I have been following the stories and developments concerning the Regional Center for Animal Control and Protection for some time now. As I have watched this story unfold, a number of things have occurred to me.
The “Pound” sits within the confines of the City of Roanoke, which means that any criminal offenses occurring at the Pound will fall under the jurisdiction of the Roanoke City Police Department and the Roanoke City Commonwealth’s Attorney. Now one would think, with this being a Regional Pound, serving four municipal governments and housing the animals from four law enforcement agencies, that there would be a Regional approach to any investigation and prosecution. That seemed to be the case early on when the four law enforcement agencies and prosecutors presented a united front at the June Advisory Board meeting. However, it now appears that Roanoke County, Botetourt County and Vinton have been removed from the investigative loop. Why would this be?
Roanoke City Animal Control has their office in the building that houses the Pound. As the only Animal Control agency with jurisdiction to enforce the animal welfare laws in the Pound, isn’t any investigation into a failure to abide by these laws also an investigation into the Roanoke Animal Control division for a dereliction of duty for allowing these crimes to occur in their building and for failing to act? There seems to be an overriding theme to all “investigations” at the Pound: “Let’s investigate ourselves and declare ourselves absolved of any wrongdoing.” Have the auditors from any of the other jurisdictions been invited into the “investigation” of the misuse of the public’s money? Are they not looking into the abuse of animals from all four jurisdictions and the embezzlement of money from all four governments? Should the taxpayers of Roanoke County, Botetourt County and Vinton be forced to rely on the “investigation” judgements and decisions of Roanoke City with no input from their elected Commonwealth’s Attorneys?
And speaking of Commonwealth’s Attorneys, let’s look at Roanoke City’s. If I’m not mistaken, Donald Caldwell was the Chairman of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee in 2011. During that time, both Warner and Barbara Dalhouse made considerable donations to the Democratic party, to include donations to most members of Roanoke City Council. That could make one question the integrity of these “investigations” into the RVSPCA’s handling of both the valley’s animals and money. Keep in mind that Barbara Dalhouse is president of both the RVSPCA and Animal Care Services, the corporation which directly oversees all operations at the pound. Isn’t the RVSPCA’s adoption site named the “Barbara and Warner Dalhouse Adoption Center?” And lest we forget, didn’t Barbara Dalhouse participate with Roanoke City Police Chief Perkins in the Valley’s own version of Dancing with the Stars? Perhaps it is time for Mr. Caldwell to avoid the appearance of impropriety and seek the input of others. We are fortunate in Botetourt to have a prosecutor who is recognized nationally as an expert in investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty cases. Surely Mr. Caldwell is reaching out to her as these “investigations” unfold?
As stated above, these are simply some thoughts I have had as I watch the Pound saga in the news. I hope my musings are wrong and that all of the Municipalities are participating in these investigations and all will have a say in what, if any charges should be brought.