Monday, August 16, 2010

Mobile County Alabama Animal Control releases stabbed dog to abuser's son.

Raven, small Shih Tzu dog, victim of repeated stab wounds
Photo: Local 15 News Mobile, AL

"Where is Raven?" This was the question asked by Mobile's animal advocacy community when Local l5 Newsreported that witnesses had spotted Raven, the 1 year old Shih Tzu back with her owner, her accused abuser Jillian Burke of Bayou La Batre, Alabama. 
On May 10, 2010 a neighbor called law enforcement upon hearing blood curdling screams from the dog, and saw Burke repeatedly stabbing the small dog with a butcher knife. Burke had thrown the small dog into an outdoor trash can and continued stabbing until neighbors intervened. Burke was arrested and charged with first-degree animal cruelty. The severely injured dog was handed over to Mobile County Animal Control officers Richard Grubbs and Rachel Holmes, later sent to Rehm Animal Clinic for treatment.
According to Mobile DA, Burke was sent to a mental institution for 45 days, afterwhich she returned to her home. Raven was not at the veterinarian clinic, and not at Mobile County Animal Control. Assistant Mobile District Attorney Nikki Patterson was asked, "Where is Raven?"
Patterson replied, "Well the animal was released by, I'm not certain, if it was the Bayou la Batre Police Department or if it was animal control. The dog was released back to some one in the defendant's family, who represented that they would take care of the dog and that the dog would have no contact with the woman who was accused of stabbing the dog. Frankly, it did not occur to us to get a court order saying that the dog could not go back to her."
But, "Where is Raven now?"
The Mobile SPCA acknowledged to Local 15 News that they knew the dog at Burke's residence, as well as local law enforcement, but the Mobile County District Attorney office did not take action until neighbors and animal advocates made telephone calls expressing their outrage.
This reporter spoke with Mobile DA Prosecutor John Piazza today and he stated that when he heard about Raven being handed over to the accused abuser's son, and that the son had taken Raven to visit his mother for a weekend, he immediately filed a motion ordering Burke to have no further contact with the dog. He added, "We had to send the order by mail, so that took a few days."
Piazza said that Raven is living with Burke's ex-husband, name undisclosed, and son. The court order will restrain Burke from coming near the residence. Burke's ex-husband reportedly paid the veterinary bill of more than $600. He commented to a Fox 10 reporter that Raven is doing well and her extensive injuries are almost healed.
Piazza also stated that he does not know why Mobile Animal Control made the decision to hand over the dog to the accused abuser's son, or any family member, without a court order in place to protect the victim, Raven. "Due to the seriousness of the crime, we will be sure to extend every protection necessary for this little dog in the future and intend to seek justice for the suffering she endured."
After the story broke that Raven was put in danger by allowing the son to take her to visit her abuser, many questions were posed as to the lack of seriousness placed on animal cruelty cases by Mobile County District Attorney's Office. Other inquiries have been addressed to Mobile County Animal Control, but explanations from MCAC have been vague and unresponsive.
Burke's preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 30th. Raven is with the ex-husband and son. Animal advocates are counting on the recent court order to prevent any contact with the defendant. After this legal mishap, the large number of concerned citizens who make up Mobile's animal advocacy community will be vigilant and continue to ask,"Where is Raven." 

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