ARL Statement RE: Des Moines Court Case, Canine 'Pinky'

posted on Thursday, November 17, 2016 in News

There has been some misinformation circulating lately regarding a dog named “Pinky”, so we wanted to explain the ARL’s involvement in this case and our enrichment protocol for dogs held in our care during lengthy court cases.

The City of Des Moines declared the dog “Dangerous”, a declaration that comes after a bite/s happen to humans or other animals, and mandates euthanasia per the city’s existing animal ordinances (it is a city declaration per the city ordinance – not an ARL declaration). The case is still open in the court system.

Per the city’s contract with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL), the dog has been in our care during this time. We are ONLY the holding facility for this dog during the court case. We do not have any say in the case or the outcome for the dog. The policy to not allow the owner of Pinky to visit her was made by Sgt. Jim Butler, Chief Humane Officer for the city of Des Moines.

We develop a customized enrichment plan for each dog that is in our care for lengthy court cases. Pinky’s plan, in part, is as follows:

  • Long-Term Enrichment: Dogs receive enrichment care in several different forms while at the ARL. These forms are done consistently and routinely to ensure the dog’s mental/physical needs are being met. All forms of enrichment increase as necessary.
  • Olfactory Stimulation: Essential Oils are sprayed twice a day to help provide a different scent in addition to helping to reduce stress.
  • Auditory Stimulation: All animal holding areas play “Through a Dog’s Ear” (a highly researched collection of classical piano arrangements that have shown to induce calmness in 70 percent of shelter dogs) from 7 am-shelter closing time.
  • Visual Stimulation: Dogs go out daily to the outside enclosures or the large horse arena, as well as the indoor dog training center for a change in scenery. This is completely supervised by a member of the Dog Behavior Department.
  • Tactile Stimulation: Physical handling is performed daily with petting, scratching, and rubbing. Frequent baths are also performed.
  • Mental Stimulation: Food is presented in different food dispensers (KONGS, KONG Wobblers, etc.). Stuffed KONGS are also given with different flavors (peanut butter, pumpkin, etc.) and serve as both a snack and a form of mental enrichment. Pinky has also participated in our office foster program and will frequently stay in a trained behavior staff’s office for up to 2-3 hours at a time.
  • Physical Stimulation: The dog is supervised during time in outside enclosures or large horse arena as well as indoor training center. During that time, games of fetch with tennis balls are played with Pinky and she regularly goes on .5-1 mile walks with a member of the Dog Behavior Team.
  • Play Stimulation: Toys are present in the kennel daily and switched out frequently to help prevent boredom.
  • Social Stimulation: Human interaction occurs daily with twice feedings, cleanings, and when physically handled outside of kennel.
  • Training: The “Click to Calm” methodology of positive reinforcement training utilizes the science of clicker training to effectively and creatively develop strategies that will help calm and manage the stress of aroused dogs. This program is designed specifically for any dog that is uncomfortable around certain types of stimuli: the most common being people and other dogs.

The health and welfare of animals in our care is always our number one priority. And that is where the ARL’s involvement with this case begins and ends. Because of that, questions specific to this case can be found in the police report by calling the Des Moines Police Department’s records office at 283-4824 (case #16-8938).

Update 1/30/17:  There has been some recent confusion about why the ARL has been represented by legal counsel during court proceedings involving dogs that have been declared "dangerous animals" by the City of Des Moines.  The ARL has been named as a defendant in several of these lawsuits and therefore must appear in court.  The ARL is a separate party from the City of Des Moines in these cases.

Update 5/16/17: On April 17, 2016, the District Court entered an Order upholding the "dangerous dog" declaration by the City of Des Moines. Because Pinky is still subject to a "dangerous dog" declaration that has been upheld on appeal, the ARL cannot release her.

Update 5/23/17: On May 20, 2017, the District Court entered an Order rejecting several positions asserted by Plaintiff Dianna Helmers regarding "dangerous dog" declarations under the Des Moines City Code.

The District Court ruled that several of her legal arguments were "without merit" and declined to modify its prior ruling upholding the "dangerous dog" declaration by the City of Des Moines.

It also ruled that the City is "legally holding Pinky," pending the ongoing appeal of the "dangerous dog" declaration.

The ARL will continue to hold Pinky, as required by the City Code. In the interim, the ARL cannot release Pinky since she is subject to a "dangerous dog" declaration pursuant to the City Code.

The ARL is not a party to this case.

Order 0411717
Order 052017