II. Denials & Justifications
Ventura PD K9 “Edu”
In my experience, there are two basic ways that handlers, "trainers," and department heads will respond to being asked about or confronted about hanging, helicoptering and kicking.
The first way is bald-faced lying. Many will vehemently deny that they have even ever heard about such things or, if they do acknowledge having heard of them, they will tell you with a solemn, innocent expression, "Our department doesn't do that," or “That used to be a common way of training, but it hasn't been done for the past 20 years."
There may be a few departments that don't string up dogs, but they would be very much in the minority at this time, based on research I've done and communication with trainers who participate in Schutzhund events around the world (Schutzhund is the method used for police and military dog training, from what I have deduced.)
As I will address later, these "training methods" are well known in dog training circles. When K9 handlers say they have never heard of choke out or stringing up, this HAS to be a LIE.
Before Armin was choked out in front of me, two of the K9 handlers. Corporal Paul Morton and Corporal Don Bales, would stand around my work station and brag about hanging their K9s. However, after David Inglis hanged Armin in my presence, and I subsequently called the local newspaper, a reporter called the station and spoke with Sgt. Larry White. The reporter advised me that Sgt. White told him that Ventura Police Department's K9s were never hanged.
I wrote a memo to Chief Ray McLean, and his response to me included, "...the situation you witnessed was the exception rather than the rule, and I have issued instructions to personnel of the Department that such a procedure is improper and not to be repeated." In addition, he wrote, I selected Tyson Kennels as the trainer who trained in methods that were acceptable to me... I am confident in the selection of Tyson Kennels as the supplier of our K9's."
I discovered later that this was simply a patronizing appeasement. David Inglis and the K9 team were hanging and kicking dogs regularly. The only thing that changed was that I was harassed and taunted for speaking out.
Three years later I approached the new Chief of Police, William Colston, after an officer who cared about what was going on told me that Sergeant George Morris's K9 bit Sgt. Morris and Sgt. Arth while Sgt. Morris was forcing the suffering dog to work with a cracked vertebrae.
I was fortunate enough to have letters sent to Chief Colston from a couple of formidable outside sources, including Elliot M. Katz, DVM, the president of In Defense of Animals, but the cover-up continued. In a memorandum to me. Chief Colston wrote, "I am informed that both Tyson Kennels and our training program began phasing down on the 'choke-out' several years ago and it has been at least three years since any of our dogs were 'choked-out' or 'hung-up'."
Either the chief was lying, or whoever told him this was lying.
I had suggested (and so had one of the letter writers. Dr. Charles Kuell) that in order to clean up the K9 unit, the obviously abusive handlers must be removed. Chief Colston declined to do that, and his new "policies" regarding handling of K9s, which were a SHAM, were co-authored and signed by none other than David Inglis!
The following year, a man who was doing repairs on my car gave me a ride to work. As we passed by the back of the police station we saw K9 handler Dennis Peet swinging his K9 (named Donner) around violently. The dog's body was flying back and forth like a rag doll. The man asked me, "What is he doing?" I said, "They call that training." He replied, "That's terrible." Shortly thereafter I came into possession of a death report on Donner. The 4-year-old German shepherd died from "severe hemorrhage into [the] chest"
Through the years I continued to hear from sympathetic police officers that the K9s were still being hanged, helicoptered and kicked, under the instruction of David Inglis. By the way, when I asked Inglis why he hanged Armin, and he told me he was "teaching him not to whine, to take his correction like a man," he also boasted, "If you think that was bad, you should have seen what we did to them in the army."
Complaints were being made at the Ventura PD front counter by passers-by who witnessed abuse of K9s at the rear of the station. People (including me) were complaining to the city manager's office, the sheriff's department, animal regulation and the humane society, all to no avail.
I heard from three different people who have trained with Inglis that the nickname for his training course is the "Hang 'Em High Club."
In January of 1998 I became aware of an incident involving David Inglis manually strangling a sheriffs deputy's K9 (named Kirn) while his wife Debbie kicked the dog in the testicles. This incident was recorded, ironically, at Dave and Debbie's request because they were angry with Mrs. Annemarie Brown for allegedly "bad-mouthing" them on the Internet about what a police report they filed describes as their "correction method." They filed the police report at the Ventura PD charging Mrs. Brown with battery, after having failed to have her kicked out of their K9 and Schutzhund training club.
Mrs. Brown had witnessed hangings and kickings by David Inglis before (she told of a dog named Pasha who died of a ruptured spleen two hours after being slammed to the ground and kicked by David Inglis), but found the incident with K9 Kim particularly horrendous. She said that Debbie Inglis commented afterwards, "Heh, heh, heh, did you see all that gland juice squirt all over us?" I have this testimony on audiotape, recorded by an attorney.
The police report states that there was an "altercation" between David Inglis and Mrs. Brown at a meeting they were attending, and that Mrs. Brown shoved David Inglis and struck Debbie Inglis in the face. Both Mr. and Mrs. Brown reported that it was David Inglis shoving Annemarie backwards through the parking lot with his chest while shouting threats, and that Debbie charged at her and ran into Mrs. Brown's hand, which she had held up in front of her for protection.
It ended up with Debbie Inglis pressing charges for battery, claiming Mrs. Brown intentionally hit her, and Mrs. Brown was arrested by citation.
In my opinion, all of this was done to intimidate Mrs. Brown and keep her quiet, but the police report is evidence of ongoing horrific abuse of the K9s (the "correction method") and the fact that the lies and cover-ups had continued all this time.
A lot of people are successfully intimidated. According to Mrs. Brown, two members of the "Hang 'Em High Club" told her she should file a charge of battery against David Inglis, and that they would back her up all the way. She tried to do that but was left sitting in the lobby for nearly 3 hours while a call for an officer to take her report was cancelled. Later, when a warrant for the re-arrest of Mrs. Brown was issued, these same two people were listed on the warrant as witnesses against her.
When I tried to report the harassment of Mrs. Brown to the Ventura District Attorney's office, I had as much success as Mrs. Brown did in attempting to file a battery charge against David Inglis. The Chief Deputy DA, Jeffrey G. Bennett, didn't seem very interested at all in what I told him about Mrs. Brown being harassed. He appeared to be more interested about the dog hanging, but only to ask if I had witnessed dog hanging, and if Mrs. Brown had witnessed dog hanging. I told him yes on both counts. He asked me to turn all my documentation over to him. I didn't trust him, based on his demeanor and disinterest in the harassment of Annemarie Brown, and told him I would not give him my documentation. He gave me his business card and told me he could not tell me about the outcome of our discussion, but that he would contact Mrs. Brown. I checked with her at a later date, and found out he had not contacted her.
In October of 1998, several police dog handlers in Essex, England, went on trial for hanging and kicking their K9s after one of the dogs, named Acer, died from being hanged over a fence and kicked in the stomach while being strangled at the end of his choke collar. Someone inside the station leaked it to the press. The press reported it and the public demanded justice, and so there was a trial. I received this information from news reports and it was confirmed by an employee of the Essex Police Department via email.
The headline on the BBC News, dated October 12,1998 reads: "Officers Deny Cruelty to Dogs." That's nothing new to me! Some of the handlers were reportedly jailed and fined, but the Essex Police Department employee wrote to me that the head instructors who instituted the abuse were not among those who were punished.
In the March 5,2000 issue of The Daily Herald (Everett, Washington) is the following excerpt from an article about a K9 named Yukon: "Before he even got to Snohomish County, Yukon the police dog already knew failure and how it felt to be hanged... They hoisted him up by his steel choke chain and leash and watched him struggle and squirm like a fish on a hook. Yukon's tongue popped from between his jaws. His eyes rolled back into his head until he blacked out. But the 'stringing up' didn't work as planned. When he regained consciousness, Yukon lunged for a trainer and bit again."
While this description should be disturbing to anyone reading it, the focus of the article is not about the torture of Yukon, but the amount of taxpayers' money being wasted on trying to train this dog and the lawsuits involved because he would not stop lashing out against his abusers and civilians.
In the May 18, 2003 issue of the Bakersfield Californian, there appeared an article about the Bakersfield K9 unit titled, "Every dog has its duty." The following excerpt is from that article about the training of a dog named Nitro:
“Then Nitro makes a mistake, jumping toward the non-aggressive man. Johannes Grewe, a police service dog trainer, pulls hard on a blue rope tied to a pinch collar around Nitro's neck. The animal squeals and careens in a heap on the patchy grass."
I sent a letter to the Bakersfield Californian and it was printed on June 1, 2003. I referenced the quote about Nitro squealing and careening in a heap, and registered my disgust that a reporter could write about it so matter-of-factly. I wrote about the effects of the "pinch" collars, my experience with cruelty, lies, cover-ups and retribution at Ventura PD, and the "Hang 'Em High Club."
A couple of weeks later there appeared a letter, allegedly written by the wife of a K9 handler, stating that people could not possibly understand the relationship between her husband and his K9.
In another couple of weeks, on July 1, an entire column appeared, written by Sgt. Glen Grundeis of the Bakersfield K9 unit. The title of the column is, "Police dogs get best of care." It contains the following statements:
"I do not recall anyone making the complaint that our canine partners are abused... In the 15 years that I have been associated with the K9 unit, I cannot ever recall any bleeding, suffocation or vocal cord injuries associated with the use of the pinch collar—With the exception of one fractured toe, I cannot think of any training-related injury to any of our dogs that required veterinary care.
"Regarding the use of pinch collars - yes we do use them, and due to the amount of muscle mass and hair around our dogs' necks, traumatic injury is virtually non-existent... By design, as opposed to a slip collar, they will not tighten beyond a certain point."
The last part is definitely hooey, particularly since the "pinch" collars close tightly enough around Ventura Police Department K9's throats to cause them to pass out from strangulation. Corporal Paul Morton brought his K9 Basko into the station with a bloody hole in his neck shortly after K9 Armin was hanged in front of me. When the civilian desk officer, Linda Selon, asked him why Basko was bleeding, he said, "I choked him out for getting sloppy." This would confirm that the "pinch" collars (with prongs that extend into the dogs' necks) can perforate the skin and cause bleeding.
Sgt. Grundeis declined to address what prompted my letter in the first place:
"The animal squeals and careens in a heap on the patchy grass."
In addition he wrote that I had not attended any of their twice monthly training sessions, and 'The Bakersfield Police Department has always been open to the public and media about the use and of training of our dogs. We have trained under the presence of veterinary staff and the SPCA." He also utilized what appears to now be the standard rhetoric of PD's most everywhere (I heard a similar version voiced by Ventura PD K9 handler Ray Harer on our local channel 6 Ventura TV station):
"Positive reinforcement, like praise, food and play are much more common and more effective techniques. We become very protective of our K9 partners, as they also are often our best friends and a part of our families."
He went on:
"As far as abuses...I have no idea what she is talking about. I can say without reservation that it has never been done here - nor would I or our contact trainer tolerate any handler who abused the animal he has been entrusted to by God, the citizens of this community and our Police department."
I'll let readers come to their own conclusions regarding those last few dramatic remarks, but I will address the statements about their training sessions being open to the public and the media. Ventura PD has said the same thing, in fact, when VPD became aware that I was caught up in the aftermath of the manual strangulation/testicle kicking incident, emails were sent throughout the department inviting everyone to training sessions. I'm sure these would have been lovely, laundered shows. I believe they are being much more careful now about when and where they abuse the dogs than they were before.
At the end of the May 18, 2003 Bakersfield Californian article (page D10), is this: "After a high speed chase. Hale pulled over a car and the driver left the vehicle. Twenty-five feet from the auto, the driver started running back to the car. 'Stop or I'm going to send my dog,” Hale said when the man was 10 feet from the auto. He didn't comply, so Hale released the dog, which raced over and bit the man's left arm as he tried to close the driver's side door. When the driver became compliant. Hale said, 'Zak out.' The shepherd released its grip. Among the charges against the man was Penal Code 600, assaulting a police dog."
SO, A MAN TRYING TO CLOSE HIS CAR DOOR AGAINST AN ATTACK IS CHARGED WITH 600 PC, ASSAULTING A POLICE DOG, BUT HANDLERS WHO STRANGLE TO UNCONSCIOUSNESS, SLAM TO THE GROUND AND KICK THEIR "PARTNERS" ARE NOT GUILTY OF ANYTHING. This is INSANITY!
I was recently surprised (Sept. 4, 2003) while watching a police pursuit on channel 11 (Fox news). K9s were deployed, and in the midst of the search the reporter began telling viewers that the dogs are trained with praise, rewards and play. The reporter is Rod Bernsen, a former police officer.
So now we are getting the standard public relations rhetoric in the middle of a pursuit! They keep imprinting that image on the viewing public's consciousness:
Praise, rewards, play, you are getting sleepy, praise, rewards, play, and when you wake up all you will remember is that they are trained with praise, rewards, and play. On October 21,2003, Jim Belushi appeared on the Ellen Degeneres show and discussed his hobby - Schutzhund training - saying, "It's all praise, rewards and play." No, Jim, it is NOT.
In 1998 I met a young man who told me that what I witnessed at Ventura PD he had also at that time witnessed in the military. He told me "It's too bad we can't do anything about it." I told him, "Well, I'm going to try, anyway."
George Marshall, of Ojai, who has been "training" and hanging dogs for many years, wrote a letter (which appeared in the Ojai and Ventura Voice newspaper on January 4, 2002) that what I decry (hanging, helicoptering, slamming and kicking) "is pretty much standard practice the world over in general police dog training."
He utilized tactic #2 (justification), which is to attempt to convince us that we are ignorant of what it takes to train a service dog, peppered with sarcasm and insults. This plan emulates the writings of William Koehler, the dog lynchers' chosen authority on the subject. Koehlers' books on "training" also advocate severe beatings and near-drowning of dogs.
During our 6 week published debate, Mr. Marshall wrote:
"Opinion stemming from emotional abhorrence of a subject does not equate with objective analysis... emotional anthropomorphic concepts of how to train dogs does not fly in the world of reason and reality. Dogs are not a sub-hominid species with abilities to rationalize.”
(So then, why was Armin hanged for no reason other than what Inglis told me was to teach him "to take his correction like a man" ?)
Mr. Marshall continues,
"I, too, have been accused of 'cruelty' and 'brutality' by a number of microcephalics whose reason is also occluded by emotions substituted for logic and comprehension. It is said that I have been 'seen' (?) brutalizing dogs; 'helicoptering' them (whatever that is) or grabbing one by the scruff of the neck and tail, lifting it over my head and slamming it to the ground (without killing it? - that's quite a feat). I have not, as yet, been cited for all these dastardly deeds (over a 10 year spread). Are these people 'seeing' more than they 'see'? "
The old smoke and mirrors. First, Mr. Marshall tries to convince readers that these "techniques" are justifiable. Later he reverts to tactic #1 (denial) to put across the idea that people ("microcephalics") who in his words have "seen(?)" him doing these things to dogs are either lying or somehow didn't see correctly, and denies that he knows what helicoptering is, even though these alleged liars reported seeing him do it. He offers up another form of abuse I didn't even bring up, even though I had seen it ("grabbing one by the scruff of the neck and tail, lifting it over my head and slamming it to the ground..").
As for the part, "I have not, as yet, been cited for these dastardly deeds...," this is similar to what Sgt. Grundeis included in his column ("We have trained under the presence of veterinary staff and the SPCA").
There are two avenues here. The handlers can put on a staged show for SPCA's, veterinary staff and the public. The other side of the coin is that some SPCA's, alleged humane societies and veterinary staff are just as much a part of the "good old boys network" as any other business agencies with financial and/or political ties.
I attended a meeting of OCPA (Orange County People for Animals) in 2000. The guest speaker was Jeffrey P. Bennett, currently on the City Council for the City of Corona. Mr. Bennett has started a movement to build a memorial for military K9s that were left behind after the Vietnam war. He showed his video and it was very moving, detailing the bond between the soldiers and their dogs. However, when it came time for him to answer questions, and I asked him about the K9s being hanged to unconsciousness, he became evasive. He answered my question with one of his own: "Do you know what breed of dog has the record for biting people the most? Cocker spaniels." When I tried to pin him down about the hangings, he suggested that dogs such as rottweilers are bred to be aggressive (he admitted to being a breeder) and must be handled with "some form" of force. I replied, "Who's fault is that?", and he acquiesced to that statement. He has a website in which is states that these K9s are "not pets, but trained soldiers." I say that this, too, is insanity. Dogs don't have any concerns about memorials for them. They suffer horribly while being hanged.
I've received many combination denial/justification emails from K9 handlers around the world, mostly as a result of being on a dog health chat where one of the members was a police officer in the UK named Derek Tumbull. He defended what dog lynchers like to call "aversive" training, but he was on the wrong chat for that subject. The other members were not receptive to the idea of hanging and kicking dogs. Lacking support for his position, he went to another chat where the majority of the members supported his views, and they inundated me with emails, some outright hostile, some trying to play George Marshall-William Koehler-style mind games.
I did receive a couple of supportive messages, but one of the authors asked that I keep his email to me private because he was concerned about retaliation from his peers.
I informed this chat that I didn't have time to respond to all of them, but I was printing out their messages for distribution, as their posts would be very educational for the public. The moderator of this chat immediately wrote to me, "All email sent through BPSCA is copyright 2000 by its original author. You must get permission from the original author before redistributing their material."
If they believe in what they are saying and doing, and that it IS the truth, why would they care whether or not I share their "words of wisdom" with others? It reminds me of when Captain Houghton (my top supervisor at the time David Inglis hanged Armin in my presence) told me if I wrote a letter to the newspaper about the hanging of Armin (and if it was printed), he couldn't guarantee me that I would not be harassed at work, in public, and as a private citizen (which ultimately did happen later on).
I received a forwarded message from the chat, "Please advise hoe to unsubscribe (sic) from list." Shortly thereafter, I was declared by the moderator to be a "dangerous woman," and removed from the chat that I didn't ask to be on in the first place!
In the tradition of tactic #2 (justification) a K9 handler from Australia, who signed himself Grant Teeboon (The Paw Man, Police Dog handler, 22 years service, ICQ#12854070) wrote: "I have personally partaken in the training of hundreds of Police and Service dogs. I have seen many things done to dogs that many civilians would not understand (as you obviously do not) and could easily take out of context." Most of the rest of his messages contained the standard insults and baiting.
There is nothing to misunderstand or take out of context. Torture is torture. They can make up all the fancy sounding excuses and euphemisms, but it doesn't make their actions any more acceptable or less criminal.
A good example of the classic Denial/Justification argument was posted on Amazon as a review of a book I wrote on the subject. It was submitted by a K9 handler identifying him or herself as wardog72 from San Antonio, TX.
It starts with the denial:
"While there are techniques to train dogs that are vile, they are very rarely used. I myself have not used them and know of no one else that has...
It continues with the justification:
"Normal dog training uses techniques that to a tree hugger animal activist would seem cruel. However, when you have an 80 lb. shepherd that in a moment's notice can rip your bicep off (seen it), obedience is priority one. Dogs do not come out of the womb obedient... there is a point in time compulsion (physical correction) is required."
In the July 1, 1998 issue of the Star (Ventura), there appeared a letter written by Patrick Musone. It was in response to another letter regarding the stabbing of a cat by a private citizen. Mr. Musone wrote: "Having worked in law enforcement and public education for 25 years (he was at that time employed at Ventura County Animal Regulation), it is my belief that anybody who goes out of his way to maliciously kill an animal - either by aiming for it on the roadway, setting it on fire, offering it to a vicious attack dog, poisoning it, shooting it, hanging it, dragging it behind a vehicle, stabbing it or simply beating it to death - probably isn't going to care about your civil rights either..."
I found Mr. Musone's address in the phone book and wrote to him, thanking him for his letter and telling him about the hanging of the police dogs, hoping for a reply. I did not receive one.
In November of 2002, a young woman named Tzilla Yanai submitted an affidavit which was printed on the Internet, about a married couple named Bryan and Claudia McNulty. She had met them in South Africa and they invited her to the United States to "learn more about Schutzhund training and to assist in training dogs for the show ring." Ms. Yanai stayed with the McNultys and was shocked by their treatment of the dogs, which included making them live in small air travel crates 23 1/2 hours each day, even though the McNultys had many acres of property. The dogs were brutalized in various ways, including repeated electric shocks applied to a young bitch until she was wetting herself and yelping ( for not coming back when called at a previous time, which she could not have understood). Ms. Yanai wrote that Bryan McNulty shot a dog with a rifle, killing him in her presence, and that he also often boasted of having slit the throats of many dogs.
The affidavit was responded to by Molly Graf, USA Northeast Regional Breed Warden, Eichenluft Working German Shepherds. Molly told Ms. Yanai she should send her notarized letter to several people in Schutzhund, including National Breed Warden Johannes Grewe (the same Johannes Grewe, I presume, who "pulls hard on the rope attached to a pinch collar around Nitro 's neck. The animal squeals and careens in a heap..." in Bakersfield). She further advised that it would be helpful if more people would step forward as witnesses to Bryan and Claudia McNulty's abuses. She commented, "Bryan McNulty is now an apprentice judge for USA...Claudia McNulty is Regional Breed Warden and member of the Breed Advisory Committee."
I emailed Molly and wrote that I know how difficult it is to get people to "step forward" to report what they have witnessed, but that I have in my possession a police report in which Mrs. Brown describes the manual strangulation of a K9 by David Inglis while his wife Debbie kicked the dog in the testicles, EXPECTING THAT SHE WOULD BE INTERESTED IN THIS DOCUMENTATION.
Molly's response to my email was, "In Schutzhund, training is not supposed to be all fun-fun for the dogs."
I believe that Molly's reply to my email SPEAKS VOLUMES as to the amount of tolerance for dog abuse and torture in Schutzhund style dog "training."
After my letter was printed in the Bakersfield Californian on June 1, 2003,1 received information from a citizen of Lompoc, California. Many people in that jurisdiction had been trying to have their local 9-year-old K9 named Bandit retired, due to the fact that he was suffering from liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, severe Thoraco-Lumbar spinal disease with spondylosis, intervertebral collapse and arthritis.
I received volumes of documentation from Lompoc. Included was a letter to Lompoc's Mayor Dick DeWees stating, "I have seen in the media that police K9s are treated with respect and as officers, and yet in a case like this they are still treated simply as property and as tools." David Inglis has referred to the K9s as "tools."
The chief of police and the mayor declined to retire Bandit, even with all his serious ailments, and sent him south to Ventura for additional "training" with David Inglis. David Inglis retired as a lieutenant from the Ventura Police Department in 2000, but is still conducting K9 training for them and other law enforcement agencies as of this writing.
July, 2006, Fox 10 news in Miami Dade, Florida, reported that an anonymous source reported that a K9 was kicked to death by his handler, Sgt. Cockfield, for barking at the wrong time during training. The police department circled the wagons, as usual, stating that they would thoroughly investigate the cause of death of the dog, and added, as usual, that the dogs are treated exceptionally well, the same as any other fellow officer.
Also in 2006, I wrote a second letter to the L.A. Times about Santa Ana K9 named Ygor, who is the subject of a lawsuit for biting indiscriminately (shades of K9 Yukon), and who lost an eye in a TRAINING ACCIDENT. The Times did not print either one of my letters. In looking up K9s trained in Ventura County, I see quite a few who have been permanently injured in alleged TRAINING ACCIDENTS. (Note to the sadistic abusers: I have printed them out and sent them to others, so trying to delete them now would be fruitless).