Animal lovers are calling for the resignation of Susan Martin, a cruelty officer and director of the SPCA in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
On Sunday, a group of more than 400 people protested outside of the facility after Martin refused to prosecute a breeder of a puppy found in horrendous conditions.
The dog was discovered in early July and reportedly very close to dying in a cage on a breeder’s farm in southern Lancester County, according to the veterinarian that took him in.
Now named Libre, the Boston terrier puppy was found by an SPCA volunteer and has a severe case of demodectic mange. Rescuers also said the puppy was emaciated, dehydrated and barely breathing, according to LancesterOnline. There was also reportedly maggots on the dog.
Despite Libre’s condition, Martin refused to take the dog in, or later on press charges. A few days later the same SPCA volunteer returned and was able to rescue the puppy, thanks to the help of a former cruelty officer and another rescue group, Speranza Animal Rescue.
Upon bringing the severely sick pup to get checked out, veterinarian Dr. Ivan Pryor, said the dog would have died within hours and had open wounds with maggots. “Someone failed this puppy terribly!” the office wrote on its Facebook page.
Martin’s defense was she was home with the flu and the one picture the volunteer sent to the shelter’s vet, Dr. Kelly Bergman, didn’t warrant a rescue. She also says the dog was under the care of a veterinarian at the time and the dog’s body was rejecting the treatment.
According to Bergman, she was asked by the volunteer if the dog would be able to survive a few days in order for a warrant to be issued. Her response was that because it looked like there was urine and feces in the kennel, it appeared he was eating and could wait.
On Friday, the SPCA board of directors supported Martin’s decision to not press charges, stating, “Susan can only file charges of neglect or cruelty in cases where the evidence fully supports those charges. The evidence available in this particular case does not beyond reasonable doubt support charges of neglect or cruelty.”
Bergman agrees that proving neglect could be challenging. “The problem with this is that to prove neglect in court, you have to show the animal was not receiving vet care, and apparently Libre was getting Ivermectin (a drug to kill mange mites) and Clavamox (an antibiotic for skin infection ). So now the attending vets would have to prove Libre was neglected in ways OTHER than not being treated for mange.”
When This Dog’s Life asked what evidence is required for neglect or cruelty charges, Martin did not respond.
Bergman did say that a number of unfortunate events occurred early on in Libre’s case but, “if I saw Libre first, in real life, I would have screamed neglect and encouraged a case be opened based on dehydration, emaciation, corneal ulceration, sepsis, low blood sugar and collapse.”
Many organizations, including LancesterOnline, Justice for Libre and Speranza Animal Rescue have received messages asking for her resignation.
As for Libre, he is on the road to recovery. He can now walk, enjoys getting fresh air and yesterday learned something all puppies should know how to do: bark.
Here are a few videos of him making progress:
Main image via Facebook/Justice for Libre