Animal shelter sent live animals to vet school for euthanasia and dissection

“This is a huge issue… They’re not trash, they’re pets.” – Desiree Bender.

Accusations of scandalous behavior have been made against an animal shelter in East Baton Rouge Parish causing turmoil.

CAA animal shelter at Baton Rouge embroiled in scandalous accusations
CAA animal shelter at Baton Rouge embroiled in scandalous accusations. Photo: Bill Feig.

A spokeswoman, Ginger Guttner, for the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine (LSU) said that the school has received about 25 animal cadavers and 60 live animals from Louisiana shelters. One of those shelters is the Companion Animal Alliance (CAA) shelter in East Baton Rouge Parish.

There is uproar, a defamation case and general turmoil about the sending of live animals from the East Baton Rouge shelter to a veterinary school so that training veterinarians could immediately euthanise the animals (within 2 hours), dissect them and then study the dissected animal. This shelter was accepting $40 per animal for transportation costs and incidental expenses at the time. They stopped this and have apparently stopped providing LSU with animals.

A former CAA Executive Director, Desiree Bender, became a whistleblower and she blew her whistle on Facebook. She created a page headed, “Companion Animal Alliance: Shocking Truth Exposed”. On this page she alleges that the CAA shelter in East Baton Rouge Parish was sending animals to the veterinary school and covering up the practice by cooking the books.

She alleges that one of the staff members at the shelter (a person named Pumilia) was filling out forms to place live animals on the list to be sent to LSU but making it look as if they were sent to a rescue group. The purpose was to make the numbers look better to the public and to ensure that financial grants were still received.

In other words, Desiree Bender has made serious allegations against this person and one other it seems and in doing so she has also accused the shelter itself and management.

Staff at the shelter say that Bender has depicted them as cold, heartless animal killers. Two members of staff, Hicks and Pumilia have commenced defamation proceedings in a local court for unspecified damages. They are that incensed by the accusations. However, if they are proved to be true the litigation will fail and more might come out.

To compound the matter, there are allegations against Bender for stealing items from the shelter when she was let go after quite a short stay in post. She was hired in May 2018 and fired in October the Hicks-Pumilia lawsuit states.

The Advocate website reports on this matter and their article is the source for this article. They say that Jillian Sergio has been hired by CAA as a new Executive Director. Sergio was formally the CAA’s outreach coordinator and had been managing a rescue operation in Colorado Springs, Colorado until appointed.

Comment: How commonplace is this? I’d expect it to happen quite a lot. If anyone can add to the page with more detail please do so in a comment. It would be most welcome.

You know, cats and dogs at shelters are an ‘asset’ in strictly commercial terms, even when they are dead. Commercially-minded shelter directors must be aware of this. Rendering down carcasses for pet food?

P.S. CAA have said that their kill rate has improved (i.e. decreased) dramatically over the preceding 9 years from 80% to 28% in 2018.

P.P.S. One question I have is how did this behaviour impact the lives of the animals at the shelter? Did it prevent staff from finding homes for these animals? You know, there might be a choice between the vet school and an adopter sometimes. A choice between dying and living. I find the behaviour unethical but I will defer to people who can successfully argue that it isn’t.

Update: A note from an FB friend said this:

“It looks as if two shelters are involved, one of which has recently opend a brand new facility right on the LSU campus. Companion Animal Alliance in Baton Rouge and the Russell County-Phenix City Animal Shelter (animals going to Tuskegee University).”


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Can You Name a Person That You Know Is Poisoning Feral Cats?

Many people look after feral cats. They are volunteers in TNR programs. They know the area well. They know their neighbours and their likes and dislikes. One such person is a guy called Quake Martin. He looks after a colony of feral cats in a place called Village One in Modesto, California, USA.

He writes in a post on Facebook that ‘someone/my neighbor is poisoning the feral cats in my Village One neighbourhood in Modesto, CA’. That’s an interesting comment to make because he refers to “my neighbor”. He is not 100% sure apparently.

Can You Name a Person That You Know Is Poisoning Feral Cats?

If he is sure that a person he knows is poisoning his feral cats then he can announce it wherever he wants to because it is the truth. This prevents a statement becoming defamatory. A person makes a defamatory statement when it is untrue and the subject of the defamatory statement suffers damage to her reputation and perhaps financially. And the statement has to be disseminated to the public.

Mr Martin contacted the local police department. The sick feral cat was taken to his veterinarian where he is now hospitalized. Antifreeze had poisoned the kitten which can be fatal as it causes kidney damage. Mr Martin personally trapped this cat for neutering two years ago. Martin works in conjunction with The Cat Network of Stanislaus County.

He writes that last week he found a dead cat on the sidewalk. The cat had suffered no traumatic injuries and now more cats are turning up missing.

He is reaching out to other animal caregivers as well as the SPCA and other humane societies for help. He doesn’t want money. He just wants the poisoning to stop and is warning people to be mindful of the poisoner in the Village One Area in Modesto. He warns that people should not let their dog or cat roam around the area unsupervised. The feral cats will be the animals poisoned not dogs because there is a certain band of individuals in America and in the UK who think that feral cats spread disease and should be eliminated. They don’t have the same feelings about dogs. Cats are to be hated but dogs are not.

Correctly, Mr Martin says that the poisoner is engaging in acts of cruelty. But to return to the question the title: can you name a person you know is poisoning feral cats? The answer is yes if you are telling the truth. You cannot be sued in defamation if you are telling the truth. Actionable slander or libel are misrepresentations or lies spread to damage a person’s reputation. Neither can you be sued in defamation if you say to a person individually when confronting him that he is poisoning cats. This is because your statement is not disseminated to other people. Therefore the person cannot suffer reputational damage.

If the alleged criminal can be filmed surreptitiously or if an admission can be extracted from him that of course would support your statement that he is poisoning feral cats.

There is one last point to make and it’s this. Very few people sue in defamation because it is expensive and problematic. Therefore if you make a mistake in making a defamatory remark it is highly likely that you will get away with it.

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