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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bunnies Bunnies EVERYWHERE!!!

A couple months before Easter, I had a call to investigate a report for unhealthy conditions for rabbits. There weren't many details on my call sheet. So I'm thinking someone has a couple rabbits that they area not cleaning up their cage. Then I took a second look at the call address. The location was at a 2-bit horse boarding place that we have had MANY calls out to for various neglect issues. This place continues to have on going issues that always seem to get just under the wire of being OK. If I had my way, the place would be shut down. I'm still working on that.

Anyway, back to the rabbits.

So I'm still thinking that this is going to be something simple.

I get to the boarding facility and as I am going to open the gate I run into one of the women who I investigated in the past. "B" was very friendly and helpful today, despite the fact that I almost took her three horses away from her for various reasons. I asked her if she knew where the rabbits were. Oh boy did she. We both parked out vehicles and she showed me the way to a huge tent near the barn. This tent is one of those portable tarp and pvc deals that some people use as a temporary car port. I didn't even have to get very close to see that this was much worse and a bigger problem than I had initially thought.

The front of the tent was open and I could see multiple cages in 3 rows stacked on top of each other. I immediately noticed two dead rabbits in the first cages in the middle row. "B" let me know that she had called the CP (person who had called the complaint in) and she was on her way. She was also trying to call the property owner. B said that the rabbit owner had been gone for several days now and she wasn't sure when she was returning. She said that she was told that the rabbit owner was out of town and may not return for several weeks. I asked B if she knew who was taking care of the owner’s rabbits in her absence and she said that she didn’t think that anyone had been asked and if they were they probably said no due the prior bad attitudes between rabbit owner and other boarders.

The boarding facility is a self-care facility for mostly horses. Some horse owners have a few other animals, such as chickens and ducks. According to B, the rabbit owner owns only the rabbits.

So I began to assess the rabbits in their cages. I initially counted 62 live rabbits and 5 dead rabbits in cages inside the tent. The inside of the tent smelled very strongly of urine, feces and wet feed and bedding. None of the cages appeared the have been cleaned out in several weeks or even months. Feces was built up beneath cage floors into cages from the litter pans. The floor of the tent was covered in, mud, feces, old food, water, urine and down one row the floor was 2-3 inches deep in liquid mud. Under the bottom cages the feces was several inches thick from the ground to inside the bottom of cages. Flies, bugs and small gnat like flies were everywhere, including on the live rabbits.

I found most of the water bottles were empty, many had mold growing inside, several were broken and several rabbits had no water bottles at all. Very few rabbits had food. Some that had food that was wet and appeared to have been in their feeders for a long period of time. Most of the rabbits had no food at all.

The CP arrived and I spoke with her. She said that she had been at the property yesterday and had seen the dead rabbits. She also found the rabbits without water and no food. She showed me that some of the rabbits that she did give water to, had no water as many of the water bottles were broken and leaking. She also showed me the food barrel. The large blue barrel was empty and the only other feed was in a small red coffee can that was only about ¼ full of feed. There were no other sources of feed for the rabbits. And what there was was in no way going to feed this many rabbits. The CP also said that the owner was gone possibly out of town and not returning for a few weeks. The CP also stated that the rabbit owner had disposed of several dead rabbits in the creek next to the boarding facility. She showed me where they were located. I saw about 7 dead rabbits in a pile on the bank of the creek about 50’ from the tent. None of these deceased rabbits showed signs of heavy decomposition at this time.

I called my Senior Officer 468 to advise him of the conditions and how to precede with this many rabbits in the conditions they were in. I was advised to take pictures, which I had already started to do. 460 would be sent to assist with documenting and seizing of the rabbits. 468 would have ACAs prepare an area for the rabbits to be housed and he would be advising Supervisor 473. 471 was also en route to my location to assist with the seizure. I also at this point began to place numbered cards on the live rabbits cages for ID purposes.

I was also told by another boarder that there were more dead rabbits just behind the tent. She showed me where they were located. At the north west corner of the tent there where 3 more deceased rabbits. One rabbit showed very little decomposition, one was decomposing and one was completely decomposed (hair and a few bones left).

471 arrived and I showed him the conditions that the live rabbits were in and the areas where the dead rabbits were. We also walked the creek bank from the barn to the bridge. No other dead rabbits were found. Another boarder had stated that there may have been other rabbits tossed in the creek but may have floated away by now.

460 Arrived and I showed her the live rabbits and their conditions as well as the Dead rabbits.
I filled out and posted a POST-SEIZURE NOTICE for 597.1 and 8.08.060 for the Live rabbits.
471, 460 and myself began processing and impounding the live rabbits. Using the number cards I had placed on the cages, each rabbit was ID’d by color and ear tattoo if they had one, and individually boxed for transport. Obvious injuries and signs of illness were also noted so that the Shelter Vet could be notified of their immediate need for evaluation and care.

The property owner arrived. The property owner said that he did not realize the rabbits were in such poor conditions since this is a self care boarding property and he doesn’t have contact or care for the boarders animals. I asked him when the last time he heard from the rabbit owner. He said that it was Wednesday or Thursday of last week (4 to 5 days ago) he last saw her on the property.

Once all of the live rabbits were removed and ready to transport, we documented and ID’d the dead rabbits inside the tent, near the outside corner of the tent and on the creek bank.
A Grand Total of 66 live rabbits were removed from the tent, 6 dead rabbits were removed from the tent, 2 dead rabbits were removed from the outside of the tent and 8 rabbits were removed from the creek bank.

It took all three of our dog trucks to transport all those rabbits to the shelter. The ACAs had done a awesome job setting up the stalls in the shelter's barn with cages to house the rabbits. And they had unloaded 471's truck already and were waiting to help unload 460 and my trucks.

It took us about 5 hours to load the rabbits from the scene and a couple more to unload. Then a couple hours for 460 and I to input all the rabbits into the computer and make pen cards for each one.

The vet checked the rabbits that we had alerted her to needing immediate attention first. Unfortunately about 5 rabbits needed to be PTS because they were in such poor health. Then the vet checked the rest. She determined that the rest needed basic care, good food and water and they would be fine.

We tried everything to locate the owner. Including the media. This case, as well as another ACO's case about 20-plus abandoned cats at a church, hit the news in hopes that someone would see the stories and know something more. No such luck.

Our local Rabbit Rescue FUR stepped in to help with the care, socialization, assessment and the soon to be adoption promotion for the rabbits while they were in our care at the shelter.

The rabbits would be available for adoption around Easter time, BUT it's not our policy to adopt out during Easter. For the obvious reasons. Rabbits could be adopted but wouldn't be able to go home until after Easter, and after they were spayed and neutered.

I'm very please to report that ALL the rabbits got adopted, and none have been returned.

FURR and the Shelter Staff did a fabulous job of promoting and screening the adoptions.

Red Dog

Red Dog was mentioned in previous story Eat My Face. And the following post about Cops and Dogs I of coarse mentioned, well cops and dogs.

Now I guess you could say both of those stories have blended together in Red Dog's story.

As I previous mentioned. Red Dog was not a very friendly dog. Well Red Dog's owner bailed her dogs out of "doggie jail" after that Sunday incident. All 5 dogs. Ya, I know County Regulations are they can only own 4. Don't ask me how that flew out the shelter door. Not my call.
Well exactly 2 weeks later, on a Sunday AGAIN, we get another call. SSD again with several pit bulls loose and aggressive. They were chasing people and had attacked a couple cats, killing one and the other one was not located yet. As I was responding, I kept getting different reports, 2 dogs, 5 dogs, 3 one seemed to be able to nail down how many dogs there actually were.
I arrived on scene to 5-6 SSD cruisers blocking off the Court where they thought they had all the dogs sort of contained.
I already had this nagging feeling, 3 to 5 dogs, pit bulls, the location. I just knew it.
I made contact with the Lt. on scene. She told me that there was one dog that was in a yard to the left side and two more at the end of the court. They weren't sure of their exact location. I told her I thought I might know the dogs and quickly explained.
I decided to go for the easy one dog first.
Catch pole in hand, compared to the shotgun and pepper ball gun armed SSDs, I went into the backyard. All the residents had already been told to stay in their homes and bring their own pets in. I was kind of hoping I was wrong about the dogs. Sure enough, Daisy peeked through a broken fence board at me. Daisy had been Red Dog's partner in wanting to eat my face. Today though she pretty much walked into my catch pole loop. But then I knew her name and yelled it at her. She knew she was busted and wasn't giving he any fight. I was actually able to put a leash on her and get her loaded in my truck. Officer 477, was also on her way to the area from across town, in case I needed help with multiple dogs.
So now I knew what or rather who I was up against. There were still four dogs unaccounted for, Tiny, Moomoo, Tiger and Red Dog.
I then went after the two dogs that were somewhere at the end of the court. In backyards. I need to mention that all of the houses on this court are quite nice, but their fences are crap. Falling down, full of holes, fence boards missing. Only one house had an actual nice new fence, except they had NO GATE.
Well, A couple of the SSDs helped me try to locate the missing dogs. We searched several backyards. I was about the give up when I decided to give a look behind a shed in the back corner of one yard. Sure enough I found Moomoo. She tried to charge out at me then cowered back in her hiding spot snarling at me. She screamed and alligator rolled when I catch poled her. You would have thought I was killing her. She fought me the whole way to the truck. I would stop and let her settle down and try to not let her choke.
Dogs will do that, twist and do the alligator roll trying to get away. We have to be able to know how to calmly deal with that.
I finally got her loaded and went back to double check the area behind the shed. I found Tiny. While I was struggling with Moomoo, Tiny had been right there, under a tarp covered BBQ inched from my legs. If he had wanted to, he could have bitten me. But he didn't and he let me put a leash on him and quietly walked with me to the truck. Complete opposite personality than Moomoo. He had also been the easy one from the call 2 weeks prior.
So now the question was, where are Tiger and Red Dog? Because of the prior history. I knew exactly where they lived. I had done the fence inspection, twice. I had failed it the first time and it passed the second time. Who knew that the owner wasn't going to separate the dogs like she said, and they were going to chew a hole through a 2x4 fence board and get out. The yard had been secured when I had inspected in and the owner had assured me that the young dogs would be separated from the older dogs. But with 5 dogs, 3 of which are barely a year old barely socialized and bored puppies, and an owner who is naive to the problem, shit happens.
I told the SSDs that I knew where the dogs lived and 2 cruisers and I headed over the the dog owners house. I called my Senior and asked him to look up the owner's phone number and advised him of what was going on. we arrived at the house and no one was home. No one except Tiger, who was barking from the backyard.
One of the SSD's was with me as we walked back from the side gate to the front door, the other one was still in his car advising the other units that we located one of the dogs at home.
Just as I was telling the SSD that I was concerned the Red Dog wasn't there and he was the worst of the pack, we had turned to head back to our vehicles. Red Dog came snarling and charging up from out of no where towards us. The SSD reached for his sidearm and I yelled "Red NO!" I guess this was enough at that moment to send him past us and off in the opposite direction of where he came from. And the chase was back on. The other unit took off and so was the SSD who had been with me.
I had to get to my truck, turn it around on this small residential street and follow. I was only what seemed like a minute behind the cruisers but they had faster more maneuverable vehicles than my truck. I had neighbors pointing the direction that they all went. I followed. I got a phone call from my Senior that the owner had been located and she was on her way. I saw a cruiser pull into the parking lot of the shopping center behind the houses and sped in that direction.
Just as I turned and pulled into the driveway of the parking lot I saw Red Dog charge out of the bushes along the retaining wall running towards an SSD with a shotgun. Two shots.
Red Dog went down.
It was over very quickly.

I went to Red Dog and checked for a pulse, even though I knew he was gone. Red was dead.
About that time I also got word that 477 had gotten to the original scene and had been found the severely injured cat. She had transported it to the Vet, but it died when she got there.
She arrived at my location at this point.
The SSD had another Lt arrive and a CSI was en route due to shots being fired. They had to process the scene. So all we could do at this point was stand by.
Then the owner arrived.
She didn't know what had happened at first. Since I had been in contact with her before I took her aside and told her what had happened. When I got to the point of what happened to Red Dog. She went hysterical. I was able to get her to calm down. And she did have a family member with her. But then she would get upset again. Especially when the Lt was trying to talk to her.
She wanted to see Red Dog. But we couldn't let her at that point. This upset her even more. I finally got her to go sit in her family member's vehicle. I thought I had gotten her calmed down. Then she would start screaming out the window at the SSDs.
I won't go into the details much other that the owner, in her state most likely wasn't thinking clearly. She did end up going to jail for the night because she wouldn't follow what the SSDs asked her to do, basically to calm down and wait until CSI and the Lt finished clearing the scene. And the little matter of trying to kick the Lt in the nards, three times. He even had her shoe print on his thigh.
I did feel for her. And do understand this, she is not what you would think of as a "typical pit bull owner". She is actually a very nice, professional woman.
When the scene was finally cleared, 477 and I carefully bagged Red Dog and loaded him into my truck.
I transported all the back to the shelter for intake.

A few days later the dog owner is at the shelter to try to get her dogs back. I let her know that she will have to have another yard inspection. I went back to the house and wrote out all the things that must be done before she could get any of the dogs back. Reinforced wire would need to be installed around the entire perimeter of the yard, so that the dogs cannot chew fence boards. As well as cement along the base of the wooden portions of the fence. Electric fence wire at bottom and midway up fence to keep dogs away from digging under or jumping or climbing on fence.
She was able to get family members together to help her do this over the following weekend.
I reinspected and she had done everything I had said. I didn't speak to her, but a family member since the owner had to be at work. The family member told me that she wished that the owner didn't have so many dogs. That she is overwhelmed with everything going on in her life and that is why the dogs are the way they are. She doesn't have time to socialize 4 large dogs and take them to training classes. I told her that maybe she should discuss this with the owner. The family member also asked me about my opinion of the behavior of the dogs. And I was frank with her.
Then I met with the dog at the shelter again.

Three dogs in the shelter, one at home. She now had the legal limit. She had talked to her family and now she asked me what I would recommend. I told her that I couldn't make this decision for her. I did recommend to her that she should consider only having two dogs at home. Her first possible choice was to allow Tiny to be put up for adoption. He was young, friendly, even in a shelter enviroment, the most social and probably the most trainable. With work he would probably be a really good dog for someone who could spend time with him. Her second choice was to have Moomoo Humanely Euth'd. The behavior she exhibited outside and inside the shelter indicated that she is very unsocial and unhandleable. A fear biter in the least. The owner was adamant about getting Daisy back home. She wasn't going to budge on that one. We didn't even discuss her since the owner made it know Daisy must come home.
In the end she decided to say goodbye to Moomoo.

Both Red Dog and his daughter, Moomoo,were picked up by the owner's family members and taken to their property in the foothills for burial.

It's a tragedy that all of this happened.

It's Been Awhile

It's been awhile since I have been able to write anything. Life, work and well Life. Anyway, I'm going to try to get some more put up here. I actually have a LOT of stories drafted to share. So stay tuned.