Honorable Judge Messina,
With regard to your upcoming case on June 8th
involving Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter against The Defendant, the owner of the confiscated dogs from (private address information), we would like to bring several items to your attention.
On February 25, 2006 two dogs were discovered by two Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) volunteers assisting Villalobos Pit Rescue, a Southern California based non-profit animal rescue organization, with the return of a Katrina pit bull to The Defendant’s neighbor. It was during this reunion that the deplorable conditions that two of The Defendant’s dogs were suffering was brought to light.
The tan colored male pit bull was chained to a fence with a chain weighing, in our best estimate, approximately 10lbs. It was padlocked to his neck with a heavy padlock, as well as padlocked to the fence. The chain had become so twisted the dog’s range of movement was severely limited. There were visible sores on his neck and chest from the friction of the heavy lock repeatedly rubbing against his body and ulcerating his skin. He was also severely emaciated. Although the pictures clearly portray his disgraceful condition, personal observation of his awful circumstances is beyond description. There was absolutely no food, water, or shelter for this dog visible in any area close to the dog.
The second dog, the white and brindle male pit bull, was also chained with a similar heavy chain and padlocks. The only difference was that this dog’s chain was doubled. There was a plastic dog house nearby, but the chain was so twisted and so short that the house was well out of reach – the volunteers watched the dog try to reach the house and he fell about 1 ½ feet short of it. Food and water were not present. This dog was also emaciated.
We did not see the female dog at that time, but she could have been in another area of the home.
There is no possible justification this owner could provide that would in any way explain the conditions of these two dogs. Even if it were true that he had just obtained the tan dog and had not had him "vetted" yet, as he told the JPAS Animal Control, that fact is irrelevant - his actions of tethering the dog and failing to provide the dog with any food, water or shelter were violations of the Parish Ordinances, which do not allow such treatment in any set of circumstances, regardless of when the dog is obtained, or whether or not the dog has been vetted. Failing to comply with Parish Ordinances and the JPAS Animal Control Officer’s direction shows clear contempt for not only the lives of the animals, but for the Parish and all the systems in place working to protect animals.
The Defendant is in blatant violation of the following ordinances, as they apply to this case:
Section 7-126(a) and Section 18-2.1(b) of the Jefferson Parish Code of Ordinances, by ill-treating and abusing these dogs, failing to provide obviously necessary veterinary care, and by tethering as the primary means of stationary confinement; such stationary confinement by tethering shall be considered cruel treatment.
Section 7-127 by failing to supply sufficient good and wholesome food and water as often as the feeding habits of the respective animals required, which under this section of the Ordinance states at a minimum, not less than once every twenty-four hours.
Sec. 7-132(a), (b), (c) and (d) by not providing structurally sound housing facilities maintained in good repair; sanitary conditions; and, at a minimum, sufficient space to stand up, lie down, and turn around in a natural position; as well as failing to provide these restrained animals with exercise proper for the individual animal under the particular conditions nor exercise areas appropriate to their size and breed characteristics; failure to provide adequate draining for proper sanitation, failure to pick up and dispose of droppings and to periodically treat their sleeping quarters (such as they are) with an effective disinfectant.
The Defendant has failed to meet the standards of Avoidance of Mistreatment
as more particularly outlined in Sec. 7-133(c) of the Jefferson Parish Code of Ordinances by using equipment and devices (padlocks and exceedingly short chains of oversize weight) that are, or could be, injurious or cause unnecessary cruelty to the animal. In this case, these devices have indeed caused injury to these animals' necks.
Sec. 7-143, "Failure to care for" in its entirety, which states:
"Failure of any person to adequately house, feed and water animals in his possession or custody shall constitute a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, such person shall be fined and/or imprisoned according to the provisions of section 7-33, or may be both fined and imprisoned in the discretion of the court. Such animals shall be subject to seizure and impoundment and, upon conviction of such person, may be sold or euthanized in the discretion of the animal shelter department, and such failure shall constitute grounds for revocation of license, permit, certification or registration by the department."
We strongly urge you to consider the photographs, which speak for themselves, and our own statements regarding the way these dogs were living as you consider The Defendant’ request that his dogs be returned to him. He has already proven that he is unfit to care for animals, and their health and well-being will be in grave danger if they were returned. The tan dog, as you are aware, had an abscess wound on his face that was also not being treated while he was in The Defendant’ possession (although it is now, while the dog is in the shelter).
The dogs have a safe, secure shelter awaiting their release from Jefferson Parish. The two male dogs will go to Tia Maria Cardello, who runs Villalobos Pit Rescue, and has agreed to take these dogs since February. Two of Tia’s shelter workers were with the ARNO volunteers and were facilitating the reunion next door to The Defendant. Villalobos is a 501c3 organization that provides a sanctuary for pit bulls. Her shelter can be viewed and accessed online at www.vrcpitbull.com. Her organization works closely with the Los Angeles shelters and local police departments. If you were to send these dogs to Villalobos, they would not only receive a stable, secure environment but would also be rehabilitated and worked with for future adoption once they were healthy and evaluated. All VRC dogs are spayed and neutered before adoption and strict adoption screening process is conducted before any dog leaves her facility.
Many reputable rescues (Villalobos, Southern Animal Foundation, Best Friends, ARNO) are working to find a safe place for the female dog and subsequent puppies. Ms. Jones has indicated that she would work with us to hold the female dog until we could secure placement at a rescue organization or animal sanctuary. All three of these dogs deserve a chance at a life far better than what they have had until now.
To return these dogs to a life at the end of a chain, with inadequate care by someone who has already proven to be an unfit owner, while they actually do have other, healthier, law-abiding options would be, in our opinion, a serious if not grievous mistake.
We respectfully request that the court, in its discretion, order the forfeiture and final determination of the custody of these dogs, found to be cruelly treated, to be turned over to Villalobos Pit Bull Sanctuary, a 501(c)3 organization who has offered to provide care and rehabilitation to these dogs. We further respectfully request, if possible, that the Court issue an injunction that the owner shall be prohibited from possessing any animals in the future, as this vicious cycle will certainly repeat itself.
We further respectfully request that the costs incurred in the boarding and treatment for the seized animals pending disposition of the Animal Cruelty charges, upon conviction of the accused, be borne by the owner so convicted, as per Sec. 7-126(b) of the Jefferson Parish Code of Ordinances, and the owner issued fines and penalties to the fullest extent of the law.
Thank you for allowing us to provide our statements and we respectfully hope you consider our petition in support of the animals before you today.
Respectfully Submitted, We, the Undersigned: