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Abuse Photos Released; San Bernardino Shelter Under Fire

The nonprofit Companion Animal Protection Society starts an investigation of the facility.

Liz Acosta  |  Jan 16th 2013

Editor’s note: This post contains graphic photos that some of our readers might find upsetting. Discretion is advised. We think it’s important to expose the injustice and cruelty animals sometimes suffer in order to help save those who have no voice of their own.

The female Staffordshire Terrier mix had been the victim of abuse and neglect. Upon arrival at the city of San Bernardino’s Animal Control shelter, the dog suffered from a piece of blue nylon rope so deeply embedded in her flesh it had torn her open, exposing a raw wound. Regardless of her future, she needed immediate medical attention. Instead, a group investigating the case believes she languished for six long days, risking potentially fatal infection. She might have been neglected longer if it weren’t for shelter volunteer Maria Sanchez, who, while photographing death-row animals for adoption networking, snapped a shot of the injured dog and posted it on Facebook and Twitter, where it went viral.

The upsetting photos and video eventually received the attention of the Companion Animal Protection Society, also called CAPS, which launched an investigation into the shelter’s practices and provided the above details in a news release. Instead of correcting the situation at the shelter, the group claims, kennel manager Ryan Long sent Sanchez an inappropriately admonishing email. The message calls her work “derogatory” and “counterproductive,” according to CAPS, and it forbids her from continuing her volunteer work helping last-chance animals find homes.

CAPS is a national nonprofit group dedicated to the protection of companion animals. Its work includes investigation, education, and rescue, aimed specifically at addressing the state of pet shop and puppy mill dogs. According to CAPS’ burgeoning investigation, the San Bernardino shelter’s exposed neglect isn’t a solitary incident. The organization is gathering and examining documents, photos, videos, and eyewitness accounts of other examples of abuse and failure to comply or make efforts for reduce euthanasia rates.

Fortunately, the dog with the rope in her neck has been rescued and her wounds addressed, and with access to the dog, CAPS has requested a forensic veterinary examination to look for evidence of other abuse to further build its case. According to CAPS, the San Bernardino Shelter should have ordered such work itself when the dog came into its care.

Long is responsible for the life of every animal who enters the shelter and, in an effort to reduce the shelter’s number of kills, should operate with the animals’ best intentions in mind — even if they eventually end up put down, they all deserve a second chance at a new life. What’s more, the morale of his staff — which he blames Sanchez for destroying through her leaked photos — is no one’s burden but his own.

We’ll keep you updated on the case as it develops.

Thank you to the CAPS team for the coverage of this case.

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