Thursday, March 15th, 2007 at 5:21 pm in Uncategorized.
Much has been said in the Insider about the civil suits filed by now three private citizens against Debi DeNardi, the captain of field services for the Peninsula Humane Society, the society itself and San Mateo County. Under a contract since 1971, the society provides animal control and shelter services for the county. See our previous post here for the claims levied by Janet Wherry and Tammy Doukas, and here for when pet store owner Mohammad “Moe” Olfat joined in the fray.
It’s worth noting that, earlier this week, Mark Webb, the San Francisco attorney representing the three, expanded their array of claims (from intentional infliction of emotional distress to abuse of process) to include a charge of “violation of statute” that the contracting relationship the county has with the society to prevent animal cruelty is illegal in the first place.
The amended claims point to an obscure California law that limits humane societies from taking more than $500 a month from counties or cities for enforcing laws that prevent animal cruelty. The county, however, is expected to pay the society more than $4.8 million this year for their services. The civil suits now adds this charge for the improper use of the plaintiffs’ tax dollars to subsidize millions in payments to the society allegedly not allowed by law.
The county, of course, questions whether the law applies to their relationship, as animal cruelty enforcement is, according to the county’s Chief Deputy County Counsel Michael Murphy, only a small part of what DeNardi and her staff do. Indeed, the county denotes in its budget and other official documentation that its agreement is for “animal control and shelter services.” However, the society’s Web site defines its animal control arm as existing to “investigate reports of cruelty and neglect, provide animal rescue, pick-up stray, injured and deceased animals and enforce laws that protect animals and people.”
Last summer, the society stopped paying the salary of DeNardi and the society’s other investigators with money from the county. As a nonprofit, the rest of the society’s activities are funded through private donations and fees and focus on education and adoption.
The suits are scheduled for case management conferences at the end of June.