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Do the Laws Apply to Government? Landmark Trial Against Kern County Animal Shelter

by Kate Neiswender, Esq. Thursday, Jul. 27, 2006 at 5:36 PM 805.649.5575

California animal shelters are obligated to follow the Hayden Law since 1998 when it was signed into law. Kern County has been snubbing their nose at these laws since they were signed into law, but a citizen finally had enough and sued them. Trial set for Monday, July 31, 2006 at 9 a.m. in Bakersfield for a one day trial in this precedent setting uncharted lawsuit.

Do the Laws Apply to...
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Trial Date/Time: July 31, 2006, 9:00 a.m.

Location: Kern County Superior Court

1415 Truxtun Avenue, Courtroom 6, Judge Arthur E. Wallace

Bakersfield, California 93301

Contact: Kate Neiswender, Esq. (805) 649-5575


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. David takes on Goliath on July 31, 2006 in Kern County Superior Court. Following preliminary injunctions issued in 2004 against a large California County with a long history of lawlessness in government, the trial will spotlight more egregious examples of Kern County's disregard for laws. "Citizens expect their Kern County officials to follow the laws. We hope the trial will make that happen," says plaintiff's attorney Kate Neiswender.

"David" is Frazier Park resident Patricia Lock. She is a petite, shy woman who had enough of Kern County snubbing its nose at state law. "Goliath" is Kern County Animal Control ("KCAC"). Lock brings her landmark, precedent-setting lawsuit as a "private attorney general," meaning she is a private citizen suing to stop County government from breaking the law after government refused to stop itself from breaking the law. Examples:

o Impounded animals locked away from public view, where owners of lost pets cannot ever find them. By killing animals in secret, KCAC breaks state law that says animals must be available for owners to find or for adoption.

o By hiding animals, KCAC avoids accountability for its failure to provide state-required prompt and necessary veterinary care.

o Animals turned in by "owners" without proof of ownership. Your animal might be killed and you would never know.

o Early age spay/neuter is advocated by the American Veterinary Medical Association and required by state law for animals adopted from shelters. KCAC breaks this law too, causing more births, more euthanasia, and more taxpayer expense.

o Animals euthanized by KCAC personnel untrained in proper technique as State law requires.

o KCAC uses "temperament testing" to screen animals for euthanasia. This costly and labor-intensive euthanasia screening charade is illegal. It falsely labels euthanized animals as "unadoptable," so KCAC can dodge the law and never make the animals seen or available.

o Nine of out every ten impounded animals are still being killed at KCAC shelters. Shelters following the law have seen their euthanasia plummet to about half that amount.

Lock says, "We should not have to sue to force our government to obey the law." Since 1998, the state's Hayden and Vincent laws have improved shelters statewide, but not at KCAC. By violating these laws, KCAC fails about 25,000 animals a year in its care, and violates the rights of County animal owners, adopters, taxpayers, and anyone wanting effective and honest government.

"KCAC puts its resources into hiding animal services problems instead of solving them," says Lock, adding that, "Kern County residents are basically paying for government dissembling."

This trial will set precedent for animal services, and also for government honesty, accountability, and legality.

Further information at:


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Yorkie mix not treated for injuries at Kern County Shelter in Bakersfield, February, 2006

by Kate Neiswender, Esq. Thursday, Jul. 27, 2006 at 5:36 PM 805.649.5575

Yorkie mix not treat...
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This dog is one of many who was not treated for her injuries received WHILE AT THE SHELTER as required by California state law.

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