Recall Yavapai County Sheriff ignores rabies investigation.
Recall Yavapai County Sheriff ignores rabies investigation.
To my friends, neighbors and community,
I am writing this letter in response to an incident involving a rabid bobcat that has completely turned our lives upside down, ruined our livelihood and has destroyed our health through heartbreak! We own a cattle ranch 12 miles off the highway and have experienced a number of wild and unusual things over the last forty years. We have had mountain lions kill horses and cattle; bears in the yard; and of course, the typical skunk or coyote coming in for a late-night chicken dinner. I thought that I had seen it all but was I wrong! On June 28, 2020 at approximately midnight, we were awoken by my hunting dogs making a commotion. I went down to our secure dog kennel and to my surprise there was a bobcat growling at them from outside the fence. I yelled at the bobcat and it went down into the river bed about ten yards away. From there the bobcat began growling at me from inside thick brush, I went up to the house, about 30 yards away and told my wife what was happening and how shocking the cat’s behavior was. I could hear it growling as I walked all the way to the house! After explaining to my wife what was happening, I loaded my twenty-two-caliber rifle and went back down to the kennel. The bobcat came back and was growling at the dogs and I quickly realized that there was something terribly wrong with this bobcat. I got inside the kennel where I was safe from the bobcat and shot it while it was outside the fence and kennel.
As soon as it turned daylight I called our local Game and Fish officer to report what had happened. Unable to investigate the incident himself because he was working the big fire, he said he would send the game officer from Bagdad. The officer arrived, his name was Seth Sheer and he was extremely nice, understanding, and easy to work with. Officer Sheer’s report was short and to the point, which I appreciated very much. Officer Sheer was also kind enough to thank me for putting down the obviously suffering rabid bobcat, that was an extreme threat to the community! After Officer Sheer left is when this horrible nightmare begins.
I received a call from Yavapai County Animal Control Officer Scott Potts who said he would like to interview me. Of course I said fine and was expecting an interaction similar to that with the previous law enforcement officer. Instead, Officer Potts immediately threatened to euthanize my dogs and began screaming and talking over me on the phone! He was telling me what had happened and insisting that the cat had contact with the dogs and therefore would be euthanized! I have never talked to a ruder person in my life! He would not let me get a word in! At this point I was forced to raise my voice at officer Potts because of his threatening and intimidating temper tantrum! I informed him that I was the only eyewitness, and the cat at no time, had contact with the dogs! This is also the point that I offered key photographic evidence about the fine mesh on the bottom of the kennel and officer Potts said DON’T BOTHER! This is when his telephone interview went sour! He stated that he was not going by my report, only by the game and fish report and asked me if I was calling the game officer a liar because my story was slightly different than Officer Sheer’s report .He was more than willing to take anything that the report said out of context! By leaving out testimony from the only eyewitness, this is called lying by omission!
It is important to note that I was the only person present and therefore the only eyewitness to this incident. As a public servant, Officer Potts failed to protect my rights or serve our community, my family or me. We all rely on our government officials to be fair, understanding, compassionate and helpful. Officer Potts acted and demonstrated the absolute opposite behaviors and mannerisms of what are expected of a public servant. He was not concerned with what I had to say or how his actions were and have impacted my life and livelihood. Officer Potts instead acted as judge, jury, and executioner in his vindictive rage! Officer Potts made a unilateral decision that has, and continues to cost me thousands of dollars, my livelihood, impacts my health and well-being, and is causing me and my family great stress and harm.
Officer Potts, his superiors, and the County of Yavapai have failed to serve me and have placed our community in harm’s way. Because of his unprofessional behavior, his intentional non-communication, his extreme hostility, he has endangered the lives of the Game & Fish officer, our friends, our neighbors, my wife, and me. If Officer Potts truly believed that the dogs were exposed to airborne rabies, he failed to inform us immediately that all humans present should be vaccinated against rabies. Only after consulting with our veterinarian four days later were we told we needed shots for rabies as soon as possible. There is a seven day window to get vaccinated before rabies is fatal. When Officer Potts made his one and only call to ask us if we were happy with the four-month quarantine that he had imposed on my dogs, who were untouched by the cat, he never explained what the symptoms of rabies are! Officer Potts never asked about the health of those present or warned any neighbors of the incident! No follow up on public safety whatsoever! It is evident to me that his only mission was to illegally confiscate my dogs! We asked him if we needed to get shots, he said he did not know because he is not a rabies expert. If he readily admits to not being an expert in rabies, I can only wonder why and how he decided that he was qualified, prepared and suited to make a unilateral decision to confiscate my dogs and impose significant financial, emotional and health costs on me and my family. He has not only destroyed my livelihood as a hunting guide but has also cost my family thousands of dollars in kennel costs ($17,000) and rabies shots ($3200) which were incredible painful. My dogs are outdoor dogs and this confinement will mentally break them. Officer Potts is aware of this fact! This outcome has caused my extremely intelligent and loving dogs to be kenneled for 4 months, the maximum amount of time that Potts has control, even though there was not a scratch on them! Officer Potts WILL NOT ALLOW US TO VISIT OUR OWN DOGS, yet they are forced into a questionable and unwarranted quarantine. The act of forcefully taking my dogs is extremely cruel and unjust to both the dogs and me. I believe it to also be illegal and unconstitutional. I believe that officer Potts refusal to interview me was reckless and illegal! I find it appalling that Officer Potts refused my information! Information FROM THE ONLY EYEWITNESS! It took over two weeks, and only after a Freedom of Information Act request, for the county to provide me with a report on the rabies test of the bobcat. At no time has the county notified our neighbors or the surrounding area of an incident involving a dangerous, rabid animal. As I mentioned before, we live in a very rural area with livestock throughout. Why, if the incident was so severe that my dogs needed to be confiscated and impounded, has the county completely ignored the second attack, and literally refused to investigate!
Yes, amazingly enough, it was discovered two days later that there had been a second bobcat attack on some people who were visiting my ranch. There was a video taken of this second bobcat attack and it was shared through social media and with us. It was very graphic and unsettling and involved a man being attacked repeatedly by the, obviously rabid bobcat; thank god no one was bitten. He is yelling at Children to get back! There is a child asking her mother why she is scared and crying in the attack video. However, I called the event in to the captain of the Yavapai Sherriff Department, who I had been dealing with. I informed him of the attack and the video, on July 12. He apparently did not believe me! Big surprise! To this day no one has come to investigate and retrieve the body of the second bobcat for testing. Today is September 19, 2020 It being troubling that there has not been any follow-up even after I sent the video. Clearly there had been an outbreak of rabies in the area, yet the county ignores it. No traps were set up. No one came for a report. What is wrong with this picture? While the citizens of our county are being neglected, my dogs and my livelihood are being held hostage.
The county has not given me any reports on the health of my dogs. The county has clearly vilolated my constitutional rights by not showing me documentation or affording me my rights to due process .Mr. Potts extremely threatening and intimidating behavior is completely unacceptable I consider the seizure of my dogs to be illegal and a gross abuse of police power. The incomplete and lackadaisical nature of the investigation and resulting report are clear and evident in the refusal of the officer to even physically visit the scene, accept the only eye-witness testimony, or the photographic evidence that was offered!. This bobcat was seen at several ranches walking around people and acting strangly. Because I was looking out for my family, my dogs, and many children that visit my ranch in putting the bobcat down, I am being punished. My family is held in limbo and under great stress and strain. My dogs remain locked in kennels the size of a shower stall under great strain and at significant financial cost. Meanwhile YCSO has put many lives at stake, through their incomplete investigation on the first cat and their NON investigation on the cat that attacked several people in the video! This attack was reported July 3, I still have the cat!
Two little boys came up to me and a friend who happens to be a high school principal and asked us if we wanted to see the bobcat they had just pulled out of the pond. It was a yearling bobcat and using a range finder was exactly 45 yards from the site of the beating in the video, it was quite limp, and it appeared to have a broken back from the beating! It is now September eleventh and YCSO has completely ignored all requests to investigate the attack on humans, given that rabies was involved, and it has a seven-day fatality window, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! Their hypothesis is one that me and the game officer came up with BEFORE THE DISCOVERY OF THE SECOND BOBCAT! I certainly don’t blame YCSO for denying the existence of the second bobcat, because to admit that they refused to investigate an extremely life threatening situation because officer Martin assumed I was lying, would be opening them up to millions of dollars in endangerment suits from parents of the children involved! So YCSO continues to insist that the bobcat in the video was the same one that resulted in the illegal confiscation of my dogs! That would be 2000 yards to my dog kennel! The cat the two little boys HANDLED was exactly 45 yards from where it repeatedly attacked a man on video! As I said before, both these investigations were completely botched by YCSO and now they are grasping at straws! I still have the body of the rabid bobcat seen attacking people in the video, I will prove in court that it has broken bones from the beating it took on the video. I also believe that it was the rabid offspring of the female cat that I shot at the kennel! Had YCSO bothered to investigate whatsoever they would have known all of this! Instead they took two and a half months to find out that there was a second bobcat attack during the same three-day time period! They had refused to investigate! I reported the second bobcat on July third and again to Capt. Martin on the twelfth of July! We had a lengthy conversation, and I informed him of the video, apparently this situation was ignored because it was assumed I was lying as was the first interview when officer Potts inferred that I was a liar within the first thirty seconds of our phone conversation. Because of the absolute horrendous treatment that I have received from YCSO and the extreme cruelty that they have put my family and my dogs through for the last three months and also because my grandfather was the YCSO sheriff deputy in Camp Verde for many years, and I feel now that I am also defending my family legacy. They had the highest integrity as does our family, something the modern-day YCSO has not got the slightest clue about! I feel that it is my duty to hold YCSO fully accountable with a recall petition against Sheriff Scott Mascher for the incompetence that led to child endangerment at my ranch and extreme cruelty to my animals and my family! What you and your vindictive officer Potts have done to my dogs is absolutely disgusting and should have never been allowed in a civilized society!
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