By John Taft
Grants Pass, OR — A Bulldog firmly attached to one’s hindquarters can prove to be difficult to shake off as the Josephine County Sheriff has discovered. On October 15, 2004, Dave Daniel was on a local AM radio station attempting to do just that. His success in doing so is questionable as the US Observer is still hanging on exposing Daniel’s follies. Daniel used his radio time to dig up an old bone of contention in an attempt to discredit the Observer.
Nearly four-years ago the Observer published a story on the alleged beating of a police dog down in the JoCo jail. This has been digging at Daniel ever since. Daniel started off on the air with this line, “If Mr. Taft would ever report both sides of a story and certainly report the truth …” Translated that means the Observer writer is mean spirited, doesn’t get his facts right, and lies to boot.
Sheriff’s Competency Questioned
In this issue we will reprint the story Daniel refers to with some explanation and let the reader decide who is kidding who.
Many have and are questioning Daniel’s competency as a sheriff. Remember what former DA Tim Thompson wrote in his often-quoted letter to the editor; Thompson was of the opinion Daniel didn’t have the qualifications to be a sheriff. In December Daniel caused $230,000 in insurance and county money to be spent to cover the lawsuit costs for improperly firing two sheriff deputies, Wayne Dykes and Carroll Huffman. In addition to the $230,000 are the costs to defend Daniel and the suit against the county. The Observer has put in a request to the county for the actual amount of the attorney fees and expenses which will no doubt come in at tens of thousands of dollars. When you win in arbitration you usually have a better case than the other guy does.
Daniel ran for election as sheriff saying he could handle the job without an Undersheriff. Daniel recently appointed Lt. Brian Anderson as the new Undersheriff. Now Josephine County has two sheriffs at a cost of at least $160,000 a year for salaries and benefits. What does Daniel do all day now that he doesn’t have to be a sheriff but still gets paid for the job? Daniel is elected and has no one to oversee what he does. Apparently for good reason, he has been staunchly in opposition to a citizens’ review panel. Now he can do as he pleases and get paid to do it and no one is watching. Daniel wants personal loyalty from the deputies and those that give it are often well rewarded. Those deputies that give their loyalty to the public and the position are the cream of the crop. It appears that deputies that don’t give that personal loyalty to Daniel may be fired like Wayne Dykes and Carroll Huffman and others. Fortunately these deputies had legal recourse and were vindicated. Other deputies improperly fired by Daniel were rehired. A few years ago the deputies association (union) cast a ballot of nonsupport for the sheriff. Daniel no doubt will spend a lot of his spare time following the county commissioners and baying at their heels begging for a bone. Is Dave Daniel worth $160,000 a year?
Prior to the November election Daniel was a guest speaker in favor of a jail levy to fund more beds in the county jail. Previous guest speakers were critical of Daniel and he was given the opportunity to answer his critics who were opposed to a new jail levy and Daniel. Here is the text of a portion of that interview that brings up the dog story.
Sheriff Daniel: “Certainly I would love to comment on that. Mr. Taft calls himself an investigative reporter and unfortunately he only investigates one side of the issue and reports on that one side. Let me give you an example of that. He wrote up a big article awhile back in the Oregon Observer that he writes for and he ah ah complained about ah canine handler beating his dog to the point of ah bloodying it all over the the jail. And and that was his investigative report ah ah they were doing canine training in the jail they have grates on the ah steps that go from the first to the second level. One of the dogs ah cut his paw on one of those grates and and certainly tracked some blood around. It had to be cleaned up by an inmate and and that’s the problem. If Mr. Taft would ever report both sides of a story and certainly report the truth I would have no problem in allowing him access to everything down there.”
Carl Wilson: “So really you’re saying that the issue really is between you and Mr. Taft and not you and the truth or anything like that.”
Sheriff Daniel: “Well it’s … I can tell you that Mr. Taft and Ed Snook and – ah, ah – took a antagonistic attitude – ah – towards the sheriff’s office and the entire criminal justice system ah following their attempt to have – ah, ah – Judge O’Neil recalled. Do you remember that about five years ago and ah ever since then they have been antagonistic towards the entire criminal justice system and once again they pick just what they want to report on and not report the facts.”
The Observer is republishing the alleged beating of the police dog article (following this article) as it was originally written. In reading the article compare Daniel’s comments of Oct. 2004 to those made nearly four years earlier.
1. Daniel claims the dog snagged a claw on a grate hence the blood. Daniel reportedly told Editor Dennis Roler of the Daily Courier that the dog had broken a tooth. Daniel isn’t getting his facts straight. Daniel complains we don’t tell the truth. That reminds me of the time I asked him if he called former DA Tim Thompson a SOB because he wrote a letter to the editor opposing Daniel for sheriff. Daniel simply told me he didn’t remember. What a dodge. My witness remembers quite well when Daniel made the SOB comment to him. Daniel also is reported to have used the same phrase about a Sgt. he fired for disloyalty. This may be a favorite phrase Daniel uses to take care of deputies, DA’s, and reporters.
2. Daniel complains both sides of the story are not reported. In reading the past article a number of sources were checked. The sheriff’s office was uncooperative and at times didn’t return calls as discussed in the article. Information had to be obtained through Commissioner Harold Haugen. Under Daniel’s administration he has proven to be reluctant to release any information that that could cause him embarrassment.
3. As far as being antagonistic towards the entire criminal justice system the Observer demands honesty in government and gives respect when it’s earned. Daniel is using the old cloak trick to cover himself while attempting to make everyone believe the entire Criminal Justice System is under the cloak with him. Again Daniel fails to get his point. A recent article about the Grants Pass City Police in the Observer was favorable. Daniel has not earned that respect. There is no doubt that many good deputies are employed by the sheriff’s office. Both the courts and the district attorney’s office have had problems, but new people are now in place and they bear watching for improvement.
4. The cost of buying and training a police dog is reported to be $15,000. The reader needs to ask why a $15,000 dog with a bleeding wound was not taken to the veterinarian. Pathogens can be found anywhere and especially on floors in a jail. Flesh eating bacteria are always a concern. The dog’s life could have been in danger. Why wouldn’t a quick trip to the vet be in order as insurance to protect the dog’s life and the investment? A trained police dog is a valuable asset to any police department, and normally these dogs are especially well taken care of. If the dog had been struck out of anger and had bruise marks, that would be reason enough to stay away from the vet. If that indeed took place and the public was aware of it Daniel and the deputy may as well have left town. A trip to the vet could have cleared this matter up. This was not done and nearly four years later the issue is unresolved and it’s still bothering Daniel. A troubled conscience can keep a man from his rest, while old secrets dance through the night.
5. As any prudent person can see after reading the following article (April 2001) Dave Daniel is a liar and a master at deceiving the public. It was factually reported to the Observer by an inmate that the dog was beaten. John Taft immediately turned this “factual information” into an allegation as any responsible reporter would do and he began investigating. The article in question, republished below shows clearly that Taft never accused anyone of anything…period. Why would Daniel then turn it around on his recent radio talk show and make it appear to the public that John Taft had lied nearly four years ago in his Observer article? Daniel clearly stated (on tape) that Taft had accused the dog handler of “beating his dog to the point of ah bloodying it all over the jail.” Daniel told his blatant lie on talk radio here in Josephine County in his attempt to silver tongue the taxpayers into approving his jail levy, just as he lied to voters in order to get elected. The levy failed and now Daniel is factually exposed as a deceitful liar. All citizens of Josephine County would be wise to take anything this Sheriff says “with a grain of salt” in the future…
John Taft can be reached at email@example.com
Was a Police Dog Beaten Bloody in the JoCo Jail?
By John Taft
Grants Pass, OR – April 20, 2001 – The Oregon Observer and Strobezone have been investigating an allegation that a police dog named Pico was abused, and or beaten bloody in the Josephine County jail. To find out if the story was factual, I called the sheriff’s department and talked to Lt. Gordon Williams. At the time Williams claimed he hadn’t heard of the April 5th incident, but he was aware that dogs had been taken down into the new jail for training exercises. I also contacted Dennis Roler, Editor of the local Daily Courier newspaper, and Commissioner Harold Haugen. Mr. Roler said he had talked to the sheriff who told him the dog had injured a tooth. These facts provided enough reason to further this investigation.
Bloody Jail Cell
Was there blood from the dog in the jail cell? The official position voiced by Daniel is the dog broke or sustained some type of tooth injury. Now we know the dog left some of his blood in the jail cell. My report is that there was quite a bit of blood smeared around the cell, more than should be expected from an injured tooth. My report says that the cell inmate was given a water spray bottle and a rag to clean up the blood spill. The inmate was reported to be allergic to dogs, and was upset that he was forced to clean up the blood in his cell. Since that time a mop bucket of water was also used to clean the cell.
The sheriff’s department is holding with the tooth story. There may be another explanation for the blood. My inside source claims the dog was failing to obey the commands of the deputy in charge. The deputy was reported to have used a police club to prod the dog and then hit and kicked the dog when he failed to obey commands.
Why Didn’t Lt. Williams Return Taft’s Call?
A very important question this investigation hinges on is was the police dog Pico taken to a veterinarian? I left a voice mail message for Lt. Williams with this question on Friday, April 13th. Mr. Williams chose not to respond to me. This kind of response is typical of the JoCo sheriff’s department. I had left the same question for Commissioner Haugen. Mr. Haugen, who has been very cooperative, did call back Saturday evening and told me he had asked Lt. Williams this question. Williams told him the dog was not taken to the vet. I had also inquired as to who the dog’s vet was. Williams said, “Off the top of my head I think it’s _____.” Williams’ answer appears to be correct. My observation is that the Daniel’s JoCo sheriff’s department is uncooperative and it wants to keep information from reaching the public.
Was Pico Put at Risk?
The new jail has had a few sewage overflows since it was opened. Sanitary conditions in a jail are always a concern of the employees. Bacteria and Viruses can be found on an apparently clean home kitchen counter. How many more can be found in the environment of a jail? Any type of open injury that allows blood to flow will also allow pathogens into an animal or human body.
Expert Questioned on Professional Dog Handling
I asked renowned dog trainer Edward Snook, a former writer for Dog World if Pico should have been taken to a vet. He responded with one word, “Absolutely. ” Mr. Snook has trained hundred of attack and self-protection dogs. He said, “Never once using my training methods was there a need to cause an injury to a dog. I’ve never had a dog bleed. It’s a bad dog handler that would injure a dog during training. There is literally no need for that.” Common sense would dictate that the dog should have gone to a vet. Any kind of injury that would cause an open wound and allow blood to flow will put any dog at risk of an infection or disease.
Here are the Facts
We know Pico was taken into the county jail. We know there was blood in the cell, from the dog because of the broken tooth story. This wasn’t denied. According to the information that Lt. Williams gave to Commissioner Haugen, we now know that Pico didn’t go to the vet. We know that a dog trainer indicated that under the described conditions Pico should have gone to a vet. We know these are very valuable dogs costing thousands of dollars to purchase and train. The Elks are reported to have donated $5,000 for the purchase and training of a dog. We know a bleeding wound of any kind could easily put Pico at risk of bacterial infection or a disease. Why wasn’t this expensive dog professionally taken care of? Why wasn’t Pico taken to the vet?
A Conclusion from Deductive Reasoning
Some conclusions can be drawn from the evidence presented. The injury could have been minor. But the necessity of supplying a water spray bottle and rag to clean up and then using a mop later would tend to dispel this theory. The public’s perception is that the deputies love those dogs and take great care of them. Perhaps the K-9 dog trainer’s public image doesn’t match how the dogs are really treated when they are being trained. Regardless, If Pico were cared for wouldn’t he have been taken to the vet? Last we have to consider the unthinkable. And this is the theory that the dog was actually abused and beaten because he didn’t obey the trainer’s commands. Perhaps the deputy lost his temper. Or could it be that abuse by prodding a police dog with a club, hitting and kicking is a normal training procedure used by some deputies in Josephine County?
Unfortunately this last conclusion appears to carry the most credibility. Injuries to Pico would have shown up during an examination by a vet. Explaining the cause of such an injury would be embarrassing to the entire sheriff’s department. Deputies are supposed to be the good guys that investigate and cite others for animal abuse in Josephine County. For one deputy to investigate and cite a K-9 deputy for animal abuse would make newspaper headlines and raise community eyebrows. It’s doubtful the department would ever let such a story out.
Are There Reasons to Conceal a Dog Beating?
It has been said that attitude is everything. A visitor to the Josephine County Jail was recently told, “What goes on behind these walls is none of the public’s business.” The allegations involving Pico would tend to confirm this statement. A police dog beating in the jail would be politically embarrassing to Daniel. It would also show the unprofessional attitude of deputies in the JoCo sheriff’s department Sheriff Daniel is attempting to obtain more money for the sheriff’s department budget. He is asking for another $850,000 when he already has a budget of almost $9 million for next year. This type of bad exposure could cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue and affect his public image. If the dog was beaten and had bruises and wounds, these would be very powerful reason not to take the dog to the vet. An offer to take the dog to the vet now would be most likely a worthless gesture as the alleged beating and bloodletting took place on April 5. A documented trip to the vet could have resolved this entire issue.
Sheriff is Accountable
Unless the sheriff’s department can supply some new compelling evidence that Pico wasn’t beaten or abused during this training exercise then the fact remains this issue is still wide open and isn’t going away. The sheriff’s department under Dave Daniel is accountable for its actions whether they are officially investigated or not.