Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gaming the System: Animal Extremists and the Law

Blogger's note:  This quick follow up to "Cat Killer Vet Drops a Dime"
was triggered by receipt of responses from the vet involved
and a bucket of hate-mail and sundry accusations from persons
who either can't read or choose not to.  But a promise is a promise.  [see below]
"Cruelty to animals"?  Or is it?
When it comes down to the legalities--and the jail time--who makes the call?  Judges? Juries?  or veterinarians in private practice?

Persons associated with private, not for profit corporations operating in the public sector and doing their damnedest to look just like public servants are nothing new in New York.  Particularly in the field of animal law.

But the cautionary tale published by the Albany Times-Union of Gerard Sagliocca, his sister and the cat is a whole 'nother thing.  

I'm hoping every reader will carefully consider the implications of a case in which a veterinarian in private practice reported her client -- who had not beaten, starved, overdriven, overworked, nor abandoned a pet -- for cruelty to animals after he brought a cat to her clinic. 

In published comments, this particular vet stated that she believes her client should go to jail, and eventually elaborated that. . .

". . .the failure to provide any care to companion animals until they are too close to death to save them constitutes cruelty in NY State"   --Holly Cheever, DVM, in  comments published via the Albany Times-Union blog.

I am the Lord thy Veterinarian

Pretty interesting stuff, isn't it?  Fascinating, even.  But I'm still not sure I see the logic.

Does the above mean that only people who are confident their animals are healthy should dare to take them to a vet, since no one wants to be charged with cruelty to animals?

Sooner or later 100% of animals are "too close to death to save." How much "care" and how far in advance would be necessary to avoid prosecution?  Who determines that?

If a pet has a heart attack or suffers some other sudden and acute illness or injury and dies without veterinary care, would that be a "cruelty to animals" ?

Are the only permissable deaths those involving a vet ?  Where does the owner's beliefs and wishes come in ?   What about people who don't believe in euthanasia?

How the hell are pet owners even supposed to know how sick their pet is, unless they've taken him or her to a vet?

What if the vet is wrong?  What if the vet isn't up-to-date on the latest treatments?

What if the vet is a lunatic animal rights freak?  (Hey, I'm just saying. . .)

The possibilities are endless.

Does the State of New York really want to go there?

Did the State of New York go there already?

Mostly, of course:  what happens if pet owners fear their veterinarians?

I believe we're looking at a recipe for increased pet abandonment and even more needless suffering, for both pets and their owners.  And I've got a problem with that.

Ask a silly question

Last week, I challenged readers to point out to me where, under current New York state law, an animal can be seized and euthanized contrary to his owner's wishes, without a court order, without a hearing, and without any of that other stolid due process-type goodness.

Someone quoted AML 371 "The powers of peace officers."

Close, but no cigar.  OK, not even that close.

The plain language of AML 371 allows officers to "lawfully interfere to prevent the perpetration of any act of cruelty upon any animal in his presence."   Like someone taking a baseball bat to a pony with a cop standing right there to see it. 

But if peace officers enter a private home without first obtaining a proper warrant signed by a judge -- thereby raising the spectre of an illegal search and seizure -- we could be in fruit of the poisonous tree territory.    All bets are [supposed to be] off if the search is illegal.   The evidence gets tossed. 

Am I the only one still watching Law and Order re-runs ?   Sam Waterston would have had a cop's butt in a sling for jeopardizing his case through failure to get a warrant.  Think Bill of Rights, the right to be secure in our homes from unreasonable searches, the ACLU, your 9th grade civics class . . . 

Furthermore, "lawfully interfering" is hardly a license to kill.  Impounded animals, even when seized legally with a signed warrant, are not automatically forfeited.  Those animals belong to their owners. 

Finally, does a cat dying at home [as opposed to being euthanized in a vet's clinic, for example] qualify as an "act of cruelty"?  Says who? 

Remember, I'm not talking personal preferences and opinions here.  I'm talking about law which must be understandable, reasonable and accessible enough for people to comply with, and potential criminal charges that could send someone to jail for a year.  And I'm thinking that AML 371 just doesn't work.

What the vet said, and Blue Dog's Choice

As noted at the end of "Cat Killer Vet Drops a Dime" I also received a series of responses from Holly Cheever, the veterinarian who filed a cruelty complaint against Gerard Sagliocca after he left her clinic with a live cat.  Cheever's comments presented me with a dilemma not remotely on the order of Styron's novel and the movie it inspired

To paraphrase some of my favorite cat people, Cheever can always git her own damn blog.   But that crude thought was undoubtedly a product of my insensitivity and an ethical compass which compares unfavorably to a Swiss Brown cow's.

How to post Cheever's comments without further muddying murky waters?  Hmmmm.

Blue Dog's choice was to do this small follow up piece and link up Cheever's comments for those interested.  And then be sure to get the first licks in, because I'm not pretending to be unbiased and I'm not coy about where my sympathies lie. 

Each and every time, this blogger comes down in favor of the preservation of civil rights and in support of the rule of law, regardless of the allegations.  Every. Freaking. Time.

So, readers, please keep in mind:
  • AML 350(2):  "'Torture" or "cruelty" includes every act, omission, or neglect, whereby unjustifiable physical pain, suffering or death is caused or permitted.'  This cat was FIV+ when he was adopted, and Cheever says he had developed cancer.  These illnesses were not caused by the Saglioccas.  Was the cat in pain?  How would they have known?  Did the Saglioccas intend for the cat to suffer?  If so, why take the cat to a clinic?   Every day, in  veterinary clinics everywhere, animal owners learn for the first time that their pets are seriously ill and may be suffering.  With limitations like "unjustifiable" and "caused or permitted" in the New York statutes, I believe that the meaning and relevance of AML 350(2) to cases like Saglioccas' are, at the very best, highly questionable.
  •  AML 371 does not make law enforcement's job "to follow up on complaints as they see fit."  It allows officers to "issue an appearance ticket pursuant to section 150.20 of the criminal procedure law, summon or arrest, and bring before a court or magistrate  having  jurisdiction,  any  person offending  against  any  of  the provisions of article twenty-six of the agriculture and markets law."  Seizing cats and killing them over their owners' objections?  I don't see that mentioned.  Does anyone else?  [Note:  the balance of AML 371 regarding "acts of cruelty in an officer's presence" was covered above.]
  • AML 373:  "It was their decision to bring the cat back for me to end his suffering in a humane manner, and #373 gives them the right to do so."  Well, I can only hope that isn't what happened, and Cheever doesn't specify which part of AML 373 she is referring to.  373 is a massive section of NYS Agriculture and Markets law allowing many things, including seizure of animals with a warrant, forfeiture and destruction of animals forfeited prior to adjudication of charges.  Such permitted destruction would be after arraignment, after a security bond hearing, after the owner fails to pay an amount specified by the court as a security bond and after the court orders the animal forfeited.  In short, after all kinds of things that did not happen in this case.
  • "Richard's" team and libel:  First of all, I don't know who "Richard" is.  As for the veiled threat of a libel suit:  telling the truth is by far the best defense against libel allegations.
The truth is best.  Period.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Cat Killer Vet Drops a Dime

Animal Extremist Vet Reports Her  Client to the Cops

Take home message for patient:  "I'm not your friend, and I will kill your cat."

Think your pet hates the vet now?  Just wait.

Here's the sequence of events, per the Albany (New York) Times Union:  When the FIV positive cat Guilderland resident Gerard Sagliocca and his sister obtained from a rescue stopped eating, they took the cat to the vet. 

The vet recommended euthanasia.  They rejected her recommendation, saying that the much-loved cat gave no indications of distress and had a good quality of life at home.

Sagliocca and his sister took the cat home to the duplex they share.

The vet called the cops. 

The cops went to the Sagliocca home, seized the cat and took him back to the vet's office. 

Judge.  Jury.  Executioner.

And then the vet killed the cat.

Just like that.

At the vet's insistence, Sagliocca was then charged with cruelty to animals.  The vet believes Sagliocca belongs in jail, even though the cat lived with his sister and he rarely saw the cat.

In Albany County, New York, animal cruelty is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $1000 fine, plus a mandatory ten years as the target of PETA vigilantes and other nut cases, public scorn, discrimination and humiliation through placement of the offender's home address, photo and other personal information on the county's brand-new online Animal Abuser Registry.

Remember:  Sagliocca did not injure the cat.  The cat had ample access to food, water, and shelter -- along with toys, a loving home and all the other perks of life as a house cat.   

Sagliocca's "crime" centers around a refusal to kill.  Instead, he and his sister wanted to take the cat home.

Criminal intent?  I'm thinking not so much.

Like other crimes, the concept of "cruelty to animals" hinges on the presence of malice.  The person must have made a decision to bring about a prohibited consequence.  In this case, the prohibited consequence would be cruelty to animals.  Accidents and bad outcomes caused by ignorance, or despite our best efforts?  However disturbing, tragic and difficult to accept they may be, they are not criminal.

The cat was already FIV positive when he was adopted, and was cared for to the best of their abilities.  Sagliocca and his sister brought him to a veterinarian when they suspected there was a problem.

I wonder if all those Albany County legislators who voted for that "animal abuser registry" thought the first person listed would be a cat lover whose "crime" revolves around taking a beloved cat to a veterinarian ?
Cheever, 2009 Humane Lobby Day at NY State Capitol. 
Photo by HSUS NY State Director Patrick Kwan.
Wrong on so many levels:  Holly Cheever, DVM

Unfortunately for Sagliocca, the vet he and his sister chose is an well-known animal rights extremist. 

A vegan who lives on a "farm sanctuary," in addition to her private veterinary practice in Voorheesville, Holly Cheever is also. . .

. . .the Chair of the HSUS-satellite Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association's "Leadership Council."

. . .vice president of the New York State Humane Association, an organization responsible for the  "education" of hundreds of New York public servants and law enforcement personnel on animal cruelty.

. . .a veteran militant in the drive to ban carriage horses from the streets of New York City.

. . .an advocate for the summary death of other cats in a hospice with "active feline AIDS."

. . .the author of a treatise attributing moral dilemmas on the order of  "Sophie's Choice" to a Swiss Brown cow.

. . . an apologist for a regrettable instance of an animal control officer forced to shoot a dog menacing livestock on the grounds that, after all, "Siberian huskies are wonderful dogs, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists them as the breed fourth-most responsible for dog-bite fatalities."   [and Cheever, I don't have your alleged "30 years of animal cruelty expertise" but I am willing to bet that even if huskies are not the sensitive souls that you believe Swiss Brown cows are, they still know the difference between a goat and a human being.]

Cheever opposes animal ownership, and is an outspoken critic of animal agriculture. 

Whose cat was it, anyway?

How the hell does Cheever get to kill someone's cat over their repeated objections?

Who put her in charge ?

As Sagliocca pointed out, there is no "mandatory euthanasia" requirement in New York State.

While Cheever insists on using "guardianship" language, pets are the responsibility of their owners.  Despite the voices in Cheever's head, veterinarians who make unilateral and drastic care decisions for other people's animals are walking on very thin ice. 

When vets snitch out their patients. . .

In Cheever's haste to kill that cat, she, and the Guilderland cops who  acted on her instructions, killed a number of other things, too. 

Among the other bodies on the floor:

-- the family's ability to seek a second opinion from another veterinarian

-- the family's ability to seek palliative treatment for the cat

-- the family's opportunity to prepare for and accept the cat's demise

-- the family's right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, as well as the right to due process.  The cat was seized and killed without consent and without the niceties of a hearing, or a court order. 

Also worth noting:  when Cheever killed the cat, she effectively destroyed the evidence.  The family's ability to demonstrate that the cat did not appear to be suffering?  Dead at the hands of Dr. Holly Cheever.

White Coat Syndrome:  when pet owners fear the veterinarian

Mostly, though, Cheever's animal rights activism will kill the faith and trust pet owners have in their vets. 

The AVMA's oath emphasizes the key role veterinarians play as members of society, placing their professional duty to society first. 

And with good reason.

How many pet owners struggling to care for  aging or terminally ill animals will think twice about bringing their pet in for treatment, fearing an accusation of cruelty to animals?

Must they always agree to immediately euthanize their pets, in accordance with vet's timetable ?

How many will hesitate to open their homes to an FIV positive cat? 

How many will decide, ultimately, that -- screw it, who needs the risk -- they really don't need a pet?

Throw Cheever to the wolves state veterinary licensing board

The good news is that Cheever faced a pretty tough audience.  In response to scathing criticism on the Times Union's blog, Cheever sounded more than a little defensive

And what she said is pretty damn scary:

". . .my views on what constitutes animal cruelty and the veterinarian’s responsibility and relationship to his/her patients are not unique. I am well-respected by my alma mater and by my colleagues overall, even those who may act differently, and am a frequent lecturer to veterinary students from the east coast to the west since I am considered a mentor and leader in the field of the veterinarian’s role in animal cruelty. . .. In my opinion . . .the failure to provide any care to companion animals until they are too close to death to save them constitutes cruelty in NY State. "

So there you have it. 

Taking a sick pet in for treatment can be a very, very risky proposition in Cheever World.  If the  animal is too sick to save--in her estimation--she believes that you've committed animal cruelty. 

Happily, and despite the chest-beating about her credentials and the support of her [fellow extremist] peers,  it is Cheever's behavior that runs afoul of the law.  It also runs afoul of the guidelines for veterinary professional behavior laid out by the New York State Office of the Professions.  At the very top of the list:

"The veterinarian or licensed veterinary technician should not willfully harass, abuse or intimidate a client or patient either physically or verbally." 

Dropping a dime on the client, much?

The New York State Board of Regents includes veterinarians who perform "professional services which have not been duly authorized by the patient or client or his or her legal representative" in their definition of unprofessional conduct.   Sagliocca contends that Cheever asked for $150 to kill this cat.

Also unprofessional:  "exercising undue influence" and "filing a false report."  Hmmmmm.

Vets in private practice are not judges.  Nope.

Setting aside all the self-promotion, Cheever is a vet in private practice who has far exceeded her professional responsibilities.  She's not a prosecutor, not an officer of the court.   She's not an elected public official.  Not a public servant.  Not a part of any law enforcement agency.  Her opinion on what is and is not "cruel" is not law. 

So Cheever's got a lot riding on this one.  Let's hope she gets her just desserts. 

Caring pet owners should be able to take their pets to the veterinarian without worrying about getting snitched out by an animal rights whack-job, having their sick pet seized and killed by strangers, and then, icing on the cake, being prosecuted for animal cruelty.

The Times Union reporter called Sagliocca and his sister's problems a "worrisome precedent."  He doesn't know the half of it.

Blogger's note:  July 16, 2012
Early this morning I received a response from Holly Cheever, or at least a person claiming to be Holly Cheever.  Once I figure out how to present the comments without further contributing to the tradition of personal interpretations of New York State law by animal rights extremists, I'll publish them. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lynching Sylvia: Humane Justice in Upstate New York

Town of Wallkill and Mob Rule

"Deplorable" conditions and injured dogs? 
Or is something else going on in Wallkill?

Dog lovers were rocked by news coverage of 76 Rottweilers living in "deplorable" conditions in rural Orange County, New York.

The all-too-familiar cry of "down with greedy breeders" was quickly raised.  The public was exhorted to write to the police department and the town judge and demand that the dog owner be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Donations are being solicited. Online petitions circulated.  Facebook pages. Twitterings.  Care2 discussions.  We all know the drill. 

At the moment, Rottweiler breeder Sylvia Panetta faces some 150 criminal charges stemming from allegations of cruelty to animals.  The chain of events was initiated by an unnamed complainant and continued when various Wallkill town authorities conducted a series of alleged illegal searches of her property.  Over a period of 87 days and after multiple searches of her home and property by the Town of Wallkill Police Department and other individuals, all of her 76 Rottweiler dogs were impounded and ultimately removed by volunteers associated with the private, not for profit Mountain Rotti Rescue and/or persons authorized by them.

Blogger's note:  Because this is an active criminal prosecution, below I've restricted myself to some matters already on the public record and will not discuss the merits of the charges against Panetta. 

So commenters, be aware:  defamatory and potentially libelous accusations based solely on newspaper coverage?  Or what you heard from someone who knows someone?  We're not going there.  I prefer to wait for a verdict from an impartial judge and jury before I howl for blood. 

Strained Quality of Justice in Wallkill

Under the terms of two documents signed by Wallkill Town Justice Patrick S. Owen (one dated March 6 and an April 29 Order*)  all of Panetta's dogs were impounded and finally removed from her property.

The March 6 Order authorized the taking of personal documents that were not the items of probable cause.  

A search warrant cannot authorize taking pictures of the property and it cannot authorize a municipal assistant building inspector to execute the search warrant.  It would be contrary to state law.

The April 29 "Search Warrant and Seizure and Impoundment Order" combo?  Crazier still.

The "Search Warrant and Seizure and Impoundment Order" dated April 29, also signed by Judge Patrick Owen, finds reasonable cause to believe that "a search will discover. . .evidence of additional violations."

Folks, Wallkill is located in the United States.  The 4th Amendment applies, and even in Wallkill search warrants must be specific as to the object to be searched for and the place to be searched.   Cops cannot be authorized to willy-nilly poke around the private property of persons not convicted of a crime and seize whatever strikes their fancy.    They aren't gathering Easter eggs.

The warrant/order authorizes a range of private individuals and non-law enforcement personnel, including the Assistant Town of Wallkill Building Inspector, Adult Protective Services, the Town of Wallkill Volunteer Ambulance Corp, an unnamed veterinarian, members of Mountain Rotti Rescue and its agents and members of the [unnamed] "local Humane Society" and others to assist in its execution.

Again, this is not consistent with New York State law.  Police officers execute search warrants.  Not building inspectors, ambulance drivers and EMS technicians, social workers, veterinarians in private practice and volunteers associated with unnamed local humane societies.

It gets better even more bizarre.
On June 1 Panetta went to jail for allegedly violating a temporary Order of Protection, also signed by Judge Patrick Owen, granted to unnamed individuals who are not victims of a crime.

New York State law doesn't support this, either.  Under NYS Criminal Procedure Law Part 3, Title P, Article 530.13(1) Orders of Protection are granted to specific individuals who are victims of a crime, following a hearing.

Panetta's arraignment on the Order of Protection charge was presided over by Judge Patrick Owen's  brother, Judge Joseph Owen.   Judge Joseph Owen sent Panetta to jail.

Currently out on bail, she will need to be present for a hearing on the criminal charges of violating the Order of protection scheduled for June 12.  This will be her third court appearance on the matter.  She still does not have an attorney to represent her, in violation of Panetta's 6th Amendment rights.

Security bond/forfeiture hearing scheduled for June 15

On June 15, Panetta must answer a petition from the impounding organization now in custody of her dogs.  They are asking for $36,000 as an initial down payment for the upkeep of her dogs seized in evidence.  If the judge finds in their favor, Panetta will have five days to come up with the money or forfeit her dogs.  Pre-trial and pre-verdict. 

While innocent under the law, and before being able to do anything in her own defense, she will either need to shell out $36,000 or lose her dogs.

Right to counsel ?  Still waiting.

Panetta does not have a lawyer, yet was required to appear at multiple hearings pertaining to criminal matters, was arraigned on criminal charges and sent to jail . . .  without being able to consult a lawyer. 

Her request for an adjournment until she could obtain a lawyer prior to being sent to jail for allegedly violating an Order of Protection was denied by Judge Joseph Owen.

There's plenty more wrong.  I picked the things that were quickest to detail.  No doubt the legal beagles among my readers will find more.

"Copland in the Catskills"

Worth noting:  in 2001 a federal civil rights suit was filed against the Town of Walkill by the New York State Attorney General following complaints of systematic police harassment, lawless behavior, abuse of police power and retaliation against critics of the Department.

Under the terms of the consent decree arising from the suit, the town's police department was placed under a federal monitor until 2006.

Lynching Sylvia in broad daylight

What the hell's going on here?

Has the Town of Wallkill and its various departments and employees and agents all lost their minds?

Do they believe no one will bother to examine the documents available to the public and question what they have done?

The presumption of innocence, right to counsel, due process, freedom for unreasonable search and seizure, equal protection of law . . .  do they really think they can dispense with these fundamentals?

And regardless of your opinion of Panetta, is this the society you really want to live in? 

Or do you live in the hope that the rule of law will prevail, no matter what the allegations are?

*two pages:  click both "April 29" and "Order" to access each

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fake Cops from the SPCA

This guy?  Not a cop.  Not a public servant.
He's a self-employed lawyer in police officer drag.
Posse of volunteers will lay down the law in Schenectady

Signed, sealed and delivered. Public accountability?  Transparency in government?  Not so much.

The contract approved by the Schenectady County legislature awarding the private Schenectady County SPCA 50% of any money they can gouge out of dog owners through enforcement of licensing, leash and dangerous dog laws, plus control of the balance of the money and access to vehicles purchased and maintained at taxpayer expense took effect on November 15.

So where's the fire ?

Under the terms of the contract, the SCSPCA's volunteers--whoever they may be, because the contract doesn't require them to be peace officers--will have no supervision from the County and are specifically exempted from the rules and regulations applicable to County employees as they go about their public law enforcement activities. 

Apparently, Schenectady County was willing to sign just about anything to get out from under the shaky lawsuit the SPCA brought against them.  The lawsuit was filed on October 7, the so-called "Vicious Dog Law of 2011" was proposed by October 14, and by October 28 the County Attorney was declaring the whole mess a 'win-win' and urging county legislators to get on board.  By the November 9 meeting of the county legislature, it was a done deal.

What makes me think there is more to this story?

Burning, burning desire to address "vicious" dogs? 

Yeah, right.

The "vicious dog law" turned out to be a sweetheart contract between the SPCA and Schenectady County ultimately giving a private corporation control of 100% of monies it generates by the enforcement of state laws.  No provisions for audit, and no opportunity for public oversight over the disposition of public monies. 

Plus freebie vehicles and maintenance, and some other perks--all at taxpayer expense.

On November 11, the head of the SCSPCA  Mathew B. Tully (pictured above) announced that he is resigning. In discussing his "proactive" approach to law enforcement, Tully  commented that the "end game" in his suit against the County is to ensure the viability of the SCSPCA. 

Schenectady, you was played.  Majorly played.

Rhinestone cowboys as bounty hunters
I guess I could volunteer for the Schenectady County SPCA and become a vigilante  uh hobbyist law enforcer umm "Schenectady County Contractor", too.

Why not? I bet I'd look kewl in that navy blue uni and the tool belt and whatnot, too.

I'd probably scare the crap out of dog owners unable to produce a dog license.   They'd practically be throwing the cash at me, especially if I were to mention that unlicensed dogs in NYS are subject to immediate impoundment.

Then there are those people whose 10 year-old dogs accidentally escape out the back door for the first time in their lives.  Looks like  there's good money to be made by not-for-profits in loose dogs.  $565 to bail out a stray dog from a shelter operated by a "not for profit"? 

Dang. . .

As long as the private not-for-profit holds a contract from the municipality, looks like they're golden.  And the Schenectady County contract says specifically that the County will not supervise the SPCA's activities. Can it get any better?

Freedom of Information?  Not in Schenectady. 
What happens when the citizens of Schenectady County start to ask questions about how public laws are enforced ? 

What records will be available to them?   

Will they be required to sue a private not-for-profit corporation, which--not for nothing--is staffed by volunteer lawyers, in order to gain access to records which would normally be available to them?

End Games:  Private and public.

Schenectady, you've got a crew of volunteers--responsible to no public official--enforcing the law with a "proactive" focus.  They take 50% off the top for themselves, and ultimately they have access to 100% of the revenues they generate through their law enforcement activities.  Talk about a motive for frivolous prosecutions. . .

The County is doing its best to distance itself from the consequences and wash its hands of any responsibility.

Good luck with that, Schenectady County legislators and public officials.  And may you rot in hell.

I don't think this is going to end well. 

Not at all.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Extorting Schenectady: New York SPCA Shows True Colors

Note:  What goes around comes around. 
Blue Dog State first wrote about the Schenectady SPCA and its "fergit shelters, we gonna arrest you" mission in a piece called

New Revenue Scheme for Animal Extremist Innovator
Schenectady SPCA sets itself up for 50% off the top
. . . thanks to its lawsuit against the Sheriff

Private persons associated on a volunteer basis with a private corporation and a clear animal extremist agenda will be independently enforcing dog control laws in Schenectady County -- without having to answer to county officials -- if  legislators approve the "Vicious Dog Control Law of 2011" on November 9.

As payment, the private corporation will receive 50% of all fines paid to the county stemming from their enforcement of state dog laws.  The remaining 50% of the monies paid by Schenectady dog owners pursuant to the enforcement of public laws will also go to the SCSPCA, in compensation for sheltering impounded animals. 

The Schenectady SPCA does not operate a shelter and it never has. 

As an added bonus when the contract gets signed, the private SCSPCA gains access to vehicles purchased and maintained at taxpayer expense.

In exchange for the money, the contract to enforce dog control regulations throughout the county, and the vehicles, the SCSPCA agrees to drop
the lawsuit it filed against the Schenectady County Sheriff.

Mathew Tully's SCSPCA initiated the suit in October when the SPCA -- which, again, does not operate a shelter and never has -- seized roughly 40 cats and a dog pursuant to its investigation of animal cruelty allegations. 

The SCSPCA insisted that County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino accept custody and responsibility for the animals pending adjudication of the charges.  When that didn't happen--the Sheriff cited financial constraints and lack of facilities--the Schenectady County SPCA sued him.

Cty. Sheriff Dagostino

In the meantime, the SPCA killed the impounded dog and about a third of the impounded cats.  They had fleas.

Although the numbers in the various press accounts vary, it appears that some of the remaining survivors of the "rescue" were farmed out to the illegal pre-adjudication forfeiture gulag "humane" network of fosters and shelters.   Seems at least some sheltering alternatives were available, after all.   Surprise, surprise.

Blue Dog believes that for all practical purposes those remaining cats might just as well have vanished from the face of the planet.  Whether they've since been killed, sold, given away, or simply "lost" in the system, they will not be available as evidential exhibits.

Follow the trail of dead cats

Setting aside the drama and the accusations, what really happened as a result of the Great SCSPCA Cat Seize?

Many of the animals the SCSPCA impounded (allegedly flea-ridden, but still alive) are now dead. 

Their owner, described in the press as a conscience-stricken "rescuer" who gradually became overwhelmed, awaits her day in court under the forlorn theory that she is innocent of deliberate and calculated cruelty to animals until proven guilty.  While 40 or more animals were seized from her home, she was only charged with one count of cruelty.  Innocent or not, the animals are history.  They will never be returned to her, even if she is cleared of the charges. 

The County appears to be submitting to pressure from a small private corporation with an adrenalin-driven lawyer at the helm.  Schenectady County exhibits zero understanding of New York's Agriculture and Markets laws. . .and worse yet, zero concern for the civil rights of its dog and animal owning residents.

And the SCSPCA ?  Tully is a lawyer, as are several of his volunteers, and he uses his law firm as an operations center for the SCSPCA.  As a result of filing a lawsuit using in-house legal services, Tully stands to gain an immediate 50% cut on any revenue they can generate by enforcing dangerous dog, leash and dog licensing laws in Schenectady County, plus control of the balance of the public monies collected pursuant to a state law. 

How sick is this picture? 

And who the freak is Mathew Tully, Esq., and his band of 10 or 12 volunteers-soon-to-be-Schenectady dog control contractors?

You better sit down, kids

Currently, Mathew Tully is the. . .

Chief Commanding Officer of the SCSPCA,

Director of the SCSPCA,Chief of Department of the SCSPCA,

President of the SCSPCA,Chief Humane Law Enforcement Officer of the SCSPCA,

and the
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the SCSPCA.

But Tully first hit the radar for many animal owners back in 2002 when, acting as a volunteer, he fraudulently misrepresented himself as an officer of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society and seized 15 dogs from a dog retailer.  The dogs were valued at approximately $9000, and were subsequently sold by the CGHS, which retained the proceeds.

Mad extortion skillz

According to
sworn testimony included in court records,

Tully . . . told [the dog owners] that, unless they immediately signed a document surrendering the 15 puppies on their premises to the Society, he would arrest them upon a misdemeanor charge of violating Agriculture and Markets Law § 357.  They allege in their verified complaint that Tully, who is also an attorney, told them that it would be one or two days before they were arraigned, that he would ask for high bail and that he would "demand that [their five] children be placed by the Department of Social Services until plaintiffs made bail." Plaintiffs signed the surrender document and were issued an appearance ticket."  [emphasis added]

During his persecution investigation, Tully made reference to the results of a veterinarian's examination of an allegedly unfit puppy sold by the plaintiffs.  Yet the
vet's sworn affidavit reads:

"I understand that Mr. Tully has given an updated deposition in this case in which he avers that[I found an animal] infected with a contagious disease dangerous to the life and/or health of animals called coccida. . . I absolutely deny that I ever told Mr. Tully. . . that any of the animals was infected with a contagious disease dangerous to the life and/or health of animals. . .the puppy was normal in all respects and was clearly not "infected with a contagious disease dangerous to the life and/or health of animals." [emphasis added]
Note:  to protect the vet's privacy, I have removed some details from the linked affidavit

All charges against the dog owners were dropped. 

Hat tip: 
Game Fowl News

Law.  Order. [Private] Police State.
Back in 2008, when Tully was busy promoting his newly established, shelterless SPCA, he was clear on his vision for Schenctady County: 

"I guarantee you, there is no point in having an SPCA unless you increase the volume of arrests,”
Tully said.'

Good to know.  How about the volume of extortions?

But the connection between addressing any "vicious" dogs in Schenectady County and setting Tully's private army loose on the public is a little vague.  How is kicking back half the revenue from unlicensed dog tickets to a private army going to help? 

State law allows for the immediate impoundment of unlicensed dogs.  Is that what folks in Schenectady County are facing?  Because the revenue numbers would be impressive.

What public oversight of law enforcement activities, what transparency in government--and private corporations--can there possibly be when it is handed over to a private corporation?  What elected public official acting on behalf of the People of Schenectady County will have any influence at all ? 

The proposed agreement between the SPCA and the County is specific:

"Except as provided herein, [the Schenectady County SPCA] shall not be subject to any rules and regulations applicable to the employees of the County, and shall fulfill its responsibilities independent of, and without any supervisory control by the County."

What recourse will people have when they get steamrolled by Tully and the SCSPCA?  Who can they complain to, if the County has agreed not to get involved ?

Dog owners of Schenectady County, you will be on your own.

Schoharie County and beyond.

According to Tully,  the  "ultimate end game for [the SCSPCA] is to make sure the SPCA is viable for years to come."

Also good to know.

Tully expects to be filing a similar extortionate suit in Schoharie County soon, and envisions his model being replicated across the State of New York. 

From there, who knows?

What you can do

The Schenectady County Legislature meets to consider the "Vicious Dog Control Act of 2011" on Wednesday, November 9 at 7:00 p. m.

Write, phone, and email the legislators.  Tell them you fear life in a police state patrolled by a crew of out-of-control volunteers with no responsibility to any elected official whatsoever.  The Schenectady County Chairwoman is Judith Dagostino.  Start with her.

Schenectady County Legislative Offices
620 State Street
6th Floor
Schenectady, NY 12305
Phone: (518) 388-4280
Fax: (518) 388-4591
email: legislature @ schenectadycounty.com

Corruption:  Tully.  Schenectady County.  Who else?

The proposal is illegal. 

Volunteers for private not-for-profits are not public servants.

The government cannot award special privileges to private corporations.

We do not have private armies in this country.

Schenectady County cannot simply set an unsupervised posse loose on its citizens and hope for the best.  Or the cheapest.

Something is terribly, terribly wrong here.
Blow that whistle, ring that bell.

We cannot let this happen.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Humane Havens for Dog Slaughterers

Update on previously published article

Pit Bull Killer Laura Maloney Rakes It In
at Humane Society of the United States

Movin' on up in the world of corporate dog-killing

Pacelle lauds "accomplishments" of exec who cut and ran after Boudreaux' dogs were slaughtered

Dontcha just love it?  As ex Louisiana SPCA CEO Laura Maloney wiggles her way ever upward in the world of industrial animal killing "rescue", the bullshit just gets deeper and deeper.  When she joined HSUS a year ago as Pacelle's chief of staff, he babbled on . . .

“I’ve worked alongside Laura in Louisiana during the effort to rescue animals following Hurricane Katrina, and in the battle to outlaw cockfighting in the state, and I have seen her excel in all the areas where’s she focused her attentions. We are an enormously complex organization, and I know she’ll help us make it run even better."

Better at what, Wayne?  Killing animals? 

Maybe setting up her employers for liability in civil suits stemming from her "rescue" activities?

Cause that's what Laura Maloney excels at. 

Maloney was in charge when her blood-thirsty employees seized and immediately killed Boudreaux's 57 dogs.  She "worked with authorities" to assure they acted on her allegations. 

Boudreaux hadn't even been arraigned when Maloney's SPCA killed his dogs.  No wonder Wayne Pacelle loves her.

But when the case went to court the charges were promptly dropped.   That's a problem, Wayne.  That's a big problem.

Birds finally come home to roost: 
Lousiana SPCA settles Boudreaux suit

It has been a long, hard road for Floyd Boudreaux, his family, and the animal lovers that supported him and appreciated his dogs. 

The undisclosed sum the SPCA will be paying out to Floyd and his family--and man, I hope it is huge--won't bring back the 57 dogs they lost on the evil day of the "humane" raid Maloney orchestrated against them.   It can be no compensation for the extermination of a cherished, 100 year-old line of champions.  No amount of money can make what that family went through go away.

But it serves as a warning to other private societies-for-the-prevention who think their cute little uniforms and cop-car clone vehicles will shield them from liability when they fuck up. . .
uh, indulge in a little mission creep. . .

okay let's cut to the chase and make that. . . do what they wanted to do all along and freaking slaughter beautiful animals belonging to innocent people. 

Below is Blue Dog's October, 2009 piece on Maloney and her brilliant career.  Let's just hope it finally comes to a screeching halt.

Exonerated Pit bull breeder Floyd Boudreaux sues Louisiana SPCA

Disgraced SPCA CEO now ASPCA Sr. Vice President

Floyd Boudreaux made headlines last week with news of his suit against the Lousiana SPCA. The SPCA needlessly, wantonly--and apparently, illegally--slaughtered the Boudreaux dogs as fast as it could after the Boudreaux home was raided during a 2005 dogfighting investigation.

You'd think that Laura Maloney, Chief Executive Officer at the LA SPCA when it exterminated each and every one of Floyd's 57 dogs within 24 hours of seizing them would be unemployable. At least unemployable within the "humane" network where the lives of animals are supposed to count for something. Right? Societies for the prevention of cruelty aren't supposed to be in a flaming hurry to kill the dogs they just finished "rescuing."

Are they?

Ooops. Blue Dog's bad. . .

That's exactly what Maloney's LA SPCA did on that black day four years ago when Boudreaux' dogs were seized, and killed, by "humane" agents. Boudreaux was quickly acquitted when his case went to trial. But it was too late for his dogs.

Maloney's LA SPCA had already carried out sentence on his dogs. Boudreaux hadn't even been arraigned when the killings began.
Scurrying to avoid the cold light of day

State trooper Jacob Dickinson, the investigator that testified during the short trial that vindicated the Boudreaux family, said that "he believed the SPCA would house the animals and did not know the dogs would be euthanized."

But a representative from the SPCA testified that no one person at the nonprofit animal welfare group made the decision to kill the animals but that there was a general assumption that the dogs would be euthanized.

Deny, deny, deny. . .

Laura Maloney's Louisiana SPCA is asking us to accept that general assumptions killed 57 healthy, happy dogs as soon as they arrived at the "shelter"?

Are you kidding? What kind of an explanation is that? And how cold can you get?

The stress from losing those dogs, particularly the dog belonging to his 10 year-old grandson, caused Floyd to suffer a heart attack five days after the LA SPCA killed his dogs.

Rewarding major fuck ups general assumptions

So Maloney, and the LA SPCA, asks the world to believe that LA SPCA personnel just took it upon themselves to kill all those dogs, immediately, no questions asked. All in a day's work. What kind of out-of-control crack house does Maloney claim she was running, anyway ? How arrogant can you get?

ASPCA shelters Maloney from the storm

Moving on to the present. . . Maloney's feeling no pain. She's got a nice new job at the ASPCA. Delicately referring to Maloney's "national recognition for managing high-profile dog fighting cases" the ASPCA placed Maloney in charge of various business units including Humane Law Enforcement, Veterinary Forensics, Government Affairs/Legislative Initiatives, Field Services and the New York City Anti-Cruelty Center.

Some gig, huh? ASPCA Veterinary Forensics. Dang.

Lights going out in Georgia

So, was it Maloney that deployed Melinda Merck, the ASPCA Forensic head honcho now partnered up with Norred and Associates and HSUS ? These three private corporations are cutting a swath through the backwoods of Georgia right now -- seizing pit bulls first and asking questions later. Way, way later.

Is Merck acting on Maloney's instructions--or maybe just a general assumption--when she seizes puppies from the homes of innocent people? Does anyone at the ASPCA even care?

Waves of "humane change" don't reach every shore

What happens to all those seized dogs, anyway? Where are the dogs?

Something tells me that news of the great "Las Vegas Humane Sea Change", in which HSUS sort of agreed that dogs seized during fighting investigations don't necessarily need to die, has been slow to trickle down. Plenty of good dogs are dying lonely deaths for no good reason.

After HSUS, Norred, the ASPCA and the news crews blow town, the killing begins.
What responsibility does Merck, Maloney and the ASPCA assume for the fate of those dogs?


Absolutely none.

ASPCA doesn't walk the walk

The ASPCA cannot employ people like Laura Maloney and look dog owners, particularly pit bull owners, in the eye. It is not possible.

Most especially, the ASPCA cannot put people with a history like Laura Maloney's in charge of Melinda Merck and her travelling pit bull confiscation show.

"We are their voice" ???

What a farce.