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Last update: June 12, 2015

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San Diego Department of Animal Services Sued For Mistreatment of Animals in Kennels and Retaliating Against Veterinarian Whistleblowers
Posted: May 30th, 2015
Dogs in Kennels with Freezing Floors in San Diego
A dog in a San Diego County Animal Shelter, a former county veterinarian has filed a lawsuit alleging mistreatment of the animals by the facilities.

San Diego county Department of Animal Services is being sued by a county veterinarian because the department failed to replace a boiler part and caused animals to sleep in kennels on unheated cement floors in extremely cold conditions. They also hosed down the kennels, with the animals still in them leading to further wet and chilly conditions. The veterinarian who worked for the county and filed the complaint said a number of the dogs died of preventable illnesses such as secondary pneumonia.

Essentially the shelter management failed to replace a $30 part that would have kept the heaters in the kennels working, and this issue has now turned into a lawsuit.

Walmart, which is a private company, has shown the wonderful difference that an organization unafraid of leadership can make when they announced in May 2015 their 5 Freedom Principles for Animals. Although the Animal Shelter is not required to follow compassionate guidelines like those Walmart has outlined, just as an example, the Animal Services has violated Freedom Principles #2 and #3 which are "Freedom From Discomfort" and "Freedom from Pain, Suffering and Disease."

Although San Diego usually has mild temperatures – the concrete floor temperature can fall well below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or close to freezing. Animals forced to sleep on the floor would experience their body temperatures dropping due to the cold floors. Everyone knows that trying to sleep when you are cold is very uncomfortable if not impossible and can be a terrible form of suffering.

Bruce Cauble, a San Diego veterinarian who worked for the county saw enough of the mistreatment of the animals at the shelters to speak out along with two other colleagues to outside agencies. As a result he says the county retaliated against him and the other veterinarians for whistleblowing on the county’s animal shelter practices. The lawsuit is brought by the former county veterinarian Bruce Cauble.

The shelter management failed to buy a $30 boiler part, needless to say they will blame it on a lack of funding, which is a cruel irony considering several managers in the department make over $100,000. Rather than take the suffering of the animals seriously, the shelter workers turned it into a joke and called the dogs ice puppies or pupsicles. The lawsuit alleges that it is the plaintiffs information and belief that dogs are continuing to be kenneled in extremely cold weather without floor heat.

As a result of the freezing conditions on the floor of the kennels where the animals sleep, a number of animals have died from “secondary pneumonia and respiratory diseases that are preventable,” says Cauble in a May 28th article appearing in the San Diego Union Tribune.

It appears that without some actual attempts at leadership and better management, the ice puppies will continue to suffer at the shelters. No funding should be increased for the shelters, however funding should be reorganized to be effective and the managers who thought it was humorous rather than serious that the animals were suffering should be moved.

By Andi Boggs


Reference List

McDonald, J. (28 May 2015) Suit says county kept dogs in cold conditions. San Diego Union Tribune, p. B4.


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