After a 13 month standoff between the power hungry bureaucrats of the Indianapolis Animal Care & Control (IACC) and a united group of almost 4,000 citizens and dog clubs nationwide standing in support of the Upton Animal Training Center, the bureaucrats cried uncle. This whole ugly mess started in 2015 when brand new Deputy Chief of Enforcement Kim Wolsiffer boasted about her goal of increasing prosecutions of innocent citizens by 25%. She was looking to make a name for herself.
Cities and animal control officers look at seizures of purebred animals as a potential cash cow and Paul Upton fit. The animal rights movement some of whom offer free training to animal control officers nationwide have a victim profile they recommend as targets. The elderly, single women, the handicapped and people who have recently suffered a major tragedy are considered to be ideal targets to take down.
They think these victims are the least likely to fight back. The selected victims are hit with extortion and threats of long legal battles and huge fines that crush them to the ground over their ownership of animals. Cyber lynch mobs are formed to assassinate the character of the victim on social media based upon falsified complaints of “animal abuse.”
After 30 years of clean inspection reports, all of the Upton dogs were stolen by Wolsiffer using nothing more than her personal opinion that IACC and their disease filled frequently squalid shelter could provide them with better care than Upton was. Paul Upton was not given notice to fix any alleged problems that Wolsiffer suddenly claimed he had, instead raid trucks simply showed up at his doorstep and started stealing his dogs just in time for the holiday selling market. Dog catcher Wolsiffer was counting on the publicity of “rescuing poor abused dogs” at Christmas time to propel her career forward.
Wolsiffer and the city of Indianapolis expected Paul Upton to just give up but instead he fought back as satisfied clients rushed to his defense. Sure of their success, Wolsiffer brought in ASPCA trained evaluators to look at the dogs for immediate resale. Supporters filed numerous FOIA requests against the city and released the video footage they received. In one, the public howled with laughter when it showed an ASPCA “evaluator” so clueless about dogs that she had no idea that a full grown German Shepherd had lifted their leg and was peeing on her. Another video of their so-called temperament testing of the Upton dogs showed their evaluators were forcing a dog going into labor and having puppies to undergo this testing, completely stressing her out. Of the two dogs who gave birth immediately after, at least five of their puppies are documented to have died in IACC’s inept care.
It gets worse. In April of 2015, FOIA requests of the city produced graphic evidence of IACC officials killing a 2-year-old dog named Red Velvet after she became injured in their shelter. The City’s own records show that Red Velvet was a perfectly healthy adult when she was stolen from Paul Upton. Flash forward several months and she suddenly developed a mysterious neck wound that was swollen and inflamed. When she was finally taken to an emergency hospital she had lost over 5 pounds. After being hospitalized at Noah’s 24 Hour Animal Hospital, Red Velvet was slowly improving but 2 days later, IACC ordered her euthanized. Indianapolis Animal Control Officers personally went to the animal hospital to kill Red Velvet themselves. Many lingering questions remain about the death of this beautiful German Shepherd. How did she get injured in the first place? How did she go from healthy and active in their own records to dead? Why did it take IACC officials so long to seek treatment for her? Their records show that her neck wound ruptured on January 24th but they didn’t bother to seek treatment for it until January 30th. She suffered in their shelter with a ruptured wound for 6 days.
If IACC’s substandard care of the Upton dogs wasn’t horrific enough, crooked Indianapolis City Prosecutor Mark Pizur was caught falsifying evidence. When confronted with his illegal actions in court, Pizur claimed that he was simply frustrated trying to prosecute Paul Upton and had a mere “lapse of judgment.” A prosecutor being paid a taxpayer funded salary has no place falsifying evidence to convict the innocent and get away with stealing their property.
“What is known is that Mr. Pizur would rather accuse a reporter of falsely quoting him than admit his mistake; would rather accuse the media as a whole of having ‘an agenda’ than admit it is he who was maliciously scheming; would rather strip the Defendant of his First Amendment and Article I right to freedom of speech than admit it is he who was misleading the public; would rather accuse an attorney who has been practicing for forty years of misleading the court when it is he who was knowingly making false statements to this tribunal. Mr. Pizur’s projection is unmatched.”
Upton Attorney Marshall Pinkus.
Indianapolis residents were outraged and at first the city thought they could get away with simply temporarily demoting Pizur but the people had had enough. Facing a public firestorm, city officials were forced to fire him. As the months dragged on and supporters continued to dig up and publish dirt on Indianapolis public officials, suddenly the news broke that the city was settling to get Upton to drop his lawsuit against them.
“The city of Indianapolis will pay Upton and his attorney, Marshall Pinkus, $98,000 “in consideration for the upgrades Upton has made to the Facility, resolution of the Lawsuits, avoiding the cost and uncertainty of litigation, and relieving the City of the considerable cost and burden of continuing to care for the seized dogs, and recognizing that Upton’s Facility currently is in compliance with the Revised Code.”
During the 13 month court fight, Paul Upton paid just under $80,000 in board and care fees to the city and paid for his legal defense while the city shut down his 30 year old business denying him needed income. This settlement doesn’t even cover the mental anguish IACC caused him by smearing his reputation in the media, forcing him to live through an animal rights raid, and the pain of knowing that their substandard care killed a number of his dogs. Paul’s health suffered a breakdown during the case putting him in the hospital at one point. Even more ground breaking was the Judge’s ruling that IACC itself was ordered to bring the dogs back to the location they had taken them from.
“Until the first dog came through the door, I didn’t know if it was real or not,” said Paul Upton. “I’ve been a law abiding citizen. The People have prevailed here.” Hit with a gag order, Paul Upton was stripped of most of his First Amendment rights and restricted in what he is allowed to say about what IACC did to his dogs but that doesn’t stop the rest of us from exposing Indianapolis bureaucrats to the world. The lives of Paul Upton and his dogs will never be the same, all because some bureaucrat with a badge thought she could get away with it. When citizens stand united against government corruption and stay in the game for the long haul, they can win big. Every day across America, an innocent victim like Paul Upton is being destroyed by their local animal control and slandered in the mainstream media. Bureaucrats everywhere take note: American citizens are fed up with you and are fighting back and winning.
Katharine Dokken is a contributing writer for The Cavalry Group and the author of two new books, including The Art of Terror: Inside the Animal Rights Movement, available on Amazon. Follow Katharine and The Cavalry Group on Twitter: @KatharineDokken @TheCavalryGroup