those stones at the other shelters, and their stones have been cast against other shelters, not just First State Animal Center.      

Most of the politicians that were involved in the legislation above won't face another election until 2016, but hopefully their opponents will question the many poor decisions that have resulted in Delaware residents paying more and more taxes, receiving less services, and dealing with the many negative consequences of legislation that was not thoroughly analyzed first, much like we saw happen with CAPA and other animal welfare legislation in our state.

The video below is a testament to the those people in Delaware that use their political connections for special perks to the expense of Delaware residents.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

OAW Dog Control Recommendations - Confirming CAPA's Cost

I was just taking a look through the posted Delaware Animal Control Recommendations that the The Division of Public Health's Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) has on their site.

CAPA Slammed Shelter Doors Shut & Lost Services


I thought is was pretty funny that the new Office of Animal Welfare attributed the shutting of shelter doors to cats to the transfer of fiscal responsibility of animal control from the state to the counties, but we all saw that it didn't really occur until mid 2011, 6 months after CAPA went into effect.  Thank goodness for screenshots, documentation, and past articles.  Guess they do have to keep our favorite politicians happy though.
"County responsibility for dog control is defined in Title 9, Chapter 9 of the Delaware Code. Prior to the passage of this law in 2010, the responsibility of dog control enforcement fell to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and was a statewide, State-funded function. DNREC contracted with the Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DESPCAJ and Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (KCSPCA) to carry out enforcement and sheltering responsibilities mandated by the law. While Delaware Code only mandated dog care and control, the contracted agencies provided comprehensive animal control, including services for stray cats, nuisance wildlife, and stray livestock. Dog and kennel licensing, and Title 9, Chapter 9 code violation citations, were the intentional sources of revenue for these services, all of which proved inadequate."

No Denying The Costs Of CAPA & Still Rising 



At least they did acknowledged the rising costs that resulted after CAPA to the tune of $830,000 on the city and county level that occurred simultaneously with less services, although they did fail to mention the other $700,000 that was budgeted for the Office of Animal Welfare on the state level which brings us to a total increase of $1,530,000 costs so far. 

So yes, CAPA has been costly already, even though our level of service went down simultaneously since no shelter had the warehouse space to keep all the animals, or the legal and clerical staff to deal with all the complaints that came with taking in cats.
"The second major change over recent years is the rising cost for service. When the state held responsibility for providing dog control services, contract costs averaged $2.37 million for a full year of service. Today that cost has risen to almost $3.2 million statewide, which represents a 35% increase since 2009. Counties have not experienced a corresponding increase in revenue earmarked for these services. One reason for this increase may be the fragmentation of the service contract. Since county/city dog control contract negotiations are completed separately, there is disparity between services and their associated costs. Cost advantages that result from consolidated, large-scale operations are not being realized. Other contributing factors to cost increases include a better understanding of the true cost of enforcement and sheltering, the advancement of shelter practices to prevent disease transmission, improved access to proper veterinary care, and increased opportunities for pet-owner reunification and homeless pet adoption."
Dangerous Dogs Ignored Post CAPA & Cruel Suffering of Cats That Resulted

I'm also glad to see that they acknowledge that dangerous dog oversight went out the door with CAPA, and that it has become a cruel world for animals in the state of Delaware since CAPA.  Pretty much everything some of us have been saying for a while.
"Significant gaps in service 
The Dangerous Dog Panel has been defunct for several years, making it difficult for the dog control agencies to properly investigate cases and initiate hearings. 
Cats are a large source of public service requests, yet services previously in place are now nonexistent. Ill or injured cats are not covered under animal control contracts and, therefore, there is no response when cases are reported. This results in the unnecessary and cruel suffering of these cats and a heightened emotional response from the public. Under the Title 11, Chapter 5 animal cruelty statute, the neglect of an injured or ill cat is considered an act of cruelty to animals, indicating the seriousness of that act and indicating the need for intervention.

Animal cruelty investigation goes hand-in-hand with dog control enforcement. In fact, many dog control complaints result in animal cruelty investigations. However, since dog control services are funded and mandated, but animal cruelty services are not, response is not seamless, nor consistent, and prolonged animal suffering may result.

Animal cruelty statutes are enforced by voluntary, non-profit organizations. Services are very costly and cumbersome, and there is no funding for the work. Currently, both organizations that voluntarily enforce animal cruelty statutes are reconsidering their role in providing this service. As with dog control, this puts the State in a vulnerable position."

Market Competition - Request For Proposals Were Posted 


This was one statement that I found rather confusing and inaccurate, since every shelter had the opportunity to bid on these contracts, but they CHOSE NOT TO.  Most likely because they saw "No-Kill" dog control fail miserably under Safe Haven.  The reality is that market competition was "allowed" and the RFP process by the counties "promoted" competition.  Maybe our Senate President wants to funnel some funds to her favorite shelters without the real responsibility of handling dog control like I heard was being considered up in Wilmington earlier in the year, even though that plan ultimately died.
"The animal control structure should allow for market competition A system that is hindered by a limited number of providers or that does not promote, and allow, market competition is not sustainable."
 
State Plan - Or Not?

Ultimately, it sounds like the state will eventually take over dog control and spew out money to various shelters to hold the animals, as some have been talking about for some time. So then state leaders can funnel money where they choose. But in the end, all the shelters will continue to be full, and nothing will have changed other than a larger portion of our paychecks will be gone, and animals will still be left on the streets, and others will still be euthaniized.

On the bright side, I do look forward to the day when the state that created Delaware's animal welfare worst nightmare with CAPA will ultimately become the target of the people they enabled with CAPA if they do take over animal control. That will be the ultimate Karma if they are ever able to actually put state animal control in place.  But given what we've seen to date, our legislators and their minions tend to talk a good game, but the execution is usually minimal or nonexistent.
"Cost and revenue
Cost for state animal control services and animal cruelty enforcement should be shared between the State, New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties, and the City of Wilmington."
 .
The Division of Public Health's Office of Animal Welfare should identify new or expanded sources of revenue for animal control services, including increased dog license compliance and consolidation of dog licensing services into the state model.

The Office should also make recommendations for combining rabies prevention and control and animal control contracts, allowing the State to realize cost savings and service inefficiencies. likewise, the Office of Animal Welfare should identify any other opportunities for cost savings through consolidation."
Given the fact that costs increased over $1.5 million under CAPA already, it will be interesting to see what all the additional services discussed will cost. Hopefully some funds will actually make it to the animals, rather than paying for shelters to pull files incessantly or more bureaucrats to clean up certain senators messes.  But I suspect we may just end up just replacing the current animal control officers with a state division, and that will come at a much higher cost than the the OAW since that will be 3-4 times as many people as currently working for the OAW.

Given the current budget issues on the state level, I can't imagine this will be good news for the counties with the COST SHARING PLAN, so they might want to save up and get their checkbooks ready.

I thought the final line above proclaiming cost savings through consolidation was quite Winogradian of the OAW, especially considering the fact that the rabies contract is a pittance of the dog control contracts and the fact that the additional steps taken to report and/or quarantine animals means that there will likely be very little in the way of cost savings.

Like Winograd and his claims that CAPA saves communities money, when we can obviously see it doesn't, I suppose the new office had to throw that in there to try and gain some favor in case there are any legislators that give a damn about actually living within their means on budget issues, but I think we've seen that Delaware's legislature has no problem spending our money, and will just ask for more of it when they run out the piggy bank yet again. We already know that they will pass their gas tax once elections are past, so don't be surprised if you see a hefty increase in dog licenses.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Transparency Is A Myth In Delaware

Office Of Animal Welfare Office Learns To Fake And Punt From the Best

We've all seen Governor Markell, Senator President Patricia Blevins, and Senator Karen Peterson tout transparency in Delaware, and their claims sure do make the perfect opportunity for one of those pretty photo ops like CAPA did four years ago, doesn't it?

RA RA sis boom bah 

Unfortunately, the reality is so far from what is portrayed by our governor and lawmakers to the public. Transparency in Delaware is selective based on what our state leaders actually want us to see.  If one of our legislators wants to get their friends into an organization's meetings, then they do a FOIA request themselves through the state Attorney General Office like we saw Senator Blevins do not once, but twice to ensure that the first ruling didn't open the doors to the "No-Kill" shelters in our state.  This way I guess the AG office knows that they have permission to enforce FOIA. 

When Citizens To Save Safe Haven wanted the same access to Safe Haven's board meetings and asked Senator Blevins for the same access to Safe Haven's board meetings, that group was blown off and nobody ever gained access to those meetings despite the fact they were getting hundreds of thousands of dollars from Kent County under the state mandated dog control, or the millions in taxpayer dollars that were loaned to them by the USDA with the help of our national lawmakers.  In Delaware transparency only happens when those in power have an agenda to accomplish.  

Dangerous Dog Control Panel - The Hidden Transcript


Multiple requests have been made for the minutes / transcript from the first Dangerous Dog Control Panel to happen since CAPA was enacted in 2011.  The hearing was a public meeting that was setup by the Office of Animal Welfare, and as such was posted on the State of Delaware's Public Calendar




The Public Meeting notice says that Public Health (who the Office of Animal Welfare falls under) hosted the meeting and stated the following concerning the meeting being transcribed in lieu of minutes:
"Minutes: All proceedings, except those held in executive session, will be recorded and transcribed by a registered court reporter. " 
Sounds like transparency doesn't it, at least until the transcript is never posted and FOIA requests are denied.  

Here is FOIA language concerning public records:
"(l) "Public record" is information of any kind, owned, made, used, retained, received, produced, composed, drafted or otherwise compiled or collected, by any public body, relating in any way to public business, or in any way of public interest, or in any way related to public purposes, regardless of the physical form or characteristic by which such information is stored, recorded or reproduced." - Title 29, Chapter 100
And:
"(f) Each public body shall maintain minutes of all meetings, including executive sessions, conducted pursuant to this section, and shall make such minutes available for public inspection and copying as a public record. Such minutes shall include a record of those members present and a record, by individual members (except where the public body is a town assembly where all citizens are entitled to vote), of each vote taken and action agreed upon. Such minutes or portions thereof, and any public records pertaining to executive sessions conducted pursuant to this section, may be withheld from public disclosure so long as public disclosure would defeat the lawful purpose for the executive session, but no longer. All public bodies in the executive branch of state government that are subject to the provisions of this chapter and meet 4 or fewer times per year shall electronically post draft minutes of open public meetings, identified as "draft minutes," to the designated State website approved by the Secretary of State within 20 working days after the conclusion of the meeting. Prior to being posted, draft minutes may be distributed to members of the public body who were present at the open public meeting. Draft minutes may continue to be revised and corrected up until final minutes are approved by the public body at an open meeting. All public bodies in the executive branch of state government that are subject to the provisions of this chapter shall electronically post final approved minutes of open public meetings to the designated State of Delaware website approved by the Secretary of State within 5 working days of final approval of said minutes." - Title 29, Chapter 100
Since the meeting transcript was never posted, a state resident has made several attempts at a FOIA request to gain access to the transcript of the meeting.  This resident was in attendance at the public meeting and frustrated by the many inaccurate portrayals of the meeting, especially since she sat near the one owner whose dog was hurt the worst by the dog being reviewed by the panel.  She also felt that it was unfair that the owner had been subjected to the dangerous dog hearing process by an animal shelter, and their lawyer who spent a long evening questioning the details of the attack despite the obvious proof that her dog was harmed so severely. The resident was especially upset by the fact that this dog was under review for attacking other dogs on 2 occasions and managed to injure one person as well during one of the attacks, yet was listed by the shelter as good with dogs and children, despite his historical behavior issues.  This dog didn't fail a temperament test, it attacked. Yet some are so willing to prove "No-Kill" works, that they're willing to place the public and their pets in danger for that agenda.



The Fake

Back in May when the resident made her original FOIA request for the minutes / transcript from the Dangerous Dog Control Panel hearing of May 12, the resident was was told by Jay Lynch, the Deputy Principal Assistant of the DHSS Office of the Secretary, that the minutes would need to be voted on at the next Dog Control Panel meeting.  This seemed strange given that the Public Calendar posting mentioned a transcript rather than minutes, and the fact that a court reporter was in attendance at the meeting.  But the resident accepted Mr. Lynch's word on the subject and patiently waited.  

The Punt

After a couple more requests and delays, Jay Lynch of DHSS provided this reply today. 
"As for the Dog Control Panel meetings, per law, a court stenographer has recorded and transcribed all recent hearings.  Those documents are "owned" by the counties, as the Dog Control Panel falls under Title 9 jurisdiction.  To request a copy of the panel hearing transcriptions, they should contact the county executive office for the county in which the panel hearing was held." - DHSS Office Of The Secretary, 7/22/14 Response to FOIA Request
So apparently the Office of Animal Welfare and DHSS have just spent two months giving this resident the run around to no avail, and even more pathetically have punted the ball into the hands of Sussex County Council.  

It's not like the Secretary of DHSS needed yet another example of her agency's either utter incompetence or outright political games to protect Faithful Friends from the scrutiny of FOIA.  While First State Animal Center has been subjected to at the double FOIA request of Senator Blevins, who is listed as an advisor on the Faithful Friends website, and the many relationships we've seen with that shelter and our Governor's office, it now appears that the new office and their parent agency has already learned the tricks of the trade to avoiding the sunshine of FOIA on behalf of the Senator whose hand picked Animal Welfare Task Force created their new Office of Animal Welfare.  

You would think Ms. Landgraf would have had enough drama since scandals have already plagued her agency in recent months like the Medical Examiner Office fiasco that has made national news and may result in hundreds of prisoners being released due to their agency's incompetence to properly handle evidence, and the recent audit where it was found that her agency used nearly $270,000 of funds from the CDC improperly.  

So the FOIA requests will continue, but in a different venue of Sussex County.  We we suspect the county will be like deer in headlights and wonder why the state has dropped this mess into their laps, but if all else fails we will look to the media for assistance and the state and county can play toss the ball with the press.  The press knows all too well that if the state is trying to hide information, then state leaders must have something they want to hide.

Given this obvious lack of cooperation on a pretty basic FOIA request to the State of Delaware, I think the pretty photo op at the top misrepresents any true advances in transparency.  While we know that Nathan Winograd speaks nonsense when he talks about pet overpopulation being a myth and claims of CAPA being any kind of shelter standards since it has no REAL standards, but more importantly we also know far too well that TRANSPARENCY IN DELAWARE IS A MYTH.  

So this picture more accurately portrays the BS that our state officials are shoveling us regarding transparency in Delaware. Given what we've seen in the last several years, I wouldn't expect to see open government in Delaware anytime in the near future, at least not without a major clean out during elections.





Saturday, July 5, 2014

Shelters Releasing Animals To Living Hells

This week there was another story about shelter animals in California that were released into a living hell. Whether it be California's Hayden Act or Delaware's CAPA, the scramble to get animals out the door to any and every "rescue" results in animal cruelty far too often and the cost to the welfare of these animals is not acceptable. 



This story was regarding a woman in California who was charged with 90 counts of felony animal cruelty when over 200 cats were found on her property, of which 155 were alive and 64 dead.  23 of the live cats have also euthanized to prevent further suffering. The remaining live cats remain under quarantine for a host of medical issues.
“Unfortunately, the cats are still under quarantine at this time for medical issues," said Maggie Kalar of KCAS. "Those medical issues range from upper respiratory infections to panleukopenia."
Neighbors described Patz as a hoarder and said the many cats she kept would roam the neighborhood on a daily basis. - ABC Bakersfield
While on the surface this just looks like another individual case of hoarding, when I looked further into Ms. Patz's background it was found that she was on the board of directors for a group called Feral Paws Rescue Group.  They are a "rescue" group that pulls cats from shelters like Lancaster Animal Shelter in California that is part of the Los Angeles animal control system, and Liberty Animal Control in Fresno.





The irony is that this group posts on multiple occasions about "high-kill" shelters.  Considering the circumstances that occurred this week, this "rescue" may want to look at it's "high-kill" ways. And it certainly does reflect well on this group that their reaction to the case was to cleanse their website on the pages shown above which I found in Google cache from a week earlier, and has just posted cute pictures on their Facebook since the bust and avoided discussing what role their group may have had in this case. A responsible rescue would have stepped up and said Ms. Patz was part of their group and that they will be taking specific steps to prevent it from happening again.

Had some of these animals been euthanized at the shelter, it would have at least been done in a humane and painless manner.  Instead we know that a high percentage of the cats in this case died anyway, and in many cases it may have been due to the same illnesses that the currently quarantined cats are suffering from.  And with that many cats in one home, I can only imagine the conditions that these cats were living in.  The story also tells us that 23 of the cats were suffering based on an examination by a veterinarian.  This is not more acceptable than humane euthanasia, and that's why Ms. Patz was charged with animal cruelty.

Until the discussion in companion animal welfare starts focusing on prevention and lowering the pet overpopulation that "No-Kill" claims to be a myth, we will continue to see the exponential increases in rescue hoarding that we have seen in recent years.  It's a sad time for animals when communities or states like Delaware and California actually support rescue hoarding with laws that might have been well intentioned, but are eventually shown to be severely flawed and result in animal cruelty. Animals don't care about political photo ops, and they deserve better than state sanctioned cruelty.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Costs of CAPA Continue To Rise Substantially

We've known for some time that CAPA and "no-kill" were costly based on the impact that it had on our animal shelter balance sheets.  While the costs continue to impact our shelter financials (or at least the ones who have updated financials on Guidestar), the costs are now ever increasing for the state, county and city taxpayers.


State Costs 

As a result of extreme drama and chaos that was created when our legislature and governor passed CAPA, a task force was setup to try to fix the mess that was made by state officials.  The task force, which was obviously handpicked by the same people who brought us CAPA, decided that our state needed a new Office of Animal Welfare which is under Public Health within Department of Health and Human Services.

"Mr. Carroll inquired about the funding of the Office, and Senator Blevins estimated the ideal structure presented would require a budget of under $500,000 a year." - Task Force Minutes 2/21/13

Amusingly, this office was setup in the typical underhanded manner that we've seen with other bills in our state by sneaking their budget into last years budget bill epilogue rather than creating the office with legislation.  This allowed our legislature to have DHSS begin hiring the people they want and then they could pass the necessary legislation this year without a fiscal note and who could say no to the legislation once everyone was hired. A nifty little underhanded scheme you will only see in Delaware politics.

So this year the legislation has passed both the house and the senate, and I'm sure will create a nice little photo op for everyone involved when the governor signs the bill just like CAPA did, even though the office had already hired people months earlier.  But at least the office will now have some authority to do something.

One surprise about this office that did appear in this years budget bill is the fact that this new office of 5 people is going to cost over $200,000 more than estimates just a year ago.  This was especially surprising given the fact that our budget process has been quite contentious this year with all kinds of new taxes proposed and only a couple of those new taxes (or new fee increases as they like to call them) survived in this election year. 



One possible explanation is that many of the handpicked members of the task force made claims of wanting a veterinarian to be part of this office (which few of us believed), since part of the office's duties will be to ascertain whether a shelter violates CAPA, and determining whether a shelter veterinarian's medical judgement that an animal is suffering sufficiently for euthanasia was correct. As it turns out, no veterinarian was hired. So maybe part of the cost increase is to contract out for a veterinarian to review records and make that judgment without the animal in their presence, since the office could be at risk of violating veterinary medical practice laws if their non-veterinary employees made those assessments. $200,000 would give the state sufficient funds to ensure they can buy the opinion that they want, whereas a state employee would be protected from the wrath of our "no-kill" senators under state employment rules. It would certainly provide our "no-kill" political players with a great deal more leverage to get the answers they want.

Local Contracts


This past week has been a flurry of activity when it comes to the local contracts as well.

Wilmington
As some will recall, just a couple years ago the Delaware SPCA decided to leave the dog control business for the city of Wilmington. The contract in 2011 was $252,000, and Delaware SPCA said the choice was because it cost $353,000 to handle the contract.  The city then raised the contract to $355,000 to keep the Delaware SPCA under contract, but that was just a temporary fix and Delaware SPCA did eventually give up the dog control contract which points to fact that the issue isn't just about money, but whether they could remain "no-kill" if they continued to stay under contract.  As a result, the city of Wilmington is now paying $600,000 a year to First State Animal Center and SPCA (formerly Kent County SPCA) to handle that the contract.


Kent County
In 2011 the contract for Kent County was $829,000 for dog control.  Later in 2012 they negotiated with First State Animal Center, and with less hours and other changes in the terms of service, the contract amount was lowered to $758,000.  But as alot of the "no-kill" drama began to impact the shelters costs with never ending investigations, the costs of employees continually pulling records, and lawsuits, the shelter eventually walked away from the contract when negotiations went sour and as a result we suffered through the Safe Haven debacle back at the contract level of $829,000. That contract bankrupted Safe Haven within a year and a half.  This week the contract was approved in Kent County for $2.68 million for 3 years ($893,000 per year), but as a result of the Safe Haven mess, the county also handles it's own code enforcement.  

Summary 


I know the other 2 county contracts have been negotiated as well, but I haven't seen the numbers for those counties yet.  As you can see in the summary below, the costs continue to increase, and sadly we really haven't seen any improvements for the animals or the residents of our state.

We continue to see issues with dangerous dogs and residents continue to be inundated with cats due to the closed shelter doors.  There was a story recently that highlighted an 84 yer old war veteran in Sussex County that Safe Haven talked into keeping cats on his property, but in Safe Haven's typical incompetent fashion they only spayed and neutered a small number of the cats. As a result this gentleman now has over 30 cats that he is feeding. Fortunately the cats in his care are doing well, but the question is - what happens to the cats if something happens to him at his age?  But of course we will never get answers to those questions, just more political games, more costs, more drama, and more excuses.  That is the "Delaware Way". 

State Summary:  
2011 - $0
2015 - $700,000

Wilmington Summary:
2011 - $252,000
2015 - $600,000

Kent County
2011 - $829,000 (FSAC also handled code enforcement)
2015 - $893,000 + county cost to handle code enforcement themselves




Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Tragedy of Dangerous Dogs In Delaware

Tonight I write with a heavy heart for a family who is now dealing with a tragedy that will probably be one of the most horrific events over the course of their life. Today a 4 year old boy in Delaware was killed by 3 dogs, and his pregnant mother was bitten multiple times trying courageously to save her child.  We've all lost someone special in our lives at some point, but I can't even imagine the horror or pain of losing a child, and I pray that nobody else has to face that kind of pain.
Troopers Investigating Deadly Pit Bull Attack
May 7, 2014 at 10:39pm
Felton, DE- The Delaware State Police are currently investigating a deadly pit bull attack that tragically killed a 4-year-old boy.
The incident occurred around 4:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon as a 4-year-old Camden boy and his 24-year-old mother were visiting with a female friend in the 900 block of Edwardsville Road, west of Felton.  The mother, who is several months pregnant, and her friend were inside the residence while the 4-year-old was outside playing in the yard around her friend's three pit bulls of whom he'd been around numerous times in the past.  At one point, the mother looked out the window and observed her son being attacked by the dogs.  While her friend called 9-1-1, the mother immediately ran out in an attempt to save her son and was also bit numerous times on both arms.  Two HVAC repairmen working at the house also attempted to save the young child by fending off the animals with PVC piping and assisting the mother from the attacking dogs.
EMS and troopers responded to the scene and began first aid on the young boy before he was soon pronounced dead.  He was turned over the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner who will conduct an autopsy to rule the exact cause and manner of death.
The 24-year-old mother was transported by EMS to Kent General Hospital where she is being treated for her injuries as well as observation.
The investigation into this incident is on going and the three pit bull dogs were removed from the residence by the SPCA.  The status of the dogs is unknown at this time.
The name of the 4-year-old victim is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
This tragedy puts the current legislation regarding dangerous dogs (HB297) in perspective.  Some of our "No-Kill" cohorts have argued to water down this legislation. They claim that cases where an animal chasing someone in an aggressive manner on their own property "in an apparent attitude of attack" should not constitute consideration as a dangerous dog.  But what if these dogs had previously chased or lunged at someone, but the person was lucky or fast enough to not get bitten. If this had been the case here, who in their right mind wouldn't want to err on the side of public safety and protection of children?

It doesn't appear that there were previous incidents based on the article, which stated that the child had been around the dogs without incident, but it doesn't take much of a stretch to imagine that in other cases there are signs like chasing and lunging aggressively on the owners property where there was no provocation.  Those signs shouldn't be ignored and they should be examined to try and prevent tragedies like this from happening.  For that reason, I fully support HB297 as it is written, and I hope that Representative Williams stands by his original bill and doesn't choose to water it down.

There is also a misconception that a dog is automatically euthanized if it is declared dangerous or potentially dangerous.  That's not true, despite what the "No-Kill" activists would like you to believe.  Sometimes the law finds that there merely needs to be additional requirements that the owner must meet, such as double enclosures or other steps that ensure the public is safe from dangerous dogs.  And clearly, if a dog had merely chased or lunged without actually biting a person and was declared potentially dangerous, restrictions are going to be based on the severity of the situation.


SPONSOR:   
Rep. D.E. Williams & Sen. Peterson

Reps. Briggs King, J. Johnson, Q. Johnson, Potter

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
147th GENERAL ASSEMBLY



AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 9 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO DOGS.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1.  Amend § 922(a), Title 9 of the Delaware Code  by making deletions as shown by strike through and insertions shown by underline and as follows:
§ 922 Seizure and impoundment of dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs; notification of dog owner; request for hearing.
(a) An animal control constable or dog warden shall seize and impound a dog suspected of being dangerous or potentially dangerous when the warden has reasonable cause to believe that the dog has engaged in one or more of the following:
(1) Chased or pursued a person, including but not limited to a person on a bicycle, upon the streets, sidewalks or any public or private property, other than the dog owner's property, in an apparent attitude of attack on 2 separate occasions within a 12-month period; or
(2) Killed or inflicted physical injury or serious physical injury upon a human being; or
(3) Killed or inflicted serious physical injury upon a domestic animal, provided the domestic animal was on the property of its owner or under the immediate control of its owner; or
(4) Was subject to, or was used to facilitate, animal cruelty or animal fighting, as alleged in a criminal complaint or charge.

SYNOPSIS
This bill clarifies when an animal control constable or dog warden may impound a dog that is suspected of being dangerous or potentially dangerous.  The bill makes clear that any of the paragraphs constitutes grounds.  In addition, the bill removes largely redundant language referencing an exception for the dog owner’s property.  Section 923 already includes an exception for injury to a “human being who, at the time the injury was sustained, was committing criminal trespass or other tort upon premises occupied by the owner of the dog, or was teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog, or was committing or attempting to commit a crime.”

Are We Seeing More Dangerous Dogs Now?

For a state of under 1 million residents, we certainly seem to have more than our share of documented incidents of dangerous dogs, and 2 deaths in less than 2 years doesn't seem to be a good track record of protecting the public health and safety. Although we don't appear to have reached the level of danger that communities like San Antonio have encountered recently with 2 deaths in 3 months by dog attacks as they also go down the "No-Kill" road, but I still think 2 deaths is 2 years is too many for such a short period of time.  

Here are just some of the dangerous dog incidents that we've seen since CAPA was enacted:


Obviously these are only the high profile cases that we've seen, so I can only imagine how many human and animal bites or attacks are occurring that we never see in the newspapers.

Next week, the state will finally reconvene some version of the dangerous dog panel that disappeared after 2011 when CAPA went into affect. To date, most of us don't even know who are on the panels, which speaks to the lack of transparency in our state, but let's hope that this is a sign that the state is finally realizing that it's time to protect residents of the state and our pets from aggressive dog attacks.
May 12, 2014 - Public Health Dog Control Panel - Purpose - The Delaware Dog Control Panel will hear the case Delaware Animal Care and Control vs. Faithful Friends Animal Society, concerning a potentially dangerous dog. The Dog Control Panel will determine whether the dog in question should be declared dangerous or potentially dangerous, and will articulate on the record the reasons for its decision.

May 14, 2014 - Public Health Dog Control Panel - Purpose - The Delaware Dog Control Panel will hear the case Delaware Animal Care and Control vs. Alonzo Garvin
This is also a good sign for the animals of our state. There are so many great friendly shelter dogs that a person can adopt, and despite "No-Kill" attempts to banish temperament testing, the fact is that some of us realize that dangerous dogs should never be adopted out to the public and risk harming the reputation of shelter dogs. Also, dangerous dogs should also never go to irresponsible rescues that don't have the resources or the expertise to deal with an aggressive dog who might later place the public at risk by releasing dangerous dogs for adoption.

To The Family & Friends of The 4 Year Old Boy Who Died Today

My prayers go out to you, and I hope that your find peace in the cherished memories that this little boy brought to your life. While I believe that he is at peace and free of the horror of his final moments, I'm sure that it will take time to push aside the memories of today's events so that you can cherish and appreciate just how wonderful his short life was with you.  But your greatest gift to him will be to carry on and continue to spread the light of joy that he brought to you.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New ACO Training Oversight Legislation - Delaware or DelaRussia?

Tonight the new legislation (HB 311), which creates Animal Control Officer (ACO) oversight of training by the new $600,000 Office of Animal Welfare, was posted.  Not surprisingly, as we've saw with the Task Force and in the typical "Delaware Way" fashion that brought us CAPA, that our governor and the lead sponsors of this legislation intend to create a dictatorship to continue their "No-Kill" reign of terror on animal welfare in Delaware.

First it should be noted that taxpayers aren't paying for actual training of ACO's, we're merely going to be paying for a few people to carry out the oversight of that training who will have complete control and authority to certify an ACO to legally work in that position.  And sadly, we all know that authority will be on behalf of our politicians who have been anything but impartial.

You merely have to look at the various state codes and you'll realize that there is no other professions that are subjected to this kind of limited political oversight like the ACO position will be if this legislation is passed. Whether it be police officer, a barber, or even a landscaper, the state has boards or a council (police training) in place to handle not only the approval of such training by people experienced in the profession, but also an appeal process to ensure that a person does not lose their livelihood based on politics or an arbitrary decision by one or two people.

As this law is currently written, an ACO doesn't even have a mechanism to appeal a decision made that will take away their livelihood anywhere in the state if their certification is withdrawn, even if another shelter or municipality is then handling dog control. Do we now live in the dictatorship of DelaRussia with the new czars being the politicians pulling the strings?  Wow.

I have to admit, that I'm actually a little shocked that this legislation and other animal welfare legislation was introduced now, and not the typical June sneak attack as occurred with CAPA.  But then again, I'm sure the politicians know everyone is watching.

I do find that the state was once again less than transparent by introducing all this legislation on the same day the DVMA had their semi-annual meeting. Of course our political players wouldn't want animal health experts looking at the new animal welfare laws during their meeting (I sarcastically say).

We've already seen some highly experienced ACO's leave the profession in Delaware because of the nasty environment that the Delaware animal welfare world has become, but it remains to be seen whether this legislation will push away any remaining experienced people for fear that they will be subject to the political whims of our "No-Kill" legislators and governor.  I certainly can't see any experienced ACO's moving into the state and this environment, which is a shame for our residents and for the animals.

Below is the bill as it is currently written for your reference.


SPONSOR:   
Rep. Jaques & Rep. K. Williams & Sen. Blevins & Sen. McBride & Sen. Peterson

Reps. Baumbach, Gray, Hudson, Kowalko, Miro, Ramone, M. Smith, Smyk, D.E. Williams, Wilson; Sens. Bushweller, Cloutier, Poore, Townsend

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
147th GENERAL ASSEMBLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 311


AN ACT TO AMEND TITLES 9, 11, AND 16 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO ANIMALS.



WHEREAS, Animal Control Officers and Animal Cruelty Agents in the State of Delaware carry out law enforcement duties, but there are no requirements or opportunities for uniform training and certification; and
WHEREAS, the Animal Welfare Task Force, established by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 44 of the 146th General Assembly, recommended the development and implementation of statewide training and certification of Animal Control Officers; and
WHEREAS, the Office of Animal Welfare was established in the Department of Health and Social Services to carry out recommendations of the Animal Welfare Task Force, including the development and implementation of Animal Control Officer and Animal Cruelty Agent training and certification;
NOW, THEREFORE:
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1.  Amend § 917, Title 9 of the Delaware Code by making deletions as shown by strikethrough and insertions as shown by underlining as follows:
(b) All animal control constables, animal control officers, dog control agents, and dog wardens shall be uniformed and shall be adequately trained, certified, and equipped to enforce the dog control laws and ordinances of the State or any of its political subdivisions and the county, including municipalities.
Section 2.  Amend § 122(3), Title 16 of the Delaware Code by making deletions as shown by strikethrough and insertions as shown by underlining as follows and redesignating accordingly:
aa. Regulate the training and educational qualifications for the certification of animal control constables, animal control officers, animal cruelty agents, dog control agents, and dog wardens.  The Department shall:
(1) Develop requirements for certification and curricula preparing a person for certification;
(2) Develop criteria and standards for evaluating educational programs preparing a person for training and certification; including in conjunction with the Delaware Department of Agriculture and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control concerning livestock, poultry, and wildlife for animal cruelty agents;
 (3) Approve such programs that meet the requirements of this chapter and of the Department;
(4) Deny or withdraw approval from educational programs for failure to meet approved curricula or other criteria;
(5) Certify and renew certification of duly qualified applicants;
(6) Keep current a registry of all persons certified as animal control constables, animal control officers, animal cruelty agents, dog control agents, and dog wardens in the State;
(7) Establish requirements for mandatory continuing education and certification renewal; and
(8) Impose disciplinary sanctions and conduct hearings upon charges that may result in disciplinary sanctions outlined in this chapter in conformance with the Administrative Procedures Act, Chapter 101 of Title 29, and the Freedom of Information Act.
(e) A person who acts as a certified animal control constable, animal control officer, animal cruelty agent, dog control agent, or dog warden without certification from the Department is subject to penalties pursuant to Title 16, § 107 of the Delaware Code.
(f) The Department may, by endorsement, without written examination, certify an animal control constable, animal control officer, animal cruelty agent, dog control agent, or dog warden who has completed a training program that meets the educational requirements for certification defined by the Department and if, in the opinion of the Department or its designee, the applicant meets the qualifications specified by this chapter for an animal control constable, animal control officer, dog control agent, or dog warden.
(g) Dog control educational programs.
(1) Any organization or institution desiring to conduct a dog control education program shall apply to the Department and submit satisfactory evidence that it is ready and qualified to instruct students in the prescribed basic curriculum for certifying animal control constables, dog control agents, animal control officers, or dog wardens, and that is prepared to meet other standards which may be established by the Department.
(2) If the Department determines that any approved educational program is not maintaining the standards required by this chapter and by the Department, written notice thereof, specifying the deficiency and the time within which the same shall be corrected, shall immediately be issued to the program. The Department shall withdraw such programs approval if it fails to correct the deficiency.  The organization or institution may reapply for approval to the Department once the program meets standards established by the Department.
 (hThe Department may impose sanctions defined in this chapter singly or in combination when it finds a certified or former certified animal control constable, animal control officer, animal cruelty agent, dog control agent, or dog warden committed any offense described below:
(1) Engages in fraud or deceit in procuring or attempting to procure a certification/license;
(2) Is guilty of a crime against person or property;
(3) Has been found by an employer to be unfit or incompetent;
(4) Has had a certification or license to serve as a dog control agent suspended or revoked in any jurisdiction; or
(5) Has willfully or negligently violated this chapter.
(i) The Department shall establish procedures for documenting all complaints, and conducting investigations of complaints filed against animal control constables, animal control officers, animal cruelty agents, dog control agents, or dog wardens that may result in sanctions.
(j) Disciplinary sanctions are as follows:
(1) Permanently revoke a certification or license to be an animal control constable, animal control officer, dog control agent, or dog warden;
(2) Refuse a certification or certification renewal;
 (3) Suspend a certification or license;
(4) Place a certification or license on probationary status and require licensee to: report regularly to the Department upon the matters which are the basis of probation; limit practice to those areas prescribed by the Department; or continue or renew professional education until satisfactory degree of skill has been attained in those areas which are the basis of the probation;
 (5) Issue a letter of reprimand; and
(6) Require additional training.
Section 3.  Amend § 1325, Title 11 of the Delaware Code, by making deletions as shown by strikethrough and insertions as shown by underlining as follows:
(e) Any trained and certified agent of the Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or, in Kent County of this State, of the Kent County First State Animal Center - Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, may impound an animal owned or possessed in apparent violation of this section, consistent with § 7904 of Title 3.
Section 4.  This Act becomes effective upon final publication of the regulations by the Department of Health and Social Services.


SYNOPSIS
During hearings of the Animal Welfare Task Force, established by Senate Concurrent Resolution 44 in the 146thGeneral Assembly, members of the public expressed serious concern about the lack in standardized training and certification of Animal Control Officers (ACOs) and Animal Cruelty Agents (ACAs). ACOs and ACAs in the State of Delaware carry out law enforcement duties, such as issuing warrants, citations, and seizing evidence, yet they are not currently required to have any uniform training and certification.  The Animal Welfare Task Force recommended that the Delaware Division of Public Health Office of Animal Welfare develop and implement statewide training and certification of ACOs and ACAs.  This will promote safety of the public, officers and animals, reduce the possibility of having inadequately trained officers carrying out law enforcement duties, and enhance consistency in service among agencies. This Act is based upon those recommendations.  This Act does not change the animal cruelty standards or investigative authority currently in the Delaware Code.  This Act becomes effective upon final publication of the regulations by the Department of Health and Social Services.