Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Murder Hollow Bassets Fail Court Inspection

This is what a health and well-cared for Basset looks like.

Some months back, a handful of reactionaries went off half-cocked, and contrived a manufactured crisis. It seems the "Animal Rights" folks in Pennsylvania had "raided" Wendy Willard "without warning" and seized her legally kenneled pack of Basset Hounds.

Eh? And what was the supposed reason for all this? Ostensibly it was because the "Animal Rights" loons hated hunting.


Something was clearly wrong with this story, and from the get-go I urged caution and a go-slow-and-get-the-facts approach.

For one, Basset Hounds are generally not used for hunting in this country. The activities of a Basset Club are mostly comprised of overweight and aged matrons playing dress-up as they walk around a hay field with their dogs ambling around in front of them. After an hour or so, there is a break for lunch and tea. No one has a gun, and "no animals are killed in the making of this movie."

The second issue is that all this was supposed to be happening in Pennsylvania, where hunting deer, duck, rabbit, geese, turkey, elk, fox, raccoon, bear, and coyote are wildly popular, entirely legal, and heavily promoted activities. If you were to wage a war on hunting or hunting dogs, Pennsylvania is NOT where you would want to start that fight.

The third issue is that it was not PETA doing the "raid" on this kennel; it was the Pennsylvania SPCA. These folks have a regular television show on national TV where they rescue animals from cruelty and abuse, and they are funded by the state of Pennsylvania to act as Animal Control officers.

But never mind. The pack mentality of the paranoid took over and all kinds of nonsense made its way onto the Internet thanks to the breathlessly inflated right-wing nuttery of a blogger by the name of David Zincavage, who describes himself as a "right-wing web aggregator and purveyor of unpopular opinions."

In fact, he is simply a man who has a very casual relationship with the truth, and it soon tumbled out that almost everything he claimed and said about the Murder Hollow Basset pack on his blog was demonstrably wrong.

For example, Mr. Zincavage said Wendy Willard's dogs were seized without notice. Not quite. In fact, the PSPCA had stopped by and given Wendy written notice that she needed to contact them, and she ignored that notice. Then, when the PSPCA stopped by again, Ms. Willard went "Madwoman of Chaillot" and started throwing rocks at the officers and screaming at them. Needless to say, those officers came back very quickly with police officers in tow, and what they found at the kennel was shocking enough that they seized the dogs, took pictures, and filed criminal animal cruelty charges.

Zincavage said Willard's kennel had always been in compliance until a new law was passed in the dead of night changing all the rules. In fact, there was no new law, Willard's kennel has been wildly out of compliance for a very long time, and Philadelphia's dog laws are some of the most permissive in the nation, as I pointed out by actually doing the research.

So what's the update?

The short story is that Wendy Willard and the PSPCA went to court yesterday, and Ms. Willard lost after a judge looked at the pictures and heard the evidence.

Ten of the 11 seized dogs are to be permanently rehomed by the PSPCA. The PSPCA may consider rehoming suggestions made by Ms Willard, but they do not have to follow her suggestions; the PSPCA has the final say. Ms. Willard will be allowed to have one dog back -- the dog she said she kept in her house.

The criminal animal cruelty charges are still pending against Ms. Willard, but provided she cleans up her Kennel, fixes the roof, installs a drainage and watering system, and allows unfettered inspection by the PSPCA, those charges will be dropped in six months.

This is the kind of sentence a judge will impose on someone caught drunk driving or with illegal drugs in their luggage: "If you check yourself into rehab and go to Alcoholics Anonymous for six months (and get signed notes at each meeting saying you attended), we will drop the charges."

In a sentence like this, there is no question a serious violation occurred, but the judge is tempering his justice by trying to train the offender to go in a different direction in his or her life. The judge is saying: Show me six months worth of real change, and maybe you won't have to go to jail. But jail time is still hanging out there, which is why those criminal animal cruelty charges have NOT been dropped and are still pending.

The judge was apparently NOT amused by the kennel pictures he saw. What he saw was real abuse. And while he may be sympathetic that folks do, occasionally, get over their head with dogs or cats, there is a place to draw the line. And the line is a simple one: take care of the animals. Run a clean kennel. Make sure the roof doesn't leak, that parasites and bugs are kept at bay, and that dogs get veterinary attention. On all of these counts, Ms. Willard had been failing, which is why the order for remedial work is in place, and the criminal animal abuse charges are still in place.

Of course, all of this is typing, and sometimes a picture really is a 1,000 words. Have you noticed that Wendy Willard has never posted any pictures of her kennels or dogs?

Well, Amy Worden at the Philadelphia Inquirer Philly Dawg blog has. The picture below is of one of the Bassets found at Ms. Willard's kennel.

As Amy notes,

"Look closely at those little black dots on the dog's face, those are ticks. PSPCA officers say all the dogs in Willard's kennel were covered in ticks and some were suffering from Lyme Disease. Many had severe cases of parasites too."

This is what a "Murder Hollow" basset looks like; a flithy dog, shit caked on it ears, cherry eyed, tick-infested, with a healing wound over the left eye, standing on wet concrete.


The dogs were also covered in feces and were standing in water from a leaky roof.

In short, misery.

No wonder the judge was not amused and the criminal charges are still pending!


Cat and Daisy Lynn Rudert said...

Pat! Amazing update on the hearing yesterday. I put it in my forum for everyone of my readers.

The judge was also NOT amused with the death threats against the PSPCA. He told Wendy and her lawyers to call off the thugs.

Thanks for posting....

Cat, Chaps and Emma

Retrieverman said...

Ah, but to hear some of that crowd say it, Ms. Willard won't be going to jail. She will be going to the Gulag.

And that's where all dog owners will be headed.

To Obama labor camps, so they can take all the private property and place it in collectives.

Joe Biden is Kaganovich. Obama is Stalin.

Fox News will be shut down, and MSNBC will become the state run media company. The New York Times will be the new Pravda.

Of course, such bizarre scenarios only exist in the minds of people who think that private property is an absolute right. It is not. Private property isn't a very old right at all, and even when it was first developed out of the ashes of feudalism, it existed with certain strictures. These strictures exist to balance the rights of property with the needs of society. Yes, we have private property, but you can buy a tiger and keep it in a poorly designed fence right beside an elementary school.

PBurns said...

The REAL story here, of course, is that while accusations and complete nonsense were tossed all over the Internet about this case, the folks that did the crap- hurling are unlikely to go back now and admit that they never got the facts right. Fess up and clean up? That would be a real character test, wouldn't it? Let's see how that goes ....

Also, what about the money? Notices were placed all over the Internet saying that $10,000 a month was needed for Ms. Willard's legal defense.

Really? No pro bono lawyer could be found? Hmmmm.....

So how much money was raised, and where did it go? My bet is that very little money was raised, and that none of it will be accounted for.


Retrieverman said...

I just read Zincavage's response.

Interesting, but from what I've read about the history of French hounds, the use of packs of short-legged hounds originally started with hunting monks. Short-legged dogs are ideal for driving rabbits from cover, because they don't move fast and they don't cover too much ground. They can move rabbits over a very small area and wear them out, which is exactly what mink and the various species of weasel do when they hunt rabbits.

I don't think this was a very well-managed hunt. It's particularly bad when your main care-taker gets in this sort of trouble.

If everything Zincavage says is true, then she would have been able to get a pro-bono lawyer. There are tons of property rights and public interest lawyers in this country who would take the case, just to test the court's definition of due process.

But it doesn't seem to me that she has much of a case.

Look, I originally believed all of this crap. Having a Michelle Malkin logo on his blog should have been my warning. That said, I do like a lot of the dog stuff on his blog.

I don't think they're coming to take our dogs. As Donald McCaig said, if Mao Zedong couldn't do it, then I doubt that PETA will.

PBurns said...

David Zincavage has been wrong on every point in this case, and he continues to spout drivel, which is all he has ever has to offer on this case.

Those 10 dogs are GONE and are not going back to Wendy Willard. Say anything else and you are lying.

Ms. Willard never hunted her dogs, and hunting was never an issue in this case. Say anything else and you are lying.

Ms. Willard still has criminal animal abuse charges hanging over her head. Say anything else and you are lying.

Ms. Willard is being required by the court to repair her kennels within the next six months to avoid criminal charges. Say anything else and you are lying.

The kennel these dogs were kept in was a shambles, with the dogs coated in feces and parasites. Say anything else and you are lying.

Poor old David Zincavage. He has been caught out spouting nonsense and lies, and his invented facts have come crashing down in court. Now his inflated ego is such that he cannot own it. Poor thing!

Still unanswered is how much money was raised for Ms. Willard's "defense" and what happened to it.

Funny that no one seems to be talking about that. I guess "take the money and run" is the modus operandi at this point.

Is there a lesson here?

Sure: Avoid ideologues and do the real research.

Recognize that the world is full of people like David Zincavage who contrive crisis in order to foment war and turn a profit while doing so. Anyone else remember those "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq? How much money and how many lives did that cost?

The good news is that the judge in this case looked towards the dogs, and has moved to protect their interests. That is as it should be.


Cat and Daisy Lynn Rudert said...

It was insane how many bloggers grabbed that story from David without checking facts and spread it like a virus over the internet.

To read David's current posting is a waste of time. You don't see all of his followers linking to that on their blogs. Where are they now?

Then we have Julian the attorney! This guy was not even smart enough to pick a case that could remotely promote his cause of keeping the breeders over breeding!

I think you and I PB were the only ones checking the facts. Even the BHCA went off half cocked pleading for donations. They even printed a half page ad in the National publication (Tally Ho) begging for money and putting their blessing on the case. When I asked why they would not let me add a counter point they said that their minds (the board) had been made up and what was happening in PA must end in PA! Of course that was what Julian told them to say.

Now Wendy still has 11 or so dogs. That is the shame of the whole thing. Who in their right mind would want 11 intact dogs living in a hovel barn behind their home? Maybe a hoarder.

At least the AC officers can come check up on them. That alone will probably force her to re-home them. She can't hide her dirty little secret any more. The Judge saw to that.

Thank you Judge!


Unknown said...

Right wingers don't care about people once they past the embryo stage. It's no surprise to me they care nothing about animals.

Those folks probably think Michael Vick is a terrific guy, too.