Demand Animal Welfare Corruption to stop in Cookeville, TN
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The people that have the authority to correct and expose animal neglect, abuse or abandonment sweep it under the political rug and excuse or deny the issues. They shield the perpetrators and offenders and never acknowledge the efforts of animal advocates trying to help reform or change the attitudes and hearts of those in charge.
Residents in Cookeville TN (and other concerned animal advocates around the country) are extremely upset and angry about issues that have happened regarding animal welfare over the last 2 years and especially the last few months of 2016 in Putnam County. This petition is for the purpose of exposing the issues, the complete lack of any help resolving the neglect and/or abuse from city officials and the corrupt power that is in place.
The Dictionary defines Corruption as: impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle; dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers).
A Pit Bull running loose in an apartment complex with another dog. Residents call to complain and the police make a welfare check and they cite the owner. This happens again and the police respond by shooting a friendly, non aggressive dog. Unacceptable and unnecessary. This dog was at the mercy of the officers, (yes I said plural..officers). This dog was no threat, playing with another dog and did not attack the officers. Bang Bang.... Cookeville has a reputation for Police killing dogs, going back to January 2003 when a family dog was shot and killed on Interstate 40. The city was sued for this act of slaughter and lost the suit. It made National Headlines.
Owner comes home after work to find her Pit Bull gone. Her Ex Husband let the dog out and the dog disappears. A neighbor finds the dog and assumes he is a stray. He takes the dog to the Putnam County Animal Shelter. The owner immediately starts searching for her pet. She makes several attempts to contact the Cookeville shelter. She calls, no one answers the phone, cannot even leave a message, she goes in person and the shelter is CLOSED for “cleaning”. (the shelter was closed 3 days that week, one day for cleaning and the other two because they were low on staff) She comes back and is allowed in and walks the kennel runs and is told they did not have her dog. She comes BACK to check again and was told by Sara Hawlik, shelter manager, that her dog was killed the day before. TN has a 3 business day stray hold. The shelter manager broke the law and killed this dog and then denied the owner access to the information. It was only after going to the City Manager, Mike Davidson, and demanding the file, that she found out what happened. This was as usual, swept under that corrupt rug. Nothing was done even after attending the Putnam County Animal Control Board meeting and voicing outrage. No apology from Sara Hawlik or even an attempt to reprimand her actions.
Quoting an original post regarding another horrible situation: “Last Tuesday this amazingly sweet, yet neglected and abused pit bull showed up down the road from my house. He was so weak from being starved and covered in fleas that I had to carry him back to my house. I was in shock at the state he was in: covered in hundreds of fleas, hair nearly gone from scratching fleas off (possibly mange as well), oily/greasy skin due to an infection, and every bone showing from being starved. He had no tags and had obviously just been chained up outside since he showed up with a snapped metal chain around his neck. I fed him a big bowl of food and water then stayed with him till I could figure out how to get him help. I contacted my vet immediately and they suggested a private animal shelter. I called and unfortunately they would not take him since he was a pit bull . My last resort was the Cookeville / Putnam County Animal Shelter. When I brought him in I stayed and talked with the volunteers on his future and about possibly adopting him once his health had been brought back up into better condition. Another concern I had was the possibility of him being returned to his "owners" (if you could even call them that) and I was assured he would NOT be given back to anyone who claimed him as theirs due to the state he was in.I called about him a couple days later and they told me he was doing better and welcomed me to come visit. Today I went to the shelter hoping to play and love on him a bit, ONLY to find out he had been given back to his owners. I was in shock and disbelief. I realize the goal of an animal shelter is to find animals homes, but when an animal has been THIS ABUSED how can you even consider giving them back?! The woman who decided to give him back to these people (WHO I HAVE NOW FOUND OUT IS THE DIRECTOR OF THE SHELTER) told me "She was CONFIDENT in her decision to give him back". I showed her all of these photos and said "You were confident in your decision to allow him to go back to a lifestyle of abuse??" Again, she said "I'm not disappointed I gave him back to his owner." She claims the woman who picked him up said "The dog had been staying with her brother and she had no idea he was in this condition." I am upset and appalled that the SHELTER DIRECTOR allowed this to happen and openly gave the dog back. I feel as if I failed this poor baby. He deserves justice but I have no idea where he came from. If anyone has information on local organizations that will better serve and protect abused animals, please let me know. I will never bring another abused/neglected/DYING animal to the Putnam County Shelter again.” Update to the original post: UPDATE 12/2/16 1:30pm : “THE DOG HAS BEEN FOUND AND HAS BEEN CHECKED ON BY ANIMAL CONTROL. The story I was originally told by the director was not the correct story surrounding this dog. Had the truth been told originally, I would have known exactly where this dog came from and would have been able to check on him much earlier than this. Thank you to everyone for your support. I am relieved to know that I will be able to keep an eye on him and hopefully watch his healing process progress. Although, I am still unhappy with the way this situation was handled and the attitude towards it, I am so glad that HE IS ALIVE. I was told by the animal control officer that "Dogs are property just like our vehicles. And what I did was equivalent to repossessing someone's vehicle because they forgot to change the oil." Just another example of how disturbing this entire scenario has been and the reactions I have received from the people who are in charge of the welfare of animals. I vow to never take another animal to our local shelter. “
Someone following a Putnam County School Bus sees the driver stop and dump a puppy. Thankfully no students were on board. She rescues the puppy and immediately files a report with the Cookeville Police Dept. The officer told her that there was nothing she could do. The puppy was not injured and if the puppy had been run over it would be deemed “accidental”. This is the mentality of our wonderful Police Department in Cookeville, TN.
****Other issues that haunt animal advocates in this county. People serving on the Putnam County Animal Control Board that reside in another county?????. Why is Linda Westin, the President of the “Friends of Putnam County Animal Shelter” on this board? Ms. Westin lives in Dekalb County (Smithville). This is Not Acceptable. She has been “appointed” so I assume she will remain on the board until she she resigns or dies. Sara Hawlik (who is also in the group “Friends of Putnam County Animal Shelter”) is her “hand picked” new shelter manager. Sara's husband, Darrell Webb was the previous shelter manger, so I guess she just “inherited” the position.
**** Why does a brand new $2.4 million dollar animal shelter still have a KILL RATE of approx 35%? Yes, it is down from 2015 42%, but this is still very alarming. People in Cookeville still “think” this is a NO KILL shelter!!!! ********
The local authorities and media in Cookeville do absolutely nothing to expose any negative issues surrounding these circumstances. They hide and conceal information and continue to shield those that make uneducated and unqualified decisions concerning animal welfare in Putnam County. Many attempts and efforts by local animal advocates to address these concerns have always been met with a slammed door. It is time for change to take place.
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