On April 13, police in Long Beach, New York, came upon a horrifying sight near a sewage treatment plant: Two men were street fighting three Pit Bulls by mashing their faces together, rotating the dogs for endurance training.
When it came time to prosecute the two dog fighters, Sha-ron Hicks and Robert Stockdale, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office turned to ASPCA Animal Fighting Expert Terry Mills to serve as an expert witness.
As the trial date neared, defense attorneys tried to block Mills from testifying, but the judge struck down their motion. Soon after, facing a case bolstered by Mills’ expert testimony, the defense folded; Hicks and Stockdale pleaded guilty to felony dog fighting.
Hicks will receive three months in jail, five years of probation, an order not to possess animals for five years, a spot check agreement to support the order, and restitution for related veterinary bills. Stockdale will receive the same sentence, minus the jail time.
This case marks the second and third guilty pleas Mills has helped secure in Nassau County.
We couldn’t have done it without them. This week the ASPCA honoredeight animal welfare groups that went above and beyond to save the animal victims of cruelty or natural disasters. In recognition of their efforts, each received a $10,000 grant.
“We wanted to thank the agencies that helped us do our life-saving work, especially those in the communities affected by devastating disasters this year,” says Jessica Rushin, Partnerships Manager for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team.
Among the 173 animal welfare and rescue groups in the ASPCA’s Response Partnership network, the following groups were acknowledged for their outstanding efforts in 2011:
Columbia-Greene Humane Society in Hudson, NY;
Dumb Friends League in Denver, CO;
St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ;
Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, DC;
Spay and Neuter Kansas City in Kansas City, MO;
Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, MO;
Charleston Animal Society in North Charleston, SC; and
Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
“These organizations really stepped up to the plate and did an exceptional job by dedicating resources, time and personnel to help us in the field,” says Rushin. “We are grateful for their assistance and look forward to saving countless more animals in the new year.”
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If a friend told you that his dog came from “Happy Times” Kennel, what would you imagine that dog’s birthplace to have been like? Perhaps a place where the puppies were nestled by their mother as their human guardians attended to their every need? Sadly, the truth is far from this idyllic image, as the ASPCA witnessed firsthand last week.
Happy Times Kennel in Hot Springs, Arkansas is also known as Rainbow Kennel and Spa City Pets—clearly names meant to connote images of happy and healthy dogs. But when customers contacted law enforcement because the dogs they purchased were sick, the Garland County sheriff’s office, along with the Humane Society of Garland County, began investigating.
Garland County law enforcement purchased dogs in an undercover investigation, and each of the dogs they purchased had multiple illnesses and parasites. This was enough for the Garland County Sheriff’s Department to cite the breeder with violations, but not sufficient to shut down this substandard breeding facility. Garland County contacted the ASPCA for help.
Last week, 30 responders from the ASPCA and other animal welfare organizations assisted law enforcement and other animal welfare groups in the raid of this facility. The sights our responders witnessed were enough to make any animal lover weep. They saw precious Chihuahuas, West Highland Terriers, Boston Terriers and Dachshunds living in filth. Some dogs had open lesions. In fact, many had severe skin problems and flea infestations. We couldn’t even initially tell the color of some of the dogs because they were completely covered with fleas. And perhaps worst of all, dead puppies were found intermingled with live ones.
Our immediate task was conducting triage—the ASPCA veterinary forensics team evaluated the more than 150 dogs we found that were still alive and determined which needed immediate care in a veterinary hospital and which animals could be treated in an emergency shelter. We had sent our Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigations (CSI) unit to the site. This vehicle has state-of-the-art forensic tools and medical equipment and was invaluable in being able to treat animals quickly on-site.
Our forensics team also took photos and video to help law enforcement prepare its case against the breeder, who has been charged with three felony counts of animal cruelty. All of these animals are being cared for now and we hope that they can be released for adoption soon.
This is a terrible reminder of the abuse occurring in puppy mills. Sadly, people looking for a puppy unknowingly support this industry when they purchase puppies from pet stores or through the Internet. To stop this kind of abuse from occurring, please don’t buy anything from a pet store that sells puppies. You can read more about our campaign at www.nopetstorepuppies.com.
The ASPCA Animal Relocation Team hit the road this week to help dogs in South Carolina get a second chance at shelters in Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Kristen Limbert, ASPCA Animal Relocation Manager,shares her notes on the operation.
What a night! It's been a while since I've driven anywhere straight through the night, but it was important to keep going to minimize the time the dogs had to stay on the truck. Overall the ride was peaceful and didn't seem as long as it actually was, maybe because I didn’t actually do any of the driving.
We arrived at Bay Area Humane Society in Green Bay, Wisconsin, early this morning, and the staff was ready to help us unload their new residents: Benji, Wrangler, Glory, Freddie, Scooby, Sweetie, Blythe, Sachi, Dallas, Sweet Pea and Libby.
The whole gang did very well overnight. For the most part, they rested quietly, waking only when we opened the doors to check on them and fill their water bowls every few hours.
I think they're all about ready to be done with the ride, and for these 11 the journey is over (until their adoption, of course). The remaining 20 still have another 283 miles to travel before we reach their destination in Minnesota, but I think we all agree that 1,400 miles isn't too far to travel to get a chance at a new life. So many dogs never get the opportunity.
The Minnesota 20 have been fed a light breakfast, got some pats and scratches, and are settled in for the last leg of their trip. Golden Valley, MN, here we come.