Back in December, a pit bull named Ginja was rescued from a dog fighting ring along with several others. But when she was stolen from the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter, staff and Buffalo officials did nothing to find her, and rumors swirled about corruption as high up as the mayor and district attorney. Now, thanks to Lexus Project attorney Matt Albert, Guardians of Rescue, and “Ginja’s Gang,” the missing dog has been found and is safe.
Peace officer (cellblock attendant) Shanon Richardson (sometimes misspelled Shannon) was arrested by fellow officers for animal cruelty based on the four malnourished dogs and dog fighting equipment found at his home.
Though he was ordered to stay away from the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter, where the dogs were being held, he entered the building and reportedly took photos of dogs, likely the ones rescued from him. Within the next couple of days, a pair of suspicious men came in, asking questions about specific dogs. That day, Ginja disappeared. Despite there being surveillance cameras, no footage has surfaced showing Ginja being stolen.
The story was kept quiet; few in Buffalo even knew what happened until March, when the time for Richardson’s hearing came. District Attorney Frank Sedita allowed the animal abuser’s charges to be pled down to misdemeanors, angering those who knew about the case. This result, along with the alleged cover-up from Mayor Byron Brown, infuriated dog-loving residents.
Guardians of Rescue got on board, and the Facebook page Put Dog Fighting Buffalo Peace Officer Behind Bars was created.
Many speculated that Ginja was stolen because fighting dogs can be valued at $10-15,000. A reward of $7,000 was put up for the dog. There was no condition for the money other than her safe return. People plastered the city with missing dog fliers, and posted on the mayor’s Facebook page. Many comments not depicting him in a favorable manner were deleted. But animal advocates were persistent, and now their efforts have paid off.
As the saga unfolded on Facebook, Ginja’s message was quickly being circulated:
d be. And they KNOW that you guys didn’t do anything about it.
They know that your game plan is to do what you guys do best: duck and cover. They know that you guys are far more concerned with figuring out who of “your guys,” is talking to the “crazy animal folk,” than about who stole me or who fought me. They know you guys are deleting my gang’s comments on Mayor Brown’s facebook pages. They know that you guys pray I don’t get found and paraded in front of city hall as a symbol of all that’s wrong with this city.
They know, Mr. Sedita, that you have had your staff lie to people that my abuser’s arraignment hasn’t been scheduled. They know that you dismissed child abuse charges against Shanon Richardson. They know that you offered misdemeanor pleas to Shanon Richardson even after I had been stolen. They know you once had the police detail car assigned to your house when your potted plants were being stolen from your porch. They know that you took that detail car away from Elmwood Avenue, where it was assigned to look for a fiend that was robbing and sexually assaulting numerous women.
Mayor Brown, they know that your staff has threatened to gut the volunteer program at the shelter if any of the volunteers were to expose the fact that the director, who is from a prominent political family, has been drunk on the job most of the past 10 years.
They know that the game plan is to stay silent and hope that the ‘crazy animal folk,’ go away and business can go on as usual. But here’s what you don’t seem to realize. My gang, the ‘crazy animal folks?’ They ARE your People. They are your taxpayers. They are your district attorneys, doctors, and businessmen. They are your probation officers, cops, and bankers. They are your democrats and republicans. They are us. They are people that know a government that can so callously sacrifice my well-being to cover up their mistakes isn’t much of a government. They refuse to live under the culture of fear and paranoia that run rampant in your administrations.
See, my gang has heart and soul where you have bureaucracy and ruthlessness. They walk into any East Side neighborhood to try and find me. And people like them. The community, no matter where it is, takes kindly to people trying to do the right thing. People are sensing it is not just me that is being sacrificed in the third poorest city in America. It is schoolchildren, senior citizens, and others who suffer when the number one agenda that you two promote is to retain power over all else. It is my brothers, sisters, and cousins who suffer at the city shelter and the streets when you would rather turn a blind eye to dogfighting and pretend it doesn’t exist, as opposed to admit and address the barbaric practice.
My gang won’t stop, Mr. Mayor and Mr. District Attorney. So please, do the right thing. It’s never too late to do the right thing. Please try to find me. Please do the honorable thing and recognize your mistakes. Please come up with a strategy to address dog fighting, instead of thinking of how to put out a good press release about the subject. Please work with my gang. Please help me. I don’t vote. But I matter. My gang realizes that, and they will make sure that one way or the other, you guys will also.
From Put Dog Fighting Officer, on April 23rd:
. Now, everything that we’ve seen from the shelter does make sense. And sadly, this problem is far bigger then Kelly McCartney. It goes up to the highest levels of Buffalo city government.
The volunteers have been suppressed and abused by the bullies at city hall. They HAVE spoken out against Kelly constantly being drunk at work. They HAVE spoken out against Kelly routinely giving dogs back to the dogfighters they were seized from. Maybe not all of them, but many of them HAVE spoken out.
Know what the response was to the volunteers who devote up to 30 hours a week doing all they can for the animals there? Know what the Public Works commissioner told them when they pleaded with him to address the horrific situation with city management? “Deal with it.” That before they would get rid of Kelly, they would get rid of the volunteer program at the shelter. That is a DIRECT quote.
Yes, the mission is to find Ginja, and that we will do. But, people NEED to know about this cesspool of City Government. The volunteers couldn’t even put up photos of Ginja, because that is considered a ‘media request.’ And all media requests for city workers have to go through Mike Degeorge.
A former TV reporter, Mike DeGeorge, suddenly stopped believing in the right to free speech upon becoming the city spokesperson. At Mayor Byron Brown’s behest, he rules the city workers and volunteers with an iron fist and makes sure nobody dare speak out about the corruption and toxic climate of Buffalo city government.
These three Fascists in the photo are determined to make sure Buffalo improves on its current ranking of the third poorest city in America… all the way to number one!
DeGeorge told News reporters last week that there was an “ongoing investigation” for Ginja. As confirmed by sources within the DA’s office, that is an outright lie. They swept Ginja under the rug. They don’t see her as an angelic dog who deserves to be cherished and protected.
They see her as a sacrificial lamb that they want slaughtered so that they could have covered up their municipal blunder. As much as we want to find her, they are hoping just as much that we don’t.
The mission now is to find Ginja. But once we do, we owe it to the people and animals in the City of Buffalo to do something bigger. We need to clean up city hall with a baseball bat.
From Put Dog Fighting Officer, on April 4th:
We have news… and it’s not good.
s page surfaced, it was our hope, especially as of yesterday, that the Mayor had been convinced through our efforts to “investigate.” Turns out… he WAS!!
And here is what he is investigating… US. Mayor Brown is having detectives call us pretending to be people in possession of Ginja, and asking all sorts of questions about what would happen to Ginja once she is returned. They are trying to establish that we are not going to return Ginja to the shelter if she is recovered, so they can lock us up for possession of stolen property. Really. This is 110% confirmed. We have numerous solid police and DA sources, AND we confirmed the info in other ways too.
Instead of going after dog fighters, instead of trying to save Ginja, they are going after us. Why?? For the simple reason we have spoken out against government and the wholly inadequate and corrupt situation. We dared speak out against an ‘alleged’ child-abusing, wife-slashing dog fighter who was hired as… a Peace Officer. In a three strike state like California, Richardson might be looking at life behind bars. In Buffalo, he becomes… and is… a Peace Officer who is STILL having his salary paid for by… the taxpayer. We dared try to right these awful wrongs by sacrificing our own time, money, blood, sweat, and tears to aid lil Ginja, so failed by man.
Forget truth being stranger than fiction. In this instance, truth is stranger than Alice in Wonderland on an Acid Trip. Vladamir Putin thinks the three tyrants in our graphic are oppressive.
Well, game on. For the record, if we find Ginja, of course we will return her to the secure and lovely confines of the Buffalo City Shelter.
Keep in mind. We, as taxpayers, have a right to know why we are being investigated for Ginja’s 110% legitimate reward fund and her possible return, as opposed to, you know, dogfighters being investigated for dogfighting or criminals being investigated for crimes. Well, Mike DeGeorge likes to speak on these matters. Let’s give him a chance to do so. Anyone may feel free to call him at 716-341-9522 and politely ask him why advocates are being investigated, as opposed to criminals.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” We haven’t found Ginja yet. All we’ve done is uncovered tragic and disturbing facts about our elected officials. Let’s see what our search turns up next. We’re going to keep looking, that’s for sure.
Then, on April 12th, Guardians of Rescue posted this update:
BUFFALO, NY: GINJA IS SAFE!
Our president Robert Misseri has done it again! Guardians of Rescue has successfully negotiated her return, and it wasn’t easy!
Robert and Matt Albert were present for her return. AND YES, THAT IS THE ONE AND ONLY GINJA IN THE PHOTOS BELOW! AND THE CHAIN IS OFF FOREVER!
The ONLY details our investigator can share are that Ginja has been taken to an undisclosed location, she is NOT returning to the shelter that she was abducted from and she is also NO longer in the care and custody of Guardians of Rescue. We are confident that she will be well cared for and loved. The only thing she will ever have to fight for now is what side of the bed she will sleep on. She is safe and out of harm’s way. That is what is important!
We want to thank Matt Albert who has been the lead advocate for Ginja and for his dedication to this case to see that this case does not fall through the cracks. We were very pleased that Matt entrusted us to find Ginja and we are very happy we did. We have total confidence in Matt Albert as a former prosecutor. We know that he will see that justice is fully served upon Shannon Richardson and will continue to keep pressure on the DA’s office! A big thank you to everyone involved. Together we save them! http://guardiansofrescue.org/
A later update from Put Dog Fighting Officer said:
Ok Peeps: Anyone know where Ginja is?
Yes, she has been found. Right now, she is with a very loving dog savvy person who will nurture and cherish her. Rest assured, we are all determined that no one will ever lay a cruel hand upon Ginja again. Her life did a 180 today. I’ll explain everything momentarily.
First off, we would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to Guardians of Rescue and their president Robert Misseri. They contributed so much so that these horrific series of wrongs that Ginja suffered would be corrected. Their contributions were far beyond financial, though their generosity was unbelievable. They helped broker a very difficult negotiation that could have fallen apart anytime.
Also, we would like to thank Ginja’s Gang. Ginja’s Gang was ALL of you. Everyone who liked the page, said a prayer for this beautiful animal, hung up a flier, or signed a petition deserves much credit. People came together and united around a pure creature who dealt with the worst of humanity, from the cruel streets of the worst neighborhoods, to the callous and sinister halls of city and county government. While she experienced the worst of humanity, she also helped bring out the best in it. With that, battle lines have been drawn for future fights. Ginja is found. But the hunt for a kinder culture is just beginning.
But…. today is about Ginja. First, I’m sure everyone wants confirmation it’s her, especially because some of the people from the animal shelter, who didn’t want her back in the first place, now can’t stand that she is found.
It started about a week ago. People contacted both Guardians of Rescue and Ginja’s Gang saying they had her. They then said they wanted to go through a lawyer to collect the reward and return her. Immediately, this seemed to have an air of legitimacy. A scam would more likely be along the lines of “Meet me at Genesee and Bailey with $7,000 in your pocket.”
Anyway, through the lawyer, we received what purported to be new and updated photos of Ginja.
We matched them up with her older photos, paying attention to the scars. We found a very credible and honest person that knew Ginja from a prior time. They said that from the photos, they were “90% sure it was Ginja,” but that they would have to see her in person to confirm. We promised this person anonymity. Both Rob, myself, and Kelly Mann were with this person who IDed Ginja with 100% certainty upon seeing Ginja in person today.
It should be noted that we also reached out in a very nice manner to Jen Ward and other volunteers from the shelter, to see if they would help ID Ginja. We tried for a week to obtain their help. They wouldn’t. Jen’s reasoning was that, “this was a job for the authorities.” Great. When we gut the animal shelter from head to toe, and we will do so, the volunteers need to go also. These are cold and calculating people whom would rather keep a dog with dogfighters than admit there is anything wrong with their shelter. A dog they supposedly cared about. Melanie Ruskin, Jen Ward, and Ali Gaston have no business being around animals. We will offer any volunteer or anyone casting doubt upon Ginja’s identity the opportunity to view her at an undisclosed location. Again, they’ve made it very clear they have no interest in Ginja or her well-being.
Anyway, the deal was brokered that reward money would go into the attorney’s trust account. It would only be released from there once we both took the dog and CONFIRMED it was Ginja. If we were uncertain at all based on the evidence, the deal wouldn’t have gone down.
There are certain things about Ginja in person that would not be evident from her photos. She is a very small dog. Her hair was shaved down at the shelter to treat her puncture wounds. Her ears do crazy things. These aren’t things that people would know about. We did, from speaking to our sources. Again, the person who knows Ginja from previously said they were 100% sure it was Ginja upon seeing her. This person is VERY credible, and has NOTHING to gain by saying that. We matched up scar to scar. While some of the wounds were faded… they ALL matched up. Her hair was exactly at the length you would expect for her being shaved down three months ago.
Here’s the kicker. Way back when this page started, we posted a video of Ginja from the shelter when it appeared she was saved. Ginja lay in a volunteer, Ali Gaston’s arms, thinking she had found a savior. Ali deleted the video and never did a thing to help Ginja again. Ginja was ultimately dead wrong about Ali. But, while many dogs are affectionate, that video resonated in my head. I had never seen a dog that joyful and thankful in her actions before.
When we got Ginja to her new digs, she did the EXACT same thing. Am I 99% sure it is Ginja? No, I am 100%. I would bet my life on it.
It is very sad that people who call themselves animal lovers would try to damper what should be a very joyous day for all of us. But let’s not let them. Ginja is found, and we’ve also discovered a hell of a lot of phonies and scumbags in both animal rescue, the Buffalo Animal Shelter, and City Hall and county government. Their day will come. But, this is Ginja’s day. Let’s enjoy it. Thank you all for everything.
Ginja’s Gang can finally breathe a sigh of relief. We all hope the rest of her days are as happy as this one.
“You guys never cease to amaze me with your determination to help. Look at this, once again you made the impossible possible,” Heidi Draper said. “I love how you do what you do. Yay Ginja. I hope the rest of your life is filled with love and hugs.”