Updated: Preston Co Suspends Shelter Manager After She Tells the Truth Publicly

Unbelievable:  Preston Co, WV required its shelter employees to work in a facility without heat or water this winter.  In a place that takes in sick, injured and otherwise compromised pets, heat and water are essential for maintaining health and cleanliness.  Never mind that the conditions are sub-standard for the employees and volunteers as well.

Unbelievable-er:  The county recently ordered the shelter to take in 100 dogs, goats, chickens and rabbits from a local seizure.  With no heat or water in the facility!  Which begs the question:  How bad were conditions at the location where the animals were seized?  Because if the place had either heat or water, it was one-up on the county shelter.

Still, the shelter manager, Courtney Austin, did the best she could by issuing a plea on a Facebook page she had started as a means to help network pets at the shelter.  She also spoke to the media and explained that she was asking for foster homes to help.  Ms. Austin was reportedly having to burn garbage in the shelter’s cremulator for heat.

Unbelievable-est:  County commissioners, apparently unhappy with the fact that Ms. Austin told the truth about conditions at the shelter, suspended her on Friday.  The county says Ms. Austin failed to attend a meeting about the Facebook page she started.  Ms. Austin’s attorney told the local news that the suspension notice given to her client gives a different reason.

Over the weekend, a support page for Ms. Austin chalked up close to 1800 “likes” on Facebook.  Ms. Austin is scheduled to meet with the county tonight.  Those wanting to take action can check out the FB page for contact information.

Update, February 5:  The commissioners reportedly fired Ms. Austin last night for insubordination, after she refused to turn over administrative control of a Facebook page she had set up to help the shelter’s pets:

Numerous rescue groups from around the area spoke on Austin’s behalf. The commission made their decision before hearing these statements. They do not need to hear the public’s opinion on personnel matters.

Craig Jennings, the President of the County Commission, stated the shelter was never without heat or water.  Ms. Austin and her attorney are discussing their options according to the report on the local news.

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18 Comments

  1. mikken

     /  February 4, 2013

    Wow. Her statement wasn’t at all negative towards the county or powers that be. Just “we have no heat and our pipes are frozen, please come help get animals out to warmer homes”. I hope the backlash is painful.

    Reply
    • I would think the county would count themselves lucky she didn’t go postal on them when they told her she had to take in 100 more animals from a seizure. I can picture myself lying down in the driveway in an effort to block the vehicles trucking in those 100 animals.

      Reply
  2. what the heck is going on in these places. these people seriously need to have their jobs taken away. maybe the leaders of the county would like to work in the shelter for a few days with heat or water. I cannot believe that sick people like this are allowed to run a county.

    Reply
  3. Courtney has impressed us all. In a state where “no kill” is a seemingly impossible standard, her ability to circumvent killing in her shelter with tireless networking is absolutely amazing. More amazing still is the fact the there are only two paid workers. I live in a connecting county and hope this brings massive attention to the not so underground expectation that shelters are for euthanizing because the community cant be trusted or isnt doing what it should for its pets.

    Reply
  4. Vicki Aucremanne

     /  February 4, 2013

    on the facebook page created to support Courtney, there is a screen shot of her post asking for help when she knew there would be more animals coming in. I saw nothing in that statement that criticized the commissioners. The countie’s lack of action to get adequate heat and water into the shelter speaks for itself.

    Reply
  5. Beth Korsmit

     /  February 4, 2013

    The shelter in Preston County, WV, was a very high-kill shelter (via gas chamber) until this woman became manager. She networked animals and was able to go over a year (and counting) without euthanizing. I live in PA, but Preston County WV isn’t that far away, so I have always known of that place as a hellhole – until this woman took on the responsibilites. I “liked” her Preston County animal page several months ago, and I saw her posts about needing fosters or transporters because of the frozen pipes and lack of heat at the shelter. Mind you, Preston County is in the mountains, and they get A LOT of snow. When she asked for help, not only were they dealing with a snowstorm, but temps that were only in the single digits (with wind chills even colder).

    I hope a large number of people turn out for the meeting, but unfortunately Preston County is under a winter storm warning through Tuesday. I think that they got a foot of snow yesterday, and they are supposed to get 8-10 inches more through Tuesday morning, so turnout may be small.

    I hope the commissioners see the error of their ways, and reinstate her. You would think that someone making the county look good by striving (and succeeding) to be a no-kill shelter would be congratulated for her efforts, not left worrying about her job.

    Reply
  6. Waterdogn

     /  February 4, 2013

    Would it be possible to post the contact information for those of us who don’t do Facebook? Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Unbelievable is putting it mildly. I’m with you about going postal on the commission concerning the additional 100 animals for a shelter with no heat and frozen pipes. Heck, I’d probably be going postal just because of the lack of heat and water. I’ve tweeted and FB shared this post and others from Courtney’s page.

    Reply
  8. I’ll be clicking the link above to sign and share the petition. Good for Courtney for at least doing something and hopefully there is now heat and water in this shelter.

    Reply
  9. KateH

     /  February 4, 2013

    If there wasn’t heat and running water last week, there won’t be any for a while. Things like that always require weeks to work out – or, dog forfend, there’s no ductwork/pipes there in the first place, so adding them will likely take through the summer. I wonder if this is something that went on in years past, as well.

    Reply
    • Vicki Aucremanne

       /  February 4, 2013

      You can go to the facebook page and read the story, in the photo section, there are copies of letters which document this and give a time frame.

      Reply
  10. Reblogged this on No Kill Allegany and commented:
    Preston County, WV is about 60 miles from Allegany County, MD. Unbelievable what is happening to a compassionate shelter manager.

    Reply
  11. Concerned in WV

     /  February 5, 2013

    This story seems to contradict the commissioners statement about the shelter NEVER being without heat.

    http://www.wboy.com/video?clipId=8249750&autostart=true

    Reply
  12. julie delorenO

     /  February 5, 2013

    More stupidity in WV! Most of the county commissioners in this state SUCK! In my county, Greenbrier, Mike Mcclung tried to cut funding to our humane society! Everyone showed up to protest and he did not get his way. He will not win the next election, nobody will vote for him. Idiots! Kill, Kill , Kill is their motto. They drive around with dead cows in their trucks- of course they have no compassion.

    Reply
  13. Cassandra Harvey

     /  February 8, 2013

    Thank you all for your support and encouragement for Courtney, as well as your concern for the PCAS animals. It is appreciated.

    Reply
    • question… has the heat and water been restored? Any updates on the shelter condition. I’m hoping Courtney is back working there.

      Reply

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