Archive for Saturday, January 2, 2010

Humane Society workers now armed

Employees carry guns for protection on the job

Mark Grinstead is among the employees at the Lawrence Humane Society who are carrying concealed weapons on the job. The shelter is the only one in the state that investigates all cruelty and neglect cases in its county, and workers occasionally encounter disgruntled people who have threatened workers’ safety.

Mark Grinstead is among the employees at the Lawrence Humane Society who are carrying concealed weapons on the job. The shelter is the only one in the state that investigates all cruelty and neglect cases in its county, and workers occasionally encounter disgruntled people who have threatened workers’ safety.

January 2, 2010


Humane Society employees armed

Employees at Lawrence's Humane Society have concealed carry licenses. The employees investigates animal cruelty cases in the county and say it can sometimes be dangerous. Enlarge video

Workers at the Lawrence Humane Society have started carrying concealed guns to work, and they say it’s for a very good reason.

“We have to protect not only our staff and the animals, but other people that come here,” said Midge Grinstead, executive director of the animal shelter.

The shelter may be most notable for being full of yappy, irresistible dogs that give those melting adopt-me-or-else looks.

But the local shelter also is the only one in the state that investigates all cruelty and neglect cases in its county. The shelter’s three cruelty investigators respond to hundreds of calls a year, which bring a component of risk and danger to the job.

“We’re dealing with people that might not be in the best position in their lives and we might have to take their animals, or we might have to ask them questions that would make them uncomfortable and we just want to make sure that we’re protected,” said Kayse Aschenbrenner, investigator.

It’s the kind of tension that can sometimes spill over into the shelter when people are determined to retrieve their confiscated animals at no cost, Grinstead said. She said people have come inside the lobby on multiple occasions, pointing guns in workers’ faces, shoving them and swinging baseball bats at them.

Mark Grinstead, the director’s husband who also works at the shelter, is used to dealing with angry people. The former fire investigator said having a gun on his hip provides him peace of mind while he is on animal cruelty calls and working at the shelter.

“Just for safety’s sake, it’s nice to be there and have a concealed weapon,” he said. “It’s never visible; it’s just there, just in case.”

Aschenbrenner and the Grinsteads respond to calls throughout the county, where they’ve been through the training and have the ability to remove animals from people’s property without a search warrant.

They are not considered law enforcement, but have gone through special training at an animal cruelty school in Columbia, Mo., as well as conceal-carry training required by the state. Aschenbrenner is still pursuing her license.

While 80 percent of the calls the investigators respond to are simply an opportunity to educate pet owners about proper care, Midge Grinstead said workers do seize animals that have been abused, starved or injured.

“When you’re dealing with that element, things are going to escalate,” she said. “I’ve seen people lose their children while I’m taking their dogs and they’re madder about me taking the dog than they are about losing their kids.”

The violence associated with their work is escalating, the humane society director said, and doesn’t only follow the workers around at work, but also to their homes.

She recalled a situation last summer when someone pulled up in a car outside her home and pointed a gun at her while she was on her lawn mower.

“There’s a time and a place for everything, but having that extra protection and having the knowledge that you can protect yourself is good enough,” said Midge Grinstead. “I’m not a big weapon fan, but I need to know that I’m protected.”


yankeevet 7 years, 1 month ago

This is good; anyone who mistreats animals should be...............................

cowboy 7 years, 1 month ago

Sounds odd to me , have not heard of these incidents in the press , do they not have police backup when needed ?

GardenMomma 7 years, 1 month ago

I know there are volunteers there too. I wonder if they have concealed weapons too?

Perhaps the incidents referred to in the article are on the Crime page? Maybe they didn't make "front page" news?

geekin_topekan 7 years, 1 month ago

The was my next question GM.

I have seen very young people working there as volunteers. Some could not have been in high school by my best guess. I do hope that this does not affect the volunteerism.

Paula Kissinger 7 years, 1 month ago

I approve. It is a safety factor for those that are just trying to do their job and trying to rescue a neglected or abused animal that deserves a decent life. If a situation is encountered where someone becomes violent and/or attempts to injure the Humane Society worker either at the shelter or in the field there may not be time to get assistance from law enforcement. I think this is a great implementation. Way to go Midge !

Amy Heeter 7 years, 1 month ago

This is not a new thing. The shelter has waged a war against dog fighters and those people are not nice when they lose their money makers. If you don't believe there are dog fighters in Douglas County then you better think again. Catching them in the act is the problem. The shelter knows who they are but because they move the animals so often it is difficult to catch them and the fight schedules are word of mouth. Those who fight dogs do no treat them well so often you will see animal cruelty or drug charges rather than dog fighting charges. It would be ineffective to announce in the paper of progress being made in such investigations.

GardenMomma 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes, one only has to be 11 years old in order to volunteer at the Humane Society - at least according to their website.

cowboy 7 years, 1 month ago

IMHO if they are armed and prepared to use it they should have to be certified as a Kansas Law enforcement official , send em to the academy and have them sufficiently trained. These folks are in emotional situations prone to blow up and to have their authority questioned.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 1 month ago

"IMHO if they are armed and prepared to use it they should have to be certified as a Kansas Law enforcement official , send em to the academy and have them sufficiently trained. These folks are in emotional situations prone to blow up and to have their authority questioned."

Totally. This is a bad situation. On one hand, they need protection. The cops are not going to escort them everywhere. At the same time, you can't just hand someone a gun and say "problem solved". It's not just issues around gun safety and training in marksmanship, it's also about decision-making, which requires much MORE training (repeated training). You can't just plug every loud fat guy with a ball bat in his hand.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Wouldn't it be better if the weapons weren't concealed? And if it is necessary to conceal them, why are they publicizing them in this article?

denak 7 years, 1 month ago

If the workers fear that much for their lives they should call the police and ask for a police escort.

As much as I don't like the idea of animals being hurt, they are just animals and they are not worth dying over.

Lastly, just where is the money going to come from when as worker from the Humane Society shoots someone. Who is going to pay for the worker to defend himself or herself in court?

Where are the animals going to be then when the Humane Society has to close because of legal bills?


Charles Bloss 7 years, 1 month ago

Anyone, except those with a criminal or adjudated mental record, or underage, can take the class and get a concealed weapon permit. I was told that in the class persons are taught not to telegraph that they are carrying. Therefore it seems not just silly, but dangerous to put it on the front page of the newspaper. Thank you, Lynn

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Animal haters are often people haters - I don't want these folks armed.

kawvalleybulldog 7 years, 1 month ago

This article is all about nepotism and the militarization of the humaniacs.

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 1 month ago

Is the guy in the picture open carrying or concealed carrying? If he's carrying concealed, then he's brandishing his weapon, and subject to arrest.

weegee 7 years, 1 month ago

jacob123--Are you kidding me? The animal lovers that I know are people who care about ALL forms of life. That doesn't mean "irrational" or "people haters."

BrianR 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm sure one can retrofit a photon torpedo launcher to any riding mower.

Joe Hyde 7 years, 1 month ago

Apart from encounters with enraged pet owners both afield and in the office, animal protection workers are at risk of being set upon by the very animals they're trying to relocate -- particularly dogs whose owners train them for fighting and attack. Entering onto properties where not just the human residents but also their pets might suddenly target you for attack -- this is not a good situation to be in without having some degree of firepower within easy reach.

You hate it that things have changed so much that abusive people have taken inordinate interest in owning, breeding and abusing pets. (And I consider training a dog to be vicious to be a form of abuse.)

It's good that the arming of animal protection people has been publicized. The deterrent factor will have value.

inspire 7 years, 1 month ago

Not much chance I'll be letting my kiddo volunteer there anymore. Now that I know that irate people have come in and threatened violence and especially now that I know the staff can be armed. Sorry folks. Wrong way to handle the situation!

lawdog 7 years, 1 month ago

I don't mind the idea of them carrying a weapon. C'mon they are enforcement officers. I will always support The Humane Society, they are always there when I need them! I'm glad the shelter is being protected as well!!!!!!!!!

Chris Golledge 7 years, 1 month ago

I don't know about this. The workers should be able to protect themselves, but...

When force comes into play, if one side has a clear advantage, the other side tends to back down. More often, when there is a disagreement about who has the upper hand, that's when people get hurt.

...We're talking about disputes over animals. I care about animals, but no animal is worth shooting someone over.

I'm thinking, if the owner of an animal comes to claim it by force, well, if you know that they are the owner, don't you already know who they are? There's no point in pointing guns at each other; just let them take it and send the police after them when they leave.

RoeDapple 7 years, 1 month ago

Anyone else out there who has taken the CCW training who wonders why Mr Grinstead is illegally displaying his weapon?

budwhysir 7 years, 1 month ago

Next on an all new cops. Douglas county animal patrol takes on a village of packrats along with the people that breed them

Boston_Corbett 7 years, 1 month ago

This is ridiculous. The same arguments could be made for schoolteachers.

kawvalleybulldog 7 years, 1 month ago

I believe in animal rights, they just aren't the same as human rights; and certainly not worth killing someone over.

anon1958 7 years, 1 month ago

kawvalleybulldog (Anonymous) says…

This article is all about nepotism and the militarization of the humaniacs. ..............................

LMAO! Anyone else think that the above poster has no idea what the word nepotism means?

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 1 month ago

Are Humane Society investigators LE? Do they have the power to arrest someone?

Todd Hiatt 7 years, 1 month ago

"Anyone else out there who has taken the CCW training who wonders why Mr Grinstead is illegally displaying his weapon?"

Statute or regulation, please.

parrothead8 7 years, 1 month ago


You might as well go ahead and figure out a way to double the budget for the Humane Society, because they're going to need escorts all the time. Like when they go out on a call, or when they're working the front desk, or when they're mowing their lawns...

The problem isn't that responsible people with training are carrying guns. It's that irresponsible, ignorant people are abusing animals whose lives neither you nor I have any right to declare any less important than any other lives.

kawvalleybulldog 7 years, 1 month ago

anon1958, not very funny! nepotism is favoritism shown to relatives or close friends by those in power (as by giving them jobs) Director= Midge Grinstead Lead investigator= Mark Grinstead ( john wayne)

yankeevet 7 years, 1 month ago

Lock and Load; there are some tough putty tats out there.......................Sylvester........

kawvalleybulldog 7 years, 1 month ago

I don't own or raise pitbulls. nice try. I am a dog lover though.

kansanbygrace 7 years, 1 month ago

This may or may not work out. Some of us citizens believe we have the right to protect ourselves and our property. The Constitution is quite clear regarding the need for warrants and the reasons. Law Enforcement officers are established, certified and protected by law, and the state is responsible for the liability of their accidents or malfeasance. Are we as citizens certifying and indemnifying the potentially lethal actions of dog catchers? In conflict situations, many people will, when the iron comes out, neutralize the danger, regardless whether they're there to take their dog or kidnap their kid or rob the house. i.e., if someone pulls a gun, they will die then and there. About the time most civilians get the safety off is about the same time the second bullet penetrates their torso. Smart may be better than armed for "protection".
While this guy is dropping his dog snare and fumbling for his hogleg, some dog owner may be filling his carcass with goose shot. Reminds me that when I was last in Cody, Wyo., a frequent topic was the fact that the greatest single cause of death the previous year was gunfights.

BlackVelvet 7 years, 1 month ago

How utterly stupid to have an article about this, and a photo of Mr. Grinstead displaying his handgun. Nothing like advertising to the badguys that he's armed. Not very bright at all.

brewmaster 7 years, 1 month ago

How many assaults, shootings and killings have their been in the public schools compared to the humane society in this country?

If animal cops need a CCW for their safety then a CCW should be manadatory for principals, teachers, coaches, librarians, janitors and food service workers in public schools, too.

Paula Kissinger 7 years, 1 month ago

Alright must pass the CCW course to obtain a CCW permit. The article did not state who was carrying CCW from the shelter. Workers at the shelter are not LEO's. Also, if you have any intelligence you will know that when Mr. Grinstead's jacket is pulled back the weapon is there. He is not walking around like was for the photo as that is what the story is about. The purpose of the concealed carry by shelter workers is due to the nature of the encounters they have with individuals they come in contact with. Most of you blabbermouths have no idea what kind of people we are talking about but let me assure you that the ones that the shelter workers have had problems with are the scum of Lawrence just like the ones the SO and PD officers encounter 24/7.

kansanbygrace 7 years, 1 month ago

Wow, beo, how'd you ever come around to that? Try to read before you spit.

kawvalleybulldog 7 years, 1 month ago

kansanbygrace has a good point. Every person has a right to protect their family and their property. What gives the Humane Society the right to trespass and confiscate personal property without a warrant? If they feel an animal needs to be removed from a situation, why can't they get a police escort and a warrant? Having a concealed carry permit is not the same as being properly trained to use DEADLY force!!! Also, where are all the reports of these angry dog owners waving guns and baseball bats?

kansanbygrace 7 years, 1 month ago

I normally wouldn't respond to you beobachter, but this once I will. I did have affiliations with KDC and JA for a while. I was paid to come to work. Teaching non-violent conflict resolution to pre-releases provided a real education in how widely people's thoughts and justifications range.
Just trying to save some naive well-intending civilians from getting their butts shot off. That's my attitude. I don't mind your not understanding, you're not alone.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 1 month ago

I also wondered about the choice to publish this! seems like animal control confrontations will escalate to violence faster with this out in the public's awareness.

now that I know the staff can be armed. Sorry folks. Wrong way to handle the situation!

---old hippie passivist antiwar nut. sometimes guns are necessary. ever heard: "don't take a knife to a gunfight?" Sadly, there are more armed confrontations.

Dena, they can't always predict when its gonna get ugly. You advocating LPD/DGSO accompany them every time? That takes manpower.

I agree, where have the reports of armed confrontations at the shelter been?

Becky Smith 7 years, 1 month ago

Not all staff members at the LHS carry a weapon. There are three people that have this license to do so and these three people are the ones that go out to investigate the complaints they receive about animal cruelty. This can be a wide range of complaints and not just in the city of Lawrence. There are some shady people out there that are willing to protect their money if need be. And by money I am referring to the animals that they have created to fight. Maybe those of you who complain should drop a few bucks at LHS to cover the cost that they need for the police escorts that you refer to!

kawvalleybulldog 7 years, 1 month ago

lhsgrad, You don't have to pay extra for the police to do their job (i.e. serve a warrant). P.S. I have donated to the Humane society in the past, but I don't feel comfortable supporting them any longer. This isn't the Wild West!!!

ldvander 7 years, 1 month ago

I think I would rather carry a Twelve Gauge with bird shot. Alot less aiming and less probability of collateral Damage. I mean, I love rifles. But for home defense I gotta consider my neighbors. I think Humane Society workers should be issued State Mossbergs to carry in their vehicles.

Downtoearth 7 years, 1 month ago

I think the limit on animal contral staff that are out in the public should be limited to a tazer. Taz the dam dog and the owner if necessary. Now the office, how about a couple of watch dogs!!

Who let the dogs out?

Happy New Years!!

Confrontation 7 years, 1 month ago

I can't believe that someone is comparing work as a cop to working at the humane society. Well, actually I'm never that surprised by the crap that comes out of Lawrence. The cops face dangerous situations every day. I bet they sure wish they were washing puppies and petting kittens most of the time. I understand that Humane Society work can sometimes be dangerous, but get real. I just wish this money could go towards getting kids out of these homes, instead of saving fluffy.

TheYetiSpeaks 7 years, 1 month ago

I gotta say, I don't get it. I don't understand why this is "news" and I don't understand why some people on here are all riled up. A few American citizens have legally obtained the right to carry a concealed weapon and they just happen to work at the Humane Society......and? What's the problem? Seems to me, the only people that should be worried are people who walk into the Humane Society with the intent to cause trouble and threaten bodily harm.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 1 month ago

For those anti-gun people who exclaim 'guns kill people!': then logically pencils make spelling mistakes and computer keyboards are responsible for cyber-bullying.

People kill people; and if it wasn't by a gun they'd find another effective weapon.

Leslie Swearingen 7 years, 1 month ago

I think you can see the weapon in this picture because the photographer asked him to pose that way. If they left and called the police, by the time they arrived, dogs and people would be gone.

Centerville 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm amazed that investigators haven't been armed all along, given the scum level of those who raise dogs to fight. I'll bet the violence threats at the shelter drop off drastically now. Behold, the beauty of concealed-carry.

Dateable_Shelter_Dude 7 years, 1 month ago

I hope LJW does a story at the Outhouse. I want to see the strippers expose their concealed weapons too!

Boston_Corbett 7 years, 1 month ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says…"How typical of the denizens of The People's Republic of Lawrence to attempt to deny good citizens the lawful tools. . . ."

This is the same Marion who declared all anti-smoking ordinances to be communistic and would be declared unconstitutional by the courts. #Fail

brujablanco 7 years, 1 month ago

There ya go again, Marion with that false victimization cry. You are the Internet stalker, buddy, be proud of who you are!!!!!!

cowboy 7 years, 1 month ago

The issue with this approach is that the LHS has now entered into an aggressive law enforcement position with armed employees , entry onto property without warrants , and their statements that they have the "ability" to seize animals without warrants.

That's shaky ground when confronted by a property / animal owner who feasibly can defend harm from a non-certified individual trying to seize / enter / search private property.

If there is really a need for this , there should be a kansas certified law enforcement staff member to perform these functions. Let the LHS fund a deputy position dedicated to LHS operations . As a citizen I do not have the confidence that these folks have the training , nor the authority to carry out these functions and operate in a way that is safe for the community.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.