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Stratford Animal Group Responds to Allegations of Wrongdoing

A member of the Stratford Animal Rescue Society replies to allegations of illegal or dishonest behavior from Michael Griffin, a former Stratford Animal Control officer.

By Marjean O'Malley, Stratford Animal Rescue Society

Stratford Animal Rescue Society initially chose not to respond .

Our feeling was that engaging him with a response would not benefit anyone as the allegations were so preposterous.

Why now? Lies, half-truths, incorrect information, and omissions of information should not be taken as him "exposing" any wrongdoing within STARS or Stratford Animal Control.

He may claim how he did/would do things, but he is not privy to the current operations of either.

STARS mission is the well-being of ALL animals impounded in Stratford. We do not "bring animals there" as he suggested. Animals, from Stratford, are there because Animal Control responds to situations they are obligated to.

STARS is NOT subsidized by tax dollars. Funds come from donations from people that care, and constant fundraising. Monies collected from adoptions go into a TOWN ACCOUNT specifically for these funds.

Adoption monies collected were indeed permissible. Such monies are collected at other municipal facilities in CT as well; those able to spay/neuter. Savings to adopters is hundreds in vet fees. New state statutes reflect the logic and acceptance of these practices, replacing the antiquated ones he refers to.

Volunteers work socializing/training animals, making Stratford's animals attractive to adopters. This has been extremely successful. People come from Connecticut and beyond to adopt here. AVERAGE adoption time is less than 3 weeks, a HUGE SUCCESS for a municipal facility.

He claims STARS has "unlimited" access to the facility; untrue. (Unlike while he was employed, volunteer access IS limited and controlled.) Volunteers must also participate in a very specific, thorough training program.

Capacity of the new facility is 30 dog kennels AND a 40 cage cattery; he seems to have "forgotten" that though he has visited the facility, and it is public knowledge. Remember, TWO Town Councils unanimously approved this facility.  Actually, plans in existence during his employ contained a cattery. Oddly, after insisting too many animals are taken in he then suggests space should have been used for more dog kennels.

He insinuates it's inappropriate for our volunteers to champion for Animal Control during budget hearings. People stand up for BOE, Police, Fire, EMS, Library, Shakespeare, and more. Is that not our right too?

It should be noted that Stratford Animal Control is held in high regard by their peers. Stratford Animal Control, and its success in working with organized volunteers, is a model they seek to follow; meetings with Animal Control are requested by other municipalities.

Recent meetings with Town Officials confirmed what STARS already knew; that after a preliminary review researching the allegations made, and the complete facts, they have found no wrongdoing on the part of Stratford Animal Control.

The actions, policies, and procedures of Animal Control, and STARS, have been above board, transparent, and within acceptable guidelines, policies, and procedures.

Mr. Griffin claimed that during recent budget hearings I stated the Animal Control Officers are burnt out. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Handouts at these 2 public forums, to those in attendance and Town Council members, explained that the small number of volunteers doing the cleaning, not covered by current PT hrs, are burning out. (I am sure this is on video tape as well. )

These few volunteers have been doing this for months, as most volunteers do have jobs during the week, those available and capable are limited in number.  These volunteers have been doing so to keep ACO's available for duty and to meet the needs of residents, rather than in animal housing areas for hours each day.

For more information about STARS please visit www.stfdanimalrescue.com. As always, STARS appreciates the individuals, businesses, and children that support us and Animal Control; on behalf of the animals, we thank you.

RMK July 21, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Good points. It's sad that a man who has really been questionable in his service to the town and the animals he was charged to rescue and provide safe harbor to, now feels the need to sully the reputations of officers who have worked mightily to bring the animal control facility to a hard-working, caring environment. My own experience with Griffin was less that okay --- he acted completely indifferent, uncaring and distracted. Now we know he was mailing marijuana and puffing cigars while reading porn at work as dog/cat advocate. Projecting bad habits onto the current staff at the ACO (who are doing a great job) won't absolve Griffin of his years of wrongdoing.
RMK July 21, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Where do you see in the paperwork provided above that cats were killed and billed twice? Seriously, perhaps Griffin saved town or grant or STARS dollars by killing cats out the backdoor of the old facility, but I'd MUCH rather that the town do it the compassionate way. Honestly. What is WRONG with this town?
k-9 lover July 21, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Hoarders = retired STARS people when they become old and senile. This town is in trouble.
Joseph Pedoto July 22, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Mike Griffin got what he wanted: the town government and the police department looked into his allegations. They found no evidence of wrong-doing or double billing. Now he wants an "outside agency" to investigate these same claims. On another, related thread I provided the contact info for the State Attorney General. But let's be clear that this is what's called 'moving the goal post.' You want something, you get it and then you don't like the results. Next you ask for something further, in the hope of being vindicated. There is no logical end to this process. If the State Attorney General looks into this matter and agrees with the town, will Mike and his supporters accept that? WIll they say, gee, I must've been mistaken? A lot has been posted that, if true, would certainly reduce Mike's credibility. He should have known that by going public with his complaint all this would come out in these days of Internet transparency. That's why I asked if he had gone through whatever proper channels there were, like submitting his claims to the police without writing letters to the local media. It would have prevented a lot of the mud-slinging that results from a public accusation. I find all the anger expressed here very sad. People who are motivated to become ACOs and volunteer their time to help animals in need are not doing so because they think they'll make a lot of money.
Debbie July 22, 2012 at 05:17 PM
This is an excerpt from a article written by the editor of the Stratford Star newspaper; " in The proposed budget, STARS contends, does not include one of three Animal Control officers. STARS calls for the addition of two part-time kennel attendants at 19.5 and eight hours per week, paid $10 per hour. Otherwise, according to the flyer, Animal Control officers must clean kennels and are unable to meet their other responsibilities. “They are becoming burned out and cannot continue this back-breaking work on a daily basis,” STARS wrote, calling for an increase in part-time salaries from $18,200 to $32,300." I see the words they are becoming burned out!!!And it was referring to the ACO's! @Joseph Pedoto-where did you see that Mr.Griffin wants an "outside agency" to investigate?The police are still looking at ALL the paperwork,it is still an on- going investigation.
Thomas Dewey July 22, 2012 at 05:28 PM
It's so nice when a town takes money and then uses it to fund land projects within the town that then create a situation where said town can no longer determine what and when it will build on the land. What a joke... Keep taking that free money people.
Thomas Dewey July 22, 2012 at 05:37 PM
So the Town was out of control then and not now or is it now and not then-- or both.? I'm confused. Which scneario is better? In response to the earlier "Letter to Editor" which suggested that the STARs program is self-sustaining and does not rely on money from the Town: if this is the case, why are they involved with the Town at all? Why don't they go it alone?
Joseph Pedoto July 22, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Dear Debbie, Right here: Mike 9:45 am on Thursday, July 19, 2012 "There is a very cozy relationship with the ACO, the police, and the town. I think she could commit murder, and the police and the town would back her up. This needs to be investigated by an outside agency." You may be correct that it is an on-going investigation. However, as stated above: "Recent meetings with Town Officials confirmed what STARS already knew; that after a preliminary review researching the allegations made, and the complete facts, they have found no wrongdoing on the part of Stratford Animal Control." This seems to clear the current ACO's, doesn't it?
Debbie July 22, 2012 at 05:59 PM
That is not the same Mike!
k-9 lover July 22, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Marjean claims looking at the complete facts they found no wrong doing? So says marjean, the one who figured out how to rip off ct citizens with a 125.00 "donation " as opposed to 5.00 adoption fee? Havent heard from the chief of pd or acos supervisor yet. Remember this might go back as far as six years.has all the paperwork.financials, etc been presented yet?
Lamont Sanford July 22, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Getting a little rediculous, isn't it? Enough with the rescues and such-- we have families fleeing the town due to the lack of jobs, rising taxes, and failing schools. ENOUGH! Stop taking outside money for rediculousness.
Lamont Sanford July 22, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Meetings aren't investigations-- meetings are just that meetings. As in: "I met with some friends last night." Some of us who met enjoy coffee and some like tea-- simply because the majority of the people who were at the meeting like coffee does not mean that no one drank tea.
Joseph Pedoto July 23, 2012 at 12:32 AM
The people who seem to be the most outraged by all this are the same people who will not stand behind their words by posting under their real names. There is a simple word for this: cowardice. Some of you use language like "scumbag" and "ripping people off" but you are unwilling to reveal your identities. You act like school yard bullies and you shame yourselves, not those you attack, by this behavior. If you want to find financial corruption, look at Wall Street, not a dog rescue group in Stratford. I don't often agree with George Mulligan but he stands behind and is accountable for what he says and believes. That's honorable and I applaud him for it. I'm not a STARS volunteer, but I was when Mike was ACO. I'm not on the police force or a member of local government. So I don't know where the investigation stands at this minute. Nor, I suspect, does anyone posting here anonymously. Aren't people considered innocent until proven guilty? That's a foundation of our legal system. If the police and the town come to the conclusion that nothing improper has been done, will the cowards who write so angrily here apologize to the current ACO's and the STARS volunteers? Will they admit that they might've gotten it wrong? There is a rush to judge and condemn here that is un-American.
Mike Reynolds July 23, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Joe, I agree with you that the STARS folks are not volunteering their time to make money. What I believe might have happened in this situation is that the in their vigorous and noble efforts to take care of animals they may have lost sight of right and wrong. For example, their genuine concern for animals may have outweighed their sense of right and wrong and decided it was ok to bring in animals from outside of Stratford to be rescued despite the fact that Stratford would be billed for it. As we have learned the STARS people are very passionate about their cause. The perception is that if you disagree with STARS or any animal rights group then you are branded as "anti-animal". There is no debating with them. This is where they begin to lose credibility despite what is clearly a noble effort.
Brandee LaCava July 23, 2012 at 06:32 PM
$120 adoption fee for an already spayed/neutered animal vetted and up to date on shots? Wow! That's terrible (totally oozing with sarcasm). Do you think rescues don't have to pay vet bills and money is just pulled out of the air? Do some more research buddy, and the cat lady mentioned to me she had a son, I'm wondering if Mike isn't him since he keeps resurfacing the issue that this hoarder had complaints by neighbors from the rank smell of cat pee coming from her house of sick cats. If anyone is a "cat killer" it's the person who let them get into that situation, and yet tho money was raised to replace most of her urine soaked and disgusting furniture, still we hear this argument? She had a blessing handed to her when she should have been cuffed and put into prison for one count of animal abuse in every single one of those animals. What's wrong with our "system" is it has a heart and she got off WAY to easy...
Brandee LaCava July 23, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Oh. And not @ Mike Reynolds, just "Mike."
bpiretti July 23, 2012 at 08:28 PM
OldManteenager: Go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/CT-Coalition-Against-Puppy-Mills/256732464402917 on FB and there is more info about Dr. Schatz there. If the link does not work, just go to CT Coalition Against Puppy Mills on Facebook. Dr. Schatz does own a Pet Store in Milford Mall where dogs are sold.
Debbie July 23, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Private rescues can charge what they want.Municipal Animals shelters can not.
Debbie July 23, 2012 at 08:41 PM
@bpiretti...what does that have to do with Pet Hospital?
k-9 lover July 23, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Hey Brandee,buddy did research, and it was listed everwhere you looked. 120.00 animal at stfd animal control is 5.00 at every other municiple shelter in the state. Oh yeh, the "fee/donation "mysteriously went back to 5.00 overnight after Mr.Griffin let the cat out of the bag, so to speak.
Debbie July 23, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Actually k-9 lover,it was 125.00 for what should have been a $5.00 animal.Example- Nyx is a 2-year-old black labrador retriever mix. She was found roaming and has signs of recently having had a litter of puppies. She has been spayed, microchipped and tested negative for diseases. She is a happy-go-lucky dog who gets along with other dogs. She would love to be a member of a family again. To adopt Nyx, you must complete an application and be approved. Home ownership or landlord approval is required. All members in a household must meet the pet and agree to the adoption. The fee is $125 to adopt pets that have been spayed/neutered, tested for disease, vaccinated and microchipped. These services have been paid for by donations. All other pets will be adopted through the State of Connecticut Animal Population Control Program. The fee is $60.00 and this entitles the adopter to two free vaccines, and a discount voucher off the cost of spay/neuter. The new pet will then be dropped off at a local veterinarian and the adopter will pick up the pet and be responsible for the balance. In general, the price ranges from $100 to 200 and is due upon receipt of the animal at the veterinarian office. Stratford Animal Control is a 501c-3 foundation dedicated to the well-being of Stratford animals. The shelter relies on the generous efforts of its volunteers and tax-deductible donations from the public.
k-9 lover July 23, 2012 at 11:49 PM
So there is an additional fee up to 200.00 on top of the 125.00 or 60.00 ?...CA - CHING goes the cash register.
k-9 lover July 23, 2012 at 11:54 PM
And stratford animal control is a 501c3 non- profit? A town dept.? Dont get it.
Debbie July 30, 2012 at 03:55 PM
@bpiretti-The Pet Hospital is on Linden Ave.I believe you are mistaking them with the vet on Knowlton Street possibly.
bpiretti July 30, 2012 at 06:48 PM
@Debbie: Dr. Schatz is with the Stratford Animal Hospital on Knowlton Street. I just don't think it is right for a vet to own at pet shop that sells dogs knowing that the dogs come from puppy mills. And hire a manager that was arrested for animal abuse. For more information please go to the link below and they can answer any questions.
Debbie July 30, 2012 at 06:56 PM
and you put up info about him when someone had mentioned The Pet Hospital which is on LInden Ave
Joseph Pedoto July 30, 2012 at 07:12 PM
k-9 lover: Stratford Animal Control is not a non-profit. It's the STARS volunteer group that is. And as such, their complete financials are available from the CT state government tax department, for anyone who cares to ask. I once looked into a non-profit in NYC and got 5 years of complete tax returns at no cost. Maybe this is something that Mike Griffin should do if he really wants to see the facts of their finances?
Debbie July 30, 2012 at 07:25 PM
This is on the bottom of a few of the dogs that have been previously posted. Upload Photos and Videos Nyx is a 2-year-old black labrador retriever mix. She was found roaming and has signs of recently having had a litter of puppies. She has been spayed, microchipped and tested negative for diseases. She is a happy-go-lucky dog who gets along with other dogs. She would love to be a member of a family again. To adopt Nyx, you must complete an application and be approved. Home ownership or landlord approval is required. All members in a household must meet the pet and agree to the adoption. The fee is $125 to adopt pets that have been spayed/neutered, tested for disease, vaccinated and microchipped. These services have been paid for by donations. All other pets will be adopted through the State of Connecticut Animal Population Control Program. The fee is $60.00 and this entitles the adopter to two free vaccines, and a discount voucher off the cost of spay/neuter. The new pet will then be dropped off at a local veterinarian and the adopter will pick up the pet and be responsible for the balance. In general, the price ranges from $100 to 200 and is due upon receipt of the animal at the veterinarian office. Stratford Animal Control is a 501c-3 foundation dedicated to the well-being of Stratford animals. The shelter relies on the generous efforts of its volunteers and tax-deductible donations from the public.
Joseph Pedoto July 30, 2012 at 07:43 PM
OK, I am totally confused. How can a tax-supported Animal Control be a non-profit? The wages of the ACOs are, as I understand it, paid for by my tax dollars just like the Stratford Police Department, not by a 501c-3 organization. That was what Marjean was petitioning the Town Council for, as mentioned in her letter above: more of my tax money to go towards staff at Animal Control, isn't it? In the above text it should read 'STARS,' where it says 'Stratford Animal Control,' shouldn't it? Or will the cops have to hold a bake sale to buy bullets? Can someone from the Town Council please clarify this?
Semi Happy Resident July 30, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Joseph, As far as the millions of dollars saved by my mother I am not sure if that is a correct statement for amounts. I do know she was on the initial Frash Pond Project Committee for HUD and the land in question that the town wanted to use for the new animal control building was against what was passed at that time. From my understanding, the documentation was not filed properly by the town at the initial time and my mother still had the paperwork to prove it was to be used as a park. If the shelter had gone into place there HUD could have come in and fined the town. I am not sure if they would have made the town remove the building or not but if that was the case it would have cost the town millions of dollars at that point. RMK, my mother's case has not been settled as of yet and they are going to trial in Sept. That is why there is nothing being said or done about her at this time. And what does it matter if Mr Griffin waits 10 years to bring up something that he feels is an issue? If he has proof then it should be brought forward. If it is prooved wrong then there will be articles in the various papers by the reporters that animal control has been vindicated.

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