PETA calls Calexico shelter conditions ‘deplorable'

June 13, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a Norfolk, Va.-based non-profit group that has garnered attention for its pet causes by paying supermodels to pose naked in public places, employed a more traditional approach during a campaign alerting its 750,000 members of what it calls "deplorable" conditions at the Calexico animal shelter.

PETA recently published the contact information for Calexico's City Hall and Police Department at the end of one of its "action alerts," short articles on PETA's Web site that alert members of alleged animal abuse.

In response, PETA members have tried to contact Lt. Jim Neujahr at the Police Department and called, faxed and e-mailed Calexico City Hall hoping to reach City Manager Richard Inman or Mayor John Renison. Neujahr said the department has received around 50 to 60 e-mails a day.


According to the action alert, "(PETA received) reports in early April of deplorable conditions at the Calexico animal shelter — including dying animals left to suffer, untreated; dead animals left to rot in cages with live ones and animals deprived of basic necessities like food and water."

The Calexico animal shelter is on Pierce Avenue, across from the city's shop and next to the city's water plant.

PETA spokeswoman Daphna Nachminovitch said a PETA official who informed Neujahr of the group's concerns in April was told the situation at the shelter would improve.

"The lieutenant promised us things would be improved immediately; the person responsible for this suffering would be dismissed," she said.

In May, according to Nachminovitch, a PETA member shot video footage of the shelter that showed "a dilapidated collection of steel cages … automatic food dispensers at the facility (that) are broken … water buckets full of black, stagnant water … dead birds and bags containing dead dogs and cats (either recently killed or found dead in their cages) left along the shelter's fencing to bake in the hot sun," among other issues.

PETA members were not happy after seeing the footage.

On May 24, the group sent Neujahr a letter to demand "that these lost, stray and homeless animals be provided with, at the very least, adequate food, water and shelter."

Contacted on Thursday, Neujahr said most of the issues raised by the PETA members have been addressed.

"They pointed out some things that we were glad to know of," he said.

For instance, PETA said the shelter wasn't listed in the phone book, so Neujahr, the man responsible for the shelter, took steps to get it listed.

Regarding the charge of bags with dead animals baking in the sun, Neujahr said citizens sometime leave dead animals in bags at the shelter instead of burying the animal or otherwise disposing of it.

To manage the shelter, Neujahr said, the city has recently hired a local man with a veterinary degree.

Inman said Thursday that the shelter is "better than ever."

Told of the improved conditions at the shelter, Nachminovitch deadpanned, "Wow. I'd love to believe that and I'd love to hear that directly from him (Neujahr)."

She said PETA has not received a response from the city to its May 24 letter.

Nachminovitch was asked if PETA would send naked supermodels to Calexico if the city does not respond to the letter.

"I can't really tell you right now. We're expecting a response from the city. Hopefully we won't have to do much else," she said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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