Please Honor the WV Animal Cruelty Statutes and Codes

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Sheriff Humane Officers should follow the same standards as Citizens regarding Animal Cruelty Statutes.

Confiscation/Seizure (photos) of Domesticated Rabbits in Harrison County 4/4/2014

A 57-year-old woman who collected 200+ rabbits was found guilty to 3 counts of animal cruelty and ordered to have no pets or contact with animals for the next five years due to a complaint of sickly rabbits in distress.

We the Petitioners believe a breach in the conduct of those involved in the Rabbit Seizure may have endangered public health and contributed to cruelty to animals.
Lt. Greg Scolapio who is responsible for the rescued animals in his care denied them medical treatment while having no regard for the rabbits welfare giving them away Free (sick, pregnant, babies, healthy) to anyone without restrictions. The same neglected rabbits that were taken from the breeder were given no chance for a better life.

According to several News articles, conversations with LT.Scolapio, Animal Control and the County Administrator the following information was obtained.

News reports were inconsistent with the counts of confiscated rabbits being between 150 and 200+, sickly animals were in distress, then healthy and available for adoption by the public for free.

On April 4th, 68 rabbits were said to be taken from the breeders home to animal control by Officer Scolapio and 114 were left to be taken in the following week. On 4/5/14 a local Rabbit Rescue took 6 of the sickest rabbits; the rest (62) were given away FREE in any condition to anyone without restrictions other than they cannot be returned to the owner. Adoption agreement stated their health was not guaranteed, some may have been bred and they should be quarantined and Vet checked.

Rabbit rescues called Animal Control to offer help on 4/5/14 but the rabbits were all gone by 3pm on the following day of seizure. In reality, rescue rabbits take time to adopt out to the right family, but when given away Free few rabbits find safe homes, they are picked up by other breeders, eaten for human food, used by snake owners for live food, live bait for fighting dogs and hunting dog training or worse.

16 + rabbit rescues joined together from several States and were ready to take in the remaining 114 rabbits, get them the proper medical care and homes. On 4/9/14 only 38 of 114 said rabbits arrived for adoption the following week at Animal Control and the numbers were not adding up. Only 26 rabbits were permitted to go with a local Rabbit Rescue, and 12 more given away Free. This left approximately 50 - 86 rabbits unaccounted for, depending on the true count.

According to Wboy news reports Scolapio is quoted claiming all the rabbits were accounted for, a local rescue got most of them, and will be adopting them out once they were healthy, 162 in total.

Upon telephone conversations with Lt. Scolapio, the Humane Officer stated he had given the missing rabbits to his friends (including hunters), co-workers, 10 to Preston Co. (?) and 2 dozen to his "gentleman farmer friend" - who is also one of his deputies. Scolapio did not feel it was Prudent to work with Rabbit Rescues and stated he felt anywhere was better than where they were and he was not concerned where they went.

The rabbits were living with contagious rabbits having various infections and disease possibly made available for human meat consumption, sold for meat, to other breeders or the public with no regard and no Vet check.
Staph, ringworm and other diseases can be transmitted to humans.

Lt. Scolapio also mentioned some rabbits were planned to be set free on his friends properties to populate. Despite the fact that It is not legal to dump domestic rabbits in the wild or that they cannot survive in the wild and suffer horrific deaths.

It is standard practice for Shelters to work with Rabbit Rescues when seizes occur.
Rabbit rescue groups across the nation were and are outraged with how a "Humane Officer" was handling a seizure case of approximately 200 rabbits in Shinnston, West Virginia.
We the Petitioners feel this case was not handled effectively or humanely. The giving away of sick, pregnant, unneutered or spayed, and baby rabbits to the public for free and leaving many unaccounted for, with many discrepancies being reported by news media is both ineffective and inhumane.

We are seeking answers to many questions, including but not limited to the following:

Wboy News Video
See Video, Photos, News links, WV Codes and Statutes references here:

a. Can you please advise if WV law allows seizure animals(evidence) included in an active AC Investigation to be given away to friends before taking them to AC?
b. Can you please advise if it is permitted by WV law to adopt animals (evidence) out included in an active Animal Cruelty Investigation?
c. Can you please advise if the rabbits being loaded in the 4/4/14 news video went to the WV Animal Control Facility?
d. Can you please advise if the men loading rabbits at the breeders home on 4/4/2014 the original day of seizure are Animal Control Workers or Friends of Officer Scolapio?
If not AC employees can you please provide a copy of the authorized assistant report regarding WV Code §19-9-5 for the persons loading rabbits.

2. Sick rabbits
Rabbits found living in filthy living conditions are known to be unhealthy and carry contagious disease but may appear to be healthy because prey animals innately tend to hide their illnesses and injuries. Sick contagious rabbits were denied medical care by the Humane Officer purporting to rescue them, were left to spread disease to other rabbits, left to suffer and basically dumped on the public for free while fines for animal cruelty were in progress to the breeder.

a. Can you please advise why medical care was denied and no precautions taken with rabbits known to have been exposed to unhealthy conditions?

This beautiful sick Rex rabbit was left at Animal Control and given away FREE to the public with Contagious Snuffles, Pasturella or Pneumonia on 4/5/14.

3. Unspayed or neutered rabbits adopted out for Free
WV Code § 19-20B-2. Requirement for adoption
Can you please advise if the WV Code noted excludes domestic rabbits who were seized due to neglect and over breeding?

4. Updated News Stories
The updated news stories quote Scolapio stating all the rabbits have been placed with rescue groups or private individuals. Factually approx. 32 rabbits were given to a local Rabbit Rescue, none were given medical care at AC, and the rest were given out Free to Lt. Scolapio's friends and the public for whatever a person wanted to use them for.
Can you please advise why have these obvious misstatements have not been addressed?

5. Court Documents
The Court documents state that on 4/3/14 two deceased rabbits were found at the residence, one in need of medical care and the rest appeared healthy.
65 rabbits were taken to AC on 4/4/14 and 114 remained to be transported at a later date.
a. Can you please advise why is there is no mention in the final accounting of the 50-86 missing rabbits given out to Lt. Scolapio's friends and when the report will be amended?
b. Can you please advise why the rabbits were deemed healthy when it was apparent by the photos many of the rabbits left at AC were seriously ill or with contagious disease, along with the original complaint regarding sickly rabbits in distress, and one in particular?

6. Court Order
The Court prohibits the breeder to have pets or contact with animals for the next five years, however it was noted and admitted by Scolapio that rabbits were left with the breeder after the second pick up. The remaining rabbits consisted of two mothers with several babies as well as the alleged original sick rabbit who never had medical care since the original date of 4/3/14, all said to be still living in filth until Friday 4/18/14.
According to Wboy News reports Scolapio is quoted saying there were a few rabbits left at the house because previous owners had requested to get the rabbits back.

a. Can you please advise why rabbits were left in filth and sickness when the Court order stated the breeder not have contact with animals for the next five years?
b. Can you please advise if the original sick rabbit was included in the rabbits left behind still suffering in filth with no medical care since 4/4/14 to 4/18/14, the rabbit who started the investigation when returned by a buyer for being sick described/alleged having green discharge from it's nose? Where is this rabbit now?
c. Can you please advise the disposition and location of the animals that were missing from the original seize date of 4/4 (50-86 rabbits) and the other missing rabbits left at the residence including one said mother rabbit with several babies and the sick rabbit, until 4/18/14, when the local rescue was only given one mother (of two) and her babies?

7. Seizure photos
WV Freedom of Information Act: WV Code Chapter 29B includes photographs.
Code: "upon demand for records made under this statute, shall as soon as is practicable but within a maximum of five days not including Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays"

Seizure photos were requested several times through Co. Admin Willie Parker (who has been very helpful with requests) however, since April 25th these requested photos have not been sent to Willie from the Sheriff's office over two weeks later on 5/2/14. It was stated the photos were not with the Seizure Report. The photos were requested to view the original condition the sick returned rabbit and the rest of the rabbits living in filthy abusive conditions. Can you please advise when the photos will be available?
We the petitioners believe Lt. Scolapio is in violation of the WV Code§29B-1-6 and would like this complaint investigated and appropriate charges filed.

8.Animal Cruelty Charges
Animal Cruelty Charges were given to the breeder for intentionally knowingly or recklessly (A) mistreat an animal in a cruel manner (C) Withhold medical treatment necessary to sustain normal health and fitness. The same standards did not seem to apply to Lt. Scolapio regarding the rabbits under his care, the rabbits left behind or the rabbits suffering in distress that were given away Free for any given fate.
Safety and Veterinary care when needed or to prevent suffering or disease transmission should also involve County Humane Agents and Animal Control Officers.

Can you please advise if the Sheriff's Humane Officer is excluded from the same laws he is responsible for when prosecuting the public? Can you please advise if Animal Control is excluded from the WV laws?

9. Denied Help from Rabbit Rescues
Lt. Scolapio did not reach out for help and soon after denied help from legitimate Rabbit Rescues while getting rid of the rabbits as soon as possible no matter the suffering or fate of the rabbits.

Lt. Scolapio refused to give a detailed accounting as to how the rabbits were dispersed and claimed he did not know what kind of farm 2 dozen rabbits were given to, he laughed when it was stated that the farm could be a rabbit meat farm. Scolapio stated it was the jurisdiction of the Humane Society, which is governed by the County Commission – however, when speaking with the local Humane Society who claims their mission is to rescue as many animals as possible left at the Animal Control Center and to get the animals ready for adoption into loving, forever homes - replied by saying they were not called to help and were not involved. It remains unknown if there were any other nearby rescues involved.

a.Can you please advise why the domestic rabbits were treated inhumanely?
b.Can you please advise why the Humane Society did not assist the rabbits ?

In Conclusion
It is the opinion of the Petitioners that the domestic rabbits were not treated humanely, they were not given the same considerations as dogs or cats even though rabbits are household pets to millions of people. We the petitioners ask that the above questions and concerns be reviewed and responses given according to law.

We ask that Health Department regulations be honored regarding sick animals. We ask that the West VA Codes and Animal Cruelty Statutes be honored and applied to Lt. Scolapio who knowingly and recklessly denied sick animals medical care while putting their lives in danger giving them away Free, sick, healthy or pregnant to anyone who wanted them for any use when alternatives existed which included education, medical care and placement for the rabbits.

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