BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va. – Aug. 10, 2023 – Alley Cat Allies applauds rulings by Berkeley County, W.Va., Circuit Court Judge Michael Lorensen sanctioning the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department in a case related to a West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for public records from the sheriff’s department. The rulings are a step towards needed transparency to protect animals from potentially cruel practices at the Berkeley County Animal Shelter.
The court previously ruled that the sheriff’s department was required to disclose documents from Berkeley County Animal Control that Alley Cat Allies first requested under FOIA on December 20, 2021. In its most recent ruling, dated July 28, 2023, the court sanctioned the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department for failing to comply with the FOIA request, after having previously compelled the sheriff’s department to allow public inspection of documents from animal control, pursuant to the FOIA request.
“The court’s ruling reinforces what we already know to be true in West Virginia – that public agencies including Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department and Animal Control are accountable to the public, especially when it comes to protecting animals from cruelty while in the county’s care,” said Timothy Hyland, the attorney for Alley Cat Allies in this case.
Alley Cat Allies requested records from Berkeley County Animal Control after an Alley Cat Allies investigation in 2021-2022 uncovered violations of animal cruelty laws at the county shelter. Alley Cat Allies sought 17 categories of public records involving the sheriff’s department’s treatment of animals. Requested records involve Berkeley County Animal Control’s use of firearms to euthanize, or kill, animals; disposal of animals it kills; training or lack of training for animal control officers; and documents related to the sheriff’s department’s efforts to undermine Alley Cat Allies, after Alley Cat Allies had alerted the public to the agency’s systemic cruelty against cats. With the court’s ruling, these records were required to be shared with Alley Cat Allies, and the court ordered the sheriff’s department to reimburse the attorneys’ fees incurred by Alley Cat Allies in its action to enforce the Freedom of Information Act.
The rulings referenced above came in court case number CC-02-2022-C-54.
About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the leader of the global movement to protect and improve the lives of cats and kittens. Now in our 34th anniversary year, we are joined by over 1 million supporters worldwide.
Alley Cat Allies believes every cat deserves to live out his or her life to the fullest. We exposed an entrenched system in which animal control agencies and shelters have been killing millions of cats for over a century. Today, the programs we introduced in the United States are mainstream.
To achieve our goals, we collaborate with grassroots advocates, animal shelters, municipal managers, and lawmakers to replace deadly laws and policies with ones that protect cats. We defend all cats by offering cutting edge education online, in person, and through one-on-one dialogue. We advance lifesaving innovations such as Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and Shelter-Neuter-Return (SNR), high-quality, high-volume spay and neuter, microchipping, anti-declawing legislation, and any program that best serves the interests of cats.
Our website is www.alleycat.org, and we are active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.