Town terrorized by animal control officer : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Our little itty bitty town has had the same animal control officer for some time. She was fired by the previous selectmen, though the present selectmen don't know why. One former selectman is dead and can't tell us, another has moved away, and the third is really old. The town put an ad in the paper for applicants for the job and 5 people responded. The old animal control officer was rehired. The selectmen don't want to pay for certification for a new one, so they just hired her back. Animal owners in the town are irate. They claim she lures dogs off their property and twenty minutes later calls to collect a fine for wandering dogs(she keeps collected fines as part of her pay-I learned that when I applied for the job). She removed a horse from it's owner because she used to own the horse and wanted it back. The town found out the horse was not actually neglected and made her return the horse. The stories of harrassment go on and on. Another reason they keep her is because they have given her money for equipment, fencing for a kennel, and certification. Despite spending all that money on her, the town still needs to contract out to a shelter in another town because the kennel they paid for is unfit for liscensing. I have been told she lost her liscense for neglect of animals, but I'm waiting for confirmation of that. Two families have gone so far as held this woman off their properties with shotguns. Has anyone else had this kind of problem, if so, how did you get the selectmen to listen or how did you get rid of the problem? I don't want the headache of the job, but will take it to help my neighbors out of this. By state law, you hire an animal control officer for a year. If they work out, you send them to get certified. Is it too far fetched to just hire a new one every year to avoid the certification cost that the town does not want to pay? They could get a couple of volunteers to alternate years or something so they won't have to retrain every year in paperwork, etc.

-- Epona (, March 18, 2001


The local police (or even State police) may be interested in this story. If you can substantiate it I would contact them. Or contact the State attorney general. I actually had the animal control people harass me about my horse in my front yard (don't panic, he was well cared for and Veterinarian approved) and subsequently the other animals I own. I went to HER boss - the county police - with copies of the ordinances, vet statements, and such. I got an apology from the captain. This isn't exactly the same but I would certainly contact the police and other authorities.

-- Gailann Schrader (, March 18, 2001.

Maybe it's time to tell the selectman, that if something is not done, that next elections it will time to find new selectman.

-- David in NH (, March 18, 2001.

You might also check with your state attorney general and state auditor. If there is any evidence of misappropriation of public moneys, they could get her big league for that. Old Al Capone went to prison for tax evasion not his real crimes, but he was in jail nonetheless.

-- marilyn (, March 18, 2001.

My dh suggested looking into filing a class-action type lawsuit, and include the selectmen in the lawsuit. That should at least get their attention.

-- Lenette (, March 18, 2001.

Epona, as a former animal control officer, I'm appalled, but not surprised, given human nature, at this woman's actions! Obviously she isn't doing this job because she cares about animals, just power and money. Go as high up as you need too, and get verification of the things you mentioned, to back you up. Local TV channel, state attorney general, etc. Sooner or later, the selectmen will have to give in to the pressure, especially if they are named in the action. Good luck, and let us know what happens! Jan

-- Jan in CO (, March 18, 2001.

Our representative was at the town meeting to make sure we were doing things "right", he claimed, so I called him and he's going to try to find out if she did lose her certification. Another neighbor started a petition and we'll present it at the next selectmen's meeting, if they don't do anything I will call the news people. I won't resort to that right off because we have a nice quiet little town and wouldn't want to bring negative attention to it unless necessary. One problem is that residents aren't notified of town meetings, etc, so many have no idea what's going on (my rep is looking into that as well because by law, the town is required to notify us). One example is the $1 a bag to get your trash picked up: no one knew it was going to be voted on yesterday unless they happened to go to the town hall and ask about a meeting. My neighbors were shocked and irate over it. Thankfully we got enough people there to vote it down.

-- Epona (, March 18, 2001.

Might be a good application for Hoot's rat killer!

-- woodsbilly (, March 18, 2001.

Submarine her! Play fair but smart.

We had a similar situation here a few years ago. We learned a lot sitting thru many city council meetings.

First, think politics and the good ol boy system. Do you or your neighbors know the selectmen or their friends/spouses/relatives/co- workers/golf partners/Elks club/beer buddies? Do you do business with them in the community? Get their ear one-on-one. They will do more for their friends than someone whining at their meetings. Keep a positive outlook, offer solutions, they have a lot of other problems they are dealing with and they welcome solutions.

Second, think money. He who does it cheapest and with the least complaints coming back in usually gets the deal. Be friendly with the clerk or secretary and obtain the breakdown on their current costs with her and the rented kennel.

Third, be open and honest about wanting to work with them to come up with a solution that would make everyone happy. Find out what they see as the greatest challenge with her and solve or eliminate that with someone else in her place.

Have a very vocal group at the meetings, on the news, writing letters, calling, circulating petitions. While she is busy dealing with these, have others quietly doing their homework and working diligently "behind the scenes." Do you know a lawyer, maybe from another town, who would be interested in helping with some advice? Have someone she does not know checking out her kennel or asking around at the kennel currently used.

-- dani (, March 18, 2001.

Rent the movie "fly away home". There are some good "submarine your local animal warden" ideas in it also.

-- The Action Dude (, March 18, 2001.

Besides what others have suggested, do you think your local newspaper would be interested in this story?

-- amy (, March 19, 2001.

We had an dog catcher here and when I called to complain of strays he told me just leave them alone and eventually they would go home. I figured they would after they bred my dog when I didn't wantthe hassele of raising puppies. We ended up with 9 beauties!! And a large food bill before they found new homes. THe male dog's owner wasn't even made responsible for any of it!! Found out his dog had sired many litters throughtout town. Now just last year I found out that the town office meeting voted the smae guy in as dog officer!!! His dogs are still loose and running around. Locals here have decided to take of strays them selves. Good luck on getting some sort of justification with your animal control officer.

-- michelle (, March 19, 2001.

Find out all you can about this woman, and possible get some of the people who've had bad experiences with her to write them down and sign them, including their addresses and phone numbers. Then write a cover letter and include all the other complaints and send copies of it to your state's Attorney General's office, and to your state's Ethics Commission. It would probably be wise to call each of those offices first and find out which particular person to send the complaint too.

Don't make it sound like it is an "animal complaint," but let it be known that you think an unqualified person has been hired unfairly and may be using taxpayer money illegally, that kind of thing. If you have any more questions you can e-mail me direct because I have been an investigative newspaper reporter for more than 21 years and I deal with this kind of story a lot! Suzy

-- Suzy in Bama (, March 19, 2001.

Our officers are hired, etc. by the local police. They really frown on the major papers getting hold of stories like this, and become VERY willing to work with people to avoid it - at all costs. In your case, I'd write the letter, take it to the appropriate official (you can even have it signed by the neighbors, for added benefit and effect) and tell them how many people will get copies if something isn't done "right the H*** now...".

If they won't do anything, you have the letters - send them to State level officials. Bypass all the local and county ones if your request isn't taken care of immediately, as they help with that budget. Use the threat of the newspapers, too.... It works!!

In the event that nothing happens, even after all this.... is there a cliff she can 'fall' off of???? lol!!

-- Sue Diederich (, March 20, 2001.

Well, guess who was at my door last night? That's right: the animal control officer. Apparently the selectman I questioned about her told her. She came wearing a bright badge on her grubby t-shirt and wanted proof of my dog's liscense and rabies shot. She asked about the petition and I was honest. She left, but I'm sure it's not the last I've heard from her.

-- Epona (, March 21, 2001.

I did an Internet expose of a fradulent, power abusive Humane Officer two years ago. This woman had fraudulently claimed credentials, college degrees, work history and affiliations with animal humane organizations and was exposed initially by the law firm of one of her victims. Numerous residents in the counties she served complained of being browbeaten with threats of criminal charges, jail time and fines if they did not surrender horses she deemed to be neglected and/or abused. The current Animal Control Officer is no friend of this woman and personally reported to me that she had been fired from one county for appearances of theft, i.e. forced removal of horses from owners which then turn up sold. Last I heard, there was still an outstanding case where a gentleman had his pinto mare taken from him and when the case was dismissed for lack of evidence, his mare could not be returned to him because the HO claimed it had died despite there being a lack of vet witness, no grave site to dig up, no knacker receipt, no medical records. At least one horse breeder filed charges citing that the HO handpicked which of her 23 Arabs would be removed from her farm despite the fact that both a vet AND the president of the local Animal Humane Society saw no reason why these animals were deemed neglected/abused by the HO.

It's a lot more detailed than what I've mentioned here and if you would like the URL to my web page detailing this, please reply to me in email. What you will have to do is organize an association of animal owners to present a unified voting bloc and be efective lobbyists for your cause. Lawsuits may be inevitable. Anytime you have a situation where Animal Control funding is provided by means of fines and the sale of rehabilitated animals, you have a recipe for abuse.

The irony in this case is that the HO actually left a dog chained to a tree and a cat in a crate when she abandoned her house to move to another county. The new owner found the decomposed remains while cleaning out the property. Nothing was done to her.


-- Jeanne (, March 21, 2001.

I had a similiar incidence in the town I used to live in. The animal control officer would park a block down the street and as soon as anyone on my block would let their inside little dogs out on a leash, he would come and take the dog off the leash, put it in the street, then write a ticket. I had seen this several times and had it happen to me several times. I called and reported it to the police the first time, city hall the next. Then, one of my neighbors, who worked for the city, told me they were planning on making up false reports on me if I called one more time, in effect, running me out of town. I stopped, but spoke to the other neighbors and those that were willing began sending in anonymous letters to the newspaper. We bombarded the paper with our stories about the dog catcher. It stopped for a couple of months, but then we saw the same one in another neighborhood doing the same thing. >:-( I went downtown to try to talk to someone about it and was told that I had a "file" on me and if I wanted to stay in town, I better shut up. I didn't know what else to do, so I shut up. I just learned to look for a truck with someone sitting in it before letting the dog out on her leash. :-( I'm sorry this isn't much help, but I thought you might want to know that if the town is mean enough, you can get into trouble. You should still fight it, but if you can , don't let anyone know it is you.

-- Cindy in Ok (, March 22, 2001.

An update: I spoke with the town's first selectman who promised anoninimity for those who write down their complaints. So hopefully we can get her out of there in the next two weeks with little incident. I'm looking into everyone's suggestions, preparing in case this does not work. I appreciate the input greatly.

-- Epona (, March 22, 2001.

North Carolina has a State Bureau of Investigation which, to my knowledge, prevents the good old boy small town government abuse by having a higher authority to appeal to. See if your state also has such an agency and appeal to higher authorities.

-- Jeanne (, March 22, 2001.

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