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Police Confirm Probe Into Stratford Animal Control

'We are currently reviewing the allegations,' says Capt. Joe McNeil

At the center of an investigation into alleged wrongdoing at Stratford Animal Control is a document provided by the accuser that shows the euthanasia of 15 cats.

According to the document, the bill totals $2,750, which would be nearly a third of Stratford Animal Control's .

"The town was double-billed for every one of these cats," alleges Michael Griffin, a former employee at Stratford Animal Control who retired as chief animal control officer six years ago, and is now leading the .

"Who is supervising these people? I handled these booklets for 15 years [as chief officer]."

Griffin said the document is a chart he put together from a collection of invoices he received via a Freedom of Information Act request from the town's finance department.

The former animal control officer has sent this and other information to the , who are now "reviewing the allegations," according to Capt. Joe McNeil.

Local animal group responds to allegations

The Stratford Animal Rescue Society (STARS) is a nonprofit that cares for and raises funds for adoptable animals at Stratford Animal Control.

Griffin has alleged that STARS is involved in the illegal or dishonest behavior at Stratford Animal Control. STARS member questions the integrity of the document outlining the September 2011 euthanasia of 15 cats.

"Those are not copies of actual invoices from the veterinarian," she said.

Furthermore, O'Malley said Griffin is wrong in his claim that the Connecticut Humane Society handles animal cruelty cases and thus would have paid the nearly $3000 bill.

"I have never seen that practice," she said.

In response to allegations that STARS and Stratford Animal Control are in cahoots, O'Malley said, "What STARS does is separate from animal control and when they initially impound an animal...STARS does not find and bring animals to the shelter."

Griffin said he decided to bring allegations against his former employer after a friend of his said he "got ripped off by Stratford Animal Control" after adopting a pet and being overcharged $120.

Current Animal Control Officer Rachel Solveira referred comment to the Stratford Police Department, citing a town policy that dictates all media inquires go through the department. Finance Director Susan Collier could not be reached for comment.

Thomas Dewey July 27, 2012 at 12:38 AM
How much is the town paying per cat? Does anyone think that this is sustainable? Time to click our heals together people and repeat, "there's no place like home..."
Debbie July 27, 2012 at 01:20 PM
@Brandee...Mr.Griffin is not a "let go employee",he retired in 2006 with a commendation for his years of work with the Town of Stratford.
Semi Happy Resident July 28, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Thomas, I am the cat lady's daughter and the town is charging her $15 per cat per day - what their actual cost is I am not privy to. To clarify the amount at her house they did include all the ferrals in the area in the total count despite her telling them they were not hers. She did have an amount that some may consider too much and hoarding but I ask what is the difference between somebody having a lot of animals and somebody that is a breeder? Breeders have large amounts of cats or dogs but because its their business but nobody thinks they are hoarders. If you look at all the documents animal control has against her you will notice that what has been on the Patch alone has increased in numbers as each month has passed all the way up to 56 cats. I can't discuss the facts of the case due to them going to court but facts will bear out that they were not abusive to their animals as animal control has stated. As far as me not using my full name as Mr Pedroto suggests everyone do, we have the right to post comments without the fear or concern that by using our full name we can subject ourselves to harrassing calls to our house at all hours of the night because our point of view may not be popular. I would suggest that you look at the validity of the person's statements rather than if they are using an alias.
Semi Happy Resident July 28, 2012 at 02:16 PM
One other thought that everyone needs to think about - how good is animal control in town if they return cats or dogs back to the abuser? With all they have written about my mother they still returned 5 cats to her and now the woman with 13 dogs has settled her case with the town where according to what my mother read in the paper the woman is paying the town $20,000 in fines, going under counseling and getting some of her dogs back with being subject to unannounced visits to see if she is doing good with the dogs that were returned to her. My question is that if the woman agreed to needing counseling wouldn't it have been better to have her get some of her issues straightened out first before bringing dogs back into the home? Now animal control gets to make visits to her home to check up on her and go through the process all over again if the woman regresses. I think she was getting 5 dogs back but I think it would have been better for her to get some help first, then when she was deemed to be in a better place let her have 1 - 2 dogs and see how she does with them rather than giving her 5 which may still be too much for her to handle.
Joseph Pedoto July 28, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Barbara: My suggestion that people use their own names is based on my belief that people will be more careful in what they post if they are held personally accountable. I've been called names and told to "shut up" by anonymous people on these forums and I've said over and over again that this is a cowardly way of behaving. That is my opinion and you are free to disagree. I've also stated that I don't personally know the facts in your mother's case. You have to admit that as her daughter you have a bias in her favor and cannot be completely objective, which is understandable. But you simply cannot compare a professional dog or cat breeder with an animal hoarder. Breeders are subject to licensing, inspections and quality of care standards that an individual per owner is not. They have a strong incentive to treat their animals well, have them vetted, etc. because they, hopefully, make a profit on selling their dogs or cats. To resolve all this we have to rely on the structures in place in society. Perhaps your mother will be completely vindicated by the courts; perhaps Mike Griffin will be proved correct by the Stratford Police Department and the current ACO's fired and STARS forced to disband. We will have to wait and see.
Joseph Pedoto July 28, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Some people above believe that an "homest (sic) outcome" is impossible in Stratford. If that's the case, there's no point in any investigation or court case or letters to the editor, anyway. But if you feel that way at least be consistent. Don't complain about your taxes, don't call the police if you're the victim of a crime or an auto accident, don't vote, don't call EMS in an emergency, don't call the Fire Department (be self-reliant – deal with your fire issues yourself). Don't expect any assistance from the town whatsoever. Because, y'know, they're all corrupt here in Stratford. Unlike in say, neighboring Bridgeport where civil servants and politicians have solved all the ills of society and the citizens have even forgotten how to spell the word 'corruption.'
Joseph Pedoto July 28, 2012 at 04:49 PM
See, I take a different lesson from the article cited above about the police officer using a stolen vehicle. To me that says, if you break the rules you will be sanctioned. Isn't that an example of the system working? My personal experiences with the SPD have been positive. I support them. I made a bumper sticker that I gave away free to anyone who asked for it saying, "Support the Stratford Police Department – They Never Take a Day Off!" In another place long ago I learned first hand how hard it is to be a cop. It's such a hard job that very few people attempt it. The next time you're in a crisis or injured or threatened, who are you going to call in this town? An anonymous, name-calling, angry poster on the Internet? Good luck with that, if you do.
Semi Happy Resident July 28, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Joseph, Unfortunantly people will sometimes get verbally abusive in print when another doesn't agree with them. There is no reason to call people names or tell them to shut up because they are pointing things out that are different from their point of view. They started doing it in my mother's case as well & I asked them all to stop because the courts will decide on the evidence who is right & who is wrong. I have stated in the past that I feel that everyone should be able to choose how many animals they have BUT after a certain amount, 5 or 6, they should be required to have a breeder's or kennel license since there are certain issues that come into play with a high number of animals such as vet care, odor control, sound factors, etc. that I feel animal control should monitor because even though the people having the animals need to take care of them properly, a large number of animals also effects the neighbors that may not want a lot of barking dogs or smell feces if they don't clean up properly. I said at the time that my opinion my not sit well with everyone but I still feel it would cover the people that want a lot of animals. Those of us that only want one or two would still be under the current laws & not need to do anything more than license our dog. Those that feel it's their house so they can have as many animals as they want can still do so but would need an additional permit as well as proof of care. This way the home owner & the animals win.
Joseph Pedoto July 28, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Barbara, I agree with you completely in what you have written above. I know that my dogs would prefer it if we had six or more of them, because by nature they are pack animals. My wife and I could not afford that and I would worry about the impact on my next door neighbors. A few years ago one of my neighbors threatened to shoot my dogs – and me if I tried to prevent it – due to their barking while he was watching a baseball game. In point of fact it was another neighbor's dogs who were in my backyard barking, not my own two dogs. Their owner was standing right there but I was the one targeted. I later learned that even if they are not my dogs, if they are in my yard I am responsible for their behavior. Can you imagine some one threatening murder over a single instance of barking dogs? There is too much anger in the world today.
Semi Happy Resident July 29, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Joseph, I am so sorry to hear that murder was threatened for a barking dog. It seems that ever since the economy tanked people in general are more short tempered, less curtious & will cut you off while driving a whole lot more. Imagine how bad your neighbor's life must be like where a barking dog during a baseball game would make him resort to killing a dog & even the owner because he needs it quiet during that time. I wonder what he would do if a new born baby was next door & cried a lot. Also be happy you are not the one that is married to him because he must be a joy to live with having that approach to an issue. I haven't lived in Stratford in quite a few years but I am sure there are laws that he can call on that reguard a dog that barks continuosly if he can't get the issue resolved by talking to the neighbor. Once the offending owner gets a few fines they will do something about the barking dog. We had a neighbor by us that let their dog go all over the neighborhood. Didn't care if it dug up my bushes. Nor did he care if his dogs came onto my back deck to lay down & get my dog upset. I called the town & he got fined. He ended up needing to keep his dog at his house & then yelled at me for his dogs tearing up his house. My feeling is they were his dogs & it was better for them to damage his property than mine but now because he was having to deal with them instead of his neighbors he wasn't happy. I was happy as well as my dog but he ended up with a torn up house
Thomas Dewey July 31, 2012 at 05:23 PM
We now live in a “gansta” paradise, where people say one thing and then do another. Rules only apply to the people who are not “connected,” and everything IS indeed personal. Public office is abused. This is what happens when people replace honor and dignity with cultural norms that are so warped and foreign that when they are first presented they sound perverse, but after a few months of saturation through propaganda they become widely accepted and even craved. The “Yo’ Momma” syndrome is a perfect example. The coveted role of mother was eventually eroded and reduced to something to be made fun of, something socially acceptable to besmirch and publically ridicule. We have deconstructed into a society that make way for tongue-and-cheek responses to ones religious values—they may go like this, “Technically I’m Catholic, I was raised catholic but I really don’t believe they should be so strict and the whole confession thing is too hard.” We are committed to our definitions of success—we are driven by the size of our televisions and not how we can truly help others. The vacuum of decency is quickly being filled by the antithesis of decency.
Thomas Dewey July 31, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Just this past week, an up-and-coming writer for the New Yorker, a book author with a very promising career, was exposed for various forms of plagiarism and outright dishonesty in some of his works. He quickly resigned his position and his works are now being scrubbed by his publisher. I wish him luck, as he is now FREE to move forward and build something that is true and dignified. He is FREE from the culture of corruption that, to most, may seem so impervious that they compromise their NAMES. I believe one of his last public statements was that from here on—“Now,” everything is accurate. I think that’s a great start for him.
Joseph Pedoto August 01, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I think Thomas Dewey is still bitter about his twin consecutive losses when he ran for the Presidency when he offers criticism on today's society. Still, his points are well taken. But today, let's talk about Money and Reputation. The $3,000 that Snowflake Kennel may or may not have over-charged the TOS is chicken feed compared to what the town will spend in prosecuting the case against the Cat Lady. The town attorney's time is not cheap. Can that office provide us with an estimate of what this litigation will cost us? Will it be $50,000? Or $100,000? More? I'd like to know. For the ACO's and STARS: is there a way that an intervention with a suspected animal hoarder can be handled that does not wind up in the courts? I'd like to know.
Joseph Pedoto August 01, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Concerning Mike Griffin's reputation and personal habits: Eugene O'Neill was a raging alcoholic for most of his life. When he set a play entirely in a dive bar, his audience knew he'd done his research. But we don't judge O'Neill by his failings, we judge him by his words. Let's say (I'm making this up, so don't get your panties in a bunch) that Mike Griffin drinks a bottle of Irish whiskey a day, and has been doing so since he was 8 years old. If his charges turn out to have merit, is the court going to say we'll throw out this case on the basis of Mike's personal alcohol consumption? Are we going to ban the performances of Eugene O'Neill's plays because he was an Irish drunk? Let's wait and let the facts decide this case.
Thomas Dewey August 01, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Thesis: philosophical debate of whether the testimony of an accused alcoholic (by fact or slander) should be considered credible. This is the Ham-Burglar debate that has been argued by some of the greatest minds of our time in places such has Helsinki as well as the Haig—Austria’s best and brightest have committed dissertations to this discipline of the study of thought. The philosophical proposition: can an egg hatch another egg, can a chicken birth a developed chicken; thusly, once and for all, putting to rest the need to determine which came first in matters. This theory suggests that, at specific points in analysis, Logic and Reason surrender their disdain for one another and may even be seen cheering ceremonial shots of Jameson’s together. That Locke and Hobbes share the same bed and actually played the role of Charlie Bucket’s grandparents in the famous Willy Wonka bed scene. That on the other end of the genealogic bed in the same scene Hayek and Keynes remains snuggled in geriatric support of their grandson’s endeavors.
Thomas Dewey August 01, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Closing from this scene—panning out from this demented panoramas, knowledge and wisdom engage in a game of chess, their forms distorted and nearly indistinguishable as the heat captures and releases their outlines in a gaseous dance that intensifies with distance across a deserted wasteland. In essence, in application of this most complicated theory of thinking, the alcoholic dog man should be deemed credible as long as his accusation does not pertain to abstinence of alcohol. To limit his testimony to his vice would be tantamount to limiting the blind to only telling us the things they can see.
Joseph Pedoto August 01, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Mr. Dewey – I resent and resist your unauthorized quoting above from my copyrighted screenplay, "Citizen Kane 2: Rosebud's Revenge" featuring the hilarious antics of Locke, Hobbes and his stuffed child toy, Calvin. You can expect to receive a letter from my recently deceased attorney in the morning post. Also, please keep my research into the creation of dog-human hybrids to yourself! This is a matter of national insecurity and should not be bandied about in open forums like this. Remember, loose lips kiss ships.
Thomas Dewey August 01, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Nice
Thomas Dewey August 01, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Your litigious laments will be well respected on my side of the Pond, sir. In order to avoid falling into the likes of Franklin, Moss, Marconi, or even Michael Bolton, I will work harder to refrain from lending the creative mind of others to my own work in the future. In respect to the question of whether the testimony of a person of questionable restraint should be permitted into record, I still hold steadfastly to the idea that, although a deaf man cannot describe the sound of a piano, he can certainly draw one or even build one and even potentially play one better than most. Your in chaos, TD
Dom DeCicco August 01, 2012 at 10:09 PM
How do you make crime go away? NUMBER MAGIC! So much for the COM-STAT way of policing that the Progressives would have you think is working. http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/crime-stats-falsified-in-two-nassau-precincts-1.3875784
Joseph Pedoto August 02, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Um, Dom? Did you post this here by mistake? What does the accuracy of Nassau County, Long Island crime stats have to do with the charges against Stratford Animal Control and the volunteer group STARS in Fairfield County, CT? Though it is true that all across the nation crime has been falling for years now. For example, the murder rate in NYC in 2007 was down to the level it was in 1963!
k-9 lover August 04, 2012 at 12:24 AM
No news is good news.........? Ten days and counting...
k-9 lover August 24, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Can i assume a thorough investigation is being conducted? Or has this incident been swept under the rug?
Debbie August 24, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Probably swept under the rug!!
Debbie August 24, 2012 at 01:33 PM
What has happened to the investigation?? Is there a law against"hoarding" and what constitutes "hoarding? Is it subject to how the ACO's feel about a person/persons?
Debbie August 29, 2012 at 06:42 PM
just a bit of info......APCP(Animal population control program)Vouchers entitle a pet owner to one spay/neuter and two vaccinations. So if John Doe went to the shelter and bought a dog/cat that is not neutered, He would have to pay $50.00 and he would receive the APCP voucher..He would then have to pay a balance for any uncovered part of treatment.This usually can range between $100. and $200.00.He would then take his pet home.STARS is using APCP vouchers ,these are issued to them.These are usually for new pet owners.Are they paying the $50.00 adoption fee?Okay,so if STARS is the new owner,why is it that the Town of Stratford is paying the balance for these animals to Snowflake Pet Center?Who takes these animals home or are they back at the shelter?
stick lee September 10, 2012 at 06:33 PM
So stars isnt using their own funds aquired from all the fund raising and donations? They are using state "coupons " intended for adopters..nice little operation going there. Does the state know? Then us tax payers pick up the balance...just beautiful. And i thought they were three knuckleheads. I underestimated them.
Semi Happy Resident September 10, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Stick, the taxpayers are picking up the cost of my mother's case (town to pay $1,000s in animal care). She has a public defender paid for by our tax dollars and tax dollars are also paying for the town attorney to go after her in both criminal and civil charges. In reality the tax payers are paying for her case on both ends and for 2 court cases. Tim Bishop has said he will go after her for legal fees if the town wins. All that will do is cost the taxpayers more money to obtain legal fees from somebody that has no money in the first place. Hey, Tim, remember, public defenders? They are for people that have no money. It's already been 11 months since they took her cats, he said there will be many more months in his comment to the press to resolve this in court. This is not including any appeals from either side nor the time he will be bringing her back to court to obtain legal fees if they win. All of this will be at the taxpayer's expense. Talk about beating a dead horse! Is it really worth it to go after 1 little old lady just to prove a point? I guess in his eyes it is but how do the taxpayers feel about it since they are footing the bill for his and the ACO's egos in their need to beat a resident down.
stick lee September 22, 2012 at 06:58 PM
I believe Mr. Griffins opinion that the Stfd. aco s have gone rogue is correct! This being totally feasable considering the pd has lost or never had control of that arm of the dept.
stick lee September 22, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Its nice to know the town has very deep pockets when it comes to fighting legal issues in court. But then pockets have a bottom. Search ct gov judicial site and see how many cases the town is involved with. Someone is makin money...

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