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Dr.Williams’ Letter

Red Mountain Animal Clinic
Dr. Jerome B. Williams
2148 Greensprings Highway
Birmingham, AL 35205
(205) 326-8080
office@redmountainanimalclinic.com

2/8/2010

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a licensed veterinarian and the owner of Red Mountain Animal Clinic here in Birmingham who has known Terra Cotromano for greater than 30 years.

I initially met Terra when she worked as a Veterinary Assistant for Dr. Larry Britt at the Emergency Animal Clinic on 4th Avenue in Downtown Birmingham. I later employed her as Operations Manager at one of my other locations, Animal Medical Clinic East where she worked in the 1980’s. In the 1990’s she worked at the Red Mountain Facility as an Assistant as well.

In 1998, when Terra had the idea of creating an organization that would rescue animals in need, I provided considerable veterinarian services for the animals rescued by Terra and her volunteers. This practice has continued throughout the years. The numbers of animals that we have vaccinated, repaired broken bones, spayed, neutered, treated for infections and euthanized when necessary is countless

During the 3 decades that I have known Terra, I have known her to be caring, compassionate, dedicated and committed to animal welfare and the well-being of the animals that she has served. In all of my interactions with her, her primary interest has always been the well-being and proper treatment of the animals that have been in her care.

I have worked with Terra and her organization over the years because I believe that Terra’s passion and devotion to help animals in need is sincere. I have often offered veterinarian care to T.E.A.R.S. animals at no cost and have advised her on many occasions including the most recent situation that she called me regarding ill cats at her facility.

Having known Terra for 30 plus years and having worked with her in varied situations, it is my strong belief that she would always put the interests of the animals in her care above the interests of herself, her health or her own well-being.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Thank you kindly,
Jerome B. Williams, DVM

_______________________________________________________

Dr. Williams’ letter provides me no comfort for the animals.

A little historical reference:

2002-10-24 City Hall

City Council President Arrested In Animal Cruelty Case
By Ed Reynolds
One week before the originally scheduled hearing on Birmingham City Council President Lee Loder’s animal cruelty charges, municipal Judge David Barnes dismissed the case in an “expedited” hearing called on October 17. Barnes questioned not only the arrest of Loder without a warrant, but also misinformation on the police report regarding where the dog was found and what the judge termed “inappropriate” procedure taken by the city’s law department. Due to the law department’s representation of Loder as president of the City Council, it recused itself from the case and appointed a special prosecutor. Barnes complained that the department had issued subpoenas for the hearing even though it had recused itself.

The emaciated dog being bathed by the authorities after impoundment.

In a telephone interview the day after Barnes dismissed the case, City Attorney Tamara Johnson disagreed with the judge’s assessment, explaining that even though special prosecutors were hired, the city can still provide resources [including subpoenas] with which to try the case. The law department, however, can not tell a special prosecutor how to try cases, according to Johnson. The city attorney said she had contacted Barnes to tell him that a conflict of interest existed with the law department as well as with any municipal judge handling the case, since municipal judges are appointed by the City Council. (Loder’s Administration Committee recommended reappointment of Barnes this past August.) Johnson added that the law department was not informed of the expedited hearing until two days before it was scheduled. She said she had no idea Barnes was going to hear the case when she first contacted him. It had originally been scheduled to be heard by Judge Agnes Chappell on October 24.

According to a police report filed September 26, Lee Loder’s dog was reported by Paul Clark, a carpenter working in the neighborhood. Clark described the dog, a 60-pound mixed breed named Stokely, as “skin and bones. I saw the condition of the dog. You had a chain that was so knotted up it was like a rigid bar. It wouldn’t even sag. For me that’s inexcusable . . . He had severely limited movement. I’d be surprised if he had more than a three or four foot radius that he could maneuver in . . . The dog’s ribs were sticking out and its eyes were sunk in. The dog was right at the point of starvation.” The police report confirmed that the dog appeared to be starving and was so emaciated that “all bony prominences [were] evident from a distance.” The animal was chained up in a fenced-in area out of reach of shelter due to the chain being “wrapped and hooked on his neck,” according to the report, which added that the dog was soaked and shivering after two days of rain. Animal cruelty officer Dana Johnston, who investigated the case, called Birmingham-Jefferson County Animal Control, which impounded the dog until October 10, when it was released into the custody of Loder’s veterinarian, Dr. Jerome Williams (who will eventually return the dog to Loder).

Photos taken September 26 of Lee Loder’s dog chained in the rear of Loder’s house.

The dog reportedly had heartworms, intestinal and external parasites, and fleas. Williams examined the dog within 24 hours after impoundment. “I found the heartworms. I was told by the vet [at animal control] that she found intestinal worms and fleas.” Williams wrote in a letter regarding his observations to Judge Barnes, “Based on my personal observations of Stokely’s demeanor, his age, his vital indicators, his laboratory tests, and his medical history, I am of the opinion that the animal’s condition at the time of his impoundment was within acceptable normal range.” In an interview the day after the case’s dismissal, Williams described the dog as underweight when taken to animal control, but added that “skin and bones” was not a description that he would use, as the police report had.

The chain had become so knotted that the dog was unable to reach shelter.

Williams has been seeing Loder’s dog since 1996 and reports that worms have been a problem in the past. When asked if Loder had regularly addressed health problems concerning the dog, the vet described Loder as “not being an ‘ideal’ client,” but added that the majority of his clients “are not optimum.” He said that Loder had brought the dog in regularly for shots [according to the police report, Loder could not tell the arresting officer the last time the dog had received his rabies shot]. The dog was still in Williams’ custody at press time. The veterinarian reported that the dog was “responding well” to care.

Police spokesperson Lt. Henry Irby said animal cruelty officer Dana Johnston’s office received a call stating that there was a dog being abused. Irby said that officers did not know who the dog belonged to when they impounded it. Loder was contacted once he was discovered to be the owner. “We asked Mr. Loder to come in to talk,” said Irby. “At that time he was placed under arrest and then released on a $500 bond.”

Loder addressed the issue in an October 15 interview, two days before the case was suddenly dropped. “We do dispute the claims that there was criminal neglect,” said Loder, who would not comment on whether the dog was kept chained on a regular basis. “I don’t have any problem talking about this but because it’s a legal matter and the matter’s in court, I really don’t want to go into details.” Loder insisted that the dog was given “reasonable care,” adding, “I’ve had a dog all my life and taken care of dogs very well. I don’t think that’s a question. I love them, and that’s why I have them.” The Council President said that no complaints had been lodged against him in the past regarding the animal. Loder expressed concerns about the impoundment and arrest procedures, noting that provisions for a 10-day notice were not utilized, which Loder says is often the case. “I wasn’t given the opportunity that I think other people are generally given, which is if there was a concern that was raised, to address it . . . and I’m not agreeing that the concern was one that had to be addressed. . . . That was an option [giving notice] for somebody who believed I was a credible person. . . . One of the things that I cherish and try to make sacred is being honest, being responsible, and being credible. And you do that for days like this-I don’t want to be treated differently than anybody but I think I’m a credible person who is responsible and who ought to be believed when they make a statement about something.” Loder added, “After this is all over-and this is going to be resolved very soon-there will be no question regarding my care for this dog.”

Loder said he explained to animal control officers that it was “all a misunderstanding.” He said that he offered to take the dog to the vet before he signed the $500 bond but was “not given that opportunity.” Loder said, “I expect my name to be cleared through the courts. And after that, for those who still have suspicions, I’ll have the dog and he’ll be there [at Loder’s home] and I’ll let folks see him since he’s become a public figure now.” &

One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. Bob Johnson / Mar 13 2010 5:01 AM

    Dr. Williams’ letter is very carefully worded to say almost nothing of substance. This is a classic “damning with faint praise” recommendation letter. Ms. Cotromano probably did indeed care for a specific handful of animals with extra care and devotion throughout the years but the vast majority of animals in her care were seriously neglected. The judicial process is about to make that very clear.

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