Dinwiddie County: Terminate the Chief Warden of Animal Control
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My Aunt's Beloved 10yr old Yorkie was mauled to death on his own property and nothing is being done. The attacking dog has been sent to a rescue organization and the owner of the dog has not been chargde with anything! This is not the first animal that the Dinwidddie Animal Shelter has had in custody that belonged to the same owner. Another Mastiff was found starving and yet no charges have been filed. The Director of Public Safety also stated to me over the phone on Monday Novemeber 12th "it's a shame, that big pretty dog was abused the way he was". Now if you know the dog was abused why is the owner not being charged?? On this Saturday, November 17, 2012 I arrived at the animal shelter and was looking around at the animals, when I took notice that the Mastiff that killed my aunts dog was no longer at the shelter. I asked Evan the custodian on duty where the dog had gone, he proceeded to tell me the dog had been sent to a rescue organization the day prior, and he himself transported the dog. I told him that dog was dangerous, and it had mauled my aunts dog to pieces and his response was “well it didn’t do anything while it was here, there is nothing wrong with that dog” at that time I asked to speak to the person in charge of animal control. Animal Control Officer Debborah Dean attempted to assist me, but I wanted to speak to the Chief Warden, so ACO Dean contacted Chief Warden Broughton.
While ACO Dean was speaking to Ms. Broughton I requested the impound records and disposition sheets for the animal in question, at which time Ms. Broughton asked to speak to me, once explaining my concern to her, she repeatedly attempted to tell me she had done nothing wrong by sending this dog to a rescue, when the reason the dog was there was because he come onto my aunt’s property and mauled her little Yorkie to pieces. I then requested the impound and disposition records from her and was told I could not have them that day. That she would contact me on Monday. (Which as of today I have yet to hear from her) I left the animal shelter at that time.
My concern here is there are several laws that have been broken here and as a citizen of this county I should be able to rely on my county employee’s especially the Chief Warden of animal control to know the animal welfare laws and obviously this is not the case in Dinwiddie. First Va code section § 3.2-6540. Control of dangerous or vicious dogs; penalties states very clearly in section A, what a dangerous dog means: A. As used in this section:
"Dangerous dog" means a canine or canine crossbreed that has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a person or companion animal that is a dog or cat, or killed a companion animal that is a dog or cat. When a dog attacks or bites a companion animal that is a dog or cat, the attacking or biting dog shall not be deemed dangerous: (i) if no serious physical injury as determined by a licensed veterinarian has occurred to the dog or cat as a result of the attack or bite; (ii) if both animals are owned by the same person; (iii) if such attack occurs on the property of the attacking or biting dog's owner or custodian; or (iv) for other good cause as determined by the court. No dog shall be found to be a dangerous dog as a result of biting, attacking, or inflicting injury on a dog or cat while engaged with an owner or custodian as part of lawful hunting or participating in an organized, lawful dog handling event. No dog that has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a person shall be found to be a dangerous dog if the court determines, based on the totality of the evidence before it, that the dog is not dangerous or a threat to the community.
And Section B states clearly what should have been done in this case:
B. Any law-enforcement officer or animal control officer who has reason to believe that a canine or canine crossbreed within his jurisdiction is a dangerous dog or vicious dog shall apply to a magistrate serving the jurisdiction for the issuance of a summons requiring the owner or custodian, if known, to appear before a general district court at a specified time. The summons shall advise the owner of the nature of the proceeding and the matters at issue. If a law-enforcement officer successfully makes an application for the issuance of a summons, he shall contact the local animal control officer and inform him of the location of the dog and the relevant facts pertaining to his belief that the dog is dangerous or vicious. The animal control officer shall confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. If the animal control officer determines that the owner or custodian can confine the animal in a manner that protects the public safety, he may permit the owner or custodian to confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. The court, through its contempt powers, may compel the owner, custodian or harborer of the animal to produce the animal. If, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that the animal is a dangerous dog, the court shall order the animal's owner to comply with the provisions of this section. If, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that the animal is a vicious dog, the court shall order the animal euthanized in accordance with the provisions of § 3.2-6562. The court, upon finding the animal to be a dangerous or vicious dog, may order the owner, custodian, or harborer thereof to pay restitution for actual damages to any person injured by the animal or whose companion animal was injured or killed by the animal. The procedure for appeal and trial shall be the same as provided by law for misdemeanors. Trial by jury shall be as provided in Article 4 (§ 19.2-260 et seq.) of Chapter 15 of Title 19.2. The Commonwealth shall be required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
This was not followed as well.
Now when I requested the paper work at the pound on November 17th and was told no, Va code section § 3.2-6557. Animal control officers and humane investigators; limitations; records; penalties, was also not followed, it clearly states: Records required by this subsection shall be maintained for at least five years, and shall be available for public inspection upon request.
Records required by that subsection are defined as:
1. The date on which the animal was taken into custody;
2. The date of the making of the record;
3. A description of the animal including the animal's species, color, breed, sex, approximate age and approximate weight;
4. The reason for taking custody of the animal and the location where custody was taken;
5. The name and address of the animal's owner, if known;
6. Any license or rabies tag, tattoo, collar or other identification number carried by or appearing on the animal; and
7. The disposition of the animal.
But yet I was denied the information at that time.
Now the last issue is that this law clearly states:
C. Any animal control officer or custodian of any pound who violates any provision of this chapter that relates to the seizure, impoundment and custody of animals by an animal control officer may be subject to suspension or dismissal from his position.
D. Custodians and animal control officers engaged in the operation of a pound shall be required to have knowledge of the laws of the Commonwealth governing animals, including this chapter, as well as basic animal care.
Now obviously Chief Warden Broughton does not have knowledge of the laws or just blatantly refused to follow them, but whichever the case may be it is both, morally and legally wrong. With the obvious disregard of the laws, Ms. Broughton should not be allowed to hold a position as a deputy animal control office, much less the Chief Warden of Dinwiddie County. This behavior is an unacceptable representation of this county!
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