ADLA is sorry to report that the jury in the Russell Files trial came back with a 'not guilty' verdict last night. Many animal advocates have asked how a jury could find Russell Files not guilty. As known, Files, an ex-Wildlife Services employee, trapped his neighbor’s dog Zoey, who was seriously injured. The baited trap was placed in Files unfenced front yard in a suburban neighborhood and left unattended. By the time the police and animal control arrived, Zoey was bloody and in considerable pain. An animal control officer at the scene who was also a veterinary technician rushed Zoey to an animal hospital where she was treated for shock. She had lost seventeen teeth attempting to escape from the trap and required surgery to repair her exposed jawbone. To read the police report click here (warning - graphic images)
The prosecution presented considerable testimony from the veterinarians that treated Zoey, including the dental expert. However, the defense hired a veterinarian who also consults with Wildlife Services. He claimed that Zoey had actually lost her teeth before the trapping incident due to poor dental care. This contradicted the testimony of several witnesses who knew Zoey.
The prosecution also presented an expert witness who was the former director of Arizona Wildlife Services. The biologist testified that leg-hold traps are inhumane and often injure animals, who can chew off legs in a “fight or flight” response to escape. Again, the defense put a paid Wildlife Services employee on the stand. When the defense attorney asked him if animals in traps chew off their legs, he responded that he had ‘never seen it happen’. When asked if it was possible, he responded, “only in the movies”. He went on to say that traps have been villianized by the media and animal rights groups.
The county attorney who prosecuted this case did a good job, but could not compete with the extensive experience of a seasoned federal public defender and substantial resources that apparently went into Files’ defense, including its ability to tap the network of Wildlife Services
More on USDA Wildlife Services:
The trial for felony animal cruelty against former Wildlife Services employee Russell Files begins on January 12 and runs this week before the Honorable David Campbell in Arizona Federal District Court. Click here for the News 12/AZ Central broadcast on the trial.
ADLA will provide daily updates on the trial.
For more information on this case click here.
Happy Holidays from ADLA!
On behalf of everyone at the Animal Defense League of Arizona we want to express our gratitude for all you do for animals and to help the Animal Defense League of Arizona accomplish its goals. We are on track to Trap Neuter and Return more than 15,000 cats. (read more)
Save the Date for These Upcoming Events!
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office released their report today on the tragic deaths of over 20 dogs at the Green Acre Kennel last June. You can read it online here. The report is almost 2,000 pages long so if you have trouble loading it, we have posted it in two parts. You can download it at:http://bit.ly/ADLA-MCSOReport
The owners of the kennel appeared in Maricopa County Superior Court today and pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of felony and misdemeanor animal abuse and other violations (read more)
ADLA’s Spay Neuter Hotline has already sterilized over 11,000 cats this year through Trap Neuter Return, but we are just warming-up! Check out all of this month's upcoming events here!
A Federal Court judge has denied former Wildlife Services employee Russell Files’ motion to dismiss felony animal cruelty charges. The motion was based on what the Court described as a “seldom-litigated principle of federal constitutional law- federal Supremacy Clause immunity- to bar the State of Arizona from prosecuting him for animal cruelty.”
This is the latest development in a case that has factually and legally been full of firsts, accroding to ADLA president and attorney Stephanie Nichols-Young.
Files was arrested on December 18th, 2012 and later charged in Maricopa County Superior Court with one count of felony animal cruelty after he used a leghold trap to trap a neighbor’s dog, Zoey, who was severely injured in the incident. Files placed the trap in his unfenced front yard. Police report is posted here (warning - graphic images)
Wildlife Services - a division of the USDA, is often criticized for its practices in killing large numbers of wildlife and unintentionally targeted pets. However, it is unusual for the agency to go after an individual pet in this manner.
- The case was designated a violent crime by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret Mahoney - an unusual designation in animal cruelty cases.
- The defense successfully had the case removed to federal court - also unusual in a criminal case.
- In denying the request to dismiss charges, Judge Jack Zouhary noted that “The [Supremacy Clause] defense does not protect a federal officer who misuses his or her position to further wholly personal interests.”
Judge Zouhary presided over a two- day evidentiary hearing to hear evidence relevant to the motion. In his 17 page Opinion and Order he noted that:
Files violated generally applicable agency policies in the course of setting the traps;
Files did not complete necessary paperwork before setting the traps;
Files did not disclose key facts to his supervisors, and his approach to them was not made in good faith;
Files had an actual conflict of interest;
Files defied his supervisor’s instructions.
The entire Opinion is posted here.
The next hearing in this matter is scheduled for August 19th at 4:00 PM at in Courtroom 603, 401 West Washington Street in Phoenix before Judge David G Campbell.
Governor Brewer signed the law requiring full public reporting of greyhound injuries and deaths at Tucson Greyhound Park! Thanks to Representatives Ethan Orr & John Kavanagh, GREY2K USA, The Humane Society of the United States - Arizona, Animal Defense League of Arizona, Humane Voters of AZ, Susan Via, Jamie Massey, Joe Romack, Nancy Young Wright, Caryn Wood, Karyn Zoldan, Sylvia Arena, and all the advocates who contacted legislators!
Click here for the Tucson News video on the new law.
In recent months the Spay Neuter Hotline has been contacted regarding cat colonies believed to be facing some type of crisis in the areas they call home. When these instances arise there are things you can do to help.
· Try to find a contact at the business or community that you can speak with to get the facts.
· Remain calm and respectful when you reach out to the contact and try to find out the exact situation from the source.
· Offer information and assistance with trap neuter return.
· Explain why trap neuter return is the most humane and effective way to control the cat populations living on the streets in our community.
· Rally people that live in the community or are affiliated with the business that are feeding and/or caring for the cats to step up and become the cat management team.
· Provide training on best practices for managing the colony starting with fixing All the cats in the area.
· If you’re feeding cats make sure the first thing you do is get them all fixed A.S.A.P. before a problem arises.
Spay Neuter Hotline is happy to provide resources to assist you in educating individuals and the community as a whole about TNR. We can provide information to you that you can give to others explaining TNR, how our program works, Best practices for colony management and tips for starting a TNR project in the community. The best way to get people on board with TNR is to show them that it works.
Through our program we have fixed over 60,000 cats since 2009. In order for us to be successful and continue to fix as many cats as we do, we have to stay on task. We rely heavily on the cat community to educate and advocate for outdoor cats.
Please remember if you feed outdoor cats, you have to get them fixed.
We are ecstatic to report that the Arizona legislative session adjourned early today without passing the bill that would have severely damaged our animal cruelty law! #1267/HB2587, was proposed by the agriculture industry, and as introduced would have prevented law enforcement from investigating animal cruelty and criminalized those who expose animal abuse. Although the #ag-gag language was removed, the bill would have significantly weakened protection for farm animals, made it harder for prosecutors to convict abusers, and created broad exemptions with unknown negative consequences.
Your advocacy, coupled with the united support of many local and national animal welfare groups as well as the collaborative work of coalition partners, including the Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Arizona Coalition for Equines, Arizona Humane Society, ASPCA, Humane Society of Southern Arizona, The Humane Society of the United States, and Humane Voters of AZ contributed to this very important victory. Thank you.