Defense seeks leniency in case of puppy deaths | August 5, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 5, 2022

Defense seeks leniency in case of puppy deaths

Pets in Need employees face misdemeanor charges in alleged hot-van transport of seven puppies

by Sue Dremann

Lawyers for the three Pets in Need employees facing trial in the deaths of seven puppies last year will ask a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge next week to let them to enter a diversion program instead of going through a trial and possibly be sentenced to jail time, according to court documents.

This story contains 1048 words.

Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.

If you are already a member, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Membership start at $12 per month and may be cancelled at any time.

Log in     Join

Email Staff Writer Sue Dremann at [email protected]


Posted by Fritzie Blue
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 3, 2022 at 2:18 pm

Fritzie Blue is a registered user.

"The dogs were given a limited amount of water" is the sentence that sticks out for me.

Thank you very much for your ongoing reporting on this story.

Posted by Quan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 3, 2022 at 6:29 pm

Quan is a registered user.

That much experience and doesn't know how to properly transport? Where are the new guidelines? None of them should ever transport animals again. If you're that long in the field and don't know how to transport safely, you're in the wrong field. If Pets In Need can't properly train their staff, they shouldn't be running any shelter and the City of Palo Alto should not extend the contract.

Posted by Heckity
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 3, 2022 at 7:58 pm

Heckity is a registered user.

There have been two different "accounts" of providing water to the puppies - one saying they DID give water, and another that Pets in Need (PIN) protocol is to NEVER give water because an animal may get car sick. Which is it?

These women took the smaller van, that they KNEW had no air conditioning in the back cargo area. In fact, they chose to take the smaller van because it had seating for three, which the other larger van, fully air-conditioned, did not.

Why in the world would the judge OK a diversion program, when they are animal-care professionals, and should know, written protocol or not, that cramming 7 puppies totaling 70 pounds in a crate intended for 40-pound total, would not be adequate. This was not a trip from Palo Alto to Menlo Park, but from the very hot Central Valley to Palo Alto.

And citing "limited guidelines" as a fault of Pets in Need is ridiculous. Someone explain to me if you need guidelines from your employer to know you shouldn't leave your child or pet in a hot car.

Also, the former director, Al Mollica (sp?), who "stepped down" after the incident, is now speaking on behalf of the PIN employees, and yet PIN is paying for their attornies? Absolutely unethical, immoral, and lacking any empathy for the dogs.

And the ONE puppy who was left behind (thankfully) is alive and thriving - imagine that.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2022 at 10:06 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

I think these employees were in the wrong business. You have to be an animal lover. Even without training, an animal lover will know how to properly transport puppies in need. Common sense and good judgment, and a loving heart for little puppies that need to be taken care of. It really is that simple.

Posted by Optimist Pessimist Realist
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2022 at 11:56 am

Optimist Pessimist Realist is a registered user.

Why is Santana still employed by Pets in Need?

Posted by Doofydog
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2022 at 10:27 am

Doofydog is a registered user.

This is what happens when you outsource to a retail rescue who only cares about adoptions, not for the animals themselves or what is best for them. They only care about the adoption numbers generated for their retail rescue. That is why they had so many dogs in that van. More dogs mean more numbers. Move ‘em in and move ‘em out. Chaching!

Posted by Optimist Pessimist Realist
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 8, 2022 at 10:40 am

Optimist Pessimist Realist is a registered user.

Doofydog is right. The animals deserve much better.

Posted by Scottie Zimmerman
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 8, 2022 at 7:27 pm

Scottie Zimmerman is a registered user.

Doofydog, the shelters in Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, and Alameda Counties are doing their very best to rescue animals and find good homes for them. In 2012 thru 2014 I visited almost every shelter in northern CA at least once, searching for models of best practices in shelter management.

One way shelters are graded is with the Asilomar Accords, defined in August 2004 by animal welfare leaders from all over the U.S. They met to set guidelines that would reduce the euthanasia rate in shelters. Most of our local shelters keep records of animals in their care and publish an annual Asilomar report that specifies Live Release Rate; these reports are provided on the websites of most shelters, where you can read them. Here's PIN Palo Alto's report: Web Link (Live Release Rate 98.1%)

In my experience, people complain bitterly that shelters kill animals after only 5-7 days in custody. Pets In Need, along with HSSV, SVACA, PHS, OAS, Muttville, Nine Lives, and SFSPCA, choose to keep animals sheltered, fed, and medically treated until they achieve adoption. In addition to extended shelter time, many animals are cared for in foster homes, relieving stress and developing trust.

Adoption numbers are important to shelters because it's how they demonstrate that communities DO care about animal welfare. More dogs don't mean more numbers (whatever you meant by that comment). More alive animals adopted means numbers that approach no-kill. Furthermore, the shelters in our area reach out to smaller communities who are dismayed by the number of animals they must euthanize for lack of space. The people who manage and volunteer for our shelters are not competing for retail success. They just want to prevent unnecessary deaths among animals who rely on us for care & kindness.

Posted by Doofydog
a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2022 at 2:04 pm

Doofydog is a registered user.

Scottie Zimmerman, you can call it whatever you like but loading up an unairconditioned van full of dogs and killing seven puppies just so you can increase your adoption numbers goes against everything ethical shelters stand for. And make no mistake about it, that is exactly what PIN was doing. Of course adoption numbers are important, but they are not important to the exclusion of everything else. First and foremost come the animals and their care both mentally and physically, second comes the public and it’s safety and third are your precious numbers. PIN puts the last first. The current PIN always have and always will. They are a Retail Rescue plain and simple. It’s how they generate donations. We ‘saved’ x number of animals last year. Well they didn’t save those seven puppies did they? And lucky the ride was not longer or there would have been more deaths. Do you know why Pet in Need was founded. Jean Mahoney founded PIN in the 1960s to take animals with real needs from shelters that would otherwise euthanize them. Shelters in the 1960s and for two or three more decades were always full and animals with health problems, seniors and the underaged were mostly always euthanized. PIN was founded to help these animals, not the notoriously easy to adopt, not the puppies and kittens, not the cute and cuddly, the old and the sick and hard to adopt. They typically kept 7 to 10 dogs and maybe 20 cats, for as long as necessary and took them back at any time during the pet’s life for any reason or no reason, something PIN does not do BTW. They were a great shelter who cared about their animals responsibly and ethically well into the 90s and possibly 2000s. These days PIN is an entirely different animal. I knew Jean. She would be turning in her grave at what they’ve become.

Posted by Quan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 9, 2022 at 2:14 pm

Quan is a registered user.

Diversion granted, though nothing at PIN has really changed.

Posted by Jordan Cale
a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2022 at 3:51 pm

Jordan Cale is a registered user.

The treatment of dogs in protective animal care centers is similar to the treatment of abandoned children forced to live in religion-based orphanages.

Posted by Doofydog
a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2022 at 5:56 pm

Doofydog is a registered user.

Oh and Scottie Zimmerman, one more thing. Had it not been for the PAPD and the honorable Animal Control Officers who refused to hide what happened, we never would have known about the seven dead puppies and how PIN transports animals according to their own protocol per their own admission. PIN employees would have gotten rid of the puppies and it would have been business as usual at Pets in Need, business being the operative word. If, by their own admission, this is their protocol what makes you think this hasn’t happened before or won’t happen again?

Posted by mam-p
a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2022 at 11:06 pm

mam-p is a registered user.

Why on earth is Patricia Santana Valencia still employed as a shelter operations manager (of all things!) at Pets In Need? Does their management not understand the term "optics?!?" They'll suffer a permanent black eye until they sever their relationship with her....

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.