Alley Cat Allies Files Legal Action in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia Against Berkeley County Animal Control for Violations of Animal Cruelty Laws
BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va. Alley Cat Allies submitted a petition today for a writ of mandamus in the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, asking the Court to order Berkeley County Animal Control to act on its legal duty to comply with the law by providing veterinary care for the animals in its shelter. The filing comes after an Alley Cat Allies in-depth investigation revealed that Berkeley County Animal Control intentionally, knowingly and recklessly withheld necessary medical treatment for animals in its shelter, causing extreme suffering and in some cases death.
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.”
“West Virginia’s animal cruelty laws apply just as much to Berkeley County Animal Control as to any member of the general public, especially since it is the very public office created to uphold these laws,” said Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “Justice for the animals abused in Berkeley County Animal Control is our top priority. The next step for this community 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.”
Robinson said the case of Newt the cat was among the worst she has seen in over 30 years of work with animal control agencies. Newt was extremely thin, with a grossly thickened, enlarged and discolored tongue and pharyngeal swelling that prevented him from closing his mouth. He was unable to eat or drink because of the swelling, experienced vomiting and diarrhea and was at the Berkeley County Animal Control for 10 days without any medical treatment. Alley Cat Allies removed Newt from animal control in July. Within just a few hours, however, veterinarians determined Newt had to be euthanized because of the severity of his medical conditions and sufferings.
The Alley Cat Allies investigation revealed further neglect by Berkeley County Animal Control involving a dog named Kimberly. Kimberly had a bulging and enlarged eye, with glaucoma, ocular inflammation, corneal ulcer, and an open wound underneath and endured extreme suffering at the Berkeley County Animal Control for eight days in summer 2021 without any medical treatment.
The stories of abuse and neglect at the shelter go much further. A dog with a broken leg stayed at the Berkeley County Animal Shelter for multiple days without necessary medical treatment.
Another dog with a ruptured hernia was bleeding so profusely that she had to be moved from kennel to kennel numerous times a day in order for the bloody kennels to be cleaned, and stayed at the Berkeley County Animal Control for 15 to 16 days without necessary medical treatment. This dog was euthanized by Berkeley County Animal Control after suffering 15 or 16 days in its care.
Cats with their eyes covered shut with pus-like discharges were also at the Berkeley County Animal Shelter for multiple days without medical treatment.
Alley Cat Allies’ work in Berkeley County continues. New updates about the case will be posted online at alleycat.org and on the Alley Cat Allies YouTube channel.
(Note to editors: Pictures of victims and copies of the filing with the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia are available upon request.)