Baron

This is sad

Not only a dog is lonely tonight but also his human companion

His friend & owner who loves him dearly

 

A homeless man's best friend is taken away from him and now that Dauphin County man has filed a lawsuit in Federal court to get his dog back. He's suing the Harrisburg Area Humane Society and a Middletown Borough Police Officer.

 

73-year-old Miles Thomas wanted proof that his buddy, Baron, was still alive. But the Harrisburg Area Human Society wouldn't let him see his dog, after they took him away last month. So Miles hoped for the best. That's until CBS 21 News showed him a picture the Humane Society sent us; proof, they say, that the dog is alive and doing well.

" Oh jeez. Yeah that's him. Yep, that's him. Oh boy, do I ever(miss him)," said Miles Thomas, filed federal lawsuit.

When CBS 21 News went to see the dog at the Humane Society, they wouldn't let us and told us to leave. Instead they sent this statement saying:

" Baron is considered to be living evidence in a Federal court case and thus is not currently available for visitation or release."

Miles is a former Harrisburg School District Board Member, a veteran, who after losing his wife to Alzheimer's three years ago, developed a heart condition and lost his home.

" He was the most important thing in my life, he really was, since my wife died, he was the one thing that really kept me going," said Thomas.

Miles says it wasn't a hot day in July, when he left the windows rolled down, while Baron sat inside the car. When Miles got back from lunch, Baron was gone. So now, Miles filed a Federal lawsuit against the Harrisburg Area Humane Society and a Middletown Borough Police Officer, who allegedly and initially took his dog; a dog that Miles says he takes really good care of.

" The main thing is getting Baron back. That's the main thing. I want him back more than anything," said Thomas.

Miles hasn't been charged with any sort of animal cruelty in this case.

And he's not homeless anymore. A friend took him in and now he's just waiting to put his dog under that same roof.

Updates & Breaking News from Central PA
Homeless man and his collie dog had a prior encounter with police in Hampden Twp.
by CHRIS A. COUROGEN and JOHN LUCIEW, The Patriot-News
Monday August 24, 2009, 2:49 PM

More than a month before a Humane Society canine officer took Miles D. Thomas' collie from his car in Middletown, Thomas was found in his car with the dog by police in Hampden Townshp.

Hampden Twp. police were called to the Holiday Inn West along the Carlisle Pike around 10 a.m. June 17 for a report of a man who had defecated in the hotel's parking lot, according to police documents. Police said they found the 73-year-old former Harrisburg School Board president in a disheveled state, sitting in his car in the parking lot. Baron, Thomas' 7-year-old collie, was also in the vehicle.

Police reports indicate the car was filled with trash and other items. Police Chief Michael A. Andreoli said the incident report does not state whether Thomas was living in the car. But "things seen in the car would indicate that," Andreoli said.

Thomas was not charged in the incident.

Thomas was taken to Holy Spirit Hospital for a mental health evaluation, Andreoli said, adding that Thomas was released later that day.

Baron was taken to Hampden Twp. police headquarters, where officers placed the dog with Thom Lewis, who runs a collie rescue service in Silver Spring Twp. Lewis said Baron was in good physical shape when he took custody of the dog about two hours after the incident. Lewis said Baron remained in his care until the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area Inc. took the dog from Thomas' ventilated car on July 26 in Middletown.

"There were no issues whatsoever with Baron. He's a naturally thin collie." said Lewis, recalling Baron's condition when the dog was placed with him.

Thomas was reunited with Baron later the same day, following Thomas' release from Holy Spirit. Lewis said Thomas agreed to leave Baron with him because of Thomas' uncertain housing situation.

"He came and visited the dog," Lewis said of Thomas. "When he had a hotel, he came and took Baron for the day. On the days when it was too hot or he didn't have a place to stay, he left the dog with me. He was good about that."

The Humane Society maintains Thomas' dog was seized as part of a cruelty investigation initiated by a referral from the Middletown police. Thomas was known as a homeless person who occasionally slept in his car in Highspire and Middletown, police have said.

No animal cruelty charges have been filed against Thomas by either the Humane Society of Harrisburg or by Middletown Police. Thomas has since found a home with Stephen Conklin, who takes in indigents at his Warrington Twp., York County, farm.

Thomas, who suffers from diabetes and a heart condition, was released from Holy Spirit Hospital today after spending the weekend there, his attorney said.

 

Updates & Breaking News from Central PA
Harrisburg Humane Society releases photo of dog Baron, 'living evidence' in suit filed by homeless man
by JOHN LUCIEW, Of The Patriot-News
Monday August 24, 2009, 10:42 AM
Submitted by Harrisburg Humane SocietyBaron, a 7-year-old collie
Baron, the 7-year-old male collie seized by the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area last month, is "happy and thriving" under the animal agency's care, according to a written statement by the agency's executive director.

Amy Kaunas released the statement, along with a photograph of Baron taken Friday. In it, she described the dog as "living evidence" in the federal court case filed by the dog's 73-year-old owner, Miles D. Thomas, seeking Baron's return. Because of the dog's status, Kaunas said, Thomas and his attorney, Andrew Ostrowski, "are not going to be able to simply appear at our facility and demand visitation or release of Baron."

Thomas and Ostrowski visited the Humane Society's Swatara Twp. shelter Friday afternoon seeking Baron's release. When that request was denied by the agency's staff, the two asked to visit with Baron. The animal agency's staff repeated the same reply: "The dog is not available to be released."

Humane Society public relations director Kelly Hitz also informed Thomas and Ostrowski that the agency had called police during their visit at the shelter. The two left before officers arrived.

Shortly after the visit to the shelter, Thomas was admitted to Holy Spirit Hospital for treatment for several chronic conditions, according to Stephen Conklin, who has taken in Thomas at his Warrington Township, York County, farm.

In her statement, Kaunas said the Humane Society has retained the Harrisburg law firm McNees, Wallace, and Nurick to represent the agency in the federal case, which also seeks monetary damages from the agency. Kaunas said further comments would be issued through the law firm, which she said is reviewing the case.

Baron's fate will be up to a federal judge who last week issued a temporary restraining order barring the Humane Society of Harrisburg from destroying or transferring ownership of Baron before a hearing is held Sept. 3. According to Thomas' federal lawsuit, Baron was in Thomas' Buick LeSabre with the windows down on a 76-degree day late last month when the dog was taken by a canine officer while Thomas ate lunch at the Brownstone Cafe in Middletown. The Humane Society of Harrisburg maintains that the dog is being held as part of a cruelty case but has declined to release details citing agency policy.

No animal cruelty charges have been filed against Thomas by either the Humane Society of Harrisburg or by Middletown police, which referred the case. In her statement, Kaunas said Baron was "rescued from an unfortunate situation."

Thom Lewis, who runs a private collie rescue service in Silver Spring Township, said Friday that Baron had been staying with him at least 40 days leading up to the dog's seizure by the Humane Society. He said the dog was in good physical shape and its veterinary records were up to date.

At the time the dog was seized, Thomas had become known to Middletown police as a homeless person prone to occasionally sleeping in his car in both Highspire and Middletown.

 

 

Area resident wants his dog back from Harrisburg Humane Society
by JOHN LUCIEW, Of The Patriot-News
Thursday August 20, 2009, 12:38 AM
CHRIS KNIGHT, The Patriot-News

Miles D. Thomas, a former Harrisburg school board member, talks at the Bailey Law Offices in Susquehanna Twp. on Wednesday about having his dog taken away from him.


The blows came like a one-two punch. He lost his wife to Alzheimer's in late 2007. The bills ballooned, and next went their house in Highspire last year. But when authorities seized Baron, his 7-year-old male collie last month, it was one indignity too many for Miles D. Thomas. So the 73-year-old former Harrisburg School Board president filed suit in federal court to get his dog back from the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area Inc. The agency maintains that the dog is being held as part of a cruelty case but has declined to release details.

"To me, he's the greatest thing I have in the world," Thomas said of his dog, the fourth in a line of collies the family has owned, all of them named for royalty. "I love him so much, yet they try to keep me from him. I can't understand that," said Thomas, his eyes brimming with tears.

 

It happened over lunch on a breezy, comfortable 76-degree day in late July, according to the federal lawsuit.

Thomas said he went for a meal at the Brownstone Cafe in Middletown and left Baron in his Buick LeSabre with the windows down.

"I took him every place I went," Thomas said of his canine companion. "I'd open up the back door and he'd jump right in the backseat. He loved going in the car with me."

But when Thomas returned to the car in less than an hour, Baron was gone.

Instead, Humane Society canine officer William Sandstrom handed Thomas a business card and informed him his dog had been seized.

Devastated, Thomas turned to Silver Spring Township dog rescuer Tom Lewis, who referred him to Susquehanna Twp. attorney Andrew Ostrowski. The lawyer sees it as a civil rights case.

"I couldn't imagine letting this man go without his dog," Ostrowski said. "He cares deeply for the dog, and he's seriously affected by this. In my view, it's a federal, constitutional civil rights issue, and I won't shrink from it."

This week, U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III issued a temporary restraining order barring the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area from destroying or transferring ownership of Baron.

A hearing is scheduled Sept. 3. Ostrowski said he's also pursuing a civil suit that seeks damages.

Amy Kaunas, Humane Society of Harrisburg Area executive director, said Wednesday that Thomas' dog was seized as part of a cruelty investigation initiated by a referral from the Middletown police.

She declined to discuss specifics of the case, citing agency policy. However, she pointed to state animal-cruelty statutes stating that animals must be provided with adequate shelter and access to food, water and veterinary care.

Middletown Police Chief Keith Reismiller said Thomas was known to police as a homeless person prone to sleeping in his car in Highspire and Middletown.

The most recent police report regarding Thomas is dated June 18, when police responded to a complaint of Thomas occupying a space in a Middletown bank parking lot. When Thomas' car registration and license plate came back suspended, the plates were removed, the car was towed and Thomas was taken to the Bethesda Mission homeless shelter in Harrisburg, Reismiller said.

Thomas' dog was not mentioned in the police report, but Reismiller acknowledged that his department contracts with the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area to shelter abused or abandoned animals found in the borough.

The thought of harming Baron is abhorrent to Thomas.

The slump-shouldered former stock-and-commodities broker fell more than $100,000 in debt after his ailing wife spent three years in an East Pennsboro nursing home. Yet Thomas insisted that he always took care of his dog and has the annual veterinary records to prove it.

"To me, Baron is by far the most important [thing]," said Thomas, a fixture on the Harrisburg School Board in the 1970s and early 1980s. "I took care of him. I thought of him first. I took better care of him than I did myself."

Since Thomas lost his home last year, he has spent most nights in inexpensive rural motels off of U.S. Route 22. He estimated that he slept in his car a total of two weeks or so during this period.

Earlier this month, Stephen Conklin, a friend of Ostrowski's, took Thomas in at his farm in Warrington Twp., York County. But even with the stability of a home and family around him, the separation from his dog has taken a physical toll on Thomas.

"He's lost weight," Conklin said. "He was at the doctor's office [Wednesday], and he's not doing as well."

Now that Thomas has a stable home situation, Conklin said there's no reason for the Humane Society to continue to hold Baron.

"It's beyond the pale," Conklin said. "We want him to get his dog back."

Thomas said he worries more about Baron's well-being. "He so attached to me," he said of the dog.

But the emotional nourishment works both ways.

Thomas saw this firsthand when his wife, Anna, was ill and her memory was slowly receding. Even then, Baron could bring her back. On those occasions when Thomas brought the collie to the nursing home, Baron didn't hesitate. Tail wagging, he went right for Anna's lap.

"He would jump up and give her a big kiss," Thomas said. "She would get a smile on her face. She couldn't talk, but he'd kiss her and she'd get a big smile."

 

 

 

Homeless collie owner might have signed over his dog to Harrisburg Humane Society
by JOHN LUCIEW, Of The Patriot-News
Thursday August 20, 2009, 6:02 PM
CHRIS KNIGHT, The Patriot-News

Miles D. Thomas, a former city school board member, talks about having his dog seized.
Responding to pointed public criticism of her agency, Humane Society of Harrisburg Area Executive Director Amy Kaunas strongly hinted today that 73-year-old Miles D. Thomas signed over rights to his beloved collie, Baron.

"In serious cases, where homelessness or other hardships makes it impossible for members of our community to care for their pet, we accept surrender of the pet and provide the pet with necessary love, care and feeding," Kaunas wrote.

"We must and will protect Mr. Thomas' privacy and will not disclose the particular facts that led us to agree to provide needed love, care and food to Baron," she added. "Mr. Thomas was someone in need of help. We worked with Mr. Thomas to provide that help."

However, Thomas' attorney, Andrew Ostrowski, contends that the animal agency pressured Thomas into signing over his rights to Baron two days after the dog was taken by the agency's canine officer.

Ostrowski and Thomas allege that a Humane Society of Harrisburg Area canine officer threatened Thomas with a $750 fine and up to 90 days in jail unless he signed away rights to Baron. Kaunas' statement did not address this allegation, but she disputed that Baron was "seized" by the agency.

It appears Baron's fate will be up to a federal judge who this week issued a temporary restraining order barring the Humane Society of Harrisburg from destroying or transferring ownership of Baron before a hearing is held Sept. 3.

"We believe that the federal courts will promptly resolve the matter and we look forward to a speedy resolution," Kaunas said. However, Kaunas expressed concern that the court case filed by Thomas and Ostrowski also seeks monetary damages from the Human Society.

According to the suit, Baron was in Thomas' Buick LeSabre with the windows down on a 76-degree day late last month when the dog was taken by a canine officer while Thomas ate lunch at the Brownstone Cafe in Middletown.

The Humane Society of Harrisburg maintains that the dog is being held as part of a cruelty case but has declined to release details citing agency policy. No animal cruelty charges had been filed against Thomas by either the Humane Society of Harrisburg or by Middletown Police, which referred the case.

Thomas had become known to Middletown police as a homeless person prone to occasionally sleeping in his car in both Highspire and Middletown. "My whole view of it is they thought they had a homeless guy living in Middletown and they wanted him out," said Ostrowski, whose law office has received calls of support in wake of Wednesday's Patriot-News story on the case.

Thomas has since found a home with Stephen Conklin, a friend of Ostrowski's, who takes in indigents at his Warrington Twp., York County, farm. Now that Thomas has a stable home situation, Conklin and Ostrowski insist there's no reason for the Humane Society to continue to hold Baron.

Yet Ostrowski said the Humane Society has rebuffed his repeated efforts, including phone calls made today, to reclaim the animal. "We went through extraordinary efforts to settle," he said.

Asked why he believed the agency was continuing to hold the dog, Ostrowski speculated that a collie might make a more compelling poster dog for the Human Society of Harrisburg Area's dog rescue billboards. "It certainly looks better having a pretty-looking collie in the advertising window than it does one of those beat-up pit bulls," Ostrowski said. "I think that might be part of the motivation."

 

How cruel can you be?????????????

 

Sounds more like in-humane society to me!!

 

Filth covered man's collie, Humane Society says
The agency also claims that Miles Thomas' dog was panting in the car and had no water, and that the officer who took Baron could feel his ribs.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
BY PETE SHELLEM pshellem@patriot-news.com

When a Humane Society of Harrisburg Area officer found Baron, a collie owned by Miles D. Thomas, the dog was in the back seat of the homeless man's cluttered Buick LeSabre covered with its own feces, the Humane Society said in a legal filing Wednesday.

In response to Thomas' lawsuit seeking the return of his dog, the Humane Society said the officer was justified in taking the dog and that Baron should not be returned.

The response, filed before U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, was accompanied by photographs showing the condition of the car.

Thomas' attorney, Andrew Ostrowski, said the dog had an accident while Thomas was eating in a nearby diner.

"When Miles went into the restaurant, that condition did not exist in his car," Ostrowski said. "That is fresh feces. It was spread around the car. I have plenty of evidence to deal with all of it."

According to the court filing, Humane Society police officer William Sandstrom was summoned by Middletown police on July 26 and saw the collie in the back seat of the car. Sandstrom said a strong odor of feces and urine was emanating from the vehicle, and although the windows were open, he said the dog was panting and had no access to water.

Thomas, 73, a former Harrisburg School Board member and stockbroker, had fallen on hard times after the lengthy illness and death of his wife and was known for sleeping in his car.

When Sandstrom removed Baron from the vehicle, he "could feel the dog's ribs, and could feel depressions between the dog's vertebrae," the response states.

Although he left his card on Thomas' windshield, Sandstrom said he had to track him down two days later at the Countryside Motel in Grantville and told Thomas he could be prosecuted for cruelty to animals. The society contends that Thomas signed a form surrendering the dog in lieu of prosecution.

Although the Humane Society has come under harsh criticism since the case was publicized in The Patriot-News, it contends that its actions were appropriate and Thomas' treatment of the dog amounted to animal cruelty.

The society said it will provide evidence of other instances of abuse at a hearing scheduled today.

"This case does not concern merely the deprivation of inanimate property; it is about the proper care of a living creature," the Humane Society contends in its response. "Until this matter is fully adjudicated, it is in the public interest for Baron to be protected from being mistreated again."

Since the matter was publicized, several people have come forward to help Thomas. His attorney, Andrew Ostrowski, said Thomas has found a home with Stephen Conklin, a friend of Ostrowski's, who takes in indigents at his Warrington Twp., York County, farm.

Ostrowski has asked the court to approve a shared-custody arrangement between Thomas and Thom Lewis of Silver Spring Twp., who operates a collie rescue service.

An anonymous donor offered to cover Baron's veterinarian bills and its food, as well as any reasonable expenses that the Humane Society incurred in seizing the dog if it was returned to Thomas.

Ostrowski said the Humane Society is wasting money defending its actions and should just return the dog.

"What happened here didn't need to happen, and it didn't need to go this far," he said.

The Hearing

 

A hearing was held on September 3rd regarding custody of Baron.

Both sides, Miles Thomas and his lawyer and the Humane Society of Harrisburg (HSS) and their council, appeared before Judge John E. Jones with paperwork, evidence, and witnesses.

However, the Judge was in no mood to listen. He ordered the lawyers into a closed door session and when they were done, the Judge issued his orders.

You have 30 days to settle this out of court.

“I would feel very badly if we couldn’t resolve this,” said Jones, who refused to hear testimony and instead ordered lawyers for both sides into closed-door settlement talks.

“There is a very reasonable path to a reasonable agreement. … I am very hopeful that this conundrum can be worked out,”

Jones said. The message is clear. This should never have gotten this far.

Let’s take a look at the Harrisburg Humane Society’s Mission Statement.

The mission of the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area, Inc. is to build a better community for pets and people through compassion, protection, education, and collaboration.

So this couldn’t be worked out before? It had to take a federal lawsuit to force negotiations? I am amazed. I would think the HHS always had the autonomy to sit down and work with Mr. Thomas and his attorney. Sounds like collaboration to me.

They also could have let him visit with Baron – that would have been a compassionate gesture. Prior to the seizure, there was an informal arrangement between Miles Thomas and Thom Lewis who runs a collie rescue. He was kept Baron on days Mr. Thomas was having difficulty. Both were concerned about Baron’s welfare and protection before the HHS stepped in.

And how does this educate the public? It doesn’t.

The HHS has shown the public it is nothing more than ego hiding behind cruel righteousness. There is an anonymous donor out there that has offered financial support for Baron’s vet bills, food, housing and shared custody between Miles Thomas and Thom Lewis of Silver Spring Twp. This arrangement is similar to one that was in place between Thomas and Lewis for more than a month before Baron was seized.

This anonymous donor has done more to educate the public in compassion, protection, and collaboration than the HHS has according to their own Mission Statement. The HHS should be embarrassed.

They have 30 days. Hopefully a final settlement will take place and Miles Thomas will be reunited with his best friend.

Good news is, during this time Mr. Thomas will be allowed to visit Baron.

There were no winners that day in court, but there were no losers either.

Note:

Mr Miles has been allows to visit Baron and has done so.

It's about time!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

"All I Want is You "

Aug 2009