In my last post, I wrote about the San Francisco SPCA pressuring Animal Legal Defense Fund not to file suit against Stockton Animal Services and its supervisor, Pat Claerbout, for their unlawful practices. That pressure began in response to a blog ALDF posted in January 2014, and it came as a surprise. The blog told Gracie’s Story. Just in case that blog is taken down at some point, I grabbed a screen shot.
Shortly after the blog was posted, ALDF heard from its sometime ally from the San Francisco SPCA, Co-President Jennifer Scarlett, who said:
From: “Jennifer Scarlett, DVM” <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: January 17, 2014 at 12:43:11 PM PST To: —–@aldf.org” <—–@aldf.org> Cc: Carter Dillard <cdillard@ALDF.org>
Subject: Response to Stockton Blog
“Re: ‘Gracie’s Story: a Rescue Tail and an Exposé of Animal Suffering at the Stockton Animal Shelter’ We are very concerned and disappointed about the inaccurate and misleading facts presented in Ms. Molidor’s article about the Stockton Animal Shelter. Many of Ms. Molidor’s statements are based on information that is outdated by nearly two years. Since then, we have made significant progress toward improving our shelter and our live release rate.
“By the end of 2013 Stockton Animal Shelter’s live release rate had climbed to 50%, which is the national average
“For comparison, our live release rate was 27% in 2011
“We have decreased euthanasia by 24% since 2012. Adoptions and transfers have increased by 28% in the last year, which is more than 1,000 saved lives
“Since 2012, spay and neuter volume has increased by 67%, with 3,605 surgeries completed in 2013
“Our TNR (trap, neuter, release) volume is up 45% over 2012
“Last but not least, we have hired a full-time veterinarian, the first in the San Joaquin County shelter system
“The facts above speak volumes about what the Stockton Animal Shelter is trying to achieve and the improvements that we’ve recently made. Publishing misleading statements based on outdated facts on the Animal Legal Defense Fund website is harmful and unfair.
”Don’t set us back from what we’ve worked so hard to achieve; Stockton needs help and assistance from the community to continue its progress. We have extremely limited resources, and we need community support to help us improve our shelter. We strongly encourage ALDF to print an updated story with accurate, current information. At the end of the day we all have the common goal of helping animals in need, and unfortunately Ms. Molidor’s article has the potential to be incredibly harmful to that objective.”
My response to our “team” at ALDF was quite long, but the main points are here. (Note: the blog must have originally listed Jennifer Molidor, ALDF staff writer, as author.) I have removed the name of one contact at ALDF, as that person has left the organization and as far as I know, had nothing to do with the decision to make a deal with Stockton and drop the lawsuit:
“You know this, but I still have to say it: Any discussion of statistics or changes in the live release rate is beside the point, since the complaint’s not about the live release rate but about violations of law. The point of legal action is that Stockton stubbornly refuses to follow relevant laws, as you pointed out in slightly different words,—.
“Still, Chris will give you the numbers. In the meantime, I would like to address the points raised in the SF SPCA’s message.
“First, the message doesn’t point out any inaccuracies in the blog, and the reasoning behind the claim that the blog is misleading seems to be that the incident described is from 2012 and that things are now dramatically different. Chris pulled up recent records noting animals with abscesses, Gracie’s injury. Abscesses are not common so are not the best gauge of changes in vet care, but for what it’s worth, Chris found that as recently as June, 2013, seven months in to the Stockton-SF SPCA MOU, a pit bull with an abscess that was noted on intake received no veterinary care whatsoever. He was held for several days with a painful untreated wound and then was killed when the abscess ruptured. Since the arrival of the SF veterinarian, abscesses have mostly been treated not by draining the wound as the protocols I’ve found recommend, but with antibiotics and Rimadil. Animals with abscesses only seem to get treatment during the spay/neuter surgery that prepares them for adoption. If they fall into Stockton’s ‘unadoptable’ category, they are prescribed pills and otherwise left to wait for the day of euthanasia.”
We couldn’t know it at the time, because we did not yet have records for January 2014 when Dr. Scarlett was proclaiming The Truth with a capital The and a capital T, but even as she wrote, Stockton (with its full-time SF SPCA veterinarian) was failing to provide veterinary care to some animals, such as A207726, noted to be injured on intake, with a “poss abscess on left side” (like Gracie) and with no notes whatsoever of veterinary care. This is just one of at least a half dozen injured animals who were killed with no indication they ever received the veterinary care they needed–and that the law requires shelters to provide.
Animal Legal Defense Fund’s decision to first allow delays and then make a deal to drop a suit aimed at protecting Stockton and California’s shelter animals is a betrayal of its mission.