Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Stockton Animal Shelter over Ongoing Abuses

Posted on March 11, 2014

Killing of Healthy Dogs and Cats, Neglect of Sick Animals Outrages California Taxpayers

For immediate release:


Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund


ALDF stock photo.

STOCKTON — Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against the city of Stockton, California and its animal shelter for violation of state and local laws. The lawsuit describes an ongoing pattern and practice of animal abuse at the Stockton Animal Shelter—a facility that euthanizes animals earlier than legally permitted, denies access to animals who could be saved by the public or rescuers, does not provide adequate veterinary care, keeps adoptable animals away from the public, and fails to maintain records that could facilitate adoption. The shelter is also charged with violating the California Public Records Act, which requires full disclosure of public records. Along with individual California taxpayers, ALDF is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, which was filed in California Superior Court in San Joaquin County.

Why are advocates stepping in for Stockton’s homeless animals? Stockton Municipal Code requires an arriving animal to be held for a minimum of six business days, not including the day of impoundment. California’s Hayden Act mandates the kind and humane treatment of shelter animals and that shelters provide proper veterinary care by a licensed veterinarian. However, an investigation of the shelter’s records revealed that the facility routinely violates state and local laws. According to the complaint, while the shelter failed to euthanize suffering animals, it prematurely killed more than 1500 cats and dogs between October 2012 and October 2013. Records show that in a six month period in 2013, for example, the shelter euthanized 266 healthy animals, 246 with minor or treatable issues, and 187 feral cats—well before the end of the minimum waiting period. Furthermore, public access to adoptable animals is made unnecessarily difficult, and the lawsuit aims to force the shelter to comply with the law.

“Stockton’s pattern of animal abuse has denied local residents the chance to adopt animals in need of loving homes,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “This publicly funded shelter has a duty to help, not harm, homeless dogs and cats.”

Copies of the lawsuit are available by request.

5 thoughts on “Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Stockton Animal Shelter over Ongoing Abuses

  1. Robin Sanders says:

    Whom do I contact to have the El Dorado County Animal Shelter looked into? Like the scenario in this case, my cat (who was completely an indoor cat but got out an open door)went missing December 22. I put up flyers, went door to door. Two days after being missing, I went to the shelter and filled out a report, giving them a copy of the flyer that had a large photo of my cat Arielle. On January 27, my sister found Arielle on the website showing that she had been taken to this shelter. While I was at class that night, my dad called the shelter leaving a voicemail that she was my cat (gave them the ID # listed on the website) and that I would be in the next morning to pick her up. When I got home I left a second voicemail. When I got there the next morning, I was told I was too late that they had already put her down, having NOT LISTENED to our voicemails or having looked at the report I had filled out. I was heartbroken!! Knowing I was just a couple of hours too late was horrible! I was told that she was sick – I asked how was she sick. They said she had “goopy eyes”. I had just a month before she went missing taken her to a vet who said her tear duct was closed and must be scarred over and her tears would from then on roll down her face giving her a “goopy eye look”. So she wasn’t sick like the shelter told me. When I asked why they hadn’t taken the time to look through the filled out reports before putting animals down, I was told that at any one time they “have 100 reports and can’t possibly look through them all for every animal that comes in”. All that would take is a little organization of separating them by breed or color and they would be easy to look through. I would like to know whom I can talk to about this and how they can be stopped from doing this to another person whose animal goes missing.

  2. T S says:

    I did community service at the Stockton shelter between August 2011 and October 2011. I watched them kill kittens because they had “gooby” eyes or because they sneezed. Then they would take that same kitten/cat that they just injected and throw it on a rolling cart. One day a cat was found hanging between the cat cages. It was dead but no one knew for how long. I also watched them put down a very friendly pit bull because it had treatable mange but they said no one would adopt the dog. I do know that if the animals knocked over their containers with their food and water they wouldn’t give them anymore at that time. I am glad something is finally being done for the poor animals that end up in that hell hole. Last time I was there it was dirty, depressing, and no one wanted to help adopt any animals but they were quick to take them in. I would put my name but I have pets and I do not want them seeing this and retaliate against me.,

  3. john says:

    In regards to animal control, be it SPCA, HUMANE SOCIETY, city pounds or private, one must understand the vast majority do not have the animals interests at heart, but their pockets!!

    Shelters run exclusively by volunteers do exist, but are few in numbers. There have been cases as recent as 2012 where rescues( not to be confused with shelters) have been raided by SPCA’s n local police. According to warrants presented by police, there was no medical care, abuse neglect ……
    This was not the case!! One rescue in particular had its vet n tech visit regularly n they were reputated!! Neighbors testified in court with the vet!!
    The rescue won in court but it drained the person of time energy n money!! Several cats n dogs were without warrant found unhealthy n killed!! No proof or reason was given by SPCA!!!
    Shelters kill uselessly some with arrogance n much with ignorance!!! Shelters should to the best of all parties be run totally by volunteers n of couse some payed staff ie vet tech or vet.
    Ten million animals are killed most by gas chambers in the US per year!!
    Why invest in animals when the managers of the shelter earn 120 000$ per annum to decide who lives who dies.
    Hitler n Gerling n gang might be dead, but they were right. Their reighn of terror will live 1000 years!!!! Gas chambers animal experiments medical/pharmaceutical labs. which use approx 200 000 dogs per yesr in the USA alone!!! These dogs are tortured killed n gassed!!
    Wake up people!!! Stop acting like kids n start phoning your politicians to make change!!!

  4. Antoinette says:

    I’m appalled at this vile, psychopathic and inhuman behavior.

  5. Renate says:

    they should not have permission to run the shelter any more even if they would apply to the law.
    When once discovered as an animal abuser they should get prison sentence and should never be allowed to run an animal shelter ever again.
    These people can easily be replaced from heart felled loving caring animal care takers.

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