On Sept. 17, 2013, the undersigned received an unsolicited addendum from Apple Valley, Calif., Assistant Town Manager Marc Puckett in reference to a request for information sent to the town’s Animal Services Manager, Gina Schwin-Whiteside. The email read:
“In addition to Gina’s comments below, be advised that it has been brought to my attention that slanderous and libelous statements have been made against the Town and its employees regarding operation of the Animal Shelter. We do take misrepresentations of facts, slander and libel very seriously. As such, I have forwarded those comments to the Town’s Attorneys for review and consideration of follow-up action against the individuals involved.”
The email was a snapshot of events to follow.
Many within the local animal rescue community have been outspoken about the death that takes place at the Apple Valley Animal Shelter on an almost-daily basis—death that many say is unnecessary. Both the town’s willingness to work with rescues and the cleanliness of its shelter continue to be questioned by those in the rescue community. Animals are killed that rescues are willing to pull and animals die due to the disease spread by lack of proper cleaning protocols. Although the town claims to both work hard with rescue and to find unwanted animals new homes, the stats contradict that claim.
This year AVAC began contracting with the county of San Bernardino to accept animals from the unincorporated areas of the High Desert. The result was that the shelter, which went mostly unnoticed by the rescue community and had little outside scrutiny before, suddenly became a center of controversy due to the high death and disease rates at the shelter.
Rescues from around the Southland started becoming vocal about what had been the town’s dirty little secret. Social media went wild with stories, and town officials, such as Puckett, found themselves unprepared for the avalanche of criticism with the new-found scrutiny by the rescue community.
Members of the town council completely ignored pleas from the public for reform, except for Councilwoman Barb Stanton, who wants to enact a breed-specific ordinance against bully-type dogs. But the town manager’s office, as evidenced by the email above, instead chose to lash out at the rescue community with heavy-handed enforcement action and a public relations campaign designed to discredit the rescue community and justify the actions of the town’s killing philosophy.
Town council members--Art Bishop, Barb Stanton, Scott Nassif, Curt Emick and Larry Cussack—all have been contacted and have remained quiet. Their inaction is tantamount to tacit consent in support of the killing and death. It is also implied, if not direct, approval to the assistant town manager’s jihad against its citizens who speak out about the atrocities at the Apple Valley Animal Shelter. Freedom of speech is no longer allowed in Apple Valley if it is speech against the government.
In Part Two, we will examine one such case where the town seems unwilling to stop defaming a local rescuer and cost is no issue. It is not their money after all. And now she has filed a $5 million claim against the town