Friday, April 2, 2010

Justice for "No Kill'er"

This does my heart good. To see justice for the animals who were made to suffer needlessly by a tormentor who follows "No Kill".

A noble venture that went bad.

That's how a DuPage County judge described the long saga of a Bloomingdale no-kill animal shelter whose two operators long were accused of hoarding animals and providing improper care.

One of them, Penny Horak, 70, pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor charge of violating her duties while managing Pet Rescue at 151. N. Bloomingdale Road. She was sentenced to two years' court supervision and barred from ever again running another animal facility in Illinois.

Prosecutor Amanda Meindl told DuPage Judge Ronald Sutter that Horak turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the problems.

"Animals were covered in feces," Meindl said, while showing the judge photos. "There was a strong smell of urine. Mucus from sick animals was caked on the walls. There were mice infestations. These were daily conditions."

Horak apologized and said she tried her best. This marked her first arrest. In exchange for her admission of guilt, prosecutors dropped misdemeanor animal cruelty allegations.

Horak could have been sentenced to up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine.

"My primary concern was the animals," Sutter said. "It is my understanding that all of the animals have either been adopted out or transferred to other no-kill shelters."

He continued: "What may have started out as a noble venture as an organization to care for homeless animals, after many years, for whatever reason, it went bad. There was never any allegation of beating or intentional cruelty but, on the other hand, I believe the level of neglect has been severe."

Pet Rescue owner Dale Armon faces similar misdemeanors. She opened the shelter in 1973. The 75-year-old woman is fighting the charges. She is due back in court April 27.

Former shelter clients, volunteers and workers have urged village, county and state officials for more than a decade to shut down the facility. They even hired their own attorney to try to intervene and also set up an Internet site with photos of severely ill cats and dogs and the conditions of squalor in which the animals were housed.

After years of legal wrangling, the state revoked Pet Rescue's operating license. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also sued Pet Rescue after accusing Armon of spending the nonprofit shelter's funds for personal use, as well as other alleged infractions. The suit is pending, but assets were frozen. An estimated 200 cats, dogs and other animals were adopted out or transferred to other shelters for care.

Defense attorney Rick Schoenfield denied shelter conditions rose to a level that supports criminal allegations. He said finding sick animals in a no-kill shelter is the same as sick people in a hospital. He noted Horak's age, medical issues, clean criminal record and letters of support from some of those with whom she's worked.

"She never did this for anything other than altruistic reasons and a love of animals," Schoenfield said. "Whatever happened, her motives were always good."

That is the very statement that keeps people from seeing the real "No Kill". Just because someone represents themselves as an "animal rescuer" doesn't mean they are the salt of the earth. Many of these people are in need of professional help. Winograd is aware of these kinds and these are the ones he goes after. More of them need to be serving time, right along side of him.

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