Animal Farm Foundation funded suspect to boost the image of pit bulls
MONTREAL, SAN ANTONIO––The pit bull advocacy organization Animal Farm Foundation, of Bangali, New York, had already had a difficult week, even before a federal grand jury in San Antonio, Texas on August 23, 2018 returned an indictment against Bradley Croft, 46, on eight counts of wire fraud, four counts of aggravated identity theft, and two counts of money laundering.
Croft was the trainer whom the Animal Farm Foundation funded from 2013 to 2017 to prepare pit bulls for police work.
Were any dogs properly trained?
The indictment did not directly pertain to the “Sector K9” program sponsored and promoted by the Animal Farm Foundation to boost the image of pit bulls.
The indictment called into question, however, whether any of the dogs trained by Croft’s company for police and military use have ever received the advertised quality of evaluation and training.
Croft and associates have reportedly done business in Texas and Virginia as Universal K9, Universal K-9, and/or Universal K-NINE.
Following the indictment a page describing the “Sector K9” program disappeared from the Animal Farm Foundation web site.
Four pit bull fatalities in as many weeks
The Animal Farm Foundation, before the indictment of Croft was announced, was merely having to explain––or avoid explaining––a string of recent pit bull attacks.
On July 21, 2018, for instance, Whittington Cole, 66, was fatally mauled by a mixed pack of four pit bulls and Rottweilers in Hampton Green, Jamaica.
Karen Brown, 57, of Chicago, was on August 4, 2018 killed by a pit bull who was shot dead after attacking police at the scene.
Olga Rekhson, 64, was killed by two pit bulls on August 9, 2018 while walking near her home in Lake Tillery, North Carolina.
Convicted sex offender Gurney Walker, 75, of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, was on August 18, 2018 fatally mauled in his home by his own pit bull.
Six injured by pit bull in Montreal
Perhaps more awkward for both the Animal Farm Foundation and the Montreal SPCA, of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, was the August 19, 2018 injury of six people, including four children, by one rescued pit bull in two separate incidents.
The Animal Farm Foundation and the Montreal SPCA worked together to defeat former Montreal mayor Denis Coderre in November 2017, and then repeal restrictions on possession of pit bulls that Coderre introduced in 2016, after Christiane Vadnais, 55, was killed in her back yard by a neighbor’s pit bull.
Reported Tristan Péloquin of La Presse, citing police reports, Frances Richardson, 62, who was looking after four grandchildren in her home, “took possession of the pit bull the day before. The animal belonged to the friend of a friend, who said she had to get rid of her dog quickly, because she had just given birth. The pit bull was to be taken to the Montreal SPCA the next day for transfer to New Brunswick,” a frequent destination of pit bulls impounded in Montreal and other Quebec cities.
“Bit the baby by the skull”
“When the dog arrived,” Péloquin wrote, “Richardson took care to muzzle him before going in the house, because the owner said he had been kept muzzled 24 hours a day since attacking another dog at a dog park.”
The next morning the pit bull managed to remove the muzzle, but Richardson did not put it back on, Péloquin continued, even after the pit bull jumped on a four-year-old girl to grab a pancake.
“Twenty minutes later,” Péloquin said, “the pit bull again jumped on the four-year-old and grabbed her hair. The grandmother then tried to hold the dog by the collar, but without success. The dog then bit the baby by the skull.”
Left three children & the pit bull
Richardson, apparently thinking she had securely confined the pit bull, according to the police report as narrated by Péloquin and other Montreal journalists, left the three other children in the home while rushing the injured child to St. Justine Hospital. First, however, Richardson called her daughter.
“Arriving at the scene 30 minutes later with three other children,” Péloquin narrated, “the mother waited a long time for the arrival of the SPCA,” believed to have been called to pick up the pit bull, “but the pit bull eventually escaped while she was away smoking a cigarette. Four of the children managed to get out of a window, but another was bitten on the arm.”
Summarized Péloquin, “The police report states that the 4-year-old bitten-to-the-head girl escaped with lacerations that required 16 stitches, while the 7-year-old boy who was bitten on the arm suffered a fractured arm as well as significant lacerations. Two other children had lacerations and bites, one to one lip, the other to a buttock. A passer-by who helped the boy suffered a bite in his right hand, and Richardson had several scratches on her legs.”
Richardson on May 17, 2018 pleaded guilty to selling “ecstasy” pills to undercover police officers, but had not yet been sentenced.
New non-breed specific ordinance
“By coincidence,” noted Étienne Paré of the Journal de Montreal, “new canine regulations, unveiled in June, were adopted a few hours later by the city council, creating the category of ‘dogs at risk.’ Even if dogs have never bitten or attacked anyone, dogs who have shown potentially dangerous behavior can be put in this category. To keep them, their masters will have to pay an additional permit fee of $150. Their dogs must also be muzzled and tied when they are outside.”
The new non-breed-specific ordinance, introduced by new mayor Valerie Plante, follows the recommendations of the Montreal SPCA and the Animal Farm Foundation––and does little to prevent fatal and disfiguring attacks by pit bulls, who before they detonate are often described as sweet-natured and affectionate.
Pit bull advocates misrepresent breed identity
The weakness of the new Montreal ordinance was underscored on the afternoon of August 23, 2018 in the Montreal suburb of Laval, where a 42-year-old woman “taken to hospital, bleeding profusely, with lacerations on her hand, arm, leg and foot,” CTV reported, after she was mauled by her 21-year-old son’s bull terrier. Responding police officers shot the bull terrier.
The Montreal SPCA responded to the almost back-to-back Quebec attacks by asserting that a DNA test showed that the dog who mauled the children was only 20% pit bull and 74% bulldog, a claim overlooking that “pit bull” and “bulldog,” except when used as part of the name of flat-faced English bulldogs, have historically been just different words used to describe dogs bred for centuries to fight.
Pit bull advocates also alleged that a “bull terrier” is not a pit bull, contradicting practically every history of the breed.
Now five pit bull fatalities in five weeks
Meanwhile in the West Price Hill section of Cincinnati, Ohio, a city protected from 2003 to 2012 by a pit bull ban that was repealed under Animal Farm Foundation pressure, Della Riley, 42, was on August 23, 2018 killed in her home by her own pit bull, in front of her four-year-old son. Police shot the pit bull at the scene, and impounded a Rottweiler who was apparently not involved in the attack.
But by the time the Laval and Cincinnati pit bull attacks occurred, the Animal Farm Foundation may already have refocused temporarily on doing damage control on its own behalf.
Allegedly stole GI Bill benefits
“According to the [Bradley Croft] indictment,” reported Guillermo Contreras of the San Antonio Express News, “in 2013, Croft [applied to] the Texas Veterans Commission to obtain certification to allow Universal K-9 to receive GI Bill educational benefit payments for providing dog handler training.
“In October 2015, Croft emailed several documents to the commission containing the names of four people who were purported to be instructors for Universal K-9 classes for which Croft was seeking approval to obtain GI Bill benefits. They are listed as victims 1-4 in the indictment.”
Said the indictment, “None of those individuals had granted Croft permission to use their names.”
Claimed a dead man as trainer
Nor were any of them “working as instructors at Universal K-9 in the classes described in the application,” the indictment said. “Victim 1 had died two years prior to the submission of the application for approval.”
“Based on the documents,” Contreras wrote, “the Texas Veterans Commission granted Universal K-9 approval for participating in the GI Bill program. Croft and others, who are not charged, then solicited veterans as students for the dog handler course, indicating that veterans could use their GI Bill benefits to pay for the course. Croft and the others would enroll veterans in the course and submit enrollment records to the VA for payment, knowing the approval of the training had been fraudulently obtained, the indictment said.
Bagged $1.26 million
“Between 2016 through the date of the indictment,” Contreras summarized, “Universal filed approximately 185 claims relating to the education of 132 veterans, totaling $1.26 million, the indictment said.”
According to court records, Contreras added, “Croft has a lengthy criminal history, which includes shooting at people and other violence, and a federal conviction in the late 1990s involving insurance fraud, for which he got five years of probation.”
Animal Farm Foundation contributed $111,750
Stacey Coleman, the $142,000-a-year Animal Farm Foundation executive director, told Contreras that the pit bull advocacy organization for several years sent pit bulls to Universal K-9 to be trained for police work, sponsored care for the dogs at the Universal K-9 training center, “and paid for two weeks of training for handlers and their expenses while staying in San Antonio,” Contreras said.
“Animal Farm Foundation contributed $111,750 to Universal K-9 in 2016. Coleman didn’t know offhand how much it contributed last year.
“We ended our relationship with Universal K-9 in 2017,” Coleman told Contreras, due to what Coleman called “philosophical differences.”
Reported Contreras, “Universal K-9 wanted to expand the program beyond what Animal Farm Foundation was willing to fund, she said.”
Other animal agencies involved
Contreras added that the San Antonio-based Petco Foundation “confirmed that it has also provided grant funding to Universal K-9, but had no information about the investigation.”
Among the organizations whose pit bulls the Animal Farm Foundation sponsored for “detection dog” training at Universal K-9 were Austin Pets Alive, which sent six pit bulls eventually placed with police departments; Texas Star Rescue, which sent five; and Balanced Training Rescue, which sent three.
The Dallas County Animal Shelter, the Harris County Animal Shelter in Houston, and the Kirby Animal Shelter in Kirby, Texas, sent two pit bulls each.
Other shelters furnishing pit bulls to the “Sector K9” program included the Boerne Animal Shelter, the Buster Foundation, the Canyon Lake Animal Shelter Society, Chicago Animal Care & Control, the Dutchess County SPCA in upstate New York, and Metro Animal Care & Control, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Public safety agencies accepting pit bulls
Among the agencies receiving pit bulls purportedly trained by Universal K-9 as “detection dogs” were:
Alabama: Littleville Police Department;
Arizona: Mountainsburg Police Department;
Colorado: Rogers Police Department;
Georgia: Powder Springs Police Department; Toccoa Police Department;
Louisiana: Chitimacha Tribal Police Department;
Mississippi: Pike County Sheriff’s Office;
Missouri: Reed Spring Police Department; Vernon County Sheriff’s Office;
Nevada: Nye County Sheriff’s Office;
New York: Clay County Sheriff’s Department, Mount Vernon Police Department; Poughkeepsie Police Department; State Department of Corrections;
North Carolina: Clay County Sheriff’s Department;
Oklahoma: Disney Police Department; Maysville Police Department; Okmulgee County Criminal Justice Authority; Quinton Police Department; Talihina Police Department;
Texas: Bartlett Police Department, Dallas Independent School District; Ferris Independent School District; Gonzales County Sheriff’s Department; Grimes County Police Department; Groesbeck Police Department; Medina County Constables; Red Oak Police Department;
Virginia: Appalachia Police Department.