Prominent alleged rescue neglect cases
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2008:
PITTSBURGH–Linda a.k.a. Lin Marie Bruno, 45, who founded
Tiger Ranch Rescue in 1993, was on May 6, 2008 ordered to stand
trial in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, for 593 counts of cruelty.
A March 13, 2008 raid by the Alleghany County Sheriff’s
Department and the Pennsylvania SPCA removed 380 live cats and the
remains of 108 others from the 27-acre Tiger Ranch Rescue sanctuary
in Frazer Township, Pennsylvania. Of the live cats, 117 died soon
afterward or were euthanized as irrecoverable. The rest were housed
at a shelter in Clarion County.
Pennsylvania SPCA investigator Rebecca McDonald testified at
an April 28 preliminary hearing that Tiger Ranch records indicate
receipt of 6,482 cats in 2007 and 786 in the first 10 weeks of 2008,
of whom just 23 were adopted out.
Bruno, “in a recorded statement played in court, estimated
that she took in 1,500 cats in 2007 and adopted out several hundred,
most to qualified horse farms,” reported Dan Nephin of Associated
Press. “McDonald said she found no records that any cats went to
In her recorded statement,” Nephin continued, “Bruno said she had
292 live cats and perhaps 40 to 50 dead cats awaiting burial.”
Bruno was defended in a lengthy web posting by Last Chance
for Animals founder Chris DeRose. DeRose told Linda Wilson Fuoco of
the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Tiger Ranch “is one of the best
sanctuaries I have seen,” and posted photos of Tiger Ranch taken in
Bruno was also defended, indirectly, by National Animal Interest
Alliance founder Patti Strand, a longtime dog breeder in Portland,
Oregon. “It’s about power, money, and even TV ratings…about who
gets to make these end-of-life decisions for pets: their owners,
including sanctuaries in this case, or rich high-profile animal
welfare organizations,” Strand told Fuoco.
A comparable case has evolved for almost a year in Pahrump,
Nevada, where Sharon Lee Allen, former president of the now closed
For Love of Cats and Kittens sanctuary in Pahrump, Nevada, on April
14, 2008 pleaded not guilty to 13 misdemeanor charges pertaining to
117 cats who were removed from her home in August 2007.
“Charges have yet to be filed against Allen or anyone else
for the hundreds of cats that were found at the FLOCK sanctuary last
summer,” wrote Christina Eichelkraut of the Pahrump Valley Times.
Nye County animal control officers discovered more than 800
emaciated, ill, and injured cats at the 2.5-acre site in July 2007,
about two months after Allen resigned. Sixty cats were euthanized as
irrecoverable. The Best Friends Animal Society invested more than
$600,000 plus six months of staff time in rehabilitating the
remainder for adoption through shelters as far away as Minnesota and
FLOCK, under new management, now does neuter/return and cat
adoption in Las Vegas, but no longer has a sanctuary.
Founded in Las Vegas by Sylvia Renee Lyss in 1965, FLOCK
moved to a five-acre site in rural Clark County in 1995, where Lyss
reportedly kept as many as 400 cats. A July 1999 flash flood allowed
hundreds of cats to escape into a nearby housing development.
“According to Clark County records, the facility was cited
numerous times for a variety of violations, most of them to do with
exceeding their permitted number of cats and failing to remove animal
waste from the property,” wrote Henry Brean of the Las Vegas
In 1998 FLOCK hired a man named Sam B. Ockene, who claimed
to be a licensed veterinary euthanasia technician. A former casino
teller, Ockene pleaded guilty to misdemeanor embezzling in 1991. He
became a fundraiser for the Nevada SPCA, but was fired in 1996 for
allegedly illegally possessing euthanasia drugs, impersonating a
veterinarian, and yelling obscenities at clients, then-Nevada SPCA
president Jennifer Polombi told Ryan Oliver of the Review-Journal.
Ockene in 1997 attempted a hostile takeover of the Nevada SPCA, but
in 1998 was ordered to pay the NSPCA $10,000 in legal fees and
permanently enjoined from using the NSPCA’s name. Ockene allegedly
gave lethal injections to 210 cats and kittens at FLOCK before
pleading guilty in 2001 to illegally practicing veterinary medicine.
He was reportedly placed on probation.
In other large cases involving neglect in the name of rescue:
* Timothy Foust, 32, his wife Aimee Robbins-Foust, and
Shawn Embs, 18, each face 117 counts of cruelty in Jackson County,
Kentucky, after a March 12, 2008 sheriff’s department raid on their
Animal Assist shelter at Sand Springs reportedly recovered 80 live
dogs and the remains of about 40 more. The surviviing dogs were
offered for adoption by the Gray Hawk Veterinary Clinic, also of
* In Martinsburg, West Virginia, Berkeley County
magistrate Joan V. Bragg on March 26, 2008 ordered Second Chance
Rescue founder Mara Spade, 63, to pay restitution of $114,883 to
the county for the care of 149 dogs who were seized from the shelter
in May 2006. Bragg earlier sentenced Spade to two years on probation
and to have no contact with animals for five years, after Spade
pleaded no contest to misdemeanor cruelty.