CT Veterinarian Facing Animal Cruelty Charges Returns To Work

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Not too long ago, I wrote a very disturbing post about a Connecticut veterinarian charged with animal cruelty and third-degree larceny in connection with his “treatment” of a dog named Monster.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I’ve been away since then, and just returned to work today. While going through my google alerts, this morning,  I learned that the veterinarian in question has also returned to work while his case winds its way through the courts. And while I understand that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and everyone is entitled to due process, the thought of this man being allowed near another animal, much less being allowed to “treat” another animal disgusts me.

To recap, Dr. Dr. Amr Wasfi of Black Rock Animal Hospital in Bridgeport is accused of:

  • Lying about Monster’s condition
  • Performing unnecessary surgery
  • Failing to provide Monster with adequate food and water
  • Keeping Monster in the hospital for a prolonged period
  • Refusing to let Monster’s owner see the dog while Monster was at the hospital
  • Charging Monster’s owner for the unnecessary surgery

Wasfi is also accused of abusing a kitten that was in his care. According to someone who allegedly witnessed the incident, Wasfi “hit a kitten that was under anesthesia so hard that the kitten’s intestines popped out of an incision.” The same witness said Wasfi was “agitated” and that he “threw surgical tools around the room.”

The witness was reportedly fired from the animal hospital after confiding to another employee that she planned to report the matter.

The initial court appearance

Wasfi was arrested last month, but posted a $10,000 bond and was released. Then, on May 8, he reportedly entered no plea to the charges. During Wasfi’s appearance that day, Superior Court Judge William Holden also granted Wasfi’s lawyer’s request to continue the matter until June 7 so the attorney could have more to time to “examine the evidence.”

Since then, Bridgeport police have warned the public not to take their pets to Black Rock Animal Hospital.

“We just want the public to be aware that if they were considering bringing their animals here, just to understand some of the criminal charges we uncovered here,” Bridgeport Police Capt. Brian Fitzgerald told the media.

Scary details about Wasfi’s past emerge

Published reports have also provided some valuable — and frightening — insight into Wasfi’s past. Specifically, they show that this is not the first time he’s been in trouble. Apparently, he had his license revoked in 1996, when the Connecticut Board of Veterinary Medicine found him guilty of “unskillfulness toward an animal.” His license was reinstated in 2003 contingent upon the successful completion of a five-year probationary period.He reportedly completed his probation on April 30, 2008.

Fast-forward to this year when, as the press reports, Connecticut authorities spent months investigating Wasfi prior to his arrest. The investigation stemmed from numerous complaints “about pets whose conditions worsened instead of improving after being treated by the veterinarian.”

Now, maybe some of you don’t think it’s fair to rush to judgment. Maybe some of you don’t believe in convicting someone in the court of public opinion without knowing all of the facts. Maybe some of you actually believe in second chances. Sometimes, I do, too. But not in this case.

Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Paws up, don’t shoot!

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These days, much is made about fatal or near-fatal encounters between police officers and civilians — and rightly so. However, there are other stories that don’t get as much publicity. These are the stories about the lethal or near-lethal encounters between police officers and “dangerous” dogs.

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Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Most — but not all — of these encounters tend to occur when the officer is on or approaching someone’s property.  Sadly, these stories usually end badly — for the dogs.

For example, as reported by Red Alert Politics, a Minnesota police officer recently shot two family pets, both of which are also emotional support animals.  The officer allegedly shot one of the dogs, a Staffordshire terrier, in the face, causing serious injuries.

“Jennifer LeMay, the dogs’ owner, released security footage of the shooting. The video shows an officer climbing over a seven-foot tall fence and entering the yard housing two Staffordshire terriers,” according to media accounts.

“The officer backpedaled and drew his gun as Circo ran towards him. The dog stopped about five feet in front of the man, then, wagging his tail, slowly approached the officer.  The officer shot the first dog in the face, which fell and fled, and then shot multiple times at the second dog, Rocko, which briefly ran into the camera footage.”

Police claim the dog “charged” at the officer, prompting the use of force.

LeMay emphatically refutes that claim, however.

“He was wagging his tail,” LeMay said about Ciroc. “My dog wasn’t even moving, lunging toward him or anything.”

“My dogs were doing their job on my property,” she continued. “We have a right to be safe in our yard.”

In a Facebook post following the incident, the Minneapolis police chief called for an investigation and said the department “will be implementing updated mandatory training specifically for officers identifying effective tools and tactical strategies with police and dog encounters.”

Meanwhile, the LeMay family is faced with thousands in veterinary bills stemming from the injuries to both dogs. LeMay is reportedly pursuing legal recourse.

But there is hope. Another article tells another story. In this case, the officer did the right thing.

According to the account, “Oklahoma police officer Storm Barrett responded to a call about two angry pit bulls who were running wild in a busy area of El Reno. Luckily, the former dog handler knew exactly what to do. Instead of trying to use force, Officer Barrett got up onto the hood of his cruiser. He pulled a bystander onto the car with him.”
Concerned that the dogs could harm children at a nearby school, Barrett distracted them until backup arrived.
“Both dogs were captured ten minutes later and returned to their owner – who was given a citation for allowing the dogs to get loose,” the report states.

A happy ending for Cranberry the pit bull-mix

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Every so often, I come across a story that makes me want to put my fist through the wall, or kick someone’s butt, or both. This was one of them. But at least it seems to have a happy ending.

A heartbreaking story…

Back in November, a Philadelphia cop allegedly decided he didn’t want his dog any more. So he allegedly got rid of her.

According to published reports, he just threw her away. Literally. Luckily, a Good Samaritan found her in the trash bag in a park where she was allegedly abandoned.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

“The Good Samaritan and her dog came upon a garbage bag and as they got closer found a dog’s head was visible. The Good Samaritan called the PSPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement team who sent two officers to the scene to rescue the dog and bring it back to the shelter to receive the medical care it needed,” the Pennsylvania SPCA said in a March 23 press release.

Judging by the picture, her rescuers intervened in the nick of time…

With a happy ending

As Cranberry recovered from her ordeal, authorities tried to figure out exactly how she ended up in such a horrible predicament. And their efforts paid off.

Last week,  Michael Long, a Philadelphia police officer, was arrested on several charges including two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

“This arrest today is the culmination of an investigation conducted by our officers and the Philadelphia Police Internal Affairs Unit,” said Nicole Wilson Director of Humane Law Enforcement. “We look forward to the opportunity to see justice through the courts in this matter.”

Regardless of the outcome, it also looks like Long will lose his job since he has reportedly been “suspended with intent to dismiss.”

Most importantly, Cranberry got adopted and has been living with her new family since December.

Hartford reaches settlement with owners of slain St. Bernard

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Eleven years ago, a couple of cops shot and killed a St. Bernard because it growled at them. And they did it in front of a little girl.

This wasn’t a pit bull or a Rottweiler or a Doberman. It was a St. Bernard. And no, it wasn’t Cujo. It was a family pet. And the cops shot it in front of a little kid.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

To me there is no excuse. There is no justification. And there is not enough money in the world to make up for what they did.

But recently, after a lengthy court battle, the Harris family finally got justice for themselves and Seven, their slain St. Bernard.  Specifically, the Connecticut city of Hartford reached a settlement with the family and agreed to pay them more than $800,000, which “includes damages and legal costs.”

To me an apology would have meant more. But in my opinion, a man who is capable of shooting a dog in cold blood isn’t capable of the human decency, much less the compassion and humility necessary to make a proper apology.

Paws up, don’t shoot!

Police claim Seven “growled” and “sprinted at them” when they showed up at the Harris house without a warrant in 2006.

According to news reports, Sgt. Johnmichael O’Hare and Sgt. Anthony Pia went to the residence after a gang member told them that ” two guns were stashed in an abandoned car in the backyard of (Glenn) Harris’ home.”

The officers didn’t find what they were looking for and were about to leave the yard when Seven acted on instinct. That’s when O’Hare shot and killed him.

According to published reports, “Harris’ daughter, who was nearby, claimed she saw O’Hare put the third bullet in Seven’s head, and that he then told her: ‘Sorry Miss. Your dog isn’t going to make it.'”

See you in court

Glenn Harris took matters into his own hands in 2008. That’s when he filed a lawsuit against the officers alleging constitutional violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

But as we all know, the wheels of justice turn very, very slowly. In this case it was four years from the time Harris filed the suit until a jury returned its verdict. When it did, it sided with the cops.

Luckily the story didn’t end there.

In 2012, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York revisited the matter. And it reached a different conclusion. Specifically, Judge Rosemary Pooler found that the officers did nothing wrong when they followed up on the tip, However she also said they did not have the right to set foot on the property without a warrant.

If only the cops had figured that out in the first place…

This story is guaranteed to make you smile

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If this story doesn’t make you smile, you don’t have a heart. Or you maybe you do have one… and it’s made of stone.

Apparently a little girl, untainted by cynicism, bitterness, skepticism, anger, or any other emotions that typically cloud adult minds, has decided to “share the love” with law enforcement officers across the country.

Black and white photograph of New York Police Department barriers taken by Alexandra Bogdanovic
NYPD barriers. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

As reported by a local NBC TV affiliate in Mobile, Alabama, Rosalyn Baldwin embarked on her mission after “learning about the heroic and sacrificial efforts of many law enforcement officers.” Specifically, Rosalyn, age seven, decided to “offer hugs to all the law enforcement officers that crossed her path.”

So far, her plan to hug law enforcement officers in one major city in every state is off to a good start. In addition to Mobile, she has hugged law enforcement officers in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“Law enforcement officials say they’re thankful she has a heart to spread love to everyone,” Mobile TV station WPMI reports.

During a recent visit to the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, the deputies got hugs, and  “officially hugged by Rosalyn” stickers to mark the occasion. In return, they gave her some souvenirs to remember them by.

As it stands, it’s a lesson none of us should forget. After all, in a world so full of hate, it’s amazing what a little bit of love can do.

So long, Mr. President…

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It’s happening. Whether we like it or not.

On Friday, Donald J. Trump — (alleged) scumbag, misogynist, bully, and world-class suck up to Vladimir Putin — will become President of the United States, and by default, “leader of the free world.”

For a lot of Americans — and a lot of people around the world — it is a sad and scary thought.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I must admit, I’m not a fan. But personally, I have always respected the Office of the President even if I haven’t always respected the man in office. So as soon as he is officially inaugurated, I will try to afford Mr. Trump the courtesy owed to a man in his new position, and I will try to give him the benefit of the doubt.

It is only right. After all, I did the same for the outgoing president — and for the record, I’m not a huge fan of his, either.

But, if nothing else, President Obama (or more accurately, someone from his public relations staff) was nice enough to respond to my letter. In December 2014, I wrote to Mr. Obama in order to “express my profound disappointment” in his “ongoing lack of support and respect for American law enforcement officers.”

Yes, I am quoting from my own letter.

I also said, in pertinent part:

The fact that some officers engage in reprehensible conduct cannot and should not be denied. Those who in any way violate the laws they are sworn to uphold should be held fully accountable, and anger and frustration when that fails to occur is understandable.

Yet what you willingly fail to realize is that those officers are the exception to the rule. The truth is the vast majority of American police officers are decent, honest, dedicated, hard-working men and women.

The truth is that these officers put their lives on the line every single day. Targeted by killers, drug dealers and gangs, they go to work knowing they may not come home. Undermined by agenda-driven politicians and activists, they nevertheless put themselves in harm’s way to ensure that citizens can exercise their right to engage in civil disobedience.

Furthermore, as long as our youth are allowed, if not encouraged, to believe the tragic loss of lives in New York City, Ferguson, and elsewhere is simply about race, that’s all it will ever be about. The divisiveness currently being fomented by professional agitators and activists will prevail. We will never make any meaningful progress; we will never learn to understand and respect each other’s differences; our country will never heal.

Four months later I received a response (form letter) from the White House “signed” by President Obama. Here’s an excerpt:

“Law enforcement officials have incredibly difficult jobs and put their lives at risk to protect us. And they are most effective when people have confidence in the system. That is why my Administration is working to enhance community policing, and also to strengthen trust and accountability between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

I am deeply committed to the promise of what our Nation can be, and my Administration will keep pushing for progress through ongoing initiatives, continued engagement with communities and other targeted efforts.”

But sadly, nearly two years later, nothing has changed.

Here’s hoping it will.

Voicing support for law enforcement

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Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of times knows that I am unashamed and unapologetic when it comes to my support for law enforcement.

I simply cannot, do not, and will never buy into the politically correct, liberal, media-driven narrative that most American cops are violent, racist, subhuman creatures who are running amok with impunity.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Having said that, my support is not unconditional, nor is it given blindly. As a former crime reporter, I am fully aware of the abuses perpetrated by some police officers. As I have said before — and will no doubt say again — any police officer who engages in racism or otherwise abuses their authority should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Apparently I am not alone.

Earlier this month I came across an article about an Indiana man who is also voicing his support for law enforcement. His name is Craig B. Moore, and he recently wrote a song called Thin Blue Line.

Proceeds from downloads on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon will be used to benefit the families of slain law enforcement officers and fund regional law enforcement programs. Specifically, the money will go to the Indiana Chapter of C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors), the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and the Rush County Sheriff’s Department.

The proceeds designated for the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and Rush County Sheriff’s Department will be used for each agency’s K-9 program.

Moore’s goal is to raise $10,000 for the organizations.

As he told an Indiana TV station, “I hope that this reaches a lot of people and helps provide some sort of comfort to them.” Moore also said he wants the police to know how most Americans feel about them.  He explained that he wrote the song in order to  “provide the message that they’re our heroes, they’re out there to protect all of us day and night and they work hard to do that.”

Moore got the idea for the song after his brother-in-law — who works for the Rush County Sheriff’s Department — wrote to him this summer. According to Moore’s brother-in-law, Joshua Brinson, the letter was basically a “one page kind of an essay based on a fallen officers funeral and what goes through with all of that.”

Brinson reportedly wrote the letter after five officers were killed in Dallas over the summer.

He then sent it to Moore.

“It affects all of us that wears the uniform, but more importantly, it affects the families and that’s kind of how I looked at that,” said Brinson.

To say it’s been a rough year for American law enforcement is a bit of an understatement. There’s been too much sadness, too much loss, too much fear, too much mistrust, and too much ignorant rhetoric.

And in a year when the people who have screamed the loudest and engaged in the most hateful rhetoric have dominated the news, it’s nice to hear that someone has actually raised his voice for a good cause.

Thanks, Craig.

Unsung heroes — going beyond the call of duty to rescue animals

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American cops are certainly getting a lot of bad press these days — and with good reason, some might say. But I recently came across two stories that show just how far some police and animal control officers will go to do the right thing.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

The first story, which was widely publicized here in the greater New York City area, is one about some Port Authority police officers who rescued an injured dog on the George Washington Bridge.

Now, you don’t have to live anywhere New York City to know that the GWB is, well, terrifying. At the best of times its upper and lower decks are crammed full of cars and trucks driven by cranky New York drivers in a rush to get across the span. Then there are the drivers trying to cross the bridge who have no idea where they’re going. Put the two groups together, add in some construction (there’s almost always construction), lane closures (that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie allegedly has no knowledge of) and you’ve got one giant cluster bleep.

Now I don’t know if there were actually any lane closures on the day in question. But chances are there was probably tons of traffic. In any case, just imagine being a poor little puppy stuck in the middle of all of that. And imagine how scared you’d be if you’d gotten hit by a car, too.

Fortunately for little Ronin, who found himself in heaps of trouble after he got away from the person walking him, Port Authority police officers Fred Corrubia and Jonathan Harder were on duty that day. According to published accounts, the officers — who were in the vicinity — responded to a report of an injured dog on the bridge, and brought him to safety. As if that wasn’t enough, the officers also took him to a local animal hospital, where he was treated for leg and paw injuries before being reunited with his owner.

In another recent act of bravery, animal control officers in Guilford, Connecticut, rescued a baby skunk. In media accounts chronicling the incident, officials said the little stinker (pun fully intended) was stuck in a courtyard at a local middle school. Rather than putting the children and the skunk through an unnecessary ordeal, the animal control officers used a humane trap to catch the skunk and then used an innovative method to remove it from the school grounds.

The skunk — which seemed healthy — reportedly emerged from the incident unscathed. And for the record, the animal control officers did, too.

Colin Kaepernick and the hypocrisy of anti-police rhetoric

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I’ve come to the conclusion that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is the human equivalent of a stink bug. He’s really annoying and he just won’t go away.

Or, more accurately, the controversy he’s stirred up by refusing to stand up for the National Anthem won’t go away.

Red, White and Blue Umbrella. Pictured on Memorial Day, 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Patriotic Colors. Memorial Day Ceremony in Warrenton, Va., May 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I’ve already made my feelings on that subject perfectly clear. I couldn’t disagree with him more. But if the little punk wants to express his displeasure with this country by sitting on his butt during the National Anthem, he’s perfectly free to do so. That’s the beautiful thing about America. We allow our citizens to protest without fear of reprisal.

How does that saying go? I believe it’s, “I disagree with what you are saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Or something like that.

However, I draw the line when it comes to the anti-law enforcement rhetoric that Kaepernick has been engaging in recently. Of course, he’s not the only one who’s been engaging in public cop-bashing lately.

But apparently he can’t get enough of the spotlight. So I will happily single him out for his hypocrisy — among other things.

Here’s the deal. As reasonable people, I think we can all agree that it is not okay to hate an entire group of people based on their race, religion or gender identity. I think we can also agree that it is not okay to hate an entire group of people based solely on the actions of a few — no matter how heinous those actions are.

But apparently it is perfectly okay to hate a whole group of people based solely on their profession. It is perfectly fine to hate a whole entire group of people in a given profession based on the actions of a few. At least, that’s the clearly the case as far as the media, the president, and various pop culture icons — including Kaepernick — are concerned.

Frankly, the hypocrisy is astounding.

This is (almost) enough to restore my faith in humanity

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A recent story about a Marshall, Virginia, boy’s generosity is almost enough to restore my faith in humanity. Almost.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

As reported on fauquier.com, young Cody Glidden demonstrated unusual maturity and selflessness as he prepared to celebrated his 11th birthday this summer. Instead of asking for presents, he asked his friends and family to get gift cards for local eateries. And instead of keeping them, he decided to give them away.

Specifically, he donated them to Warrenton’s Finest.

But would prompt the young boy to collect the gift cards for the local police? Warrenton Police Chief Lou Battle wondered the same thing.

“That was a first,” Battle told the Fauquier Times.  “It was a big, generous gesture. What kid that age would trade birthday presents for gift cards for police officers?”

To me, the answer is simple. A good kid. A kid who has already learned the importance of putting other people’s’ needs and feelings ahead of his own. A kid whose parents have done a fantastic job raising him.

“I just wanted them to know the people here appreciate them,” Cody told the newspaper. “I didn’t really expect anything, maybe just a thank you,” he said.

In return for his generosity, Cody got a tour of the Warrenton Police Department and some souvenirs. He also got to meet Battle and some Warrenton police officers when he and his father stopped by headquarters to drop off the gift cards.

Personally, I wish I’d still been there to cover this story. It was the kind of thing I loved to write about — and the kind of feel-good story that readers love to see.

Personally, I’d love to see more of these stories and less of the garbage that passes for “news” these days.

Who knows. If I do see more, it just might just fully restore my faith in humanity.