12 Aug 2009

SPCA Outrage in Philadelphia 9: Another PSPCA News Story

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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 — since the animals were not given up freely — 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 — 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.

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toughynutter

check out Allen vs PSPCA
United States District Court, M.C. Pennsylvania
488 F. Supp. 2d 450

May 14, 2007

http://asci.uvm.edu/equine/law/cases/cruel/allen.htm

the facts are not in dispute
“Robert Lee Allen is a farmer who, for the past thirty years, has also been in the business of purchasing and rehabilitating livestock and horses. The animals Allen typically acquires for rehabilitation purposes are underweight, in poor physical condition, and suffer from long-standing medical issues. Some of the animals can be rehabilitated and resold, but others are euthanized, slaughtered, or auctioned for slaughter.

On January 31, 2004, Witmer, an HSHA humane society police officer, received a telephone complaint regarding the condition of the horses and other livestock on Allen’s farm. The next day, Witmer and Hopkins, a PSPCA humane society police officer, visited Allen’s property to investigate allegations that Allen’s animals were malnourished and mistreated. During the visit, Hopkins expressed to Allen her opinion that the horses needed to be evaluated and treated by a veterinarian, and she and Allen agreed that a veterinarian would examine the animals on Tuesday, February 3, 2004..) Neither Witmer nor Hopkins inquired how long Allen had owned the animals or what care and medications were being provided to them.

On February 2, 2004, Witmer applied for and obtained a warrant from Magisterial District Justice Schulenberger to search Allen’s property and to seize certain described animals as well “any and all animals of any species which appear to be the subject of a violation of the Cruelty to Animals Statutes.”.) In the affidavit of probable cause, Witmer detailed the January 31, 2004, citizen’s complaint as well as her own observations of certain animals during her visit to Allen’s farm. The affidavit included no information about Allen’s willingness to cooperate with authorities, how long he owned the animals, what care and medication the animals were receiving, or whether some or all were exempt from the cruelty-to-animals statute because they were animals used in a normal agricultural operation.

Hopkins and Witmer executed the warrant on February 2, 2004, a day when they knew Allen would be away from his farm, and seized eight horses, four goats, and two pigs from Allen’s property. Hopkins and Witmer also brought “twenty five assorted and unnecessary individuals and entities with them when they executed the search warrant.” Allen contends that these third-parties had “no legitimate purpose in being present to trespass upon [his] property and invade his privacy.” According to the complaint, most of the animals were not seen by a veterinarian until several days after their removal from his farm.

Criminal proceedings against Allen in state court

On February 10, 2004, Witmer filed approximately sixteen criminal citations against Allen alleging cruelty to animals in violation of 18 Pa. Cons.Stat. § 5511(c).

…Witmer withdrew the citations on March 17, 2004, and Hopkins filed new citations against Allen, alleging essentially the same offenses. At the time Hopkins filed the citations, however, she was not properly registered as a humane society police officer in Cumberland County and, therefore, had no authority to file the citations, a fact elicited during the cross-examination of Hopkins at Allen’s summary trial on the charges. On April 5, 2004, Magisterial District Justice Schulenberger, who was presiding over the summary trial, dismissed all of the citations against Allen because of this fatal flaw in Allen’s prosecution. Defendants did not appeal this decision.

The following day-April 6, 2004-Hopkins filed fifteen new criminal citations with Judge Schulenberger, despite the judge’s statement the previous day that she would not hear the charges again. Hopkins withdrew the charges on April 8, 2004, only to file a new set of fifteen citations alleging essentially the same offenses the same day.

It appears that Hopkins had still not properly registered as a human society police officer in Cumberland County when she filed the April 6, 2004, charges, thus requiring their withdrawal and subsequent refiling on April 8, 2004, the day after she had registered. (See Doc. No. 20-3, at 3) (citing Order, Philadelphia County C.P. Ct., October 31, 2000, recorded in Cumberland County, April 7, 2004).

…Despite Allen’s successful appeal of his convictions, Hopkins, PSPCA, and HSHA refused to return Allen’s animals, prompting him to file a motion seeking their return pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 588.[/quote]

and Ritzel v. Pennsylvania Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals

United States District Court, Pennsylvania

2005 WL 331518

February 9, 2005

http://asci.uvm.edu/equine/law/cases/cruel/Ritzel.htm

and not least
http://www.animallaw.info/cases/causpa2007wl1990510.htm
Snead v. Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
— A.2d —-, 2007 WL 1990510 (Pa.Super.)

“This Pennsylvania case involves cross-appeals following a jury trial in which defendant SPCA, was found liable for euthanizing the dogs belonging to plaintiff Snead, who was awarded damages in the amount of $154,926.37, including $100,000 in punitive damages. The facts stemmed from a seizure of 1 dead dog and 12 living but neglected dogs at a seemingly abandoned property owned by Snead. Snead arrived during the seizure of the property and was arrested on dog fighting charges, which were then dropped the next day (Snead was later convicted of the summary offense of animal cruelty). However, Snead was not aware that the charges were dropped and that the dogs were therefore available to be reclaimed. Snead went to the shelter to check on the dogs two days later and spoke with the director of animal care, who informed Snead that all of the dogs had been euthanized. Snead was told that the shelter is only required to keep animals for 48 hours; and since the charges were dropped and the dogs were no longer needed as evidence, they were put to sleep. It turned out that the dogs were not euthanized until three days later”



JD

I am a former vet-tech at the PSPCA and I know first hand about the lack of care and consideration for these animals, especially the court cases. the majority of the workers there are only there for the money. On the other hand, as far as i know, the humane officers have now grown accustomed to give more care and compassion to these animals in need, it is once the animals arrive when they get ignored. I have tried numerous times to bring this to the “Higher-Ups” but they have done nothing to improve. I have since left that organization because of this ignorance.



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