An Alley Cat Allies in-depth investigation has revealed that Berkeley County Animal Control, West Virginia violated state animal cruelty laws multiple times by intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly withholding necessary medical treatment from animals in its shelter. Animals suffered in silence for days without the critical veterinary care Berkeley County Animal Control is legally obligated to provide.
To protect animals in Berkeley County, Alley Cat Allies has taken the case directly to West Virginia’s highest court. On November 23, 2021, we filed a writ of mandamus in the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. This lawsuit asks the Court to compel Berkeley County Animal Control to comply with the law by providing veterinary care for the animals in its shelter.
“West Virginia’s animal cruelty laws apply just as much to Berkeley County Animal Control as to any member of the general public,” says Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “Justice for the animals abused in the shelter is the top priority. The next step is to create a humane animal control agency that adheres to laws and best practices, earns the trust of the community, and guarantees real protection for animals.”
Shocking Cruelty Revealed
Details of the abuse taking place at Berkeley County Animal Control shelter are hard to read but impossible to ignore. The painful injuries and conditions with which these animals suffered are obvious to any reasonable person, let alone an animal shelter professional. Yet, Berkeley County Animal Control took no action to help the animals in their care.
Newt, a cat in Animal Control’s care, suffered for 10 days with a grossly thickened, enlarged, and discolored tongue and pharyngeal swelling that prevented him from closing his mouth, eating, or drinking. He was provided no medical treatment in all that time.
Alley Cat Allies rushed to remove Newt from the shelter in July 2021 and immediately brought him to an emergency veterinary hospital. Tragically, veterinarians quickly determined that Newt had to be humanely euthanized because of the severity of his medical conditions. He was 7 years old.
The veterinary team that treated Newt believes he could have survived had Animal Control brought him to a veterinary professional right away
Kimberly, a dog impounded by Animal Control with a bulging and enlarged right eye, with glaucoma, ocular inflammation, and corneal ulcer, endured extreme pain in the Berkeley County Animal Control shelter for eight days in summer 2021 without any medical treatment.
In fact, when Alley Cat Allies rescued Kimberly and rushed her to a veterinary hospital, she had a new bleeding wound under her left eye. The wound had not been present in her intake photo shared by the shelter on social media. She was also suffering with bronchitis and a collapsing trachea.
We had Kimberly treated immediately. Then, she was placed in a foster home where she could recover and heal to the best of her ability. Today Kimberly is no longer suffering, but she is permanently blind. Had she received veterinary treatment the moment she entered Berkeley County Animal Control’s care, her condition could have been much improved.
The outrageous list of trauma goes on. A dog with a broken leg languished in agony for days at the shelter. Another dog had a ruptured hernia and bled so profusely that she was moved from kennel to kennel numerous times a day so the bloody floors could be cleaned. Cats had their eyes covered shut with pus-like discharge. In each case, Berkeley County Animal Control neglected to provide critical veterinary care, which directly contributed to the deterioration and extreme pain and suffering of these animals.
Animal cruelty laws of West Virginia make it a crime “for any person to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly . . . [w]ithhold . . . [m]edical treatment, necessary to sustain normal health and fitness or to end the suffering of any animal.”
Berkeley County Animal Control’s failures and refusals to provide necessary medical treatment to all animals violate not only state law, but the morality we as a society demand from agencies charged with caring for animals.
We Will End the Cruelty Together
We will not allow this deadly cruelty to go unchallenged.
Click here to contact members of the Berkeley County Council. Ask them to launch an investigation while also seeing that animals currently in the Berkeley County Animal Control shelter receive immediate veterinary care. The council has the power to stop the cruelty right now.
There is much more to come in this rapidly evolving campaign. Please take action now and stay involved.