What is Cash's Fate? Healdsburg Animal Lovers in Anguish, Legal Battle

Cyrus restaurant's Douglas Keane files lawsuit against Healdsburg Animal Shelter; Shelter Exec Julie Seal has no plans to euthanize Cash, she says.


A dog named Cash is at the center of a major dispute involving high profile Healdsburg restaurateur and Julie Seal, exective director of

Keane, a volunteer at the shelter and chef-owner of top-rated restaurant, has filed a lawsuit against the shelter in connection with his wish to adopt Cash, an 110-pound, 3-year-old male Mastiff-pitbull mix.

A hearing on the lawsuit has been set for 3:30 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, Dec. 1) at Sonoma County Superior Court satellite courtrooms at Empire College, 3035 Cleveland Ave, Santa Rosa.

According to Seal, Keane said he would place Cash, who Seal said was evaluated as "dog aggressive," in training with King's Kastle, an animal care facility with branches in Cloverdale and Windsor.

"Doug responded –- and I can produce the email –- stating that he was going to send the dog to King’s Kastle until he was safe to come home with him," Seal said in a letter to shelter board members over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

"I responded according to our adoption policies: his other dog would have to meet Cash and his wife would have to be present," she said.

"I also told him Colleen (Combs), the owner of King’s Kastle, was welcome to be there," Seal told the board members in her email. "His response was that I insulted him and I was making him 'jump through hoops.'"

Seal said she and shelter attorneys were in the process of drafting a liability waiver and insurance agreement for Keane to sign before they would allow Cash to be adopted out when Keane filed the lawsuit Tuesday, she said.

Neither Keane nor Keane's attorney, Rex Grady of the Edgar Law Firm in Santa Rosa, could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Seal says Cash has a history of aggression and received two recent independent trainers' evaluations of being aggressive.

She noted, however, that she has absolutely no plans to euthanize Cash, despite claims by some Healdsburg shelter volunteers in emails to Healdsburg Patch and on the Facebook page, Save A Dog Named Cash.

"What once was a wonderful place to watch animals get their new homes and a second chance has now become a high kill shelter," said one volunteer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of being shut out of the shelter. "Right now, the community of volunteers and local rescues, a hopeful new owner, and an attorney are coming together for one dog....'Cash.'

"A dedicated, professional trainer has been working with Cash for five months at Healdsburg Animal Shelter," the volunteer added, not giving the trainer's name. "He wanted to adopt him, but for no apparent reason, Julie Seal denied him the adoption and claimed the dog needs to be euthanized."

Seal, however, said Cash has charged and attackedHealdsburg Animal Control Officer Ryan Pelleriti.

"A male animal tech had to pull Cash off him; otherwise, he might have been hurt," Seal said.

On one occasion, Seal said she herself was attacked by Cash when she was standing next to a small dog.

"He lunged at me, or he might have been lunging at the small dog," she said.

Cash came to the shelter in August, after his family gave him up because they had a new baby, and "didn't trust him" not to hurt the baby, according to Seal.

Nonetheless, Keane's supporters claim the dog has no history of aggression.

"All of us love him! Cash has no bite report, no bad history, and he has been to Douglas's house!," another volunteer said. "The shelter let him paint for charity (with his paws) with Ellen Boone from the Paws for Love Foundation two weeks ago.

"All of us walk him and he knows 'sit,'  'down,' 'shake' and 'roll over.'" the volunteer said.
"He is beautiful and smart and Cash doesn't deserve to die!"

The volunteer said the shelter is giving false advertising about its "no-kill" status.

"I am upset that this shelter accepts donations from people in Healdsburg calling itself "no kill" when it's not," the volunteer said. "They've euthanized two dogs in the last two weeks and now they want to kill Cash."

Seal repeated that Cash was not slated for euthansia but that certain procedures had to be followed first to protect the community.

"As the executive director of the Healdsburg Animal Shelter, I do not feel it is morally or ethically right to adopt out this dog to a member of the community, even if that member of the community is a high-profile person engaged in an emotional appeal," Seal wrote to board members in the email, sent out before the lawsuit filing yesterday.

Seal said Wednesday she was not only concerned about what could happen with Cash and Keane's other dog -- or his wife -- but also what might occur if Keane, who volunteered as a dog-walker at the shelter and who also engaged in obedience training with the dogs as part of a requirement for a certificate as a trainer, would later adopt out Cash to another family and Cash would hurt a child.

"That could result in the failure of Healdsburg Animal Shelter," she said Wednesday. "We could be sued for millions."

Seal said two prior dogs at the shelter, Jayda and Sprite, were transferred to the Petaluma Animal Shelter for adoption after a Healdsburg shelter trainer deemed them both rehabilitated. Both dogs were returned to the Petaluma shelter after they attacked either family members or other animals in their adopted families, Seal said.

"I do not feel it is morally and ethically right to transfer this dog to another animal welfare organization who will then think he is rehabilitated and adopt him out into the community," she said in her email to the board.

As reported earlier in Healdsburg Patch, policy except if an animal is very sick or not able to be rehabilitated and is considered dangerous. The shelter is very reluctant to euthanize a dog or cat and has a extended process leading to that, with lots of checks and balances, according to earlier interviews with staff and board members.

"No one wants to see a dog euthanized," Seal said Wednesday. "But no one wants to be responsible for putting a dog in the community that then goes and hurts someone."

Brenda MCBeth December 02, 2011 at 03:40 AM
The shelter is broke because the ED got a raise and has not raised any money for the new building. BEFORE THE LAWSUIT!!!
Brenda MCBeth December 02, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Julie's buddies are also getting seats on that board when long time dedicated board members have been asked to resign. This is unethical and needs to be questioned also.
In the Know December 02, 2011 at 04:41 AM
Brenda, I am not surprised to read this...
In the Know December 02, 2011 at 06:08 AM
Brenda - It's so hard not to say anything but I have a feeling, like me, you know more than you can say. Sounds like Julie is copycating the last shelter she worked at. She's a fast talker...and can be very persuasive.
Judi Levens December 02, 2011 at 07:19 PM
I have been unsure of whether to post this but here goes. I adopted a cat in July who is and was known to be agressive. When I saw him at the shelter he was separated into an area with only one other cat and I was told it was because he could get along with anyone and the other cat had problems. I first saw him spending a long time, maybe an hour, with a volunteer...at the time I thought she was considering adopting him, but I finally asked and she said no, she was just spending time with him. I asked about him and she said he was very gentle, and he appeared to be. I came back the next day with my husband and we spent some time with him and he was very gentle with us. I had already spent time with Julie (who was great with us) and others and told all of them that we would be taking the cat we adopted to Mexico with us for several months a year, and that the ability of the cat to travel was important to us. My husband and I decided to adopt this cat who was named Cooper at the time, and we came back the next day to do so. The girl at the front desk spent quite a bit of time with us as did the vet tech...we talked about Cooper a lot, what they knew about him, any potential illnesses, what we were expecting of him (to travel in a few months), etc. No one mentioned that he was agressive. When he turned out to be (bit me several times) I called and spoke to the receptionist...she told me that they knew he was agressive and should have told me...tbc
Judi Levens December 02, 2011 at 07:22 PM
She specifically said the vet tech knew, but that there was a volunteer on that day and maybe she didn't know. I asked how was it possible that it wasn't in his file and she didn't have a good answer for me. I was very upset and asked her to be sure to tell Julie...understand that when you take a cat on a plane you have to carry him through security...this cat cannot be picked up, even now after 5 months. I was quite surprised I didn't get an apologetic call back. We tranquilized the cat and brought him to the vet...he's on a mood enhancer and is doing very well...he does have a very gentle personality when he's not stressed or feeling agressive and we are very attached to him. However, I am still afraid of him...always watching to see what his mood is...twice he bit me while looking right at me (before meds). Just saying, this shouldn't have happened...
austin December 02, 2011 at 09:12 PM
I'm just curious, does anyone have an idea of what the costs incurred are or resources expended in this fiacso? Clearly, people feel strongly about the issue. I am just wondering if the costs are worth it.
In the Know December 02, 2011 at 09:17 PM
I am so grateful for Keane standing up for Cash in defense of the ED and the HAS. I wish more people who have been faced with this same type of "special adoption" had stepped up to the plate and stated their case. Thank God Cash is getting out of that horrible shelter environment. Why can't a publicly funded shelter be held accountable for their action to the public? If the board of directors is being swayed and altered by the ED to the point where long time board members are abandoning their seats along with other members being forcibly asked to resign just so the ED can build a new board to support her biased decisions, it the public should have a say in who goes and who stays - not the ED.
In the Know December 02, 2011 at 09:18 PM
It's time for the public and it's supports of these "shelters" to take a stand. It's time for the staff and personnel at these shelters to be held accountable for ALL that goes on behind closed doors. I know for a fact that when a random caller calls these "shelters" (not just HAS) to get information about specific topics, the staff and volunteers are directed and told what they are "allowed" and "not allowed" to say or repeat to the public and to the press. These "shelters" are not in it for the animal welfare, they are in it for the money and their salaries. It's time they be held accountable to the public for all decisions made within their closed corporate doors and have to show all their cards - not just the ones they want us to see.
In the Know December 02, 2011 at 09:19 PM
I'm tired of knowing how many innocent large and small donators of funding to these "shelters" have been conned and tricked into thinking their funding is going straight to the animals. It's firstly going to the overpaid staff and then to the overpriced "shelters" monthly running expenses. Lastly, if any money is left over, it might go toward food and medical care for the animals. These huge facilities are not sustainable with this poor economy and although they look like wonderful 5-star hotels for the animals, they are huge white elephants that are costing too much to run and the animals are suffering and having to give up their lives because there is no real funding left for their care after the bills are paid.
In the Know December 02, 2011 at 09:20 PM
It's time for public appointed employees and public appointed unbiased board members to be made a part of the inner workings and running of these facilities. It's time for the public to be informed of what these overpaid shelter employees are making and to have a vote in how much they should be paid. This has gone on for far too long. It's time for a positive change that focuses on the care of the animals - not high salaries and high running expenses.
Carol (Kiki) Noack December 03, 2011 at 01:02 AM
From my converstations with the people involved or in the know, the departure of current/recently departed board members has less to do with the current ED than it does with board structure issues that were a challenge before this ED arrived.
rooster December 03, 2011 at 04:58 AM
I hear a lot of people saying that the shelter doesn't do this,doesn't do that, has dropped the ball, lie, and are uncarring. These people that say this why don't you open your house to all these animals that are being surrendered, abandoned, or mistreated. If you talk the talk , then do something, or keep your mouth shut. If it wasn't for shelters these animals would have nowhere to go. If it wasn't for shelters, these animals would run around the streets with no care what so ever. If not for shelters, those commiting cruelties would go unpunished. If your willing to house all these hundreds of animals, go for it, other wise don't talk. Shelter worker don't go into this for recognition, or glory, like these rescue groups protesting the shelter, but to care for animals in all ways possible. Which is it, save all animals, even aggressive ones, but then complain because you adopted an agressive animal, aren't all these people saying save all animals whether safe or not. The shelter is there for the safety of the animals and the community. So again, if you're not willing to take these animals yourself, clean them, feed them, provide vet care, socialization, and everything that goes along with, don't put down shelters. They provide a necessary service for the community.
rooster December 03, 2011 at 04:58 AM
Looks to me that a certain virus that was kicked out of the Petaluma Shelter has grown malignent at the Healdsburgh shelter, this so called dog trainer, needs to leave shelters alone, she's cancerous and causes greif for hardworking shelter workers where ever she goes. Initials VF ring a bell!
In the Know December 03, 2011 at 05:52 AM
You wrote: "if you're not willing to take these animals yourself, clean them, feed them, provide vet care, socialization, and everything that goes along with, don't put down shelters. They provide a necessary service for the community." I do all of the above as a foster parent for homeless adoptable animals and have been doing this for several years. The rescue group I foster for does everything that a regular "shelter" is supposed to do and makessure the animals are adoptable. They never put down an animal unless it is a necessity. I agree that county shelters provide a necessary service for the community but I think there is a lot going on behind the scenes that you wouldn't want to know about. Just be aware that there is a lot of miscommunication going on and a lot of politics.
rooster December 03, 2011 at 09:40 PM
That's America, people would rather see good people fall to scrutinity instead of helping and not judging, and this is such a sad fact. Is it really humane to keep an aggressive dog that can never be adopted out confined forever. I'm sorry there are politics in what ever oranization you have, it's inevitable, and you're ignorant if you say the contrary. These people that speak with such negativity, thrive and multiply in swarms, seeing who they can eat up and chew out next. Goodness, does it have to be that way, just help then, stop the badgering of those who are doing beneficical work that others are not willing to do. This world has enough negativity, why add to it.
Maggie December 04, 2011 at 03:09 AM
.....And the Petaluma Animal Shelter is doing so awesome without the training center, adoption support and marketing. Dogs are being Euthanized left and right and returned at an alarming rate. Volunteers are gone in alarming numbers and everyone is suffering especially the dogs. VF has saved countless lives and rehabilitated dogs that deserved a second chance.....That shelter is a failure without her and will never recover. It will cost Petaluma animal lives and human safety in the town of Petaluma. The euthanasia numbers are public record...go see for yourself. Open your eyes.
Maggie December 04, 2011 at 03:18 AM
Maggie December 04, 2011 at 03:18 AM
rooster December 04, 2011 at 03:46 AM
Wow........Maggie you have anger issues, get some counseling. Petaluma and Healdsburg will do just fine with out VF. For your information while this so called savior "dog trainer" that even self proclaims herself as failed dog trainer in her own web sight, adopted out a dog that ended up mauling a ten year old boy. So ya educate yourself with public records and hold someone accountable there. So.... VF is the savior of shelters across Sonoma County, they can't survive with out her........ya hmmm right.......good one.
rooster December 04, 2011 at 03:49 AM
By the way those dogs that are being returned, are all the Old Training Center dogs from when it was open, from your savior dog trainer, for aggression, and biting kids. So woo hoo , way to go for the savior!
Maggie December 04, 2011 at 07:32 AM
And they are being returned because it is not open. I adopted a dog from the training center and this person you speak so horribly of has been helping me keep this dog I love, for many months. She is still training shelter dogs FOR FREE. I call her and she is there. It is not about your shelter, it is about dogs. She still cares about THE DOGS. What are you doing? quitting i suspect? training them yourself? offering lifetime training? nope you point your finger and blame others for your failures. I am adopting another dog from her rescue, not a local shelter, because I know I will be supported and my new dog will be set up for success, not failure. do you really think the dogs are being returned because of the training they received 6 months ago, or possibly the lack of, since leaving the shelter? I think you know. besides this is about Cash, not your failed attempts at sheltering, and placing blame on others. Own it, you blew it, and now you warehouse and hope for the best.
Maggie December 04, 2011 at 08:49 AM
she is responsible for a mauling that happened randomly months after an adoption with a dog she had no contact with after the adoption, and had no issues for months up until the incident? Did she agree, he needed to be put down? The family couldn't even explain it, he was so wonderful for so long. Things happen that you can't control or explain. Do you have animals for adoption at your shelter who have mauled a child right now? how do you explain that? have these animals received any rehabilitation? or are you just hoping they will never run into a child again? HMMMMM.....good one...that is irresponsible and dangerous, but by all means, blame those dogs on VF too even though she has never met them.
Lisa Hadley December 04, 2011 at 08:45 PM
I think a couple of questions need to be asked. One involves the definition of an aggressive dog and who determined that the dog was aggressive. I would ask Healdsburg is it acceptable to "you" if in fact what I've heard is true : 1) stressed out dogs are being "water boarded"- sprayed down with water hoses to stop their barking, 2) stressed out dogs are being muzzled to stop their barking; 3) would you approve of any worker at HAS who is afraid of large dogs? 4) because of the first 3 a dog becomes more fearful - more aggressive, you then have your reason to euthanize it since it will not be safe in the Community? Or should you send the dog to a safer haven to get proper training? HAS is your shelter, it does not belong to Julie Seal, it does not belong to Kathleen McCaffrey, Kim Lloyd or Sandy Walheim of the Executive Committee (as their Website says), it is for the animals of Healdsburg first (not County) and supported by the people of Healdsburg. So go seek the truth! Learn about the animals that have been euthanized. The staff does work hard, these are hard economic times, but our moral standards should not suffer because of it.
roosters December 04, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Like a politician avoid answering the question, typical. I see that it doesn't matter what the facts show about VF. She is perfect, descended from heaven in your eyes, sounds like a cult in the making. It doesn't matter that these dogs were returned several times, even while under her "training" and "rehibilitation" for aggression. It doesn't matter that the staff warned her of the aggression shown by the dog that mauled an innocent boy, who will be forever scarred. Not her fault, now way, she's perfection incarnate, it's the boys, he did something wrong. Who gives a rat's bottom how long he was out of the shelter, the dog was a ticking time bomb, that imploded. But no, not her fault, that would take a big person to admit a mistake. Talk about God complex, but with most cult followers there are no flaws in who they follow, they are weak minded and can't think for themselves. So all the more power to you in yor following, good luck, you'll justify her and glorify her. I just hope no more innocent people or animals are hurt in the reckage you leave behind, as you go onto shelter to shelter, and rescue to rescue, burning bridges, giving bully breeds a bad rep. Brrrr.....sends chills down my spine.......I'm done.......go on with your chanting as most cults do, there usually is no end to your glorification as you will prove by returning I'm sure some comment that commends her, gives her saint hood, showers her with grace, wow.....scarry!
Maggie December 04, 2011 at 09:40 PM
well you say what you say, but she was just asked for help the same shelter who a few were quick to slander her months ago. After all you say about her and place blame, you still have the audacity to contact her and ask her to help. That took guts as she has enough unjustified media slander by 2 people to sue the pants off you and part of me wishes she would, but you do a good enough job digging your own grave, she is more committed to dog rescue than petty revenge and lies. and you still haven't explained what time bombs tick away in your shelter and are marketed on the internet for adoption. Who will you blame those dogs on, or will it take a tragedy for you to admit your failure. I'm glad you are done because this is about CASH. I just refuse to let you get away with lying about someone you envy and made you look bad while she was there, because she was so awesome!!! Haters move on, this story and battle is about love, lets appreciate the beauty of the human spirit and the courage it takes to stand up for an innocent animal. A lot of people are earning their wings this week.
Lisa Hadley December 04, 2011 at 10:59 PM
You are not the first and you will not be the last to experience this at the present day HAS. Animals are double adopted, sent out without all "disclosures" causing some to be returned, and even sent out without their vaccinations which the adopters had thought they had as stated on the website (hopefully all have been notified of this error). And if "someone" now says these are not factual I have a feeling there are enough of you Healdsburg that can refute that due to your own personal experiences. The bottom line is all this dialog is good as it opens the closet doors on what was and in many mays still is a wonderful shelter. But it does have it problems currently. All is not great because Julie is keeping a scorecard on animals she adopts from County...the numbers game is not the entire story of the Healdsburg Animal Shelter and you all are finally realizing that!
roosters1 December 04, 2011 at 11:01 PM
Ok, said I was done, but can't let someone take the blame for my words. WTF, you loone I'm not that person, shelters communicate amongs each other, just like rescues, duh. Her own reputation proceeds her, and not in a good way, all info in public records. I worked in shelters yes, volunteer in some now, so who ever you think I am your wrong, I would never ever ever ask her for help, envy, well most cult members think that way, so sure you go ahead and think that. That's a good follower, go fetch. Outa here!
Kitty December 05, 2011 at 06:45 AM
sounds like you are the one putting pins in the voodoo dolls, and drinking someone's kool aid, and needing counseling. Not to mention a little off topic. There are always people like you resistant to positive forward movement. You are sad rooster. Light a candle for Cash tonight. Volunteers are whispering to him, "Douglas is coming to get you, hang in there"
Nita Flores March 21, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Well said Rooster


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