Monday, December 27, 2010

15 dogs rescued in Warwick after being left in the cold

From WJAR

One by one, 15 pit bulls were led from the windswept woods and into dog crates Monday.
The canines were plucked from a piece of land off Tolgate Road in Warwick.  "They were kept outside, so it wasn't adequate conditions for them, seeing they don't have much hair," said Ann Corvin of the city's animal shelter.  "I understand some of the dogs were chained to trees and not necessarily having shelter, others were chained to shelters.  I was horrified, it was incredulous that anything like that could happen," added City Council President Bruce Place.
Place said constituents alerted him to a possible problem late last week and he after the weekend blizzard he dropped a dime to police.  On Monday afternoon police and animal control officers acted.
The dog’s owner, identified by police as Clifford Dennis, was seen confronting officers, at one point yelling, "You’re stealing my dogs."  All 15 are now at the city's animal shelter and the director says they're in good health and will most likely go up for adoption.
For city councilor Place, this is how government can do well.  "It's been a nice Christmas for me because I know 15 animals are alive today because we took some action."

Update January 25, 2011 11:50am - The following article is by John Howell, Warwick Beacon:

City drops 1 count, pursues charges on lack of shelter for pit bulls rescued from blizzard

Clifford Dennis says he will find homes for the 15 pit pulls police rescued from a wooded area near Kent Hospital during the Dec. 27 blizzard, but that doesn’t let him off charges that the dogs weren’t properly sheltered under city law. If found guilty, he faces fines of $100 per dog.

Dennis, 47, who last gave his address as 66 Potowomut Road, appeared Thursday evening before Municipal Court Judge Joel Gerstenblatt on a multitude of charges including not having the dogs licensed, not having them vaccinated and having more than three dogs in violation of city ordinances. Attorney Joseph Patriarca represented him.

Gerstenblatt dismissed the charge on having more than three dogs on grounds that the ordinance refers to keeping them in a domicile. The former Allen Farm where Dennis had the dogs chained to stakes beside meager shelters is not his property. There is a vacant house and a trailer on the land, but technically not a dwelling premise as defined by the law, city prosecutor Kerry Rafanelli explained after the hearing.

“This is a gray area. They were in a field, not a dwelling,” he said.

City Council President Bruce Place, who brought the complaint against Dennis on Dec. 27, was disappointed that the charges on having more than three dogs was dropped. Yet, he said, had action not been taken during the blizzard, the outcome for the animals, especially given this week’s frigid conditions may have been far worse.

“This could be a blessing in disguise before some real tragedy happened,” he said.

As for the law, Place is looking for a review of all city pet ordinances for the purpose of its intent and if it requires amendment or new legislation. On a broader scale, he said he would be talking with Rep. Jan Malik of Warren this week.

“If nothing else, all of this publicity has focused our eyes on some problems we can fix,” he said.

He said Malik is interested in the uniformity of state code as it applies to the cruelty of animals in particular.

Dennis provided documents after Dec. 27 showing that the dogs had been vaccinated and that they were due booster rabies shots as of last Friday, the day following the court hearing. Rafanelli said neither the charges on licensing nor vaccination would be dropped until Dennis could show the dogs had been licensed and vaccinated.

As explained to Gernstenblatt by Sgt. Robert Rocco, Dennis will be permitted to pick up three dogs at a time from the Animal Shelter as he proves he meets the licensing and vaccination requirements.

Asked after the hearing where he plans to take the animals, Dennis said he has already had a number of requests to adopt the dogs, including some from Warwick police officers. He said he intends to keep three of the pit bulls and that they would be located on the Allen property. He has told police he serves as a caretaker for the land and that he is allowed to cut wood there.

“I have a lot of people who want dogs,” Dennis said.

Some of the pit bulls have already been adopted from the Animal Shelter. Rocco said Dennis agreed to the adoption of two dogs.

Dennis countered negative publicity that has surrounded the incident, pointing out, as police and the shelter have said, that the dogs are healthy. He also maintained that the straw in their shelters provided insulation from the cold and that chains were 14 feet long, not the six feet as reported.

Rocco questioned the adequacy of the shelters. He said they were so small that a dog could not find protection from the cold. In addition, he said police found no food or water when they took the animals.

“They didn’t need vet care,” Dennis said to support his contention that the dogs were well cared for. He also said the trailer and the house on the Allen property had heat, a contention questioned by Rocco.

The city’s case on the charge of improperly sheltering the dogs hinges on specifications of the law relating to time, food and water and temperature as defined as being “beyond a weather safety scale” as set by the Tufts Animal Care and Conditions Scale. Under the law, the city will need to show that Dennis kept the dogs tethered without access to adequate shelter, water and food for more than 30 minutes. The Tufts scale takes into consideration a dog’s size, whether it is longhaired or shorthaired and its body fat.

A trial on the sheltering of the dogs is set for Feb. 17 at 6 p.m.

6 comments:

  1. Is it possible those pit bulls may have grown accustomed to living outside in the elements? None of them were reported as being sick. None were reported to be underfed or malnourished in any way. And none were physically abused nor beaten nor aggressive. No evidence had been found, either, that the man was breeding them or using them for dog-fights. I had seen the video and the dogs appeared very healthy, happy and even comfortable out there in the cold. I think that man may have had his rights violated. He hadn't even been given a warning. Is that right? Dogs that live outside pulling sleds in Alaska - they seem healthy and happy! Would you consider them abused because they live outside? They're accustomed to living outside just like deer, squirrels and other short-furred animals are around here! I think those pit-bulls may have grown accustomed to living outside, simple as that! I can see abuse if the dogs had been living indoors and were left outside in the blizzard, then found sick and malnourished. But that wasn't the case. The dogs had been living outside and were fine. I know many of you dog-owners think the pit bulls were abused, but the dogs were reported to have been living outside and were found to be healthy, happy and considered ready for adoption. I find it strange that the Warwick Animal Shelter that has them now is sooo eager to place them in homes when pit bulls are not even considered to make the best pets. You know? It's the truth! As to me, well... I feed birds and squirrels. I feed them everyday outside even d uring the winter. The squirrels have short fur and still seem to be just fine. I was feeding them when we had the blizzard. They were fine, not abused. I keep a heated bird bath out there as well where they drink from it everyday along with birds, crows, seagulls and even hawks! I don't know how they all survive in the brutal winter temperatures and seering hot, summers. But they do just fine and also find their own foods without relying on man.

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  2. There is more to this than what has been told. What that is, I have no idea.
    I can say that, to me, it is unusual for a person or persons to call a city council member to report animal problems. Wouldn't you call animal control first?
    I feel that someone with 'political' connections had a problem with the owner and used their connection to 'get even'.
    That said, I don't feel that ANY dog should be left chained outdoors, without shelter, in a blizzard.
    The sled dog example you use does not apply here. Sled dogs are heavy-coated dogs and are not pets.
    While I appreciate that the dogs were healthy and not aggressive, why would you have 15 Pit Bulls just to chain them to trees?
    Yes, I have seven, but they ARE pets and all live indoors with me.
    I also agree that Mr. Dennis' rights were violated, as property is not supposed to be taken without due process of law, which in this case doesn't appear to have happened.
    Is there a limit on the number of dogs that may be kept by an individual within Warwick city limits?
    Even if, there should have been a notice given and a time-frame in which to comply.

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  3. There is a limit of 3 dogs in the city of Warwick. In addition, Mr. Dennis has been cited and fined before for similar violations. This was not his "first strike" so to speak. He does not even own the property on which the dogs were being kept.

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  4. There is a limit of 3 dogs in the city of Warwick. In addition, Mr. Dennis has been cited and fined before for similar violations. This was not his "first strike" so to speak. He does not even own the property on which the dogs were being kept.

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  5. Is it possible those pit bulls may have grown accustomed to living outside in the elements? None of them were reported as being sick. None were reported to be underfed or malnourished in any way. And none were physically abused nor beaten nor aggressive. No evidence had been found, either, that the man was breeding them or using them for dog-fights. I had seen the video and the dogs appeared very healthy, happy and even comfortable out there in the cold. I think that man may have had his rights violated. He hadn't even been given a warning. Is that right? Dogs that live outside pulling sleds in Alaska - they seem healthy and happy! Would you consider them abused because they live outside? They're accustomed to living outside just like deer, squirrels and other short-furred animals are around here! I think those pit-bulls may have grown accustomed to living outside, simple as that! I can see abuse if the dogs had been living indoors and were left outside in the blizzard, then found sick and malnourished. But that wasn't the case. The dogs had been living outside and were fine. I know many of you dog-owners think the pit bulls were abused, but the dogs were reported to have been living outside and were found to be healthy, happy and considered ready for adoption. I find it strange that the Warwick Animal Shelter that has them now is sooo eager to place them in homes when pit bulls are not even considered to make the best pets. You know? It's the truth! As to me, well... I feed birds and squirrels. I feed them everyday outside even d uring the winter. The squirrels have short fur and still seem to be just fine. I was feeding them when we had the blizzard. They were fine, not abused. I keep a heated bird bath out there as well where they drink from it everyday along with birds, crows, seagulls and even hawks! I don't know how they all survive in the brutal winter temperatures and seering hot, summers. But they do just fine and also find their own foods without relying on man.

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  6. Northern breeds of dogs have very thick undercoats and body fat that allow them to stay safe in heavy snow. Pitbulls are not bred to pull sleds and have no undercoats, short thin fur and low bodyfat. Therefore they would have been unlikely to survive the blizzard. None of these dogs has been reported to be "happy" either.

    Second, it is not violating his rights, when he is breaking the law. The dogs weren't on his property and he is not allowed to have that many dogs and he has to keep records of their vaccinations.

    The dogs are not being adopted out and won't be until due process of the law has taken place. If he is found innocent he will get them back, but I really hope that we can protect these dogs from this thug. The situation is worse than it sounds in the news,

    ReplyDelete

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