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MI Press: No charges in snake feeding - Puppy-death case

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Posted by W von Papinešu on November 25, 2002 at 17:22:18:

DETROIT FREE PRESS (Michigan) 25 November 02 No charges in snake feeding - Puppy-death case lacks evidence, official says (Kim North Shine)
A City of Detroit Animal Control supervisor who was fired for feeding live puppies to a python will not face criminal charges, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office has decided.
Letters and phone calls asking for someone to avenge the pups with legal action have poured into the Detroit Police Department and the prosecutor's office in recent weeks.
But only evidence could be factored into the decision, said Rebecca Tenorio, spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office.
And because the only incriminating information against Detroiter Tara McClanahan was her word that she made food of the homeless animals, charges could not be filed, Tenorio said.
"Workers saw a puppy walking around in the cage with the snake and asked the woman why it was in there, and she said she was feeding the snake," Tenorio said.
But since they did not see the feedings, that knowledge was not enough to levy animal cruelty charges, she said.
"Believe me, I wish we could do something," Tenorio said.
Several animal welfare advocates, including a national expert on euthanasia in shelters, will appear at the Detroit City Council meeting at 10:30 a.m. today to ask the council to help improve the facility that kills the vast majority of its animals by pumping carbon dioxide gas into a box.
"I want to inspire them to be compelled by their hearts. The animals deserve better than to die in fear and pain," said Joe Sowerby, who founded the Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo adoption event.
Of the 5,750 animals taken in this year, 529 were adopted, 632 were returned to owners and 13 went to research, city officials said.
The rest were gassed in groups in the 4-by-4-foot chamber.
The statistic are improving.
In 2000, only 78 of more than 9,000 animals were adopted.
Animal Control Director Angela Hines said the city is trying to improve adoptions and the treatment of animals. She said it will phase out gas in favor of injections.
McClanahan was fired in September after the late August incident. She is a 15-year employee with no previous disciplinary action and is awaiting a hearing to overturn the firing, her attorney, Lorenzo Blount, said Sunday.
He said he did not want to jeopardize the case by discussing details.
Complete details are still being withheld by the prosecutor's office, but, according to the Detroit Health Department, which oversees animal control, at least two, weeks-old puppies were fed to a python, which has since gone to live at a sanctuary.
The incident, and the subsequent refusal to press charges, has ignited howls of outrage nationwide.
Police and prosecutors investigated and reviewed the case for at least six weeks, evaluating it for possible misdemeanor or felony animal cruelty charges.
Police sought out an independent opinion from a Michigan Humane Society's veterinarian.
The veterinarian told them that the puppies suffered as they were crushed by the snake.
"How can this be?" asked Sherry Silk of the Michigan Humane Society, which is not affiliated with Detroit's much-maligned animal control facility.
"The animals and the city deserve better than this."

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