Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Carmel on the Case: Animal Aid
A South Florida pet rescue group dedicated to finding homes for unwanted animals is in trouble with animal protection authorities, at issue conditions at the facility it uses to house cats and dogs and an option that went very wrong. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- This picture of Lucy is all that a grandmother has left of the Shih Tzu she adopted from Animal Aid, a rescue group based in Boca Raton.
Doris Nevin: "She was just a joy."
Doris Nevin fell in love with Lucy but just a few weeks after taking her home, Animal Aid told her she'd have to give the dog back, that Lucy had an owner in Miami-Dade.
Doris Nevin: "At first I said 'I'm not giving her back.' And then I thought about it and if it was my dog, I'd want somebody to give her back to me."
Carmel Cafiero: "Lucy's trip to Doris's Lake Worth home began here in the parking lot of Miami-Dade Animal Services. Rescue groups often take pets before they're turned in to try to find them homes. The problem with Lucy was she had a microchip and she had been reported missing by her owner."
The mistake was discovered when Doris contacted Palm Beach Animal Control about a rabies tag. It checked the microchip number and discovered the adoption mistake.
Capt. Dave Walesky, Palm Beach Animal Control: "They adopted it back out to somebody else and then through our investigation we found the microchip of the dog, tracked it back and found that it was reported to be a stolen dog out of Miami."
Tamera Gibson is the president of Animal Aid. She admits and regrets the mixup mistake.
Tamera Gibson, Animal Aid: "It was a terrible situation, and it was an error, and you know, I apologized that's all I can do, it was a mistake. I didn't know. It wasn't like I maliciously or intently did that."
The county cited Animal Aid for the mix up and says it has found other problems.
Capt. Dave Walesky: "We're very concerned. We've been down there multiple times throughout the last year - we've issued them at least a dozen citations."
These pictures were taken by Palm Beach County Animal Control and are part of additional citations for "failing to provide clean and sanitary living conditions."
Investigators found "splatter all over the walls" from "nasal discharge, food, and blood."
Capt. Dave Walesky: "Animals being kept in small cages, lack of veterinary care, living condition arrangements, where the cages weren't being cleaned properly. The worry is animal cruelty of course, I mean we get concerned about what happens when you have on going neglect such as that."
Gibson insists the animals her group rescues are well cared for.
Tamera Gibson: "I don't feel that there's any mistreatment here, we have a lot of dogs, yes. I would never do anything wrong, intentionally , I mean, this was a surprise, and yeah I'm nervous. A crime by trying to rescue dogs, that's scary. I'm trying to do something good."
Gibson will have a chance to make her case before a judge at a later date.
Meanwhile, Gibson did give Doris another dog and did refund half of the $250 she paid for Lucy.
Doris Nevin: "She promised me another dog that looked just like Lucy her name was Harper."
Instead, Doris says she was given a male Max who is missing an eye and needs dental work, but she says she loves him anyway.IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE: