What is happening in Douglas Co, GA?

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.

More:

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.)

Leave a comment

39 Comments

  1. angelpaw

     /  February 18, 2013

    Info and links can be found at:

    My FB note: http://www.facebook.com/notes/angel-paw-animal-advocacy/douglas-county-ga-action-alert/408658155884783

    Animal Advocate – Georgia’s FB note: http://www.facebook.com/notes/animal-advocate-georgia/i-was-therei-love-the-innocents-and-wish-to-serve-them/620875544594499

    Links to a petition, news articles, pertinent Facebook pages, and the like are in the notes.

    Reply
    • Thank you angelpaw.

      Reply
      • angelpaw

         /  February 18, 2013

        You’re welcome. Animal Advocate – Georgia is a friend of mine, and she’s put a lot of time and effort into saving the animals of Douglas County, both as a volunteer and by postings to her FB page. Carl Pyrdum’s page is Rainbow Connections and there’s also Save the Dogs and Cats of Douglas County Animal Shelter.

  2. Rebekah

     /  February 18, 2013

    Tracy Thompson also commented on County Responds to Criticism of Animal Shelter, New Director.
    “I am one of the employees that left. The county says I left because I could no longer have “my way”. Well my way was to give every animal a chance, use all available space to allow them long enough to stay, expect staff to all pull together to care for the animals, come in early on my own time and take animals to the vet, stay late on my own time to take animals to rescue, come in on my day off to assist a rescue or adopter, communicate and know what rescues take what and make sure and call them when we had animals needing rescue, monitor Facebook for anyone looking for lost animals or wanting an animal and matching them up the best I could, getting animals to the vet when needed, asking rescue friends to help with medications so we could medicate all animals needing it without over burdening the budget, use resources sparingly to save funds, do anything in my power to save as many animals as possible. As you can tell in the counties response this is not the “Way” of the new leadership or the county leaders.”

    Reply
  3. Rebekah

     /  February 18, 2013

    Tracy Thompson also commented on County Responds to Criticism of Animal Shelter, New Director.
    “I also can attest that Mr. Pyrdum is a wonderful person, respectful to a fault. He did nothing but spend his own time and money helping the innocent animals that everyone else forgot. For the county officials to attack him in this way is beyond wrong and words cannot express how shocked and disappointed I am in this turn. It makes me ashamed to have been an employee of Douglas County. This reponse should make all citizens of this county furious and they should demand an immediate retraction, apology and the job of whomever is responsible for this display.”

    Reply
  4. Renee bleakley

     /  February 18, 2013

    Since 2010 the volunteers, rescues and staff worked together very hard and quite frankly very well to re-home so many animals! What is happening has completely undone every bit of good that was happening. Volunteers are just that, they volunteer their time, effort, and in Carl’s case many many dog treats. They worked with each animal to get an idea of temperament so they could be rescued or homed properly. Now not only are they not welcome, they are unable to even get an animal out of a cage. (?). To have “scheduled” volunteers defeats the purpose. Everyone does what they can WHEN they can. In Carl’s case he also rides with the Patriot Guard, meets the soldiers returning home when they have been killed in action. His wife has been ill but goes every chance she feels up to it. Lisa, another very active volunteer, works full time and used to spend almost every open weekend hour at the shelter. Now those hours are reduced drastically.

    With the former (very helpful!!!) employees gone, no spirit of cooperation exists.

    All around this is a bad sad situation for our homeless animals.

    I’m disgusted by the whole thing. I am hoping the commissioners change their minds. If not, our next election will reflect the communities view!!

    Reply
  5. Rebekah

     /  February 18, 2013

    Besides the unprofessional statement in “County Responds to Criticism of Animal Shelter,” Tom Worthan has called the controversy “a witch hunt” & said the problem is that “protesters” have an “AGENDA” implying worthlessness. The AGENDA is caring for animals & saving lives which had improved to a 16% kill rate under the two supervisors who just resigned along with Carl and other DILIGENT volunteers as Renee Bleakly has described here. And I agree, it very disgusting especially for leadership to bully and to attempt to intimidate and ruin the reputations of those whom have a proven positively consistent record [at both the shelter and w/the HS]. Corruption is out of control in Douglas Co.

    Reply
  6. Joey Casey

     /  February 18, 2013

    i attended a meeting today and witnessed a lady having to work a deal to not have her dog put down just because he barks. the dog is a family pet, along with her 4 children. to save her dog and relocate it and pay the fines it will cost her in the thousands. of course her neighbor who called animal control never wanted this for her and now feels bad. the bottom line is the government is passing laws (the law she was brought up on hadn’t even passed at the time this all started) to take what is rightfully yours and if you can pay enough money then and only then, can you get your dog back. you can take out the word dog or pet and insert any right in its place and this is the way government is working to steal money from their own citizens who put these people in place. douglas county does not care about animals, but rather how much can you pay them if they can figure out a way to come and take your animal from you. they will tell you that your dog is aggressive even though he may not be. if your dog barks, beware.

    Reply
  7. Rebekah

     /  February 18, 2013

    Right, Joey Casey; there seems to be no “checks & balances” in the county operations, MAYBE even including the Humane Society.

    Reply
  8. I also attended the commissioners meeting this morning…as did many advocates speaking out against what is happening, since our elected officials hired Rick Smith.

    I spoke out against the commissioners labeling anyone outside of Douglas county, GA irrelevant by stressing that these very people are among those who have adopted, rescued, sponsored, transported and networked the animals. Chairman Tom Worthan cut me off, but I pushed back that I am a county resident and anyone stepping up to help the animals in our shelter via my Facebook page are not to be ignored or deemed irrelevant regardless of where they may be situated.

    I also spoke out against the nepotism and conflict of interest that seems readily apparent with Rick Smith appointing his wife as Volunteer Coordinator…an unpaid position as far as I know, BUT she is operating as if a non-profit and agent for the county…and Rick Smith seems to have considerable say in what business is conducted and county officials seem unwillingly to address this very questionable arrangement. As I stated this morning, something is very wrong in Douglas county, GA.

    Many other issues brought up: addrsssing Rick Smith’s low rescue rate in St. Joseph, MO (it should be noted he had a high kill rate), his rude treatment to volunteers, the inhumane manner he wishes to house animals, the reduction in space for animals to be housed, and the negative impact he is bringing to Douglas county, GA.

    Only one party, Pat Fulghum, spoke in favor of what is going on…paying lip service to the commissioners by commending them on “making hard decisions.” My jaw nearly fell, as those are the exact same words I have heard Rick Smith utter when justifying needless killing. I should note that Pat Fulghum is the chairman of the commissioner’s Animal Control Advisory Board (ACAB), who is unhappy that concerned citizens are speaking out. Indeed, she recently told me that the “meetings are not fun any more.” You could have knocked me over with a feather…fun? Concerned citizens are advocating for the very lives of the innocent animals in the county kill shelter and the community at large, and she says that? I believe she is also a member of the Douglas County Humane Society, and I have heard commissioner Mike Mulcare state that he is.

    After all was said and done, Chairman Tom Worthan very dismissively stated that all issues were addressed in recent press release. Then, he moved on to other business.

    In short, it seems the only ones that seem to care about the welfare of the innocent animals in the shelter are the very volunteers that were pushed out & former shelter supervisors (who resigned rather than work under Rick Smith). The personal attack on Carl Pyrdum is completely without merit, and it speaks volumes about the county’s intention as they indicate they wish to move in a “new direction.”

    A new direction? From my observations, that new direction seems to be increasng the number of animals picked up by road officers (while reducing the number of employees charged with cleaning, feeding, and medicating the animals), to increase the number of citations issued as well as their severity, and to ultimately label dogs “dangerous” or “vicious” in such a manner that it places all dogs in danger within the county’s borders.

    I have pondered why the county officials would hire and circle their wagons around a man that brings nothing to the table to contribute to our progressive achievements in 2012. A friend of mine always says, “follow the money and you will find the root cause.” With that, the only conclusion I have been able to draw is that county officials are seeking to increase revenue by waging war on the innocent animals in the county, and Rick Smith is prepared to accomodate them from the conversations I have had with him.

    Perhaps county officials will submit a legitimate response to our concerns. Meanwhile, beware…and keep your companion animals secure.

    Reply
    • Thank you for attending and for posting the detailed report Lisa. It certainly seems a suspicious set of circumstances to my eyes. Do you have any link or documentation of the stats from Mr. Smith’s last pound?

      Reply
      • Lisa Levesque

         /  February 18, 2013

        Please see email I sent you with PDF, as I was unable to attach.

    • mikken

       /  February 18, 2013

      Very disturbing. Thank you for your advocacy.

      Please know that you have support from all corners of the globe on this one.

      Reply
  9. Lori

     /  February 18, 2013

    Please note that Mr. Smith had over 70,000 euthanasias to his “credit” at his previous shelter, with many years of inhumane methods of euthanasia by “high altitude decompression chamber” (suffocation)and “gas chamber.” (per article in local newspaper upon his retirement)

    Reply
  10. I checked out their facebook page and did not find any recent animals posted up for adoption. Here is the link maybe something could be said about them straight out not telling the truth.

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.381662481851950.93356.376572402360958&type=3

    Reply
  11. Brett

     /  February 18, 2013

    They are attacking Carl because he is standing up for the animals and thinks just like me that the changes Mr. Ricks put in place are not acceptable. That’s my short story opinion. I can tell you Carl is an animal advocate and has spent many hours helping save the animals and will continue to go to the shelter even tho they have told him he is not welcome. I can go on and on.

    Reply
  12. Jennifer

     /  February 18, 2013

    The links are on the Animal Shelter page which I located under Departments and the links are under Downloadable Documents on the lower right hand side of the page. It states that the list are usually posted on Tuesdays. Here are the lists for 2/13:

    Reply
    • Lisa Levesque

       /  February 18, 2013

      The links provided are the animals that are in danger of being killed for space. With that said, I am praying they made it through this morning. Shelter is closed on Monday, so no way to know at this time.

      Reply
  13. That certainly is a very disturbing story and even the version that the county posted on it’s county site was somewhat reckless with some of the comments. I can’t believe they put that a disgruntled advisory board member carries a gun and is “not afraid to use it” and also posted accusations of the former advisory board member saying he was guilty of misconduct from a former job. I’m not sure what the whole story is in Douglas but the remarks posted on behalf of the county government really doesn’t win them any points in my opinion. Bottom line is there is no required training for shelter directors and/or staff in GA (maybe not anywhere) and it’s a shame because running a shelter isn’t all about playing with pets all day. They need to know proper cleaning methods and disease control and cross contamination prevention and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It irritates me when I see shelters and centers being operated by people that have no idea what all goes into the dynamics of running a healthy and safe shelter. Then so many more wouldn’t end up in the landfills. I’ve seen perfectly healthy pets go into shelters and not survive 3 days because of disease. When we deal with herd health for humans, there is mandatory training to prevent disease etc. The same respect should be given to the animal sheltering and rescue industry. If there was standard training etc then people wouldn’t run shelters however they wanted, there would be industry standards and regulations.

    Reply
    • Lisa Levesque

       /  February 18, 2013

      Please note that I know Carl Pyrdum, and he is not a disgruntled advisory board member. Carl has been an active advocate of the animals for quite some time, but was removed from the Animal Control Advisory Board because he was outspoken about issues and the county decided it wants to “move in a different direction.”

      Reply
      • i don’t know him, i just thought it was reckless of the author of the douglas county website to post those types of comments against mr pyrdum. i can’t believe they said that publicly about him and what relevance did the county’s comments about his prior job have to do with the issue at hand. i was actually taking up for mr. pyrdum because how the referred to him in a public forum as an official county gov statement was not very professional and possibly borderline harassment or slander/libel. that’s why i said after reading an official county post like that, i don’t have much respect for the county officials that allowed most of that to be posted. i was shocked :/

      • Thank you Joan!!! :)

  14. Rebekah

     /  February 18, 2013

    Right, Lisa–Carl has been outspoken as have I been, and “leadership” have sought to shun, shame, discredit, & belittle.

    Reply
  15. KarenJ

     /  February 19, 2013

    I am sad and angry reading what is happening in Douglas County, GA. Good citizens making a difference being railroaded out and told they are not needed. These are the same sorts of things I experienced in Montgomery County, TN as AC Director. And the same things that happened to several other AC Directors in TN as well. County Government does NOT want citizens to be engaged or to be involved. It’s a control of the money and power they want. Be damned if lives get damaged and lost along the way. No matter as long as the club is in control. What happens when parameters such as the ones at DC are put on volunteers – animals die. Why? Because AC Officers don’t do the work – the outreach – the care – the networking. Volunteers do. Of course a compassionate director will…

    Bottom line? County Government and County Employees – in my experience – do NOT want to go the extra mile. Or do what has to be done to save animals and educate the public. They want status quo – retirement – and control. When I began as Director in MCAC -after 3 months a fellow country director said “Don’t you ever sleep – or are you simply trying to make us all look bad?” What kind of crap is that? Lazy, status quo workers and thinkers. Not good for any living being.

    Reply
  16. Tracy

     /  February 19, 2013

    I am the kennel supervisor that resigned rather than go back to the old days of pushing caring citizens away and killing animal for nol reason. I am well aware of all aspects of running a shelter. I was the Manager of a neighboring shelter that I ran progressively and only left when a political change took the shelter and put it under the power of the Marshal and changes were made which brought the euthanasia rate from 34% to 85% in two months time. I then came to Douglas and started over as aninal control officer and advanced up to Kennel Supervisor. We worked hard to progress and after the county brought in Lifeline Animal Project and Susan Feingold to gave us basically a playbook to runnning a progressive lifesaving shelter. We ran with these changes and proudly brought down the euthanasia rate in Douglas County to 16% in 2012. We did this with the cooperation of the community and the very advocates that are now being pushed away. We followed strict sanitation protocol and made it through the summer with only one parvo incident involving only 2 animals. The same neighboring shelter I left was shut down 9 times in the same time period for parvo. This I think is a pretty amazing difference and shows that it does take knowledge to run a shelter and compassion. Two counties of equal size and connecting borders whose politicians play with the lives of innocent animals like pawns in their game. It has to stop sometime and caring citizens have to take a stand and not accept this as status quo!

    Reply
    • Tracy, I’m sorry to hear about the problems that have come up with the shelter. I have pulled many cats from your shelter to adopt through my org (Pat Hopper would send pics and arrange transport for me) and you all sent me one cat that was chipped with an address from Sweden and transferred to me and the media helped us find the owner in douglasville (it was lost during the tornadoes and floods a few years ago) so I’d never had a prob at all with the douglas shelter and pulled from it for years. ALSO…..you may not know, but the black and white cat on the Georgia Car License plate for spay/neuter that was introduced several years ago, was a cat i pulled from YOUR shelter that Pat transported for me so the cat on the ga car tags are a former douglas shelter rescue which is pretty cool so thought you’d want to know – her name is hope – she was adopted and lives in snellville ga :)

      Reply
      • also tracy, i can say that out of all the animals i pulled from douglas shelter in previous years, i’ve never had a problem with getting one that was sick. if anything had uri or something like that, they came with meds for me but i’ve pulled for 7 years from douglas and it was always a shelter i didn’t have to worry about getting sick animals from and the ones that i took that had illnesses to be treated were ones i agreed to take to remove from shelter so they could be treated for something and it was my call. so never had a prob with your shelter and i’m speaking from personal experience. i hate to hear that the shelter is having problems because it’s always been one of my favorites to pull from :/

  17. My husband and I adopted our youngest family member form DCAS on September 2012. We are out of state and have never visited DCAS but the staff and volunteers at the shelter and at the rescue were really amazing and ever since we have helped their efforts by sharing and sponsoring pets.

    We started the “Save the dogs and cats of Douglas County” Petition http://ow.ly/hFiGl and Facebook page on February 5th. I am happy to report that we have 4950 signatures so far and we are hopping for many more.

    We also keep a list of media coverage and documents as well. I have pasted the link below in case it is useful. Note that as of today DCAS no longer accepts owner surrenders. Thank you for writing about DCAS.

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/save-the-dogs-and-cats-of-douglas-county-animal-shelter/media-coverage-and-documents-dcas-since-feb-2013/142693242557942

    Reply
  18. Brett Bone

     /  February 19, 2013

    It is very clear that the BOC and Ms.Pat are clearly behind the New Director. I find it comical that Ms.Pat would state that Volunteers need to work with the HOPE group to save lives. EXACTLY! If you do not join the group you are NOT WELCOME to help at all. If you are not to their liking and do not agree with the changes then Sorry you can not help! Rescues and previous Volunteers that have not publicly stated their dislike of Mr. Smith you might have a chance of helping save the sweet Dog’s and Cat’s at the DCAS.

    As far as the people who were part of the BOC. I found it rude that they are allowed to sit there on their phones and on the computer. A meeting demands attention and obviously they did not care about the welfare of the animals at the DCAS.

    I am sure when their Dog is picked up by the road officers is illegally seized, Deemed Vicious and Dangerous. Put to sleep after 72 hours or held for 30 days and they pay their extremely high fine they might be the ones to make some changes.

    We as a community only want to be there for the animals. Many folks are not demanding he be fired. We just want the animals to have a chance at adoption. Give them back their spaces, socialization time, promote them, call rescues. Get them out the front door!

    Let people come out to volunteer even if they do not like the new changes. Allow the rescues and volunteers that made that 16% euthanasia rate happen come back in.

    They are the ones in control. They need to put on their big kid underpants and do what is right.

    If not the animals are the ones to suffer! No matter what we will be there. We will keep “Visiting the animals”. We will continue to take their pictures and spend hours networking them. We are not leaving and not backing down. We will keep going to the meetings and speaking for the voiceless. Because we are the ones that care about the true welfare of the animals at the Douglas County Animal Shelter.

    Read more: Douglas County Sentinel – News, Classifieds, Business, Sports – Douglasville, Georgia

    Reply
  19. FixCharlotte

     /  February 19, 2013

    I rescued a cat from this shelter that was posted and emailed out through Maine Coon Rescue. That was Spring 2009. He was saved because a rescuer got in, photographed the cats and got the word out. This lucky little guy is the Love of my Mother’s Life! They should know that volunteers, rescues and empowered staffers wil save lives. Isn’t that why they’re a “shelter”??

    Reply
  20. Susan

     /  February 19, 2013

    In the last year I have been part of a grassroot effort led by Tammy and Carl Pyrdum, and Lisa Levesque to reduce the number of animals euthanized and increase the numbers of animals adopted and rescued from the Douglas County shelter. This effort involved dozens of people and relied on the good will of the volunteers and the shelter staff (Tracy Thompson and Mike Pope especially)– THEY are the reason the euthanasia rate went from 40% to 16%– the Commissioners and the Douglas County Humane Society played NO role. The fact that Mr. Smith could not join in that effort and capitalize on the hard work and foundation laid by this group is evidence he does not have the best interest of the animals or the citizens of Douglas County in mind. Tthe exodus of key staff so quickly in a manager’s tenure is a sign of very poor managerial skills. I find the slander of Carl Pyrdum the most objectionable part of this sad episode– he and Tammy have done nothing but spend much of their time (and probably money) trying to save as many animals as possible from the shelter. They have enlisted a small army of people from all over Georgia and beyond in this effort. I hope the Commissioners will come to see how destructive their hiring decision was and remove Mr. Smith from his post.

    Reply
    • KarenJ

       /  February 20, 2013

      Having recently been fired as a compassionate Animal Control Director – I can tell you that sadly this is the norm. The political machine neither wants to hear about issues in their communitites nor do they want the citizens engaged. Why? Because they then have to work. Work under transparency, work to answer the questions fo WHY and WHY NOT? The fact that the wording from the County stated that Mr. Pyrdom could not “have his way” with the shelter – simply adds to the ludicris nature of the changes being made by the government. A Kill Rate of anything below 20% is to be CELEBRATED! Especially when citizens who are NOT PAID are doing the work. An Animal Control Department is supposed to be a PART of the community. To serve – yes. To protect – yes. To educate and save lives – YES. The country is watching one again as a good group of citizens make positive differences and the County Government wants them out because they are a “necessary pain in the butt.” I give you support and kudos for NOT giving up.

      Reply
  21. FYI we have posted a revised updated list of all media coverage and relevant documents for DCAS as of February 19 here http://ow.ly/hRNgJ

    Reply
  22. Sarah

     /  February 24, 2013

    I used to work as a reporter for a local website, and I covered the shelter. I went up there every week to pick our “pet of the day” in hopes of getting them adopted, and on occasion, I’d write other shelter-related stories as they were warranted. The shelter was a dark place that no one wanted to visit. Death rates were pretty high. I left my position in October, 2011.

    Shortly after that several volunteers went in and began making positive changes. I was amazed at what all transpired in a year. I couldn’t believe the stories I was hearing were about the same place. In all the years I’ve been involved with the Douglas County Animal Shelter, either personally or professionally, I’ve seen so much harm done due to big egos or lack of concern from the local government or citizens. That changed in 2012. Everyone seemed to be working together without any kind of personal agenda. They made it a place that people wanted to go, and showed the public that these are great animals who just need a second chance. They got animals adopted and rescued at unbelievable rates, and euthanasia rates decreased dramatically. They gave their time and money and networked and took it on as a full-time a job.

    The county has been in need of a new facility for years. This one is located on the same grounds as the local landfill in the northern part of the county, away from most of the new residential areas and quite frankly, in an area that many people do not want to visit, because it does not have the best reputation. It was built a few decades ago. The population has grown tremendously since then, but the size of the facility remains the same. Despite all of this, these volunteers, along with dedicated staff members, did something that no one else has been able to achieve in my lifetime.

    With the hiring of the new director, negative changes are being made that remind me of what the shelter was before all of this happened.

    My main concerns are as follows:

    – Reduction of shelter hours and staff
    – Not allowing private citizens (taxpayers) to volunteer because they do not like the new changes
    – Director’s wife is in charge of deciding who volunteers and picks and chooses based on who she gets along with. She also conducts herself very immaturely online on various websites.
    – This one I can speak for because I haven’t witnessed it, but I’m told volunteers are no longer allowed to walk animals in certain areas or without being accompanied by a staff member? Human interaction is key for these animals who are scared and lost.
    – The new director wants to change the wording of a state law so that any animal deemed dangerous (not an animal that bites or attacks someone, just one that “seems” dangerous) can be euthanized. As a pet owner in the county, I fear for my dogs, because we go to local parks, and they might growl at another dog who passes. Could I lose them over that?

    The county put out a press release in Sept., 2011 that read “The Douglas County Animal Shelter never euthanizes animals to ease overcrowding” and “euthanization is a last resort and is primarily used for sickly, wild, mean, and unadoptable animals.”

    In February, 2013 they put out a press release that read “When the Shelter is full, decisions have to be made. Euthanasia is a sad fact.”

    To me, this proves that the county just wants to silence anyone who speaks up.

    Reply
    • Tracy

       /  February 24, 2013

      The last poster summed it up perfectly and thank you. This is not a volunteer or an ex staff member and gets it. Anyone that has visited the shelter over the years would know the truth just as this person does

      Reply
  23. I want to personally thank those who have come forward in my defense. Having read the unmitigated personal attacks that have been leveled at me by the Douglas county board of commissioners, there is absolutely no question that the commissioners only defense to public criticism of their chosen course of action concerning our animal shelter, are “ad hominem” personal attacks against me personally and denials of the truth brought to their attention by citizens of Douglas county.

    It has become increasingly clear over the past ninety days, that Douglas county is not interested in continuing progressive or positive life saving programs at our animal shelter. The board of commissioner’s support of a director who has repeatedly stated in public meetings and in private correspondence with citizens, his disdain for life saving policies and his equal disdain those who support those policies, speaks volumes as to where the man’s heart and mind rest as it concerns killing shelter animals.

    Yes, the wagons have been circled and the blitz of media attacks were begun against me on February 14, 2013 with Douglas county’s official “press release.” The press release, a document where absent the ability to address the concerns raised by the public, the commissioners opted to author a personal attack against me as their only defense or rebuttal to their failure to take action and address citizen complaints.

    Between January 30th and February 4th, both shelter supervisors at Douglas county animal control resigned their positions rather than serve under the new direction and policies of intolerance to life that of Rick Smith demanded be implemented by them.

    These were policy changes that were made clear to both of these supervisors and both of these dedicated individuals contemplated their own integrity and character before submitting their resignations and citing their opposition to Smith’s policies of death as their reason for resigning. How much plainer could it have been made to the board of commissioners.

    On the morning of February 4th, I attended the board of commissioners work session meeting. I had not intended to speak publicly that day, but upon learning the news that morning of the second supervisor resignation at our shelter in less than a week, I decided that something had to be said to address what was happening. When I arrived at the meeting that morning and saw the chairwoman of the animal control advisory board (the board I was then a member of) present and obviously prepared to sing the praises of the man responsible for those resignations and the complete reversal of all the good that had been accomplished in the past year, I knew that I had to speak out and I did.

    Mrs. Fulghum spoke first and praised the efforts of Rick Smith and the commissioner’s decision to hire him. Afterward, I stood and spoke and I took exception to her glowing accounts of his both false and proposed accomplishments. More importantly, I told our commissioners directly that “something was wrong at our shelter.” Specifically, “when both of your supervisors at the facility resign in less than a week? In an economy where most people are either looking for jobs or trying to hold on to the jobs they have? Then there must be a problem.”

    I told the commissioners that something needed to be done to address the concerns of both the former employees and the public. I told them that the strides and progress made over the past year was being cast aside and dismantled and the man responsible was their newly hired animal services director.

    My words fell on purposely deaf ears that morning. The following day at their legislative session, the board of commissioners ended regular business, then excused themselves to a private “executive” session and listened to a prepared statement read by their county administrator. The statement recommended my removal from the animal control advisory board. A motion was made and seconded and four of the five commissioners present voted unanimously to remove me from the animal control advisory board. The commission chairman (the commissioner I was representing on the board) was conspicuously absent from the meeting and the vote.

    I was advised via a phone call by the county administrator at 2 p.m. that afternoon that I have been removed from the board, “because the board of commissioners wanted to move in a new direction.” Really? Or was it not my outspoken opposition to the man responsible for alienating employees and the public.

    From that day to this, the only official response by the board of commissioners to citizens inquiries or complaints about the management and conduct at their animal shelter, has been to disseminate their ad hominem personal attacks against me via the press release and via the continued dissemination of the press release to anyone requesting a written response from them either individually or collectively.

    When I spoke before the commission on the morning of February 4th, I seriously considered resigning from the ACAB board at that time. I had previously discussed doing just that with my wife and others in the community. On the one hand I regret not resigning that morning, but on the other hand, I feel that it served a better purpose for the board of commissioners to act as they did in response to my criticism of their new director. The example of their actions in removing me serves as its own evidence of the politics of personal egos and what happens to those who speak out against their clique.

    The actions of the Douglas county board of commissioners on February 5th, February 14th 2013 and since then speak volumes to the realities present and the personal politics of intentional libel being deployed against myself and others. In their attempts to defend against citizen complaints that have both truth and merit, the commissioners continue to reveal themselves for precisely who they are, what they represent and the wrong headed leadership they support to a fault.

    Our commission chairman when confronted by citizens at his January and February town hall meetings, opted to play ignorant of the facts being brought to him by citizens concerning the conduct and record of his new animal services director. However, he was well versed with the hot button talking points of Rick Smith’s previous career and the assertions that those citizens opposing his director were just on a witch hunt. Asserting: “We need to give the man a chance!”

    Rick Smith has had his chance and as foreseen, he cannot get beyond his entrenched wrong headed policies or his archaic career record of killing shelter animals to fulfill his own personal equation of “capacity management” and supposed “humane death.”

    Between February 27th and March 5th, he ordered the death of thirty Douglas county shelter animals. One little dog was killed as a “rabies specimen” after having been at the shelter for three months prior to nipping an unqualified and untrained community service worker, serving out a criminal sentence as a laborer at our shelter. The shelter’s own bite report of the incident reflected the incident as a minor wound, yet the little dog was killed three days alter and her head was cut off and sent to a state lab as a rabies specimen in the attempt to justify killing her.

    A little cat was killed on March 5th listed on their death list as being feral. The same cat that had been in the cat room and available for adoption for weeks, was suddenly deemed feral and killed. That cat along long with several others were deemed feral that day. Then there were the seven cats who were killed that week based upon “vet recommendation.” The same kill vet who earns $9 apiece for killing Douglas county animals each week, was given the say so over their deaths and Rick Smith went along with the recommendation as a valid justification.

    Then there were the dogs who were killed because they were deemed “animal aggressive.” After their deaths, videos were published showing these dogs and demonstrating that they were not aggressive, but that made no difference to the man looking for a justification to kill them.

    The bottom line is this. There are no restraints on the man who now holds sway over the lives and deaths of shelter animals in Douglas county. He has been given a blank check to do as he pleases by our county board of commissioners who have made it infamously apparent that they fully support him. They along with their puppets on the animal control advisory board and the county humane society have publicly sated their full support of the new director.

    Today April 1st there are thirteen dogs scheduled to die at Douglas county animal control. Rick Smith in response to a citizen inquiry over the weekend, cited his inability and lack of desire to do so. The citizen was simply asking him to give those on the list more time this week, but that request was denied. Citing their length of time in the facility and the alleged lack of space. Both of which are criteria of marking animals for death that have been continually denied in the past by the board of commissioners. Once again, the reality seeps through and the evidence is in writing by the hand of the man responsible. Who will listen?

    As I write this, there are several people at the shelter attempting to adopt and rescue three of those dogs scheduled to die today. I sincerely hope that they are successful, but I know that regardless of their individual efforts on behalf of these three, at least ten others will die as a result of this man and his wrong headed policies and his personal pursuit of power and control over animals and the public in Douglas county. The word I have at this moment is that one dog has been adopted and that another citizen attempting to adopt another dog was denied and told to come back tomorrow. When asked when the dogs were to be killed, they got no answer from the employee at the shelter today.

    There is more. there is a lot more, but it will have to be revealed bit by bit as the record of death is built upon and doubled by the uncaring acts of those responsible. Until the people see that the only thing that the present administration of this county has to offer as animal control is death, nothing will change. Healthy homeless and abandoned animals will continue to be forced to die by a system that belongs in the ancient past.

    Meanwhile, myself and others will continue to do what we can to help as many as possible find a life outside the death camp that is now Douglas county animal control. We will continue to speak up and we will continue to speak out for defenseless animals and we will continue to hold up the record of both the animal services director and the board of commissioners to public scrutiny.

    I for one appreciate the support and efforts of those who have joined with us to become a voice for justice and a voice against the senseless killing that is being perpetuated and supported by elected officials who will be judged by the voters in the not too distant future.

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