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Additional Questions Raised About Hesperia Animal Shelter

HESPERIA– (  A February 12th Hesperia animal shelter incident came to light when a video was shared with Victor Valley Pets on February 19th. The 9-second video showing a dog dragged through the shelter hallway, was more than an eye-full causing a reaction from people not only in the Victor Valley area, but also animal advocates in Los Angeles County. The Hesperia Animal Shelter supervisor, was unavailable to comment and did not return calls from Victor Valley News reporters.

A past shelter employee, who asked to remain anonymous for legal reasons has identified the alleged people in the video. Victor Valley News will withhold from publishing the name of the person seen dragging the dog until the investigation is complete.  The former employee alleged the two other’s who stood by in the video are Officer Osvaldo Montes and Supervisor Cheryl Lewis. The former employee, also shared that she was let go from her position only after speaking out about some of the happenings at the shelter.

The Hesperia Animal Shelter, located at 11011 Santa Fe Avenue E posted an update to their Facebook page saying the following:

To clarify, this is not a closed matter, by any means. City management is actively investigating the circumstances surrounding this event.

To those that have contacted us about the video posted earlier today, we understand your concern and we extend our sincerest apologies. Please know that this matter is being taken very seriously. As we have mentioned, we have standard procedures in place for the proper care of animals and those procedures were not demonstrated in this video. Shelter animals, as well as members of the community, deserve better and we vow to do better. We are thankful for the outpouring of concern for the animals in the shelter and are committed to providing the best possible care to those in our custody.

The post did little to keep the emotions of those who are upset at bay, a protest is planned for February 26th at 9:00 a.m. at the shelter. “I am shaking after watching that, this is really hard to watch or even imagine. I am just really disturbed,” said Teresa Chagrin a PETA Animal Care and Control Specialist. “Shelter animals have already been through so much when they get to the shelter, for them to suffer from this kind of abuse is beyond comprehension. There is no excuse for these animals to be treated in this way”.                 

Few felt the video caused an overreaction on the part of viewers. “It was being dragged because it didn’t want to go, so everybody is screaming animal abuse,” said Victorville resident Lena Jones in a message. Although Jones seemingly accepted the dog “not wanting to go” as a viable excuse, few others agreed with that logic. “Never at any time is it acceptable to drag an animal by it’s neck, especially in a professional setting. That is cruelty to animals, the animal does not need to be bleeding for it to be cruelty,” said Chagrin.

Several rescues who frequent these facilities in hopes of saving animals, say this is really not a shock to them. “Rescues who are experiencing problems are afraid to speak out because their ability to save animals from the shelter will be revoked. Code enforcement continually cites you for silly violations like having too many nails in your wooden fence or the branches of your trees being too long,” said an animal advocate Stephanie Lonsdale.

The city of Hesperia, in a statement on their Facebook page stated,

Message to our Facebook followers and the local and online community,

The City Council and Management understand the concern expressed by the community regarding the Animal Shelter video posted to social media yesterday. This issue is being taken very seriously and there is an ongoing investigation into staff conduct.

The dog in the video has since been reunited with its owner. 

A Hesperia woman, who believes based on the video that the dog is her dog that was picked up from the shelter on February 13th. Although she said she can not be certain it was in fact her dog “Mia” the dog in the video did appear to be her Pitbull mix. A woman who also reported the incident on Victor Valley Pets on the 12th described the dog as a white Pitbull.

“Her previous owner decided that she was going to give Mia to us that weekend. Unfortunately, on the 12th, AC saw her sitting out front and picked her up.  We looked everywhere for her and the previous owner found her at the shelter. However, they insisted on fixing her, which is understandable. Anyhow at this time, and given the fact that almost $300 was spent to get her out, the previous owner asked me if I would pick her up and take her home straight from the shelter instead of waiting any longer. So I did and that night I saw a post from someone named Marlene about a white Pit being drug by the neck, then yesterday I saw the actual video. I’ve spoken with AC, the city management department, and an attorney. Yes she is currently my dog. I picked her up on the 13th at around 2-3 p.m,” said Tracie Carpenter.

A special meeting has been called at the Hesperia City Hall on Monday at 6:30 p.m. to address the situation to the public. The community of animal advocates are planning a protest that  will be held at the shelter on Thursday, February 26th at 9:00 a.m.

There is a press conference scheduled for representatives of the media on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 12:30 p.m., at the Hesperia City Hall.

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