Below are 3 of the 17 stories found in the Riverside Press Enterprise in December of 2003 following a Grand Jury investigation against the very people and government agencies that tried for over 4 yrs to get a guilty verdict against me and never succeeded.

Due to continuing budget cuts, they find it to be a better alternative to kill the animals and sell the carcasses on the open market for $120 per ton.

Oddly enough, it is February of 2007 right now and to this date, none of the people or agencies found guilty of these 28 felony charges has ever lifted a finger to complete the changes or tasks set forth by the grand jury's rulings.





Animal control agency faulted

Grand jury finds poor management and pets being destroyed needlessly

07:15 AM PST on Thursday, December 11, 2003

The grand jury's 28 findings about the Riverside County/City Animal Shelter and county Department of Animal Services include:

Lack of administrative leadership.

Allowing animals to go as long as 33 hours without food.

Faulty accounting practices and misdirection of revenue and donations.

Workers assigned to destroy animals for as long as six hours a day for a 30-day period, causing emotional stress.

Lack of communication with animal-rescue groups, resulting in excessive numbers of animals being destroyed.

Complacency in promoting adoptions.

Negligence in contacting the owners of strays.

A grand jury has found widespread mismanagement of the Riverside County Animal Services Department that resulted in needless killing of dogs and cats at its Riverside shelter, according to a report released Wednesday.

This all comes on the heels of the nationwide attention brought to Riverside County Board of Supervisors and animal control by Randy Warner 'The Dalmatian Man' whose abbreviated story can be found here:

Among 28 findings, the Riverside County grand jury cited one day in which some of the 80 animals destroyed died due to "arbitrary carelessness" and "indifference" to the shelter's own policies, including failure to contact animal owners, "complacency" in promoting adoptions and "disregard" for rescue organizations.

The grand jury, a volunteer body that investigates complaints about local government and makes recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, found deficient accounting practices such as a failure to track donations earmarked for spay-neutering programs and the mishandling of checks and cash received from the public for licenses and other fees.

Inadequate staffing has resulted in animals going without food for 33 hours or longer, even though state law requires that animals to be fed at least every 12 hours, the panel found.

County officials disputed parts of the report.

"The grand jury apparently received incorrect information that led to many inaccurate findings," said Janis McLaughlin, who heads the county's Animal Services Department.

Paul Alvarez / The Press-Enterprise

These dogs awaited homes at the Riverside County Animal Shelter in Riverside in August, but records show that a majority of pets don't leave the shelter alive. The grand jury issued a scathing report Wednesday on the county's Animal Services Department's management.

She and other county officials disputed the grand jury's finding that management is "severely deficient" in keeping staff members current on local and state laws and is not responsive to employees' complaints.

"Employees are encouraged to talk to me," McLaughlin said by phone. "The door is always open."

One county supervisor called for closer scrutiny of the operation. "I think we need a managerial audit of the Riverside shelter," said county Supervisor Bob Buster, in whose district the shelter lies. He said he plans to seek a review by an outside firm that specializes in shelter management..

Buster said he wants to find out whether the operation is underfunded or if the problem lies mostly with leadership.

The grand jury recommended that shelter management follow its own policies, comply with state and local laws, use proper accounting methods, hire or appoint someone to apply for grants and seek donations, and schedule enough staff to properly care for the animals.

"In general, the grand jury has offered some good suggestions, and we plan to implement them," McLaughlin said.

The Animal Services Department employs about 100 people, including animal control officers and shelter workers. It also manages shelters in Hemet, Indio, Blythe and Riverside and pays shelters in San Jacinto and Lake Elsinore to care for animals in those areas. Many cities within the county handle their own animal services.

The county's animal care and control budget for the 2003-04 fiscal is $5.6 million, including $1.3 million for the Riverside shelter, county spokesman Ray Smith said

About 59 percent of the 21,092 animals that entered the shelter during the 2002-2003 fiscal year were killed. That compares with the approximately 63 percent of dogs and cats that Inland shelters in general destroyed, according to 2002 data collected and analyzed by The Press-Enterprise.

Other problems

The grand jury also found:

Numerous accounting problems that made it hard to track how money was used. Roger Uminski, a spokesman for the county's health department, which oversees animal control, said nothing in the grand jury's report shows that funds were misused.

Hypodermic syringes were not secured, resulting in possible abuse or theft. Smith said the syringes will be locked up until a policy is adopted.

Shelter management doesn't actively seek grants and other help. Smith said the shelter has sought grants in the past, but the person who would apply for grants left, and the position has not been filled.

Communication with rescue groups is sporadic, resulting in cats and dogs being killed unnecessarily. The shelter recently assigned someone to coordinate with rescue groups.

Several rescuers and would-be volunteers have said they've had trouble getting cooperation from shelter management.

Smith said the shelter's volunteer coordinator has been updating training programs.

The shelter's chief of operations, Adam Colebrook, estimated that the shelter has 12 active volunteers.

Reach Bonnie Stewart at (909) 368-9475 or


'People call us murderers'

EUTHANIZING: The job takes a toll on conflicted shelter staffs. Many workers lean on each other.

10:35 PM PST on Sunday, December 21, 2003


Kelly Turner switched on a radio and hard rock filled the space in the back room of the Devore Animal Shelter. It was time to euthanize dogs, seven of the tens of thousands of dogs killed every year in Inland-area shelters.

One by one, each dog calmly accepted a fatal shot in the leg as kittens mewed behind them and the rock group System of a Down sang:

"I don't think you trust,

"In my self-righteous suicide,

"I cry when angels deserve to die. ...

"I cry when angels deserve to die."

Almost daily, Turner and dozens of other Inland-area shelter workers do the job the public hates to think about.

Last year, Inland-area shelter workers killed more than 72,343 unwanted dogs and cats. Most were strays, former pets allowed to run loose, dumped on back streets, left in the desert or set free in the mountains.

Shelter workers, citizens seeking pets and rescue groups manage to find homes for 22 percent of the animals that end up at Inland-area shelters. Some owners reclaim their pets. But most of the rest die to make room for the endless tide of unwanted animals.

"People call us murderers," said Johnny Chavez, 39, who has worked at the Devore shelter for five years. The jabs make the work even harder, he said.

He and his co-workers try not to take the killing home. They cope, they said, by relying on each other as a support system. Some days the work becomes so overwhelming that they ask for a euthanasia-free day, said their supervisor, Chris Springer, the animal control officer who oversees the Devore shelter.

Sometimes, the shelter workers feel an attachment to the animals they must kill.

"If we bring a dog in and it's special to the person euthanizing, they have the option of trying again to save it through a rescue," Springer said.

Paul Alvarez/The Press-Enterprise

A 5-pound Chihuahua trembles at Riverside City-County Animal Shelter. When he arrived, kennel workers vaccinated him, checked him for a microchip and fitted him with a plastic collar to track his stay. He was euthanized a few days later.

But there is little relief from the reality of what they do.

They see puppies and kittens covered with so many fleas and ticks that the animals are anemic, Springer said. Animals that started life as pets come to the shelter with ribs showing, teeth missing, bones broken. Battle-scarred pit bulls, ears hacked off so other dogs can't grab them, come in routinely.

"A lot of people don't see what we see every day," said Turner, 38, who has a dog and a cat at home. "It gets to the point where, you know, this is the best thing we can do for this dog. ... It only takes seconds. They don't feel anything."

But the images of barrels brimming with dead pets are hard to erase, and the smell of death is hard to ignore.

"They are challenged by the most conflicted job," Springer said of the workers who care for and feed the animals, then have to euthanize them. "It takes a toll on you," she said.

Annette Rauch, a veterinarian and research professor at Tufts University Center for Animals and Public Policy, said the stress is understandable. It's humane to euthanize elderly, sick animals, she said. "But to euthanize these healthy animals in the prime of life is heartbreaking.

"Overall, it leads to a lot of (worker) turnover. After five years of killing dogs every day, you wake up one morning and say, 'I can't do this anymore.' "

"We don't offer enough support for the people who do this difficult job."

Seven dogs to kill made for a light day at the Devore shelter. Four pit bull puppies, a large mangy black dog and two other strays.

As they lay unconscious on the floor, Turner thrust needles into their hearts. The syringes jerked from side to side, then slowed and stopped, telling her the dogs were dead.

The last to die that morning was a black and white dog that wagged its tail to the end.

"Good boy," said Turner as the needle slid home.

"Done. Done. Done," she said as the dog slipped to the floor.


No sanctuary

More than half of stray or abandoned pets in the Inland area never find homes. Most find, inevitably, death by lethal injection.

07:53 AM PST on Monday, December 22, 2003

A gray cat with a large head wound crouched quietly as Kerry Collins and a co-worker clipped away his fur, cleansed the raw area and gave him a shot of antibiotics.


"He's a stray, but we'll treat him while he's here, at least," said Collins, a Redlands Animal Shelter employee. She knew she probably would have to euthanize the cat within a few days.

"Everyone wants kittens," she said.

No shortage of those. Cage upon cage of kittens filled the shelter that day. Several litters nursed their mothers; others competed for attention, thrusting tiny paws beyond the bars of their cages amid a chorus of meows.

Talking about the killing brings Collins to tears.

"You can't save them all," she said. "We do the best we can, but we just can't."

Collins and other Inland-area shelter workers do the public's dirty work every day.

They scrape dead dogs and cats off the streets, capture legions of strays, accept pets people don't want and give lethal injections to most of them. In 2002, Inland-area shelter workers killed about 63 percent of the 113,955 dogs and cats that entered shelters alive.

The killing is a symptom of a vicious cycle of irresponsible pet owners, overburdened and under-funded shelters that must kill unwanted animals to make room for more, and the lack of political will to make lasting changes.

Stray, neglected and abandoned animals challenge communities nationwide, but statistics collected and analyzed by The Press-Enterprise show that most stray or unwanted pets in Riverside County and southwestern San Bernardino County fare worse than those in many communities across the nation.

In the Inland area, about 24 to 28 cats and dogs are killed each year per 1,000 people who live in the region. The numbers vary from shelter to shelter and location to location. The kill rate was 33 in Moreno Valley and Banning and 11 in Corona and Temecula, for example. Calculations are based on shelter statistics and census estimates from 2002.

In San Francisco, which has aggressive public education and spay-and-neuter efforts, about 2.5 animals per 1,000 population die each year. The rate at San Diego County's main shelter is 4.2. The national average is 10 to 14 pets per 1,000 people.

Lynette A. Hart, a professor with the Center for Companion Animal Behavior at UC Davis, reviewed some Inland shelter statistics.

"The really shocking thing is the high number of stray dogs," Hart said. "That would concern me much more than the euthanasia.

"That's really a public health issue for dog bites. ... It's a threat for children, especially."

The problem here and elsewhere begins with people.

Many allow their pets to breed indiscriminately.

They let their dogs and cats roam the streets, endangering the pets and the public's health and safety.

Some people neglect or abuse pets, and animal control officers must confiscate them.

Other people don't have enough money to provide veterinary care.

And some people abandon pets when they move, or drop them off at shelters when caring for them becomes too troublesome.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Kill rates fall and the streets become safer in communities that have far-reaching public pet education programs, strict animal-law enforcement and an abundance of easily accessible, free or low-cost spay-neuter services, said Betsy McFarland, a spokeswoman with the Humane Society of the United States.

"The focus needs to be on prevention," she said.

Political will

The challenge for Inland-area animal control departments is finding enough funds for education and other public outreach while taking care of all their other duties..

"Everybody agrees the number of euthanasias is high," said Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster, whose district includes the Riverside City-County Animal Shelter. But politicians haven't provided funding for comprehensive services, he said. The county needs to hire more animal-control workers, improve the shelter, provide more spay-neuter services and do more to reach the Latino population, he said.

"We need more pressure from people with animals to push for the funding to get the work done," Buster said. "We need to get over the avalanche of animals that is coming down."

The problems are compounded when a shelter isn't operating as well as it could.

The Riverside City-County Animal Shelter came under fire earlier this month when a grand jury report cited mismanagement, including "unnecessary" euthanasia, lack of cooperation with pet-rescue groups and accounting problems.

Some California communities, such as Los Angeles, have put together short-term plans to control euthanasia numbers.

Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn recently announced that within five years, his city no longer will have to kill adoptable animals. So far, the city hasn't revealed plans for reaching that goal.

Some, including Buster, don't believe that can happen in the Inland area anytime soon.

Ken Childress, director of the San Bernardino's animal control department, scoffed at his city's ability to finance such a plan.

"Give me a break. It's good to work toward, but money is limited," said Childress, hired this year to run the San Bernardino shelter, where 76 percent of the 15,020 dogs and cats that came into the city's care in 2002 were euthanized.

The San Bernardino city shelter, one of the busiest in the Inland area, also serves Fontana, Loma Linda and Colton.

Childress said he is dealing with many maintenance issues, including old buildings. The cat room, a corrugated metal building with insulation falling from the ceiling, does not have proper ventilation or adequate space for the thousands of cats - nearly 6,000 in 2002 - that pass through the shelter each year.

"The cat room is in really bad shape and really overcrowded, and upper respiratory is a constant battle," said Childress, referring to the infections that almost always become a death sentence for shelter animals. The city has allocated some money for a new cat room, but the funds have been in the budget before and then were taken away, he said.

San Bernardino's shelter has 10 full-time positions for animal control officers, but the jobs aren't always filled, making it hard for officers to take time to educate the public.

Volunteers are needed. Only a few people help out at the shelter, he said, and not on a regular basis. Volunteers could help with adoptions, walk the dogs and groom the animals to make them more adoptable, he said.

"When you have a bare-bones operation, you do the best you can," he said.

Money does help.

Corona's shelter, which serves a population of about 138,000, has a $1.2 million budget and kills about 11 animals per 1,000 population. The numbers for San Bernardino city, which serves a population of almost 405,000, are $1.5 million and a kill rate of 28. For Riverside city, the shelter serves a population of about 274,000, has a $1.3 million budget and a kill rate of 22.

Childress, of the San Bernardino shelter, said people tend to blame shelters for killing pets.

"When people see euthanasia, they equate that with a shelter that doesn't care," he said. "They won't look in the mirror and say, 'You're responsible.'

"People get dogs and don't train them, and they end up on a chain in the back yard," he said. "They don't integrate it into the family."

And, too often, they end up on the street.

Straying into trouble

Thousands of stray dogs and cats crowd shelters across the Inland area.

About 75 percent of the 20,000 dogs and cats that wound up at the Riverside City-County Animal Shelter in 2002 were strays.

Another 12,000 strays entered San Bernardino County's Devore, Rancho Cucamonga and Big Bear shelters that year.

Inland-area shelters have a higher percentage of strays than shelters in areas that have more affluent residents and more visible campaigns to control animal population. For example, in the 2001-02 fiscal year San Francisco's shelter took in one unwanted animal for every 109 people who lived in the city. San Diego took in one per 42 people. In the cities of Riverside and San Bernardino, it was one animal per 26 people.

Typically, a stray is held five or six days, unless it is injured or ill. An owner-surrendered animal can be killed immediately.

Most strays never find homes, despite the efforts of pet-rescue groups and shelter adoption programs.

Temecula resident and self-proclaimed "dog magnet" Tracey Stovall had hope for a black and brown shepherd mix she found wandering near her home in October. She caught the healthy young dog and showed him around the neighborhood, but nobody claimed him. So she called animal control.

"Somebody's got to be missing him," she said. The shepherd wagged his tail and leaned into her leg, looking up for a pat on the head.

"He's a lap dog," she told the animal control officer. "I hope he finds his mommy."

For 17 days, the nameless shepherd mix waited for his owner or an adoptive family to find him at the Animal Friends of the Valley shelter in Lake Elsinore. But no one came for him, and the dog was killed to make room for another.

To reduce the number of dogs and cats whose owners dump them along roadsides, some shelters have set up after-hours kennels where people can drop off animals anonymously.

Paul Alvarez/The Press- Enterprise

A sick puppy sits quietly as it is killed with an injection of pentobarbital at the San Bernardino County Animal Shelter in Devore.In 2002, Inland-area shelter workers euthanized about 63 percent of the dogs and cats that entered shelters.

At the Ramona Animal Shelter in San Jacinto, executive director Jeff Sheppard said he has mixed feelings about the after-hours service. Good for the pets, maybe, but too easy for the people, he said. "They don't have to look anyone in the eyes when they turn them in."

Ramona's after-hours cages fill up almost every night. Most of the pets will die, Sheppard said, but killing them with a needle is kinder than leaving them on the streets.

"They may only be here for six days at the most, but they've got plenty of food, they've got plenty of water ... They've got a blanket to lie on. Someone's petting them all day long," he said. "And if they do have to be put to sleep, it's with loving arms. It's not with a semi-truck out in the middle of the road."

Poverty and pets

Suzanne Fletcher, who has lived in Riverside for 16 years, said stray animals constantly show up in her neighborhood and the hills beyond.

"People dump them often," she said. "Or people move and leave their animals."

During the summer, she found three Chihuahuas, a flea-infested Pomeranian, a mother cat, a kitten in the gutter and an injured pit bull on the street.

Pets aren't like part of the family to some people, she said. "They're like livestock or something."

Poorer communities tend to have more stray, abandoned and unwanted animals, national humane experts say. Spay and neuter costs can be out of reach, meaning that animals can reproduce and contribute to overpopulation.

Veterinary care also may be beyond a family's means.

"A vet visit can be as much as $200 to $250," said Carlos Velez-Ibanez, an anthropology professor at UC Riverside. "For folks earning $400 a week with two or three kids, it is simply not rational to treat Fido like one of the kids.

"Therefore, cultural attitudes toward dogs emerge out of necessity: for privileged sectors, out of the need for contact with a warm body; for working-class folks in general, out of the need to protect property and keep the kiddies occupied."

Cultural influences also can contribute to the way animals are viewed, Velez-Ibanez said.

Working-class people who have recently moved to the area from Mexico may view dogs more as part of the natural landscape than as private property, he said.

In rural areas of Mexico, dogs are allowed to run, but they also are gatekeepers. In Mexico's urban areas, loose dogs are a problem, but they also serve as garbage collectors, eating just about anything, Velez-Ibanez said.

Some shelters provide bilingual fliers and have Spanish-speaking officers. But not all have full-time education officers who can spend time teaching people about their community's animal-control laws.

Parting with pets

On West 14th Street in San Bernardino, a man walked a 10-year-old black spaniel to an animal control truck waiting at the curb.

"I tried to find him a home," the man told animal control officer Susan Estrada on that September day. He was moving and couldn't take the dog along, he said.

"I don't want to turn him loose," he said. "That would be too cruel."

Estrada loaded the dog onto her truck. The man turned, crying, and carried the dog's leash back into the house.

For a $10 fee, his problem was solved. Pet owners turned in more than 15,000 dogs and cats at Inland-area animal shelters in 2002.

Some people give up sick or injured pets to be euthanized.

Others, however, use shelters as a way to rid themselves of animals they can't or don't want to keep.

"In some communities, the disposable-pet attitude is very strong," said Annette Rauch, a veterinarian and research professor at Tufts University's Center for Animals and Public Policy in Massachusetts.

To some people, pets are like clothing, cars, other consumer goods, she said. "When their jobs change, they move, they have a baby, or income change, rather than struggling to keep a pet, they relinquish it (to a shelter)."

Like a shelter mantra, the words "Moving, can't keep," "Moving, can't keep," can be found scrawled on kennel cards in shelters across the Inland area.

Nationally, moving is the No. 1 reason people take dogs to shelters, according to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy in Minnesota. Landlord issues are second, followed by cost and lack of time.

For cats, "too many in house," is first on the rejection list, followed by allergies, moving and cost.

People aren't just giving up mixed breed animals. Purebred pets live and die in Inland-area shelters, too.

On Sept. 26, the Riverside County-City shelter housed two German shepherds, a Jack Russell terrier, a Doberman pinscher, a Belgian Tervuren, a great Pyrenees, and two Labrador retrievers.

On nearly any day in just about every Inland shelter, visitors will find Chihuahuas, cocker spaniels and the dogs Walt Disney made popular, Dalmatians.

"No time for this dog," was penned atop the card posted on a Dalmatian's kennel at the Riverside City-County shelter recently.

"Dalmatians need a high fence and someone who jogs every morning," said Carol Joob, director of the Benevolent Animal Rescue Committee, or BARC, a pet rescue organization that covers San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

"If people researched the breeds before they adopt them, there wouldn't be so many (owner) turn-ins," she said.

Divorce and lack of time are two common reasons people get rid of their pets, Joob said.

Different breeds have different needs and behaviors. A large number of Jack Russell terriers, popularized by the TV series "Frasier," end up in shelters because people don't realize what "little busybodies" they are, Joob said.

Inland shelters also see a large number of pit bulls, German shepherds, chow chows and other dogs used to guard.

"One of the biggest problems people have is they get pets and they don't socialize them," said San Bernardino city's Childress. "They get a dog, and they put it on the property, and they don't ever take it out and socialize it with other animals.

"They are simply watchdogs."

End of the road

Almost every day is a killing day at Inland-area public shelters.

Workers load syringes with pentobarbital and inject it into the veins of sick and old dogs and cats. The young and the healthy also must die to make room for incoming animals.

"It's not a violent death at all, when done properly," said Chris Springer, supervising animal control officer at the Devore shelter in San Bernardino County.

"It's quick, efficient, relatively painless - just a few seconds to be knocked out, just a minute or so to stop the heart."

A boxer mix and several other dogs died without a struggle one afternoon at the shelter.

Tail wagging, the boxer sat on the cement floor. Juan Reyes wrapped a strap around its mouth, and Springer guided a needle into a vein in the dog's leg.

"Good baby," Springer said as the dog slumped to the floor, eyes still open.

A Rottweiler mix and a pit bull mix died next. Then a small black and white rat terrier whose owner gave him up because he snapped at someone.

A Springer spaniel died, too, minutes after it was left at the shelter. The dog had become aggressive, the owner said.

A droopy-eyed, sick brown puppy found abandoned in a field died quickly.

After their hearts stopped, the dogs were stacked in blue 55-gallon drums. The drums went into a freezer. A truck took them to Los Angeles.

Rendering company president Bill Gorman explained what happened next.

A machine mixed the bodies with 8,500 pounds of other dead animals, then heated them to 260 degrees for 30 minutes to sterilize their tissue. Next, they were shipped to China, Vietnam or Thailand, where they are used to fertilize the soil or feed shrimp, which are fed to eels, which become sushi.

Their market value: $120 per ton.

Reach Bonnie Stewart at (909) 368-9475