Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Has CAPA made Delaware An Animal Cruelty Haven?

I think it's safe to say that most of us expected major hiccups with the transition of animal control and cruelty enforcement from First State SPCA to the State of Delaware Office of Animal Welfare. Unfortunately we've been seeing the worst case scenarios that we thought might occur, from people bitten who are frustrated because they don't know whether they need rabies shots to cruelty cases not being investigated.  

As we so often see in other communities, "No-Kill" advocates are great at getting out and getting those photo opportunities with their political friends like Senator Blevins and Governor Markell. That's what attracts folks like Delaware's Senate President to the "No-Kill" folks in the first place. What better way for politicians to promote themselves, even if "No-Kill" is just a shell game to create better shelter statistics by turning animals away.  For those that aren't aware, Delaware's state animal control doesn't accept owner surrendered animals at all.

The major downside with that OAW photo op time is that it's time that isn't being spent doing their jobs and preventing animal cruelty in our state.

Given this recent article concerning a man previously charged with torturing and killing 19 cats in another state who is alleged to be doing it again in our state, the Office of Animal Welfare appears too busy to investigate what clearly sounds like a potential cruelty situation.  The writer did extensive research that should have already been done by the OAW, but we can only assume they didn't have time because they were attending every photo op under the sun.  Anyone that cares about animals should be outraged.

"Many of those interviewed were highly critical of the Delaware Office of Animal Welfare, which investigates cruelty cases in the state. They said they had filed complaints about Anthony Appolonia as far back as January, calling the agency's investigation slow-footed, inept and anemic even as Appolonia allegedly continued to hunt cats.
Others said they had reached out to animal welfare officials several times and did not receive a call back.
"Delaware doesn't seem to care," said Lynn Spencer, a New Jersey actress and animal rescuer who alerted NJ Advance Media to suspicions about Appolonia after investigating him on her own. "This is an atrocity. The lives of kittens and cats are going unnoticed."
Mark Tobin, chief of the agency's enforcement bureau, confirmed in a telephone interview that Appolonia has been under investigation since early this year.
He said the probe had been hampered because the chief investigator had suffered a serious injury on the job and had been out for several months.
Reassigning the case had "caused a lag," Tobin said, adding that the new investigator was "planning on being proactive."  -  Article on NJ.com by Mark Mueller

How can the injury of one officer delay an investigation when the OAW has had several officers and the division leadership at a number of photo ops that the division has participated in?

It certainly shows that animals aren't the priority, and the legislators taking part in these photo ops should be ashamed of themselves given this recent article disclosing that cruelty investigations are not a priority.  If the office has time to setup and run a "rescue summit"at a country club, they most certainly had the time to investigate the situation as thoroughly as the writer of the above article did.

Understand that I am not blaming the officers at the OAW.  The fault clearly lies with the leadership in that office. Those who decide where the officers and other staff should be spending their time.

If Mr. Tobin or Ms. Hetti Brown are making those decisions for officers to attend the photo ops resulting in a lack of time for officers to do their job, then clearly leadership is at fault, and if there have been any cats tortured and killed as a result of the lack of investigation, then the leadership should be held accountable for the OAW neglecting their duties.

Lastly, this case highlights the dangerous situation that the State of Delaware is now placing it's residents in.  Since the OAW doesn't accept owner surrendered animals like the First State Animal Center and SPCA did, how many residents are now using rehoming sites and Craiglist as those in the article did?

We all know that a number of serial killers started out torturing and killing animals, like Jeffrey Dahmer.  It's sad enough that our state is willing to put animals at this risk, but they are also putting residents in danger as well, merely to get that next photo op as they make their statistics look better by turning animals away.  Yes, Nathan Winograd and his small band of true followers will give them more pats on the backs, but the rest of the state sees this mess for what it is, a scam born out of collusion.

Respect is earned, and from what we've seen, the OAW leadership doesn't give a damn what residents think, because they have Senator Blevins and previously Senator Peterson to cover their asses. Unfortunately, that will work for a while, but when someone finally gets hurt, I have to believe that our lackluster legislators will get off their collective rear ends and start looking into what residents are telling them, and finally deal with the situation.  It's unfortunate that it will likely take a tragedy for that to happen.

The article above has many of us wondering whether the OAW's lack of investigation into the case referenced in the article is because they fear like us, that Senator Blevin's CAPA has resulted in drawing people who want to commit cruelty to animals into our state with the policies that are leaving animals on our streets.

It's bad enough that our state has been recently been beaten up as being a corporate secrecy haven, but we may also now be a haven to those who want to hurt and kill animals as a result of CAPA.  Not too great of a legacy for our current legislators running for re-election.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Over 140 Years of Service Comes To End In New Castle County

As a result of CAPA, another shelter is closing in Delaware.  

While Delaware SPCA, who has served the New Castle County community for over 140 years will shut down their Stanton shelter in the coming month, they will fortunately continue to operate a shelter in Sussex County Delaware.  So it's a another sad day for the animals of Delaware as a result of the back room politics that was played out by a few clueless folks that many leaders in the state & county levels were too cowardly to deal with.  

"Dear Fellow Animal Lovers,
The Delaware SPCA has decided to proactively address some of the financial stress that all animal shelters, particularly in the state of Delaware, face. We are currently listing our Stanton property for sale and expect to use the proceeds to create the most financially stable animal welfare organization in the state based solely out of Georgetown. Our Georgetown shelter is the only shelter in Sussex County. Currently, we have diminished services because we must split our funding between our two shelters. The good people and animals in Sussex County are under-served and would greatly benefit from the additional resources that would be created as the result of the sale of New Castle land. Our second shelter, based out of Newark, is one of four shelters within a 5 square mile radius. By reallocating resources from an area that is over-served to an area that is under-served, we will not only be helping more animals and their owners but we will be creating the most stable animal welfare organization in the state of Delaware. Consequently, June 17 will be the last day our Stanton shelter is open. We will begin transitioning animals, staff and equipment to either our shelter in Georgetown or neighboring shelters. Please support us in our mission to remain the most impactful no kill animal shelter in the state, adopting and spay/neutering more animals than any other organization.
The Board of Directors
The Delaware SPCA

This wasn't a surprise to some of us after watching the previous leader at Delaware SPCA Anne Cavanaugh align Delaware SPCA with the foolish "No-Kill" antics of Jane Pierantozzi at Faithful Friends in 2008, since that resulted in Delaware SPCA sustaining major deficits under Ms. Cavanaugh's watch.

My prediction in 2012 is coming to fruition, and I only take solace in the fact that Delaware SPCA's executive director and board at least had the foresight to prevent another bankruptcy debacle like the Safe Haven one a couple years ago.
"That has also been my concern with CAPA here in Delaware.  Kent County SPCA recently noted in a newspaper article that they lost $450,000 due to the added requirements of CAPA.  Looking at previous financials, the shelter ran fairly efficiently, excesses and deficits were held fairly low.  Now as a result of the Delaware No-Kill initiative, the future of our shelters hang in the balance.  Delaware SPCA began their no-kill journey in 2008, and they have also had substantial losses as well ever since then.  No-Kill advocates threaten the viability of our shelters to remain going concerns, and if these shelters succumb as a result of continual losses, it's the animals that will suffer.  Animal care is not free and I do think there are shelters that aren't paid adequately for their service, but as a public service it also needs to be fiscally responsible and show it can be sustained over the long term."  - Millions of Dollars & Common Sense - 4/1/2012
Ms. Cavanaugh left the helm in September of 2012, but not before a great deal of damage to Delaware SPCA's balance sheet had been done as can be seen by the numbers below.  Not only did the shelter face huge deficits during the Cavanaugh period, but the shelter also began to take in less an less animals to try and lower the larger costs related to "No-Kill", and to make sure they could control the intake to stay within the "No-Kill" 90% release quoto.

Eventually new leadership was put in place at Delaware SPCA and when the current director at Delaware SPCA came in 2014, the shelter was finally beginning to help more animals and the deficit was trimmed substantially post Cavanaugh.  In fact, the Delaware SPCA even did a a remodel to the Stanton shelter to get more foot traffic in the door and help even more animals.

Delaware SPCA
Annual Deficits since their No-Kill Effort Began 2008
2008 (814,100)
2009 (573,154)
2010 (361,163)
2011 (120,123)
2012    (4,782) *
2013 (-29,798)
*(this loss was lowered by the investment returns of $200-300,000 more than previous years, so the shelter was fortunate there was a booming stock market)

2006  -  8,213
2007  -  5,664
2008  -  3,820
2009  -  4,091
2010  -  3,495
2011  -  3,425
2012  -  2,989
2013  -  2,697
2014  -  2,553
2015  -  1,938

2006  -  2,727
2007  -  2,251
2008  -  2,184
2009  -  2,415
2010  -  2,109
2011  -  1,862
2012  -  1,641
2013  -  1,664
2014  -  2,211
2015  -  1,877

Unfortunately the one factor that the new leadership and board at Delaware SPCA could not foresee was the backroom politics that resulted in Senator Blevins tossing a new state run animal control system into the budget epilogue last year for dog control in our state, so it could become a state run monopoly paid to perform dog control by the counties and bringing in an additional out-of-state shelter into a crowded marketplace in New Castle County.  This was a county that already had 3 shelters vying for the same donor dollars, and adding a fourth was going to squeeze already limited resources all the more.

Due to the poor decisions last year by Senator Blevins and her friends at Faithful Friends, I have to believe that this played a huge role in Delaware SPCA's decision to sell the Stanton shelter and focus on Sussex County where they are the only shelter, especially since the new Delaware SPCA director did not risk her shelter by taking part in actions that appear to be collusion like her predecessor.

And then on top of an even more crowded marketplace, salt was also added to the wound in recent months when Adam Lamb of the new state contractor Brandywine Valley SPCA attacked Delaware SPCA and First State Animal Center for taking in less animals.  It was as if he wasn't bright enough to figure out that those organizations would need take in less animals to cut expenses, and would need to look for other means to fund their operations now that neither of them had any government contracts.  If Mr. Lamb needed millions to perform services under the state contracts, how did he think that the other 2 organizations were going to do his job for him for free?  And how could he possible think that diverting blame to those shelters was not inflammatory?
"As a result, Brandywine Valley has had to place some of Delaware's stray animals with rescue partners in Pennsylvania and other states, Lamb said.
"We can't maintain this long term," he added. "We're not always going to be able to count on other states to save the day."  - DelawareOnline.com - Delaware's two largest animal shelters refuse strays

I can't say whether Delaware SPCA saw the similarity in Mr. Lamb's actions to the hate filled years of Faithful Friends attacking First State Animal Center, but it would not surprise me if this boneheaded move by BVSPCA was just the final nail in the coffin for Delaware SPCA Stanton to make the decision to leave the toxic New Castle County environment.  This is the same county where we've already seen a county auditor can get away with using his position to harass First State Animal Center. There are always ramifications for corruption and trying to divert responsibility, and seeing the first true animal welfare institution in our state leave New Castle County is yet another blemish on the "No-Kill" movement.

It should definitely be an interesting election later this year.  More and more people now know the corruption that led us down this path, and destroying the limited resources we already had for animals is going to be a topic of discussion this election year.  Remember that everyone on the From line in the picture below had a part on the harmful path we've gone down the last 6 years, and we an only hope that Senator Blevins days are numbered before we face even more shelter closures or bankruptcies.

Our thoughts go out to another batch of hard working shelter workers at Delaware SPCA who will be losing their jobs shortly because of Delaware's corrupt backroom politics.  Once again it appears that certain politicians care more about the stray cats than they do about the families that will be harmed financially by their actions. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Senator Blevins Legacy - Jobs Lost, Families Impacted, Animals Harmed

Political corruption may have resulted in the end of an era, but we won't forget the good folks at First State Animal Center and SPCA who are losing their jobs tonight due to the corruption of Senator Blevins and her friends.  These folks have gotten tens of thousands of animals back home or adopted out to new families, cleaned up feral dog populations that used to exist downstate making residents safer, kept all of us safe from dangerous dogs.  They did all this in spite of the backstabbing and corruption that has been spewed at them as Senator Blevins, Governor Markell's advisor, a corrupt New Castle County auditor, and some other shelters that tried to put the FSAC "underwater".

FSAC Dispatch Staff

FSAC Animal Control Staff
I certainly wish the FSAC folks the best in their future endeavors, and hopefully their families and friends, and the rest of us will take the time to consider the corrupt political circumstances that led up to this change, and make sure that we aren't voting in state senators or representatives that are as equally vile as Senator Blevins.  We can also hope that some of these FSAC folks and the rest of us have friends or family that live in Senator Blevins district and will get the word out about the corruption that occurred.

While Senator Blevins and her friends may not care that they have taken the livelihood away from this folks and their families, many of us find that fact horrifying and unsettling.

While many other job losses are being incurred in Delaware due to corporate greed and short term thinking in our financial markets, we also have to wonder whether some of those other job losses are also due to the political corruption that so many of us have seen when we have senators that openly state they want to put a company "underwater".  What company wants to take that risk that they could be next, or that their competitor may be friends with one of our senators?

At least First State Animal Center and their employees can look back at their many accomplishments and be proud, especially since they've had to deal with the majority of animals in the state for a number of years, with alot less resources than our other shelters on a per animal basis.

Hopefully as more and more people see through the corruption in Delaware, we will start to see voters embrace change and get rid of the toxic lawmakers who are such an embarrassment to our state. But even if some of these folks remain in office and their corrupt layman friends still have the senators ears and their political wallets, at least I take solace in the belief that we will all answer for our actions someday. Those who work hard and treat their fellow man well will be rewarded and those that harm their fellow man and who lie, cheat, and steal will have to answer for their action.

We all generally have an idea of of whether we've acted with honesty, dignity, and integrity, or whether we fall in the opposite end of the spectrum. While the political players, who have done the harm to the FSAC families and to the animals for the last 5 years may try to convince the public that their actions were necessary, they know the same truth that we've seen in their emails which shows it was much more about a power plays and photo ops for their ascent in the public eye.  That lack of honesty and integrity is not something I would want to live with as my legacy.

So at the very least, we can all enter this new year giving thanks that we aren't Senator Blevins or the other folks in her cabal, because they have do to live with the fact that have harmed the individuals and families of the folks that worked at their failed attempt at Safe Haven who lost jobs and now the job losses that have occurred at FSAC as they eliminate the competition.  They also have to live with the the fact that they have increased the unwanted animal population in our state by leaving cats on the streets as  result of the shut shelter doors that CAPA created, and they have to live with the many horrid deaths that occur in that increased animal population from death and injury by predators, cars, abuse, torture, etc.  I know if I had acted as they have, that degree of harm to others and to the animals would haunt me in my nightmares.

So I hope the FSAC folks take comfort by remembering your legacy of helping so many animals and consider how much better off you are than the corrupt folks that created this situation, because your legacy will live on in each family that has gotten their four legged family member back or the folks who have been blessed with a new family member through adoption.  I know my family is grateful for the addition to our family that came from FSAC and I'm sure there are many that feel the same way across the state.  I wish you all the best, a happy new year, and hopefully there will be a day when justice is served on your behalf.