Do-Gooder and Critter Trapper Both Get Tickets In Richardson

Categories: Legal Battles

raccoon.jpg
Christ, it's hot.
Here's a moral conundrum for you, Friends of Unfair Park: Do personal property rights trump the exigency of a wild animal dying in a live trap? Apparently, they trump each other, because when certified wild-animal rehabilitator Bonnie Bradshaw loosed a raccoon from pest-controller Lon Menefee's trap, each earned a trip to court to face...Class C misdemeanors. Yeah, so the stakes are low. Traffic-ticket low.

But the essential question is interesting.

Stacie Hughes noticed the large male raccoon in the live trap below her balcony before she left for work on the morning of June 23. She notified maintenance at the Richardson apartment complex and was told the animal would be handled. But when she came home at 7 that night, the raccoon was still in the trap. She splashed a little water on it, but it lay there listlessly after a full day spent exposed to the sun and triple-digit heat.

So she looked up Bradshaw online and called her over. Bradshaw, a former Dallas Morning News general-assignment reporter, thought the raccoon looked moribund. "It was so overheated its tongue had turned purple from panting so hard," Bradshaw says. She took the animal, its trap and another empty trap home with her, re-hydrated the coon, kept it under observation for a few hours and released it near Hughes's complex.

Bradshaw expected a call from the maintenance manager the next morning. Instead, she got a call from the Richardson police.

Menefee, owner of Critter Catchers, says she bent his traps so they won't set. Police informed her she was charged with attempted theft. Menefee was "ballistic" she says.

"I did nothing wrong," Menefee tells Unfair Park. "I was hired by the company to keep these animals out of a woman's attic. They were terrorizing this woman, keeping her awake at night."

He says he has 36 hours to check his traps, and that the complex was obligated to call him if an animal is caught before then. They didn't, he said.

Yet Bradshaw isn't the only one due before a county misdemeanor judge. Menefee was tagged with an animal cruelty citation. According to Dennis Wooten over at Richardson Animal Services, it's his first in that town. That charge seems pretty cut-and-dried, but what about Bradshaw? She believed only swift action would save the animal. According to her attorney, Randy Turner, a past president of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, the "necessity defense" may come into play.

"If you're trying to prevent a harm, and it's worse than the harm of breaking the law, you're excused," he tells Unfair Park.

As for the charge of attempted theft itself, he was dismissive. "The only way you can get charged with attempted theft is if you intended to steal."

That will be for a jury to decide on August 17.

But don't expect it to end there. Menefee, for his part, isn't through with Bradshaw just yet. "Mind your own business," he began. "That's the best philosophy in the world.

"Bonnie is a piece of garbage who needs to be taken care of, and will be, because I'm taking her to the State Attorney General."


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103 comments
Jerry
Jerry

Get real people. The danger to the homeowner and their children is what is at stake. You people are gonna ruin our country with this silliness. These same people complaining and crying put rat poison in their attics and other animals eat it and die. And what about the pour mice and rats they as important. Or you play god and decide who it is ok to kill. I worked for this guy before becoming a successfully business owner and he is following the laws or I would have quit So start you a business and show this guy how you would run things. You obviously have much time to spare. Plain craziness you people.

CoryE
CoryE

Its against the law to tamper with a trap that doesnt belong to you....it also doesnt state the means of how you have to check your trap..In my contract my clients are required to check my traps.. 

Donna LeBlanc
Donna LeBlanc

Kudos to Bonnie Bradshaw for saving the dying raccoon!  Lon Menefee is a jerk!  Hope he is ordered to pay a fine for animal cruelty and spends some time in jail!!

Linder
Linder

Just spotted this on Larry Powell's blog: "As the noon hour approached we got word from Richardson that veteran animal rescuer and wildlife rehabber Bonnie Bradshaw has been found "not guilty" of the misdemeanor theft charge filed after she saved a raccoon's life by removing him from a waterless, sun-drenched trap. More later, no doubt."

Dontletthemruleoveryou
Dontletthemruleoveryou

So we can bust out car windows to save small children and pets locked in hot cars and not get charged with breaking and entering (thank goodness!), but because it's wildlife, we get charged with theft? She took the trap with the animal in it -- wounded animals can be dangerous when frightened, so she did need to take that trap to get the injured animal to safety. For the empty trap, she was preventing another animal suffering by removing an empty trap that would also lie in the sun unattended. Who is to say the next animal in the trap wouldn't be someone's pet? And I'd bet she would have turned those traps back over. Get a grip on the property rights. Is it because it's a raccoon that you have no compassion for the humans or the animals here?

Susanmichigan
Susanmichigan

The fact traps are used is disgusting. There is a special place in hell for losers who make animals suffer. True proof man has not evolved past the stone age. Shame on you.

Bigfatfluffy
Bigfatfluffy

Wow, the issue of the traps seems more important to some people than the point that an innocent life was tortured and about to be taken under horrible circumstances. Cooked alive in a trap! Priorities people!

Dorothyp
Dorothyp

To leave an animal in the sun in 3 digit temperatures is cruelty beyond belief. It far surpasses anything Bonnie Bradshaw could possibly be accused of doing. And the whole thing certainly indicates a clear need for better wildlife/trapping laws in Texas. 

Katherine
Katherine

Where is the outrage at Texas Fish & Game for allowing individuals and companies like Critter Catchers to abuse animals?  36 hours to check a trap? Seriously? That is WRONG. Imagine your cat or dog left in a trap in severe heat, no food or water, injuring itself, terrified... not ok with you?

Then it should not and would not be ok for ANY animal. There is NO debate on that, people.

His job is to resolve wildlife conflicts? HE IS A WILDLIFE CONFLICT!

Rainbow Wildlife
Rainbow Wildlife

Texas Parks and Wildlife got their funding cut big time. They are struggling to keep up with the rehab permits, now don't want us to submit annual records anymore and some, including my own permit, is now good for 3 years instead of 1. It sounds to me they are taking away lots from the rehabbing and preserving part and turn more to the money making aspects: hunting. I hope I'm wrong.

Best example: the school next door received a $35,000 grant for youth archery camp. I sit there with 300 plus animals a year and all I get is rules to follow and hoops to jump through.

TruthBTold
TruthBTold

You followers of the Bonnie Bradshaw Cult, might want to sit down for this one. Both Menefee and Bradshaw are serious bad actors. Menefee and Bradshaw are both Commercial Pesticide Applicators licensed and regulated by the Structural Pest Control Service under the Agriculture Department. The AG department is the home of Texas Wildlife Services, “Aerial Gunning and Developing Feral Hog Poison”. Raccoon rehab is simply a marketing tool for 911 Wildlife. Bradshaw knows Menefee. Bradshaw is the president of WildCare operating in Fort Worth,”full story not included”. Wildcare has a history of recommending Menefee for his trapping expertise. This is simply a war with major bad blood among competitors. There is no defending Lawrence “Lon” Menefee. At least a blind person can read his behavior. Considering his son was on OPRAH when he was the supervisor at Fort Worth Animal Control, “full story not included”. Menefee, “Cridder Catchers”, formerly “Critter Control”, “lawsuits and full story not included”, is what he is. Bradshaw has a history of hostility and attacking everyone she has been associated with, “Full Story not included”. She has a long standing pattern of scorched earth, take no prisoners, animal Jihad.  The facts are:  She trespassed onto a common area of the Apartments for the underlying intent of perpetrating a criminal act.She intentionally stole Menefee’s traps and the raccoon to interfere with his contract.The raccoon was not in danger.The raccoon was feed in the trap by the bait.The raccoon was watered in the trap by the sprinkler system.The raccoon was not in the sun, it was under a tree in the monkey grass beside the building.The raccoon was not heat stressed, it was trying to sleep. Raccoons are nocturnal.A purple tongue is not a sign of heat stress. A pale tongue is.She released the raccoon in 2 hours onto property she did not have permission. Hence Animal Abandonment.Any heat stressed animal absolutely requires 24 to 48 hours to recover.She only returned the traps because the police made her.She held a press conference to turn a criminal act into a marketing ploy. The future for this raccoon is very predictable. It will return to the same attic and continue to defecate and urinate in the many latrines established in the ceiling, leaving behind 4 foot diameter yellow stains with the invasion of fleas to follow for all occupants of the building. The hook worms and round worms the tenants pets will become infested with will transfer to their owners. And yet another trap wise raccoon will continue to breed until run over by a car. The Bradshaw business model is to evict the raccoon and then pass out business cards to the neighbors. The simple problem is that there are not enough natural homes for the number of raccoons. Evicting raccoons is neither responsible wildlife management nor humane. Bradshaw routinely uses Ammonia to gas the raccoons out of their homes and contract pest companies to do the work unsupervised. HSUS has condemned the use of Ammonia. Maybe the covert video team from HSUS will do the story on “HSUS copycats gone Bad”. Bradshaw is liable for tortuous interference of a contract too both Menefee and the Apartments.Bradshaw is liable for the damages the raccoon she released “Trap Wise” will cause to the apartment complex.The apartment complex is liable to provide a safe place for the tenants to live and must remove the raccoons.The apartment complex is liable to the tenants for the damages caused by the raccoon to their pets and their health.Any person evicting an animal is liable for the damages caused by the evicted animal and its offspring in the future.When Bradshaw is convicted, a civil lawsuit is a slam dunk. Bradshaw is no part of main stream wildlife rehabilitation in her area for a reason, “full story not included”. She is the only rehabber to have her raccoon killed because it mauled her. She is banned from the Plano Outdoor Learning Center. Police are to be called if she shows up again, “full story not included”. She has been served with several cease and desist orders for her behavior, “full story not included”. She is simply smoke, mirrors, and a tragic embarrassment for all of the dedicated true wildlife rehabilitators. She advertizes $ 1,250 per week to “Join Our Team”. She is a self proclaimed wildlife expert and a pretend vegan. You don’t get obese eating veggies. Before the next Jihad, maybe the “Drama Queen” will get some meds. She will take credit cards. WWW.911wildlife.com , do not add “RESCUE” Google won’t recognize that.

Julian West
Julian West

Some interesting points on NBC 5's comment board most reasonable people would agree with:

"It isn't theft if she turned the traps over to animal services, she didn't know who they belonged to. If I found a child wandering on the street alone and turned said child over to the police who in turn took the child to CPS who in turn returned the child to the parents, are we all guilty of kidnapping?"

"An important element of theft – sine qua non – is the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the item in question; I find it hard to believe that evidence even suggesting Bonnie Bradshaw’s having this intention could be adduced by the state’s attorney.Absent that evidence her lawyer should open the proceedings by pointing out that there is no case to answer and asking that the case be dismissed."

BTW folks:  Bradshaw has requested a jury trial, specifically, which I endorsed and am sure will be a swift proceeding.  Docket schedule is preliminarily Aug 17th, will be fun to follow and see how it goes. Get your popcorn. I say good for her, let's see a good Samaritan & Necessity Defense affirmed once-again.  I think she has good legal counsel too. ;)

MN Friend
MN Friend

I have know Bonnie for years and there is no one more dedicated to her task.  Menefee sounds like a real jerk to me. 

Nospam
Nospam

Don't need to think too hard about this one....  If you can refer to another human being as "a piece of garbage", it obvious that your "morals" don't extend to caring whether you roast a raccoon alive. 

Stacy Smith
Stacy Smith

The only piece of garbage in this story is Menefee, whose callous treatment of animals is abhorrent and rightly being prosecuted as cruelty (kudos to Richardson Animal Services for pressing charges).  Bradshaw didn't "steal" the traps; she turned them into the appropriate authorities because they presented a danger.  If "pest" control agencies are going to use these traps, they need to be held accountable to using them in the least abusive way possible and part of that is recognizing that in this heat, they must be checked frequently during the day.  Seems as basic to me as breaking someone's window if a dog is suffering in a hot car.  

annieb
annieb

Even a misdemeanor can cause a problem on her record on down the line.  I hope the local DA will lean real hard on Menefee to drop the case.   She returned his property, there should be no issue with theft of property.  His only intent  now is to do harm to her personally and provide cover for his outrageous and cruel actions.  I too have had a run in with a Menefee type.  Any support for this type of person and their position is misguided.  Bonnie deserves support and a pass from law enforcement on this one.  She also deserves support from her community.  People like Menefee hold us hostage causing fear of retribution for taking immediate and responsible action when necessary. 

Julian West
Julian West

Most reasonable judges would throw this out the minute they hear he got his property returned.  It's not like she kept the traps for months or started her own competing trapping company with them.   I'm not really concerned this will go that far.    He's technically lost little income on the actual trap removals. Bradshaw's lawyer can offer an out-of-court settlement and it avoids the fine & misdemeanor on her record.  But I would advise her to not offer that unless and until he truly shows up with a case, he may do nothing beyond his heated rhetoric. And any future revenue lost from his business practices now being a public record (or losses stemming from his disastrous public statements) are really his own doing.  But in his mind I'm wondering if he's pondering suing Dallas Observer next.   The truth is the public has a short attention span and memory and worst case he has to file a name change with the comptroller's office and carry on.   I just would hope Menefee sees the wisdom in withdrawing from the legal threats and, instead, choose to grow from this situation and conduct his business responsibly in the future.

Jonnie England
Jonnie England

"Bonnie is a piece of garbage who needs to be taken care of, and will be, because I'm taking her to the State Attorney General."  That statement alone seems to pretty much sum up Menefee.  It paints a very clear picture of the type of man he is.  What a vile, heartless person he must be to say such a reprehensible thing about anyone, let alone someone who expended great effort to save a living being he was trying to kill.  I wonder how he sleeps at night.  I applaude Bonnie Bradshaw and am grateful there are brave, courateous people like her willing to do the right thing and speak up for animals. 

scottindallas
scottindallas

You know him?  how could you possibly say it sums him up perfectly if you don't know him?

Julian West
Julian West

Weak.  That devil's advocate argument of us not really knowing him stops holding water with me since his business practices are of public record.  I don't usually know someone as a person when I'm doing business with them, only their past results and public behavior.  Whether we know him or not, he's the one here who did such a neglectful and harmful trapping job that he ended up in the news....after crossing paths with a person who reacted strongly to his neglect (or, overreacted to his neglect, in your opinion).   And all these "bbbbut....bbbut....his property!"  fair & balanced arguments aside, he'll get made whole on the legal side -- but if he sits there and makes factual statements to reports like the one he made above, it does seem to "sum him up perfectly".  

You know...if you and others who see him as not getting a fair shake in the media and this blog want to make a difference --- maybe encourage him to step up and offer  a brief public statement beyond his hateful language, stating his feelings about the animal and mistakes of the summer trapping negligence.  Doing so wouldn't just be a human thing to do, it's in his business' interests to make that statement.   Instead he's lawyering up.   In any event we'll all see how it goes...

Julian West
Julian West

You probably seem to have tried to have the most equitable approach of folks in here -- but it's a free press, and free readers.   Judgements are all part of coverage like this usually.  They mean nothing in the actual legal developments and have no teeth, but people are free to make them.   Nah, I'm not personally familiar with his business records beyond the media coverage.   I did Google his full name and found his name related to two other Pest control entities based in Ft Worth.   If I dug deeper and invested the time, I do wonder if the re-namings might turn out to have anything to do with situations like this. One thing is for certain, I suspect he'll be re-naming his business going forward.   But, sure, I'm probably no better informed than yourself -- I'm only reading a story about someone who put traps out and left the catches unattended for hours on end.  That leads me to a quick conclusion about the trapper and the customer (apartments) that doesn't really need a ton of devil's advocacy.  But to each their own. And, no, I certainly don't see myself on this road making a decision like this guy made, but your point is taken -- "judge not lets yet be judged, or in the same situation".  Glass houses, etc etc.   Fair enough... if I ever did make a mistake like this guy, I know I would be ashamed and disappointed in myself.  I wouldn't attempt to deflect and make angry statements, I would own it.  I would work to grow from it.  But, to each their own and different strokes for different folks.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I don't know.  I don't know him.  I don't know the arrangement he had with the apt.  You suggest his business records are public, have you looked at examples beyond this article?  I haven't.  Do you have a scintilla of information about him, his business from a source outside of this article?  I'd hate to judge a man for a mistake he made, particularly one that became news fodder.  If you're no better informed than I, I dare say it's only fair to "hold your judgment for yourself, lest you wind up on this road."

sick of them
sick of them

He sounds like a none-too-bright loose cannon and he obviously has severe anger issues. 

Skiggs
Skiggs

If the Critter dude was charged with animal cruelty for leaving the coon in the trap, wouldn't she get charged with the same crime if she HADN'T taken it?

sick of them
sick of them

Bradshaw left her business card with the apartment management and told them she was taking the trap and why.  If an animal's tongue is already purple from baking in the Texas sun all day, if it is very near death - there is no time to "call the police" or "call animal control."  How many "thieves" leave their contact information at the site of the "theft" and then return the property within 48 hours?  There is no "theft" in this situation. 

Lon Menefee's company is Critter Catchers.  Surely his sadism will be reported to whatever state licensing agency is appropriate.  He calls Bradshaw "a piece of garbage . . "  Wow.  That speaks volumes about his intelligence and his character.  His direction to the rest of us to "mind your own business" is interesting.  Is that what he thinks we should do when we see someone sexually abusing a child or physically abusing an elderly person?  Bullies like that - for people to turn their heads so the bullies can go about their business of causing pain and suffering and in this case, near death, to those unable to stand up to them.

Gold5107
Gold5107

Well-stated. Lon Menefee and Critter Catchers should be investigated. His callous attitude is a big red flag.

Julian West
Julian West

I 100% agree here -- these "Cage Property Rights" posts in here fail to comprehend the most important factor: cages left out in the open on 100+ degree days, a situation which so obviously requires somewhat more-frequent checking, is nothing short of "sadism" as you say.   "Mind your own business" indeed. Most good people, who see something wrong, and do something about it are to be commended. I grew up in a hunting family, attended the humane slaughter of my uncle's livestock a few years ago, and I've watched my aunt kill a chicken for dinner on more than one occasion.   In all cases of seeing these things as a young man I was taught (as most of us country folks are) to kill the animal quickly, humanely, and with no pain.  You do NOT leave a live animal in an oven.    This guy has no business trapping if his first responses is to go nuts over his cages and call Bradshaw a "piece of garbage". I know game hunters with more heart than this Menefee guy has, based on these reports.

super_tigre
super_tigre

So do you put your crawfish, lobsters and/or crabs out of their misery in a humane manner before you eat them?  Or do you just boil them alive?  What about fish?  I bet you let them suffocate.

cp
cp

Alton Brown showed me how to kill a lobster real quick on Good Eats.

Julian West
Julian West

lol -- kind of a false-equivalency, but clever nonetheless.I figure the quick scalding & boiling alive for lobsters is probably painful, but is at least brief & near-instant.  What was your other equivalency?  Ah, fish, yes -- well, suffocation works pretty fast too compared to being in a 106 degree trap in the summertime. Fish I've caught chill in the boat's catch tank for a bit, plenty of oxygen before fish cleaning/beheading-time.  The fish/lobsters/crabs all die faster than 7-9+ hours of a raccoon panting with no water, slowly choking on a swollen tongue.   I think humans are the only mammals that can sweat that out in that situation, all other animals get a crappy and unneeded painful death.  I think you'll find most hunters and fisherman understand this with a bit more heart than our Critter Baker dude, but I liked your reply.  I LOL'ed.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

I will never, ever use Critter Catchers.I agree 100% with your posts.

Disagreeing with animal suffering doesn't make one an animal-rights whacko; it makes one not a sadist.

ChuckE
ChuckE

"exigency"?, "moribund"?..Brantley done got hisself a good edumacation!

Americano
Americano

The object of more laws, and more PC laws, is to make everyone a criminal.  That's how government controls people.  Seems to be right on schedule in Richardson.

Purple Cow?
Purple Cow?

What the crap is "PC laws" supposed to mean? I'm honestly baffled. The phrase has been so abused over the years that it no longer has any significant meaning for most people.

scottindallas
scottindallas

call it micro management of issues that shouldn't be criminal at all.  Not all laws are ethical and not all ethics should be laws.

engmofo
engmofo

PC Laws ??Explain please

Confused
Confused

Why would the Texas Attorney General care about this case? 

Cujo
Cujo

The question remains whether the owner of the traps was ever established before they were removed. If there's no ID on the traps, this is likely to backfire on our little mouth breather.

Jeff
Jeff

He is a blow hard, but she should have called the city's animal control office.

Tomas
Tomas

By all means, the next time you see an animal, trapped in a cage, barely alive, his tongue purple from panting, barely moving and maybe moments from death, call 311 and then drive away in your air conditioned car.  That is what we should all do.  That is what a trained wildlife rescuer should do.  Makes complete sense to me.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Sounds like this guys a mouthbreather of the highest order...He's pissed because he got caught not doing his job properly..Here's hoping he loses his shirt in the case..

Mike
Mike

No jury is going to find her guilty and some foundation will pay her attorney.  He's going to get hit with a fine and attorney costs.  He seems like so many people engaging mouth before brain in a business critical situation.  He should have just picked up his traps, got his check from apartment complex, and moved on.  Calling a woman garbage in the local paper?  Think!  I assume his business has lots of competition.  If I had a pest problem, I would just pick someone else.   

cp
cp

Well there are at least two things missing in this story: 1) Did Bradshaw return the trap(s)? 2) Did the apartment complex maintenance people even call Menefee to inform him that there was a live animal in one of his traps?

Julian West
Julian West

Since Menefee was so quick to jump to legal threats and saying "people should mind their own business" -- it seems he wasn't concerned if the apartment maintenance people informed him or not.  But I see your point here, yes she should probably return the traps (legally she should -- but personally, I wouldn't want to return an incompetent butcher's tools either).  And, yes, it seems the apartments have spectacularly failed here too.  But, again, it sure seems like he didn't care if they notified him one way or the other -- plus the person who set the traps is particularly responsible for detecting the catches. Period. 

Rooster
Rooster

"but personally, I wouldn't want to return an incompetent butcher's tools either"

Never underestimate the self-rightousness of an animal rights whacko....

Pat Boyack
Pat Boyack

This goes beyond animals rights stuff. This is about common decency. 

Julian West
Julian West

I'll take that as a compliment, coming from you.  Cheers.

scottindallas
scottindallas

his concern about being notified is between he and the apts.  It wouldn't be good business to throw the customer under the bus, you know.  She destroyed and stole his traps (see my comment to you above) he was wronged by her, he has some reason to be angry.  I hate defending him, but we are getting a selective reaction from him.  His anger certainly does him no good, and I don't find him sympathetic...

cp
cp

"plus the person who set the traps is particularly responsible for detecting the catches."

Good point, it seems he has the perfect business model to maybe get in more tee time.... sell trapping, er "critter control" to apartment complexes and then simply rely on their maintenance people to inform him about animals in the traps rather than checking on them himself, since the traps are, after all, his. What if someone stole them all? Would he then sue the apartments for failing to protect his property?

He does sound like a real jerk, but also, he sounds like a lazy blame-others-first "business" guy.

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