Monday, September 2, 2013

Gloucester, VA Animal Control In Violation of it's Own Ordinances?

Is Gloucester, Virginia Animal Control in violation of it's own ordinances?  From what we see, yes;

Sec. 3-18. Animals in enclosed vehicles. 

(a)It shall be unlawful to leave any animal in a vehicle without the benefit of air conditioning when the outside temperature reaches eighty (80) degrees fahrenheit or greater.

(b) Any person who confines an animal in an unattended vehicle so as to cause the animal to suffer from heat stress, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The animal control officer or other officer shall have the authority to remove any animal found in an enclosed vehicle that appears to be suffering from heat stress. The animal shall be provided immediate veterinary care. The animal owner or custodian shall be responsible for all expenses incurred during the removal of the animal or its subsequent treatment and impoundment.

(c) In the event that the person responsible for the violation cannot be ascertained, the registered owner of the vehicle, as required by Chapter 6 of Title 46.2 of the Code of Virginia, shall constitute in evidence a prima facie presumption that such registered owner was the person who committed the violation.

The above is from Gloucester, Virginia's own government website and is part of the Gloucester County Animal Control ordinances for Gloucester, Virginia.  Now we have argued that there are still a number of ordinances on Gloucester's books that are not compliant to state laws, hence, in violation of the Dillon Rule.  However, Ted Wilmot has argued that they are still defensible.  So with that being that case, we will take his word for it and show how Gloucester Animal Control looks to be the biggest offender of animal cruelty ever seen in Gloucester, Virginia's own history.

You just read their code above, do you think Animal Control officers follow that ordinance?  We are going to show that no they do not, in our view, and in fact are in direct violation of said code.  Let's look at some Animal Control vehicle pictures and see if they are in compliance with the above or if they are in violation of their own codes, causing inhumane suffering of animals.

Starting with this one picture, we are going to show that Gloucester Animal Control does not follow it's own ordinances and are potentially transporting animals in inhumane and cruel manners.

  Notice this truck, there are no side windows, no ventilation top, no form of Air Conditioning per Gloucester AC section 3-18 as listed above.  But you have not seen the entire evidence yet.

So let's look at some other photos to see if they are in violation.

To the left here, there is an air gap between the truck cab and the truck bed.  Not sufficient to supply air conditioning from the cab to the back.  That would mean that animals are being transported in Gloucester County Animal Control vehicles in violation of AC ordinance 3-18 above would it not?

But let's assume for a moment that some air conditioning can go from the cab to the bed, let's look inside the bed of the truck and see if the animals being transported by Animal Control are in a decent environment.

This is the inside of the bed of one of the Animal Control trucks.  If you look towards the back, there are windows that are open between the cab and the bed, however, the steel cage represents an air flow issue.  In fact, we would say that the steel cages add an extra measure of heat transference.  This is the only source of air flow in the bed of this one truck.  How is this able to keep animals in a cool and comfortable environment to meet the ordinance under 3-18 above?  

  It isn't from what we see.  That would suggest cruel and inhumane treatment of the animals.  

This is another version and the most popular version used by Gloucester Animal Control.  It is only slightly better in that it has a ventilated top over the cover of the bed of the truck.  The same air gap exists between the cab and the bed.

Let's take a look inside this one.

Here you can see the air ventilation over the top cover of the bed.  There is a rear window opening at the back of the bed, but one is not seen in the cab, meaning no air flow from the cab to the truck bed.  No air conditioning.  Same steel cages which restrict air flow to the animals inside the cages.

  So what we can see, while Gloucester, Animal Control is transporting animals during the summer, they are shaking and backing the animals in a cruel and inhumane manner from what the evidence seems to suggest.  So according to Gloucester County ordinance 3-18 above, every Animal Control officer that has ever transported any animal in any of these vehicles while the outside temperature was at 80 degrees or above is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor charge on each and every event.  That would also mean that those above the office of Animal Control who has allowed this are also guilty, such as Ted Wilmot, County attorney, Brenda Garton, County Administrator, and the entire Gloucester County Board of Supervisors in our view.

  Going further, that would also mean that each of these individuals are also guilty of violations of state code 3.2-6500, failing to provide a comfortable environment for the animals as we are willing to bet that each cage in the above pictures and all Animal Control vehicles do not provide adequate resting pads for the animals.  That would also mean that each of these individuals would seem guilty of violations to Gloucester Animal Control ordinance 3-13, cruelty to animals.

Sec. 3-13. Cruelty to animals.

(a) Any person who:

(1) Overrides, overdrives, overloads, tortures, ill-treats, abandons, willfully inflicts inhumane injury or pain not connected with bona fide scientific or medical experimentation, or cruelly or unnecessarily beats, maims, mutilates, or kills any animal, whether belonging to himself or another;

(2) Deprives any animal of necessary food, drink, shelter, or emergency veterinary treatment;

(3) Sores any equine for any purpose or administers drugs or medications to alter or mask such soring for the purpose of sale, show, or exhibition of any kind, unless such administration of drugs or medications is within the context of a veterinary client-patient relationship and solely for therapeutic purposes;

(4) Willfully sets on foot, instigates, engages in, or in any way furthers any act of cruelty to any animal;

(5) Carries or causes to be carried in or upon any vehicle, vessel, or otherwise any animal in a cruel, brutal, or inhumane manner, so as to produce torture or unnecessary suffering; or

(6) Causes any of the above things, or being the owner of such animal permits such acts to be done by another, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(b) Subsequent violations punishable as a Class 6 felony shall be charged under section 3.2-6570(B) of the Code of Virginia.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the dehorning of cattle conducted in a reasonable and customary manner.

(d) For the purposes of this section the word animal shall be construed to include birds and fowl.

(e) This section shall not prohibit authorized wildlife management activities or hunting, fishing, or trapping as regulated under the other titles of the Code of Virginia including, but not limited to, Title 29.1, or to farming activities as provided under Title 3.2 or regulations promulgated thereunder.

(f) In addition to the penalties provided in subsection (a), the court may, in its discretion, require any person convicted of a violation of subsection (a) to attend an anger management or other appropriate treatment program or obtain psychiatric or psychological counseling. The court may impose the costs of such a program or counseling upon the person convicted.

(g) It is unlawful for any person to kill a domestic dog or cat for the purpose of obtaining the hide, fur, or pelt of the dog or cat. A violation of this subsection shall constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor. A second or subsequent violation of this subsection shall be charged under section 3.2-6570(E) of the Code of Virginia.

(h) Any person who (i) tortures, willfully inflicts inhumane injury or pain not connected with bona fide scientific or medical experimentation, or cruelly and unnecessarily beats, maims, or mutilates any dog or cat that is a companion animal whether belonging to him or another and (ii) as a direct result causes the death of such dog or cat that is a companion animal, or the euthanasia of such animal on the recommendation of a licensed veterinarian upon determination that such euthanasia was necessary due to the condition of the animal, punishable as a Class 6 felony, shall be charged under section 3.2-6570(F) of the Code of Virginia. If a dog or cat is attacked on its owner's property by a dog so as to cause injury or death, the owner of the injured dog or cat may use all reasonable and necessary force against the dog at the time of the attack to protect his dog or cat. Such owner may be presumed to have taken necessary and appropriate action to defend his dog or cat and shall therefore be presumed not to have violated this subsection.

(i) Any person convicted of violating this section may be prohibited by the court from possession or ownership of companion animals.

There would appear to be further Class 1 Misdemeanor charges on this as well.  

Sec. 3-7. Maintenance of animals and fowl.

(a)  Each stable, pen, coop, or other place where any animal or fowl is kept, shall be maintained at all times in a safe and sanitary condition and so as not to constitute a nuisance. Solid and liquid waste matter shall be removed therefrom not less than twice each week, and more frequently if necessary, to eliminate offensive odors or to prevent accumulations constituting a hazard to the health or safety of any person, animal or fowl.

(b)  Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

How many violations are each and every Animal Control officer and each and every other person mentioned, guilty of then?  I think we can find plenty more yet.  These people would seem to be the biggest offenders of their own codes and should know better as they are required to know these codes and should object to transporting animals in these unsafe and very cruel and inhumane conditions.

We the citizens of Gloucester County, Virginia would like to see a weekly report that each animal control vehicle meets safe and sanitary conditions as is deemed appropriate by the above Gloucester County ordinance.  How is Gloucester County ensuring our safety?  We want to know.  Further, we want to see pictures of any and all animals that come into the Gloucester County Animal Control shelter each and every week.  Posted on the county website, it would provide owners with a chance to see if their pets have been picked up or if they are still missing.

  Also, we would like to have video cameras in the Gloucester County Animal Shelter to see how the county is caring for each and every animal in it's charge.  How do we know that Animal Control is not in further violations of it's own ordinances otherwise?  We already see that Gloucester Animal Control does not follow it's own ordinances with the vehicles pictured above with evidence of their own ordinances listed here.  Charges should also be higher against all of these people as they should be held to higher standards.  

  Tuesday evening, September 3rd, the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors are going to be recognizing some of these Animal Control officers at the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors meeting at the Colonial Courthouse.  These people should be all served with court appearances to face these grievous issues, not giving the  high five to each other for their own continuous violations to their own ordinances.  Steve Baranek is famous for his quote, "We speak for those who can not".  We would like to point out the same, we are presently speaking out for those who can not, against the cruelty of animals by Animal Control.

On a final note, we are not attorney's and none of this should be considered legal advice in any way.  We are simply questioning the obvious and researching what we can to ask further questions.  Pictures were contracted by us from one of the people who has provided us with pictures of county employees violations of using government vehicles for personal use.

This article may be ported to other sites in it's entirety to include pictures by anyone wishing to report on this issue.  We have gained permission for the pictures to be used by other news agencies under fair use laws of the United States without any form of copyright infringement.  This article may also be ported to print.  Link back is requested but not detrimental.
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