The truth about CARE |

The truth about CARE

The public deserves to know the truth about CARE, not the biased and self-serving propaganda regurgitated daily in the press and disseminated by those seemingly intent on destroying CARE. Certain important facts seem to have escaped notice:

n But for the 24-hours per-day, 365-days-per-year dedication of CARE’s volunteers, contributors and staff, there would be no animal shelter in Garfield County.

n Since its inception, CARE’s volunteers, contributors and staff have tirelessly nurtured and given over 3,200 homeless animals a second chance by taking them in, sheltering them, and providing food, comfort, exercise, and critical veterinary care, and, ultimately successfully placing virtually all of them with carefully screened foster families.

n CARE has recently given 21 of Hurricane Katrina’s homeless animals (11 cats and 10 dogs) a second chance by offering to assume legal custody and responsibility for their care and, hopefully, to reunite them with their families.

n CARE participates daily in a coordinated nationwide search to reunite its Katrina animals with their families.

n CARE has no plan to euthanize any ” not one ” of its Katrina animals: Specifically, and despite the strident protests of those who would, for their own reasons, want the public to believe otherwise, the Katrina dog “Buster” has never been “condemned.” To the contrary, CARE is continuing to consult with the country’s foremost animal behavior specialists to ensure that all of its Katrina adoptees, including Buster, receive the best care available while awaiting reunification with their families or proper and appropriate placement if the families are not found.

n CARE has already returned one dog, Bubby, to his owner, and another dog, Sadie, is scheduled to be reunited with its owner within the next few weeks.

n CARE will continue to treat all of the Katrina animals in its custody with special regard, fully aware of the horrendous circumstances which brought them to Colorado.

n Contrary to the groundless allegations in the press, CARE never forced Buster into quarantine. When CARE’s director was severely bitten by Buster while the dog was being restrained by Ms. Schmidt, both she and Ms. Schmidt, as a (then) member of the CARE Board of Directors, were immediately obligated by Garfield County animal control laws to place the dog in quarantine for observation for rabies.

n Following the biting incident, Ms. Schmidt, who referred to Buster as a “junkyard dog,” agreed that Buster belonged at the CARE facility and that she would personally deliver Buster to CARE the following morning. When Ms. Schmidt inexplicably changed her mind later that evening, CARE was obligated by law to alert the Sheriff’s Department. It was not until being contacted by a sheriff’s deputy that Ms. Schmidt delivered Buster to CARE, the officially designated quarantine site for animals in Garfield County. Ms. Schmidt then resigned from the CARE board and immediately began publicly attacking CARE for adhering to the very policies and procedures that she had endorsed while on the board.

n In an effort to assure its former board member that CARE only had Buster’s best interests at heart, CARE agreed to engage in mediation with Ms. Schmidt concerning Buster’s care on two separate occasions, both of which were effectively cancelled by Ms. Schmidt: The first mediation did not occur due to Schmidt’s last-minute unwillingness, and the second, scheduled for the week of Nov. 7, was cancelled when CARE, with no advance notice whatsoever from Schmidt, was served with Ms. Schmidt’s lawsuit on that very day.

n Ms. Schmidt has clearly failed, and continues to refuse, to tell the truth. In claiming legal custody of the Katrina dogs, Ms. Schmidt has presented a formal complaint to the Garfield County District Court. Tellingly and misleadingly, Ms. Schmidt has offered as her sole proof only one side of a two-sided Louisiana State form that was part of a packet of materials where only Ms. Schmidt’s name appears. However, CARE has since obtained from the United States Humane Society a complete set of that packet of official documents which, until now, only Ms. Schmidt has had in her possession. What Ms. Schmidt conveniently has failed to disclose to the court or to the press is that contrary to her complaint, when the dogs were released for transport to Colorado, Ms. Schmidt expressly listed CARE as the legal custodian of the Katrina dogs. Her entire case is built upon a single, and defenseless, misrepresentation.

CARE is committed to defending in court the shameful and groundless charges asserted by Ms. Schmidt and recovering from her the costs and fees it has been forced to expend. Unfortunately, for the many volunteers, contributors, staff, and most tragically for the animals CARE is committed to, Ms. Schmidt’s frivolous and baseless lawsuit has diverted CARE’s attention from those very animals most in need of care, she has caused CARE to divert its limited financial resources to the costs of defending her lawsuit, and, sadly, she has prompted certain of CARE’s longtime supporters to question its commitment to its very charter. Unfortunately, when Ms. Schmidt, with great fanfare, took her “story” to the press and to the courts, she conveniently left the facts behind.

CARE is under no illusion that the press will grant the same front-page prominence to what will certainly be Ms. Schmidt’s hasty retreat from the truth when she is forced to face it in the courts. Nonetheless, let those concerned be assured that CARE takes its responsibilities to the communities it serves, and to all the animals to which its very existence is dedicated, with utter and absolute seriousness and unyielding commitment.

Jeff Cheney is the attorney for Colorado Animal Rescue.

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