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San Bernardino mayor shows activists the door

After an hour of public comment, San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis abruptly asked council members for a motion to adjourn Monday’s city council meeting. He said he was tired of hearing about the dogs and he would take the heat for not allowing animal advocates to speak.

San Bernardino City Council
San Bernardino City CouncilSharon Gilbert

No one that this reporter spoke to who follows San Bernardino Council meetings can remember such an action ever being taken by past mayors. Davis was sworn into office on March 3, 2014.

Animal advocates were in attendance to ask that a process for shelter reform be initiated. Marla Taucher, an animal law attorney, was one of a dozen or so who was allowed to speak before Davis asked for the motion to adjourn.

Taucher talked about the laws that the city is breaking. “Your job descriptions alone ask candidates to violate state laws,” she said. “These are actual, concrete violations of law.” Taucher said she filed a police report on Monday against the shelter and urged council members to allow the report to be investigated.

Taucher also talked about the shelter’s administration of lethal drugs, drugs that must be controlled and administered by someone with the license to do so. She said there is no shortage of drugs but hinted that there is no accountability either.

Advocates are unable to determine who is killing the animals as there is no indication that anyone with proper licensure is employed by the city. Yet some days a dozen or more animals are killed.

Other speakers talked about the disease that spreads throughout the shelter due to lack of cleaning protocols or failure to clean at all. Old mucous, blood, feces and urine are a common sight in the kennels.

Speakers stressed wanting to help and being part of the solution including taking on some of the financial obligations in the city that is going through bankruptcy. They indicated they are met with a brick wall at every turn with shelter operations manager, Debi Shuker, not only fighting them but also ordering animals killed in retaliation.

During discussion on a separate issue, Councilman Benito Barrios gave out his email address and commented that he knew the animal advocates already knew it as councilmembers had received over 700 emails each in the past few days from concerned citizens reacting to the recent incidents at the shelter. Maria Sanchez was removed from the shelter twice, the second time while under arrest, after bringing a dog named Sue to the attention of shelter management. Sue was left in her kennel for days with an untreated medical condition and wet bedding from a leaking roof.

Two online petitions are circulating, garnering a total of more than 14,500 signatures. Concerned citizens from 49 of the 50 states, Washington, D.C., the Virgin Islands, and more than 80 foreign countries have signed the petitions asking for change at the shelter.

Davis told members of the audience that if they wanted to speak, they could come back to the next meeting. It is scheduled for April 21, 2014, beginning at 4 p.m.