Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Be Afraid....Very Afraid

The following email is a great example of the biggest problem regarding legislating the breeding/care of dogs - its enforcement by overzealous animal control officers, who may be card-carrying PeTA and/or HSUS fans (or fanatics).
Dear Friends and fellow dog fanciers,

I have sent the complaint below to the following individuals. I consider this to be a learning experience for myself and anyone who owns and loves dogs. Please feel free to forward this message to your friends, family and fellow dog owners. If you are as outraged as I am after reading this, I encourage you to voice your displeasure. Again, cross posting and forwarding is highly encouraged. Feel free to CC me if you like, should you decide to email any city officials. Thank you all so much for your support and suggestions so far. I am staying strong and counting my blessings.

Thea Charrette

Mayor John Insalaco
Phone: (480) 982-8002
Fax: (480) 982-7018

Chief of Police Jerald Monahan
Phone: (480) 982-8260
Fax: (480) 474-5489
EMAIL: jmonahan@ajcity. net

Community Relations Manager, Mr. Pat Brenner
Phone: (480) 474-5080
Fax: (480) 474-5110
EMAIL: pbrenner@ajcity. net

City Manager, Mr. George Hoffman
EMAIL: citymanager@ ajcity.net

County Manager Mr. Terry Doolittle
EMAIL: terry.doolittle@
pinalcounty. gov

Dear Sirs,
On November 9, 2008, Animal Control Officer Debra Sullivan came to my home within the city limits of Apache Junction. The following is as brief a description as possible of my interaction with her on that day and subsequent days. In my opinion and the opinion of legal counsel as well as the Legislative Director of my purebred dog parent club, Officer Sullivan has abused her power, exceeded her authority and harassed me. She has, by way of fear tactics and intimidation, deprived me of my
legitimate service animal. She has caused me severe mental distress. Pain from my physical disability has greatly worsened since I am without my service animal.

A brief description of me: I am a 42 year old, physically disabled woman. I have never been in any sort of trouble. I work full time as a social worker in addition to volunteering my services as an experienced Level 3 Advocate to families with children with severe disabilities. For 10+ years I have been involved in purebred dog sports, both in AKC conformation and the sport of Schutzhund. I am the Education Chairperson for a local Doberman Pinscher Specialty Club. I also serve on the Board of Directors for this large and very active club. I could not serve in any of these capacities if I were an irresponsible dog owner, "back yard breeder" or "puppy mill" as Officer Sullivan suggests. As a member of the purebred dog community, my peers and mentors scrutinize me. I welcome watchful eyes as well as constructive criticism.

In my life I have planned, produced and raised 1 (ONE) litter of purebred Doberman Pinschers. I assure you that no expense of time, money or emotion was spared in
reference to the health and well-being of the puppies and the parents. The puppies not meant for conformation or working dog sport have been placed on strict spay and neuter contracts. Both the sire and dam were extensively health tested and temperament tested. The sire of the litter is an AKC Champion, the dam, an International Champion. They are 3.5 and 4.5 years old, respectively.

It is my position that Officer Sullivan has allowed her personal opinions and beliefs to overshadow her duties to the City of Apache Junction and it's citizen's. Her comments and name-calling appear very much so aligned with animal rights extremist groups that ultimately want to deprive American Citizens of their right to own companion and service animals. I wish for this communication to be considered a formal complaint.

Further consultation with legal counsel will determine my plan of action. I hope to settle this issue in a timely fashion, with an outcome that we can all agree upon.

Thea Charrette
PO Box 475
Apache Junction, AZ 85217
(602) 705-9747 mobile
tcharrette@msn. com

The officer arrived at my gate and inquired about my litter of 6 approximately 10 wk old puppies eating and playing out of doors in their shaded 8' by 24' chain link area. The animal control officer gave me an ultimatum: let her on my property or she was going to get a search warrant. Initially, I refused and she called another police officer to the property. Before the second officer arrived, I allowed her in my gate. Officer Sullivan's first complaint was that the puppies were not kept on cement. Their substrate was pea gravel/packed dirt and cement pavers-as per my mentor and breeder education classes I have attended.

At the time they were eating and had a fresh bucket of bottled water. Puppies ears were taped up in cups, 6 days post crop as is considered common and humane practice. She told me that cropping was cruel and unnecessary. I told her that I exhibit Dobermans in AKC conformation events. She informed me that Dobermans can be shown with their ears intact. I did not argue but did wonder (to myself) the last time she may have invested the time, resources and commitment necessary to earn a Doberman Championship. She wanted to know why the puppies were not wearing Elizabethan collars to prevent them from getting dirty and scratching themselves. No knowledgeable veterinarian will utilize an "E" collar after ear cropping. Cups were dingy, however no one was scratching and they were not experiencing any discomfort. Although Officer Sullivan was standing approximately 6 feet away from the puppies, she said the puppies ears were infected. Officer Sullivan then spoke very loud and angrily at me. She said I was nothing but a puppy mill and a back yard breeder. By her words and
actions, she led me to believe that I had done something terribly illegal.

She proceeded to tell me that she was confiscating the puppies and began walking toward their play area. I asked (begged) what I could to to prevent that action? She said I would be required to take the puppies to the vet of her choice to have the sutures removed ASAP and to verify the condition of the puppies. The officer said she would most likely meet me at the vets office. Furthermore the officer said that all of the puppies would be placed in homes with the help of a rescue and under her direct supervision/ approval. I explained that some of the puppies were already spoken for. She said it did not matter and that I had to do it her way or she would take the puppies immediately. I felt I had no other alternative than to agree to her terms.

(During the night I had a change of heart. While it was still dark, I loaded all of the puppies in my vehicle and drove around until I could get an appointment with my vet. A technician at MY vet's office removed the sutures. The vet examined the puppies and wrote a letter indicating they were happy, healthy, normal puppies in good weight with no abnormalities. My invoice shows 6 suture removals and no prescribed antibiotics. ) Officer Sullivan threatened to remove every dog from my property if I refused to show her the dogs in my home. I allowed her inside my home. My house was less than perfect. I work full time, advocate for children with disabilities, train dogs and devote myself to Doberman/dog related activities; an immaculate home is not on my list of priorities. She was extremely critical. To make things worse, I delivered a rescue dog 130 miles away the day before. When I returned home the kitchen was flooded from a broken pipe. The kitchen was very cluttered as I had to remove everything from a long bank of cupboards and place the items on the kitchen counter.

She told me I should not be breeding Dobermans as they have health and temperament problems. I assured her that both the sire and dam of the litter earned their Working Aptitude Certificates from the Doberman Pinscher Club of America and that both were extensively health tested (eyes, hips, elbows, heart, liver function, thyroid and vWD testing). She responded by saying that none of that matters - there are too many dogs in the world.

Here is her list of complaints in regards to the adult dogs:
1) Crates too small. The rescue gals have the typical crate that we see Dobermans in at shows. Their previous crates allowed them to get up, turn around, stand, stretch and lie down fully. My male is in a Great Dane size crate. She told me that all the crates needed to be about that size and I have upgraded their crates.
2) Some crates are covered. She said this is inhumane as the dog is in the dark. (Remember, these are sheets covering the crates-not heavy blankets.
3) We have too many dogs. We have (or had) six adults, including a rescue Malamute and our Champion males sister, who through no fault of her breeder suffered a traumatic brain injury as a young puppy. She looked at this dog which was treated for seizures and bouts of valley fever. I admitted that she was indeed losing her quality of life. She strongly suggested euthanasia and informed me that she was certified to perform the procedure. I told her I would take care of it on my own. The officer said she wanted proof that I did so humanely. I attempted to schedule an appointment with a nearby vet the next day but he was unavailable. So, I took my happy and special girl to animal control on Tuesday to be put to sleep (prematurely in my opinion and
certainly NOT on my terms). The young man that performed the procedure was very kind. He saw to it that "Precious" was warm, clean and kept her dignity. He allowed me to lie on the floor to hold and comfort her as she passed, although she did not cross willingly or easily. I took her body to the animal mortuary in Apache Junction to be cremated. She will come home in a little box in a few days. (The Malamute I took to a no-kill shelter. I feel she went from being the best friend and truly gentle playmate of our delayed girl Doberman to a statistic. I am heartbroken and so ashamed, I have never turned an animal into a shelter.)
4) Officer Sullivan looked at the dam of my litter and asked me how many litters I would "force the bitch to have". I explained that this would be her only litter as I felt I had two very nice show/working puppies and that breeding the bitch again would be unnecessary. She told me that I need to have the bitch spayed.
5) She looked at my AKC Champion male. She said she wouldn't know a show dog from any other dog but that he did indeed look like a show dog. I showed her his Doberman Digest pages and cover, photos, awards, etc. She got on her knees (in his face) to pet him and agreed that he was beautiful and very sweet. She told me that she's sure I breed him often. I told her that he is 3.5 years old, this is the only litter he has ever sired, despite his pedigree and that I am extremely conservative in reference to breeding him or any animal. She insisted that I must breed him often as "he is a beautiful stud" and suggested that I probably get a lot of money for studding him. I told her those types of things can be verified via the AKC website and DobeQuest. She said I probably breed him to unregistered bitches and that he should be neutered.

That night I took my male to a friend for safe keeping. I miss him dearly and feel like a part of me is missing. This dog is not just an AKC Champion, he is my service animal. I have all of the necessary documentation from my family physician that indicates a medical need for a service animal. I have never abused the privilege of having a service animal. I am petrified that Animal Control would confiscate him and turn him over to a rescue.

I spoke with the officer on Monday. I told her that the puppies are no longer on the premises and they have been placed into responsible homes of my choice. She said I must tell her where they are. I refused. Officer Sullivan threatened me by saying that she would have to cite me for selling puppies without a business license. I have not received a single dollar for any of the puppies. Officer Sullivan informed me that I had 7 "bark complaints" in the past 6 or 7 weeks. I asked her why I was not notified of this problem before. She stated that they have been out to my property before but I did not answer the door. I asked why I was not notified by mail. She did not answer me.

On Tuesday I provided officer Sullivan with the following:
The letter from my veterinarian and my invoice.
My males Dobequest information.
The Doberman Pinscher Club of America "DPCA" code of ethics.
The completed interactive form on litter costs from the DPCA website.
Several pages from the DPCA public ed. site.
A copy of the 7 page puppy questionnaire I utilize as a screening tool.

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