The costs versus benefits of making a big bust

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August, 2002:

Four almost simultaneous June cases spotlighted the costs and
often unpredictable risks to humane societies of confiscating large
numbers of animals in cruelty and neglect cases:

On June 6, the city of Edgewater, Florida, severed an
animal control impoundment contract with the Southeast Volusia Humane
Society because the shelter killed 14 dogs and cats who were taken in
April from the home of Valerie White, 38. The animals were killed
within hours after Volusia County Judge Mary Jane Henderson issued a
handwritten order that, “The City of Edgewater may advise the Humane
Society that those animals are available for adoption.” Edgewater
officials disputed the contention of shelter director Suzy Soule that
the animals were in poor health. White was charged nearly two weeks
later with three counts of unlawful abandonment or confinement of
animals, and one county of cruelty.

On June 10, activists in Duncan, Oklahoma, protested
against a plea-bargain sentence given to dog breeder J.V. Holt, 77,
for allegedly neglecting 251 Pomeranians, miniature pinschers,
poodles, Chihuahuas, and Yorkshire terriers. The dogs were “living
in stacked metal cages filled with old newspapers, urine, and
feces,” reported Ron Jackson of The Oklahoman. Holt surrendered the
dogs to the Stephens County Humane Society, which sought restitution
of $45,000 but was awarded just $1,139 by a mediator because private
donors contributed about $45,000 after the case drew extensive news
coverage. Associate District Judge George Lindley fined Holt just
$500, reportedly the maximum possible, after Holt agreed to a deal
that allowed his son, Jack Holt, to escape charges.

In British Columbia, the Williams Lake SPCA had much better
luck on the same day, as the B.C. Supreme Court ordered Chilanko
Lodge owners Mark and Cheryl Sudweeks and their two adult daughters
to pay $120,000 (Canadian) in care and upkeep expenses for 30 horses
and seven dogs seized from their property in January 2001. The lodge
is now out of business. The Sudweeks still face four counts of
cruelty for allegedly neglecting the animals.

The San Diego Humane Society was meanwhile sued, San Diego
Union-Tribune staff writer Greg Moran disclosed on June 12, for
allegedly illegally killing 2,000 gamecocks said to be worth $34,000.
The gamecocks were seized in a May 2001 raid on an alleged breeding
and training facility for cockfighters, but none of the 10
plaintiffs were convicted of related charges. The plaintiffs contend
that the birds should have been returned to them. Instead, the
humane society won a court order in December 2001 that allowed them
to be killed. The actual killing was done on January 19.

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