I try to approach all shelter stories with an open mind. I tend to form opinions as I learn the facts being reported. But what’s happening with the shelter in Douglas Co, GA is just weird.
In November 2012, the county hired Rick Smith as AC director. He had previously managed the shelter for the city of St. Joseph, Missouri. Since he took over Douglas Co, the shelter director and kennel supervisor have quit and a local HS has terminated its relationship with the county. A third employee resigned for “personal reasons” and there are currently 5 vacancies at the shelter. Carl Pyrdum, a vocal critic of Mr. Smith, has been removed from the AC advisory board. Anyone wanting to volunteer now must report directly to Mr. Smith’s wife. The hours the shelter is open to the public have been reduced (there are no morning hours at all). Cage space for cats has also been reduced.
On the face of it, none of this sounds good. Especially given that the county says its kill rate for 2012 was 16%. While this is not no kill, which should be the goal of every shelter, it is a relatively low kill rate for the region and would seem to indicate the existing personnel, volunteers and rescues were doing at least some things right. So driving them away would not appear to be conducive to progress.
In what comes across as a very unprofessional document, the county posted this lengthy response to shelter critics on its website. The response serves to answer allegations being made by critics of Mr. Smith and to marginalize certain individuals.
In response to the kill list no longer being made public, the county says:
Due to the resignations of staff members whose responsibility it was to develop the “in danger” list, it was not produced for a couple of weeks. The “in danger” list is now being posted weekly on the Animal Control Department page of the Douglas County web site, http://www.CelebrateDouglasCounty.com, and on the Animal Control Department’s facebook page with allowances and encouragement for ”sharing”.
I haven’t checked the FB page but did check the website listed and was unable to locate any animal list. As an aside, I am not sure whose bright idea it was to post a kill list on a website called “Celebrate Douglas Co”, but no one asked me.
On the subject of feral cats being locked away from the public and killed, the county says that “feral cats are wild and can attack”. This statement is misleading at best. Feral cats have a right to live. They “can attack” rodents to be sure, but the wording gives the impression they are a threat to public safety, which is false.
The county gets personal with its criticisms:
Due in part to the unstructured management and operation of the Animal Shelter prior to Director Smith’s arrival, there are individuals who no longer have “their way” at the Shelter. Two were the employees who resigned; others are volunteers; one was a member of the ACAB, Mr. Carl Pyrdum, Jr.
Mr. Pyrdum openly challenged Director Smith after his employment and the County because Mr. Pyrdum no longer could have “his way” at the Shelter.
He is openly hostile and has been threatening to Director Smith, other employees, other members of the ACAB, and to the public who support the changes. In addition, Mr. Pyrdum has solicited local businesses and animal welfare agencies to stop supporting the County and its Animal Shelter and to instead support his personal efforts. Mr. Pyrdum’s efforts, were they to be successful, would hurt the animals by increasing the euthanasia rate.
I am not even sure how to interpret this. The county appears to contend that Mr. Pyrdum is threatening a number of people, including random members of the public, and that he is striving to increase killing at the shelter.
Mr. Pyrdum is a former law enforcement officer with the City of Atlanta Police Department who regularly relates to others that he carries a pistol and is not afraid to use it. He has posted videos on his blog opposing City of Atlanta policies.
Mr. Pyrdum has posted on numerous Internet blogs and other social media petitions and information in an effort to have Director Smith fired.
Does it seem to you as if the county is attempting to paint Mr. Pyrdum as some sort of anti-government gun nut on a personal mission to get Mr. Smith fired so more pets can be killed at the pound? That’s what I get out of it. And I don’t understand it at all.
Does anyone know anything more on what’s happening in Douglas Co?
(Thanks Clarice for sending me links on this story.)