Monday, December 31, 2007

Abuse At Animal Shelter

Here are the BIG questions:

What is the City doing about it?

Staying quiet. Except for Mayor Stebbins who says to anyone listening that I, and a few others, are "quacks", and that the two ACOs are disgruntled.

What is the City Attorney doing about it?
Staying quiet and doing nothing.

What is the Police Department doing?
It says it's investigating the matter. That would be investigating itself.

What is the Animal Foundation doing?

Trying to rustle up a new group to step in and take over the shelter. This would be a "splinter group" of the Foundation. Same old game, just new players. Nope, won't work.

What is the State doing about requests for help and outside investigation?
The Attorney General's Office says that they only take on investigations requested by law enforcement. (Great to know that's where our tax dollars go)
One of the Asst. AGs is Johnstone, with ties to the Foundation. (Maybe this is the REAL reason this fiasco is not being investigated)
The Governor and Sen. Tester have not deigned to respond to e-mails, faxes, and phone calls.
There is at least one reader of this blog from the Dept. of Administration and one from Helena,
but nothing moves at the State level. (To quote a citizen, "Montana, the last best place for criminals")

What are the people doing?
Quite a bit.

The Town Hall meeting has been arranged.
More Press Releases about this citizens' meeting have been sent to the media around the country.
Animal Advocacy/Rescue/Welfare groups have been alerted about the lack of response by local and state officials, as well as by the Animal Foundation.
A group of citizens have already begun to tour the Shelter with video cameras and notebooks and are documenting everything.
Citizens are gathering evidence and documents, people are talking, and the news is spreading.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Apology to Animal Foundation

This is an open, sincere and profound apology to the Animal Foundation of Great Falls and Mr. Bob James.

I apologize for blogging and stating publicly that all monies collected after the first two years of fund raising by the Animal Foundation of Great Falls be retained by that same entity. (See here) I was wrong. I apologize. What I should have said is all monies collected by the Animal Foundation AFTER June 2005 is the Foundation's to keep and do with as they wish.

For you see, it has been brought to my attention, and supported by documentation and witnesses, that at the April 12, 2005, Neighborhood Council No. 1 meeting the Foundation representative, "Sally Cerny (Volunteer for the Animal foundation of Great Falls and Chuck Tourtillott Director of the Humane Society of Cascade County provided a Power Point presentation about their Capital Campaign and future plans. The foundation is a 501(c) (3) organization meaning it is a non-profit and all donations are tax deductible. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide good care to all pets/animals within the county. Their plans are to build a state of the art Animal Shelter and a dog park. Also they will do on-going fund raising for the Humane Society." Then on 12 May, 2005 the Foundation was still selling the following line to our community - "Animal Foundation - Sally Cerny, Trustee The Animal Foundation provides support for the Humane Society Animal Shelter."

Now, according to individuals who
very recently questioned you about this matter, you stated that it was a "printing error". However, the fact remains that is what was said and I, for one, will hold you to that public pronouncement.

I will also be sure to prominently post this, in toto, at the January 5, 2008, Town Hall meeting as a way of admitting my error as regards dates.

At this juncture I wish to take the opportunity to extend a public invitation for any and/or all of the following -Animal Foundation Board members, elected officials of the City of Great Falls, City of Great Falls Police Department, City of Great Falls Animal Shelter, Spay of the Falls, and/or employees of the City of Great Falls or Cascade County to attend the Town Hall meeting on January 5, 2008 at University of Great Falls, Theater Building, 1301 20th St S., to commence at 7 p.m. so that you may have an opportunity to address the concerns of the citizens of Great Falls.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

GF Animal Shelter Report

Kim Staton, issued a report developed July 23-27, 2007. The City had it. The Animal Foundation had it (though it only recently popped up on their site under links), but both refused to relinquish a copy to the Humane Society of Cascade County, despite numerous requests over several months, until just a few days ago. This time frame would have been just prior to Christmas, but post the Press Conference by Amy Lowe & Jason Dern. This might be a case of too little, too late if both City and Foundation are trying to make themselves look good.

There has been quite a bit of complaining against HSCC, by the City, the Foundation and by some of the public. But, both City and Foundation did nothing to help HSCC and everything to obliterate it. Both the City and Foundation had money, neither helped the animals. The City wanted everything on the cheap, the hell with what the animals required, then AND now. The Foundation wanted a dog park first, the shelter second and the hell with the animals that were/are in need and living now.

Here are some financial and building items from the report, we will cover other areas included in the report at a different time:

The HSCC received $115,000.00 annually since 2002 to run the shelter AND perform Animal Control duties for the City and County. (Ed. - This amount, as discussed below, is woefully inadequate and the HSCC could NEVER perform, nor be expected to perform, their duties on this amount. All complaints about animals under HSCC care must be evaluated in light of this truth and the information below.)

The Foundation has been raising money for a new shelter for almost 5 years. NOT ONCE in all that time, did the Foundation allocate a percentage of raised monies to go to the HSCC for the interim daily needs of the animals as we waited for the new shelter to become reality. Where is their concern for animal care in all of this???? Where is the new shelter? The Dog Park money could have been given to the HSCC for immediate needs in all areas.

The Staton Report states, "The 2006 total operational budget for the Great Falls Animal Shelter inclusive of the Animal Control program was just over $300,000.00. This included monies received from the City of Great Falls in the amount of $115,000.00. The remainder of the budget was generated through various fees such as pet licensing, owner reclamations, adoptions, etc."

"Based on recommendations by the Humane Society of the United States, funding levels for animal shelter/control programs should be $4.00-$7.00 per capita per year and even though recent funding levels fell within this range, it was clearly insufficient (see discussion {discussion was about age and decrepitude of current building..."the existing shelter is outdated and in desperate need of replacement...even with extensive not salvageable as an animal shelter"}) It is important to note this is for a basic program and may not include community outreach, education, volunteer, foster, pet owner assistance, community spay/neuter programs, etc....

"...current estimated population of Great Falls is 60,000, this would mean that a level of funding of $240,ooo-$420,000 would be appropriate for these basic services...however, it is my opinion that funding should be closer to the $7.00 per capita range or $420,000.00."

"However, the level of funding offered by the City has not met even the minimal recommendation for funding of $240,000.00 per year. Since animal control, from a public safety standpoint, is truly a government responsibility, it stands to reason that this minimal level of funding should be provided by the government.

" is also appropriate to expect that City and Country government entities would each provide funding based on a per capita rate."

"...County population, exclusive of Great Falls, to be approximately 20,000. Consequently the minimal level of funding provided by the County towards the cost of the Animal Control/Shelter programs should be...$50,000 per year. This combined government totals at a minimal level of funding...would be $290,00.00. Assuming a total operational budget of $420,000, this would leave $130,000 left to be generated through adoptions, reclamations, licensing, fundraising, and donor development and would become the responsibility of the oversight organization."

1. Regardless of who is operating the shelter/animal control program in the future, an absolute minimal level of funding should be $420,000.
2.The City and County provide funding at the $4.00 per capita rate if a non-profit group assume operation responsibilities. If the City assumes long term responsibility for the operation of the shelter and Animal Control program, the entire $420,000 amount would become their responsibility."

Ed. - The building in which the shelter is housed is owned by the City of Great Falls. It is not adequate, in many areas, as a shelter. BUT, as a city-owned building, it then becomes the City's responsibility, does it not, to maintain as much of it's physical integrity as possible in order to adequately care for the animals? They have failed to do this.

The Staton report recommendations cite the following shelter building inadequacies, which the City has YET to take care of to my knowledge, though they should have:

Have concrete floors in existing shelter repaired and resealed.
Light fixtures should be inspected, repaired as needed, and covers installed to protect them from moisture.
Purchase at least one bank, 12 cages, of larger stainless steel cat cages even if it means removing and not using some of the existing smaller cages.
Have the ductwork throughout the building professionally cleaned and also determine whether repairs or improvements can be made to a/c system to increase air exchange/flow into animal housing areas.

Quick Recap:

The HSCC was grossly underfunded, in an inadequate facility that the City failed to make repairs on in order to be able to meet and maintain the barest minimum of animal care.

The Animal Foundation of Great Falls failed to allocate funds to off-set the HSCC annual shortfall OR help with the interim, daily requirements to ease the burden of both animals and humans within the Shelter environment.

Did the County contribute anything in the way of operational funds, over and above their salary payment of an ACO, to the HSCC for providing a service to the county residents? (I don't have an answer to that as of yet...)

The City of Great Falls, The Animal Foundation of Great Falls, and Spay of the Falls would have you believe the fault all lies with the HSCC, when in truth it was a resource problem. All three of these entities, IN TANDEM AS WELL AS TOGETHER, took and controlled the financial resources of the community for their personal goals and gain, but NONE of these entities actually SHARED THOSE RESOURCES with the HSCC in order to truly help the animals in the shelter. These three groups are now running the Great Falls animal shelter - and things are considerably worse.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

City Shelter Donations

If you wrote a check as a donation to the Humane Society of Cascade County and handed it over to the City Shelter between July 4, 2007 and Dec. 25, 2007, would you please make a copy of both the front and the back and email, mail it (Susan Overfield, 251 Gordon Rd, Vaughn MT 59487) or bring it to the Town Hall Meeting.

TOWN HALL MEETING - JANUARY 5, 2008 - University of Great Falls Auditorium, 7 pm. All citizens are invited. It's free. It will be ONLY about The Animals of Great Falls.
Tell your friends and please plan to show up. (This is being paid for by a private citizen)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Shelter Information

What isn't being said:

Amy Lowe & Jason Dern, at the Sept. training they were sent to by the CITY in WA, were CERTIFIED in Animal Cruelty Investigation (lg animal, however, the investigative procedures remain the same as for small animals).

The City Budget has been released and the City is has still budgeted $115,000.00 for the Humane Society of Cascade County (I suggest that this money be handed over to the HSCC on January 2, 2008. If not, I think an investigation into fraudulent practices or malfeasance by the City take place.) Was that money going to be handed over to the police instead of the identified recipient? {See Electric City Weblog for more lengthy piece on the money}

The vet which administered the heart-stick is Keller (sources have confirmed this).

The newspaper has failed to reveal the general type and number of documents distributed to ALL press members at the press conference. The packet included, but was not limited to, 14 photo copies of animal shelter intake records which included impound date, adoption available date and actual kill date. As well as copies of e-mails (dates sent and responses received) to various entities requesting help in this issue.

This Journal of Commission Work Sessions, Oct. 2, 2007 is very enlightening, particularly in view of the emphasis on HOW THE SHELTER LOOKS. Also, there is a statement regarding the fact that "there is no systematic euthanization being done at the shelter". (No truer words may ever have been spoken.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Response for Contact Information

Here are some of the contacts you all e-mailed me and requested:

Donna Stebbins
Gloria LaMott
Jamie Bennett
Bob James
Bryan Lockerby

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics


The face of truth, as it applies to those individuals and groups involved with running the shelter, has been exposed. It is now up to the people to see it for what it is and decide what to do.

First...there will be a TOWN HALL MEETING - JANUARY 5, 2008 - University of Great Falls Auditorium, 7 pm. All citizens are invited. It's free. It will be ONLY about The Animals of Great Falls.
Tell your friends and please plan to show up. (This is being paid for by a private citizen)

The first response for the majority of people has been compassion for the animals, followed by horror and shock, sadness and heartbreak. Some people have been shocked and taken a cautious stance. Yet, still they voice concern and worry for the animals.

For the remaining few, the response is Arrogance, Lies, Attacks, Silence and Deflection. These are the people most involved in the shelter, its operation, and the treatment of the animals.

Who are they?

Donna Stebbins - Arrogance...that is the manner in which she first handled this entire disclosure. She displays how she truly feels. The spin she's putting on this morning is just that, a save-her-ass response. We are not speaking of what may be talked about in the way of legal investigation and what may be disclosed. We are talking about her real feelings. A normal, concerned, caring person's initial response would be along the lines of 'my first concern is for the animals. I have gone to the shelter/told the shelter that they will have an outside agency monitoring them as of this moment until such time as we discover the truth'. That she did not respond with this kind of feeling, care and responsibility as a person and elected official indicates that she does NOT CARE ABOUT THE ANIMALS, ONLY HER OWN REAR END. Couple that with her arrogance and you have a disaster. Lies...first thing she tried to lie about was the two Animal Control Officers. She tried to make you all think that Jason Dern had been in trouble for smoking pot. REALLY? You don't think THAT would have made the papers? If it were true, why isn't there documentation to back it up? Why was he allowed to continue working? Attacks...first response was to attack Amy Lowe publicly. To spin the entire horrible mess as a disgruntled employee issue. Get a grip! How many disgruntled employees go public like this ?- AND OFFER DOCUMENTS TO BACK UP WHAT THEY ARE SAYING. Silence...after her first, I don't-give-a-care, arrogant reaction she shut up. The first response was real. The silence was because she was running around the City Halls trying to figure a plan of damage control. She was down at the shelter with Bennett within 2 hours of the press conference holding a closed-door meeting - wow! she does that a LOT. Deflection...this morning she began this. It's the Humane Society, they were horrible. They did this. They did that. It sounds like a 2-year old trying to pin the broken window on the sibling. The murderer/thief/rapist trying to lay the blame for their actions on their parents and how they were raised.

Holy Hal - Gloria LaMott - that's right. Holy Hal is Gloria LaMott, close friend of Donna Stebbins. Arrogance...Holy Hal is Gloria LaMott - in charge of Spay of the Falls where so many cats died because she wouldn't follow health and safety procedure. Lies...
Holy Hal is Gloria LaMott - whom rumor has it has had ALL postings pulled from the Tribune blog about the Shelter articles as she libeled Nora Norum and the HSCC and the Trib received a complaint, which was backed by documentation, showing that Holy Hall/Gloria LaMott lied and was openly breaking the part of the blog contract which states one agrees to not use the forum for libel. All I can say about this is; yesterday her posts were there, then they weren't. Attacks...Holy Hal is Gloria LaMott - who whenever anything is said that she doesn't like she attacks the person via a blog (Electric City Weblog is a perfect case in point), bad-mouthing, personal denigration and public promises of destruction (HSCC, and according to sources, me). Silence...I can't truly say I've ever heard Holy Hal/Gloria LaMott stay silent. Deflection...her posting at the Trib was all about the HSCC and Nora Norum and how bad they were - NOT ONE WORD OF COMPASSION OR CARE ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO THE ANIMALS NOW. Just how bad others were.

Animal Foundation of Great Falls - Arrogance...the arrogance which accompanies a group which begin by raising funds for a shelter for the Humane Society of Cascade County and then establishes it's own little dynasty, at the expense of the very group it used to get started, offends me. I suggest that all the McLean seed money (400k) and all funds for the first two years of the Foundation's fund raising, be turned over to the HSCC for whom it was raised. Anything after the first two years is the Foundation's to keep and do with as they wish. But, I gave my in-kind services for auction at the Fur Ball for the Humane Society of Cascade County, NOT for the Foundation to have their own little closed corporation, but for the HSCC for ALL of the county. Lies...when a group tells you they are raising money for the HSCC's new shelter, but plans to do things differently, that's a lie. When a group tells you that they do not intend to "run" the new shelter, but are working with their own sub-groups within the City to insure that ONLY whom THEY want take over operations, then that's a lie. When a group tells you that they care for animals, but stand by and do nothing when the animals are in trouble, then that's a lie., my, my...The Foundation says so much when it comes to articles in the Trib that are negative against the HSCC, when fund raising time rolls round, when they want a DOG PARK. But, on the REAL life-and-death issues faced by our animals they are SILENT. Deflection...Keep selling the Dog Park so that the people of GF will believe you care about animal welfare. Do we really need a Dog Park for the dogs which have loving homes and owners while dogs are dying? Which is the MORE IMPORTANT? Doing "good" at the expense of innocent animals' lives IS NOT DOING GOOD, I don't care how pretty you make the building they will die in or how big the dog park is.

City of Great Falls
...this includes the Police Department, the City Attorney and anyone else involved. Arrogance...That the elected officials and a small group within the employment of the City feel they can pass anything, spend any amount, move money anytime, for any reason and ignore our concerns, questions and expectations is hubris and arrogance. This group has it in spades. Lies...there is not enough room to enumerate the lies told by these people. The Animal Shelter, SME, the budget, THE INVESTIGATION INTO THE DOCUMENTED CRUELTIES OF THE ANIMALS...lies, lies, lies. How can the police investigate their own honestly???? Shades of Chicago, New York and LA. History buffs know how corrupt those towns were. Silence...these problems have been addressed publicly, at City Commission meetings, by individuals, by phone complaints and on blogs. The City has stayed silent. Maybe they're taking a page from their own book...You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Deflection...we are looking into it. The allegations are being investigated. Funny, these issues have been publicly talked about by citizens since July 2007, HOW LONG WILL THEY INVESTIGATE BEFORE THEY REACH A DECISION...they will investigate until WE demand an outside source do the investigating and WE demand the truth and WE demand this mess be cleaned up by ridding GF of the corruption and special-interests.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What WASN'T Heard

By this time I'm certain the majority of you have read about, or seen on television, the press conference called by Animal Control Officers, Amy Lowe and Jason Dern.

It went on for quite a while, most of it will not be seen or heard. There was a packet which included copies of documents corroborating statements made. Citizens in attendance have already begun to make and distribute to others, the entire, 1" thick dossier of horror. I've included just a few pertinent pages. (see below) They are also spreading the call for a Town Hall Meeting on the animal issue to be held in January, date and time to be announced. (Wow, guys, it wasn't even me that called for it! Way to go!)

Mr Ecke, of the Great Falls Tribune, after the conference approached a person said he felt "this was a personal vendetta." The individual to whom he spoke was under the distinct impression that he was referring to me and this conference as a vendetta against the mayor and the Animal Foundation.

Let me make this clear and on record. I am not the person who called the press conference. I am not the person who disclosed these specific facts revealing this ugly, nasty group for what they are. I am not the person, though I have said this for many months, who stated that the Animal Foundation, the City, the mayor, specific individuals, the Spay of the Falls, the Police Dept. are ALL manipulating this shelter issue to their personal desires and advantage, and KNEW AND WHAT WAS TAKING PLACE.

Mr. Ecke, your are right, however, it IS personal. The animal that died in terror took it VERY personally at that moment. I take it personally that the above groups sell their caring attitude toward animals, as well as their exalted (non) knowledge, all the while allowing, even condoning this atrocity and barbarous (YES, that's what it is and I am LIVID) behavior to happen. As a citizen I am taking it personally that all of this amoral, illegal, and criminal activity occurred in
this town, stealing and using my tax dollars, that these people believe themselves to be above the law, that the newspaper is VERY selective in what it reports, that all of these entities have no respect for us. I take it VERY personally that these people committed what I view as MURDER and theft in MY town. I am outraged.

What WASN'T heard, and will probably NOT be read about is the following:

Eye-witness account of Mayor Donna Stebbins standing in the "cat room" of the Shelter while the dogs screamed during the heart-sticking procedure and doing NOTHING. "She couldn't fail to hear or know what was happening. You couldn't miss the screams of the dogs." Quote by witness. (I would call that Felony Abuse under the law).

That the Great Falls Animal Foundation, the City of Great Falls officials, the Police Dept., were and are all aware of what was happening in the shelter as they are ALL involved in running and/or making decisions regarding the shelter. A letter included in the documents is on Shelter stationary and begins -"The Great Falls Animal Shelter is one of three entities involved in the reorganization of the Animal Shelter." When queried as to the other two entities they were confirmed as the Animal Foundation and Spay of the Falls.

That many people of GF still believed the Shelter to be under the Humane Society of Cascade County, made donation checks out to the HSCC, gave it to Shelter employees and those checks NEVER reached the HSCC. One was from Smith's Grocery store and was witnessed as being made out to the HSCC, with the police officer's name on the "notation" line, and handed over. (Correct me, please, all of you lawyers, but isn't that a criminal offense?????)

That Dave Pauli, Regional HSUS, known both for his position with the HSUSA and his openly chummy relationship with Foundation board members, was contacted on Dec 3, 2007 regarding this issue and counseled patience and not to go public. "That your issues need to be addressed by...the police chief and maybe the Animal Foundation of Great Falls...rather than go to the media."(e-mail copies are available)

That Melanie Lattin, has been told numerous times by ACOs about many of the health and safety hazards as regards the Dog Park, and in direct disregard of these serious concerns and warnings, stated in the presence of witnesses, "I don't care. We're going to have this Dog Park."

The two witnesses, both with extensive and diverse animal career backgrounds, have made the comment that Ms. Lattin knows nothing about dogs, their related health and behavior issues and, therefore, should not be in charge of the Dog Park. Yet, because the City, the mayor, Ms. LaMott and the Animal Foundation are all working closely together behind the scenes and hand-picking who gets what in all of this, she'll be allowed to continue, even to the detriment of animals.

The following were notified about the Press Conference and sent information about the shelter and the abuses, cruelties and deaths:

LA Times
Seattle Times
Denver Post
Rocky Mountain News
CBS National News
48 Hours
U.S. Animal Protection Organization
Humane Society U.S. National Office
Animal Legal Defense Fund
MT. Governor's Office
Attorney Gen. of MT