Thursday, October 18, 2012

Henry Was A Sharpei Who Died At Toronto Animal Services In August. The Question Is How?

RIP Henry
Recently I have seen postings regarding the sudden death of a Sharpei named Henry who was housed at Toronto Animal Services North back in August. From what I gather Henry was turned over to TAS after biting one of his owners. From here there appear to be frightening circumstances that led to Henry's tragic (and I do not use the term lightly) death.

According to two eyewitnesses, Rita Mueller from Scooby's Dog Rescue entered the shelter in an attempt to remove Henry. When informed that Henry had a violent history Rita took it upon herself to enter Henry's shelter room in an attempt to control him. The following are two eyewitness accounts of what took place. They are posted on this Facebook page and I must say if true are quite horrifying :

Witness Statement 1-

Rita M was trying to rescue a Shar Pei named Henry who was surrendered by his owner to Toronto Animal Services. She did not share much info about Henry except that he bit the husband. I do not know Rita but went to Animal Services when I saw an online plea. The shelter told me that there is A LOT more to Henry's story that I was not told about. He has bitten everyone that came in contact with him and is not doing well so PTS is the best things especially since the owners have not been very honest about Henry's past.

- Rita then arrives at the shelter with (Person A) for support. She has many leashes and a muzzle with her in hope of pulling Henry out of the shelter that day since he was due to be PTS

-she did not have a proper choke leash so made a noose our of a regular leash and said she would use that instead .... I was under the impression she was a proper rescue and knew what she was doing

- it was my first time meeting her

- she was told by the shelter she had 30 mins only and is not permitted any help because shelter cannot put mine and (Person A's) life in danger

- instantly I saw Rita's hands start shaking and she said 30 mins is not enough time. Then explained that she had already tried to pull him 10 days before but he bit her on her finger

- I did not know this .... so understood why the shelter gave her 30 mins only because if she could not get henry to co-operate in the first 10 mins there was no hope anyways but Rita was certain she can try better this time having come in with more leashes

- we are escorted to Henry's quarantine area but are not allowed in. Only Rita can go in alone. But when the door was opened we observes how peaceful Henry was

- he did not instantly get up and attack or start barking from the get go ... my gut feeling is and I'm no expert is that Henry was just not feeling well due to years of neglect which was making him unhappy but he mostly did not want to be handled

- door closes

- Rita goes in

- comes back out 20 mins later with blood all over her!!!! We asked if she is ok

- she said its not her bleeding but him .... we asked shelter staff what to do ... Ali the shelter staff said maybe he tried to bite Rita through the cage

- Rita asks for a bit glove and says "she is just going to have to go in there and take him down" .... Ali says wrap it up cause you only have 5 mins

- 5 mins later we open the door ... Henry was noosed to a leash

- the other side of the leash which the humans hold was tied to his cage

- this means that when henry pulled back it got tighter unlike when we hold in our hands we can let go and the noose will loosen

- he had blood all over him and it all happened very quickly

- but the door was open henry was up gasping for air then suddenly collapsed and when he fell down he hung himself due to the way Rita had noosed and tied his leash to the cage 

- instead of releasing him from the noose and leash Rita proceeded to put the muzzle on him while Henry took his last breath and died in front of us

- shelter staff checked for heart beat and in matter of 5 mins Henry was gone

- Rita walked out like nothing happened ... washed her hands and shoes because poor henry was bleeding, urinated and took a poo because he was figthing for his life in there

- Rita then said she needs to get out of there ...

- (Person A) then informs me she had only met Rita that day and the story gets weirder

- she said Rita asked (Person A) to meet her away from the shelter first .... she will drive to X location get in (Person A's) car

- I asked why? She has a car

- (Person A) said she is not legally allowed to drive

- so I was thinking WTF

- then we had to drop rita off to her car and she said nothing

- we let her out of the car and she asked us if we wanted to go for drinks

- I said HELL NO ... I wanted to get back to the shelter

- I drove myself and (Person A) back to the shelter gave them my info and told her that OSPCA needs to presss charges on Rita

- Shelter staff was very shook up as well and said they will do what they can but nothing like this has ever happened


SECOND STATEMENT

Anyway, this is my statement of what Elaine and Sienna told me right after they dropped Rita off.

Yesterday Rita, from 'Scoobys Doghouse' rescue contacted me via pm about a Sharpei named 'Henry'. She said he was in the OSPCA in Toronto and he had until 10am to be rescued or he would be PTS due to aggression. I asked if there was a court order, she said no that he only had to be muzzled. I contacted two friends who live in the Toronto area, and within hours it was arranged to pick up Henry and Elaine was going to foster him until a suitable sanctuary or rescue could be found to place him. Rita met up with Sienna in a mutual place, Rita said she can't to the SPCA because she wasn't supposed to be driving. Sienna rushed to meet up to drive her. Sienna and Rita met up with Elaine who was already waiting for them. At this point Elaine had spoken to the SPCA and found out that there was no rush on Henry, he had until Tuesday! A worker also said he had taken Henry out for awhile and he was really good.

According to the SPCA rules, Rita was the only one allowed in to retrieve Henry and the girls were going to be waiting for them in the waiting room. Rita had only brought a glove and a thin leash. They questioned her about that, having had aggressive issues they wondered if the leash would be sufficient. Rita said she would just use the glove and grab him and bring him out to them. She opened the door where they saw Henry very calm in the cage with an inquisitive look. Awhile later, Rita opened the door and to Elaine and Sienna's horror they saw Henry dead on the floor with urine and feces around him and blood all over Rita's arm. She had used the leash around his neck and tied it high on the bars of the kennel and he strangled to death. They asked where the blood came from, it was Henry's not hers. She said he had bad teeth and that must have been where it came from. Elaine and Sienna were in a state of shock and very shaken, they said Rita's disposition was baffling as if it didn't even phase her. They quickly drove her back to her car and returned back to the SPCA to see if anything could be done, and they told them that Henry 'belonged' to Rita. His owner surrendered him to her.

End of Statement

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From what I now gather this case in in the hands of the OSPCA and Rita Mueller has been charged with animal cruelty (she has since found guilty of animal cruelty for another case and is awaiting sentencing in Febuary).

Today I received a response from a Toronto Animal Services supervisor :

"I can confirm that on August 24th the North Shelter had a Shar Pei named Henry in our custody. Unfortunately Henry died under unusual circumstances.  I notified the OSPCA to report the incident and request an investigation. The OSPCA is conducting their  investigation into all the circumstances surrounding the incident and Henry's death and I am confident they will address the complaint appropriately. 

I want to assure you that Toronto Animal Services takes these matters very seriously and  we have conducted a parallel review of this incident.  We have written new policies and procedures around the presence of Animal Service staff during the transfer of care to ensure further incidents involving the transfer of animals is minimized. 

Thank you for your inquiry and I trust you understand that, until the OSPCA investigation is heard in court, we are not able to comment on the specifics."

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First I'd like to thank TAS for the response and being as transparent as they can under the law. I have a feeling that perhaps a volunteer or employee may have gone against protocol in allowing Ms. Mueller into Henry's room unsupervised. Unfortunately this decision resulted in a tragic result, though it appears TAS is doing what it can to prevent such an instance in the future. Must they share some blame? Of course, but at least they are being proactive.

On to Rita Mueller and the government :

I see little need to address Rita Mueller or her actions. We all feel the same way. What needs to be addressed is the LACK OF ACTION taken by the government. Rita Mueller should not have been allowed any contact with Henry. Animal "rescuers" with prior convictions or current charges can no longer be allowed to profit off of the backs of the very animals they hurt.

***Update : The provincial court in Caledon has confirmed the Rita Mueller of "Scooby's Doghouse" rescue has been convicted on two counts of causing distress to animals. These charges date back to 2011, and Ms. Mueller will be sentenced in February 2013. Apparently Ms. Mueller had 29 dogs in her "care" at the time the charges were laid. With regard to the charges focusing on Henry the Sharpei, I have no doubt Ms. Mueller will have to appear again before court in the near future.

Update January 3 : There is now an arrest warrant issued for Rita Mueller. If you have any information call Crime Stoppers or your local precinct. It saddens me that a warrant has been issued SIX MONTHS after the alleged murder, but for now that is neither here nor there. Let's bring this animal killer in!

 

January 4 : This morning Rita Mueller surrendered to police at 32 Division. My latest article with regard to Ms. Mueller's past actions will be on the blog later toay.