Five year old mare being removed by agents from the property of ACO Donnie Pickens
For months the Caruthersville Humane Society has been embroiled in a fight to protect companion animals in Pemiscot County against the entities and individuals that have been charged with their care. No, I do not mean the shelter staff or volunteers; I am referring to the City of Caruthersville and the Caruthersville Animal Control.
I shared an article from the Examiner a few weeks ago recapping what was happening with the City of Caruthersville Animal Control and the Caruthersville Humane Society. After months of unexplained deaths and concerns surrounding the Animal Control agent for the city, in March 2012, the board of the humane society voiced their concerns to the Caruthersville Director of Operations, Terry Rushing. The Caruthersville Humane Society takes the title Humane Society very seriously. This is a group that sets the bar for standards all organizations using the name Humane Society should be held to. They do not hide behind good intentions. They actively address abuse, neglect and all forms of inhumane treatment regardless of who the perpetrator may be. In this case, the suspect is the animal control officer herself, Donnie Pickens.
In April, because of a confirmed case of Parvo and a case of Distemper, the Humane Society was evicted from their location pending sterilization and improvements to the facility they shared with the Caruthersville Humane Society. I have been the executioner during a viral disease outbreak; I know what is required to insure the safety of animals brought into a facility contaminated by these preventable illnesses. But to tie the hands of a group as conscientious as the Caruthersville Humane Society, while sanctioning an individual as suspect of inhumane treatment as the Caruthersville Animal Control officer, is reason for concern itself.
Why do I say the ACO is suspect of inhumane treatment? Video tapes procured from cameras placed in the facility by CHS clearly showing Ms. Pickens performing euthanasia alone, that have been confiscated by Mr. Rushing, could be one reason. Animals brought into these facilities must be documented from intake to disposition. The number of unexplained deaths of healthy animals, dying while Ms. Pickens was the only person in the facility, could be another. The drug used to kill animals is a controlled substance. This means the DEA is in charge of its use and a veterinarian is held accountable for its control. I have also been in charge of accounting for every drop of this drug. While there is a certain amount that can be lost due to spillage or mishandling during storage, that amount should be negligible. What veterinarian is authorizing the use of this drug by an uncertified ACO already charged by the Missouri Department of Agriculture for poor record keeping?
This same ACO has just recently had her own animals confiscated due to abuse and neglect. Ms. Pickens surrendered a five year old mare found down on her property that an investigation showed she had taken possession of when this horse and another were found wandering the streets of Caruthersville. This horse was severely malnourished and septic due to a nail in her hoof. Once removed from Ms. Pickens, she has been treated and is expected to fully recover. There is no word as to the whereabouts of the second horse.
All allegations against this city employee have been well documented. Among the charges of animal cruelty several laws of the State of Missouri have been found to be violated. By law animals found as strays must be held for a minimum of five days before they become property of any animal control or animal shelter. Multiple instances of Ms. Pickens ignoring this statute have been cited without ramification. These accusations have been for the killing of everything from snakes to dogs. Yet the City of Caruthersville still chooses to ignore this Angel of Death's culpability in the needless death and inhumane treatment of animals she, as a professional, should be held responsible for above the standards of the average pet owner.
City governments assign animal control duties to insure the safety of communities and the animals themselves. In this case, the needs of the pet owners in Caruthersville and their pets are being sorely neglected. When inhumanity to the animals is being condoned by the very agents assuming the responsibility for the care of the animals and the community, it is time to draw a line and demand these agents be held accountable.
There is presently a petition being circulated requesting the Attorney General of the State of Missouri intervene and hold this city responsible. The citizens of Caruthersville itself are demanding accountability and reform of this city's acceptance of inhumane behavior by its chosen agent.
The line has been drawn and it is time all towns taking the responsibility for companion animals step up and address these responsibilities in a serious manner. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi; The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Caruthersville your behavior and position in this blatant disregard of ACO Pickens behavior can be judged as nothing less than immoral!
This is latest update on this situation as reported in the Examiner by Gila Todd.
An entire recap of this travesty in Caruthersville can be read in the links provided at the Examiner site.