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TEARS Executive Director Terra Cotromano fired

Posted: // Dec 31, 2009 6:12 AM CST Updated: // Dec 31, 2009 6:12 AM CST

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – The animal rescue group TEARS has fired its long-time Executive Director Terra Cotromano. The board made the decision Wednesday, citing a list of reasons for immediately terminating Cotromano.

Some of the board’s allegations include unexplained financial irregularities, improper bookkeeping and failure to ensure humane conditions and care of animals on TEARS property.

The board also asks that people hold off making any cash donations to TEARS right now, while they are investigating the organization’s finances.


Animal rescue agency investigates director on cruelty  allegations
By Erin Stock — The Birmingham News
December 31, 2009, 11:43AM
Terra Cotromano, executive director of the  Birmingham area animal welfare group known as TEARS has been fired. (Birmingham  News file)

A Birmingham area non-profit organization formed to rescue abused and injured animals is now investigating its own executive director on allegations of animal cruelty,  according to the group’s officials.

The executive director of The  Emergency Animal Rescue Service has been fired by its board of directors amid  questions about expenditures and the treatment of animals at the facility  located in Mulga.

John Saxon, attorney for TEARS, said the organization’s  president has
delivered a letter of termination to Terra Cotromano, who also is  founder of the organization.

A Jefferson County judge on Wednesday  granted the board a temporary
restraining order against Cotromano, so that board  members could go into the facility and check on the animals.

Attempts to  reach Cotromano have been unsuccessful.

Veterinarians and various animal  rescue agencies are on site now to assess and treat the animals, said Lee Anne  Bennett, vice president of the
group’s board “I’m just concerned for  their safety and for their health,” she said.

Bennett estimated there are  about 200 animals at the location, mostly
dogs. She said she believes many of  the cats are suffering from upper
respiratory infections that have not been  treated, but said they would know more once they completed the  assessment.

In recent months there have been questions about financing  and accounting for expenditures that have not been answered to the satisfaction  of the board, Saxon said. More recently there have been allegations made of  animal cruelty or mismanagement of the care of the animals, he said.

© 2009


Birmingham animal rescue agency director denies  allegations of cruelty
By Erin Stock — The Birmingham News
December 31, 2009, 2:15PM
Cynthia Pearson, a veterinary technician, get  appreciative licks from one
of the dogs that Jefferson County sheriffs deputies  and TEARS board members found at the organization’s shelter in Mulga on Dec. 31,  2009. The officials were checking the animals for possible neglect or abuse.(The  Birmingham News/ Beverly Taylor )

The founder of TEARS today denied accusations that she
had  neglected the animals in her care and mismanaged money as the
nonprofit  organization’s executive director.

Terra Cotromano, executive director of the  Birmingham area animal welfare group known as TEARS has been fired, saying she’s  been the victim of a power struggle. (Birmingham News  file)

Terra Cotromano said  the real issue behind the  accusations and her firing Wednesday is a power struggle.

The board of directors for The Emergency Animal  Rescue Service on
Wednesday asked for and was granted a temporary restraining  order against Cotromano. Board members handed her a termination letter the  same day.

Today, animal rescue authorities are inspecting the  animals at TEARS.
Cotromano said that in the meantime neither she nor her  employees are being allowed to care for and feed the animals.

“I’m crushed,” she said. “To watch these animals be  pushed aside and their well-being disregarded just so two people can squabble  over power is unconscionable.”

John Saxon, a lawyer for the TEARS board, said the  animals are being cared for and fed.

Cotromano claims the two board members who fired her  were voted out at a meeting of TEARS members on Wednesday night. But Saxon  argued TEARS is not a membership organization. It’s an issue that needs to be  brought before a judge, Cotromano said.

She is asking that a Jefferson County judge intervene  today — despite the
courts being closed for the holiday. The temporary  restraining order was
signed by a criminal judge in the Birmingham division of  the county, which Cotromano claims is improper.

“The judge issuing a temporary restraining order has only  heard one side
of the story,” said Lawden Yates Jr., an attorney who worked for  the TEARS board and is now assisting Cotromano. “Terra and the group of members  have not been afforded an opportunity at this time to tell their side of the story.”

© 2009


Some animals removed from Birmingham-area rescue agency for additional care

By Sherrel Stewart — The Birmingham News

January 01, 2010, 4:45PM

TEARS 091231A curious dog peers through the fence on Thursday as workers enter to assess the condition of the animals at TEARS. (The Birmingham News/Beverly Taylor)

Several animals that were in the care of a Birmingham-area animal rescue agency have been moved today from the TEARS property in Mulga to other facilities for care and assessment as authorities investigate charges of animal cruelty.
Steve Smith, president of Birmingham Jefferson County Animal Control confirmed that that agency has recently taken on temporarily five mixed-breed dogs from the The Emergency Animal Rescue Service at the request of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s animal cruelty investigator.
“We’ll probably end up with about six to 12 more today,” Smith said. Some of his staff member were at TEARS on Thursday and again today, he said.
Dwight Sloan, animal cruelty investigator for the sheriff’s department said the goal today is to evaluate each and every animal on the property and determine if additional care and assessment is needed.
He said he could not address the issue of animal cruelty at this time.
“We want to make sure that each and every animal receives what he needs. If the animal needs to be moved to another location for additional assessment, that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
The animal cruelty investigator was called in amid allegations from members of the TEARS board that it’s executive director was not allowing for the proper care of animals and was mismanaging funds.
Former executive director Terra Cotromano, who founded the organization and was fired earlier this week, hasdenied accusations that she had neglected the animals in her care and mismanaged money.
Terra Cotromano.jpgTerra Cotromano, executive director of the Birmingham area animal welfare group known as TEARS has been fired. (Birmingham News file)

She said the real issue behind the accusations and her firing Wednesday is a power struggle.

The TEARS board of directors on Wednesday asked for and was granted a temporary restraining order against Cotromano. Board members handed her a termination letter the same day.
Animal rescue authorities inspected animals at TEARS on Thursday and are continuing today.
Cotromano said today she is attempting to file a cruelty complaint with the sheriff’s office against animal rescue officials who are examining animals at the TEARS facility in Mulga. She said two iguanas under the care of the agency are near death after officials left a door open and failed to maintain hot enough temperatures for the reptiles.
“Tell me where their good intention is in all of that,” Cotromano said.
Cotromano said animals are being taken away by the Greater Birmingham Humane Society and the Jefferson-Birmingham Animal Control. She said she is certain many will be euthanized because the agencies have high “kill rates.” Cotromano said the agencies will deem many of them unadoptable because of what she considers strict standards for adoption.
“They know we cannot access the courts until Monday, and by Monday they will have killed most of these animals,” she said. “They have no right to do any of this.”
News staff writer Erin Stock contributed to this report.

© 2010


No TEARS animals will be put to sleep, board spokeswoman says

By Sherrel Stewart — The Birmingham News

January 01, 2010, 8:50PM

doggy.jpegLinda Stelter

None of the animals being removed from the TEARS facility in Mulga will be put to sleep, according to a spokeswoman for the board of directors for the animal rescue agency.
The Jefferson County Sheriff Office’s animal cruelty investigator has been at the facility with a team of veterinarians for two days assessing the animals amid charges of animal cruelty. The executive director of the organization also has been fired.
Earlier today, Terra Cotromano, founder and former executive director of TEARS, raised questions about the handling of animals being assessed at the facility. She also feared that animals would be euthanized.
Allison Black Cornelius, a governance consultant hired by the TEARS board of directors, said:   “All of the agencies agreed from the onset that none of the animals would be euthanized.”
“The veterinarians are taking some of the sickest dogs, and I believe a cat to their private clinics for treatment.”
The veterinarians are working for free, she said. “They are treating the animals like gold,” she said.
Cotromano was concerned about two iguanas who she said were near death after officials left a door open and failed to maintain hot enough temperatures for the reptiles.
Several animals were removed from The Emergency Animal Rescue Service for care and additional assessment, said Dwight Sloan, the sheriff office’s animal cruelty investigator.
He said every animal at the facility is being assessed so that they can receive any needed care and treatment.

© 2010


Board members at TEARS release video of trailer crowded with cats

By Marie Leech — The Birmingham News

January 02, 2010, 1:18PM

Board members at TEARS released a video today showing what they call deplorable conditions in a dark trailer housing more than 70 sick cats, a scene which prompted board members to file animal cruelty charges last month and led to the firing of the founder and executive director earlier this week.

Board members of The Emergency Animal Rescue Service, a nonprofit animal rescue and shelter located in Mulga, said they repeatedly pleaded with former Director Terra Cotromano unsuccessfully to address the condition of the cats. When their concerns weren’t addressed, board members Beverly Lepore and Lee Anne Bennett, along with volunteers Danyell Jackson and David Young, entered TEARS to help the cats, but found furniture coated with feces, urine and mucous, they say.

“Every cat was struggling to breath,” Young said. “Cats were everywhere and they all seemed to be coughing and sneezing. The sound of wheezing was horrible.”

Lepore said there were about three heat lamps in the trailer, and the cats were huddled in “small masses” trying to get as close as possible to the lamps.

An animal cruelty investigator was called in amid allegations from members of the TEARS board that Cotromano was not allowing for the proper care of animals and was mismanaging funds.

Efforts to reach Cotromano this afternoon have been unsuccessful, but she has denied the accusations.

Animal rescue authorities have been examining animals for the last several days. Local veterinarians are providing health assessments and medical recommendations to Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies at the TEARS offices, according to a news release from TEARS.

According to the release, veterinarians believe all the cats are sick from upper respiratory illness but can recover.

Extremely sick and injured animals are being transported out by Birmingham-Jefferson County Animal Control to receive care.

Board members also met with sheriff’s deputies Friday and filed a report regarding financial irregularities and more than $69,000 in unaccounted cash withdrawals from the charity.

“We are asking the public to stop making cash contributions to the organization since we cannot ensure appropriate financial oversight at this time,” Bennett said.

Below are the videos provided by TEARS board members.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3


TEARS Press Release (Birmingham)

Date: 2010-01-02, 9:50AM EST
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

The iguanas mentioned by Cotromano have gone to Auburn University where they will receive proper care, Cornelius said.


A mobile home can be a good shelter for humans and animals alike; however, the unventilated, unsanitary, cold and dark trailer housing more than 70 sick cats was a scene that prompted board members to take action and volunteers to file animal cruelty charges December 13, 2009.

Board members of The Emergency Animal Rescue Service (TEARS), a nonprofit animal rescue and shelter located in Birmingham, Alabama are today releasing video taken at one of the trailers located on Tears’ property. The video was shot by volunteer Danyell Jackson before the report was filed.

Board members had repeatedly pleaded with former Director Terra Cotromano to address the condition of the cats without success. The unaddressed condition of the animals prompted them to go to the property late in the afternoon on December 13th. Board members Beverly Lepore and Lee Anne Bennett along with volunteers Danyell Jackson and David Young entered TEARS to help the cats. Upon entering the trailer the group found furniture coated with feces, urine, and mucous. “Every cat was struggling to breathe,” said David Young. “Cats were everywhere and they all seemed to be coughing and sneezing. The sound of the wheezing was horrible. There were about three heat lamps in the trailer. Cats were huddled in small masses trying to get as close to the orange lights as possible.” said Board President Beverly Lepore.

Page 1 of 1

Page 2 of 2
(TEARS Press Release Continued)

The police report states that as the group was leaving TEARS property, they were attacked by a pack of aggressive dogs allegedly released by the former Director.

Veterinarians Barbara Monoghan, Cindy Williams, Mark Pelham, and Libby Todd of Liberty and Kelly Animal Hospitals are providing the health assessments and medical recommendations to Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies on site at TEARS. Dr. Monoghan confirmed today that every cat in the trailer is sick and suffering from upper respiratory illness. Health professionals on site believe the cats can recover.

TEARS board members hired attorney John Saxon to help them obtain a temporary restraining order which was granted earlier this week. They also hired nonprofit governance consultant Allison Black Cornelius of BlackBOARD Consulting to help the board in its oversight functions.

Officials have told TEARS it may take up to 4 days to process animals each of which are being assessed, recorded, and treated. None of the animals on the site had identification. Extremely sick and injured animals are being transported out by Birmingham-Jefferson County Animal Control in order to receive proper care. Deputy Dwight Sloan ensured that no animals are being euthanized. The condition of most of the animals is hopeful and euthanasia has not been used.

Jefferson County Sheriff Deputies are on site and receiving assistance from a large group of animal professionals including the Humane Society of the United States, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, Liberty Animal Hospital, Kelly Animal Hospital and TEARS’ volunteers. The team has volunteered their services and worked 14 hour days since December 30 including all day New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. “We could not have saved these animals without this collaboration.” said Lepore.

Page 3 of 3
(TEARS Press Release Continued)

Board members met with sheriff’s deputies yesterday and filed a report regarding financial irregularities and more than $69,000.00 in unaccounted cash withdrawals from the charity. President Beverly Lepore and Lee Anne Bennett reported the financial issues to a Regions’ Bank manager and froze bank accounts a few weeks ago. “We are asking the public to stop making cash contributions to the organization since we cannot ensure appropriate financial oversight at this time. We cannot get our financial documents from the TEARS office since the former Director is living inside and has refused to leave the property.” said Ms. Bennett. Officials on site believe there are more than 30 dogs and various other wildlife in the trailer with the former Director.

If the public wishes to make cash contributions, Lepore suggests making them to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society or the Humane Society of the United States. “Both agencies have spent a great deal of their resources the past few days to help us save these precious animals.” said Lepore.


Email from Allison Black Cornelius

Saturday, January 02, 2010 1:48 PM

Hello all:

Many of you have read of the events of The Emergency Animal Rescue Service (TEARS) over the past few days. I am sending a diverse group from my email lists the latest press release and video release. There will be a press conference at 4:00 today at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society and I am sure a lot of court appearances next week. Please forward to anyone you know interested in animal welfare so that people will know what is happening.

This site has been treated as a “disaster site” of sorts since board members first gained control of the property and the coordination and work of many nonprofit and government agencies has been nothing short of remarkable to watch. Without the collaboration and help of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society (Jacque Meyer), Humane Society of the United States (Mindy Gilbert), Liberty and Kelly Animal Hospitals and their vets and vet techs (Dr. Monoghan, Dr. Pelham, Dr. Todd, and Dr. Williams all UNPAID on site for two days), the state of Alabama emergency management agency, the sheriff and 2 committed board members – this would not have been possible. Deputy Dwight Sloan was also incredible as were all the sheriff’s deputies.

Also – many of you know animal handler extraordinaire Vicki Shay – who gave up her New Years Day to  assist us at the property – her expertise in handling these animals along with Jacque Meyer’s staff and the animal control staff was absolutely critical to the team’s success of handling each animal as humanely and compassionately as possible as they were examined. Special thanks to Shannon Ammons, Vestavia resident, who spent all day every day at the property since Dec 30th and provided scribe services to the disaster team logging more than 200 animals, their diagnoses, and their condition. The conditions were horrible. Thanks to her husband Steve

Also – without the compassion and legal advice of attorney John Saxon and assistance from Bradley Arant  — these animals would still be in the same state. I don’t care how right you think you are – without a good lawyer you get nowhere, especially if you are a child or animal.

While I appreciate the many emails thanking me – it is important that everyone know I was hired by the board and recommended by the legal folks – I am nothing compared to the two board members, the two attorneys, and the disaster team.

I do this for a living – they are volunteers.

Law enforcement has left and there are still many animals left on site. The former Director is refusing to leave her trailer and passions are running far too high – thus the board members have no way to safely take care of the animals or to ensure the animals security.

Again thanks for forwarding if you choose to do so.

Allison Black Cornelius

BlackBOARD Consulting


“TEARS” Animal Cruelty Investigation

CBS 42

January 2, 2010

Reported by: Kimberly Rankin
Last Update: 10:52 pm

Print Story | ShareThis

200 animals were found to be living in deplorable conditions at the “TEARS” shelter in Jefferson County. These animals were abused and or abandoned were rescued by the shelter and allegedly thrown into cruel inhumane conditions.”Overcrowding brought about a lot of problems sanitary problems were the biggest thing we saw. They had access to food and water but the quality of the food or water when they are eating out of much feces may not be that great,” says Mark Pelham, a veterinarian at Liberty Animal Hospital.”It was very muddy and it was very cold and it was very smelly and there are large amounts of animals out there,” says Jackie Myers.Of those 200 animals, more than 50 were cats found living in a trailer with no running water, electricity, or ventilation. There were three small portable heaters but rescue workers say it was not sufficient heat. The cats were also in very poor health. They treated the situation like a disaster zone.”We assessed every animal on the property dogs and cats like a triage,” says Pelham.”TEARS” Board of Directors removed 75 dogs and 6 cats and placed them at other shelters, vet clinics, and homes. There are still at least 75 dogs and more than 50 cats on the property which they were unable to move due to lack of available space and a concern of spreading disease.”They are very contagious upper respiratory viruses they are carrying and they all have been exposed at this point so I guess it’s better to quarantine them where they are,” says Pelham.The Greater Birmingham Humane Society has many of the dogs. If you would like to adopt one, just stop by their facility.INVESTIGATION:These conditions were uncovered during a financial investigation. Attorney say the “TEARS” board of directors noticed 69-thousand dollars withdrawn from A-T-M’s and a 20-thousand dollar check written out to cash. When they confronted the woman running the shelter, Terra Cotromano, they said her answer of using it for payroll didn’t add up. Contromano was removed from her position with the shelter and asked to vacate the trailer on the shelter property she was living in. So far, she has refused to do so saying she has a 99-year lease with “TEARS”.”We aren’t exactly sure about her legal status there. Lawyers there will be looking next week at efforts to evict her from the property, and we will be allowing the courts and the legal process to yield that result,” says John Saxon, attorney for “TEARS”. “TEARS” board of directors froze their bank accounts, so until things can be sorted out they are asking people not to send in donations. If you would like to help the animals the Greater Birmingham Humane Society will take donations to help the rescue efforts.


Email from Rachel Warnes

Sun, January 3, 2010 11:58:43 AM

I was out working on site at TEARS with the Sheriff”s department. Trust me, the video does NOT do the cat house justice. Every single cat in that trailer is sick. Snot is hanging off their noses, some can’t drink or eat because of it. They are dying a slow death because of it. There were 3 vets on location that were appalled at the conditions and confirmed that many would die without treatment. Terra refused to provide treatment for these animals even after the board members pleaded with her too. When they entered the property to care for the cats themselves, Terra let aggressive dogs out on them. She keeps a pen of aggressive dogs for this purpose. She also has small tires hanging up to train the dogs to have a stronger bite-which most dog fighters have. The video was taken 3 weeks ago when there were 70 cats there. Now there are about 50. Terra refuses to explain how 20 cats magically disappear. Could it be the black bags she won’t let anyone near?

A lot of people are saying “she was doing the best with what she had.” This is not true. She repeatedly came on TV and stated the animals were starving and they needed food. They have 100s of bags of food and tons of medicine at TEARStown. The animals were NOT starving. She was lying because she knows people donate money along with food.

Also, the video does not go into the situation of the other animals. There are about 200 dogs shoved into 15 pens. They are fighting each other constantly, ripping each other apart. She just stands and watches. A lot of the dogs are unaltered, one dog was pregnant that we found. Many of the dogs have been untreated for weeks, months. She refused to feed them so they are probably all going to starve to death from now on. She has 2 iguanas that she turned the heat lamps off on in the night so they would die and she could blame it on the board members. She left a Parvo puppy out in the cold so IT could die and she could blame it on the board members. She also left an aggressive dog in a tiny cage that it could barely lay down in all night without food or water. She called the media and said that the sheriff’s department did it.

It breaks my heart to see the way she treats these animals. It is unfair for the animals. Not to mention the $69,700 that she stole from the TEARS account. People are saying that this is fishy but most don’t understand that TEARS was a huge non-profit, earning over $430,000 a year. $69,700 was pulled out of an ATM by Terra. She has no records of where this money went. It is gone. This woman is unreliable and a thief.

The board CANNOT have an an adopt-a-thon for the simple reason that it is not safe to enter TEARStown. Terra refuses to leave the property and has threatened that if anyone comes on to the property they will get shot. She is basically holding the animals (which are property of TEARS, not hers) hostage. The Greater Birmingham Humane Society and BJC Animal control and several other rescues (such as myself) have been allowed by the board members to pull some of the animals off the property and adopt them out. GBHS said as soon as these get adopted out they will go get more to save if possible.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at
Thank you for your time.


Posted on
Posted by gives2ctf
January 04, 2010, 7:02PM

Thank you inahurry.

I have been working with the TEARS situation since December 23rd. There have been no allegations of anyone taking any money from this nonprofit organization. There has been a report filed with the sheriff’s department that a large amount of cash was withdrawn from the organization’s bank account over a period of time. The volunteer board members who filed the report have stated that they cannot get the documentation necessary to satisfy the requirements of state and federal filings.

Please keep in mind this is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and much of its records are public. TEARS 990s show $475,544.00 in direct support for 2005; $219,561.00 in direct support for 2006; and $227,550.00 in indirect support in 2007. These amounts are significant and if any member of a volunteer board does not feel they can get what they need to ensure fiduciary oversight, rather than walk away – – they should let someone know. The same is true for paid or volunteer staff.

There is currently no form 990 posted at Guidestar for 2008. Any member of the public can view the organization’s Form 990s filed for 2005, 2006, and 2007 at

The former Director and the volunteer board members will have to make sure the documents are produced and filed in order to assure the public that the resources they raised and spent were used to advance the mission of TEARS and are in compliance with state and federal entities.

Volunteer Boards and the staff of nonprofit organizations do their best to serve their clients with usually very limited cash and human resources. These organizations may not have the money for experts who can help them understand the serious compliance issues that must be followed when you are a public charity. Volunteer Boards may not know about board training and staff may not know how to access training for nonprofit bookeeping and management.

They are trying to do good. But doing good is not good enough when you are a public charity.

The Nonprofit Resource Center of Alabama is a statewide nonprofit organization located in Birmingham and they provide training and technical support to all nonprofit organizations in the state of Alabama.
Perhaps this situation will highlight the need for funding for training.

Thank you in a hurry.

Ms. Cotromano and all of the volunteer board members deserve to have their positions considered.


Donna Sophronia-Sims has requested the following comments be included in the discussion of T.E.A.R.S.:

It is sad that low animal care standards are acceptable to some of the [b]loggers. I would be careful to assume the animals at TEARS Town have appropriate shelter and medical care before you know the facts. I was a volunteer and board member for a short time in the fall of 2008. I witnessed first hand the animal care accusations now being made.

It was my experience that Terra was not very receptive to suggestions to change situations that would have resulted in more adoptions and better care for the animals. She wanted to be in control of everything. Terra either didn’t know her limitations or didn’t care, but if you tried to impose them on her for the betterment of the animals and organization, she did ended up doing whatever she wanted. A sad situation for the animals and her. It is my opinion she is not capable of running an animal organization.

Donna Sophronia-Sims


Animal rescue group litigants agree to leave donations alone

By Erin Stock — The Birmingham News

January 15, 2010, 6:02PM

Both sides in a legal battle involving the animal rescue agency TEARS met today in court and agreed not to touch any donated funds for now.

It was the first time the parties came together before a judge over a lawsuit alleging that the founder of The Emergency Animal Rescue Service, Terra Cotromano, may have misappropriated funds. The lawsuit, filed last month by individuals claiming to be the rightful TEARS board members, also alleges Cotromano neglected animals in TEARS’ care as the nonprofit’s executive director.

The allegations prompted the removal of more than 200 animals from the TEARS facility in Mulga. The animals were removed and medically treated beginning Dec. 31, after a judge granted a temporary restraining order against Cotromano.

Cotromano has denied the allegations. Her attorney maintained today that the individuals who brought the suit have been voted off the board by TEARS members and had no authority to fire Cotromano as executive director. That contested issue likely will be debated in the course of this case.

“We feel like these two individuals professing to be TEARS are not really TEARS,” attorney Lawden Yates Jr. said.

Also today, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Helen Shores Lee decided the case would remain in the Birmingham court division. Cotromano’s attorneys argued today — before a crowd of supporters on both sides of the issue — that the proper venue was the Bessemer division.

Meanwhile, the animal cruelty investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said he is compiling information from his investigation into an animal neglect complaint against Cotromano. The deputy, Dwight Sloan, said he plans to present the findings to the district attorney, who could decide to bring criminal charges.

The animals removed from the TEARS facility are being held at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, Birmingham-Jefferson Animal Control and at various veterinarian offices. Some are available for adoption, and a large adoption drive is in the works, said Lee Anne Bennett, one of the individuals behind the lawsuit.

© 2010





  1. murbay / Jan 27 2010 8:58 PM

    So has Terra been charged with anything yet?

    • pita7763 / Feb 1 2010 3:27 AM

      Murbay, I like you…you’re funny!

      Dwight Sloan seized either 25 or 22 dogs (one article said 25 then the next one said 22) and 6 cats from TEARS during his animal cruelty investigation. Given that, by what right did anyone have to remove the other animals that were removed that day? (And why isn’t somebody publicly demanding an answer to that question?) Last Monday in court he didn’t detail any of his findings. He just said that he was preparing the information for the D.A., who could decide if they wanted to pursue criminal charges. So as far as I can tell, Terra has not been charged with anything yet.

      Now you know what this is really about! This isn’t about Terra neglecting, being cruel, or abusing the animals at TEARS. It isn’t about Terra doing anything wrong in regard to the TEARS money. And sadly enough and more than anything, it isn’t about making sure that the animals’ best interest are served first…or at all.

      It was NEVER anything other than a plot to take Terra and TEARS down. It won’t be the first time certain groups have worked together to ruin an innocent animal rescue group and it won’t be the last time. I wonder when people are finally going to figure it out and start demanding to know why these certain groups are hell-bent on destroying animal rescue groups? Regardless of what they are wanting people to believe, they have an interest in doing this…and it has nothing to do with the animals. There are some that have been trying to tell the public that there is something seriously wrong with what is going on with these groups…but the MSM doesn’t seem to want to touch it and the public seems to just want to believe whatever they are told even when what they are shown doesn’t support the claims. I don’t know, but I think Hitler started out this way…telling everyone what to think…and they found it easier to just do that than to open their eyes and look around at all that was going on around them and start thinking for themselves that maybe they are being lied to.

      BTW, Ms. Nichols has requested that we start putting new comments on the “T.E.A.R.S. Crisis Update” page.

      • karen / Feb 23 2010 12:20 PM

        pita: I have adopted 2 of the dogs that came from Terra’s establishment. They are sisters and are as skiddish as any dog I have ever seen. At least now I know they have a GREAT home and I hope Terra is prosecuted for animal neglect because if these dogs are any indication on the other animals, then she did neglect and abuse them. That is my opinion!!!

      • pita7763 / Feb 24 2010 1:31 AM

        Karen, I think you missed the last paragraph of my email that you replied to since I stated there that Ms. Nichols had requested we start putting new comments on the “T.E.A.R.S. Crisis Update” page.

        But since you brought it up here, I’ll quickly respond (before I use up my 100 words) to it here, when did you adopt your two dogs that came from “Terra’s establishment”?

  2. Suzanna Rawlins / Jan 21 2010 1:54 PM

    As a previous Board member who resigned over the problems at TEARS several years back – I can attest that there were problems then – money wasn’t handled correctly and animals were not treated well, especially the cats. Unfortunately when I brought this up to the Board at the time (Jerry Yarley the president) the Board backed me until Terra pitched a fit and threatened them and me. They then backed down and left me to defend myself. Jerry actually met with me to tell me what was coming and suggested that I resign and walk away, which is what I did. Professionally I could no longer serve on a Board that did not manage the public’s trust and manage the finances correctly. I could not in good conscience stay. I applaud the current Board members who stood up for the animals who could not speak for themselves. A board of Directors for a non-profit organization is the governing body of the organization. The executive director reports to the Board. It is that simple. But in the case with TEARS, that was not so. Terra did everything she could to maintain control, especially over the $$. She and I locked horns numerous times because I paid the organizations bills instead of hers. So it is HIGH time for a clean up with this organization. That being said, I commend Terra for what she created with TEARS and the organizations purpose. She filled a niche that had not been addressed and was sorely needed. And in the beginning there was much good being done. But since the organization did not have the proper controls in place, it spiraled out of control. And now everyone has suffered, but most of all the ones who needed the organization the most – the animals. And that is what saddens me. It was time that the fiasco of management at TEARS was fixed and some people removed. I just hate that the animals have suffered as they have. It is so sad. But it is time for Terra to move on and let go. TEARS should be dissoved as it will forever be tainted and maybe someday a new organization can be created to fill this niche. I only hope this time it will be managed correctly.

  3. ssal / Jan 16 2010 4:25 PM






    • Victoria Nichols / Jan 16 2010 5:06 PM


  4. Victoria Nichols / Jan 15 2010 8:19 PM


    This page has become so long, with all the media accounts and comments, that a new page [‘T.E.A.R.S. Crisis Update’] found here: has been created. On the new page you will find coverage of today’s hearing by The Birmingham News.

    Thank you,
    Victoria ~

  5. Victoria Nichols / Jan 15 2010 5:18 PM

    At the hearing today, the Judge upheld the Temporary Restraing Order.

    You can read it here:

    Terra is required to comply.


  6. Nicole Self / Jan 15 2010 12:50 PM

    I haven’t seen the answer to these questions: Who is paying for the services of Allison Black Cornelius or the law firm(s) that are representing the two ‘Board members of TEARS’?

    Maybe I missed the answers to these questions?

    • Victoria Nichols / Jan 16 2010 12:58 PM

      Ms Self:

      I have just spoken with Allison, and she has given me permission to respond to your question.

      Allison Black Cornelius has been paid ten dollars by a Board Member of TEARS. Allison’s governance consultation work is being done pro bono. The work of the lawyers, representing the Board of TEARS, is pro bono.

      Victoria ~

  7. Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 13 2010 8:46 PM


    I only train and work with nonprofit boards. Blackboard does not work with for- profit boards of directors. I have had many for profit board members attend my classes, but they must be on a nonprofit organization’s board or working for a nonprofit organization to be in my retreats or in my classes. I also will not coach a for profit executive – only nonprofit or government.

    You put the group together, and either I will do it or if folks would rather someone else do it, then I will work to find someone who will.

    Thank you.

    Allison Black Cornelius
    Blackboard Consulting

  8. murbay / Jan 13 2010 3:46 PM

    Well, this sounds like fightting words and rather threatening
    Is someone going to ammend/edit this post like mine was?

    • ssal / Jan 14 2010 1:25 PM

      Murbay —

      My screen name ssal is meant to stand for Stan Spangler, ALabama. I’m co-editor of the Alabama Animal Progressive.

      Based on the names of the signers and the comments on the petition being signed now for Terra, I’m guessing you are the person from Pennsylvania.

      If you are unhappy with the editing of your comments on this site, I suggest you consider establishing your own blog or other kind of Web site which only you can edit. As long as you don’t do something like advocate violence, I will very likely link to your site from the Progressive, just as I have linked to this site.

    • ssal / Jan 14 2010 1:33 PM

      Murbay –

      My understanding is that kindredsp and Victoria Nichols are one in the same, owner of this site. So if Ms. Nichols is indeed the person who entered the above comment attributed to a rescuer from Tennessee, it seems likely that comment may not be edited.

      • murbay / Jan 14 2010 6:02 PM

        Thanks Stan for the demographics. I had no clue. My post was mild compared to the person from CraigList.
        No, I wll not be stablishing my own blog. Can you provide me a link to Al Animal Progressive?

      • ssal / Jan 14 2010 7:10 PM
      • murbay / Jan 14 2010 7:30 PM


      • ssal / Jan 14 2010 11:35 PM

        Murbay –


      • murbay / Jan 15 2010 6:36 AM

        Just a comment about some of the reports.Specifically towards the injured, bleeding dog left suffering in the cage for many hours.

      • ssal / Jan 15 2010 6:44 AM

        Murbay –

        Your comment:

        “Just a comment about some of the reports.Specifically towards the injured, bleeding dog left suffering in the cage for many hours.”

        At TEARS??

      • murbay / Jan 15 2010 6:52 AM

        No, at BCJ Animal Control Services

  9. Victoria Nichols / Jan 13 2010 1:30 PM


    “I forgot to grant my permission in the original email for you to use my POST

    on Craig’s List in whatever manner you see fit but I hereby do so now.

    In addition I wish to make a statement for you to use at your
    discretion-omitting my name for privacy sake–which I hope will straighten
    a few misconceptions out and “kill” the deliberately misleading information
    that is being disseminated about me. to further Terra’s cause and harm the
    Board of TEARS.

    Prior to my contacting both the Board and Terra, I have never spoken to nor
    met ANY of the parties involved in this dispute. I do not know any of them
    personally beyond my slight involvement w/the TEARS situation. NO ONE has
    EVER been to my home/rescue facility so any comments or observations as to
    it’s physical state are complete fabrications. Since I live at the end of a
    deadend road and ALL 13 acres of my property is fenced with a 16 foot locked

    gate across the drive, it is impossible for anyone to “drive by” and see my
    property. Furthermore, the physical layout of the land precludes getting a
    shot from elsewhere.

    To put the transportation brouhaha into the proper context let me tell you
    exactly what took place (since apparently the Terra supporters and media are

    convinced that I “threw 3 poor little dogs onto the back of a pickup truck
    and carted them off in 15 degree weather to freeze either enroute or up in
    the wilds of Tennessee” while :covering them with a tarp(obviously to hide
    my cruelty). What actually took place was: I was told I would be
    transporting primarily small dogs back. However there was the chance that
    there was still some small livestock on the property and since I live on a
    farm I might be able to help with that as well.
    I brought 10 small crates with me in the cab of my quad cab F 350 for the
    dogs and two crates large enough to hold goats , etc. in the Fback. When I
    got there, Most of the small dogs had already been moved but there was a
    great need for some of the large/midsize dogs. I agreed to take 1 midsize
    dog into the truck cab and 2 larger dogs into the crates on the back. I then

    covered the entire hard sided crate with a tarp to keep the wind off on the
    return trip. I went over to Oxmoor Road Vet clinic to pick up the midsize
    dog where the status of the larger dogs was checked. I also stopped 3 times
    during the 2 1/2 hour trip to make sure that the dogs on back were
    adequately covered and were in good health.
    Upon arrival, I was met by a fellow rescuer who took the midsize dog and one

    of the larger dogs to her home where they were boarded in kennels in her
    basement. I took the remaining dog to my home where he was boarded in my
    garage for the night and went into a 12X10 pen –alone–during the day. This

    is still true. Two of the dogs have been placed and will go to their new
    family this Saturday . The 3rd will go to our adoption event this Saturday
    for his debut. We will furnish all vaccinations and arrange for spay/neuter
    since this was not originally done.
    It never ceases to amaze me that people will vilify anyone who disagrees
    with their position to justify their own “sins”. Perhaps they would rather I

    had left the dogs to sit out in the 15 degree weather night and day in hopes

    that they would be watered and fed until SOMEDAY SOMEONE maybe adopted them?

    Or maybe they would have just given up hope and frozen to death in the
    appalling conditions that existed in TEARS.
    Was the back of the truck my preferable mode of transport–no. But it was
    equivalent or better than the dog boxes hunters use throughout the winter to

    transport their dogs and I don’t see anyone vilifying them! People are
    letting their emotions and their “loyalties ” override what is right and
    what is practical in what has become an “Us vs. Them” fight and it is WRONG
    to forget that when all is said and done -whatever mistakes were made by
    BOTH sides–it is the animals that suffered and the public trust that was

    Please feel free to make any and all of Terra’s so called supporters aware
    that the slander and libel laws are still alive and well in both Tennessee
    and Alabama.”

  10. Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 13 2010 11:54 AM

    Ms. Kelevee:

    I have provided the answer as stated by the health professionals that were present at the site. I have done this many times. Dr. Pelham reiterated that answer again at the press conference. Following the press conference, and once the cold snap prediction was made public, a veterinarian went to the site and answered the question again both for the board members and volunteers at the site and for the people at the site who said they needed to know for Ms. Cotromano (I do not like to use the term “sides”).

    You may not agree with their answers or the assessments that led to why they recommended removal, but they have more than provided patient and repetitive answers to that same question to anyone that has asked.

    As to the person on this post that emailed me separately regarding the bankruptcy mentioned above and the past revenues. I have no information relating to a bankruptcy filing. Additionally, I have no way to provide information as to how the $475,544.00 in 2005, the $219,561.00 in 2006, and the $227,550 in 2007 was utilized other than what is available to view. I cannot provide any links or answers to 2008 since no 990 is on file. And there would be no reason that the 2009 990 would be on file since it is not yet due. Finally, the fees for service of approximately $30,000 in 2005 and $35,700 in 2006 are just that. I have no way to know for what service.

    I wish I could answer more of your specific questions but time does not allow it. I would suggest again that some of you go to the Alabama Association of Nonprofits website (formerly the Nonprofit Resource Center of Alabama) and look at their training calendar and take some of their workshops to familarize yourself with best practices for nonprofit organizations.

    Or, if a group of you who serve on nonprofit boards or who run a nonprofit wish to take a workshop on roles and responsibilities of nonprofit boards, best practices for nonprofit organizations – I will be glad to teach it pro bono or find someone who will.

    Thank you.

    Allison Black Cornelius
    BlackBOARD Consulting

    • ssal / Jan 13 2010 1:26 PM

      Does the offer in your last paragraph by any chance extend to “not-for-profit” boards?

  11. Andrea daVinci Braun / Jan 13 2010 11:30 AM

    Stu Johnson said it all, when he said, “Terra is the HERO, NOT the villain!”
    What these people are doing to that woman, who has dedicated her life to the care and well-being of animals, is unconscionable!!
    How many of them can hundreds of people say that about?!?!
    Let her get back to her passion and the babies who love and trust her!!

  12. kindredspiritus / Jan 13 2010 12:39 AM

    Posted on Craig’s List 01-12-10

    I am not a board member nor do I even live in the same state, but I too saw the conditions–and spoke to Terra on the phone so I think I can be fairly unbiased. The night I spoke to Terra she had difficulty speaking clearly. She slurred her words and seemed to have difficulty with completing sentences. One thing she did not have a problem with was accusing the head of the local Humane Society of using the board to put TEARS out of business for their own benefit (I believe she referred to the dilution of the donation pool) and the fact that she and the board did not agree on the group’s mission. She indicated the group started out as a traumatic rescue group where only traumatically injured animals were rescued while the group’s board wanted to rescue uninjured animals. She also stated that the board was “out to get her”.
    The board’s position, as explained to me was that rescue of animals was their first concern and that the way the current rescued animals were being cared for was unacceptable–hence the “takeover”. I am not privy to any accusations of impropriety with funding or expenditures and it is none of my business.

    When I arrived at the TEARS facility I witnessed pens made of cattle panels-overlapped or wrapped with chicken wire to prevent escape. There were also some chain link pens and some made out of various types of wires. The pens were spread amongst the trees haphazardly with dirt floors. Twenty to thirty dogs were in some of the pens-unsegregated by sex-intact males in with females and other intact males. Large dogs in with smaller dogs from 30 to 50 pounds. Has anyone ever witnessed a dog fight involving more than 2 dogs? I can assure you that with that many animals in one pen, mixed by sexes and sizes, somebody sooner or later died or was badly injured. Pack instinct kicks in at that point and whoever is on bottom WILL NOT SURVIVE.

    The whole purpose of a rescue is to better the lives of the animals it houses-not put small dogs in danger from larger ones. expose females to males, and allow dozens of dogs to fight to the death. Speaking of housing, there were numerous containers on the property-not necessarily dog houses but other structures and boxes,etc. that the dogs were expected to use as shelter. The problem is -again- with those large numbers concentrated in certain areas and alpha dogs in with timid dogs-some were not allowed in. It was obvious that attempts had been made to provide tarps to assist in shelters but it was equally obvious that the sheer numbers did not allow practical and adequate housing to prevail. While I am sympathetic with Terra’s attempts to cover everyone, with her years of experience she should have known that she couldn’t handle that number properly and that all would sffer for her inability to arrive at point of maximum absorption and refuse to take more than she could realistically provide for and house. The truth is -as much as we would all like to – you cannot save them all. So you do the best you can for as many as you can -you don’t take the position that as long as the get food and water they are OK–they aren’t.

    As to food and water, they did all look adequately fed, but with everything frozen’ water had to be transported. Not very practical for almost 300 animals total when you have limited staff and funds.
    I cannot begin to imagine the horror of the smell and insect infestation involved in watching 200 dogs defecate in 90 degree heat during the summer! With that many dogs constantly running around, the dirt floors had to become mud in the summer rain and heat. I know this was probably true because pieces of dry wall had been thrown down inside the pens to walk on what must have been the worst areas. Do you know what the Gypsum in drywall does to a dogs sensitive pads after it has been wet and walked on? It isn’t good! How about the ticks since the area was heavily wooded? I cannot even conceive how these animals could have been kept parasite and insect free under the third world conditions they were living in. Do I think it was done with malice-no. That doesn’t change the facts. Terra had a responsibility as an adult and with respect to her official position to know when to say” NO” , no matter how difficult, to additional animals once she reached a realistic limit–she chose not to do so. Consequently, ALL the animals suffered as the quality of their lives decreased.

    Should the board have stepped in–YES-probably long befor they did. At that moment, the politics became unimportant. Yet Terra’s supporters stood around either filming what they deemed inappropriate treatment or arguing “positions” as the board members and their volunteers tried to move the animals out. I sincerely hope they caught the full, unopened, sealed bottle of vodka on their film that was sitting out under the trees alongside the abandoned milkcartons of water. None of the board members seemed to know whose it was!
    Regardless of good intentions, it is clear to me that Terra let the situation get beyond her control and beyond what she as one person could handle. Should the board have helped her more? Perhaps. Or had they told her not to continue to take animals and she did anyway? Who knows. But one thing I do know is she KNEW she couldn’t take care of that many properly w/o board support so it was her responsibility either to ask the board to come out and see what the situation was and help her to reduce the numbers to a figure she COULD handle or to resign or go to the media in protest of their refusal to offer such help. She did neither. She allowed herself to become a martyr for HER cause and the animals suffered.

    • Stu Johnson / Jan 13 2010 9:40 AM

      Kinspirit- you are mostly right, however, the financial pressures that you don’t know about forced Terra to make choices on a minute-to-minute basis that are cruel to her!For example, she was forced by a vet to take a mother w/ litter in exchange for credit terms to care for a severely injured dog. Dogs were dumped on the street in front of Tears- what was she to do? She and her hourly workers routinely went weeks w/o pay when donations dried up in early 2008- TEARS was bankrupt, yet the BOD did not react. And when the workers went home at 5-6pm, Terra was still there, overnight, by herself, caring for the sick, yes, breaking up fights, doing it all.
      If Alabama wants a rescue organization,And a low-kill shelter for strays, the People must step forward. TERRA is a Hero, not the villan!!

      • kindredspiritus / Jan 13 2010 10:06 AM

        Hi Stu,

        Just a small clarification to your post. I did not write the post to which your post refers. It was posted on Craig’s List anonymously.

        I shared it here because as I read it, I could visualize the scene. And, I hoped as others read it, they could gain some insight into the situation.

        Your post has provided insight, also.

        I’ve experienced something interesting through this ‘thread’: even if we don’t all agree, we can still learn something.


  13. Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 12 2010 10:50 PM

    Ms. Kennedy:

    If you do not mind – can you email me at my private email address so that I can verify with you that the palce that I have Diablo at – matches where you have been told? You do not have to do this, I just want to be sure so that I know you have the correct information.

    Thank you.

    Allison Black Cornelius

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 16 2010 3:39 AM

      Ms Allison,

      Regarding post #102, I’m not quite sure why you want me to e-mail you privately in order to verify where Diablo is being held. There are only two places he Could be, right? Aren’t you allowed to answer any legitimate questions on this board? If he is up for adoption, it should be public information, or possibly posted on their websites, I believe.

      Other than that, I do not have your private e-mail address, ;-) If you can post it here, I’ll be happy to send you a private e-mail.



  14. Stu Johnson / Jan 12 2010 10:49 PM

    Folks, I just got back to town after cancer treatments in Houston forced me to stop working at TEARS last April. What has happened sickens me, not because I’ve always agreed w/ Terra’s decisions about the way things were run, but because of the wonderful, loving animals who, despite the abuse and cruelty most had endured before being rescued by Terra, had so much love, excitement and sheer joy at being alive! The BOD wouldn’t know about that, because in the six months I was there, they never once visited the facility!I’m afraid for the lives of many of the dogs- how long will they be kept alive by the other places?

    • kelevee / Jan 12 2010 11:48 PM

      And I am the one, obviously pointed out, who still wonders why were all the animals removed. If I can’t ask this question, and I haven’t received a reasonable answer from Ms Black Cornelius, I apologize. I don’t really expect to receive an answer here, just stating my opinion. But,again, I just don’t get it – as to WHY animals had to be removed in an emergency-like removal. In addition,the plight of individual rescuers and other organizations is to search on a daily basis for placement of animals in danger of being killed in public shelters or abusive situations with few, or NO place available or offers of safe keeping. To place this many animals in a safe haven, so quickly, is a feat I am just interested in learning ….how do u do it?

  15. kindredspiritus / Jan 12 2010 8:54 PM


    Danyell Jackson’s Incident Report has been added to the site.


    • ssal / Jan 12 2010 9:11 PM

      My WORD program won’t open it.

      • kindredspiritus / Jan 12 2010 9:58 PM

        If you double-click on the link, a box should come-up asking if you want to open or save. Clicking ‘open’ should open the document.


  16. murbay / Jan 12 2010 8:06 PM

    This is the third time that I have seen TEARS and Terra gone under fire. I have only heard of Tears for 3 years. Must be the season.
    Btw the 2 people who had those written reports. One said he shot to the ground the other into the air.

  17. kindredspiritus / Jan 12 2010 7:45 PM


    A statement by Danyell Jackson, dated 12-14-09, has been added to the site.


  18. Mallorie Thomas / Jan 12 2010 6:59 PM

    I have read these comments posted here and sat on my hands long enough. Most of you here know me as the Cruelty Investigator for TEARS for many many years. Due to my declining health I had to cut back a lot of my time and dedication to TEARS. I have known Terra Cotromano for more years than I can count. I was with her long before TEARS was even incorporated in Aug of 1998. We have laughed together, cried together and cussed together more times than I can remember and one thing about her is always on the forefront. Her never ending quest to help an animal in need. I have no knowledge of any money issues so I cannot address that, but as far as her abusing or neglecting an animal….I can assure you that would never intentionally take place. If what I have read in the news and heard on TV is correct, only about 6 or 7 of the dogs have required “treatment”. Is that true? Well…let’s see…TEARS is an emergency animal rescue service. We have rescued dogs in conditons that vary from a little bit thin to ones that have been set on fire (more than once),shot in the face (Diamond), their tongues chopped off with swords (the Oneonta case), etc . SO at any given time, there would understandably be dogs in varying conditions of health. It’s a RESCUE people…we don’t get dogs from groomers that come to us in 100% great condition. It takes a long time for a starved dog to pick up weight or a mange dog to grow hair back to be able to be considerd healthy. Wouldn’t it have been a little bit concerning if they went in there and none of the dogs looked “bad”?? They have been rescued, it is a given some “looked bad”.
    The Terra Cotromano I know would never allow what has been alleged against her to happen at TEARStown. I just hope the truth does come out at the hearing Friday, regardless of who is at fault, I do feel she has been targeted long enough and it needs to stop. All the emails going back and forth pointing fingers at board members and volunteers is embarrassing to be honest. Hopefully it will stop Friday.

  19. kindredspiritus / Jan 12 2010 5:25 PM


    The Temporary Restraining Order, Summons, and Complaint have been added to the site.

    Each has their own page under the ‘T.E.A.R.S. Crisis’ banner on the home page.

    That is to say, when you click on ‘T.E.A.R.S. Crisis,’ there is a ‘drop-down’ that displays the names of additional pages. Click on the page you wish to open.


  20. kindredspiritus / Jan 12 2010 12:34 PM


    David Young’s Incident Report and Statement to Officer have been added to this site.


    • ssal / Jan 12 2010 5:08 PM

      What is the Friday court hearing about? The “attack” on Mr. Young?

  21. Joanne Kennedy / Jan 11 2010 7:06 PM

    Oh GOOD! Now I can go to my Dr. Appt in the morning and still have plenty of time to get to the hearing, :-)

    Wow, this blog hjas bee quiet today. I wonder if it has anything to do with Ms Allison being gone?

    I can’t help but wonder what the hearing on 1/15/10 is about if there have been no “charges?” Guess I’ll have to wait to hear from Terra again…

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 11 2010 7:07 PM

      Oops! I can’t spell any better than I can speak! Sorry about the above typos everyone.

  22. kindredspiritus / Jan 11 2010 12:51 PM


    Please be aware of the time-change for the hearing.

    The time has been changed to 3 PM.


  23. Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 11 2010 8:24 AM

    Ms. Kennedy:

    This will be my last post for awhile as I am out of town for a few days with other clients.

    There would be no way Ms. Cotromano could be found guilty or not guilty of anything. She has not been charged with anything.

    As to the question about the cat video being released and pictures not being released – that is a good question.

    The video was shot by a volunteer in November. It was not shot by law enforcement.

    There have been many people who have commented on the conditions at TEARS prior to December 30th and December 30-present. Every person has an opinion as I stated in comment 80 above. Keep in mind that “condition” is inclusive of many things.

    I am glad you got an answer to Diablo. If any of you have any further questions that need an answer it will have to come to my email or be called into my phone which I have supplied to everyone on every email list I have received.

    Thank you.
    Allison Black Cornelius

  24. Joanne Kennedy / Jan 10 2010 10:03 PM

    Murbay, If this is a response to my post #78 then I will tell you that, to my knowledge, there are no other “no kill” shelters in the area. In fact, I believe that the different “Rescue” organizations are the only facilities that are no kill, and some of them have had to change their policy at times. TEARS is a rescue, technically, and is not classified as a shelter. I don’t know how many of the dogs were taken to the two shelters and how many were taken by rescue groups, if any, to be held until this whole thing goes to court. Legally, none of the animals can be Euth because they are still the property of TEARS, until a judge awards them to whatever shelters they are at when all is said and done. If Terra is found ‘not guilty’ of the charges against her, I think the animals have to be returned to TEARS property. The “conditions” out there are not nearly as bad as some people are saying, as far as being filthy, unsanitary, stinky, etc. What is devastating, to me, is driving out there and finding all of the yards empty, and not knowing how the animals are being treated wherever they are now. Have you clicked on kindridspirit’s name and checked out the ‘Higher Ground Animal Advocacy’ website yet? There are some eye opening articles about BJC on there from 3 yrs ago, or more! Things haven’t changed much at that facility either! I just hope and pray that NONE of the dogs being held there get euthanized there – it sounds horrible!!!

  25. murbay / Jan 10 2010 6:09 PM

    “Also, the video does not go into the situation of the other animals. There are about 200 dogs shoved into 15 pens. They are fighting each other constantly, ripping each other apart. She just stands and watches. A lot of the dogs are unaltered, one dog was pregnant that we found. Many of the dogs have been untreated for weeks, months. She refused to feed them so they are probably all going to starve to death from now on.”
    This is just a copy and paste from a Rachel Warnes. I would think that if videos were made available about the cats it would also be made public pictures of injured dogs. It is not some perverse tendency on my part.
    “No Kill” means to me that no animals are euth if they are not adopted by a certain date like many pounds do on a daily and regular basis. I think most people think of it the same way.
    Are there any other no kill shelters in that area. By that I mean that lets say in 5 days if noone claims the dog is euth.
    How long do the dogs have at GBHS?

  26. Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 10 2010 5:46 PM

    Ms. Kennedy:

    The situation mentioned in your last posting is outlined in a police report filed by Mr. Young December 14, 2009. There are many details of what happened that night in the report. Perhaps the manager of this site can post it and the one from December 16th as well.

    Allison Black Cornelius

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 10 2010 10:56 PM


      I hope the manager of this site can & will post it. Since Mr. Young is a volunteer for TEARS, not a police officer, wouldn’t this report be accessible to any of us? There was another report filed on Dec 16, 2009 as well? Interesting! Now I’m very curious!

      Thank you for this information.

      Joanne Kennedy

  27. Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 10 2010 5:44 PM

    Site Manager:

    I think it would be very helpful for Dr. Monoghan or another veterinarian knowledgable about the term “no kill” to write an article on the subject either for this site or for any site.

    I keep seeing the term used incorrectly. Just a suggestion.

    Thank you.

    Allison Black Cornelius

  28. Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 10 2010 5:41 PM


    I did not mean to imply that you should not ask any question – I just mean that this question –
    1)According to Alabama law, has there been any cruelty to animals at TEARS?
    should be answered by appropriate people in order to protect the reputation, due process, freedom, and rights of those involved. Especially Ms. Cotromano and all members of this board.

    I think a better question for a lawyer who might add to people’s understanding on this site — is to answer hypothetically

    “What actions by an organization or individual would result in a cruelty charge according to Alabama law and/or what actions by an individual or organization would result in a neglect charge according to Alabama law, and not put the TEARS name in it.

    Because as soon as some well meaning barrister does answer it that way – then he/she will continue the unproductive side of the dialogue.

    And again, I say this sincerely, because in 20 years of this profession I have never worked on a situation that had this much misinformation, speculation and misunderstanding.

    As I understand it cruelty and neglect are different but I am not a lawyer.

    I think your second question was great and would love to see neglect added.

    I am very gald to see all of your questions and comments.

    As to your question about censorship… I can answer questions about this situation as long as I am providing facts that have been confirmed. And I can answer questions people ask me about the roles of board and staff. Oddly enough, the people who are upset don’t ask specific questions which could be easily answered along with independently verifiable resources. They choose to believe that many of the facts are opinions made up by board members and disgruntled citizens or leaders. Most of the problems (if not all) that caused this event are in the public record.

    I won’t speculate on this client or case so if someone asked me to give an opinion of what will result from this – I would not do that.

    I have also noticed that when we do provide an answer to a question, the same people who receive it will keep repeating the question at this and other sites as if it has never been addressed. An example would be the question about why dogs and cats were removed and not treated on site.

    We have had four vets (one at a press conference), two volunteers who work at the property and have for years, two board members, a lawyer and me answer the question once for all media and numerous times on the internet. But there are about 5 people who keep repeating the question. They must not have been outside this week is all I can figure.

    Another question they keep repeating is why no pictures – even though both the attorney and law enforcement as well as the whole assessment team have repeated that the pictures are in the posession of law enforcement – as it should be. They are investigating a charge and are not in the habit of sharing their information with the public, me, the lawyers, or anyone else before they are finished. Thank goodness. To do otherwise would be unprofessional.

    A final issue that has many of my peers amazed (and several funders who have emailed me)is the people who continue to want to see evidence of or a picture of mangled, starving, or bleeding animals.

    I think this attitude has revealed a side of this that many did not know existed.
    And in a way that this movement may have to answer to somewhat.

    I have suggested to this site’s manager as well as the many other animal people that have contacted me that this situation may show a need to convene people to discuss what it is we (as animal advocates) want to say to our community about how animals are housed, medically treated, and handled when in the care of a nonprofit or for profit entity.

    I have seen several postings that seem to indicate that some of these advocates see no reason for anyone to intervene as long as cats and dogs are not mangled, starving, thirsty or bleeding. Numbers of animals, their medical condition, their groupings, their sanitation, their ventilation are not as critical? Stewardship of the resources donated or contracted for their care – not that important?

    I don’t think we want to say that.

    But really it is not mine to say alone. Hopefully, a diverse group of caring animal advocates and compassionate leaders (not that the two are exclusive :) will meet when this is over and look at the many gaps this case has exposed. With a well thought out strategy and measurable outcomes and well placed passion – we can make things much better for all the stakeholders.

    Allison Black Cornelius

  29. murbay / Jan 10 2010 3:52 PM

    So are there any other no kill shelters in that area?
    Good job on all dead bent on getting TEARS closed down. Some have been working on it for years. If these dogs hav no other no kill shelter to go to where have you send them.
    I hope you all sleep well!

  30. Joanne Kennedy / Jan 10 2010 3:43 PM

    I just spoke to Terra & she told me that to her knowledge, ALL of the dogs, with the exception of her personal four dogs, were removed yesterday. She has no idea which facility they were taken taken to though. The remaining cats, to her knowledge, were all removed yesterday as well.

    I also asked her about a dog being shot by any officer during the “investigation” and she said, “No, no, NO! Absolutely Not! None of the officers that were involved with the investigation shot a gun at any time.” Then she said, “There was a man named David Young of Mustang Engineering who feel the need to always carry a gun for some reason, and he did shoot his gun but it was into the ground, not at a dog.” When questioned by Terra as to WHY he shot his gun he said, “the dog had his mouth on my leg and I was afraid he would bite me, so I fired my gun into the ground and the dog went away.” Terra also said that whenever a person shoots into the ground to scare a dog, there is a 2% chance that the dog will run into the path of the bullet and that was too big of a percentage for her. I agree!

    Diablo was taken to one of the shelters so I believe he is safe, for the time being anyway. Terra said she would call me tomorrow evening, so if there is anything you want me to ask, send me a pm and I’ll find out what I can. We didn’t talk long today because she is just emotionally drained & was on the verge of tears during our whole conversation.

  31. murbay / Jan 10 2010 7:58 AM

    I am still asking for pictures of the mangled, injured dogs.

    • kindredspiritus / Jan 10 2010 11:23 AM

      Dear All:

      I know this is a heated discussion.

      Everyone is free to express their opinions about the issue.

      Threats will not be allowed here.

      Blog Owner-

      • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 10 2010 4:18 PM


        I’m not sure what you’re referring to as a “threat” but I really don’t think any of us bloggers have intended for anything we’ve said to be “threatening.” Personally, I don’t even consider this “a heated discussion.” It is lively, to be sure, but so far everyone seems to be quite civil…and reserved too! :-)

        On that note, I would personally like to compliment your website. Anyone who has NOT visited it would probably be pleasantly surprised to see all of the information (news articles, etc.) that are posted there. I had no idea BJC was in the condition it is apparently in, nor how LONG it has been in that condition. I’ve never been there, but now I’d like to make a trip over there and see for myself.

        Thank you again.

        Joanne Kennedy

  32. Joanne Kennedy / Jan 9 2010 11:18 PM


    For your clairification: NO, I do not believe that any animal can be “legally” neglected. In my post regarding this hypothetical question, I said, “IF any of the allegations against Terra are TRUE…” My sentence plainly shows that I do not believe any of the allegations against Terra are true. JMHO.

    While I can agree with the “definition” posted about neglect being abusive, cruelty being abusive, etc. I do believe that if someone is convicted of neglect for not properly maintaining a sick animal, and someone else is convicted of abuse for using an animal as a “bait” dog, for instance, the people being charged will end up with different “sentences” and/or paying different fines.

    Yes, “vetted” means seen by and treated by a licensed Veterinarian.

  33. Joanne Kennedy / Jan 9 2010 10:25 PM

    ssal :Ms. Kennedy:
    Just seeking clarification: Are you saying you in fact think animals may well have been (legally) neglected at TEARS? (Note the use of the word “neglect” in the definition of “cruelty” shown below in the Jan 9, 5:03 pm comment by kindredsp.
    Also, what do you mean by “vetted”? (Seen by a veterinarian?)

  34. murbay / Jan 9 2010 7:24 PM

    Allison, please bear with me and at this point I am not real sure how reasonable I am anymore. I live far from Alabama. I have known of TEARS for about 3 years ago. They rescued an old, starved dear horse named Eagle I have been his fan since then. Eagle in spite of his years recovered and doing well. I have seen the “powers” in Alabama go after Terra and trying to discredit her at least on 2 different occasions that I am aware. There has been lots of mud swinging from one individual involved with Jacque against TEARS. There has been what seems to be vendetta against Terra by the GBHS for a long time. They are again involved.
    In corporation not one person has control over what happens thus a BOD. A president can be removed from office if they are not abiding by the mission/vision/philosophy/bylaws/policies, etc. To accuse someone of animal abuse I have known to have gone the extra mile for an old broken down horse is beyond comprehension.
    I have to tell you I am a very pragmatic, matter of fact person that most times takes nothing at face value and this does not make sense. Things have to make sense otherwise something is terribly off.

  35. Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 9 2010 5:22 PM

    Ms. Kennedy: I can give you information about a dog that fits some of your description (silver, very unique, with steel blue eyes). I also have information about the dog in the picture. There was no dog shot on the property while the assessment team and law enforcement were there. Since law enforcement left, I have no information of a shot being fired on the property from either the volunteers who have been on site or from law enforcement. It is up to law enforcement to gather their information (which they did) and then make a final report and recommendation for action. In my experience with law enforcement professionals, they release very little information to any entity until they have concluded their investigation. The board members have heard only that they are still gathering information and of course, they are cooperating when asked. As of this time, no animals have been euthanized – which I explained earlier. While it would have been preferable to isolate the cats on site and attempt to treat them, the weather removed that option and after receiving information from a veterinarian and two volunteers on site who work with the cats, the decision was made to get them to stable and warm quarters. As of today, every cat will be removed. Every dog but one, with the exception of those attached to the trailer in which Ms. Cotromano is located – have also been placed. As of the last check, a single dog remains on site that could not be caught. All animals were photographed, checked by veterinarians, logged onto sheets, and tagged. Thank you. Allison Black Cornelius

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 9 2010 11:32 PM


      I would very much appreciate any information you can give me about the dog with the blue eyes, who could possibly be Diablo. Can you tell me if he is still alive? If so, is he up for adoption? Where is he being held at this time and can I go see him?

      Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to look for Diablo. I look forward to getting more information on him.

      Joanne Kennedy

      • Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 10 2010 11:56 AM

        Ms. Kennedy: There was a dog at the property. It was a very unique dog and many people commented on him/her. It was silver and had very blue eyes. I have called the woman that first remarked about him/her to me and am now following up with her to find out where that dog was placed once he/she was identified by the veterinarians. I am also trying to find out if I can somehow get a picture. If the dog was not part of the sheriff part – then I can get a picture. If he/she was – they will not give me a picture I dont think. But I am trying.

        Alison Black Cornelius

  36. murbay / Jan 9 2010 5:04 PM

    I understand that the investigation has nothing to do with public commnents. That is just common sense. My only contention has been that I have not seen any pictures that show any dogs mangled, injured, dirty, skinny, etc. Unfortunately I have seen too many pictures of abused and neglected animals to be able to tell the difference.
    A BOD of any org makes decisions on how moneys are spent and disbursed. They have control over conditions and numbers of animals in any facility. If they do not then they have not been doing their jobs. Is just the nature of the beast.

    • Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 9 2010 5:33 PM


      You seem very reasonable.

      May I ask you a hypothetical question?

      In the event that a board of directors is unable to do those things you mention, what would you think would be a reasonable thing for them to do?

      Thank you.

      Allison Black Cornelius

  37. kindredspiritus / Jan 9 2010 5:03 PM

    From the Alabama Pet protection Law Definitions section:

    (b) The word “cruel” as used in this article shall mean: Every act, omission, or neglect, including abandonment, where unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering, including abandonment, is caused or where unnecessary pain or suffering is allowed to continue.

  38. kindredspiritus / Jan 9 2010 1:18 PM

    The investigation is not based on public comments or public information, alone.

    From the TEARS press release:
    “Additional comments may be obtained by speaking with any member of the animal assessment team on site. Due to the investigation in progress comments may be limited.”

  39. ssal / Jan 9 2010 11:35 AM

    Two different but related questions to all who are following this matter:

    Presumably, much more information will about this matter will eventually come out.
    But for now the only publicly available direct quotes that I am aware of made by any of the four most expert persons (Dr. Pelham, Dr. Monaghan, Ms. Meyer, and Ms. Gilbert) who worked the scene at TEARS are the comments reportedly made by Dr. Pelham and Ms. Meyer as shown above in my note to murbay, kindredsp, and kelevee (posted at 5:00 pm on Jan 8) and in my “reply” immediately following that note.

    Based on those quotes, and assuming they represent the worst that can be said about the situation:

    1) According to Alabama law, has there been any cruelty to animals at TEARS?

    2) If there were no Alabama animal cruelty law in existence at all, has there been anything that would, in your opinion, amount to any cruelty to animals there?

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 9 2010 2:59 PM


      Your two questions, you state, are “Based on those quotes, and assuming they represent the worst that can be said about the situation.” My answer to both questions is an emphatic “No!” IF the allegations, against Terra, were TRUE, I believe the only charge Law Enforcement would be able to come up with would be “Neglect.” In reality, the sick cats was a result of the BOD refusing to allow these animals to get vetted! The BOD was/is responsible for releasing funds to do whatever needed to be done for ALL of the animals at TEARS.

      • ssal / Jan 9 2010 8:01 PM

        Ms. Kennedy:

        Just seeking clarification: Are you saying you in fact think animals may well have been (legally) neglected at TEARS? (Note the use of the word “neglect” in the definition of “cruelty” shown below in the Jan 9, 5:03 pm comment by kindredsp.

        Also, what do you mean by “vetted”? (Seen by a veterinarian?)

    • Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 9 2010 5:26 PM

      SSAL: I am not sure to whom your two questions are directed. I feel fairly certain that veterinarians are not on this site.

      The first question can only be answered by a judge and or jury.

      The second would of course, depend on who you asked.

      Thank you.

      Allison Black Cornelius

      • ssal / Jan 9 2010 8:07 PM

        Ms. Cornelius:

        Relative to your statement “I am not sure to whom your two questions are directed.”:
        As I was trying to indicate in the very first sentence, the questions are directed to “all who are following this matter,” (not just veterinarians.) Again, that’s “all people who are following this matter.” Obviously, only people who feel like providing a written response will do so.

        Relative to your statement, “The first question can only be answered by a judge and jury,”:
        While it is true the most important answer may come from a judge and jury, anybody is free to form an opinion and state it. (With luck, a knowledgeable attorney might read the question and write something in response that is useful to all of us.) If you meant to indicate I shouldn’t have asked that question, I respectfully disagree.

        Thank you for your response.

      • ssal / Jan 9 2010 9:08 PM

        Ms. Cornelius:

        Please also note the request I just posted for clarification of a sentence in your 12:33 pm January 6, 2010 post.


  40. murbay / Jan 9 2010 5:53 AM

    Is this the dog? I would like to know what happened to this dog?

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 9 2010 6:25 AM

      Oops! Sorry Murbay, I didn’t realize you had already posted this picture. I’m also sorry to say that this is Not Diablo. He is larger than this dog and has blue eyes. He also has more silver color in his coat. Diablo would not be standing calmly by the fence either while all those people swooped in for their surprise “invasion.”

  41. murbay / Jan 9 2010 5:02 AM

    Joanne, Is Diable the malamute/huskey type that I was told was shot. If so I may have a picture of him. Let me know. I will be off for a while

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 9 2010 6:11 AM

      Yes Diablo is, or was, a large Malamute/Husky x that seems to be “missing.” IMHO, that sort of information should NOT be kept from the public. That’s why I asked about an “incident report” being filed. I had two uncles that were cops and I heard plenty of “shop talk” about crime scenes, etc. I would just like to know if Dwight Sloan was telling the truth when he said “no animals will be euthanized…”

      If you have a pic, I will be able to identify if it is Diablo. Thanks.

  42. Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 9 2010 12:52 AM

    Ms. Kennedy:

    I have not found any information on a dog named Diablo at this time. If you have a picture, could you please send it to me and I will continue to help.

    Thank you.
    Allison Black Cornelius

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 9 2010 1:36 AM

      No, I do not have a picture of Diablo. However, if the “powers that be” have kept ANY kind of records, every dog that left the TEARS property SHOULD have been logged AND had a digital pic taken of it…before it gets lost in the shuffel, (the dog, Not the paperwork).

      Thank you for asking, but I think I will find out more if I research on my own.

      Joanne Kennedy

  43. murbay / Jan 8 2010 7:14 PM

    I would think that without testing the cats to see if it is viral or bacterial infection would be hard to tell what they have. I would think that the cats if indeed all infected they would be on antibiotics. JMHO

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 9 2010 1:45 AM


      When I was out at TEARS I did not go into the cat facility, but was told there were still several cats in the building. I was surprised because the statement by one of the vets, Dr. Phelam, I think, said that they should be quarantined where they were and all treated for UR since they had all been “exposed.” Some of the statements that have been made on this blog are just blatant lies, but I will try to get more information over the weekend.

  44. murbay / Jan 8 2010 7:00 PM

    I have contacte HSUS and waiting for a response. I am sorry but I don’t take people’s word. I did not see any feces in that yard, the dogs all looked healthy. Where are the injured and mangled dogs? I saw a couple of cats with URIs. Other than that it looked fine.
    Jaque has been after Terra for a long time. Just becuase someone is a vet does not mean that they are beyond reproach.
    Sorry but it has been cold and muddy everywhere.
    Show me the money!!!

    • kelevee / Jan 8 2010 7:04 PM

      Murbay: Have you heard from HSUS or AL Rep. Mindy Gilbert?

      • murbay / Jan 8 2010 7:08 PM


      • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 9 2010 1:20 AM

        I have a feeling that murbay won’t hear back from HSUS or Mindy Gilbert. Not sure if you’re aware of the “Eagle” case from over 3 yrs ago, but he was the 35 yr old horse that TEARS rescued off the streets in Jefferson Co. rehabbed, then was ordered to return him to previous owner. There were a bunch of “shady” goings on at that time, and HUNDREDS of very concerned animal advocates from all over the US concerned for the horse’s welfare. At the time, Jaque Meyer “reported” many things to the public, (on the GBHS website), that were simply NOT TRUE. Wnen I called her on some of the things she said, she ignored me completely. She didn’t even have the common courtesy to email me privately, let alone on a public forum! She knew that I knew she was lying because SHE was NOT where she told the public she was! I only know this for certain because I WAS THERE! I have a disc full of pics to prove it too, so I really don’t care if she denies my accusations or not. When she ignored my first email, I emailed her again and got a response from someone else. I believe it was from Mindy Gilbert, but would not swear to that. I’ll have to go back into my “Eagle” files and see if I saved it.

        My point is that I don’t think any of us will get actual facts from the people who are making all the “official” statements right now.

        I went to TEARS two days after the supposed investigation was was completed and saw several vehicles and several people standing around talking. Two ladies had dogs on vet leads outside of the fenced area where some of the remaining dogs are housed. There was a lady from Tennessee there with two of her grandkids in their early teens. She was driving a pickup with two large carriers in the back. She said she had a rescue in TN. & was trying to “save” as many as she could. Someone handed me the lead from one of the dogs they had pulled out of the fence & asked me to hold him for a minute. The poor dog was so scared he literally plastered himself to me!! I was petting him, trying to soothe him & he acted like he was velcrowed to me. When the lady came back and to where I was she said, “That dog likes you…do you want to take him home?” I could have been some evil person who was looking for a bait dog, or a dog to sell for experimentations for all anyone knew. I walked over behind another building to see a group of 5 black dogs, all Lab mixes, and several more in different pens. By the time I got back to where the people were gathering dogs to take home or to their “rescues,” the lady from TN. had two dogs in one crate, and the little petrified dog in another crate & was getting ready to leave. The scared one was trying to escape the crate and I said, “Are you going to drive all the way back to Tennessee in this freezing weather with these dogs uncovered??? She just looked at me & walked away! She did cover the crates with a plastic tarp before she
        left, but that offered no warmth, and would be scaring ALL of the dogs with the flapping in the wind it was going to do! Personally, I think that was pretty cruel…then I found out later that the woman told whoever was in charge that day, that the dogs were going to be living in 10×10 kennels, with dog houses. Mind you, they had a huge fenced yard at TEARS, and a big double wide mobile home with doggie doors so they could go out or stay in at will. IS A 10’x10′ kennel somehow BETTER than that??

        There is more that I could say, but I won’t for the time being. Unless you can actually go to TEARS and see things for yourself, you pretty much have to CHOOSE who & what you believe.

      • kelevee / Jan 9 2010 10:54 AM

        Poor dogs, they looked good in the pic – Still don’t kno why they had to be removed if the place was up to par until, like “that day”. I do hope they are really going to good homes, or places – but anyone involved in rescue in ANY way must be surprised at how easy it was for the board/or whoever to place this many dogs/cats, etc. Many rescuers would like to know how to do this, I can imagine.
        BTW,Gilbert is with AL Humane Federation, but may have spoken for Birmingham Humane Soc – Has anyone heard from AL Humane Fed on this situation?

  45. ssal / Jan 8 2010 5:00 PM

    murbay, kindredsp, kelevee:

    Note that in the report “TEARS Animal Cruelty Investigation” (unparagraphed text of which is shown above) by Kimberly Rankin of CBS 42, there are quotes attributed to Dr. Mark Pelham of the Liberty Animal Hospital and Ms. Jacque Meyer, Executive Director of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society:

    Dr. Pelham:
    … ”Overcrowding brought about a lot of problems sanitary problems were the biggest thing we saw. They had access to food and water but the quality of the food or water when they are eating out of much feces may not be that great,” …

    … ”We assessed every animal on the property dogs and cats like a triage,” …

    … ”They are very contagious upper respiratory viruses they are carrying and they all have been exposed at this point so I guess it’s better to quarantine them where they are,” …

    Ms. Meyer:
    … ”It was very muddy and it was very cold and it was very smelly and there are large amounts of animals out there,” …

    Link to the CBS 42 report:

    • ssal / Jan 9 2010 10:42 AM

      Relative to my above note to murbay, kindredsp, and kevlee posted at 5:00 pm on Jan 8, the following quote is also reported to have been made by Dr. Pelham”

      “Out of the ones I looked at, the skin conditions may have cropped up over weeks, month. The ear infections are more acute,” …
      — from the 1/2/10 report, “Animals Treated, Removed from TEARS Property” by Honora Gathings of ABC 33/40 News.

  46. kelevee / Jan 8 2010 10:01 AM

    Could you share the “answer/response” you get from HSUS or AL State Director, M. Gilbert? Thanx.

  47. murbay / Jan 8 2010 6:31 AM

    I have already contacted HSUS and waiting for an answer

    • kindredspiritus / Jan 8 2010 9:55 AM

      You could, also, contact these vets….they were there…..and they are highly credible:

      Mark Pelham, DVM 205-746-6223

      Barbara Monoghan, DVM 205-542-9312

  48. murbay / Jan 7 2010 2:28 PM

    Again, I am asking for actual eveidence. I have not seen one official report about this incident and the pictures do not show much of anything. I have seen nothing from HSUS,or anything else. Maybe I sould just contact HSUS and see what is really going on.

  49. murbay / Jan 7 2010 1:50 PM

    I would say that some of the bloggers ave made this about Terra and not about the animals under her care. I suggest that you post something actually showing neglected, skinny, injured and mangled animals.
    I don’t really care who or what you are. You can’t tell me to shut up and certainly not a good idea to call people names. I think it might be against the rules for name calling.
    Just because people see no evidence in the pictures provided does not mean we can’t have opinions based on the “evidence”.

  50. Donna Sophronia-Sims / Jan 7 2010 10:45 AM

    Wow! It is obvious to me that some of the bloggers are making this about Terra instead of the animals. No one is out to get Terra because they want hurt someone. This is about the welfare of the animals, and, in my opinion, the gross mismanagement of the organization, based on my time as a volunteer and board member. An organization like TEARS is needed. But, because Terra started TEARS doesn’t mean she OWNS TEARS.

    I would suggest that unless you have witnessed what I have, and, oh yes, The Greater Birmingham Humane Society, several vets, representative from HSUS, Sheriff’s, and countless volunteers, you may want to rethink your comments or not make them at all. Don’t be ignorant! Unless you have evidence the accusations being made aren’t true, you better speak-up or shut-up. This is the last comment I will make, because most of the comments, except the comments made by the individuals who have witnessed the conditions in the last weeks, are comments NOT based on FACT but opinion.

    Donna Sophronia-Sims

    • kelevee / Jan 7 2010 2:13 PM

      Donna Sophronia-Sims – It appears that you made “It” mostly about Terra C. if you look at your very first comment in which you described Terra, her failures, etc. in 3/4 of your post.
      I don’t know Terra or any of the board members, I am still puzzeled as to why the animals had to be moved, if the board “moved immediately” after deciding the place was not fit for animals (It took some time to get in the shape described), but I do care about the animals, and sincerely hope the organization will get its stuff together – not for them, but for the fact that Alabama desperately needs TEARS and other organizations who can save animals from suffering and death in public animal pounds. As for the trailer w/o elec/heat/water.. with 50 cats inside, – If the board didn’t know this was happening, then that is a pity. Were board members banned from inspecting or visiting the site before the formal investigation?
      If my questions are out of line and I, along with others, are being chastised by others who seem to be “in the know”, then I am on the wrong blog, and didn’t get on here to be preached to about what I can and cannot say. However, I am sure the correct answers will come eventually after the ordeal of court, etc.

  51. kindredspiritus / Jan 6 2010 8:56 PM

    The document reflects efforts, as long ago as 2008, of a board member trying to protect the cats.

    There was no finding, because no documents could be provided, specifically related to the cats noted.

    • murbay / Jan 7 2010 7:14 AM

      What it shows is that “some” have been going after Terra for a long time. Again, show me some evidence that these dogs were mangled, abused, neglected and skinny. The BOD is just as responsible as Terra if there is wrongdoing. I have known that the “powers” in the Greater Birmingham area for at least 3 years since I first learned of TEARS.

      • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 7 2010 8:07 AM

        BINGO! You just hit the nail on the head. Terra’s “work day” starts the minute her feet hit the floor in the morning, (between 6 & 6:30am), and ends no earlier than 10 – 11pm. This is a 61 yr old woman, with physical ailments of her own. She does what she does for the love of animals. I don’t think the BOD is even aware of all she does because they sure aren’t out there HELPING her in any way! There are some paid employees, but they haven’t been paid in 3 weeks or more, yet they are still out there doing what they can to help Terra. One young couple that actually lives in one of the mobile homes, and has a little baby girl, are still out there working for no pay. Can anybody see the abuse in this besides me? This is just plain CRAZY!

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 7 2010 7:55 AM

      How about some, uh…I dunno, PICTURES maybe??? Why were no pics taken back then if life for the cats was so apalling, MORE than a year ago??? Pleeeze, this ‘story’ is getting weaker all the time!

  52. murbay / Jan 6 2010 7:58 PM

    And is just a report. No findings by any official personnel. Anyone can file a report

  53. kindredspiritus / Jan 6 2010 7:49 PM

    Dear All:

    Documentation of a complaint filed against Terra, November 20th, 2008, and a supporting statement may be found here:

    Victoria ~

    • murbay / Jan 6 2010 7:57 PM

      The problem with your report is that is dated for 2008.

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 7 2010 12:25 AM

      Anyone who has clicked on the link you posted, and actually read the paperwork, can see the simple word, “DISMISSED,” at the bottom of each form. What that tells me is that the plot against Terra has been going on quite awhile…much longer than just the past 14 months. Just my humble opinion.

  54. murbay / Jan 6 2010 5:57 PM

    Please show me a picture of an injured dog. Dogs looked all great. When you are running an org not everything is up to one person. Besides I thought Terra has always been a figure head and doing all the work with all of the animals. Is that right? So the lack of proper insurance prevented the folks on the BOD to get to the premises. What is their liability in all of this. Are you part of the BOD?

    • Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 6 2010 11:37 PM

      Murbay: I am sorry that I cannot provide you with a picture of the animals. Those were taken by law enforcement and not provided to me. Terra Cotromano was the Executive Director of the nonprofit corporation. I am not a member of the Board of Directors, I am a nonprofit governance and leadership consultant. If documentation of insurance for both board and the organization cannot be shown, that does not prevent the people on the board from entering the premises; however, it is my role to inform them that there may be a risk of exposure. While the animals may look “great”, that was not the case for several and the conditions were not acceptable. A nonprofit organization runs best when the board and staff are partnering to advance the mission. At this point the good news is that we have managed to find shelter for all but about 3 dogs and 3-5 cats before the ice storm/snow. Thank you. Allison

      • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 7 2010 1:10 AM

        There were lots of pictures on the Fox6 website, but I didn’t see ANY pics of any injured, abused, neglected, skinny, crippled or mangled dogs. Confused and stressed out maybe, but what dog wouldn’t be??Usually whenever there is a dog fighting operation exposed,(for example), the media is in there filming as many gorey details as they can. When it is on the evening news, they like to zoom in on the dogs that are the most mangled & bloody. Shock effect I suppose. My point here is that NOBODY has seen any dogs from TEARS that even looked a little bit sick. Like Murbay said in one post, “WHAT’S ALL THE HOOPLA?”

        As for the cat house, Terra has been telling the board from the very beginning that lack of ventilation and electricity was going to make the cats very sick. They refused to acknowledge what she was saying, so whose fault is it, that the cats got sick??

        BTW, the new Board Pres. & Vice Pres. are both “self-appointed” aren’t they? Seems a bit fishy to me…

  55. kelevee / Jan 6 2010 3:57 PM

    I meant: “If this was NOT a suitable site, but animals have been kept there for so long, why didn’t the Board or Anyone involved w/TEARS notice that animals were in danger, not being properly cared for or provided safe environment?
    And I will add, I have plenty of compassion, its For The Animals.

    • Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 6 2010 5:36 PM

      Kelevee: Again, everyone’s compassion is very clear. Many of the answers to your questions have been provided to the press and covered by the press. But I realize many people were on holiday and may have missed some of the details.

      The assessment team that first went on site was under the supervision of the animal cruelty investigation officer and the veterinarians – so transfers were their call not the volunteers, staff, lawyers, or board members. The first animals that were transferred were those determined to be in need of immediate medical attention that could not be done on site. Also during that phase, there were a couple of animals that bit either vets or vet techs and as such had to be quarantined.

      There was an EMA mobile unit on site, but the number of animals and the environment in which veterinarians were trying to work was not suitable. Another challenge was that most animals were kept in groups. The assessment team was concerned that if an animal was treated on site and placed back in a group the animal may be re-injured by other animals. Dr. Pelham did an excellent job explaining this at the press conference.

      Once the sickest or weakest were transferred then the process began to try to set up care or adoption for the animals. However, there were a few problems. First, the bank account is frozen due to the financial irregularities. Second, the volunteers have no security while on the property and at this time the board members have stated publically that they have no documentation of insurance for the board or the organization.

      Third – and most important – a record cold snap was coming. Both vets and two key volunteers who have helped care for the cats communicated with us Monday that trailer was not providing ample heat to protect the cats. We would have liked to have cared for the cats in isolation on site, but the cat trailer is heated by heat lamps plugged in to cords coming from various outlets. The bulbs and lamps tend to overload the panel providing the power and either burn out or shut off. The water in the cat trailer was freezing over. There was no suitable way to care for the cats and ensure their safety in the event of an ice over without moving them. Thus – the decision was made to find foster homes for the cats and outside dogs at least through this cold snap.

      Finally, I cannot answer how long it took for the property to get to the place it was December 30th. I can tell you that complaints had been filed with the county by former board members and volunteers going back to a year ago – those too are public record.

      As for the question about police who have incidents while at work – I have no idea. You may can google the question or contact workman’s comp. I am not aware of any deputy that had an accident or injured himself/herself while on the property.

      I have started the process of trying to find out if anyone can find information on a dog named Diablo.

      Thank you all for your service and concern and I will continue to try and get answers to your questions.

      Allison Black Cornelius

  56. kelevee / Jan 6 2010 3:54 PM

    Ms Black Cornelius, I understand your position, but you can imagine that people have many questions, for example: why do the animals have to be moved if the property was set up to care for animals? How long did it take for this property to become too bad for animals to be brought there, or kept there? If this was a suitable site, and the animals have been there for a long time, why didn’t any of the Board or anyone believe the animals were in danger there, and not cared for properly?
    Thank you.

  57. Joanne Kennedy / Jan 6 2010 3:40 PM

    Ms. Cornelius,

    I will very likely post more a little later this evening re: your post. Right now I am short on time so would just like to ask a couple of questions for now. I’m not sure you can answer, but if you have any information, I’m sure most of the people on this board would like to know the answers too. First, when a police officer has an incident while on the job, doesn’t he/she have to write an “incident report?” And, is said incident report “public information” or can it be kept quiet for an undetermined time?

    Last but not least, do you recognize the name “Diablo” as being one of the dogs taken from TEARS property? If so, can you prove, (a dated photo might do), if he is still alive? If he IS still alive, he should be up for adoption so I’d like to know which facility he has been taken to. Can you provide us with that information?

    Thank you,
    Joanne Kennedy

  58. Allison Black Cornelius / Jan 6 2010 12:33 PM

    I can see the compassion and concern in the above posts. Please let me assure you that as of the time of this posting, we have received no information that a dog or any other animal at TEARS has been shot. I was at the property everyday during the time that the assessment team and law enforcement were there, and there were no shots fired nor animals shot or killed. Law enforcement left Saturday and since that time, volunteers have been on site. The sheriff’s department has provided a constant patrol – there have been no reports or information that any shots have been fired at TEARS nor that any animal has shot.

    Also, to provide further facts in response to the posting above by Joanne Kennedy relating to …”IF she had been in the wrong, they would have arrested her and taken her to jail right then!” – we did not see any sheriffs on site attempt to remove Ms. Cotromano from her trailer. All they can do is ask her to comply with what is in the temporary restraining order which does not state that she is to be removed. The termination letter did ask her to leave within 24 hours. She has chosen not to leave. Whether you agree with her decision to stay or not – it simply makes the situation on the property very difficult and passions have run high as volunteers are placing animals in foster homes during a record breaking cold snap. We have asked everyone to be calm and patient and put the animals first.

    I did not see the former Director barricade herself in the trailer at any time. I was there the day before yesterday and she did not appear to be barricaded in any way in the trailer.

    We have received no information from anyone (other than the rumor post above) that a road is trying to be put through the property.

    Further, online records of this nonprofit organization do not show that it ever “paid” or compensated the board members. We have no information that a board member received a paycheck.

    Finally, the assessment team agreed before entering the property that all efforts would be applied to keep from euthanizing any animal. As of this posting, we have no information that any have and none were euthanized while we were on site. If any animal transferred to a shelter from TEARS is recommended to be euthanized – – they will have to inform the attorneys, the board members, and me. I have already agreed to personally pay whatever amount is needed to treat one animal that was in very bad condition and that was recommended to be euthanized due to the cost of care. That animal was dear to many volunteers and staff and so is being treated at Liberty. I respect the veterinarians advice and will continue to do so.

    It seems only fair that until Ms. Cotromano has either made a decision or has been heard in court – that we should do everything in our power to maintain the animals both on her behalf and the behalf of the board and other stakeholders of the organization.

    I will continue to share facts, to receive information, and to share it with the public as provided by the board members and counsel.

    Thank you.
    Allison Black Cornelius

    • ssal / Jan 9 2010 8:52 PM

      Ms. Cornelius:

      This is to request clarification of your last statement, “I will continue to share facts, to receive information, and to share it with the public as provided by the board members and counsel.”

      Specifically, what is it you mean by “share it with the public as provided by the board members and counsel.”?

      Do you mean to indicate the board members and/or counsel either already have or can place restrictions on your sharing facts with the public?

      Or do you mean to indicate that the board and counsel have provided you the freedom to share facts you are aware of with the public in an unbiased fashion, with no censorship or clearance required from either the board or counsel?

      Thank you.

  59. kelevee / Jan 6 2010 9:48 AM

    Yeah, Good Luck to finding any human who would live on the property and do the bulk of the work day in and day out for an elusive “Board”. Their “all of a sudden” displeasure with Terra, the lady who had to care for all the animals is a little fishy. Placing the blame alone on her is even more fishy. Bottom line…the animals are the innocent victims of mismanagmt. and detachment from the purpose of this organization.

  60. Joanne Kennedy / Jan 5 2010 11:35 AM

    IMO, it is a personal vendetta, by more than a few people/organizations.

    Lawyered up? Good term! Terra is not stupid like they seem to think she is, :~)

    • Netanya / Jan 5 2010 1:08 PM

      Sounds like they, TEARS board/leaders, left Terra there on her own…with upteen # of animals – and didn’t check, but maybe collected their paychecks. And if BJC Animal Facility is always full, and has its own dark history and allegedly current failures, of course the poor animals will be killed/euthanzied. Doesn’t sound as if TEARS had any money problems, other than their payroll and now this.
      They should use some of those funds to make sure the animals are seen after NOW.

      • murbay / Jan 6 2010 5:06 AM

        It would seem that none of this is new information and the BOD should have known about all of these things. Nothing happens overnight. They had to know about the trailer with no heat, no ventilation. If they didn’t shame on them

  61. murbay / Jan 5 2010 10:58 AM

    If these videos and pictres would show in any way I would not be wasting my time. I have no alliances to Terra. This looks like a pesroanl vendetta and I hope Terra has lawyered up and sues the pants off all the people that are supporting these allegations

  62. Joanne Kennedy / Jan 5 2010 10:05 AM

    You are grossly out of line here with all of your hateful, not to mentionmention “slanderous,” remarks! After reading your “post” one thing I know for sure is that I would never place a rescued dog in your care, nor would I ever make a donation to your rescue. Every malicious remark you have made about Terra is a lie, and the people who have filled your head with so much BS have been maligning her for years, literally! I have known Terra for a good many years and no matter what YOU say, (or your cohorts say), she has never abused an animal, OR neglected one either! OBVIOUSLY you do not know Terra Cotromano at all. I hope that every single person who has set out to destroy her, (and TEARStown), pays for their crime…to the full extent of the law. These “good ol’ boy” tactics have got to stop!

  63. murbay / Jan 5 2010 8:35 AM

    Well although it was said that no dogs would be euth I heard one dog at least has been shot.
    Good work here. I also understand that Terra is the one leasing the land and has a very long term lease and there is somekind of roadway they want to put through it. Any one care to elaborate?

    • Netanya / Jan 5 2010 10:03 AM

      Who or what agency ??? shot a dog?
      It would seem TEARS board members, or anyone associated with the organization, would have known about the sorid conditions for the animals before conducting an investigation. “Something is rotten” alright, and the animals are the victims here.

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 5 2010 10:36 AM

      My understanding from Terra is that the land (27 Ac. I think) was donated and that Terra has a 99yr lease on the mobile home she lives in. That’s why when she was presented with a temp restraining order, and the cop tried to get her to vacate her home, and the property, she refused. IF she had been in the wrong, they would have arrested her and taken her to jail right then! Instead, the cop told her to “Stay inside the house” until they were finished with their investigation. BTW, she did NOT barracade herself inside the home with thirty-something dogs, nor did she ever turn “a pack of vicious dogs” loose on anyone! If there were any vicious dogs on the place, there would not have been “Adopt-A-Thons” every weekend either.

      I would not be the LEAST bit surprised if a dog has been shot, nor would it surprise me if the ones that were removed from the property have been, or will be euthanized. I don’t know anything about a roadway through the property, but will try to find out today or tomorrow.

  64. Joanne Kennedy / Jan 5 2010 1:07 AM

    John 8: 7

  65. murbay / Jan 4 2010 8:06 PM

    Not so sure what this is all about, none of these animals look sick. The dogs look fine and healthy. Something is rotten in Al

  66. Murbay / Jan 4 2010 4:26 PM

    This looks like some political hogwash. The dogs all look fine, the cats look fine. I don’t know wat all this Hoopla is all about. Something does not look right

    • Joanne Kennedy / Jan 5 2010 10:14 AM

      That’s exactly what all this Hoopla is all about – HOGWASH!! Something definitely is not right here, and has not been right for a long time. This systematic “undoing” of Terra, and TEARS, started even before the Eagle fiasco, believe me, and you know that started about 3 yrs ago.

      • murbay / Jan 5 2010 10:20 AM

        How could I forget

  67. kindredspiritus / Jan 4 2010 12:01 AM

    This is a situation that calls forth a mixed-bag of emotions: shock, anger, disappointment, sadness, and grave concern to name a few.
    While my first concern is for the animals, I am greatly saddened that Terra seems to have lost her way. I pray for all directly involved.

  68. Joanne Kennedy / Jan 3 2010 9:27 PM

    I truly believe that “…What goes around, comes around.” Ultimately, God is in charge, no matter WHAT we humans would like to believe. Prayers are with the animals most of all…

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