Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 28, 2004 · Page 4
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Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page 4

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Thursday, October 28, 2004
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I CRUEL CAGES HORRORS Continued from Preceding Page down. "They said he was unpredictable and he was too old," said Carpino , of the Northeast. "Why didn't you tell me that when I dropped him off instead of feeding me that line of BS?" she demanded. "Had they told me they would destroy him, I never would have left him there. I feel very responsible for my dog's death. I feel like I let him down." He was "not suitable for adoption," said Miller. Erick, 25 minutes Stanley Wojciak brought in his 4-year-old beagle, Erick, because he had to move. "They said, 'We'll find a good home for him.' I left him here," said Wojciak. He drove away, changed his mind and returned in 25 minutes. He was told Erick was already dead. Wojciak "started crying" and demanded his dog. He said the attendant said Erick had growled and they decided to put him down. Just like that. When they brought out Erick's body, it was still warm. He was "snappy" around medi- Lisa Carpino (left) dropped off Winston (above) atPACCAfor adoption, but the dog was put down. Sage (below) was at facility for only 1 minute before meeting same fate. JESSICA GRIFFINDaily News mm cal staff, said Miller. Sage, 1 minute In Port Richmond, Martin Thomas' 1-year- old American bulldog named Sage got out of his yard on Aug. 6. Martin searched for the dog, which wore a collar with a rabies tag and his owner's cellphone number, he said. Thomas, 31, put up fliers in the neighborhood and went to PACCA, told them of his missing dog and was allowed to walk in- PACCA vs. SPCA What are the roles of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Association? In 2002, PACCA was created and funded by the city to catch stray domestic and wild animals, to investigate cases of barking dogs and owners who don't clean up after them and to capture dogs that have bitten someone. It also accepts animals that owners wish to surrender and adopts animals out. 215-685-9040. The SPCA adopts animals out, it investigates cases of animal cruelty, it picks up injured strays and runs a medical clinic. 215-426-6304. PACCA offers no medical treatment for animals. StuBykofsky BYKOFSKY Continued from Preceding Page rus for dogs and upper respiratory infection for cats have swept the kennels. The city doesn't give PACCA enough money to do its job right. - A screwed-up telephone system makes reaching PACCA difficult, with calls being shunted to City Hall operators who complain of the added worklo ad and not having answers to questions they're asked. - A staff salted with relatives and friends of the boss results in favoritism and no consequenc es for poor performanc e. PACCA Executive Director George Stem has been fighting a brain tumor for more than a year and hasn't been focused on his job, said several staffers. Before he was hired to run the 50-per son PACCA, he had been a middle manager supervising 20 people at the SPCA. By several accounts, Stem is a well-meaning man in over his head. Stem had surgery last Thursday and was unavailable for comment. Frank O'Donnell, who is a retired Health Department deputy commis sioner and a $77,760 PACCA consultant, was named interim director that day. Stem created togetherness Stem may have created management problems for himself by larding the PACCA staff with a long list of family, friends and family of the friends. Stem's wife, Mary, is a PACCA volunteer who wields unusual clout, say my sources. Stem's son, Robert Stem, is a driver. Stem's brother-in-la w, Terry Phillips, is an animal- control officer. Phillips' girlfriend, Antoinette Drake, is an adoption specialist. Stem's sister-in-la w, Ann Boyd, is a clerk. Darlene Sosa, a friend of Stem's who worked with him at the SPCA as a driver, had no management experienc e yet was put in charge of animal control officers. She gave orders for Stem when he was ailing, I am told. She is preparing to go on maternity leave. When she does, she will leave behind three relatives: Husband David Sosa is an animal control officer; brother-in-law Santiago Sosa works in the kennels; brother Robert Burton is a utility driver. Health Department Deputy Commis sioner Carmen Paris, an animal lover put in charge of su pervising PACCA two years ago, said she "inherited" the nepotism and has "put a complete stop to the practice." Both staffers and visitor s tell stories about some PACCA employees smoking , drinking soda and generally goofing off at the shelter at 111 W. Hunting Park Ave. with no appar ent fear of management. "The favoritism comes into play," one PACCA staffer told me. "We actually have people working there who are afraid of animals and other people who have jobs but don't work. They are just drawing a paycheck." Everyone works hard Paris said that everyone at the shelter works hard, that "we're doing way beyond what is the right thing to do." From what I hear, Paris does that. Visitor s tell me some staffers are cordial and caring, but many others are not. Following an Oct. 13 Daily News Page One story about a dog that was wrongly euthanized within nine minutes of arriving at PACCA, I received dozens of calls and e-mails citing in-competenc e and rudenes s on the part of PACCA staffers and indifference to clients and animals. A half-dozen animal lovers tell me their pets were ruthles sly put down in the PACCA House of Horrors in record time or brutally handled. Logan's Audrey Stansbury said she and her daughter Jane brought in a feral cat and four kittens in late August, seeking "a sheltered environment." When they arrived at 7 p.m., they found "all employees outside smoking , eating, whatever. Two in front and two on the side and no one inside ," according to Stansbury . When an attendant arrived, "He grabs the mother cat by her head and neck, not gently, and threw her into a crate and slammed the box down without looking to see if she was OK," said Stansbury . She quickly vol- to the kennel to look for her. A few days later, he learned that the dog had been picked up by police and brought to PACCA on the same day she got out. Thomas got the police report and went to PACCA to get his dog. A PACCA staffer claimed Sage was never brought in. Thomas produced the police report. After hemming and hawing, he said, the staffer said Sage was put down. "The police report says the dog was brought in at 9:05, the death certificate was for 9:06," Thomas said. Miller could find no record of this case . One minute. Sebastian, 5 minutes About two years ago, Laura Heffner brought in her mom's handsome, 7-year-old purebred chow, Sebastian. Carol White, 50, said her daughter told the clerk, "We want a good home for him, If you can't, call us and let us know, and we will take him back." Heffner, 22, called White about five minutes later to say she had dropped Sebastian off. Guilt-strick en, her mom said to Continued on Next Page unteered to put the 4-week-old kittens in the cage herself. "He said, 'I don't have time for this s ,' he grabbed them by legs, tail, whatever, and threw them into a cage." The PACCA kill rate In the fiscal year ending June 30, PACCA put down some 22,500 dogs and cats of the 34,800 animals received, said Paris. This included 13,000 that were consider ed "not adoptable" because of age, medical condition or temper ament. Or because they arrived dead. The "kill rate" is two-thirds of the animals taken in, yet still within "norms" outlined to me by the ASPC A and the Humane Society of the United States. The dirty little secret of "shelters" is they are animal slaughterhouses, forced by lack of space to put down animals to make room for new animals coming in. See BYKOFSKY Next Page PAGE 4 PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2004

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