Society

‘No Kill’ Animal Shelter Director Fired, Faces Charges for Allegedly Adopting Out Dangerous Dogs

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

Laurie Hollywood, who was fired as Director of Stamford Animal Care and Control two days earlier, turned herself in on Friday, June 20, after City officials claimed she allowed improper adoptions to take place at the shelter, according to Connecticut News12.

Dogs described as "harmless" in advertisements were returned for biting people; but Hollywood then allegedly falsified documents and allowed those dogs to be readopted. The dogs then bit their new owners, News12 reports.

The warrant issued for the arrest of Hollywood, 42, of Newtown, charged her with three counts of reckless endangerment, the Stamford Advocate states. She was later released on her own recognizance and is scheduled for arraignment on July 7 in Connecticut Superior Court in Stamford.

On Wednesday Mayor David Martin announced that Hollywood had been fired after it was found that aggressive dogs with a known history of biting had been adopted by people unaware of the problems, who were later injured by the dogs. He stated that. “In at least two cases, dogs that were returned after adoption because they bit someone were adopted out again, to people who later reported bites and injuries”.

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The Stamford Animal Care and Control’s ‘About Our Shelter” profile on Adoptapet.com, states: “We have a no-kill philosophy which simply means, every adoptable animal is guaranteed a second chance. Dogs are given fair evaluations by a highly respected, professional dog trainer and behaviorist.”

Stamford Police released a report that an Internal Affairs investigation of the complaints about the Stamford Animal Control Center found that state laws had been violated that put the public in danger, according to the Advocate.

The investigation reportedly began in April after a resident adopted an 84-pound mixed-breed dog the City is calling "Alpha." The dog bit someone and it was brought back to the shelter. The owner signed a form saying it was returned because of biting. But Alpha was then advertised by the shelter as being "harmless in play," according to the report.

Another dog was adopted out twice, although the shelter had knowledge of it's bite history. It attempted to bite the second owner’s child in the face. And, a third dog was also adopted to a new owner after it bit three police officers, according to the City report. That dog later bit the new owner’s wife, the Advocate states,

The investigation found that Hollywood withheld information about dogs' histories and falsified official city records to cover up the adoptions of violent dogs, practiced veterinary medicine without a valid license and failed to manage shelter volunteers' activities properly, Martin said.

The State Bureau of Regulation and Inspection advised Hollywood not to adopt out aggressive dogs in February 2008 and again in June 2011, the Stamford Advocate reports.

Mark Sherman, Hollywood’s attorney said his client never falsified documents and claims, "Laurie is only guilty of being too compassionate and denies the charges." Sherman said the case is really about cronyism and whistle-blowing retaliation.

"Laurie thanks everyone who has helped her find homes for thousands of animals and who have supported her successful resistance to returning to the previous high-kill shelter model," Sherman said.

Although the City has concluded its investigation, Stamford Police Department still has a criminal investigation pending, Mayor Martin said. He advised that the shelter has been reopened for drop-offs and adoptions, but remains closed to volunteers.

The Mayor also announced that the City has formed a task force to review the shelter's current policies and explore locations for a new facility, according to Connecticut News12.

Sources: Stamford Advocate, News 12, Adopt A Pet