We Speak for Them: The Animal Cruelty Conference

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Apr 26, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of animal abuse. We suggest that you read it anyway.
A Hacienda Heights high school student recently beat three black-and-white kittens to death with a baseball bat, fracturing their skulls. A news photo showed them with pain registered on their faces, their mouths open.

Eric Sakach, senior law enforcement specialist in animal cruelty for the Humane Society of the United States, speaks to a packed room at the Animal Cruelty Conference presented by the Long Beach City Prosecutors Office.

A man whose girlfriend had left him in terror came after her and stabbed to death a puppy he had given her.

A collar was found literally melted into a cats neck. The cat had been wearing a collar since he was a kitten, and the owner ignored the fact that the cat was growing.

A dog was rescued with his fur so badly matted that it had grown solid and had blocked the pets anus. The dog could not defecate and had severe health problems.

Our columns usually incline toward the amusing, the utilitarian or the cute. Thats because we love animals and so do you. Its because of this that we want you to read about the 2012 Animal Cruelty Conference held March 29 in the Skylinks banquet hall, coordinated and presented by the office of City Prosecutor Douglas Haubertthe first of its kind, as Haubert himself described it. Sometimes, the truth is ugly in the extreme.

The three points of Hauberts objective were to educate the public on what constitutes animal cruelty, inform people how to report it, and show the link between animal cruelty and other crimes. Presenters besides Haubert included Eric Sakach, HSUS senior law enforcement specialist in animal cruelty, Rescue and Response Team; Deborah Knaan, L.A. County deputy district attorney and Animal Cruelty Case coordinator; and Sgt. Rebecca Johnson of Long Beach Animal Care Services (ACS). There were between 150 and 170 attendees packing the hall, which is an indication of passionate community interest in animal welfare, and many of the audience members were as disturbed as you probably were when you read the beginning of this article.

[To know about] animal cruelty and neglect is important, Johnson said in a tearful voice during her presentation. Animals cant speak for themselvesyou are their voice.

The presentation team described six identified types of animal abuse: neglect, intended, ritualized, bestiality, hoarding and animal fighting (dogfighting and cockfighting), and presented visual and verbal examples that were sufficiently graphic to motivate several people to leave the room, including one responsible enough to bring her child to educate her but not to contaminate the experience with upsetting images. There was also an explanation of the penalties that an individual who has been convicted of abusing an animal could face and legislation either pending or written into law concerning abuse.

It got gruesome immediately. Sakach described hoarding situations and sport animal fighting in horrifying detail, with accompanying videos and slides. Hoarders, he said, are not necessarily horrible, evil people nor are they abusers by intent; in fact, they generally think theyre helping or saving the animals they collect. But they do have a mental illness, as was shown in a visual of the house of a real-life Willard. During one animal-cruelty investigation by HSUS and a couple of other entities, a man was discovered to have over 2,000 pet rats in his homeloose pet rats. The situation was televised on a 2011 episode of AEs Hoarders.

There was a half-inch of caked rat feces on the floor, holes gnawed in the insulation and gnawed wires, Sakach said. Good newshe got therapy, and the rats were rescued.

Animals rescued from a cat sanctuary in Florida, where almost 700 felines were living in deplorable conditions.Photo by Julie Busch Branaman, courtesy of HSUS

When responders arrived on the scene they found 697 cats housed mainly in unsanitary wire pens throughout the 8 acre property. A veterinarian on the scene determined that many of the cats were underweight and suffering from medical ailments such as upper respiratory infections and parasite infestation.

All of the cats were safely removed and transported to an emergency shelter where they will be thoroughly examined by a team of veterinarians and receive any necessary immediate medical care. The HSUS and United Animal Nations will provide daily care for the animals until their custody is decided in an upcoming disposition hearing.

Not all situations turn out as well. Sakach described a home with cats literally melting into the sofa and dogs cannibalizing one another, starving animals pleading for food, and the urine and fecal matter that produce fumes so toxic that the rescue teams have to wear protective gear when entering a hoarders home. He said, furthermore, that even with the rescues, there may not be shelter space for the more than 250,000 victims of animal hoarding that are discovered each year.

Hoarding is also costly in the manpower that agencies have to expend: animal control, health and fire departments, mental health, social service and the city or county attorney. Charges and mandatory mental counseling are often necessary.

As citizens, youre asking what you can do, Sakach said. Well, thats what this conference is about. Know your neighbors. Among the things he suggested looking for are overpowering smells of urine, accumulation of trash and, of course, the knowledge that a large number of animals is present in the dwelling.

This dog should be running after a Frisbee at Rosies Dog Beach. Instead, hes tethered to a chain. Hes one of the animals rescued by HSUS from a suspected dogfighting operation
Photo by Kathy Milani, courtesy of HSUS

Dogfighting and cockfighting are premeditated crimes against animals. Both are illegal in California (cockfighting is illegal in all states), both have fines attached, and both take a horribly painful toll on animals. Sakach showed videos of big, beautiful roosters straining against heavy chains attached to their legs and fighting other birds to the death of one or both of them. Furthermore, battling roosters have been transferred to poultry farms where they spread diseases to otherwise healthy birds, and the practice has been linked with spousal and child abuse, illegal gambling, and narcotics and firearm trafficking.

Dogfighting involves all this and more, and with more animal victims other than the dogs themselves. People who own fighting dogs, generally pit bulls, are involved in the same illegal activities as those who own fighting roosters, with the addition of gang affiliation. These are not nice people. It may surprise you, unless youre a responsible, loving owner of one, that pit bulls are sweet-natured dogs whose dispositions are corrupted by their owners who train them even from puppy age. We watched some of the training, fighting, and their results, including the open wounds that are tended to by the owners who staple them shut. Go to our shelter or check the Pet Harbor adoption page http://www.petharbor.com/ and count the number of pitties who overrun rescue facilities50 percent of ACSs dogs and 90 percent of the countrys are pit bulls. Theyve been taken from the trainers or from backyard breeders. Some have been abandoned on the streets. We imagine that few have been spayed or neutered.

Pit bulls are not the only creatures to be harmed by dogfighting. Children are brought to watch this blood sport and grow up with that mentality. Then there are the bait animalscats, kittens small dogs, gerbils and rabbits that are stolen from yards, grabbed off the street or park, and obtained from free to good homes ads. The animals are sacrificed to train the fighting dogs they may be put in a basket and swung around the dogs head until the animal smells the prey and rips it to shreds; or they may be chased around a treadmill by the dog until theyre overcome and killed. The lucky ones get rescued and may die a more humane death in a shelter if theyre not taken home by someone.

Nowadays, its impossible to mention dogfighting without conjuring the image of Michael Vick. Vick is now by all reports rehabilitated and is now an HSUS community action spokesman against dogfighting. Without further comment or editorial, we want to repeat a story Sakach told. Vick was presenting at an inner-city school when one of the kids in the audience said, Michael, dont worry. We know you didnt do anything wrong.

Yes, I did do something wrong, was his response. And this is how celebrity, whatever the reason, can turn stuff around for their community.

Signs of an animal-fighting operation include a number of roosters on a property but no hens, chained or scarred dogs, and paraphernalia like a lot of treadmills. Dog breeding is illegal without proper licensing, and that could be a sign as well, especially if theyre pitties. There is an effort in California to make being a spectator at a dogfight a felony; its presently a misdemeanor. It is a felony to engage in dogfighting or own fighting dogs (California legal code 597.5), and there are heavy fines and consequences for the acts. Click here http://www.longbeach.gov/acs/faq/answers.asp?id=745 for more information.

The HSUS supplied key information that led to the raid of a Texas cockfighting breeding facility like this one. Note the beauty of the roosters plumage, which would have been destroyed in a literal fight to the death.Photo by Kathy Milani, courtesy of HSUS

Roosters are strapped to heavy chains before and during fighting.Photo by Kathy Milani, courtesy HSUS

In our next section, to be posted next week, youll learn about Deborah Knaans important contributions as well as legislation as well as the link between animal cruelty and violence to humans. Sgt. Rebecca Johnson will discuss cruelty issues specific to Long Beach and how you as citizens can become proactive as animal advocates.

Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.
~ Bradley Miller, individual unknown, but read on every webpage that exists for animal lovers

Note from Kate: Judy is too modest to say anything, and it would sound better coming from someone else anywayand who else but me? I was there. Judy is a humane educator and animal advocate who, as a member of the committee that put the event together, was instrumental in its coming into being. At the end of the conference, Prosecutor Doug Haubert thanked a number of people for their assistance at the conference, several of whom are given mention at the end of the second half of this article. He saved the best for last, saying that a special, huge thanks should be given to Judy Crumpton, without whose input and encouragement he may never have considered putting the event together. I know that this is true, as Ive seen Judy in action, and there are few people who advocate for animals as she does. She deserves every accolade, and then some, given to her that night.

Judy Crumpton, left, with animal advocate Stacie Cardenas and sponsor poster.

Virtually Pets


Little Ralph was rescued from the streets in Long Beach in December. He had been sleeping in a plastic box under a truck in a car repair shop. There was a filthy towel in the boxhis only protection from the cold. Ralph ate out of trash cans, but some nice people left food out for him when they could. It took Ralphs rescuer two weeks to finally catch him because he was so fearful of people and ran as soon as anyone came too close. He knew every hole and crack in each fence in the area. Little Ralph is a Chi mix about two years old and has been neutered, updated on shots and microchipped. He has also had his teeth cleaned. He gets along great with other dogs but it still very shy. He warms up quickly when he understands there is no harm, and hell need someone patient. Please e-mail hoffmannclaudia@hotmail.comif you are interested in adopting Ralph. He is in Long Beach and needs a home ASAP.

Missy (rear, center, held lovingly) with Barbara, Rileigh, Keith and Lady Cordes

Heres an antidote to the topic we just finished. About two and a half years, ago, we posted a photo of a longhaired Chihuahua in our Virtually Pets section. No spring chicken at around 13 years old, Missy nonetheless captured the hearts of Barbara and Keith Cordes, former Long Beach residents who now reside in Oregon. In an October 2009 Pet Posting http://www.lbpost.com/life/pets/6956, we described how Keith leaped into his car and drove all the way down to Animal Care Services to add Missy to the family. Now, not quite yet into her dotage, Missy is enjoying wilderness life to its fullest. The Cordeses sent us photos of Missy, two of which weve included, and Keith wrote a long letter, part of which weve copied for you:

Well, here is Missy going on 16 or so. She is doing great except a little slow and a small heart problem. She is on meds for that. Her life up here is great, except for the snow. When the deck has snow on it, she will take only a couple of steps to go to the bathroom. She is so funny about that.She loves going to the Oregon coast with us. When Rileigh, our granddaughter, goes, Missy and Lady [Missys new adopted sister] get to ride around in the basket of a three-wheeler. All in all, I thank my wife, Barbara, for the morning she said to me, Follow your heart, when I asked her what I should do about Missy in the picture [on the Pet Post]. Thank you both for still keeping little ones like her from the gas chamber.

Thats neat that the Cordes think that way, but we believe that the full success and most of the thanks belongs with the people who carry it out to the end. Thanks, Barbara and Keith, for letting us know how well Missys doing.

Pet Projects

California Spay/Neuter License Plate Effort Running Out of Time

If you have previously purchased one of these plates, the proceeds from which will provide funding for free or low-cost pet-altering surgeries in shelters across California and will also help raise awareness about the importance of spaying and neutering to reduce pet overpopulation, adoption time is running out. There needs to be a sale of 7,5000 of these plates presold before June 2012 for the plates to be manufactured; if this doesnt happen, preordered plate payments will be refunded and the plates wont be sold. Judie Mancuso, president of both Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL) and of the license plate fund, was quoted to say in an Associated Press article that paying for surgeries through license plates makes sense in tough economic times because it is not a tax and not a fee.

The writer of the article made the excellent point that in a state where people wear their hearts on their bumpers, a specialty license plate campaign by pet lovers to save animal lives needs saving. With more dogs, cats and cars than any other state, it would seem pet lovers could rally enough support for a plan to end pet overpopulation and cut euthanasia.

Allow Dogs to Sit on Restaurant Patios! City Council Meeting, Council Chambers, 333 W. Broadway, Tuesday, April 17, 6 p.m.

Did you know that its not legal in Long Beach for dogs to join their human companions for meals on outdoor patios of restaurants where servers bring food to the table? Not many do! Please join us along with other community residents to show support for City Council Agenda Item #21 that will allow dogs on restaurant patios. Please attend this Council meeting (come early at 5 p.m.), or if you cannot attend, contact your districts council member or all council members to show your support, or click here to comment via eStar. Note: Sometimes agenda items change, so you may want to check the agenda again before attending.

Many thanks go to Robert Garcia for taking the lead by drafting this recommendation. Well take his dog to lunch when its approved. Text of item is as follows: Recommendation to request City Manager to work with the Health Department to craft a policy that gives restaurant owners the flexibility to allow pet dogs on outdoor restaurant patios; and return to City Council in 90 days with the proposed new policy.

Low Cost Pet Clinics Available through ACS, Various Locations, Saturday, April 14, 11 a.m.2 p.m.

The Long Beach Department of Animal Care Services is now providing more frequent low-cost clinics to vaccinate and license your pets at a much more manageable price. These clinics take place the second Saturday of each month, rotated at four parks throughout Long Beach.

A state-licensed veterinarian from the Southern California Veterinary Vaccine Clinic (SCVVC) will administer vaccinations. No reservations are needed. Click here for a full list of the available services and pricing, which beats low-cost prices at many area pet stores.

This month’s low-cost clinics will take place at the following times and locations:

  • 910:30 a.m.: Houghton Park, 6301 Myrtle Ave, 90805
  • 12:302 p.m.: Admiral Kidd Park, 2125 Santa Fe Ave, 90805

SpcaLA Pet Adoption, PetSmart, Long Beach Towne Center, 7631 Carson Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90808, Saturday, April 14, 10:30 a.m.3:30 p.m.

Meet spcaLAs adorable adoptables and maybe find a new best friend! Cant make it that day? Theres plenty more at the P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village and Education Center, 7700 E. Spring St. in Eldorado Park. Click here http://www.spcala.com.

BARK (Beach Animals Reading with Kids) Read Along, OC PetExpo, Orange County Fairgrounds, 88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa, CA, FridaySunday, April 2022, 10 a.m. until early evening

Break out the copies of Marley and Me and Harry, the Dirty Dog! The friendly therapy dogs of BARK will again be listening to kids read at Americas Family Pet Expo. The Expo features everything you need for a happier, healthier pet. BARK will also be giving away free books to kids who read with the dogs.

Book signing and Mini-Sessions for Terri Steubens Secrets of a Pet Whisperer: Stop Telling Your Pets to Misbehave, Pussy and Pooch, 4818 E. 2nd St., Long Beach, 90803, Saturday, April 28, 11 a.m.3 p.m.

Want to try out Terri Steubens techniques? Terri will be signing copies of Secrets of a Pet Whisperer and will also be doing little readings for your own babies! Pets are always welcome there, or bring photos (the cat would prefer that). Call (562) 434-7700 for information.

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