Linda Johnson and her Husband, Larry of Virginia Beach, Virginia love cats.
No doubt about that. Linda has spent the past 20 years finding, caring for, fostering, loving and placing into good homes so many cats that she has just about lost count.
That all changed recently when Virginia Beach Animal Control arrived on a Sunday Afternoon at 12:30pm with warrants in hand to seize every one of Mrs. Johnson's 96 cats.
Read about this raid HERE
This action came as a result of one complaint by Gloria Foerst (Pronounced "first") of Suffolk, Virginia who wanted to return a kitten she had adopted in mid-December. After returning the kitten and signing the surrender form, Foerst wanted another kitten. A disagreement followed and Ms. Foerst ended the conversation by saying, "You will be sorry".
(A remark that Gloria Forest admitted making
in open court on February 4th, 2004)
On January 25th, 2004 (A Sunday afternoon), Virginia Beach Animal Control Officers with Virginia Beach Police in support arrived at the Johnson's home. With no prior investigation or one single complaint filed against them by anyone prior to this incident at all with Mrs. Johnson being in possesion of not one, but two cattery licenses issued by the City of Virginia Beach that allowed them to have up to 100 cats, Police Officers served Larry Johnson with a search warrant, pushed the door open and was followed by Animal Control Officers.
Animal Control Officers ordered Linda Johnson to stop cleaning her home, ordered her out of it and for nine hours, Despite repeated pleas from both Linda and Larry Johnson to allow them to cage the cats for orderly transport, the Johnson's were placed under the watchful eye of a Police Officer while Animal Control chased, snagged and snared each one of Mrs. Johnson's cats, claiming that the conditions they were living in were "unfit".
Once caged, the animals were taken outside and placed on the ground which still had snow on it where the animals waited for transport to Animal Control.
The Officers did not seize their dog.
The Officers also seized Linda Johnson's paper records, her computer, (Which was finally returned on February 18th, 2004) pet carriers and medications for transport to Animal Control headquaters.
Police forensics technicians took photos of the "crime scene" which entailed the room the Linda Johnson was keeping her "problem cats", those with litter-box issues and spraying habits, and they also took photos of the un-finished home improvements that Mr. Johnson was undertaking, deeming these to make the house uninhabitable for the cats.
But they left the dog!
They also left a huge mess of overturned furniture such as the couch, tables, chairs, the Johnson's bed and other damage such as window shades and curtains torn down that the Police forensics technicians didn't photograph. Mrs. Johnson was on the verge of an emotional breakdown and her precious cats on the verge of a future that is less than certain.
To add insult to injury, the Virginia Beach City Building Inspector arrived the next day to investigate the "damaged" house that was all due to Mr. Johnson's renovations. So this was what some might call a "two-pronged" attack.
Others would call it harassment while still others would consider it over-kill.
Whatever term you choose to call it, it's nothing more than abusive City government at it's worst.
While all this was happining, anyone could have taken a dog onto the beach and Animal Control would have been powerless to stop them.
The Virginia Beach
VIRGINIA BEACH COURTS AT WORK
With no less than 10 people to give testimony on Mrs. Johnson's behalf during a "Show Cause" hearing held in Virginia Beach on January 4th, 2004 before General District Judge Albert D. Alberi, the judge ruled that Mrs. Johnson could not have her cats back pending the outcome of the trial.
On Friday, Feb. 6th, 2004, Mrs. Johnson and her Attorney posted a Personal Surity Bond to answer the charges of Animal Neglect.
How can anyone who spent over $21,000.ºº of their own money on Vet bills in the last two years can be considered neglectful is a subject for speculation, but the City of Virginia Beach delivered a letter to Mrs. Johnson on Saturday, February 7th from the Clerk of Courts stating that if she didn't pay the $69.ºº fine for a charge whe wasn't even convicted of, her drivers license would be suspended!
Mrs. Johnson's Attorney, Mr. Jeremiah A. Denton has since resolved the issue with the Clerks Office, one would the Court would have ever caught the error on their own?
But the plot thickens!
According to a story in the Virginian Pilot which you can read for yourself by CLICKING HERE, The Virginia Beach Police Department of Professional Standards has launched an internal investigation into the handling of this entire affair by Virginia Beach Animal Control.
There are also several questions that need to be answered in this matter, not the least of which being the following:
Since the disagreement between Linda Johnson and Gloria Foerst took place six days before the raid, why the delay?
If the animals were in such great peril as the complaint and City officials maintain, why would Gloria Foerst wait to file a complaint if her concern really was the welfare of the cats?
If Foerst filed the complaint earlier, why would Animal Control wait so long to respond and why was it on a Sunday afternoon?
Since Linda Johnson had two cattery licenses on file with the City of Virginia Beach, surely Animal Control could have found this out with relative ease.
Why didn't Animal Control simply contact Linda Johnson and ask to see her animals, make an inspection and decide then to cite her for any violations?
It's not as though Linda Johnson was attempting to hide her activities since she had secured the required permits from the City of Virginia Beach.
Who is Gloria Foerst and how is it that, as an employee at the Norfolk Navy Base, she can make the only complaint against the Johnson's in the 20 years they have been rescuing homeless cats and Animal Control arrives almost a full week after Foerst was at the Johnson home with warrants in hand and the Virginia Beach Police as backup?
What purpose was served by Animal Control reporting Mr. Johnson's renovations to the City Building Inspector and why did they do it? Mr. Johnson told Animal Control Officers that he was in the process of repairing his home, was it really warrented to add more headaches to the Johnson's or were Animal Control Officers just being spiteful?
Linda & Larry Johnson Have Been Providing Kind & Loving Care to Homeless and Unwanted Cats for over 20 years!
For 20 years, Linda and Larry Johnson have taken in strays, unwanted, homeless cats and fostered cats that needed refuge while their owners fell onto hard times.
Read THIS STORY and determine for yourself if this wasn't the case. The Johnson's have carried the cost of this effort all on their own and are not operating as a 501(c)3 non-profit, so the money they spend is not even tax-deductable.
And yet, Virginia Beach Animal Control says that the Johnson's are not caring for their cats. Let's look at some numbers from the City of Virginia Beach Department of Animal Control to see how well they cared for the animals in their care during 2003:
|Stray Animals Picked Up
|Unwanted Animals Turned in by Owner
|Animals Returned to Owner by Officer
(via License tag identification or some means of identification)
|Animals Claimed by Owner
|Animals Adopted by Citizens
|Animal Cruelty Investigations
|Animal Bite Investigations
In all fairness, according to a recently conducted private study, Virginia Beach does have one of the highest return rates for lost pets and the lowest euthanaisa rates in all of Hampton Roads. Virginia Beach Animal Control usually does the best job that they're able with the limited resources they are granted.
Be that as it may, with a euthanaisa rate of just under 50% and over 50% in 2002, that's still nothing to brag about. But Animal Control is tending a problem that irresponsible pet owners create, the same as Linda Johnson was doing. The difference is, Linda Johnson can't storm someone's house with search warrants as Animal Control did hers.
Virginia Beach fancies itself as a
"Community for a Lifetime".
Or at least that's what City Officials tell the taxpayers we are, but if you're an animal and fall into the hands of Virginia Beach Animal Control, that lifetime could be a very short one, indeed.
E-Mail Virginia Beach Mayor
Meyera E. Oberndorf
How can you help
Linda and Larry Johnson?
You can help Linda & Larry Johnson by reading all the news related links and judge for yourself if you think they were treated fairly by Virginia Beach Animal Control. We think that you'll determine that Virginia Beach Animal Control used heavy-handed tactics, based on little of the real information to make a fair assesment of the situation.
If you are of the opinion that Linda was not treated fairly, we urge you to E-Mail our Mayor to express your opinions. We would also ask you to sign our online petition supporting Linda Johnson and demanding the return of Linda Johnson's cats to her or to a suitable place of care or adoption into a new home. To sign our petition, CLICK HERE.
If you can help Linda & Larry Johnson with the staggering costs they are facing, they would appreciate any any all the help they could get!
We believe that Linda and Larry Johnson could use some help and that's why we established this website.
If Linda Johnson is convicted, they would lose each one of their precious cats, be forced to pay fines, court costs and to add insult to injury, they would have to pay Virginia Beach Animal Control the sum of $10.ºº for every day that the animals spend impounded.
By the time this matter reaches trial in March, they could be forced to pay over $48,000ºº for "boarding" fees alone, not to mention the legal costs, along with any fines or court costs that might be imposed.
Any help to offset their legal bills, no matter how small would be greatly appreciated.
Please send a check or money order to:
Mr. Jeremiah A. Denton III
477 Viking Drive, Suite 170
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Simply enclose or write a note on your check or money order designating
"LINDA JOHNSON DEFENSE".
Or if you choose, you can make a donation to Linda Johnson's Defense Online:
Sadly, these donations cannot be deducted from your taxes, but no reasonable person could think that Larry and Linda Johnson did anything to deserve this treatment.
Linda and Larry Johnson have worked hard, played by the rules cared for one another and more cats than anyone could count along the way. Loving and caring for each one and trying to find a good home for each. What happened to them was wrong!
This shouldn't happen in America!
We would also ask you to consider contacting the Virginia Beach Hotel/Motel Owners Association and expressing to them your considering changing your vacation plans and opting for someplace that doesn't treat home-based animal rescuers as though they are criminals. Please feel free to E-MAIL the Association from here.
We would also ask you to remember that, if you rescue, own several pets or professionally breed animals, all it would take is one complaint by one person to turn your world and your pets world upside down. Your pets could well be made to pay the ultimate price, waiting in a cage while a syringe filled with poison is waiting in the next room, waiting for time to run out.
Contact Webmaster about
Problems With This Site