Humane Investigators are licensed through the Department of Agriculture. They are charged with investigating situations of neglect and abuse toward pets, small and large. Their job is extremely important in preventing cruelty to animals, and they do it at all hours of the day and night. Many look the other way, while HI’s show up to stop the suffering. Here are a few of their many stories.
Featured Investigation - 2011
I receive a report of a single man owning two small dogs that are kept indoors and not allowed out. The report stated the owner was physically abusive towards the dogs, kicking and yelling at them. They were lacking any vet care and were rarely fed.
After finding out who the owner was, I immediately called a police officer to escort me to the house due to the extensive violent history.
Upon arrival we were greeted by security locked doors which took several keys to get unlocked by the owner. Once inside I saw two little white dogs running around. They were missing hair, skinny, and covered in fleas. They were fearful of me, and I could not catch them to look more closely at them. I asked the owner to catch them, and they were obviously even more fearful of him! We eventually got a hold of them, and I explained the condition of the dogs was unacceptable and asked about their food and water; there was actual dried dirt in their dishes. I asked about vet care, and he stated they had never seen a vet even though they were 3 years old.
I explained there were county fines associated with not having your dogs properly vaccinated and registered for rabies, but that was the least of his concerns at this point. I asked the owner if he could make appropriate changes and get the dogs to a vet within 48 hours to establish their health conditions. He was very angry and began pacing back and forth, yelling and scream. Luckily I have quick reactions because he threw a glass of water towards me, but it hit the wall and shattered everywhere. The owner kept yelling at the police officer, “to get this **** out of my house,” all the while I’m trying to explain what he needs to do. The owner was not complying and not interested in taking the dogs to the vet or providing for them as instructed. He was even more belligerent when I explained that I would have to return several times to check on the condition of the pets. At this point, the owner was calling me more flavorful names.
Five minutes later in an attempt to get me out of the house, he decided to sign the dogs over to me, so I would leave and never come back. On the way out the door I noticed a cat in the corner. I tried to stop long enough to check on it, but the officer instructed me to keep moving, that we had to get out of the house immediately before the owner became more enraged. I’m thinking to myself, with a flea covered boney dog under each arm, my clipboard hanging out of my mouth,"You mean it gets worse?"
Once again, I made another friend!
Repeat Offender 2009
A call comes in that two dogs are in an outside dog kennel – skin and bones freezing to death. Nobody has seen anyone take food or water out there for at least a week or more.
Day 1 of investigation – I do a typical “drive by” to scope out the area and the how visible the dogs actually are. I find an alley that runs behind the home and see a standard chainlink fence with a small dog kennel run behind a small storage shed. It’s somewhat overgrown with brush, but I could easily see that there were indeed two dogs in the run. I decided it would be in my best interest to have a police officer escort me, just in case the owners did not like what I had to say. I pulled around front and waited for the officer. We approached the front door, knocked, and waited. We could hear screaming and yelling and everyone telling everyone else to get the door…what a welcome! Finally, a young lady came to the door and I explained that we needed to be escorted back to see the dogs due to receiving a concerned call. She immediately went into defense that the dogs belong to her mother, so I clarified that since she was of legal age and resided there as well, she too was a legal owner, and I suggested she get her shoes and coat while the nice officer and I wait. She took us through the back yard in six inch snow. I noticed that there was not one footprint leading out to the kennel where the dogs were living. I asked her to let the dogs out one at a time so I could put my hands on them to see just how thin they actually were, since it’s truly hard to tell on a long haired dog. I found one Shepherd female and one male pit bull mix. Both were extremely underweight to the point of demanding an explanation!
There was no food, not even a trace of frozen water. These dogs had one dog house with no roof,with the pen full of trash. I noticed even with all the snow in there, there were no feces, which lead me to believe these dogs either had nothing in their systems for that long of a period of time or they were so hungry they’d actually eaten all their own waste. It was 8:30pm, dark, and about 11 degrees. I asked the young girl to go get their food and their water –- I would wait while she did so. The dogs acted like they hadn’t eaten in a long time. I left and returned with two bales of straw for their dog houses,demanding the girl assist with putting the dog house back together and getting this straw put out and in their dog houses so they would not freeze to death, which was very possible considering their body condition and the severe cold.
I left a notice for the “owner” to call me in regards to their vet care and when the last time they had seen a vet was.
Day 2 of investigation – I received an angry call from the “owner” of the dogs. She was livid that I was demanding she take the dogs to the vet within 48 hours to determine if there was a health problem that would cause such poor body weight and conditions in her dogs.
Day 4 of investigation - The owner did as required, and I called the vet for a complete report. The vet stated that the dogs were in bad shape; they were a 1 and a 2 on the body scale charts, which is extremely thin and emaciated. The vet stated they did both have a severe infestation of worms but that would not cause this amount of weight loss unless they simply were not being fed. I told him of my suspicions and that I believed that to be the exact case. They were weighed at the visit, and I as well as the vet required the owner to return to the vet in 30 days for another weight check. During this time between vet visits I made a few drive-bys to make sure the dogs had food and water.
Day 34 of investigation - Amazingly, the dogs each gained almost 12 lbs in 30 days. These dogs were simply being starved before, and this was proof. To keep the case going, the vet required the owner to return in another 30 days to track the continued weight gain until they were back to healthy weights. It took 3 months, but they both eventually gained back 20 -22lbs and looked healthy.
Ongoing investigation – This situation continues to be one that I monitor on a bi-monthly basis. , going by to see the dogs, putting my hands on them, asking to see their food and water each time. The owner has since moved the dogs from the view of the public and now keeps them in her attached two-car garage, which is more protection from the weather than when they were outside. But they are “hidden” from anyone seeing what’s going on, like whether or not they are being fed on a regular basis. My most recent visit to this home was in November 2009. Both dogs looked good, had food in the dog food bag inside the house, but stated they had just eaten. I asked that they provide water while I was standing there because that’s the law. I snapped some pictures and noted the Shepherd mix was a bit thinner, and it seemed the other dog was pushing her away from the water as I’m sure he did with the food and they should start trying to feed them separately so she’s not getting starved out by the other dog. I'm not sure if they considered my suggestions, but I will return January 2010 to check their conditions again, and if the thinner dog has lost more weight, then that owner may find herself back at the vet spending more money she doesn’t have to prove why the dog is losing weight again.
What I find is that there are two types of offenders: the ones who simply need educated on what the law is and what they need to do to be in compliance, and then the ones who absolutely know better and just simply, for whatever reason, do not provide their pets with the bare minimum required by law.
In my experience, people who are cruel to their pets don’t change their ways very much. I always leave with: “you’ll be seeing me.”
Day 1 of investigation: I received a complaint of a starving dog in a back yard. I drove down the property alley to check out the situation. The dog had good set up, just no food or water visible. I did not leave a notice, thinking I’ll come back tomorrow; I’m sure there will be water and food at that time. I drove by the next evening and saw the same scene - no water visible - so I drove around to the front of the house but nobody was home. I decided to come back later in the evening to catch the owners at home rather than leaving a notice.
Day 4 of investigation: I received another complaint of a starving, wailing dog in back yard. It was male mixed breed in an outside dog pen with doghouse. The pen was full of feces, and the automatic feeder was empty with no water available. I went to the property and spoke with the owner, asking that he please provide food and water and clean the pen within 24 hours. I also asked for the dog's vet's name because the dog appeared a little thin. I said I was going to call the vet just to verify the last time he was seen. That's when the owner changed his mind about when the last time the dog had been to the vet and said it had been several years. I mentioned that they may want to get him current on his shots because there are county fines associated with not having your pets registered. I cannot enforce shots - that’s animal control or the police - so I just mentioned it as an extra boost to get the dog seen by the vet. I did not require them to have the dog seen by a vet because I have no right to ask them to because the dog seemed half healthy, and legally I cannot demand they see a vet unless the dog is dying or suffering. He was more worried about WHO turned him than taking care of his WAILING hungry dog in the back yard.
Day 5 of investigation: I called the vet to check the dogs health history, to find out if he had always been thin, and to ask his real age, since the owner had no idea. The vet said he had been out to the owner's property this morning to give all vaccinations and that he hadn’t seen the dog prior to that since 2004. He noted the dog was thin, but not underweight, and I agreed. The vet said he recommended that they put some type of straw or insulation in the dog house, and I said I’d be satisfied if they’d just feed and water him.
I returned to the property that night. This time I encountered the owner's wife, who was yelling at me to get off her property. (I was in the public alley behind her house.) She said they had been through hell with all of this in the last 24 hours and that I had no idea what I had done to them. I explained that I didn’t know why having to feed her dog caused them such a difficult time, but I tried thanking them for making the corrections so I that could be on my way. She demanded to see my “credentials,” which I showed her. She tried to take my identification from me, saying that she had called the county board and that I would be getting into trouble for causing them grief. (She did do this, but the board member laughed stating they had no authority over me and I had every right to be there if a complaint was made.)
She began saying that I told her husband that the dog was emaciated when I was there on Tuesday. I said NO I did not say anything about his weight – he’s too fluffy to really tell how thin he was and he certainly was no were near emaciated. She told me to mind my own business and that THEY would never butt into other peoples' business even if they were starving or beating their pets because it’s not their business. I explained that we have to respond when we get a call, and she replied that this would be the last time I’d ever be responding. I advised her to get on the internet and look up the law, and if they are within the law then we have no reason to come out. She said she was going to get No Trespassing signs so I couldn’t come back. I said "While you’re at it, buy a heated water bowl!"
She finally stopped retaliating when I said “Ma'am, if you were doing nothing wrong, then why all of the sudden did you feed the dog, give it water, clean out the pen and call the vet to see your dog? If nothing was wrong, you should not have had to do those things.” That’s when she quit yelling at me and went into the house.
Once again, a hungry dog has been fed and I managed to make more “friends.”