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Vet: One Dog in Derby Shelter Appeared Neglected

Oxford animal control officials helped Derby when the city's animal control officer left his post abruptly on Friday.

Editor's Note: This article is a collaboration between Oxford Patch and the Valley Independent Sentinel. 

A letter detailing the condition of a dog found at the Derby dog pound is raising new questions about the level of care provided at the embattled facility.

The letter states one pit bull taken from the pound April 13 “appeared to be neglected.”

The undated letter, obtained by Oxford Patch and the Valley Independent Sentinel, was written by Dr. T.C. Nanavati of the Ansonia Animal Hospital in Seymour.

The dog was brought to the vet by an assistant animal control officer from Oxford, who found the dog in the Derby pound and was concerned for its health.

Oxford animal control officers were at the Derby pound April 13 because they were asked to cover the city after Joe Klapcik, the city's animal control officer, abruptly quit his job earlier in the day.

The male pit bull taken from the Derby pound received antibiotics to treat an infection and remained under Nanavati's care for three days.

"There were open sores on his legs and on his tail,” Nanavati wrote in his letter. “His paws were discolored because of intense licking. He appeared to be malnourished and had very dry skin." (See photo of the dog, attached.)

The vet’s letter also states the animal “reeked of urine.”

The letter raises new questions about the level of care dogs received under Klapcik's supervision, because state regulations say sick or injured impounded animals must receive immediate medical attention.

That did not happen in Derby, as intake paperwork shows the injured pit bull had been in the pound since February, according to Oxford animal control officers.

Nanavati's letter also lends credence to statements that conditions inside the Coon Hollow Road dog pound in Derby were substandard.

Derby officials insist dogs were well cared for and the pound was adequate for its intended use as an animal holding facility.

The Derby Police Department closed the pound Tuesday, four days after Klapcik walked off the job and Oxford animal control was brought in to help.

The dogs are now being housed in Woodbridge.

(Note the PDF attachments at right. We've attached the last state inspection report for the Derby dog pound, the last reports for the Seymour, Oxford and Shelton dog pounds and a third PDF is a letter from a veterinarian describing what kind of condition the dog was in.)

Different Stories

Klapcik, Derby's part-time animal control officer for 18 years, quit just 17 days shy of his anticipated retirement date.

His supervisors at the Derby Police Department said he left Friday because he was angry that officials didn't drop off his city vehicle at the location he specified.

Volunteers who came to Derby to clean the Coon Hollow Road dog pound in the wake of Klapcik's departure said the place was filthy. Derby officials said that was not true.

Derby Police Chief Gerald Narowski said Tuesday he walked though the shelter shortly after Klapcik's departure.

There were no signs of neglect to the animals, the chief said.

"Four of us walked through Friday. The dogs were there. They had food and water. They were barking and wagging their tails. There was some feces on the ground, but it didn't look like anything that had accumulated for more than a few hours," Narowski said Tuesday.

The chief said he had not received a copy of Nanavati's letter as of Thursday afternoon.

"Upon its receipt, we will conduct a thorough investigation and follow up with the veterinarian/Department of Agriculture Animal Control Division and take any follow up action that is warranted," Narowski said Thursday.

Oxford Officials Break Their Silence

Narowski's initial statements about the conditions in the pound hit a nerve with two Oxford animal control officers who were asked to help Derby after Klapcik quit.

At first, the Oxford animal control officers had remained silent on the issue, referring media inquires to Derby police. Now, one of them is offering to take a lie detector test to prove her claims.

"The truth will eventually get out, and the truth is the truth is the truth -- the animals were being abused and neglected," Assistant Oxford Animal Control Officer Cori Wlasuk said in an e-mail. "I am telling the truth and would be more than happy to confirm this with a lie detector test. At no time did Oxford give information that was untrue or inaccurate. Our only intention was to help those poor animals."

Oxford's Observations

After Klapcik walked off the job, Derby police asked Oxford Animal Control Officer Sandy Merry to temporarily cover Derby.

Specifically, Merry said Derby police Lt. Sal Frosceno asked her to cover animal emergencies in Derby over the weekend and to clean the Coon Hollow Road facility.

Merry, Wlasuk and a Derby officer went to the pound late Friday afternoon.

Wlasuk said she "came face-to-face with a rabbit that was in a cage saturated with urine and fecal matter."

Why a rabbit was in a municipal dog pound is anyone's guess. The six dogs, according to Wlasuk, "were in their own excrement and did not have food in their bowls."

Merry said she immediately noticed a black and white pit bull.

"When we went in the kennel, the second dog on the right was standing there on the dog bed and it had urine all over it," Merry said.

"Cori (Wlasuk) and I both noticed he had open sores that were open and oozing on his foot, on his leg. I turned around and told the police officer that this dog needs a vet right away," Merry said.

Wlasuk immediately brought the dog to Nanavati's office in Seymour. It was the only dog that required medical attention.

Merry said she checked paperwork in the pound, which she said stated the pit bull had been in the Derby pound since Feb. 13.

When asked if the dog could have arrived off the street wounded, Merry said:

"If it came in with any of those symptoms, it should have been taken to the vet. By law, any animal control officer that picks up a dog -- if we pick up a dog hit by a car, an animal that is sick or injured -- we have to take it to a vet."

"If we impound a dog and then notice something like an injury or illness, we have to take it to the vet; it is state law," Merry said.

The other six dogs in the pound did not require medical attention, but they needed to be cleaned, Merry said.

Merry said the dogs had been urinating for some time in their sleeping areas. This was evidenced by the fact plastic in the dog beds was disintegrating, she said.

"You could tell the urine had been sitting on the dog beds for awhile," she said. "You could see some of the urine burns on the beds. When we were cleaning, you could see plastic peeling off."

In addition, Merry said the Derby pound had two clogged drains, making it difficult to clean the mess inside. Merry said they were able to unclog one outside ground drain, but the other was stuffed with feces and leaves.

Merry called in volunteers to help scrub the floors in the pound. One dog area was caked with diarrhea, she said.

The outside rear of the facility had several piles of dog feces, too.

The volunteer crew cleaned for four hours on Friday alone, Merry said.

"We soaked and scrubbed, we soaked and scrubbed. We got it all out," she said.

Merry then brought in a pit bull rescue group Saturday to begin observing the dogs and determined they could all be adopted.

The rescue group set up a Facebook page  with photos and videos of the dogs, advertising them to the public.

No Authorization

Narowski said Derby police authorized none of this.

No one other than Oxford animal control had permission to be at the pound, the Derby police chief said.

Wlasuk said Derby police had no issues with the volunteers or the rescue group while they were there.

"During the course of the weekend several Derby police officers stopped by the facility, and at no time did they say that the rescue group was not authorized to be there," she said. "In fact, they thanked all of us."

On Thursday, Narowski said he would not debate Oxford Animal Control Officers on a point-by-point basis. He said the Derby pound was operated in accordance to state law and that supervising officers paid visits to the pound "two to three times a week."

He said the Coon Hollow Road building, constructed sometime in the 1970s, was not a long-term animal shelter, nor a facility run by an animal rescue group.

"It was a holding facility," Narowski said.

Most of the Derby dogs are now being held at a facility in Woodbridge.

State Inspects Derby

On Tuesday, after volunteers who assisted Merry began speaking to the media about conditions at the Derby pound, the state animal control
division sent an inspector to Coon Hollow Road.

It was the first time Derby's pound was inspected since 2008.

The inspector found two minor issues at Derby's pound, including the clogged drain observed by Merry and Wlasuk.

A copy of the inspection report is not yet available from the state's animal control division.

The Oxford animal control officers noted the inspection went well because the volunteers who cleaned the place.

Narowski said the pound Tuesday was in generally the same shape it was in on Friday, when he was last there.

In its three most recent state inspections, the Derby pound fell right in line with animal control facilities in Ansonia and Shelton.

Most local dog pounds have done poorly in terms of building maintenance -- broken or chipped concrete is a common violation, so are broken fences and damaged doors.

The most recent inspection of the Shelton facility was Feb. 24.

Shelton's pound is overcrowded, according to the inspection report.

However, the most recent Oxford inspection shows it fared worse than previous Derby inspections, according to documents released from the state Thursday through a Freedom of Information request.

The Oxford Animal Control Facility on Route 67 next to Oxford Town Hall was last inspected in October 2011.

Among the violations in Oxford:

  • A space meant for dogs was "unusable -- filled with junk."
  • Rat feces were found under a feeding station. "Removing debris would help cut down on continuing rodent infestation," the inspector advised.
  • There was "too much clutter and debris" in the building, with cat-scratch posts that could not be cleaned or disinfected, "causing an environment that is not germ-free."

Glass Houses?

Merry said the violations in Oxford have all been addressed.

They reflect the fact the Oxford pound is woefully undersized for the amount of activity happening there, she said.

Unlike Derby, Oxford's facility has a massive network of volunteers who socialize the dogs, walk the dogs -- even train them.

They also collect donations of dog toys, leashes collars and other dog accessories.

The pound doesn't have enough room to store its stuff, which is why there is an effort afoot in town to build a new animal shelter.

Oxford Animal Control doesn't view its pound as a jail for dogs.

"That has all since been cleaned up," Merry said, adding that the inspector who cited the facility, Barbara Godejohn, came down to the shelter about a week after the inspection and spent a day helping staff clean.

"It was taken care of, and she was involved in taking care of it," Merry said.

Murf April 20, 2012 at 04:34 PM
If ignorance was a crime you would be arrested...a mind is a terrible thing to waste..
Someone April 20, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Thin the herd
Corey Martovich April 20, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Darwinist much? You must be pretty full of yourself then. Can't believe anyone would be that close minded. Did you know the animals didn't do this to themselves, WE did. If that's what you think i hope your not rubbing off on anyone, society is already corrupt don't need anyone to make it worse.
Craig Zac April 20, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I agree, lets start having less babies and more pets! Oh wait, you meant not have pets... nahh, id rather see people (the most irresponsible animal in the world) have less kids and more pets. Why not 1 kid, 1 dog or cat instead of 2.5 kids? we actually waste more taxpayers $$$ on unwanted kids and grownups. did you know if we cut all state aid and federal programs we'd actually be in the black as a country and then could actually afford to take better care of these animals in the shelters.
Craig Zac April 20, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I say euthenize those who were incharge of the derby shelter! This guy quits a job, 17 days before he retires... because he was mad his city owned vehicle wasnt dropped off where he wanted it? This sound like a normal, rational human being to anyone? Besides, this story has been around awhile.. the guy is a sadist who shouldnt have been in charge of the city dump let alone aa animal shelter!
Someone April 20, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Im corrupting society because i don't believe in housing unwanted animals? You do know that is what they are right? Unwanted... Because if someone wanted them they wouldnt be in a holding cell/shelter, they would be living a normal pet life. I just think we have more importantthings
Someone April 20, 2012 at 06:19 PM
To take careful of 1st...just my opinion...you dont have to agree or get nasty...there's no shame in my statements...
cora nichols April 20, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Is ‘Someone” trying to promote conflict or is “Someone” for real? I really hoped we had become more humane in the last few years. The Oxford Dog pound has come a long ways thanks to volunteers and private contributions-not the support of the town. They take the time each night to evacuate, socialize, help clean runs, and feed the unfortunate animals so they can be adopted. They are as careful as they can to make sure the animals go to the right families. Like many towns in this state, taking care of the Dog Pound in Oxford, comes near the bottom of the budget. Thank God for the Volunteers. It is unfortunate we have to live with people with the mind set of “Someone” It is fortunate we are having this conversation. When something is “News” then something is often done about it. Town budget is coming up soon. Sure would be feather in our towns cap, if we improved, or replaced, the Dog Pound.
Kristi Novin April 20, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Paul- you are correct. The cost for care and placement of the animals at the Oxford Animal Shelter comes from community donations and fundraising. The small amount of money that comes from the town covers the animal control side of things which is mostly unrelated to the adoption and rehabilitation proccess.
Kristi Novin April 20, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Our animals at the shelter are not "unwanted" and deserve to be treated with respect. Just because they started with a bad existence doesn't mean they aren't destined for the perfect home where they are loved and wanted. Our animals are placed very carefully and continue to be a part of the volunteers lives even when they leave the shelter. The town and taxpayers aren't paying for the animals during this timeframe so it's not even a valid point. Thank you to all the people that show their support for the Oxford Animal Shelter!
Someone April 20, 2012 at 06:47 PM
If these animals are wanted then why are they neglected for months?
Kristi Novin April 20, 2012 at 07:13 PM
There are many ugly people in this world (as we can clearly see). Some people are driven by money and some are just evil. Just because a person or animal has been neglected or abused doesn't mean they don't still have value and deserve a chance to have the life that is deserved.
Someone April 20, 2012 at 07:26 PM
(are you trying to tell us that you are looking in the mirror kristi?)
Corey Martovich April 20, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Why do you think we have a dog pound? I have adopted two dogs from Oxford Dog Pound, and you call them unwanted, that is selfish. Those dogs may have been unwanted before but let me tell you they are my family, my best-friends, they are certainly not unwanted. So would you call kids in orphanages unwanted, what you want to euthanize them too?
Corey Martovich April 20, 2012 at 09:05 PM
No, you're the one that needs to take a good look in the mirror. People are neglected for month years, and they always come out stronger than what they were before, why not give these same animals a chance? You're so self-absorbed that you don't realize that what you are arguing can apply to ANY animal in this world, that includes humans.
Someone April 20, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Im am so far from self absorbed...you have no idea who i am...other than someone who believes we should thin the herd...i am not talking about people (such as craig zac was)...i am talking about unwanted animals..btw, are you a vegitarian?& if not, why shouldn't the animals you eat be given the same"chance" at a forfilling life? your argument applies to these animals as well...so take a good look at yourself next time you're eating cat/beef/dog/chicken lomain
Someone April 20, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Mmmmmmmmm....cat fried rice...my favorite
Corey Martovich April 20, 2012 at 10:04 PM
You are really stretching it here aren't you, do you have nothing else to argue for your opinion? Why don't you go live in China where there are population regulations, they are defiantly thinning the heard there and i am sure you would enjoy the cuisine too:) and no I'm not a vegetarian.
Someone April 20, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Ima firm believer in the "family planning" foundation the chinese government has built within their domain...they are taking responsibility for their society and making it a better place...unlike ourselves in américa...we are overpopulated withe people/animals ....we don't have the proper means of fairly providingthe resources needed to support ourselves b/c the rich get richer & the poor get poorer with the middleclass working their arses off to just survive....iam also in favor of free medical care for everyone, so maybe i should go live in canadá? ....im also a vegitarian...for the solé purpose of not wanting to eat another being....so don't go judging me as i have not judged you or your opinion....and yes i am stretching it a bit... it's called freedom of thought & Freedom of speech....i dont agree with dog shelters so what?
Murf April 20, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Someone who is no one that is who you are - hiding behind a computer screen.
JYD April 20, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Me thinks "someone" is having a good time pressing a few people's buttons. Ignore him. He is entitled to his opinion, and will soon get tired and return to the comfortable darkness under his rock.
Craig Zac April 20, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Yes i am talking about humans, no, not "thinning the herd" like you are talking about, killing perfectly happy, healthy dogs who are put into these shelter situations because alot of "humans" cant take care of themselves or their children, yet they think they can care for a pet. Im talking about people having so many kids, enough with the kids already... you wonder why all our natural resources are being depleted?why so many are unemployed? why the countrys open spaces are being built up? You say you are all for free medical right? why? why would you want that? and how exactly will it be "free" ? nothing is free in this world kid, and if it costs nothing, it is nothing. Youll see, when you start working and the governments hand is taking $$$ from you and giving it away to everyone else, especially if they arent willing to go get a job, youll see.
Craig Zac April 21, 2012 at 12:08 AM
But Its not family planning by choice the Chinese have, its government law, Communist law. the same Communist government who chased the Dali lama and the Buddhist monks out of Tibet and destroyed centuries old temples and killed and beat defenseless, non violent people. Another thing i need to ask, you claim to be a vegetarian because you don't want to eat another being, yet your content to just let them all die just because some wacko bought a pet on a whim and decided they didn't want it when they found out the work and $$$ involved with owning one? Is it just because your grossed out by eating something like a dog or rabbit or cow cause you actually have feelings for animals? I'm not judging you, just trying to understand your position... i think you started out just trying to have a little fun with your first comment but are now digging a deeper and deeper hole that your finding it harder to get out of with a little dignity left... tell me, how close am i? lol...
Someone April 21, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Okay...you've got me craig....
Someone April 21, 2012 at 12:28 AM
I eat bacon
Jessica Corsaletti April 21, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Clearly most people are compassionate towards these animals and maybe nobody should bother to respond to "someone" because it's evident he's just getting off on getting everyone fired up. There's always going to be people like that in this world. One year ago I went through state reports and was shocked by derby having the highest euthanasia percentage in the state. I notified the derby mayors office and was told they would look into it. This pit bull being held since feb tells me he has held them longer after the press exposed the euthanasias. However, if he had a genuine care for the animals, he wouldnt have had such high rates before. That being said, I believe Oxford aco is not lying about the conditions. It would also make sense that by the time the state inspector got there(cause they take a while) it would've been cleaned better.
Jessica Corsaletti April 21, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Its sad that the oxford inspection in the past would even be brought up after the derby conditions were exposed. This is typical. State officers and Uncompassionate departments have a tendency to frown upon aco's who try to place pound dogs. But placing animals generates revenue rather than spending funds on euthanasia. Good for volunteers and Oxford aco for helping in cleaning efforts and exposing the older aco. Hopefully derby chooses a more compassionate aco for the future.
Craig Zac April 21, 2012 at 02:51 AM
HA!!! I knew it, am I good or what? huh? huh? lol...
Craig Zac April 21, 2012 at 02:53 AM
I eat Lettuce...
RAK April 22, 2012 at 05:39 PM
The guy running the Derby shelter was just collecting a paycheck. Derby had one of the highest kill-rates in the state before somebody started taking a closer look. I had an unruly tenant who had brought in two nasty pit-bulls. They barked all day, tore up the apartment and scared the crap out of my other tenants to the point where they moved out. I tried to reach Klapcik just to see if the dogs were registered and had all their vaccinations up to date and also to see what my rights were as a landlord. The guy didn't do squat for me. He barely called me back. The Derby Police, who oversee the pound are also a bunch of jokers. Klapcik and the Police official who was in charge of overseeing the pound should be fired, arrested and should not be able to collect a pension. Joes upset because someone didn't deliver his car to the location of his choice. He is an arrogant, Anti-American who thinks he deserves more than the next guy. His type is the growing number of people in this country who are ruining this country! Thanks again Joe-

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