Jeff Eyre, the Northeast Director of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team, is currently on the ground in Haiti, assisting with animal relief efforts following the devastating earthquake that struck the region on January 12. The ASPCA is a member of the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH), headed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), which has deployed a team of experts to bring direct aid to the animals affected by the crisis. With limited communication in and out of the area, the following is the first in a series of field reports from Jeff on the frontlines.
Arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and met with local ARCH member Sodo Prieca. They have a base camp set up within the embassy compound. Security is tight with both local state and federal presence. This compound is patrolled by U.N. troops.
We were able to secure a third vehicle through IFAW—in a three-vehicle convoy, re-checking specific areas for any recurring issues. We then split into two patrols. Our team then proceeded to the American Embassy for a meeting.
After this meeting, we proceeded to the U.N. logistics base and made a supply pick-up.
Community is strong and accepting our presence with our local partners, showing the awareness and empathy needed for an integration of animal and humane needs.
Saw five cows, four goats, chickens—who also come to meals with us—a couple of pigs and some street dogs—average condition. Will check in again…
If you would like to support the animal welfare relief efforts in Haiti, please direct your donations to IFAW or WSPA.
On Sunday, January 24, under the authority and request of the City of Clarksdale, MS, the ASPCA dispatched members of its Field Investigations and Response Team to assist in the removal of more than 400 cats and dogs from the City of Clarksdale Animal Shelter.
aspca senior director of field investigations and response, tim rickey, tends to some of the dogs found on site.
Early Sunday morning, ASPCA responders led the effort to remove the animals from the site. The animals, housed in deplorable and overcrowded conditions, were suffering from obvious neglect—including medical conditions such as mange, as well as injuries and bite wounds as a result of living in overcrowded cages. A team of local veterinarians conducted exams on each animal and triaged any immediate needs. The animals were transported to a temporary shelter set up in a nearby location.
"What we've found are more than 400 animals living in a space designed for about 60," says Tim Rickey, ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response. "We are making sure that the animals' immediate needs are being met, and all animals are being evaluated by a veterinarian and will receive appropriate care."
kristen limbert, a member of the aspca field investigations and response team, aids some of the cats found in the city of clarksdale animal shelter.
The ASPCA will also provide the local organizations with the tools, resources and guidance needed to help improve conditions at the City of Clarksdale Animal Shelter. Rickey says, "It appears that this is a situation where the intake of unwanted animals was much higher than the number of animals being adopted, and it led to horrible living conditions. We are glad to be able to provide relief."
The ASPCA is extremely grateful to the shelters and organizations that are aiding in the rescue and housing of these animals. The animals will eventually be made available for adoption with the help of Petfinder.com.
On January 20, the trial of Jasper County, MS, puppy mill operator Richard Stockman came to a victorious close. Charged with 43 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, Stockman pled guilty to all charges in a Jasper County Justice Court.
Stockman was cited last October after 46 severely emaciated dogs, most suffering from a range of ailments including skin disease, rotted teeth, fur matted with urine and feces and various infections, were found on his property. Members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team assisted the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department with the investigation and the rescue of animals.
Under terms of his plea agreement, Stockman must destroy his Bay Springs, MS, kennels and find homes for the remaining dogs within 30 days, or the animals will be seized by authorities. He is also banned from ever owning or caring for dogs used for breeding again. Furthermore, Stockman has 90 days to pay the courts a $1,000 fine.
The rescued dogs were sent to the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society where they have since been adopted.
“Our team of investigators collected evidence for the prosecution of this case and provided for the animals’ immediate needs," says ASPCA Senior Vice President of Anti-Cruelty, Matt Bershadker. "Animal cruelty is unacceptable, and we did everything we could to lend our support to this critical operation. We applaud the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department for pursuing this case and recognizing the severity of the complaint."
On January 19, David Barkley, 39, of the New York Aquarium pet store located on Jamaica Avenue, was arrested by Special Agent Joann Sandano and charged with animal cruelty for allegedly severely neglecting two birds, both of whom died. The store is known for selling exotic birds, reptiles and fish, as well as for boarding dogs.
The initial investigation began on October 25, 2009, after a concerned customer filed a complaint with the ASPCA regarding an ill dog being boarded at the facility. Upon arrival, Agent Sandano discovered that the dog in question had been returned to his owner. However, further inspection of the facility turned up a dead parakeet lying atop a bird cage. The remains were taken to the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where veterinarians performed a necropsy and determined that the cause of death was neglect and malnourishment.
Agent Sandano returned to the location as a follow-up to the investigation. Her second inspection of the store uncovered a canary huddled in a cage in the shop’s basement. Agent Sandano immediately transported the bird to the ASPCA Animal Hospital—unfortunately, the bird died in transport. Agent Sandano subsequently returned to New York Aquarium to place Barkley under arrest.
Stacy Wolf, Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel of the Humane Law Enforcement Department stated, “The ASPCA aims to ensure that those in the business of selling pets for profit provide adequate care to their charges—regardless of species. Failure to do so should carry serious consequences.”
Barkley, who took full responsibility for caring for the animals in the shop, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. If convicted, he faces up to two years in jail and fines up to $2,000.
If you know of an animal whose health is being compromised by neglect or abuse, please report it. Visit our Report Cruelty FAQ to learn how to report cruelty in your neighborhood.
From planning pet-friendly vacations to spending oodles of money on toys and treats, most people consider their pets members of the family. Unfortunately, when it comes to domestic violence, pets are also deemed part of the family unit and forced to suffer in silence at the hands of abusers. Some studies estimate that 88% of companion animals living in households where domestic violence occurs are routinely threatened, harmed or even killed.
In cases of spousal, child or elder abuse, a beloved family pet can become a pawn for an abuser who is willing to injure or kill the animal as a form of revenge, to create isolation, or to intimidate his or her victims. ASPCA Special Agents often witness this trend firsthand. "We see a connection between animal abuse and domestic violence all the time," says Special Investigator Diane DiGiacomo. "For example, we'll go out and investigate a complaint of animal abuse and find that the children have already been removed from the home or that the suspect has a history of spousal abuse."
Studies also show that 50% of domestic violence victims delay seeking help for fear that an abuser will harm a pet. Furthermore, most domestic violence shelters are simply not set up to accommodate companion animalshowever, in recent years, animal “safe haven” programs, which provide foster care for pets in domestic violence situations, are becoming more common in cities across the country. And at least 11 states have enacted legislation to allows pets to be included in domestic violence-related orders of protection. This means a court can order an abuser to stay away from an animal or impose other conditions to protect the pet's safetyviolations could result in arrest.
To learn more about the link between domestic violence and animal cruelty, or to find out how you can lobby for stronger legislation to protect animal victims of domestic violence, visit ASPCA.org. If you or your pet is a victim of a violent crime, please call 911 or your local law enforcement.