Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vile Practices at Tulare County, CA Animal Shelter

I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and am familiar with Tulare County. That's why this action alert from the Animal Legal Defense Fund strikes a cord with me.

From the ALDF blog....

Arrested in June 2007, Michael J. Sargeant, William R. Harmon, and Ron C. Cookson were accused of participating in an “off the books” arrangement wherein Harmon and Cookson carried out unauthorized mass euthanasias at the Tulare County, California shelter – reportedly using nonstandard and painful methods – by falsifying records to cover their actions.

Sargeant, doing business as Sargeant’s Wholesale Biologicals, buys carcasses from animal shelters and sells them to research facilities such as UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine. According to an investigative report by the Sheriff’s Office, Sargeant admitted that he had not had an official contract with Tulare County Animal Control since 2002 and that contract had allowed him to take only feline carcasses, yet he had continued to acquire dog and cat carcasses frequently from the shelter whenever Harmon called to tell him that euthanized animals were ready for pick up. The report further stated that Sargeant’s company purchased $1000 worth of gift certificates to a fancy restaurant and gave them to Harmon in 2005. He used a company check to purchase another $1,000 gift certificate, which he gave to Harmon in 2006.

Michael Sargeant was originally charged with two felony bribery charges, but on May 13, 2009, he pled no contest to one misdemeanor count of engaging in anti-competitive practices. He was sentenced to two days in jail (already served), three years of formal probation and a $150 fine. That's all.

ALDF is asking that you send a letter to the USDA asking that Sargeant's Class B license-which allows him to round up dogs and cats from animal shelters, auctions, private individuals and other "random sources," and then sell them for experimentation-be revoked.


Anonymous said...

Charges against Mike Sargeant were dropped for lack of evidence. There was never any bribery. All charges against Ronn Cookson were dropped for lack of evidence. William Harmon was tried in a jury court and found innocent of any charges relating to animal cruelty/neglect. Harmon was also found innocent of falsifying documents or putting animals down early. No animals were ever euthanized early, or by any method other than humane injection. The allegations against these three were made up by a disgruntled shelter employee. Please correct your records or remove this blog.

mrbarky said...

No bribery?

From the ALDF site:

Update: Acquitted of animal abuse charges by a jury on April 1, 2009, former Tulare County animal shelter manager William Harmon was convicted on September 24, 2008 of two felony counts of accepting bribes, a felony count of embezzlement and the misdemeanor charge of accepting an unlawful gratuity. On May 12, 2009, Harmon was sentenced to 290 days in jail and 3 years probation.

Nowhere do I see in our original post that says anyone was found guilty of animal cruelty. All I see is that they were accused of it. That's little more then what I assume showed up in the local press. And what about the disposition of Mike Sargeant's case (Case #VCM 185453)? He pled no contest to a charge of engaging in anti-competitive practices. Is this factually incorrect? What exactly were these anti-competitive practices with a person that was later convicted of accepting bribes?

Here is a full run down of the case from

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