Beth Brelje reports, in the Pocono Record of December 21, 2008, of a truly horrifying, but only too recognizable, case featuring the same pattern of less than accurate accusations, owner intimidation, and forced surrender of animals by PSPCA officers, with real victimization of helpless animals as the result
And the end of this article describes exactly what has happened to the Murder Hollow bassets. They have been reduced to being warehoused as live evidence by an arrogant, systematically dishonest, and callously cruel organization with an appalling record of animal mistreatment of its own, which poses before the public, in its insatiable quest for money and power, as the protector of the very animals it mishandles and not infrequently kills.
They should be investigated and prosecuted by the Commonwealth’s Attorney General and the United States Attorney. It is long past time in Pennsylvania to bring key PSPCA officials and officers responsible for this reign of terror to justice, to put PSPCA out of business, and to turn its legitimate functions over to responsible individuals and groups.
Miss Kittipie’s owner, Linda Jones-Newman, watched in horror as her 13-year-old quarter horse was killed by lethal injection under the direction of the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. …
Miss Kittipie, was a former racer who received an injection of medicine in her injured knee when she was 2. The medicine caused the knee to swell and it stayed that way. The horse managed normally with the knee for 11 years and even brought eight foals to term as a brood mare. Miss Kittipie had been with the Newmans for nine months.
Johnson saw the knee and thought Miss Kittipie was crippled. She tried to convince the Newmans to put her down. They would not agree. When she left the farm Jan. 9, Johnson, who was later found to be working without a veterinary license according to court papers, called the PSPCA.
Johnson later admitted, at a preliminary hearing in court, that Miss Kittipie’s condition was chronic rather than an emergency.
Three days later, with no warning, PSPCA humane police officer Chad Weaver served a search warrant and issued a threat to the Newmans.
“He said, ‘This can end right now. If you give me all your animals, this can end.’ He said they would drop the animal cruelty charges if I cooperated and gave all my animals over,” Kevin Newman said. The animals had food, water and shelter. Newman did not agree to give them up.
This tactic is part of PSPCA humane officer training statewide.
“We were taught to intimidate people into giving their animals up. We were told to tell them ‘in lieu of charges, surrender your animals,'” said one former PSPCA humane officer.
Some former officers say there was a quota.
“My Christmas bonus depended on how many animals I brought in,” said former PSPCA humane officer Tammy Kerr.
That’s false, says Howard Nelson, PSPCA chief executive.
“There is no such quota. The majority of our cases are resolved by leaving the animals in place with some education,” he said.
Kevin Newman says that without discussion and with no opportunity to get another vet’s opinion, humane officers walked Miss Kittipie out of her stall the day of the raid and instructed Johnson to kill her, right in front of the owners.
“I was really hurt. She was a sweet horse,” Newman said. …
After killing Miss Kittipie, the PSPCA humane officers were not done. They loaded up many animals: six ducks, two guinea hens, 15 chickens, seven geese, one parakeet, four cats, five dogs, five pigmy goats, one mini pony, two mini donkeys, two llamas, one miniature cow, three sheep, 16 horses and one grade pony. The seized animals became evidence. Some of the evidence was destroyed. The miniature cow was later killed by the PSPCA, which claimed it was dehydrated.
Humane officers also removed a macaw from the house in the middle of winter and left the tropical bird in a cold vehicle for hours during the seizure, according to Kevin Newman.
True to his word â€” since the animals were not given up freely â€” Weaver charged Linda Jones-Newman with 25 counts of animal cruelty and deprivation and Kevin Newman with two counts.
A judge later dismissed all charges against Linda and one against Kevin. He paid $75 in a total fines for faulty sanitary conditions of four dogs. The PSPCA was ordered to give the animals back. …
Some of the animals that lived through the ordeal were returned from the PSPCA in deplorable condition, according to Newman. The dogs and cats had fleas, ear mites and hair so matted that it had to be cut.
A tricolor Australian shepherd’s white fur was stained yellow from months of living in the PSPCA’s urine-soaked cage.
“He was lying in urine when we went to get them,” Newman said. …
Publicity for this and other high-profile seizures boosts PSPCA donations while simultaneously smearing the reputation of animal owners. …
Live evidence kept in storage cages for months and sometimes years while court cases drag on cannot be adopted out. It would seem to create a storage problem at the crowded shelters.
“It is the same process the police go through when they suspect a crime. In any search warrant process, the evidence is always seized. You have to secure the evidence to put on your case. The difference with a living, breathing animal is that we have to provide care. We are required by law to do everything we can for the animals so they are ready for adoption when we win the case,” Nelson said.
When confiscated animals die of sicknesses, the blame is often allocated to the allegedly abusive owner, even after the animals have been in PSPCA care long enough to develop new illnesses.
Half of the cats seized in a Venengo County case died under PSPCA care. (The humane officer’s authority to have animals surrendered was challenged in court in that case and a judge ruled in favor of the PSPCA).
The PSPCA made its case in a statement to the Pocono Record:
“When animals are seized as evidence, they are just that â€” evidence for the case. Until a judge makes a determination of guilt in the case, the animals are still property of the defense. We cannot adopt the animals, but we can make a determination, with veterinary guidance, to euthanize suffering animals.”
Animals that don’t die in PSPCA custody can be penned up so long that they go stir crazy.
Once an animal’s behavior is negatively affected, it may likely be considered not adoptable and become marked for death row.
Animals cleared for adoption pay their own way. They are not adopted out until a new owner gives a cash donation to the PSPCA.