Slaughter in Summit

Letters published November 5, 2003

Alien: The Director's Cut
Slaughter in Summit
Legal doesn't make it right: Kudos to Scene for having the courage and the enlightenment to write an excellent, very revealing story on a subject that needs exposing: the horrors at the Summit County Animal Slaughter ["House of Horrors," October 22]. It mystifies me why County Executive James McCarthy has chosen to take this stance. Had McCarthy made a serious investigation of the allegations CHAP found during its investigation, he could have emerged as a hero. Instead, he has chosen to circle his wagons around individuals who have been misleading him because they want to protect their jobs. His loyalty to the pound staff, while admirable, is misplaced.

How can the county consider its investigation thorough, if none of the people making the allegations have been talked to? How does it prove that use of illegal heart sticks didn't take place at the pound prior to September, when the staff was notified of the allegations 10 days prior to a vet witnessing the euthanasia at his office, not the pound, on one dog, by one staff member? Wake up, Mr. McCarthy. You're being lied to.

Our motivation for investigating the pound is this: We object to innocent animals being killed en masse, needlessly and for retaliatory reasons. Contrary to McCarthy's thinking, a well-run shelter doesn't have to murder 80 percent of the cats and 60 percent of the dogs that cross its threshold.

Geauga County's shelter has euthanized 21 dogs this year. Glenn James, on the other hand, killed 1,805 dogs between June 2002 and August 2003. James ordered 20 dogs killed when there were 53 empty cages. Why doesn't a dog or cat that has been relinquished by its owner get an opportunity to be adopted in Summit County? The dog warden in Geauga attributes his shelter's success to new ideas and 15 volunteers. Mr. James doesn't want volunteers at his shelter. Why is that?

The county's fabricated account of the mass murder of August 25 said it was legitimate because the 36 cats had "severe" fleas on Sunday. Therefore, they couldn't wait until Monday morning to be rescued. Since James knew these cats were going to be rescued and he had my telephone number, and all animals sold at the pound are sold "as is," why didn't he simply call to have me pick them up? Why did he find it so much easier to have them executed?

I am an African American woman. I remember a time when the law said it was legal to own slaves and that black folks were only three-fifths of a human being. Yes, it was legal. But that didn't make it right.

Pat Shaw

Heads should roll: "House of Horrors" truly hit me hard. Why doesn't someone go into the Summit County Shelter and fire all of the heads there? How can this continue to happen without anyone doing anything? I guess nobody cares enough. How sad.

This Farrance guy has a serious control problem. That he should have the power to mass-kill like that just brings tears to my eyes, especially when I have two dogs adopted from the Cleveland Shelter and the APL, which I love like my own kids.

If I could have five minutes with these guys -- but I can't lower myself to such filth. And nothing is going to be done, because it only deals with animals. The best-known therapy for a human being are these beautiful, loyal, and loving creatures, and all we do is mass-kill them. I'm ashamed of the human race. May you cruel people rot.

Linda Rosales

It needed to be told: I am completely disgusted and sickened by the way the Summit County Shelter is run. I don't understand how a man like Glenn James can continue his work. I'm very surprised this article didn't make it to The Plain Dealer or even the Akron Beacon Journal. I'm very happy that Sandi Regallis and others have stepped forward to bring this story out. Thank you for writing this article.

Stephanie Fischlin
Broadview Heights

"Shelter" in name only: I was passing by the newsstand when the cute dog picture caught my eye. But I was mortified after I finished reading "House of Horrors." Aina Hunter provided an all-too-clear description of the cruelty and sadness in that shelter. I volunteered many times at a shelter, and some of these "procedures" I am hearing about are very old and inhumane.

I have some questions: Why didn't workers go to the police? Also, if the shelter is overloaded with too many animals, why did they not file for a grant or ask for donations?

The article was inspiring and intelligent, and showed that a shelter isn't always the best place for a stray.

Brenna Lafond

Anger as a call to action: I must admit that I have never read such an amazing article, one that stirred so many emotions -- mostly anger. I have never responded to any type of media story, but with this article, I felt compelled. I am hoping that you do a follow-up piece to keep the readers informed on any actions that, hopefully, will take place due to the article.

Now for the obvious question: Is there anything that I can do? I have shared the article with quite a few of my friends and family, and we all feel that we need to do something to make sure that this does not continue.

Dan Nutaitis

An activist is born: I was moved by Aina Hunter's article "House of Horrors." My daughter Nicole is a seventh grader and would like to know what Summit County public official she can write to. She's doing it for a project in her class. They had various options, and she chose to write to someone in Akron about this.

Her teacher was really floored at how motivated my daughter is. Whether it's for school or not, she'd like a response back from Akron on what their view is and what they are going to do about it.

I love that my daughter is so committed to this, so impassioned. She cares deeply about this situation. She wants to be a writer. It took an article like yours to really move her.

Jay Jones

Editor's note: You can register complaints with Summit County Executive James McCarthy at 330-643-2627. To get involved, email Friends of Pets at [email protected].

Homeowner Hell
Get the word out on Fairbanks: Sarah Fenske did a great job summarizing the frustration many state regulatory agencies have with Fairbanks Capital ["Blind Eye," October 15]. The Better Business Bureau of Utah has received almost 800 complaints on this company.

Ohio has one of the better sets of consumer-protection laws on the books, and I'd personally rate Ohio as one of the top five states for enforcement of consumer laws. It is disappointing when issues such as those Fenske has identified fail to be addressed in the law. Consumers may ultimately be heard, if they continue to file complaints with their Better Business Bureau, state regulatory agencies, and even their elected officials. When businesses will not self-regulate, then public awareness, media attention, and political action are all legitimate alternatives to empower and protect the consumer.

Russell Behrmann, CEO
Better Business Bureau of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT

Justice for All
Catholics included: Frank Lewis is a pretty clever writer. By starting "Though the Heavens Fall" [October 22] with the paranoid views of the Catholic League, he makes the paranoia of his subject, Jay Milano, seem almost reasonable. Yet, there is a big difference between the two: the Catholic League's paranoia seems sincere (if lunatic), while Milano's is probably another cynical manipulation of the legal system. His actions are another example of the knee-jerk anti-Catholicism that has dogged this country since the colonial era.

Lewis's criticism of the Plain Dealer is similarly clever and misleading. I haven't read Milano's motion either, but the PD's legal expert was exactly right. The contention that a Catholic in public office must put the church's teachings ahead of his/her own conscience is exactly what John F. Kennedy refuted in his famous speech during the 1960 campaign. It has been further refuted by Catholics such as William Brennan, Geraldine Ferraro, and Ted Kennedy, who have all supported the legalization of abortion despite the church's loud and long condemnation.

I am completely in favor of justice being done for the victims of sexual abuse. The church should make suitable reparation for any abuses in which it shares the blame. However, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that lawyers in class-action suits earn more money than any of their individual clients. Letting justice be done will undoubtedly put a lot of money into the pockets of Jay Milano and Stacy Ganor. I'd be more impressed with their thirst for justice if they donated their take to victims' rights groups.

However noble Milano's motives may be, his appeal to prejudice places him squarely in the tradition of the Ku Klux Klan, nativists, and other bigots who can't see past an individual's religious affiliation. The Lewis article shows, yet again, that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice in America.

James Gutowski
Fairport Harbor

Judge not: The Catholic faith is an easy target these days. Frank Lewis's article jumped on the bandwagon. The problem is that he did it at the expense of the majority of American Catholics, who have a very down-to-earth and realistic perspective on life.

Jay Milano discredits his own profession by claiming that judges cannot rule over a case because of their religion. Is a Catholic teacher too blind to teach evolution? Is a Catholic social worker not mentally fit to counsel single moms or homosexuals? Do Catholics walk around, as Lewis's article suggests, in a haze of ancient beliefs, incapable of formulating rational thoughts?

Catholics are not zombies. All religions have out-of-date, sometimes absurd beliefs. It doesn't mean that they all live and die by these unrealistic viewpoints. Most people know about the Islamic belief that to die in a holy war means to be granted dozens of virgins in the afterlife. So, are Muslims too senseless to be judges? What about a situation where a homosexual man is accused of raping another man? If the judge is a homosexual, should he be excused on the grounds that homosexuals have a deep connection, due to the struggles of living in an intolerant society?

Some of the principles the Vatican holds are obviously ridiculous, but bashing them is old news, so zero points to Lewis for originality. But I will give Mr. Lewis props on writing an article that stirs up emotions. This is why I read Scene. I am a Catholic, but I believe in birth control; I believe in a woman's right to choose; I believe in the death penalty. In my humble view, Lewis's article is insulting to modern Catholics. I can tell you that every Catholic I know does not completely support the Vatican's principles and does have a realistic view on the world.

Catholic, Methodist, Jewish, Islamic -- who cares who presides over any case? It seems that Frank Lewis cares -- and made it clear that he thinks Catholics are not capable of being impartial, fair, and ethical judges.

By the way, I enjoy Scene very much.

M. Walter

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