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Vet's Letter Prompts Police Probe

Oxford animal control official happy that the Derby investigation is moving forward.

This article was written by Eugene Driscoll of the Valley Independent Sentinel. Paul Singley of Oxford Patch contributed to the report. 

The Derby Police Department has launched a criminal probe to determine whether any laws were violated while the municipal dog pound was under the supervision of former Animal Control Officer Joe Klapcik.

The case was opened Thursday morning, after Oxford Patch and the Valley Indy forwarded Derby Police Chief Gerald Narowski a copy of a letter from Seymour veterinarian Dr. T.C. Nanavati. (See the letter, attached to the right of this article as a PDF.)

The outlets forwarded the document to the chief in order to question him on the issue.

Nanavati’s letter described the condition of a male pit bull brought to his office after being found at the Derby Animal Control Facility on Coon Hollow Road Friday, April 13.

The dog appeared to be neglected, malnourished and had open sores on its legs, according to the letter.

State law governing municipal dog pounds dictate that any dog which appears sick or injured should be examined by a licensed veterinarian.

The pit bull in question had allegedly been in the Derby dog pound for two months.

"This appeared to be a credible complaint, which we received through the media, that there was some neglect involved,” Narowksi said Friday. “When we were forwarded the letter, we immediately started to investigate it as a criminal complaint. That case is still open."

Several messages have been left with Klapcik since Monday, April 16.

Background

The pit bull was found April 13 at the Derby dog pound by Oxford Animal Control Officers Sandy Merry and Cori Wlasuk.

Oxford Animal Control was called to Derby because Klapcik, the Derby dog warden for 18 years, abruptly quit earlier in the day.

Merry and Wlasuk said they were shocked and angered at the condition of the pit bull and of Derby’s facility in general, which Wlasuk called “deplorable.”

The pit bull was one of six dogs in the pound. None of the other dogs needed medical attention.

Vet Interviewed

Narowski said Derby police interviewed Nanavati Thursday and asked him about his letter.

Nanavati is also the vet used by the City of Derby.

Narowksi shared parts of Nanavanti’s statement -- namely that the injuries to the dog were not a sign of physical abuse, but may have been sustained by rubbing against walls or items inside the pound.

The chief said he did not see the wounds on the dog when he looked at the animal April 13.

The chief said Nanavati’s statement notes that the dog’s condition would not have been noticed by a person with an untrained eye simply walking by.

Oxford Animal Control Officer Reacts

Merry, who had asked for and received Nanavati's initial written statement describing the dog's condition April 13, said Friday she was pleased the Derby Police Department plans to investigate.

Merry said Friday she was pleased the Derby Police Department plans to investigate.

“I hope they get the evidence they need,” she said. “But after all the negativity that came Oxford’s way after we came in and did what they asked us to do - and we did that, plus some - Oxford is now out of the situation. I hope they find the evidence they need to pursue this.”

Other Areas Probed

Since allegations about the condition of the Derby dog pound were reported in local media and on social media sites this week, the Derby Police Department has been receiving statements from people who have a variety of complaints against Klapcik.

As a result of the statements being made by the public, Derby police are also investigating Klapcik’s “business practices,” Narowski said.

"We'll see if there is anything we need to take action on -- and then we will move on from this," the chief said.

While acknowledging Klapcik was sometimes a "problem employee" for the Derby Police Department, the chief defended the physical condition of the Derby dog pound, which has been called "filthy" and "deplorable" by Oxford animal control and dog advocates.

The chief reiterated the pound was acceptable under state law and had fared relatively well in four inspections by the state since 2006.

"The general theme of the public seems to be they want an animal rescue shelter in Derby," Narowski said. "Unfortunately, that is not what the Derby Police Department does. We were running a municipal dog pound."

Derby closed the dog pound on Tuesday. Animal control calls are being handled by Woodbridge. Derby and Woodbridge are working out an agreement that will see the towns pool resources for animal control services.

Doing so will provide better service for less money, Narowski said.

Meanwhile, Merry, the Oxford animal control officer, said she has made her last public statement on the issue.

The Derby dogs are now being held and are up for adoption at pounds in either Oxford or Woodbridge. (Click here for more information about the dogs on a Facebook page set up for the Derby Animal Shelter.)

“We went in there not knowing what kind of situation we'd find," Merry said. "We will still be involved if people want to fill out applications for the dogs. We are willing to help Woodbridge place those animals. That is what we set out to do in the first place. And we also brought a ton of stuff to them yesterday that people asked us to give to the Derby shelter.”

Finally, Art Gerckens, a member of the Derby Board of Aldermen, said Friday the dog pound issue has been added to the agenda of the April 26 Aldermen meeting. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Derby allows public comment at the start of each meeting.

“There are always public portions at these meetings, so feel free to come and express yourself,” Gerkens posted on the Valley Indy Facebook page Friday.

Kim Stevens April 21, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Ha! Wonder if the derby animal control officer is related to Judy Redding, formerly of West Haven animal control. She wouldn't feed pitbulls that came into her facility and when I adopted one from West Haven it cost me well over $2500.00 in the first 24 hours that I had the dog because the dogs was eating rocks from the run because she was so hungry. Then she slaughtered a families pitbulls with no just cause, just seized them brought them right to orange veterinary hospital and killed them. No due process no nothing!!! The dogs were immediately killed for no reason!!!
Someone April 21, 2012 at 12:23 PM
To my understanding, Pit bulls are typically viscious beasts...unless they are trained properly from birth....i cant imagine the demeanor of unwanted pitbulls...scary thought...perhaps that is why she did what she did...
Sue Martovich April 21, 2012 at 01:42 PM
This is directed once again to the "someone" comment. You and Klapcik seem to have something in common.
Corey Martovich April 21, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Pits to my understanding are not viscious animals when you train them right. Even at birth they are not vicious, someone has to train them to be that way... If any dog was trained that way, they would instantly show their aggression. Which in this case i do not think happened, otherwise the animal control officers from both towns would have done or said something.
Someone April 21, 2012 at 02:41 PM
If you're trying to say that klapsik & i could give two hoots about unwanted pitbulls...then give yourself a prize & ring the bell...
Maryann April 21, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Regardless of Derby running "an animal rescue shelter" or "a municipal dog pound" Narowski needs to stop defending Klapcik and think along the lines of charging him with animal cruelty. What is he covering up?
Arthur Brannen April 21, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I know Klapcik and he has always been shady in his dealings. It seems to me that the chief of Derby police is protecting Klapcik but the chief should do his job arresting Klapcik and charge him with failure to do his job as well as animal cruelty. Why is Klapcik being protected? What does Klapcil have on officials to get away with something like this???
Kim Stevens April 22, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Unfortunately you are coming across quite ignorant. Take the time before you post on something to do your research. Pitbulls are NOT born viscous, just as no other breed is born viscous! Pitbulls were originally called Nanny dogs because they are so good with children. Pitbulls are trained to be mean just as you can train a poodle, cockapoo, or any other breed to be the same way. I have rescued over 150 pit bulls, some straight out of fighting rings and have trained them to be loving loyal dogs and placed them in homes with children as well as other dogs. So please before you post something so completely ignorant, do your research because your post is just completely ridiculous.
Kim Stevens April 22, 2012 at 10:15 PM
I have 2 pits that were unwanted and live more than harmonously with a child, 2 cats, and another dog. Their demeanor is kind and gentle unless they end up in the hands of a p.o.s. that makes them mean.
Someone April 22, 2012 at 10:34 PM
To kim....thanks for the 411.... I stand correceted.....now euthenize all of the nasty, unwanted, trained by pos pitbulls so they are not a danger to our community, nor are a drain on resources...end of story
Kim Stevens April 22, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Wow you are truly a miserable, under educated or uneducated individual. Sad, very very sad. Sorry your ignorance is the content of your character. They make pills for people like you. Humans are the danger, humans such as yourself.
James Property LLC April 23, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Sorry people are typically vicious beast.... animals will protect themselves if warranted and can be trained to be vicious. Just my opinion , but I would take a pit or any other 4 legged animal over some people( 2 legged animals ).
James Property LLC April 23, 2012 at 01:38 PM
How about we start with euthanizing all the nasty, unwanted people that are a danger to our community, and stop the drain on the taxpayer.
Will Wilkin April 23, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Lack of compassion is never a virtue.
Will Wilkin April 23, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Dear Someone, You have my sympathies, you are obviously suffering.

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