Shelby Kibodeaux and Amy Walther: "Animal Rescuers" Lie About Finding a Home for a Dog Who's Already Dead
Here's an e-mail from Kibodeaux to Lydia Caldwell (with Walther copied):
Kibodeaux says he was just trying to help out a friend, only to get sucked into a lawsuit.
I did a Vet check and their my in laws so I know their yard is secure and their are no other dogs in the home. I will see Juno for the rest of his life and will have them send pictures as soon as he acclimated into the new home.
Kibodeaux sent that e-mail on July 11, two days after Juno was put down.
On July 17, eight days after Juno was put down, Kibodeaux e-mailed Jeff Caldwell:
Juno is in a fantastic place BUT with 1 phone call I can have him flown to Houston. I'll pay half to keep my Friendship with y'all. The cost of shipping a dog between ABQ and IAH for $385.00(with crate costs included) $192.50 is half......when shall I have the dog shipped back and y'all can pick him up in cargo port at IAH. Let me know how to move forward
The signature line, as usual, includes "ANIMAL WARRIOR."
It seems that Kibodeaux expected the Caldwells to balk at the money, because after they agreed to pay it, Kibodeaux cut off contact.
But Kibodeaux was pretty chatty with us.
"I lied to Lydia and to her husband to buy time for us to see if we could find that dog," he tells Hair Balls. "That's all we did. That's all I did."
He adds that he truly believed Walther when she said Juno was lost.
"We couldn't find the dog, and then the next thing you know...we're getting sued for emotional distress and all kind of other bullshit," Kibodeaux says, overlooking several weeks worth of desperate e-mails from the Caldwells, begging for information about Juno.
He says of Lydia Caldwell, "She's asked me to help her get jobs over the last...five or six years in the animal community, and I've tried. I've tried to be nice to this chick, and now she's suing us."
He continues: "She's just doing this for money. And you know what else is pretty shitty? She tried to have us all served at the [CAP] gala....It's just ridiculous, and the only reason she's jacking with me is 'cause I'm somebody in the stupid animal rescue, you know? [sic]"
Kibodeaux stopped being chatty after a while, when we started asking questions about why he didn't come clean with the Caldwells before he was contacted by their attorney. Instead of answering questions, he threatened legal action. Because that's what people do.
I will say this and then my conversation with you is finished- whatever you print about me Or bruce better be factual and true because if not, you WILL hear from our Attorney. Feel free to say what you want but make sure you can factually prove it of your gonna print it.
As for Walther, she says she was "instructed" not to talk, but she wouldn't say by whom. And then she said something that made us feel like we'd gone completely through the looking glass; like we'd been sucked into some forlorn corner of the world where logic and basic human decency go to die: She said she no proof that Juno was dead.
"Everything in [the lawsuit] is without merit, and I haven't done anything wrong..." she says.
She urged us to do some fact-checking, because then we'd find out that the real story isn't reflected in the lawsuit. And, as is pretty much rote in these situations, she doesn't indicate where these "facts" can be found.
And then she introduces the Shyamalan Twist: "I do not know if Juno was put down or not. I have never seen a document saying that. I have not spoken with anybody at CAP....According to the state, they can't release that kind of information. So I have not asked...that would be overstepping my boundaries....Hand to the Bible on that one."
But then how does she explain her July 21 e-mail -- the one stating "Juno has been adopted"?
Like this: "I knew he was in a place where adoption takes place. A shelter that I believe in....It was a reputable shelter." Spoiler alert: She wouldn't provide the shelter's name.
Strangely enough, Hair Balls was able to determine that Juno had, in fact, been euthanized -- something we thought that all the defendants would have stipulated to, like the world being round. But we underestimated the depths Walther was willing to go to. Here's an e-mail from CAP's shelter director, Jessica Ellis Marks, to Lydia Caldwell, sent August 26:
On July 8th, 2012, a member of the public surrendered a blue and white Pit bull mix named Juno. At the time of surrender, this person was informed that due to skin conditions which required treatment, we could not place the dog up for adoption and that by surrendering, he was at a high risk for euthanasia. The person completed all of our forms and stated that they would not be able to treat. At that time, we decided it would be best to house the dog overnight in hopes that they would redeem and treat the dog with our assistance. By the end of the day July 9th, we had not been contacted about treating the dog, so members of management made the unfortunate decision to humanely euthanize him.
Now how about that. The person who surrendered Juno was told that they were pretty much sentencing the dog to death, and they just dumped him there anyway. Now that's what we call a real animal lover.
As for Kibodeaux's assertion that the Caldwells filed the lawsuit as a money-grab, the Caldwells' attorney, Christiana Dijkman, points out that suing over a dead dog in Texas might not be the sure-fire get-rich-quick-scheme Kibodeaux apparently thinks it is. For one thing, she says, a dog's value in Texas is perhaps a few hundred bucks. And while there is now case law that allows plaintiffs to sue for emotional damage, the dollar amount, should it go to trial, is entirely up to the jury.
And what of Lydia Caldwell, who never actually met Amy Walther, but spoke with her on the phone. (She says her husband is the one who met with Walther and checked out her home).
"The reason I decided to trust her with Juno is because she told me she had been a volunteer for CAP for six years," Caldwell says. "She was retired from being a business owner for 20 years in the travel agency business. She lives in a good area...she said all the right things. She has dogs of her own. She had fostered before. She sounded completely normal and like someone who I could entrust a puppy to for a little while until I found him a home."
She also tells us, "The last thing I want, really, is to be sued for libel or slander, which is exactly and precisely why we are using the legal system so that we can legally expose these people." She adds that, in the event there is a significant monetary award, she would likely establish a trust in Juno's name, to cover fostering or health care costs for other pups in peril.
She's baffled as to why Kibodeaux didn't immediately get the word out about a lost dog (back when he first allegedly thought Juno was lost) or ultimately come clean after his "buying time" plan didn't work.
"He most certainly didn't think to be honest and just tell me, 'Hey Lydia, I understand that Amy has been fostering for you. I have to tell you, we've been looking for this puppy for the last day or two, and I simply must share with you: it is lost, and we need your help.' Nobody ever came forth to say anything. Nobody."
She says, "We will forever mourn Juno. Because what happened to him [was] tragically unnecessary. We were there for him. We were his backup. I was telling Amy, 'I want to pick him up on the 11th.' She never got back to me with a time....She didn't respond to my calls, she didn't respond to my e-mails. But I told her several times, 'We intend to pick him up on the 11th.' And what does she do on the 8th? She turns him in to a kill shelter, signs off on a piece of paper that says 'We can, and most likely will, euthanize this dog.'"
One last interesting point: Lydia Caldwell needlessly apologized for being "emotional" in her conversation with us. She explained that she is saddened by the loss of Juno.
We didn't get that from Kibodeaux or Walther. We got a lawsuit threat from one, and a suggestion that Juno might actually be alive from the other.
If dogs have friends like these, who needs enemies?