Public demands an end to old-style animal control

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1997:

A series of early 1997 small-city clashes
over animal shelter management suggest that the cultural
transformation hitting big city shelters for more
than a decade is now universal: the public sees
more, expects more, and business-as-usual won’t
hack it.
Retiring sheriff Lee Vasquez of Yamhill
County, Oregon, said so in almost as many words
in January, when as his last official act he ordered a
halt to the 30-year practice of selling pound animals
to Oregon Health Sciences University and the
Oregon State University college of veterinary medicine.
“It is clear to me,” Vasquez concluded, “that
the sale of live animals is no longer a practice which
our county should tolerate.”


New sheriff Norm Hand was left to figure
out how to replace $15,000 to $20,000 a year in lost
animal control revenue. Pressure to reverse
Vasquez’s order came from the biomedical research
community, since Yamhill County was the only
supplier of dogs and cats to either OHSU or OSU,
but Hand indicated that he would try to honor
Vasquez’s wishes.
In Elyria, Ohio, the Animal Protective
League of Lorain County responded to the January 9
premature euthanasia of a 15-year-old stray golden
retriever by firing three staffers after a six-week
investigation, two weeks after county chief assistant
prosecutor Mike Szekely filed a misdemeanor cruelty
charge against euthanasia technician Heidi M.
Poschner. APL executive director Linda Gullifer
told Stephen Hudak of the Cleveland Plain Dealer
that she fired Poschner, medical supervisor Melinda
Davis, and aide Terrie Terbrack, “not because I
don’t think they’re good employees, but because of
public pressure.”
The golden retriever’s owner, Lisa
Tylicki, was charged with failure to license. She
had filed a lost dog report at the shelter earlier the
same day the dog was brought in and killed, the day
after the dog got out of her yard. Ohio law requires
a three-day waiting period before killing strays.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety
in January confirmed allegations raised last June that
Willcox firefighters assigned to animal control duty
to save the town money routinely shot or drowned
dogs and cats, slashed a dog’s throat, and left a dog
to die of exposure in a trap. Willcox fire department
lieutenant Guy Acuna testified that former department
commander Paul Grant thought that the city
animal control budget of $600 a year to handle as
many as 400 animals was still too high. Grant quit
in May 1996. Acuna, firefighter/paramedic Clifford
McCluer, and police officer William Reed were
fired February 20 for allegedly lying to state investigator
Thomas Rogers.
A parallel Arizona Department of Public
Safety investigation of the conduct of 12-year
Cochise County animal control officer Gary Wocjik,
also of Willcox, concluded that he violated state and
federal laws pertaining to animal cruelty, waste disposal,
and keeping public records. Wocjik was suspended
for 21 days in July 1996, but was allowed to
return to duty with a promise to obey the law. On
February 7, however, he was again suspended,
with pay, for claiming to have killed a dog who later
turned up alive, and for failing to record another
alleged dog pickup.
In Swansea, Massachusetts, dogcatcher
Herman Camara resigned on January 27, under fire
for killing 639 of the 762 dogs he picked up in the
preceding three years––an 84% killing rate, compared
to a killing rate for neighboring towns of from
37% to 51%. Camara, also a livestock auctioneer,
had been part-time dogcatcher since 1980. He
worked alone, took the dogs he picked up to kennels
at his auction facility, and illegally buried their
corpses on town land––which now must be covered
with at least four feet of clean fill to comply with
state law. Camara’s telephone number was unlisted.
He was paid $7,500 a year, plus $6 a day for boarding
each dog he picked up for a maximum 10 days.
Camara billed Swansea for the maximum budgeted
amount, $15,000, in each of the past three years.

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