News

Animal shelter workers to be charged in deaths of 7 pups

Canines died while being transported by Pets in Need employees to Palo Alto Animal Shelter

A volunteer with Pets in Need gives treats to dogs up for adoption in the no-kill shelter in Palo Alto in 2019. Embarcadero Media file photo.

Pets in Need, Palo Alto's contracted animal services agency, is a no-kill shelter, but three of its employees have now been cited and are being charged with animal cruelty and neglect in the deaths of seven puppies, a press release from Palo Alto police stated Tuesday.

The puppies died during transport from the Central Valley on Aug. 2. The three employees had taken a Pets in Need van, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, to the Central Valley to pick up extra animals that could not be accommodated at other shelters or that were not successfully adopted. The transport trips are a routine activity for Pets In Need, which brings the animals to its local facilities to put up for adoption, police said.

The employees were gone for several hours during the Aug. 2 trip and had picked up 27 dogs including the puppies. The young Labrador/pit bull-mix dogs were 3- to 4-month old siblings and weighed about 9 pounds each.

The van lacked air conditioning in the rear cargo area, and the employees did not provide water for the dogs during transport, police said. The temperature in the Central Valley that afternoon was in the range of 90 to 100 degrees.

The employees reported that none of the animals appeared distressed when they checked them during a stop for gas in Los Banos on the return to Palo Alto. When they arrived at the Palo Alto shelter at 3281 E. Bayshore Road, however, Pets In Need staff found seven puppies were unresponsive. The employees immediately summoned assistance from veterinary staff, who unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the puppies. All of the other dogs in the van survived, police stated.

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Following a police investigation, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office chose to file two misdemeanor charges — animal cruelty and neglect — against each of the three employees. A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge signed arrest warrants on Oct. 25, Detectives cited and released the employees on Oct. 26, per standard protocol for nonviolent misdemeanor warrants, police said.

The employees are Patricia Santana Valencia, 40, of East Palo Alto, Margaret C. Evans, 36, of Fremont and Ingrid Anne Hartmann, 45, of San Carlos. Since they were cited and not taken to jail, no booking photos are available, police said.

Pets In Need has operated the Palo Alto Animal Shelter since 2019 under a contract with the city of Palo Alto. The employees work for Pets In Need and not for the city of Palo Alto, police noted.

Pets in Need posted a statement on its website: "Pets In Need has been saving animals and conducting rescue runs for over 50 years.

"This was a tragic incident that has saddened the entire Pets In Need family."

City spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan-Taylor said in an email: "This is an extremely unfortunate incident for all involved. The city will continue to support the District Attorney and Pets In Need as the parties work through this difficult situation."

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Animal shelter workers to be charged in deaths of 7 pups

Canines died while being transported by Pets in Need employees to Palo Alto Animal Shelter

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Oct 26, 2021, 5:51 pm
Updated: Wed, Oct 27, 2021, 7:04 pm

Pets in Need, Palo Alto's contracted animal services agency, is a no-kill shelter, but three of its employees have now been cited and are being charged with animal cruelty and neglect in the deaths of seven puppies, a press release from Palo Alto police stated Tuesday.

The puppies died during transport from the Central Valley on Aug. 2. The three employees had taken a Pets in Need van, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, to the Central Valley to pick up extra animals that could not be accommodated at other shelters or that were not successfully adopted. The transport trips are a routine activity for Pets In Need, which brings the animals to its local facilities to put up for adoption, police said.

The employees were gone for several hours during the Aug. 2 trip and had picked up 27 dogs including the puppies. The young Labrador/pit bull-mix dogs were 3- to 4-month old siblings and weighed about 9 pounds each.

The van lacked air conditioning in the rear cargo area, and the employees did not provide water for the dogs during transport, police said. The temperature in the Central Valley that afternoon was in the range of 90 to 100 degrees.

The employees reported that none of the animals appeared distressed when they checked them during a stop for gas in Los Banos on the return to Palo Alto. When they arrived at the Palo Alto shelter at 3281 E. Bayshore Road, however, Pets In Need staff found seven puppies were unresponsive. The employees immediately summoned assistance from veterinary staff, who unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the puppies. All of the other dogs in the van survived, police stated.

Following a police investigation, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office chose to file two misdemeanor charges — animal cruelty and neglect — against each of the three employees. A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge signed arrest warrants on Oct. 25, Detectives cited and released the employees on Oct. 26, per standard protocol for nonviolent misdemeanor warrants, police said.

The employees are Patricia Santana Valencia, 40, of East Palo Alto, Margaret C. Evans, 36, of Fremont and Ingrid Anne Hartmann, 45, of San Carlos. Since they were cited and not taken to jail, no booking photos are available, police said.

Pets In Need has operated the Palo Alto Animal Shelter since 2019 under a contract with the city of Palo Alto. The employees work for Pets In Need and not for the city of Palo Alto, police noted.

Pets in Need posted a statement on its website: "Pets In Need has been saving animals and conducting rescue runs for over 50 years.

"This was a tragic incident that has saddened the entire Pets In Need family."

City spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan-Taylor said in an email: "This is an extremely unfortunate incident for all involved. The city will continue to support the District Attorney and Pets In Need as the parties work through this difficult situation."

Comments

Miriam Palm
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2021 at 6:48 pm
Miriam Palm, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2021 at 6:48 pm

This is very disturbing news. Innocent animals not properly cared for. I am saddened by this report.


Violet Hernandez
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2021 at 7:45 pm
Violet Hernandez, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2021 at 7:45 pm

This is so SAD! I can't believe Pets In Need let this happen. Patty Santana is the shelter operations manager too! Will they really keep someone who committed such atrocities on staff?
Web Link


Citizen
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2021 at 6:40 am
Citizen, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 6:40 am

This is tragic. But I’m also really sad that these employees who are clearly engaged in doing something good for so many animals, would be put in this position of being sent to the Central Valley to pick up animals in a van that lacks A/C in the cargo area. I don’t know about you but if I were given a Mercedes van that was setup to regularly transport animals, to take a routine trip to a location that had never been a problem before, it wouldn’t immediately come to mind that it would lack A/C in the part of the van for the animals. It sounds like from the story that what they were doing was routine, so why this time? Was the AC malfunctioning? If it just lacked A/C, and this was routine, then why were they sent on such a hot day? Did those who handed over the puppies, who live in that hot area, know that the van didn’t have A/C in the back? If so, why did they not cancel the pickup since they live in such a hot place? Since it was so hot, could the puppies have already been dehydrated and stressed before even being put in the van?

I’m not arguing anyone’s case if there was neglect. But I am saying that we don’t know all the facts from this article, and the workers deserve to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Those are not just words. In this age of indelible internet news stories, and the way some people can overreact, it just strikes me that publicly pillorying these women like this could create more danger to them than the matter at issue.

I’m also very concerned for the ability of the shelter to retain employees and volunteers if they will be publicly pilloried if something goes wrong like this, before it’s determined whether they (or management or someone else) were responsible. It’s not enough to say the system will work out if they are innocent.

It just sounds to me like a tragedy; I withhold judgement on anything else.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:43 am
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:43 am

How sad and tragic for the puppies. If I was transferring puppies through a hot area, it would immediately come to my mind that the entire van had A/C. It's called responsibility. If you lack responsibility, there are consequences. Including being charged with animal cruelty and neglect. At best they should be fired. At worst, close the place down. No more needless suffering for the puppies. They deserve better.


Sandra
Registered user
another community
on Oct 27, 2021 at 9:47 am
Sandra, another community
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 9:47 am

Before it was outsourced to this Retail Rescue organization I worked at this wonderful little shelter with wonderful employees for 25 years. When the city of Palo Alto opted to outsource the shelter rather than continue to pay us and offer the high quality service we had since the 70s, we tried to tell the city council, the city manager, the city manager’s office and the Friends of Palo Alto Animal Shelter this was not the kind organization they wanted to do business with and represent the city. We tried for four years, every way we knew how. But when you don’t know anything about animals or animal shelters and all you care about is saving a buck, this is what happens. They’re not even saving any money. This outsourcing fiasco is actually costing them more than had they kept on people who knew what the were doing. Someone should actually investigate this. And now seven puppies died a horrific death. Seven 10 pound puppies in a 300 crate in 100 degrees for hundreds of miles with no A/C and no water. This never, ever would have happened on our watch. Never. I’m disgusted and sad, very sad for the puppies. But we could have told you something like this, or worse, would happen. Actually we did tell you, over and over and over. ????
#petsinneed
#friendsofpaloaltoanimalshelter
#cityofpaloalto


PattiP.
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 27, 2021 at 10:22 am
PattiP., Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 10:22 am

All the news stories every summer reminding people how much hotter than air temperature a closed vehicle gets on a sunny summer day, how can these animal care professionals and their bosses claim forget these warnings? Since the cargo area of the van was not air-conditioned it is essentially the same as a closed car. I hope someone with more detailed knowledge will calculate the probable air temperature in the back of this van, but it would have been significantly higher than the air temperature outside. Somehow these "animal care professionals" forgot all the warnings about closed vehicles on hot days, neglected to provide water, and could not be bothered to stop and check on the condition of the dogs they were transporting? The story that they checked on the condition of the dogs in Los Banos and all were fine sounds highly suspect. If the dogs were still responsive in Los Banos, they would have been panting severely and emergency action should have been taken. Euthanasia would have been far more humane than the treatment these poor dogs received at the hands of Pets in Need management (who allowed this trip to take place) and its employees (road-tripping in the air-conditioned comfort). This is inhumane failure at many levels.


Ozymandias
Registered user
another community
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:27 am
Ozymandias, another community
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:27 am
vmshadle
Registered user
Meadow Park
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:30 am
vmshadle, Meadow Park
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:30 am

Babies and small animals with a large skin-to-body-mass ratio have trouble regulating their internal temperatures (not as much body "core" to offset the heat exposure on the outside). This is well known in human medicine and should be well known to small animal handlers.

PIN staff and management both bear responsibility for maintaining vehicles properly, advising transporters regarding maintenance status, and making sure little ones are transported in safe temperature conditions.


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:44 am
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:44 am

So many things wrong here.

To start with, why are we spending OUR tax dollars to import dogs to adopt from the Central Valley! That is crazy! Have you seen the fees at our pool, our new $$$ zoo, etc? Our utility rates? Our lack of traffic enforcement? Were we told we'd be paying the bill for cities literally hundreds of miles away?

It is completely dishonest to claim we are serving the City of Palo Alto's animal service needs when we really have non-profit crusaders importing expenses from other cities.

Put simply, we could be saving tons of money (not to mention the space we essentially gave to them) if we simply contracted with the county. That's what most our neighbors do. They do a good job. The cost is tiny compared to the sweetheart contract we gave to Pets in Need. Why didn't we / don't we just do that! A: Because of a pushy pushy and highly vocal minority and council / leadership who are reckless stewards of public funds.

I'm sure everyone at Pets In Needs loves animals and regrets this. But pursuing the partnership has been a mistake from the start.

I disagree with most of what Sandra said above. But it wasn't about saving a buck. [That was the framing they used to release the City employees.]. If it was, we would've entered an easy contract with the county. It was about replacing City employees with connected friends.


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:48 am
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:48 am

Don't let Community Service and City Management leadership off the hook, either. They are the ones who are getting paid big buck to (allegedly) oversee the Pets in Needs contractual activities on your behalf. That leadership and oversight are pretty-well M.I.A.

Do they even come to town these days?


ccb in midtown
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:56 am
ccb in midtown, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:56 am

@ Sandra. As a decades long resident of Palo Alto, I hear you. Loud and clear. I wish city council would have deliberated this decision with greater care.

@ everyone else. This is not surprisingly. Pets in Need, in my experience, is horrendously managed. We've had several extraordinarily poor foster experiences with their organization, none of which found any reasonable resolution.

First, our teens were erroneously accused of not following instructions with three 5 wk old kittens that we were trying to help by first fetching from Fremont, turning over to them, and then fostering for several weeks until we were told that since we didn't provide them WATER (we were bottle feeding them at the time & kittens couldn't yet lap), we were unsuitable fosters and the kittens were confiscated.

Next, we fostered a large german shepherd that had been turned into the shelter b/c, reputedly, she'd bitten her prior owners only to have Pets in Need request that we bring the dog back three days later under the guise that they'd found a foster family for her. This was patently false; photos of "our" foster dog were on the site for weeks afterward. We will not name names here but clearly employees involved with the fostering program had no qualms about lying to us on multiple occasions.

After the dog debacle, we did some sleuthing. Apparently we are not alone with our extraordinarily poor experiences with Pets in Need. I highly recommend the city request staff to find alternatives for their services so they can not renew their contract. Further, I strongly recommend Pets in Need overhaul of their ranks from their board down through their foster representatives.


Miriam Palm
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2021 at 12:05 pm
Miriam Palm, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 12:05 pm

"To start with, why are we spending OUR tax dollars to import dogs to adopt from the Central Valley!"

Please do not criticize PIN or other organizations for bringing animals from the Central Valley to find new homes. This is a rather common practice, if you are familiar with organizations such as Coppers Dream. We are not "paying the bill" for other cities. We are rescuing animals that otherwise are likely to be euthanized. There are many more potential adopters here in the Bay Area than in the valley.

Web Link


Doofydog
Registered user
another community
on Oct 27, 2021 at 12:11 pm
Doofydog, another community
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 12:11 pm

@ S. Underwood I agree with you. The ‘saving a buck’ was getting rid of us, the employees. Jim Keene hated his employees and stopped at nothing to get rid of as many as he could. Why one would work for a municipality when one hates municipal employees so much I’ll never understand, but he, his office, the city council and Friends of the Palo Alto Shelter are reaping what they sowed. Unfortunately seven puppies had to die a horrific death because of it. The other dogs in that van likely suffered as well. They just weren’t loaded up laundry in an over full dryer. I have worked with dogs my entire life, I worked at that shelter for 25 years, I show dogs, I breed dogs, I judge dogs. Nowhere, no how would any knowledgeable dog person cram seven puppies of that size into a crate that size, not even for a minute, never mind for several hours in triple digits. The was not neglect. That was cruelty. Either that or they are the dumbest dog people I have ever encountered.


Doofydog
Registered user
another community
on Oct 27, 2021 at 12:30 pm
Doofydog, another community
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 12:30 pm

@at whomever said we could have entered into a contract with the County. No we could not. The contract was put out to bid and no other reputable animal control agency bid on it. None of them wanted to deal with the idiocy in the city manager’s office, primarily Kash Alaee, who was put in charge of securing the bid, but also Jim Keene. The Bay Area animal control community is small and we all talked to each other. When no other AC agency bid, instead of recognizing it was just a bad idea to outsource, they went further down the rabbit hole and contracted with Pets in Need. Again we tried for four years to tell them what a disaster it would be, the city manager’s office and the city council would not listen and unfortunately now it has come to fruition.


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2021 at 12:30 pm
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Apologies Sandra. I meant to say I AGREE with most everything you said, except for that one detail. Thank you for your work with the animals and the city. Sorry it ended so curtly for you and the other former employees, and with such an unfortunate hand-off.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2021 at 12:53 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 12:53 pm

Where’s the info coming from about what size crates the pups were transported in? Or is that info the animal welfare community has?


vmshadle
Registered user
Meadow Park
on Oct 27, 2021 at 1:25 pm
vmshadle, Meadow Park
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 1:25 pm

Miriam Palm is right. Anyone who knows anything about animal rescue understands that no-kill shelters regularly remove pets from high-kill shelters to relocate them to areas where they are likelier to find loving homes because they will be kept alive long enough to be given the chance.

As a taxpayer, I personally care more about saving animal lives than I do about quibbling over how many extra cents I will pay to provide this mitzvah.

The Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a) teaches: “Whoever saves a single life is considered by scripture to have saved the whole world." I extend this teaching to include not only humans but the animals with whom we share the planet.

We domesticated 'em. We have a moral responsibility to protect 'em. Period.


mcm
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2021 at 2:24 pm
mcm, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Don't condemn Pets In Need until you know all the facts and you have a clear picture of what happened that day. This is clearly a tragic incident-- for the puppies who died, for the women who were transporting them, for everyone at Pets in Need, and possibly for the future of animal rescue in Palo Alto. Let's be open minded and open hearted.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 27, 2021 at 3:09 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 3:09 pm

How special that Jim Keene saved $200,000 by outsourcing a valued city run-service while funneling money to his pet projects like CoolBlocks that displaced existing NO-COST volunteer activities because he sat / sits on their board.

He's the same guy who outsourced railroad crossing safety to a company whose contractors robbed the neighbors near the Churchill Ave railroad crossing and then wasted yet more money on a new camera sytem and the same contractors before going exclusively to cameras.

Now that a second person has died on the tracks, most recently yesterday. the CURRENT city manager's office has yet again refused to comment on whether the cameras at the Churchill Ave railroad crossing are even working. For this we have a $2,000,000 "communications" staff??

Where's the accountability and responsibility? When will City Council act to hold them accountable and not let them keep stonewalling the media and residents??


Jane
Registered user
Ventura
on Oct 27, 2021 at 6:23 pm
Jane, Ventura
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 6:23 pm

Pets in Need clearly needs to be let go. Los Banos is a long trip in an un-airconditioned cargo area with no water on a scorching day. The people involved didn't care. Their management needs to feel consequences too.

On a more positive note -- what are the good animal adoption alternatives in the Palo Alto area? (We're looking to adopt very soon.)


Jamie
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 27, 2021 at 6:38 pm
Jamie , Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 6:38 pm

Having worked at Pets In Need for a number of years, I can perhaps provide a unique perspective on this incident. What this article won't tell you is that the three employees involved have collectively dedicated decades of their lives to animal welfare. Among them, they have saved *thousands* of lives. Thousands. I can't emphasize enough how good these people are. They work hard for low pay because they care immeasurably about animals.

I don't seek to diminish the tragedy of these puppies' deaths, but to put it in perspective: it was a terrible and devastating accident, but it was an accident. Accidents happen. Do you really think a lifetime of good work should be negated by a single mistake all in the court of public opinion? I don't.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:00 pm

Jamie, it was not an accident. It was negligence. It was easily avoidable.


Miriam Palm
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:07 pm
Miriam Palm, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:07 pm

Jane, see the link I put on my comment for Coppers Dream, if you are looking to adopt.

Web Link

You can foster and audition an animal to see if it is a good match for you. Note that many of the animals they have up for adoption are from the central valley.


Jamie
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:15 pm
Jamie , Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:15 pm

@Optimist Pessimist Realist: Hindsight makes experts of us all.


Doofydog
Registered user
another community
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:35 pm
Doofydog, another community
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:35 pm

@ Jamie. Sorry this was not an accident. Putting seven 10 pound puppies in a 300 crate is not an accident. Period. The fact that the van was not air conditioned or that they didn’t have water is second. No dog person with a modicum of sense would ever even start there. The article says the rest of the fogs survived which says to me they were also in distress. They just weren’t crammed in a sock drawer. How many times have dogs been transported this way? How many times did dogs arrive in distress but survive? This was not an accident. This was stupidity and neglect at a minimum but IMO cruelty. To put them in that crate period was cruel. Period. Again since you work there how many times have dogs been transported in the back of s van in triple digits with no AC and no water? Is this how PIN does business? Is this standard operating procedure? This was no accident. The rest of the dogs in that van and all dogs before them were just lucky.


Jamie
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:56 pm
Jamie , Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 7:56 pm

@Doofydog I no longer work at Pets In Need and have no specific details about the crate that was used. As for their policy of transporting animals in hot weather, I have no personal knowledge of that either. In my years there, I never saw animals arrive in distress. What I did see was empathetic professionals making positive changes in both our community and underserved communities where animals were at a very real risk of euthanasia due to space or budget constraints.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2021 at 8:27 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 8:27 pm

No really, Jamie, foresight is what was needed. Or heck, just basic knowledge, which is expected of people such as you described. Good thing the deaths weren’t covered up.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2021 at 8:39 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 8:39 pm

Doofydog, when you mention a 300 sized crate do you mean the intermediate size, like. This? Crate Size: Intermediate (Series 300) - Vari Kennel Price: $81.99
Crate Weight: 14.88 lbs (6.75 kg)
Exterior Dimensions: 32 x 22.5 x 25 (81.3 x 57.15 x 63.5 cm)
Interior Dimension 1: 29 x 20 x 24 in (71 x 40.6 x 61 cm)
Interior Dimension 2: 26 x 16 x 24 in (73.7 x 51.4 x 61 cm)

(I got the info from a website)


John Hackmann
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 27, 2021 at 9:26 pm
John Hackmann, Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 9:26 pm

WHo owned the “Mercedes” van? Who decided to buy it?
Are they responsible?

Who decided it was appropriate for 27 Animals.?

Note this many dogs in a “ box” are themselves generating considerable heat

Did the cargo area have windows open while traveling?

That vehicle has an option for air conditioning in the “cargo” area -
Why was AC not purchased? It can be after fitted also

Am I to understand the humans HAD AC? And not the dogs?


William
Registered user
Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:49 pm
William, Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:49 pm

After this horrific episode I hope that Pets In Need and City administration will work more closely together in the future. The most reasoned responses I've read in the comments come from "Citizen" and John Hackman--their observations and questions would be a good place for both sides to start grieving, healing, and going forward.
I worked in that building 46 years through a multitude of highs and lows and I also share a visceral reaction to what's been reported and commented herein.
"...Such and so finely bolted didst thou seem:
And thus thy fall hath left a kind of blot,
To mark the full-fraught man and best indued
With some suspicion. I will weep for thee..."
Henry V, act II, scene II


Doofydog
Registered user
another community
on Oct 28, 2021 at 6:19 am
Doofydog, another community
Registered user
on Oct 28, 2021 at 6:19 am

@ Optimist Pessimist Realist, yes 300 = Intermediate. They used to have numbers, 100,200, 300, 400, 500, 700. Now they are small, medium, intermediate, large, extra large, giant. Old habits. Again any dog person would transport two pups of this size max in a large with water and AC. In my breed we’d transport two 5 pound puppies max in an intermediate with water and never in that heat with no AC. Never, ever in a million years seven puppies in an intermediate. Absolutely unconscionable.


PattiP.
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 28, 2021 at 1:11 pm
PattiP., Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 28, 2021 at 1:11 pm

To those who keep calling this a tragic accident by well-intentioned people: absolutely wrong. A person can have good intentions and still be careless, negligent and neglectful to the point of cruelty. Good intentions, bad actions. Furthermore, their good intentions were not evident on this particular day. The important thing to remember is that these are supposedly animal care professionals who are held to a higher standard of animal care. In this case their actions rose to the level of criminal neglect and cruelty.
In one recent case in San Mateo County, the death of a single animal in a closed car led to felony charges, even though the circumstances arguably less neglectful (person (not an animal care professional) left an adult dog in a closed car in the middle of the night and overslept in a motel.) Why is Pets In Need and it's employees-- who should know better and are being paid for animal care by the City (on contract) get off so lightly?


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 28, 2021 at 6:51 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 28, 2021 at 6:51 pm

Thanks, Doofydog. It’s been awhile since I had a dog and I’m not that familiar with kennels. 7 puppies in one that size without air conditioning was obviously a terrible idea. Why would they go ahead? The other dogs must’ve also had some reactions even though they survived. I wonder if the whole agency has been investigated in case of other incidents?


Hmmm
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2021 at 11:33 am
Hmmm, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 30, 2021 at 11:33 am

Once PIN secured the city contract I knew it was just a matter of time before they fell on their faces. So they have, at the half way mark. To do so at the cost of so many young lives is criminal and sickening. Since it’s public info I’m going to mention that 2 of the 3 employees involved are seasoned managers so they knew better.

Thank you to those commenters who’ve added valuable info so the public has a better idea of the details involved. So many others are tastelessly using Whataboutisms and dilution in order to defend the organization and even what happened.

Question: Are the three involved still employed by PIN?


Rebecca Eisenberg
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2021 at 12:25 pm
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 30, 2021 at 12:25 pm

I just received Pets In Need's infuriating and misleading email sent to all "supporters" in response to their outrageous reckless actions. I responded per below, cc'ing City Council at [email protected] . I encourage others to do as well.

It was our elected leadership -- the ones endorsed by this paper -- who made the irresponsible and ignorant decision to replace our loving, local animal shelter with Pets In Need, which came with a history of questionable actions. Now City Council's greed and laziness has led to avoidable deaths. Instead of taxing Elon Musk and Telsa, Palo Alto leadership cut corners on the lives of defenseless animals. Why do we tolerate this? We deserve better.

Here is the email I sent:

Dear Pets in Need:

Your email below, regarding the criminally negligent death of seven puppies while in your care is unprofessional, irresponsible, and dishonest.

We learned only a few days ago from the news media that three of your staff were charged criminally for the negligent and avoidable death of seven puppies while in your care. Rather than expressing remorse and taking responsibility for this wholly intolerable act, you deflect and defend. Our community deserves better!

I demand that you provide evidence that every staff member involved in this tragic and criminal action was terminated, and that more safe transport was acquired. Attempting to defend the safety of transport vehicles that clearly killed companion animals whose lives were your paid job to save is tone-deaf and improper.

The City of Palo Alto deserves to work with a nonprofit who will save animals, not murder them. You failed in your criminally negligent actions on August 2, and you failed further by refusing to take responsibility for your actions and change the conditions that led to the senseless death of innocent animals.

The City of Palo Alto deserves much better than what you provide.

Sincerely,
Rebecca Eisenberg, Esq.


tmp
Registered user
Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2021 at 4:07 pm
tmp, Downtown North
Registered user
on Oct 30, 2021 at 4:07 pm

I'm not excusing PIN staff and the awful events with the puppies and hope that appropriate measures will be taken. However the many comments about how wonderful it was when the city staff ran the place are ridiculous.

City staff would never have bothered to leave their cushy jobs and travel to the central valley to rescue any animals that were about to be euthanized. They were happy if there was only one or two tiny old dogs there and didn't worry about filling the facility to try to save adoptable animals. [Portion removed.] They made no effort to find adoptable animals and try to find them good homes. You could tell that their hearts were not in the mission of trying to save pets and find them good homes. They acted like entitled city staffers and worked as little as possible while making good wages with benefits. They never ran adoption fairs, sponsored classes or attempted to grow the adoption numbers and find adoptable animals of various kinds for local communities.

Animal control (the ones that come pick up stray animals, wildlife, and answer complaints) has always been professionally run and continues to be as a part of the police department, but the adoption services and attempts to save abandoned and stray pets that needed homes under the city were deplorable.


ScottieZimmerman
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 30, 2021 at 8:00 pm
ScottieZimmerman, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 30, 2021 at 8:00 pm

I too received an email from Pets In Need. The letter I read contained clear descriptions of investigations that are ongoing. The people at PIN are taking responsibility for the tragic deaths of the seven puppies, and they want an accurate and detailed final report so they can learn from what went wrong. They are not hiding from the truth, and they are certainly not guilty of murder, which is defined as premeditated killing. That accusation is cruel and insupportable, in my opinion.


PattiP.
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 31, 2021 at 12:42 am
PattiP., Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 31, 2021 at 12:42 am

Pets in Need has a contract to provide shelter and adoption services to Palo Alto (also Los Altos and LAHills). This contract requires that PiN take in pets surrendered from these cities and put them up for adoption, and that PiN provide spay/neuter and vaccination clinic services. PiN gets the use of the PA shelter as well as payment for this contract. But PIN has often refused or "strongly discouraged" legitimate surrender by residents by telling people that the surrendered animals will be euthanized. Two people I know experienced this personally, and were naturally furious.

At the same time, Pets in Need is transferring animals from their Redwood City shelter and/or "pulling" animals from shelters outside the area. People need to understand that this allows PiN to cherrypick the most attractive, young and easily adoptable animals because that way they get to select animals that generate more adoption fees than they would get by helping animals they are under contract to take in from Palo Alto, especially older and less popular pets. So out-of-area animals end up in the Palo Alto shelter,supported by Palo Alto tax dollars. It's wonderful if non-profit donations support this...but not when tax dollars that supposed to help Palo Alto animals get diverted into doing it. Another side effect of transfers is that PiN veterinarians are too busy providing pre-adoption vet care to out-of-area pets (in facilities renovated by Palo Alto) to provide spay/neuter services to Palo Alto residents. For most of their contract, spay/neuter appointments were completely unavailable, and just recently they have made a few appointments available one day per week.

I suggest that anyone who was told PiN couldn't take an animal they tried to surrender (as a pet or a Palo Alto rescue), and anyone who was told PiN wasn't offering spay and neuter services, write a complaint to the City Council, documenting their letter with dates and names if possible.


Rebecca Eisenberg
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2021 at 1:54 am
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 31, 2021 at 1:54 am

Not all murder is premeditated. You learn that in first year law school, or on Law and Order.


Fritzie Blue
Registered user
Stanford
on Oct 31, 2021 at 7:05 am
Fritzie Blue, Stanford
Registered user
on Oct 31, 2021 at 7:05 am

This is deeply disturbing and terribly sad as it was preventable. Just some questions:

Could the puppies have been ill when they left the Central Valley? Had they been outside? Was the air conditioning at that shelter working that day? Did shelter workers there mention any problems with any of the dogs?

In the van, does one employee stay in the back with the animals to monitor them? Or do all three sit up front? If so, why? If all three employees are up front away from the dogs, can they hear cries, whimpering, or other sounds of distress?

Did the van have air conditioning throughout? If not, why was the decision made to go on the run on such a hot day? If it was discovered along the way that the a.c. was not functioning in the dog area, why was the run not aborted? Is it common practice to check the van for a.c. and other maintenance before each run? Is it checked by those going on the run, or by separate maintenance workers? Are careful records kept of any problems with the vans?

During the stop at the gas station in Los Banos, were the dogs and puppies individually checked and all water bowls filled? Do the dogs have their own bowls? If not, how many other dogs do they share with? Is it possible for some of the water to slosh out of the bowls while on the road? Were any other unreported stops made on the way home?

What was the state of the other dogs in the van when they arrived in Palo Alto? Did any of them require medical treatment? Have any since died? (I pray not.)

I dearly hope safeguards will be put in place so this will NEVER, ever happen again.



Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2021 at 2:36 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 31, 2021 at 2:36 pm

Fritzie Blue, some of the answers to your questions are in this article sbd the press release from the police. You might want to look to those for some answers. You can also assume that some info that’s lacking is likely because it was in investigated but nothing was found.


ScottieZimmerman
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 31, 2021 at 4:42 pm
ScottieZimmerman, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 31, 2021 at 4:42 pm

Fritzie Blue, here is a paragraph from Pets In Need that describes the investigations going on.
"Pets In Need is conducting a thorough investigation into this tragic event to learn exactly what happened and what, if any, changes in our practices and procedures may be called for. For 50 years, the welfare and safety of the animals in our care has been our highest priority, and it guides everything we are doing to determine the complete set of facts. Until that investigation is complete, we believe it is premature to comment on speculation about what might or might not have happened."
It seems to me they are trying to answer the questions you--and others--are asking.

In the current online discussions too many people claim they know what happened because they heard it from a friend or whatever. Rumor & gossip? I'll wait for the conclusion of the investigation.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Oct 31, 2021 at 4:54 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Oct 31, 2021 at 4:54 pm

I understand the investigation jargon, but when seven puppies die in a hot van in a hot area, it's asinine to make a statement along the lines of "what, if any, changes" need to be made. Not commenting is wise, but it's foolish to insult the intelligence of the general public. And that's exactly what they're doing. Further angering people isn't the answer.


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Oct 31, 2021 at 11:00 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Oct 31, 2021 at 11:00 pm

ScottieZimmerman, What happened is this. Three animal care professionals, hired by the city of Palo Alto, drove a 2019 Mercedes Benze van to the Central Valley, in over 100-degree temperature, to pick up 27 adult dogs and seven puppies. The dogs had NO AIR CONDITIONING or WATER for the entire trip! What's to figure out? PIN needs to own up to its failure and stop making excuses for the people they hire.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2021 at 2:23 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 1, 2021 at 2:23 pm

Jennifer, exactly what you said. Their statement was underwhelming and galling. Between that and the puppy killer apologists there’s no way would I ever have any trust in Pets in Need.


PattiP.
Registered user
Professorville
on Nov 1, 2021 at 5:28 pm
PattiP., Professorville
Registered user
on Nov 1, 2021 at 5:28 pm

Eileen, you are exactly right. And so is Jennifer. Nothing will get them off the hook, but additional charges could be made.
The Police Department works with the DA on this. The DA might be investigating exactly what else happened on this trip. Did these people stop somewhere (besides Los Banos for gas) and leave the dogs and puppies in a closed van while they did something they have not described yet? Like stop for a meal or drinks for themselves? [Portion removed.] I find it hard to believe that dogs in a closed cargo area in nearly 100 degree air temperatures were not, at a minimum, panting furiously, likely lethargic and possibly even comatose. [Portion removed.] I think the DA still has lots more to investigate. Some things could make it worse for Pets in Need or certain employees. But nothing will get them off the hook for cruelty and neglect.


Lauren P.
Registered user
University South
on Nov 2, 2021 at 3:38 pm
Lauren P., University South
Registered user
on Nov 2, 2021 at 3:38 pm

In addition to what others have said about Pets In Need conducting a thorough investigation before releasing more information, their email to supporters included information on the claim that there was no air conditioning in the vehicle. Here is what they said:

The independent investigator inspected operations and conditions of the vehicle used in bringing the animals to us. We have been concerned about some media reports that suggest there was either no air conditioning in the van, or none delivered to the rear cabin. Our knowledge of the van’s systems and our investigation confirm that was not the case.

I would hope that our community would withhold further judgment until Pets In Need completes their investigation and shares their side of the story. They have saved a lot of animals and this one unfortunate incident should not discredit all of the good they have done.


Editor's Note: The police press release on the incident reported that the rear cargo area of the van, where some of the puppies were, was not air conditioned.


ScottieZimmerman
Registered user
Midtown
on Nov 2, 2021 at 4:35 pm
ScottieZimmerman, Midtown
Registered user
on Nov 2, 2021 at 4:35 pm

People have complained about the lack of low-cost spay/neuter services offered at Pets In Need Palo Alto. Here are some actual facts:

1. In April 2012 the City threatened to close PAAS and send our animal services to Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority in Santa Clara.

2. In the upset that followed, several valuable PAAS employees quit or retired at the end of June, including three exceptionally fine veterinary technicians. That left no one to assist the staff veterinarian, and PAAS could no longer provide low-cost spay/neuter to the public. It took two years (June 2012 to June 2014) for the City to recruit and hire two new vet techs, enabling the reopening of the spay/neuter and vaccination clinic services. Pets In Need had nothing to do with that situation. The City and its shelter management bear full responsibility.

3. In February 2019, PIN took over operation of the Palo Alto shelter, after getting the City to agree to a complete reconstruction of the hospital area at the shelter. The City didn’t even start construction until November 2019, and the project took much longer than was originally planned. The spay/neuter hospital reopened in November 2020—approximately 19 months after PIN took over. During those 19 months, PIN used its Redwood City hospital to prepare animals for adoption in both Redwood City & Palo Alto. PIN also used their mobile vet hospital to help with spay/neuter surgery at the Palo Alto shelter as needed.

4. After reopening their hospital, PIN Palo Alto has been providing spay/neuter surgery, with an emphasis on helping low-income families keep their pets and preventing unwanted pregnancies. It’s been less than a year since they started using their refurbished hospital. In the preceding 48 years, the City had done next to nothing to update the facility PAAS took over in 1972. It’s called “deferred maintenance,” and it leaves the shelter with unreliable heating, air conditioning, and other amenities.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 2, 2021 at 5:44 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Nov 2, 2021 at 5:44 pm
Heckity
Registered user
Midtown
on Nov 5, 2021 at 6:03 pm
Heckity, Midtown
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2021 at 6:03 pm

1. It's 51 miles from the Madera shelter to Los Banos, and 95 miles from Los Banos to Palo Alto.
2. SEVEN 9-pound dogs in a 300 crate is like 300 fish in a barrel - irresponsible at best, and absolutely unthinkable at worst.
3. The puppies had no water, and were literally crammed in the crate - and yet the employees stopped in Los Banos for (I assume) a bathroom break and drinks for themselves? That would be expected in 90-100 degree weather.
4. Whether or not there was air conditioning is somewhat irrelevant here - the dogs were overcrowded, had no water, and we know from experience that the outside temperature quickly rises inside, especially with so many dogs in one crate.

Personally, I don't believe they checked the dogs in los banos, because they'd have already begun to show signs of stress. And now PIN is fighting back based on inaccurate A/C reporting? Give me a break - it's a ridiculous argument.

And, we can all thank Jim Keene, who had a hard-on to get rid of PAAS for years. Granted, it wasn't perfect, but the vet staff and vet techs were extraordinary, could do double-digit spay/neuter in a day, happily accepted feral cats, and PIN made excuses for a year about why they couldn't open the spay/neuter clinic. Pandemic, sure, but not a good enough excuse. I'm disgusted by PIN, and although I applaud the efforts of bringing in animals from high-kill shelters, it's nearly impossible to surrender an animal from one of their covered cities unless it's two ticks from perfect.

They have failed the city of PA and surrounding areas. I feel so sad for the remaining ACO officers still dispatched through PAPD. They're stuck in a tiny office in the back and perform the most valuable service of any - PIN has a longstanding reputation for being mismanaged (Redwood City), and that hasn't changed. And Scottie Zimmerman? An updated shelter might be nice, but certainly not essential to caring for animals. Animals can be properly cared for in a grass hut.


ScottieZimmerman
Registered user
Midtown
on Nov 8, 2021 at 2:43 am
ScottieZimmerman, Midtown
Registered user
on Nov 8, 2021 at 2:43 am

Heckity, You make "factual" statements about events on August 2nd, and I for one don't trust your facts. Or were you actually along for the trip?

Your comments about spay/neuter surgery at Palo Alto Animal Services are wrong. For TWO YEARS, June 2012 to June 2014, PAAS stopped offering spay/neuter to the public. The three veterinary technicians who worked with vet Bonnie Yoffe, retired or quit in June 2012, after the City threatened to close down the shelter.

In February 2019, when PIN took over management of the Palo Alto shelter, the City had agreed to rehabilitate the 48-year-old hospital section at the shelter. However, the City delayed and did not start work until November 2019. Once begun, the City moved slowly, and PIN Palo Alto was not able to open the hospital until November 2020--a year later.

When PIN sends its van to pick up dogs from high-kill shelters (your phrase), the dogs nominated to come to Palo Alto or Redwood City are at high risk for being euthanized. PIN follows the Asilomar guidelines and does not select fluffy & cute with perfect manners. PIN has an excellent reputation for 50+ years of rescue, providing top medical care, training, fostering, and adoption to thousands of dogs and cats.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Nov 8, 2021 at 12:39 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 8, 2021 at 12:39 pm

It’s astonishing that PiN still has apologists after killing 7 puppies in their care.


Xero
Registered user
another community
on Nov 10, 2021 at 12:37 pm
Xero, another community
Registered user
on Nov 10, 2021 at 12:37 pm

I'm so saddened to hear about this. It's tragic that the puppies died. However I think it would be wise for us to wait to see the results of PIN's investigation of this incident before making any assumptions and pointing fingers. PIN's staff have worked tirelessly to rescue many thousands of animals over five decades, so it would be a pity to discount all of that amazing work based on one incident without getting the full story.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Nov 10, 2021 at 2:04 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 10, 2021 at 2:04 pm

The police and DA’s office already did an investigation. The resulting pointing fingers means that charges are well-founded. How silly to create some goalpost where an in-house investigation is what’s more important.


ScottieZimmerman
Registered user
Midtown
on Nov 10, 2021 at 3:12 pm
ScottieZimmerman, Midtown
Registered user
on Nov 10, 2021 at 3:12 pm

If the police have completed their investigation, why is there ambiguity in the report they published? Why have they declined to share necropsy results? What proof do they have that the van's air conditioning, which has operated flawlessly for hundreds of pickups over the past two years, failed on the August 2nd trip?


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Nov 10, 2021 at 4:40 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 10, 2021 at 4:40 pm

Scottie, just call the police and ask them. But given that the case hasn’t been adjudicated of course they’re not giving evidence to the public. Evidence will be heard if there’s a trial
or when deals are made with the defendants. If you really don’t know how the legal process works calm the police or the DA’s office or Google it.

Btw, the a/c issue is a bit of a red herring. Even with it on trying to keep 27 dogs cool including poor puppies stuffed in one crate would be a challenge. If they were not using wire crates it’d be even more difficult.


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