Stockton animal shelter under investigation by police

10:29 PM, Aug 9, 2012   |    comments
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  • STOCKTON, CA - In spring, the Stockton Animal Shelter came under fire for alleged mismanagement and poor record keeping on how long dogs and cats were being held before being euthanized. 

    The shelter's director faced criticism for euthanizing 971 animals in one month alone.

    RELATED STORY: Stockton Animal Shelter under fire for euthanasia rates

    Several months later, new documents indicate things have not improved.

    Public documents show 515 animals were euthanized between September and November 2011 on the very same day they were brought in.

    By law, shelters must keep stray or surrendered animals at least four business days, unless the animal is suffering.

    But public records show many didn't make it longer than 24 hours.

    One record shows that a healthy cat was euthanized 19 minutes after it was brought into the shelter; the reason on the record said there was not enough of space.

    Another record shows a dalmatian that was euthanized 24 minutes after intake; a veterinary technician said it appeared to be sick with fleas.

    A boxer named Annie was put down within 20 minutes because she was fearful and failed a temperament test.

    "This dog was not given the opportunity to go to rescue and rescue (groups) were not given the opportunity to save the dog," UOP Professor and animal advocate Eileen McFall said.

    McFall claims the shelter has repeatedly violated the law by euthanizing dogs and cats too soon without a good reason.

    "The issue I have, we don't know if animals need help if they've been killed within a half hour of intake. You can't rescue a dead animal," said McFall.

    McFall said the shelter continues to be reluctant to work with advocacy groups, like hers that wants to foster dogs and pay for veterinary care.

    Xena the pit bull had mange, a skin disease caused by tiny mites on dogs. After several efforts, Eileen was allowed to rescue her from the shelter. Xena was given medical treatment and more than a month later she was fully recovered and had a new home.

    Souixie, the pit bull also had mange; today, she's also doing well in a new home after being treated.

    Fiona, a pit bull puppy, looked bad with her mangy condition, but after a month, bounded back and now lives in Seattle

    The Stockton Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the Animal Shelter.

    "Right now, this investigation isn't targeting one employee, it's focusing on the entire animal shelter as a whole," Officer Joe Silva said. "At the conclusion, we'll determine what will happen at the animal shelter."

    Because of the police investigation shelter director Pat Claerbout declined to comment. But last spring, she said the shelter is understaffed and underfunded and denied mistreating animals.

    "Animal welfare is emotional, critics don't understand what really goes on at the shelter, and the pressures the staff has to deal with, we want to make sure animals are adoptable for people in the community," Claerbout said.

    McFall hopes to see more animals given a chance for adoption in the future. She wants to see a change in leadership at the shelter and wants to see a citizens oversight committee put in place at the shelter.


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