Haunted by hidden past, humane law enforcement legend Dave Garcia retires
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2005:
DALLAS–Dave Garcia, 55, vice president of operations for
the SPCA of Texas in Dallas since 2001, on August 6, 2005 announced
his retirement from humane work.
“His resignation comes days after Smith County District
Attorney Matt Bingham dismissed three animal cruelty charges against
Julia McMurrey, the former operator of Paws Around the Planet ranch
in Tyler,” reported Kim Horner of the Dallas Morning News.
“Bingham received anonymous information, which was
confirmed, that Garcia has a criminal background including arrests
for driving while intoxicated in Texas, Missouri, and Arizona,
plus a rape and kidnapping conviction in Arizona in 1973. Garcia was
paroled in the rape and kidnapping case in 1976. Bingham said he
dismissed the charges against McMurrey because of ethical concerns
about using Mr. Garcia as a witness. He said Garcia told a
prosecutor that he had no criminal history,” Horner added.
Cockfighting proponents, including commentators for Game
Fowl News, have long circulated reports similar to those Bingham
received. Longtime acquaintances of Garcia within the humane
community were mostly aware that he had a troubled past, which had
helped him to successfully infiltrate animal fighting rings and bring
the perpetrators to justice.
The cockfighters escalated their efforts after John Stossel
of ABC 20/20 targeted Garcia in a June 3 segment called “Cruelty to
Owners.” Garcia made at least one misstatement caught on camera,
pertaining to the presence of a veterinarian during a raid. Despite
that error, the evidence in the case won a conviction.
Summarized Lorraine Johnston of the Best Friends Animal
Society, who rebutted Stossel on the Best Friends web site, “In a
report that focused on money instead of the welfare of animals, John
Stossel showed the owners of puppy mills as broken-hearted
animal-lovers left in financial ruin. SPCAs were portrayed as greedy
bad guys motivated by financial gain through ‘stealing’ and then
‘selling’ confiscated animals.”
Added SPCA of Texas president James Bias, “The truth is that
the SPCA of Texas is only awarded animals after a court finds that an
animal has been cruelly treated. Donations for rescue and
investigations in 2004 totaled about $165,000, less than two-thirds
of the cost of performing such services.”
Garcia previously was director of operations for the Houston
SPCA and chief cruelty investigator for the Humane Society of Greater
Miami, the Denver Dumb Friends League, and the Humane Society of
Missouri. He was a guest instructor at the National Cruelty
Investigators School, and taught investigative technique at many
major humane conferences.
South African SPCA chief resigns
The South African National Council of SPCAs on July 25
announced that it had accepted the resignation of former Tshwane SPCA
manager Roelf Venter. Venter allegedly misappropriated funds for
more than four years.
“It is expected that most of the money will be recovered, as
Mr. Venter has signed an acknowledgement of debt. He has already paid
some of it back,” NSPCA executive director Marcelle Meredith told
Hanti Otto of the Pretoria News.