By Robert Paul Hudson
In January of 2013, the Oregon pet community was rocked by the arrest of three board members, including the 24-year-old president of the organization, Alicia Marie Inglish of the Willamette Valley Animal Rescue facility in Brooks, Oregon, near Salem the state capitol. 149 dogs were found in an isolated warehouse in absolutely horrid conditions.
What has not been widely reported is where these dogs originated from.
Christian Kidd, 23, said he had volunteered at Willamette Valley Animal Rescue for about two months, buying wood shavings and dog food for the operators. He said the facility operators retrieved dogs from a pound in Porterville, Calif., where they would have been euthanized. According to Kidd they would drive to Porterville in a van and pick up 80 dogs at a time. Can you imagine fitting 80 dogs into a single van?
“We would pick up dogs sentenced to death and bring them back to rehabilitate them and try to find them loving homes,” said Kidd, who lives in the Salem area.
This “pound” is Porterville Animal Control Shelter, run by the Porterville police department and the city.
Porterville City Manager John Lollis said in light of what happened, the city’s adoption process for these rescues “will be much more regulated.”
Sgt. Richard Standridge with the Porterville Police Department said the department has already put measures in place to prevent such cases of dog neglect.
I wonder if these new measures still allow a van to load up 80+ dogs presumably using small pet carriers for the long trip to Oregon. But if that shocks you, how about driving the dogs all the way to Canada? Jennifer Alexander states ” I have a chihuahua from the Porterville Animal Shelter. He was brought to Canada by The Animals For Life Rescue in December 2012. He is the light of my life and I am so grateful they rescued him and brought him here! I am disgusted by this story but I pray that it doesn’t stop rescue groups like Animals for Life from bringing more dogs here.”
Does Canada have a shortage of dogs? Not according to this report.
“The bottom line is we’re trying to take these dogs to places where they don’t have to be euthanized,” said Dominic Barteau, spokesperson for the PPD, adding that what happened in Oregon was “an isolated incident.”
“What it really comes down to is there are some policies and procedures in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We’re trying to take them to loving, caring homes where they can be taken care of,” Barteau said.
Here is a story from December, before the Oregon case broke with the Porterville Animal Control bragging about their efforts in shipping dogs to Canada and elsewhere: http://www.recorderonline.com/articles/dogs-55042-porterville-doggedness.html
On January 1, 2011, the Police Department hired Augie Gonzalez as the Animal Control Unit Supervisor who initiated the program of moving dogs to other shelters in the USA and Canada. The animal control shelter serves the Porterville/Lindsay/Woodlake area located in the San Joaquin Valley, (central southern California).
More about the Oregon case
Initial press release:
“A 24-year-old woman who runs a dog rescue group is accused of dozens of counts of animal neglect in what Oregon Humane Society officials described Monday as one of the biggest neglect cases in its history.
Marion County sheriff’s officials arrested Alicia M. Inglish, of Salem, late Sunday on 120 accusations of second-degree animal neglect, a class B misdemeanor, and tampering with evidence.”
The charges has since been lowered to 10 counts of first-degree animal neglect, 10 counts of second-degree animal neglect, and one count of attempting to tamper with physical evidence.
Two more people were also charged. This organization consisted of three board members including the President, with no employees. All are waiting trial. All three were under the age of 25.
From left: Alicia Marie Inglish, Merissa Marie Noonan, and Amanda Noelle Oakley were all arrested on various charges, including animal neglect.
A summary of the facts as reported:
- 149 dogs were seized from a warehouse that were housed in make shift cages attached to dog runs that were only ten feet long, small travel crates designed for one dog and contained as many as 4 or 5 dogs each, and these crates were stacked one on top of the other leaning to one side.
- All the cages and crates contained sawdust for bedding soaked in urine and feces, dripping out of the stacked cages onto the floor of the warehouse
- Some of the cages were not large enough for the dogs to stand up or turn around in
- At least 120 of the dogs had visible signs of severe starvation and disease
- Some dogs were running loose in the warehouse. The warehouse floor was drenched in urine and feces
- The dogs were fed stale bread as their diet when dog food was not available
- None of the dogs had access to food and water
- Some bags of dry food and canned food was found on site, but not enough to feed more than a fraction of the dogs.
- The organization used the Petsmart charity organization to adopt out the dogs.Soon after the news broke about Inglish’s arrest, PetSmart Charities terminated Willamette Animal Rescue as an adoptions provider. PetSmart Charities has adoption centers in every PetSmart store.“Our primary concern is clearly for those pets,” said Steve Pawlowksi, a spokesman for PetSmart Charities.
- Willamette Animal Rescue hadn’t completed state registration requirements for nonprofits, prompting the Oregon Department of Justice to threaten legal action, the Statesman Journal reported. No action was ever taken.
- Several people who adopted a dog from Willamette Animal Rescue attempted to return their dog because of health or temperament issues, but were refused a return, exchange, or refund.
- Several people who saw the dogs for adoption at Petsmart were alarmed at their appearance and complained to the Oregon Humane Society months before an investigation was opened.
- People who adopted dog were never granted access to where the dogs were housed.
- The initial investigation was blocked when access to the facility was refused. Only when a former volunteer provided photos of the dogs was a warrant produced granting access.
- Cathleen Schaff, who saw Inglish’s mug shot said she recognized her as the woman from whom she adopted an 8-week-old puppy in 2009. Inglish ran the Northwest Animal Rescue Alliance in Salem at the time, Schaff said. I have tried to track down information about this rescue, and it appears it was run by Inglish from her home in 09 and she had many of the same complaints going back to 09, 08. You can read comments HERE The address for Northwest Animal rescue is a home that is currently up for sale. She apparently was running dogs up to Canada at that time.
- Inglish’s only income was working at a pet feed store before she was let go months before this case broke. The store is right across the street from where I live.
Many people want to point fingers, and there is certainly many lessons to be learned here. The practice of trafficking dogs from city and county animal control shelters to unknown shelters, or any shelter for that matter needs to stop. Oregon needs to have more stringent requirements to become an animal shelter with mandatory inspections to prevent glorified animal hoarders to become recognized shelters. This underground network of no-kill rescuers needs to be under public scrutiny. The Oregon Humane Society based in Portland is the only animal welfare group in the state with police powers. They are ill equipped to police the entire state. This needs to change. The good folks at Petsmart Charities who do a wonderful service might want to change how they register shelters to participate in their program.
I read many comments from bloggers who are quick to say this Oregon shelter was motivated by profit. I think that claim is ridiculous. There is no evidence to suggest any of the three defendants profited by this. In my opinion these people have the same mentality and sickness as any animal hoarders. They are obsessed with the idea of rescuing these animals while being completely blind to their suffering and abuse. It is the act of “saving” the animals with no real compassion that motivates them. That motivation coupled with obsession is highly dangerous. While that is difficult for many people to understand, it is not that uncommon throughout the animal advocacy movement.
All three of the defendants are facing several years in prison, but most likely will not see a day behind bars if convicted. They will get community service and probation. I just pray they do not serve their time at an animal shelter.