Listen: A Story About Dogs (and About Dog Catchers) (stereo)

MER presents Greg Barron’s radio documentary “A Story About Dogs,” a feature which examines the plight of dogs caught up in Twin Cities area pounds. Program includes various interviews with animal advocates, dog owners, pound/kennel staff members, and various officials.

[This was Barron’s first long-form feature]


1973 San Francisco State University Broadcast Media Award in Excellence in Local Reporting


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[DOG BARKING] MARVIN GRANGER: This is a story about dogs--

SPEAKER 1: Generally, the dog catcher is the Snidely Whiplash of the city employees. He's lurking behind a corner waiting to nab their dog as it runs out of the house for a moment.

MARVIN GRANGER: --and about dog catchers.

SPEAKER 2: Sam shouldn't run. I know that. But you've got a problem here, as I say. When you have children in the house, little kids visiting, and it's summer, and you have your screen door on, if the little kid isn't tall enough to put that latch back on, you've got a dog that's going to get out that screen door, one way or the other.

MARVIN GRANGER: By the most current and comprehensive estimates, there are over 35 million dogs in this country or one dog for every six people. And that number is growing by 6,000 every hour of every day. This exploding population is a problem, a problem not only for the nearly 400,000 people bitten each year or the unknown number of people forced to clean a mess from their lawn, but also for the 30 million households that own dogs.

For when a dog is picked up by a pound, however short it stay, it is by no means certain that it will receive humane or even reasonable care.

SPEAKER 2: A place that's licensed to pick up animals, who are simply running loose. If they're licensed to do this, then it should be their responsibility to see that the owners are notified and come out, pay their fine, and get their dogs back. If they're not going to do this, then they're operating a little bit of a shady operation in my book.

MARVIN GRANGER: There are thousands of city and county agencies that impound loose dogs. Some pounds are privately owned and contract with local governmental bodies to supply their patrol and pound services. Others are owned and operated by local government.

But while all animal control agencies have the same general purpose, care and treatment of animals varies widely. Some areas operate large, well-kept, efficient, and humane pounds. And where this is the case, the agency in charge fulfills the function of keeping from the streets dangerous or unwanted dogs.

But when pound facilities are inadequate, whatever the reason, it's certain that dog lovers and owners will start to complain.

RUTH DESCHENE: We are a bureau of the state with certain, very defined duties. We must investigate cruelty complaints. And we must see that the law is enforced. And we don't--

MARVIN GRANGER: Ruth Deschene is executive director of the Minnesota Humane Society. And she discusses the problem.

RUTH DESCHENE: --unless you saw my reports, some of the things that actually happened. But we have animals starving to death. When we get a complaint, we go out and check it. Or if we can't get out, there are, only two of us to cover the state, we have investigative agents that we have recruited and trained throughout the state in most areas, If we don't have, then we ask a sheriff to go and do it.

SPEAKER 3: What kinds of conditions have you found now as relate to dogs and cats, particularly in this metropolitan area?

RUTH DESCHENE: Well, we have problems with dog pounds in some instances. And I mentioned to you earlier that we had been out to Madison, Minnesota. That's 180 miles one way, because their dog pound was such a bad situation. We took two veterinarians with us and helped them to plan a decent dog facility. We have--

SPEAKER 3: What kind of facility was there originally, when you got--

RUTH DESCHENE: They had two packing boxes pushed up against the outside wall of the utility building for the sewage disposal plant. Now, they weren't proud of this. They were pretty ashamed of the fact that they didn't have something better. They couldn't possibly heat this structure. Actually, I can't call it a structure.

An adult German Shepherd wouldn't have been able to stand upright in either of the cages. And they were open. They were screened in on a couple of sides. And they were open to the weather. And in the western part of our state, in the winter particularly, the winds are pretty bad, and the snow is pretty bad. They couldn't have cleaned this situation at all, those cages. They just couldn't have.

We told them it would have been better not to have picked up the animals. Let them run loose on the streets. If a municipality or a city doesn't want to provide for the animals it picks up, they might just as well let them run loose. And, of course, recently, we've had problems with the dog-catching facilities in our own communities.

Saint Paul is doing a good job. They're trying to build a new facility. And I hope they get the money to do it. Minneapolis is having problems at the present time.

MARVIN GRANGER: Local humane societies don't consider the Saint Paul pound the best. But they do consider it to be adequate. The pound is completely enclosed protecting the animals from the weather. It has room for about 80 dogs. A third of all the dogs that come in are retrieved by their owners. And few complaints related to the care of the animals are ever received.

SPEAKER 4: In the morning, our kennels are cleaned every morning. And then they're fed then. And at noon, they're cleaned again to make sure there isn't any droppings or anything in the cage. So the dogs have to stay in there with it. We have two different sized cages. They're adequate for the dog to move around, much room.

And there's always someone here that checks on it in case one of them is, say, has been sick and has a diarrhea or something, where if he does leave a mess, that's why it's always cleaned right away. And they're fed in individual food pans. There's no feeding them like just dropping in on the floor of the cage or anything like that.

If the dog has any type of a tag on it, say, a license, we call our city clerk. And we find out who it is and call the owner as soon as possible, which normally is within an hour to an hour and a half, after the dog is brought into the pound. We never wait, say, a day or two.

And if they have rabies tags on them, we contact the animal hospital, where their tags were issued. And we find the owner through that. We check all the ads in the papers, in case there's anything like that.

SPEAKER 3: How often do you check the ads in the papers?

SPEAKER 4: Every day. Every morning. We get the morning paper delivered for that purpose specifically. If there's any doubt at all, we call the people, tell them we have a dog that looks like it, tell them to out and identify it, how long it'll be here, so they don't wait a week and stuff like that.

SPEAKER 3: Why is it that the city of Saint Paul operates its own pound as a municipal function rather than to contract the job out to a private company?

SPEAKER 4: Well, I think our personnel stay here longer by having them through civil service. We don't have as big a turnover in personnel. A private person is in business for himself, see? And he's there to make a profit. When you have people working on a salaried basis, they're not worried about the profit, as much as a private outfit would be.

RUTH DESCHENE: I didn't mean to infer that the situation over at the Saint Paul dog pound was perfect. If it were, they wouldn't be trying to add on or build a facility that's going to cost them what? $186,000. I believe, that's about the figure. I have seen the plans for their new facility. And I do hope the people of the community are going to get behind them and see to it that they get it.

But they're trying to do this, see? They're trying to build a new one. They're not satisfied with what they have. They know that it's not perfect.

SPEAKER 3: Do you have an idea yourself, whether or not a municipally-run organization has the ability inherently to provide a better kind of service than an operation that's--

RUTH DESCHENE: I think they have better control over their people. Perhaps that's the thing I think. I really don't know which would be best. I think it would be a big headache for a city to try to run a dog pound. But I do believe that they have much better control over their employees, than if they hire a man or a person these days, it might be a woman. I don't know about that.

But if they hire someone, give them a contract, and then that person has to hire a number of other people to do the job, and if the man you have hired, the city has hired, is not available, too often, if he's occupied with other things, and he trusts these people he's hired to do a good job, and they don't do a good job. I don't think the city has as good a control, as they do if it is municipally-owned.

SPEAKER 5: Yeah, yeah. Hey, come on. Give me that. Come on. Easy, easy. [DOG PANTING] Easy, easy. Come here. Come here.

MARVIN GRANGER: The city of Minneapolis, like many other communities, contracts with a privately-owned kennel. The kennel meets a number of certain basic city specifications. And in return for a predetermined payment, the kennel provides the city with a pound facility and seven patrol trucks eight hours a day, five days a week.

Unlike the Saint Paul pound however, Tonka Kennels serving Minneapolis has been the focus of numerous complaints lodged by dog owners. The complaints almost invariably have charged the kennel with inadequate and inhumane treatment of impounded dogs. Ruth Deschene of the State Humane Society characterizes the pound as completely inadequate.

RUTH DESCHENE: We've had a number of complaints. And when I say a number, I mean like a stack about 6 inches thick of complaints that have come in regarding people who've lost pets. And they've called the dog pound and have not been able to-- the dog catchers have not been able to identify the animals out there enough so that the owner would know, whether it was his dog or not.

Now, before I go any further, I should say, we expect owners to keep their animals at home. And we preach this all the time. Animals should not run loose. They should be confined. And they should wear an ID tag and a license.

SPEAKER 3: Well, now you've been out there. And you've seen the facility. Can you compare that to other facilities and describe what you would consider to be some of the inadequacies in terms of the physical plant?

RUTH DESCHENE: Well, all cages, of course, are getting old and warped and things of that kind. And this is kind of bad for the animals. Some of the doors don't have fasteners. This is bad, because you have to be able to keep an animal under control, once you get it, you know?

And we've mentioned all these things repeatedly and have hoped that there would be corrections made. But this just doesn't happen. I know, when I have been there, I have asked. First, I had better say this. The federal law says that animals must have access to water for one hour at a time twice a day.

We have asked, when we've been out there, for a dish of water. And we have discovered, without any question in my mind at all, that the animals are thirsty, the animals that we've given the dish water too. So I feel most concerned about this. And deeply so, because I cannot see why it's impossible for people to bend an elbow, if that's all that's necessary, and I think it is, to put a dish of water down for an animal.

I wish you could go out and look for yourself. It's my opinion that kennels do not hire enough help. The people who manage kennels and dog pounds do not have enough help, most of them. And because they don't have enough help, the one person or two persons they hire try very hard and can't do a very good job. And it's pretty sad. It really is.

SPEAKER 3: Is it your impression that an inadequate job is being done out of Tonka?

RUTH DESCHENE: Yes. Yes, indeed it is I feel that there has to come a time when the public has to be made aware that a man who is or an organization, whichever it may be, who is accepting money from a municipality to do the job is not meeting the standards of the state cruelty statutes or of the USDA or any of the standards that are set up for maintenance of the kennel and care of the animals.

And I feel that this is presently true from my own experience from having been out there. And I'm speaking now very definitely as the executive director of the Minnesota Humane Society. And, as I said, this is only one of the many dog pounds we check. But this is one that has given us considerable grief.

MARVIN GRANGER: If the number of complaints reportedly received by the three local humane societies is any indication, then Tonka Kennels has given a good many people considerable grief.

SPEAKER 6: My dog was supposedly had bit a child. So I had authorized Tonka Kennels to pick them up. And they were supposed to hold them for a 15-day quarantine. And I think they held them probably about seven or eight days and sold them to the university without my knowledge.

MARVIN GRANGER: Recently, the Minnesota state attorney general filed suit against William O. Cooley, owner of the kennel and five John Doe's as partners or employees. The complaint charged that the defendants had, quote, "engaged in practices which constitute cruel and careless treatment of animals, as well as the willful and negligent sale, loss, and/or destruction of animals, which do not belong to them and which defendants knew or should have known they had no right to dispose of in any manner" unquote.

The attorney general charged that the operation had failed to adequately feed or water the animals, that dead or diseased animals have been found with live healthy animals. And that the kennel had allowed an inhumane and cruel level of overcrowding in the cages or pens.

He alleged too that the kennel had reported to owners that an animal had been lost or stolen, when, in truth, the defendants knew or should have known that the animals were in fact either there or had been sold for experimentation.

RUTH DESCHENE: By the wildest stretch of the imagination, no one could ever think that this is a fun job, this business of picking up loose running dogs, because it isn't. It's a big job. And it's a terrible headache, because you're damned, if you do. And you're damned, if you don't.

GORDON KEENAN: My dog was supposedly had bit a child. So I had authorized Tonka kennels--

MARVIN GRANGER: Gordon Keenan, a businessman in the suburb of Chaska also served by Tonka Kennels.

GORDON KEENAN: And I think they held him probably about seven or eight days and sold him to the university without my knowledge. And I went back to find the dog. And they told me that somebody had broken in and stolen him. So I--

SPEAKER 3: When did you go back?

GORDON KEENAN: I would say probably three days, before the quarantine was up. And then, at that time, they told me someone had stolen him. And about four days later, I found him down at the university. And he had been operated on. They had done a heart probe on him.

And when I first went down there, they had told me that the dog wasn't there. So this was on Friday. And Saturday, I went back again. And one of the orderlies there let me go through the pens. And I found my dog.

And at this point, I came back to Chaska. And I called my local deputies. And my attorney, we had the university police put a hold on the dog at this point, so they couldn't destroy the evidence. And then on Monday, we went down again. and confronted the man in charge at the university. And then he admitted that the dog was there at this time.

SPEAKER 3: What did the representatives from Tonka Kennel say when you confronted them with this?

GORDON KEENAN: They didn't say nothing. No explanation at all. They had seemed they knew the dog was down there all the time.

SPEAKER 3: And they offer any defense?

GORDON KEENAN: No, no defense at all. They didn't make no statements, no nothing as why the dog got down there or nothing like this here.

MARVIN GRANGER: State law requires that Minnesota pounds must keep animals at least five days before euthanizing or selling them for research. If a dog has been impounded for biting someone, it must be kept for 15 days. If at the end of the waiting period a dog is unclaimed, most pounds in the Twin Cities area sell the dogs to the University of Minnesota for $3 each.

SPEAKER 3: What's the nature of the facility here? What do you do here and how--


SPEAKER 3: --handle your operations?

WILLIAM KUBICEK: --University of Minnesota is, of course, a very large institution. And I have personally two major assignments. I am the chairman--

MARVIN GRANGER: Dr. William Kubicek is in charge of the animal research facility at the University of Minnesota. The facility uses over 5,000 dogs for research every year. The operation is large, clean, and frequently inspected. The facility uses animals for research in nearly every scientific discipline. But because of a new law, Tonka Kennels is no longer allowed to sell dogs to the university.

WILLIAM KUBICEK: --assign the task or the responsibility by the dean of the medical school and the administrative board to oversee see the proper feeding and care and humane use experimentally of all animals. Then we also have the responsibility for the acquisition of dogs and cats and other animals.

Now, in particular, the dogs and cats are received from two sources. Number one, they come from licensed dealers that are buying and selling animals. And they are licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The other source of animals are those that have been impounded under public authority by the various municipalities. And these are stray animals and almost always dogs and cats. All of the contractors that have been working with municipalities under contract to collect animals have been turning over their unclaimed animals for research purposes to the University of Minnesota and a few other licensed institutions.

There has been no problem with this essentially, until the United States Congress passed a law in 1970 that gave the United States Department of Agriculture the responsibility to license dealers that sell animals to us and that they must then conform with the US Department of Agriculture regulations as to cage size and other facilities. And this then created the problem.

Tonka Kennels in particular felt they could not pass the regulations. And as I understand it, didn't even apply for a license. The Department of Agriculture then ruled that it would be illegal for the University or for Tonka Kennels to dispose of those animals that they have collected under public authority by any other means except to euthanize them and dispose of their carcasses.

And they were not even allowed to give them away. So they are now then uselessly killed. They accomplish nothing with their lives and while the university medical school badly needs these animals for research, where they could be contributing something to the well-being of both human beings and the animal medical science.

SPEAKER 3: Right now, Dr. Kubicek, how much of a problem has there been with people coming here looking for their dogs that have been lost? Is this something that occurs?

WILLIAM KUBICEK: Yes. Once in a while, we have people here for many years now, some 20 years, we've practiced what we call an open door policy that anyone is welcome to look around or bring their camera or their newspaper reporters can come and go. And if they'd like a guided tour, we'll provide that. And if you'd like to just go by yourself and look around, you're certainly welcome.

SPEAKER 3: Have many people found their lost dog here?

WILLIAM KUBICEK: I don't know the exact number. But occasionally, there'll be problems and that the people did not locate their animal at one of the pounds. And the dog may end up here. And if they can find it, we always return it.

MARVIN GRANGER: Dr. Kubicek checked his records and said that since the beginning of this year until late July when Tonka Kennels was forced to stop selling animals to the university, three dogs had been discovered by their owners at the research center. Two of them had come from Tonka Kennels.


Paul and Betty Norquist, a Minneapolis couple, recently won a settlement and a judgment against Tonka Kennels. They said they had been told that their dog wasn't there, but that ultimately, they discovered the dog had been there but that it had been killed before the end of the five-day waiting period.

PAUL NORQUIST: Our dog was lost in December and picked up by a person, who turned it over to Tonka Kennels. We called Tonka Kennels many times. And they denied that they had the dog, that they even had a dog similar to it. And so we visited the kennels and searched the kennels and couldn't find the dog.

And at that time, we weren't positive that the dog was at Tonka Kennels, until we put an ad in the paper. And this person, who had found our dog, that answered the ad, had said, it's at Tonka Kennels. So after he had been gone five days, we called Tonka Kennels. Tonka Kennels said, at 11:00 at night, come out at 11:30.

SPEAKER 3: Had you already contacted Tonka at this--


SPEAKER 3: You already had done that a number of times.


PAUL NORQUIST: They said come out at 11:30. Now, their records show that they killed the dog at 11:25 on our way out there.

BETTY NORQUIST: That's right. The former manager called me and told me to come out there, after I came with him at 9:00 that evening. And he told me to be out there by 11:30. He would meet me. We would go through the kennel. He was frightened. And also, he would give me access to all the records that he had, so I could determine from those records whether my dog had been picked up by Tonka.

When I arrived there, I went in. And I was denied access to the kennels. I demanded my dog. I was denied access to the records. And he called the police department to remove me from the premises. The witness that had originally picked up my dog said Tonka Kennels had called him. He talked to the manager. And the manager told him to call me and tell me to be out there on Tuesday morning at 10:30 before 10:30 before they killed the dogs.

My daughter and I went out at 9:30 in the morning to enable us to go through the kennel, the entire kennel, which we did. We came out. There was no dog there of any description pertaining to ours. And also, I asked Mr. Wolf, the former manager, if I could then see his records, which he had promised I could see the night before.

He went over to his filing cabinet. He found the record of the pickup order on my dog. The pickup order date had been changed on the top. Also, my dog was a Cairn Terrier. They had denied at least 20 times. They had no terriers of any kind out there.

And in the log book, this was still on Tuesday morning, I looked through their log book. And my dog was classified as a wirehaired terrier. So as many phone calls as I made asking for any terrier, they denied they had a terrier, when, in fact, their records showed they had at one time. It had been picked up at Mr. Johnson's home. And then running across the column, it had been destroyed. This was shown in court at 11:25 the night before, when we were out there.

PAUL NORQUIST: We took them to conciliation court, and we won $340. And they appealed it to a higher court, municipal court. And we won again. Their argument was that they had not broken any law. And that was basically their only--


PAUL NORQUIST: --argument.

BETTY NORQUIST: They have not broken any law.

MARVIN GRANGER: In August, William Cooley announced that, at the end of his contract in January, he would give up the ownership and operation of Tonka Kennels. At that point, the city of Minneapolis called for bids on a new contract. And by late September, the city accepted the low bid from Metropolitan Animal Patrol.

As it turns out, the new organization scheduled to start operations in January is administered by three current employees of Tonka Kennels, any or all of which may ultimately be named as defendants in the attorney general's suit. A further association with Tonka Kennels was established, when it was learned that the building, the new kennels are being built in, is owned by the 7-Eleven corporation, a corporation that is wholly owned by William Cooley and his wife.

BETTY NORQUIST: And I will be sick, if I hear that the people who have had anything to do with Tonka Kennels get another license or franchise or whatever it is to operate this thing again. It's just like reopening a can of worms.

MARVIN GRANGER: In granting the new contract to Metropolitan Animal Patrol, the Minneapolis City Council rejected the charge of guilt by association with the old operation. However, a new letter of protest was sent to the council from the Minnesota Humane Society. Referring to the three employees of Tonka Kennels, it said, in part, we feel that they probably share with Mr. Cooley the responsibility for the charges of neglect and mistreatment of animals.

JOHN GILBREATH: Problems that we've had in the past mix up with dogs and whatnot have stemmed from the current facility that we're using. The--

MARVIN GRANGER: John Gilbreath is one of the co-managers of Tonka Kennels. He's worked there for two years. And now, he's one of the principals in the Metropolitan Animal Patrol. He says the new facility will allow him to do a better job.

JOHN GILBREATH: --and information is put on the pickup slip as the description, location, where it was picked up, time and date, any identifying marks and everything. Now, this information is then transferred onto the log sheet up in the front. Well, the problems that we've had in the past have been from mix up and dogs in the cages, right?

The animals have to be let outside in the run areas during the day to get their exercise. They're fed and watered outside during the day. And at the end of the day, they're brought back and put in their respective cages. Now, if the dog's identification tag that's put on him, when he comes in, should happen to get off of him in the outside run, when he's out with the other dogs, which is easily done, there's a possibility that he could go into the wrong cage, cage, for instance, of a dog that has been here for five days, when actually, in fact, this dog has only been here for three days.

The problems that we've had in the past have stemmed from situations like that, where when we were selling dogs to the university, the gentleman would come in the morning, take the dog from the cage that had been here five days or so he thought, and bring it to the university.

Now, with the new facility, it's a completely indoor operation. The dog from the time it comes in, until it is released will not be moved from his cage. The cages will be 3 by 6 foot run areas. There will be 139 of those. The animals will have constant food, constant water, and constant room to get ample exercise, assuming that they're only going to be there for the five days.

As far as cleaning the facility, the floors will be beveled. There'll be a slope down each aisle. And there'll be a drain trough running the length of the kennel in front of each run section, so that the dog will not have to be moved from the run. When it's cleaned, it can be sprayed down.

Also, our security system at the new facility will be a lot tighter than it is. The facility here, just because of its geographical layout, makes it impossible to keep track of all the sections of the kennel at the same time. And as a result, when there are 10, 12 people back there looking for dogs, it's hard to keep track of everyone and ensure that no dogs are stolen out the back door.

The new facility will have one door in front, one door in back, which will be monitored by a closed circuit TV and a good alarm system for the night time to eliminate any chance of dogs being stolen, which has happened in the past. Not really that often, but it has happened in the past.

There have been times when we've come here in the morning. There are two chains that we had in the back gate were snapped off. Back gate was open. The back door was busted open. And a bunch of dogs were let out.

SPEAKER 3: What would motivate anyone to do this?

JOHN GILBREATH: Well, that's really hard to say. There could be many things. It could be an irate dog owner, who was simply so upset that his dog was picked up that he wouldn't consider the value of anyone else's dog in letting out the dogs, but simply in getting us in trouble or getting back at the dog catcher for picking up his dog.

It happens. And it's so easy to say that it's just an excuse for negligence, when it actually happens. And we're the ones that suffer from it. But moreover, the people that have the dogs that come out to pick them up. And if we tell them that the dogs were let out last night, someone broke in and let out a bunch of dogs, and unfortunately theirs was run over on Highway 12, that's not going to console them.

MARVIN GRANGER: While the construction of new kennel facilities obviously will make it easier to provide better care for the animals, the fact that the new pound will be run by essentially the same people, who currently run the complaint-ridden Tonka Kennels does little to impress the dog owners who have had trouble in the past

One family who says they've had a long history of trouble with Tonka Kennels talked about a number of specific grievances, grievances that apparently have been experienced by a good many others.

SPEAKER 2: We have a Golden Retriever. And he's been picked up a number of times. Partially our responsibility, of course, that he has been out loose. Other times, because he just gets away. But there is no call for a dog to come back from a kennel experience and be so dried out that he drinks water, until he throws up.

And I have been out to pick him out on occasions, when the temperature was in the 90s about 11 o'clock in the morning. And there was no water in any of the dishes at the kennel in the outside runs, which is where they keep the big dogs. I didn't go into the inside at that time. So I'm only speaking about these outside runs, where they're right in the sun.

And when I went back in, I said, why are the dogs out there without any water. And one of the men in the place turned to a young man and said, I told you to keep water in the runs. And the young man said, I put water out there yesterday. Neat, huh?

JOHN GILBREATH: Well, as I said before, the dogs that are impounded here at the kennels are placed in cages, when they're brought in at 8:30, 9:00 in the morning. When the kennel is being cleaned, all the dogs are taken out of the cages. And they're placed in outside run areas.

While the dogs are outside, there is at least one or two water pans, which are kept constantly full during the day for the time that the dog is outside, which could be as long as from 8:30, 9:00 in the morning until 5:30 or 6:00 at night. So they have water constantly, when they're outside.

SPEAKER 2: I have suspicions that they're not fed, because Sam is sort of a picky eater. We can fill up his bowl. And he'll go through a bowl of food in about maybe a day and a half. He picks at it. But when he comes home from there, he's just ravenous. I've never seen food in the runs ever.

JOHN GILBREATH: Dogs are fed the last thing of the day. Generally, again, because of the facility, we rely on-- with the exception of a few indoor-outdoor connected run areas, we rely mainly on cages. And when you've got a dog in a small cage that stays in the cage overnight and then is let out during the day, a tray of food, unless eaten, isn't going to last too long in an upright position in the cage with the dog, likewise with a tray of water.

Generally, a dog that's picked up and impounded and taken someplace strange will not eat anything on the first day. He'll eat maybe a little on the second day and maybe start eating normally on the third day or the fourth day that he's here. Dogs generally don't eat in a strange place, if it's a different situation, the dogs are scared, or if they're excited from being in a strange place that dogs generally never eat in the first or the second day.

SPEAKER 2: I have been told Sam is there and go out. And Sam suddenly isn't there. One time, as I was leaving, a construction worker, this is when they were remodeling the place, came up to me and said, I heard you asking for a Golden Retriever. Did they tell you they didn't have one? And I said, yes, they did. And he said, your dog is right back here. And he was there.

So the construction worker took me to Sam. And another time, they said Sam wasn't there. And we went out and found him there, a friend of mine asked for her poodle. And they said they didn't have a poodle. And she heard some barking in the office and opened the office door. And there were about 10 poodles in the office. They are pretty slick.

SPEAKER 3: Did you confront the people operating the kennel at that point? What was their explanation?

SPEAKER 2: They didn't know the dog was there. They always have a very non-specific explanation of whatever they do. It's fantastic. We attended a party one night. And a woman was very upset and still hadn't gotten over the loss of her pet. And I think he was about 11 years old. It had a red collar. His name was on the collar. And it was licensed.

And they called her and said that the dog was there. And she went out to get him. And when they came out, it was her dog's collar. But it wasn't her dog. Now, there is a catchy one. I don't know what happened to her dog. It is just inexcusable that when they have your dog, which is a Golden Retriever and you say have you got a Golden Retriever that nobody knows they've got a Golden Retriever.

Now, anybody running a dog hostelry knows a Golden Retriever, or they shouldn't be there. You can say, did he got spot, my old dog Spot? Well, what does Spot look like? Well, he's got spots and a short tail. His one eye is blue. Well, this is vague. But it's somewhat specific. But a Golden Retriever is a Golden Retriever. And they say, no, we haven't got any Golden Retrievers. And they may have two. That's inexcusable.

JOHN GILBREATH: Well, I have never personally told someone that we didn't have a specific kind of dog. Because with the number of crossbreed dogs there are, always a chance that in the cross, somewhere in the cross, will have their dog. What the people are told is the policy of the kennel that when someone calls looking for a dog, they're asked what area it was lost in and approximately when they lost it, so we have something to go by when we're checking for it in the book.

If the dog did have a license on it or a rabies vaccination tag, first of all, the owners are notified immediately, when the dog is brought in. If the dog is unlicensed or has no rabies tag or is not a specific breed and pure breed of dog, the people on the phone are told that they should come out and take a look, because there is no way that we can identify their dog without any identifiable marks or without any identification on it.

We may have up to three or four Spaniel types in the kennel at the time. If someone calls and says that they're looking for a Brittany Spaniel or a Cocker Spaniel, when they feel that their dog is a Brittany Spaniel and actually it's a Spaniel cross with a German Shepherd or a Labrador or something like that, we will look and say, no, that we don't have any Brittany Spaniels, when we may have some Spaniel type dogs.

SPEAKER 2: Another thing I'd like to mention is that Sam has been licensed, ever since we got him. And I will take an oath on this that every time we have gone to pick up Sam, his collar is off. He has never left Tonka Kennels with his own collar on him.

Now, I think it's contingent upon anybody running a kennel. If a dog is licensed, and there are always extenuating circumstances or can be for an animal getting away, they slip out of cars, they slip out of your door, they are animals after all.

And with little kids in the house, such as we have, they will get out. It is the responsibility of anyone running a kennel, unless they're out and out dog thieves to check that license number and call the owners and tell them that they have those dogs. Now, it is not going to take that much time to do that. The dogs that are unlicensed, naturally, it's the owner's responsibility to find the animal.

SPEAKER 3: It has been suggested that dogs come in here with collars and leave without collars. How could that happen?

JOHN GILBREATH: Well, that it couldn't happen. If a dog doesn't have a collar on it, we put one on. And if a dog does have a collar, it could never be taken off here.

SPEAKER 2: I don't know Bill Cooley. I don't know what part he plays in the chicanery at Tonka Kennels. I don't think he's the best loved person in the kennel business. But I would say that his employees hit an all-time low in my estimation, because they're the ones, who are supposed to be watering and feeding these animals. And they are the ones who will say, no, your animal isn't here. I don't think Mr. Cooley is out there specifically saying these things. But apparently, these people I have been told to say it or have taken it upon themselves to say it.

SPEAKER 3: Jennifer, do you have anything you want to add to all this?

JENNIFER: I just know that one time, when I went out there looking for Sam, after he'd been gone for a long time, and they said, well, go ahead and check out back in the large runs out inside. And I was just amazed at how many dogs they had in each cage and how many of them were big dogs. Just there was no room for them to move around. And there was no food, no water. And it was a hot day. And it was just pathetic.

SPEAKER 2: Sam got away from them a few times. He got over their fence all of which makes me wonder why they pick up animals and tell us to restrain our animals, and they can't restrain the ones that they've picked up.

SPEAKER 7: It's been my job usually to go out and get Sam. And so I don't know how many times I've been there. But I usually have to go out in the runs to try to find him. And I'm just always struck by the lack of sanitary facilities and lack of water, lack of food. And it's apparent that nobody out there cares.


MARVIN GRANGER: It's clear now that a problem at the Tonka Kennels does exist. But the obvious question remains, how do we solve that problem? What makes a good dog catcher and who should it be? Ed Mahoney, director of the Hennepin County Humane Society, has perhaps the beginning of an answer.

ED MAHONEY: I think the man, who is out working with animals today, should be a person who is trained in public relations and not somebody who's sneaking around stealing animals. But if an animal is running loose that he may knock on Mrs. Smith's door and say that, Mrs. Smith, we see we don't have a license on your dog. It's been running loose in the neighborhood. Would you please take care of this and see that it gets a license in the next couple of weeks? And if you don't, we're going to have to stop by and pick up your animal.

And I think the Humane Society's, Saint Paul, the state society ourself would be more than happy at any time to sit down with the city fathers. And we don't have all the answers. But we can know where to find them from other places in the country.

I think too that we should be looking at a long range program here that maybe this animal control thing is a metropolitan problem, not just the city of Minneapolis or a village something like these ordinances for instance. But this is very typical in Hennepin County. Every little village in the county has got a different ordinance. How do you enforce this?

And there's many ways of animal control. And I think we've got to start with the city fathers or even the taxpayer. And how much do they want to spend? How concerned are they with this problem? If they're going to give a limited amount of money to what seems to be a major problem, well, that's pretty simple, what the answer is going to be. You're going to get what you pay for.

RUTH DESCHENE: There is a point I'd like to make. We have two functioning animal humane societies. And they're excellent. They have not one iota of funding from any city, county, or state source. And yet they run perfectly beautiful facilities. They are out picking up maimed and hurt animals. They have animals dumped on them far more than Tonka Kennels or any other kennel in the city, or the county, or the state.

They have thousands and thousands and thousands of cats and dogs all the time. And yet, they provide excellent facilities. They're so well fed and so well kept you can't believe it. They get their shots. They have doctors there for them, veterinarians. They are cared for like children. I've never seen human beings treat animals like this.

Now, if two organizations that we know of right here in the Twin Cities can operate like this without public funding, why can't we get one kennel that's a county or a city agency to pick up animals and treat them like decent little animals. And there's no excuse for it.

MARVIN GRANGER: Tonka is only one of thousands of kennels. And whether or not the owner and employees are in fact, guilty of the mistreatment of animals is now a question the courts will decide. But if they are convicted, it could happen anywhere. And the final question, not just for the people of Minneapolis, but for all of us should be, will we allow it to happen again?


RUTH DESCHENE: We must investigate cruelty complaints. And we must see that the law is enforced.


PAUL NORQUIST: This had come out at 11:30. And their records show that they killed the dog at 11:25.


JOHN GILBREATH: Problems that we've had in the past, mix up with dogs and whatnot, have stemmed from the current facility that we're using.


SPEAKER 2: A place that's licensed to pick up animals, who are simply running loose, it should be their responsibility to see that the owners are notified and come out pay their fine and get their dogs back. If they're not going to do this, then they're operating a little bit of a shady operation in my book.


MARVIN GRANGER: This program was a production of the news and public Affairs unit of Minnesota Educational Radio. Technical direction by Dave Falland. The program was written and produced by Greg Barron. This is Marvin Granger speaking.



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