Open Letter re: HB 204

Guest Opinion

By: Doug Beatty

Dear Representative Lynn,

This citizen must take umbrage with your sponsorship of H.B. 204. On what planet is this a sound idea? The animal control officers at KCSPCA/FSAC have racked up an impressive history of unanswered complaints. At this very moment one Jacqueline Dyer of Hartly has publicy stated that Lt. David L. Hulse is retaliating against her for a drug test Hulse failed in 2006 administered by Dyer. After Dyer went public, she was criminally charged for dog at large on very shaky probable cause. In fact, in spite of evidence to the contrary according to Ms. Dyer and video from her home surveillance that she has made public.

Anywhere I’ve lived except this place would call that retaliating against a whistle blower. Here, nobody cares how many officials know about this event it seems to always fall outside their responsibility. Giving these people more power in any fashion is beyond irresponsible and this legislation circumvents the Attorney General’s discretion on which cases to take and which to pass on. Which was it’s stated intent at board meetings I attended. Disgraceful, Sir.

I will not waste my time or yours trying to dissuade you, I am simply making a record here. I find it most inappropriate although acknowledge no apparent criminality due to our weak public integrity codes that you sponsor this legislation given your relationship to the beneficiary.

Here are some salient points taken from a letter penned by Catherine Samardza, one of the activists along with myself that your good friend Steve Schwartz Esquire accused of ‘spreading really bad and false information” and seemed to threaten with a libel suit but has failed to show cause repeatedly when challenged. Maybe he doesn’t know what show cause means or maybe he can’t. Neither speaks well of your sponsoring his legislation Sir. To wit:

Representative Sean Lynn has introduced HB 204. This legislation was originally written by attorney Steve Schwartz, the Vice President of the board of FSAC-SPCA (formerly the Kent County SPCA). Depending on the situation, Mr. Schwartz is the FSAC’s attorney, except when he says he isn’t.

The original legislation has been amended based on feedback from the Office of Animal Welfare, but the Office has not endorsed this bill. Senator Blevins, who is a leader on animal welfare and control issues, is not in favor of this bill.

Why? So many reasons. The proposed legislation falls under Titles 3 & 11. It references animal cruelty enforcement, FSAC/KCSPCA and the Delaware SPCA. Both organizations have legislative authority to investigate animal cruelty – but on a voluntary basis, there is no mandate. In fact, DESPCA opted OUT of animal cruelty enforcement late in 2014.

The standing law states that the SPCAs are not paid for their investigations, but any penalties assessed to a pet owner accrue to the organization. They also receive the shelter fees from pet owners who do not relinquish their animals. The General Assembly allocated $100,000 recently to reimburse the SPCA for investigations, to be disbursed through the OAW.

The proposed legislation would allow FSAC employees to impound animals for misdemeanor cruelty cases based on their own determination, completely bypass the Attorney General’s Office review, and take pet owners to civil court. In board meetings, the board and executive director have complained that the AG’s office does not take their cases seriously or plea bargains the cases down to minor charges.

The current cruelty laws require the animal to stay with the SPCA until the case is settled in court, and allows FSAC to bill immediately for shelter charges. If a pet owner doesn’t pay the shelter fees within 5 days of billing, the animal is forfeit. THIS proposed legislation states that if the pet owner wins the case, he doesn’t have to pay for the shelter care. But this is a catch-22 – because if you are paying all along to keep your pet, how are you going to get your money back?

The ONLY benefit of this law is a financial one to FSAC/KCSPCA.

Delaware has no show-cause hearing before an animal is impounded by the SPCA. They are the sole arbiter as to whether or not alleged cruelty has taken place. The courts do not question their authority to apply for search or arrest warrants. The FSAC employees claim animal control constable status via Title 10 Chapter 29, but the Board of Examiners for Constables does not agree, saying the authority to empower animal control constables belongs to the counties.

Representative Lynn’s bio will tell you he is a volunteer with FSAC. It doesn’t tell you that an FSAC board member is his mother-in-law.

The Office of Animal Welfare has just promulgated Title 16 regulations regarding animal control officer and animal cruelty officer training. Current training via the organization is three months of ride-alongs – as noted in public venues by the former ACO chief, the current executive director and an ACO that was questioned in Jake’s case at Millie’s hearing. In addition, OAW has proposed that the State form its own enforcement unit for animal control and welfare. At this time, the General Assembly has not moved forward on that recommendation – although one of the co-sponsors of the bill has stated that this could happen soon, saying that this proposed bill would be a moot point. That legislator also thinks that the animal control officers are being moved from FSAC to OAW now. If so, why is this legislation needed at all? Why is it being pushed through?

Thank You for Your Attention,

Doug Beatty Magnolia, Delaware

P.S. on a personal note I am deeply disappointed in you for being involved in this.

— It is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that our citizens shall have the opportunity to observe the performance of public officials and to monitor the decisions that are made by such officials in formulating and executing public policy; and further, it is vital that citizens have easy access to public records in order that the society remain free and democratic.

5 thoughts on “Open Letter re: HB 204”

  1. Who would have thought the 3 most powerful people in Delaware could be the Governor, Fire Chiefs and the Dog Catchers.

    Why is HB 204 written solely to protect the KCSPCA? Where lies the opportunity for competitive bidding to lower the cost through the free marketplace?

    HB204 smacks of dirty politics. Oh, but I digress as Delaware is the third most corrupt government in the United States.

    Walter Palmer
    Lewes, DE

  2. That is why we need initiative, referendum and recall as well as an independent Office of Inspector General….

  3. I am not sure the complaint here is the real deal. Mr. Beaty is hard to follow here. I understand that he does not like the law or think it is necessary but I am not sure why. He seems to imply there is something wrong with Rep. Lynn filing legislation because he and his family does volunteer work for the organization including his mother in law serving as an unpaid, non-profit board member. That is a nonstarter of a complaint pretty much anywhere.

    What is the real problem with this legislation? How will it hurt the public interest? What does it change?

    I wish he would give us the bottom line and clarify this post. What is the bottom line upfront here?

Comments are closed.