Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Phillip Sumner”

Follow-up to the JPA Animal Abuse Meeting

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

By Emerson Drake

Technically it was the conversation that wasn’t.  Modesto’s representative, MPD’s Captain Harris, didn’t understand that for something to be discussed it had to be on the agenda of the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) since it falls  under the Brown Act.  A lamentable occurence since it would have pushed this to the forefront county-wide.  As long as Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager, who claims to be an animal lover through intermediaries, is in office animal abuse will NOT be punished within the County borders. This  makes it imperative for the cities concerned about animal abuse to develop an ordinance of their own.  The potential ordinance was passed out to all of the JPA members, one of whom provided me a copy. 

Modesto City Attorney Susanna Acala Wood is still refining the verbiage but since Modesto’s Safety and Communities Committee’s agenda is full it won’t be heard until sometime in February, so there isn’t a rush.  Since this committee’s meetings have been cancelled four times out of the last six it’s no surprise the agenda is full.

Some of the families including those of Hallie Sue Robinson and Heather Sisk are disappointed that the proposed ordinance won’t provide any remedy for the past.  But they do understand that if these men and any others abuse animals in the future, including cats, they will be punished. 

For those who would like to let District Attorney Birgit Fladager know how they feel about her foot-dragging, here is her office number (525-5550 ).  Please don’t hesitate to call since she likes to hear from the public how you feel about the job she’s doing for you.

We’re going to help by keeping this topic front and center to assist in helping it pass, there are also several vocal supporters in the City Council including Councilmen Joe Muratore, Dave Geer and John Gunderson, along with City Attorney Susana Acala Wood. To get a more complete background on this story we have an article from November 30,  “Modesto’s Cat Killer Phillip Sumner.”

We’ll discuss the rest of the JPA meeting in another article.  Once again there are things both good and bad happening out at the Animal Services Building you need to know but haven’t heard of.

Here is the proposed ordinance without the tweaks”

ORDINANCE NO. __________-C.S.

 

AN ORDINANCE ADDING SECTIONS 5-4.405 TO ARTICLE 4 OF CHAPTER 4 TITLE 5 OF THE MODESTO MUNICIPAL CODE RELATING TO DISPOSITION OF STRAY ANIMALS

 

The Council of the City of Modesto does ordain as follows:

 

 

SECTION 1.   AMENDMENT OF CODE.  Section 5-4.405 is hereby added to Article 4 of Chapter 4 of Title 5 of the Modesto Municipal Code to read as follows:

 

5-4.405    DISPOSITION OF STRAY ANIMALS

 

(a)                It shall be unlawful and a misdemeanor offense for any person who contains any stray animal (including cats) found at large or on their property to abandon the animal.

 

 

(b)               Within eight (8) hours after containing any such animal, the person doing so shall do one of the following:

 

(1)               Return the animal to the owner if the owner is known.

 

 

(2)               Report to City of Modesto Animal Control officials the fact that such animal is contained, a description of the animal and license number of such animal if any; or

 

 

(3)               Transport the animal to the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency facility and provide the date, time and location of when and where the animal was located when surrendering the animal to facility staff.

 

 

(c)                Animal Control Officers shall pick up and dispose of such animal in the same manner as though such animal had been found at large and impounded.

 

 

(d)               This section shall not be interpreted to apply to a person or organization registered with the Animal Services Agency as a caretaker for feral cats when that person is caring for feral cats.

Animal Abuse Ordinance to be Discussed at JPA meeting Thursday at 9:00AM

A montage I (Valente Q.C.) made with pictures ...

A montage I (Valente Q.C.) made with pictures that I took for the Infobox in the Modesto, California Article. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Emerson Drake

Thursday 12/20 at 9:00 AM an animal abuse ordinance is going to be discussed which would allow cities to prosecute abusers, since our District Attorney, Birgit Fladager refuses to .  It’s a sad situation when cat killers like Phillip Sumner and Jeff Reed are allowed to lure, trap, and abandon animals without any penalties.

The meeting is going to be held at 3647 Cornucopia Way at the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency.  The Modesto City Council has taken the lead along with Chief Balentine and Captain Harris from the Modesto Police Department,  and we hope an ordinance will be in place by early February.  I know it won’t bring  justice to those suffering from past abuse, but hopefully it will help prevent future occurrences.

And if you can find time feel free to give our District Attorney Birgit Fladager a call and ask her why she won’t protect our pets.

Her phone number is 525-5550  I guess we shouldn’t be surprised no email is listed on the County’s website. Or if you are so inclined, appear at a Board of Supervisors meeting and tell them how you feel.

I went and spoke to them last night about this and other subjects during Public Comment Period.  They appreciate all of the input the public is willing to give them.  It’s towards the beginning of their meetings so you can speak and stay and listen or leave when you’re through.

They’re a friendly Board  and it really is almost painless.

Modesto’s Cat Killer…Phillip Sumner

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was taken by me on January 14, 2010 in Modesto, California I hereby relinquish all rights to this photo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Emerson Drake

I try to bring a variety of concerns to the public’s attention and this topic has been brought to the attention of the Board of Supervisors (BoS)  and the Modesto City Council. 

Modesto resident Phillip Sumner says he has been capturing 18-20 cats each year for the last 10 years  here in Modesto.  Many, if not most of these were family pets.  An argument can be made they shouldn’t be in his back yard but he baits them by placing multiple cans of cat food in his yard to attract them.  He uses cages to capture them and then takes them miles away from his home and dumps them in city parks and business parks where, according to his own words “they’ll never find their way back here again”,  meaning home.  Maybe the worst part is he then brags to the families about his activities. He has even bragged to a family with a young autistic youth who “related” to his pet cat as a means of coping with the world, that he captured their pet and dumped it without remorse.

According to animal rights groups and local officials, most “pet cats” will starve when dumped in the wild unless adopted by people living around the parks.

 The Board of Supervisors paid little, if any, attention to the women who have had their pets captured and dumped around the city and the county, even after they made a heart-felt plea for help.  They have tried going to the District Attorney’s office but were told they were too busy to bother and also suggested the state animal cruelty and anti dumping ordinances weren’t applicable…basically they were told “go away and don’t bother us.”  I was actually told by a  member of the BoS  that in the scheme of things this wasn’t important enough for them to focus on.

These women appeared in front of the Modesto City Council to tell them of their problem on October 23,2012. This link will allow you watch and listen to the multiple women who spoke that night. It occurs around 38 minutes to the meeting so once it loads you can fast forward to the time. http://www.modestogov.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=461&doctype=AGENDA  Once the video starts you take your cursor just below the blue line and it turns into a finger. Click your mouse finger and the meeting advances.

Fortunately the City Council listened and cared.  First the women were referred to Police Chief Gene Balentine who listened to their story a second time, took notes and promised to get back with them.  One thing you can be sure about with Chief Balentine, if he says he’ll get back to you, he does.  After checking everything out he contacted the women again and told them of the situation. The D.A.’s office continued to rebuff the women’s concerns.  But the Chief came forward with an update when I spoke at the 11/13/12 Council meeting. If you take this link and go to 34 minutes 50 seconds  in and you can listen to the complete discussion. http://www.modestogov.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=463&doctype=AGENDA 

I had spoken with Chief Balentine before the start of the meeting but since it had been three weeks I thought the topic should be brought up again during a Council meeting.  The Chief had spoken with the women several time and had laid the ground work for the next step. He and I had discussed this topic during the interim meeting where he brought me up to speed.  We had vocal support from Councilmen Joe Muratore and Dave Geer along with City Attorney Susanna Acala Wood who said once we have an ordinance we could be assured her department would aggressively pursue the offender.  City Manager Nyhoff spoke to help provide an update. 

Councilman Muratore asked me to assist in the search for an existing ordinances. I did do many internet searches and came up with four I thought would work best out of the many I sorted through.  I forwarded them to City Attorney Susanna Acala Wood for review.  Since then I’ve received the following email which was circulated to those who were following this with interest.

Sue/Sherry,

I just wanted to give you guys an update on what we’ve been doing.  Captain Mike Harris has been in contact with Annette Patton from the Animal Shelter, as well as representatives from the County and City.  Additionally I spoke with the County CEO’s office today (Doris) and she/they are interested in moving forward together.  What we are doing is researching other agencies with ordinances that would meet our needs.  The suggestion from the County District Attorney’s Office was that we consider adopting local ordinances that would be more on-point with this issue, rather than using the 597 section.  So, we are moving forward with that idea.  Captain Harris has located some ordinances and I believe the County folks also have some samples.  We plan to meet with the City and County legal staff to see if we can’t draft an ordinance that will meet the needs of the City and County, and can be adopted by each entity.  I believe they are meeting next week to try to hammer something out. 

 

Emerson, I know that you volunteered to assist in the project and also research some other city/county ordinances.  I’ve included Captain Harris’ email in the “cc” line of this email so that you can communicate with him any ordinances you may have located that you feel is on point.

 

Just wanted to update you on what is happening.  I’m hoping that once we get some good language in place the process can move fairly quickly. 

 

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving,

 

Gene Balentine

Interim Chief of Police

Modesto Police Department

So the system is working, the City Council, staff, and county personnel, along with citizens are working toward implementing the necessary City Ordinances to protect helpless animals.  And the wheels of justice are moving forward to stop the heinous practice of cruelly killing pets in Modesto by intentional abandonment.

I’ll let you know when the next step occurs.

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