Today, October 16, 2012, Stockton released the findings of its investigation into illegal killing and withholding of veterinary care for sick and injured animals at Stockton Animal Services. Reading the press release is like watching the beginning of The Matrix. If you choose to know the truth, you know this press release is not the truth. Today, Stockton re-affirmed its commitment to killing animals, its commitment to supporting a criminal and incompetent police department employee, and its unwavering commitment to exploiting and lying to its citizens. Today, Stockton PD announced two changes it will make as a result of its investigation into illegal killing and withholding of veterinary care at the Stockton pound. One change will allow Stockton to reduce hold times, thereby killing animals sooner. The other is an upgrade to the computer system. Cruel and unlawful behavior gets another endorsement from the Stockton PD, but the press release makes it sound like these changes will result in more lives saved by an overworked but caring shelter staff. It really is like science fiction.
As I write, my Stockton pound survivor, Xena, now healthy and happy, snores on the bed next to me. Unlike 9000 others each year, she made it out of the Stockton pound alive. Unless Stockton citizens speak up, or there is a lawsuit, survivors like Xena will continue to be the tiny minority. That’s why I am writing now, and that’s why I’m asking you to read, think, and act. As Morpheus said to Neo, “All I’m offering is the truth.” Your choice, citizens of Stockton. Even though it’s complicated, even though it’s the opposite of the propaganda Stockton government is putting out, please choose to learn the truth and speak up for the animals.
Last fall, I took the red pill. I started learning the truth about Stockton Animal Services, and I’ve been learning the truth about Stockton city government, Stockton’s mayor and city council, Stockton’s city attorney and city manager, and Stockton Police Department ever since. The truth is that Stockton Animal Services, under the management of Pat Claerbout, breaks the law every day, and the truth is that at every turn, at every decision point, every member of Stockton’s Police Department and city government have endorsed that lawbreaking. They did it again today. This afternoon I got an email message from Lt. James Ballard of the Professional Standards Division of the Stockton Police Department. Here’s the message, followed by the press release and then my comments on it.
This document looks like it was composed by the Ministry of Love (oops, wrong dystopia), but it is pure Stockton spin. If you’re swallowing the blue pill, then you believe this nonsense about following the “spirit” of the law. The spirit of state and local law is clearly and unequivocally against killing. Stockton is not in compliance with the letter or spirit of the law.
State law says:
It is the policy of the state that no adoptable animal should be euthanized if it can be adopted into a suitable home. […] It is the policy of the state that no treatable animal should be euthanized. A treatable animal shall include any animal that is not adoptable but that could become adoptable with reasonable efforts.
Stockton Municipal Code says:
The holding periods provided for herein shall be considered minimum holding periods. To permit the public as much time as possible to retrieve or adopt animals taken into custody, the center shall extend the holding periods for individual animals to the extent that kennel space is available and the overall health and safety of impounded animals is not affected.
Stockton Municipal Code Section 6.04.250(c)
I repeat, Stockton Animal Services, which kills about 70% of incoming animals, with 40% of those killed ON INTAKE, does not follow “the spirit” or the letter of the law. Stockton Animal Services breaks the law, in fact pretends the law does not exist, all the time. Pat Claerbout testified against the Hayden Act before it became law and she has not followed it, and does not appear to have even learned that the Stockton Municipal Code provides for longer holding times, during her tenure in Stockton. And lawbreaking just got an endorsement from the Stockton Police Department.
In the face of charges of massive cruelty and illegal killing, Stockton’s response is to defend the staff’s commitment to “the best service possible” (not to following the law, you notice), to make one change in shelter hours–a change which will allow animal services to legally shorten hold times and kill animals sooner–and to upgrade the computer system. The statement that animals will be held 72 hours, except in certain circumstances, is a promise to continue illegal killing, since one of the conditions is not the same as that specified in the law. The law allows animals to be euthanized on intake if they are “irremediably suffering,” not with a veterinarian’s declaration that they are “too ill or injured.” Remember, Stockton Animal Services has a volunteer veterinarian who recommended killing a dog because she thought it might have allergies (http://www.news10.net/video/1649445325001/1/Stockton-Animal-Shelter-under-fire-for-euthanasia-rates). Furthermore, the part about proposing changes to the Municipal Code to come into compliance with state law is another reference to shortening hold times and killing animals earlier, since Stockton Municipal Code currently specifies longer hold times than the currently suspended provisions of the Hayden Act; and in fact, Stockton Municipal Code requires holding times longer than the 72 hours promised in the press release, though Stockton doesn’t provide even that for animals turned in over-the-counter at the pound.
This is your local government, Stocktonites. For those who say Stockton has bigger problems and can’t afford to save more animals, my response is that Stockton spent months of employee time on an investigation and a report, only to take no positive action and put out a whitewash press release.
There is grant money available for shelters and communities that want to save animals, though Stockton would have to have a competent leader and write a grant proposal. Stockton chooses to spend about $12-20 per body disposing of dead animals instead of getting adoption or grant revenue. Stockton chooses to expose itself to lawsuits if any of the citizens whose pets they illegally kill ever summon the gumption to sue. Stockton chooses costs instead of revenue–the typical decision of a city whose leaders consistently choose foolishly and whose foolish choices have driven it into bankruptcy. Decisions about animal services are emblematic of Stockton’s incompetent and callous leadership as a whole.
None of Stockton’s elected officials have ever responded to questions or complaints about animal services, a tacit endorsement of business as usual, a tacit endorsement of continued unlawful operation of a division of the Stockton Police Department.
By reading this, you chose the Red Pill, the truth. Now what are you going to do?