The Sault Ste. Marie Humane Society (“The Humane Society”) advises the public of the following facts and timeline in respect of their ongoing disputes with Jennifer Santana as it relates to Odie the Dog.
Jennifer Santana has been served with a cease and desist letter personally in respect of the various false statements she has made herself and the statements she has incited 3rd parties to make online.
The Sault Ste. Marie Humane Society will not sit by idly while its reputation is tarnished particularly when it conducts important work in the community with compassion and care, in accordance with its mission and its contractual obligations with 3rd parties.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
1. June 23, 2019 10:50 am: Two (2) women found Odie running back and forth across Goulais Avenue. They walked up and down the road for 20 minutes trying to find an owner. Unable to locate the owner, they paged the Animal Care & Control Officer (“ACCO”) at 11:13 am.
2. June 23, 11:40 am: ACCO picked up Odie and did not see anyone out looking for him in that area. Odie was wearing a collar but had no identification/microchip.
3. June 23: No one called to report Odie missing during The Humane Society’s business hours of noon to 5 pm.
4. June 24: 12:00 pm: Jennifer Santana called the shelter to report her “3-year-old, blue brindle pit bull” missing. Owner referred to her dog only as a pit bull. A search of City dog license records indicates this dog has never been registered to this owner and does not have a current City license. Staff advised Jennifer Santana that she would require evidence/proof (i.e., veterinary records) that Odie was not a pit bull for it to be released. These are the laws and regulations of the province of Ontario which require these steps to take place. All residents and businesses subject to that legislation must comply with it.
5. June 24, 4:00 pm: Jennifer Santana arrived at the shelter and presented a photocopied pet health record from a clinic in British Columbia. Jennifer Santana stated that she only got Odie in February 2019. He was her “sister’s dog” and that her “sister” lived in British Columbia and had recently passed away. Jennifer Santana stated that her veterinarian in the Sault was a local veterinarian clinic, but that Jennifer Santana could not find her records from that clinic. Jennifer Santana was very agitated; trying to engage multiple staff in conversation. Staff initially thought the dog had vet records, and they were either misplaced and/or expired. Staff were going to offer to assist her with getting them updated/replaced. ACCO noted discrepancies in the document from B.C. and the local veterinarian clinic did not have any medical file on the dog. At that point, Jennifer Santana was advised that they were unable to verify her records at that time and asked her to return the following day.
6. June 25: The Humane Society reviewed the document from British Columbia; several discrepancies were found, most notably his birth date showing him to be 1.5 years old, his first vaccine being administered at 6 days of age and that 2 cat vaccines had been administered to the dog.
7. June 25: Jennifer Santana attended shelter and spoke with The Humane Society staff. Jennifer Santana reiterated how she came to care for Odie and, that due to the tragic reason for her now having him, the only document Jennifer Santana had was the pet health record from British Columbia. Jennifer Santana stated that, although her veterinarian was a local veterinary clinic, Odie had never been to that clinic. Jennifer Santana would not answer direct questions related to the document from British Columbia. Jennifer Santana became very emotional as conversation progressed. The Humane Society staff ended the conversation due to her agitated state.
8. June 25: Office staff received a call from another person claiming to be the owner of Odie. He stated he was Jennifer Santana’s former partner and would be in that day with proof of ownership.
9. June 25: An individual attended shelter and spoke to a staff member. This individual stated Odie was a gift to him from Jennifer Santana for Valentine’s Day in February 2016. He was purchased from a breeder in lower Michigan and the sales contract shows him as the owner and that his breed is American Bulldog. He stated that due to the abrupt end of the relationship and his departure from the family residence in the spring/summer of 2018, Jennifer Santana was now in possession of that document, as well as his dog Odie. He stated that Odie had never been to a veterinarian; he has only received one vaccine as a puppy that was purchased from a farm supply store and administered at home. Advised him to return if he was able to secure documentation.
10. June 25: Jennifer Santana called The Humane Society. Staff advised Jennifer Santana that her former partner was stating he was the owner of Odie. Jennifer Santana became hysterical and the phone call was ended.
11. June 25: Animal Care & Control complaint records indicate multiple reports were made in the summer of 2018 regarding a dog matching Odie’s description running at large; several attempts were made to contact Jennifer Santana at that time; visits to her home and multiple notices were not answered.
12. June 26: The Humane Society staff spoke with the veterinary clinic in British Columbia located at address given on the pet health record. It was determined that the clinic did not go by the name indicated on the document; that the clinic was built at that location 50 years ago; that it has always been known as the North Peace Veterinary Clinic, and that the clinic has never used a paper health record like the one provided by Jennifer Santana and has been using electronic records exclusively for 6 years.
13. June 26: Another individual attended at the shelter and spoke with The Humane Society staff. This individual provided copies of communications with Jennifer Santana from the spring/early summer of 2018 that indicated Odie had been ‘picked up’ several times when he was found running on Goulais Avenue.
14. June 26: Jennifer Santana attended at the shelter; provided her statement that was purportedly sworn by a Commissioner of Oaths. Discrepancies were noted in the execution of the document that indicated that it was not a properly sworn statement and that Jennifer Santana swears her dog to be a Boxer mix despite identifying it as a pit bull and that The Humane Society was unavailable to take her missing dog report on day he went missing despite The Humane Society’s noon to 5 business hours and 24 hour answering and message service. Jennifer Santana was highly agitated; demanding that the Humane Society accept her documents and release her dog. The Humane Society advised Jennifer Santana that it was unable to at that time; if Jennifer Santana could not conduct herself in a calm, rational manner Jennifer Santana would have to leave. Jennifer Santana continued with the same behavior and was escorted from the building, where the Humane Society staff retrieved the dog’s bed from her and issued her a trespass notice.
15. June 27: No further communication from the individual who attended on June 25 nor anyone related to the individual’s claim of ownership of Odie. No one had provided verifiable information that the dog was not a pit bull; Jennifer Santana reported the dog as a pit bull and refers to him as such in social media posts. Matters were further complicated by Jennifer Santana’s providing unverifiable documents. At this time, charges were laid against Jennifer Santana for owning a pit bull and allowing a pit bull to run at large were sworn June 27 and served by July 2. First appearance was for July 10.
The information in points 1 to 15 are contained in the Crown brief provided to the court and accused Jennifer Santana.
16. June 27: Jennifer Santana called The Humane Society regarding a concern about Odie’s diet. Staff advised Jennifer Santana that she could bring his food in or, if Jennifer Santana provided the name of the food, the Humane Society could pick some up.
17. June 28: A protest was held at the end of the shelter driveway.
18. June 28: Jennifer Santana had someone drop off a small quantity of food (~ 4-6 cups) for Odie. The food was in a clear plastic Ziploc type bag and contained approximately 4 to 6 cups of a “cheerio” type kibble. There was no food name or feeding instructions provided.
19. June 30: Jennifer Santana called to check on Odie. Jennifer Santana was advised that he was doing well and what his daily routine was. Jennifer Santana stated that he eats 3 cups of food in the a.m. and p.m. Staff confirmed the quantities as this is an excessive amount of food for a dog his size. Jennifer Santana indicated she would bring more food in that day. Jennifer Santana did not appear.
20. July 2: Jennifer Santana called to ask if she could drop off food. The Humane Society’s staff met her in the shelter parking lot and received a white plastic bag of food from Jennifer Santana that contained approximately 12 cups of food that was a small, solid kibble. Jennifer Santana was asked what kind of food Odie ate so that the Humane Society could buy more when he ran out. Jennifer Santana stated it was Science Diet Sensitive Stomach (if that was not available, he also ate Nutro brand).
21. July 5: Jennifer Santana called to advise she was bringing in more food for Odie. Jennifer Santana did not appear.
22. July 7: Jennifer Santana called to advise she was bringing in more food for Odie. Jennifer Santana did not appear. The Humane Society’s staff purchased the type of food as specified by Jennifer Santana on July 2.
23. July 10: Charging officer was informed by the local Crown office that they have a conflict on this matter and that it has been passed on to the Sudbury Crown Attorney’s office. This resulted in the first appearance being moved to July 31.
24. July 11: Jennifer Santana called to inquire about Odie, and she shared some of his likes and dislikes which staff noted. Jennifer Santana advised she would be bringing more food on July 12. Jennifer Santana did not appear on July 12.
25. July 16 or 17: The Humane Society contact person spoke with the Crown Attorney from Sudbury which stated it was not familiar with the Dog Owner’s Liability Act (“DOLA”), specifically the Pit Bull regulations and that the Crown Attorney had a few questions. The Humane Society clarified that in Ontario, the Humane Society, while acting in its capacity as the City Pound, cannot legally release a pit bull without proof from the owner that is not a pit bull, that it was not a chargeable offence under DOLA to not have vaccines and that these records are requested as they are an acceptable form of proof of ownership and breed; that the dog was not aggressive and that an order for euthanasia was not being requested or appropriate. The Humane Society advised the Crown Attorney that it transfers all adoptable pit bulls to a shelter in Michigan under arrangements with that shelter and that the local court has allowed for this option numerous times in the past.
26. July 31: A return date of August 28 was made to set a date for trial.
27. August 2: The Crown Attorney from Sudbury called The Humane Society to advise that they were negotiating a potential resolution.
28. August 7: A social media post by Jennifer Santana’s lawyer was brought to The Humane Society’s attention. It contained confidential details of the negotiations between Crown and defense and made claims against the Crown and The Humane Society.
29. August 14 & 19: The Humane Society was notified that Jennifer Santana contacted City staff directly seeking information unrelated to the matter before the court.
30. August 22: The Sudbury Crown Attorney contacted The Humane Society to discuss the potential resolution of the charges at the August 28 court date. The details of the release were discussed and The Humane Society suggested that it take place outside of regular office hours; prior to 11 am or after 5 pm. The Crown advised that copies of the undertakings would be forwarded to The Humane Society once they were finalized.
31. August 27: The Humane Society received the undertakings via email from the Sudbury Crown Attorney and direction that Odie would be picked up around 10 am on August 28 by a 3rd party.
32. August 28: The 3rd party arrived shortly after 11:00 am to pick up Odie. 3rd party provided identification and signed the Pound redemption for Jennifer Santana. 3rd party was provided with the remaining food that was purchased specifically for Odie as well as a new dog bed. 3rd party left the Humane |Society without incident.
Upon the swearing of the charges on June 27 the matter was placed in the hands of the Crown. The Humane Society has no say in the matter unless a direct request is made by the Crown for their input. Both Ms. Santana and her counsel have made claims that The Humane Society impeded the court process, were seeking the destruction of Odie and suggested that the Humane Society may not obey an order issued by the Court. This statement of facts and the Humane Society’s actions show these claims to be untrue. Jennifer Santana and her counsel negotiated the undertakings with the Crown and the Humane Society’s only input was for a designated time and 3rd party for the release of Odie. The charges were withdrawn by the court, therefore there were no court orders made nor findings by the court in respect to the breed of Odie.
33. August 29: Jennifer Santana contacted the shelter at 3:10. Jennifer Santana claimed Odie had eight broken teeth and would not eat. Staff advised Jennifer Santana that he had no issues with eating throughout his stay, up to and including the morning of his release; he had suffered no injuries and was not observed by staff excessively chewing on anything. Jennifer Santana hung up on the staff member before staff was finish talking with her.
Jennifer Santana made several social media posts following her phone call to the shelter on August 29 where she made allegations of the injuries Odie suffered, posted pictures of the same and numerous claims that put into question The Humane Society’s governance and operating practices.
Jennifer Santana and her counsel conducted media interviews that were carried by the Huffington Post and SaultOnline.com and posted on social media platforms before Jennifer Santana’s call to the shelter on August 29, 2019. Huffington Post updated their story on August 30 and SaultOnline.com ran a story on September 6 regarding Jennifer Santana’s claims that Odie was injured while impounded. Jennifer Santana took part in two radio talk programs on September 1 and 4.
These false stories and the social media misinformation it generated incited others to participate in disparaging commentary, including threats and defamatory comments to shelter staff.
Jennifer Santana has stated that her inability to hire the services of a local veterinarian or to cross the border to seek a Michigan veterinarian is due to interference on the part of the Humane Society. The Humane Society has not directed any veterinarians to not see Odie nor does the Humane Society have the power to (nor would it) interfere with Jennifer Santana’s ability to cross the U.S. border.
The volunteer Board of Directors of the Sault Ste. Marie Humane Society has maintained oversight of this matter since June 27 and has held several emergency Board meetings to assess and mitigate the damage and threats and determine an appropriate course of action. With the matter before the courts from June 27 to August 28, The Humane Society was unable to provide comment to the misinformation being spread on social media by Jennifer Santana.
Now that the matter has been resolved, The Humane Society will no longer remain silent and allow this harassment to continue. This is the statement of facts of the Humane Society and they welcome and encourage questions and involvement from the public who are interested in learning more about the important work they do in the community.