Sumner County’s State of the Art Shelter Stands on Crappy Floors

Sumner Co AC in TN is a hot mess.  After the pound’s vet was caught on hidden camera heartsticking fully conscious dogs in 2007, reform was promised and the pound was put under the control of the sheriff’s department.  Taxpayers spent $1.3 million to build a new facility in 2011.

The sheriff ended the volunteer program, won’t let anyone post pictures of the animals online and in fact, won’t let anyone past the lobby.  If you want to save an animal, you have to look at pictures the sheriff’s office provides in the lobby.  Despite all these swell reforms, killings are up and live release outcomes are down.  So weird, right?

And there’s more bad news:

When taxpayers spent $1.3 million dollars on this state of the art shelter in 2011, complete with its own flushing system, concrete crews poured a flat floor— a $52 thousand dollar mistake.

As a result, urine and feces pools on the kennel floors, which should have been built sloped in order to allow debris to drain into the flushing system.

A great dane named Chief was held at the Sumner Co pound for 10 days in August following a bite.  Owner Jason Corlew was on vacation but called several times to make sure his pet was ok.  He says none of his calls were returned.  When he picked Chief up from the pound, he was startled to see the dog’s condition:

“He comes out covered in feces, and has urine burns all over him,” recalled Corlew. “His paws, the skin was peeling off because he had been standing in feces for so long.”
Corlew estimated Chief lost about 40 pounds and also had a blood infection.

burned paw

One of Chief’s burned paws, as shown on the News Channel 5 website.

Mr. Corlew has filed a lawsuit against Sumner Co:

The lawsuit is seeking $1,000 to cover bills from the veterinarian. It is also asking the county to upgrade the facility to improve the floors so feces and urine will properly drain away from the animals.

I doubt a lawsuit will do what has clearly needed doing at the Sumner Co pound for many years – put a figurative match to the place, run the pet killers out of town on a rail and start doing the work to actually shelter animals.  Taxpayers need to make their voices heard if any not-fake reform is to ever happen there.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Animal Advocates Say Their Offer of Free Beds to Huntsville Shelter is Refused

I received this letter yesterday from no kill advocate Brie Kavanaugh in Alabama regarding a Kuranda bed drive offered to Huntsville Animal Services. I edited the letter for space and clarity:

The shelter dogs are on concrete floors with some towels and blankets. The public is asked to help with laundry, leading to what must be incredibly high utility bills. The shelter has a 2 million dollar annual budget with a line item for “food and care of animals” which is less than 3 percent of the overall budget. The shelter was recently offered donated dog beds by my no kill advocacy group through the Kuranda Shelter Bed Program. This is a public service program sponsored by Kuranda to help private citizens and welfare groups facilitate donations of beds to shelters at a reduced cost. A web page is set up on the Kuranda site and people are directed to that page to buy a bed which is then shipped directly to the shelter. The beds in the program are considered the gold standard for shelters nationally.

In our case, the shelter need do nothing at all for the drive other than to assemble donated beds once they arrive, perhaps hosting a “slumber party” event to bring people to the shelter to help put beds together. Media was told about our plans in hopes of getting some positive news coverage. A local business leader said that not only will she buy some beds, she’ll go to the shelter to help assemble them. A flyer was readied, the public was primed on social media and we waited for the “okay” to launch the drive.

Common sense would dictate that upon being offered free beds, to be purchased by private citizens, the shelter director would enthusiastically say, “Yes! Please.” She did not. She first said she wanted plastic beds made by a company in Italy. She then said she wanted mesh beds because “the dogs like them better.” Never mind that a mesh bed is incredibly difficult to clean, will quickly be destroyed by dogs in a shelter environment and simply will not last. Because in the end, it is apparently more important to be in control and act like you care about the dogs than it is to be gracious about support from the community you serve and get the dogs up off of the floor.

The representative at Kuranda told me she had seen this type of resistance only once from a shelter in Arizona and even that shelter was honest enough to simply say, “The dogs don’t need beds.” Kuranda went above and beyond here, spending hours on phone calls and in email messages, ultimately unable to persuade the shelter to simply accept donated and durable beds.

Shame on Dr. Karen Hill Sheppard, the shelter director. Shame on Karen Buchan, the Animal Care Supervisor. Shame on city officials in Huntsville, Alabama, who have been alerted to this situation and have done nothing to intervene, while applauding the shelter director for doing such a wonderful job with taxpayer dollars.

Who refuses free, donated dog beds which are considered the gold standard for animal shelters? People who just don’t give a damn.

We have since turned our attention to another shelter which, when the offer of free beds was made said, “Yes! Please!”

Aubrie Kavanaugh

Henry sleeping on a Kuranda bed at the National Mill Dog Rescue Kennel in Peyton, Colorado.  (Photo submitted by Brie Kavanaugh)

Henry sleeping on a Kuranda bed at the National Mill Dog Rescue Kennel in Peyton, Colorado. (Photo submitted by Brie Kavanaugh)

While it’s sad to know that the Huntsville shelter dogs are still needlessly languishing on concrete, Brie says that the group’s drive to benefit The Ark has been very successful – meeting its goal to get a bed for every dog kennel in the first week.  Any additional donated beds will now be used in the shelter’s outside dog areas.  Awesome.

Nashville Pound Kills Owned Dog with Rescue Hold

Sadie Mae, as shown on the WKRN website.

Sadie Mae, as shown on the WKRN website.

When Sadie Mae got lost late last month in Nashville, her family began looking for her.  Sadie Mae’s 6 year old girl made these posters to tack onto phone poles in the neighborhood:

Photo via WKRN website.

Photo via WKRN website.

Owner Janet Mabry checked lost and found pet postings on social media and came across a listing for Sadie Mae on a Saturday. Someone had found her and taken her to the Nashville pound the previous Thursday, placing a rescue hold on the dog if she went unclaimed.

The pound was closed at the time Ms. Mabry saw the listing for Sadie Mae and did not re-open until Tuesday morning. Ms. Mabry called to reclaim her pet as soon as the pound opened on Tuesday but was told Sadie Mae had been killed by staff:

“She kept saying her time was up, her time was up,” said Mabry.

The Nashville pound had held Sadie Mae for the minimum 3 day stray hold then killed her immediately after it expired. The director, Lauren Bluestone, told WKRN that Sadie Mae had been given a temperament test and failed the portion on dog aggression so: Kill. Immediately. The owner says her pet was sweet and had never exhibited any signs of aggression. The director also wants it noted that the owner is a slob and it’s all her fault the dog is dead anyway because:

  • Didn’t file a lost pet report.
  • Didn’t leave a message at the pound while it was closed.
  • Didn’t have the dog tagged or microchipped.

And as far as the finder who placed a rescue hold on Sadie Mae, it sounds like she’s a slob too:

“If truly what she had said was a miscommunication on our part as far as a rescue hold,” said Bluestone. “I’m getting two conflicting sides.”

Metro said it has nothing in writing to verify if there was a hold on the dog.

So many shady people wanting to keep dogs alive in Nashville, sounds like. Thank goodness the Nashville pound director is on duty to administer tests and monitor that 3 day hold clock and mete out punishment to keep everyone in line.

(Thanks Clarice and Arlene for the links.)

State of NC Finds Violations at Transylvania Co Shelter, Assesses Penalty

Last week, the NC Department of Agriculture issued a letter regarding its investigation of the Transylvania Co shelter.  The findings include:

  • During the period from September 1, 2014 through July 21, 2015, 205 animals were killed by staff members who were not certified as euthanasia technicians.
  • 81 stray animals who were neither seriously ill nor injured were killed prior to the expiration of the mandated 72 hour holding period.
  • The director was suspended for a month in 2014.  Upon his return, he falsified the kill log for 5 animals.
  • The records of more than 100 animals who were killed contained conflicting or incorrect information.

The state assessed a civil penalty of more than $10,000 against the Transylvania Co shelter as a result of these violations.

So all this sounds pretty bad.  But wait – we have enablers on standby!

“It’s important to note that these violations are administrative and have nothing to do with the way animals are treated at the shelter,” said Dr. Clyde Brooks, a veterinarian with Brevard Animal Hospital who led the effort to relocate the shelter to an improved facility two years ago.

This will surely be a great comfort to the 81 stray animals who were killed without ever being given a chance at redemption or adoption.  It’s an administrative thing!  Also the county manager says most of those animals were feral cats so piffle.  As far as why the director was suspended for a month last year, the county manager says we don’t need to know about that.  The vet goes even further:

Brooks doubted that the violations would affect [Paul] Vis’ role as shelter director, saying Vis has been instrumental in developing TCAS into a “state-of-the-art” shelter that has gone “from a 75 percent euthanasia rate to a 75 percent adoption rate.”

Let’s see if that’s true.


Portion of the state of NC's 2014 shelter report showing a 44% kill rate at Transylvania Co.

Portion of the state of NC’s 2014 shelter report showing a 44% kill rate at Transylvania Co.

The county is currently being sued by the owners of a dog who was at the facility for a 10 day rabies quarantine but was oops-killed.  Apparently the owners loved their pet more than administratively.

(Thanks Lisa and Clarice for the link.)

State of NC Revokes Certifications from Two ACOs

The NC Department of Agriculture received a complaint from a citizen in June regarding improper pet killings at the Stokes Co pound.  On July 2, the department revoked the euthanasia technician certifications from two ACOs at the facility. An investigation conducted by a state inspector found that Phillip Handy, then director of the Stokes Co pound:

  • killed animals before the required 72 hour holding period expired
  • improperly killed at least one animal in May 2015 “which involved the cruel and inhumane treatment of the animal”
  • “performed, participated in and/or witnessed” the inhumane killing of multiple animals
  • treated multiple animals cruelly and inhumanely causing them pain and suffering
  • shot an animal as “euthanasia” and failed to report it
  • failed to cooperate with the state during the investigation

The state further found that ACO Darryl Sheppard:

  • killed animals before the required 72 hour holding period expired
  • witnessed at least one inhumane pet killing incident in May 2015 and failed to report it
  • “performed, participated in and/or witnessed” the inhumane killing of multiple animals
  • shot or had knowledge of the shooting of an animal as “euthanasia” and failed to report it
  • failed to cooperate with the state during the investigation

Neither Sheppard nor Handy has been charged with any crime in connection with the department’s findings but the State Bureau of Investigation is investigating both men.  They no longer work for Stokes Co.  The facility failed its most recent inspection in late August.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

NC Shelter Workers Indicted for Torturing Dog Were Previously Praised by HSUS

In January of last year, HSUS issued a press release announcing its “top ten emergency placement partners”.  Number one on the list was the Guilford Co Animal Shelter in NC, run by the United Animal Coalition.  The press release reads, in part:

Although every placement partner is deeply valued, these ten groups went above and beyond to help animals rescued from large-scale crisis situations. Throughout the year, they showed tireless enthusiasm and dedication to helping animals.

This wasn’t the first time HSUS offered special recognition for the Guilford Co pound.  In February 2012, HSUS also named the facility on its top ten emergency placement partners list and issued a press release which reads, in part:

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, visited the Guilford County Animal Shelter Thursday to tour the facility and meet with staff members.

“Guilford County Animal Shelter has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty to come to the aid of animals in need,” said Michelle Cascio, manager of the Emergency Placement Program for The HSUS.

There was a backlash among animal advocates as the United Animal Coalition was widely known for its secrecy and its reputation as an abusive killing hole.  Apparently Wayne Pacelle didn’t notice anything amiss during his tour or if he did, didn’t contact authorities about it.

This week, a grand jury indicted Marsha Williams, the director of the United Animal Coalition along with two employees, one of whom is the director’s daughter.  The charges stem from alleged illegal activities at both the Guilford Co pound and the Davidson Co pound, which was also run by United Animal Coalition.  A grand jury found that all three women “unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did cause to be maliciously tortured an animal, an injured dog named Nana[.]”

In addition to the animal cruelty charge, Williams was indicted on several other offenses:

The indictment also alleges Williams possessed more than 100 tablets of Tramadol and kept tablets at the Davidson County Animal Shelter. The indictment further alleges Williams hindered a federal drug investigation by ordering workers to remove controlled substances from the shelter and creating false invoices showing the transfer of controlled substances from one shelter to the other.

The horrifying and long-standing allegations of widespread animal suffering, needless killing and rampant fraud perpetrated by United Animal Coalition have finally been moved into the judicial sphere.  It’s a shame Wayne Pacelle and HSUS spent so much time praising the work of these alleged animal torturers instead of blowing the whistle on them years ago.  It’s staggering to think of how many animals could have been saved, including Nana.

(Thanks Lisa for posting this link in the Open Thread.)

Two TN Pound Directors Kill 379 Cats with Colds in One Month, Remind Public to Spay-Neuter

The Kingsport Animal Shelter reportedly killed 103 cats in response to an upper respiratory virus at the facility last month. At the neighboring Washington County – Johnson City Animal Shelter, 276 cats were killed. Killing cats for having colds is inexcusable. But the directors of both facilities seem to be rather non-chalant about all the violence:

“276 cats, it’s a lot of cats in one month in fact one is too many,” said Washington County Johnson City Animal Shelter Director Debbie Dobbs.
“The cats come in sick, and once they come in sick then they contaminate the other cats that are here also,” said Sullivan County Bluff City Kingsport Animal Shelter Operations Manager Donna Davidson.

If that’s the case then that’s on you.  Your job is to humanely shelter pets which for cats includes proper cage disinfection, stress reduction protocols, vaccination prior to or immediately upon intake and appropriate housing, including isolation for sick animals.  If you were doing your job then cats who come in sick would not infect every other cat in the shelter.  And just because you are failing to prevent mass outbreaks of disease does not give you carte blanche to use mass killing as a response.

More nonsense:

Dobbs and Davidson said the best thing cat owners can do to help fight the virus is spay and neuter pet cats which will help limit overcrowding (a huge factor in spreading the virus in the shelters).

It’s true that overcrowding makes it more likely that a virus will spread in a shelter but hullo – the pair of you just killed 379 sneezing cats and I see no indication of an intent to change practices.  The locals spaying and neutering their pets is a good thing but it will do nothing to save the cats caged in your slaughterhouse right now.  Only you can do that by doing your jobs.

Having a look at the Washington County – Johnson City pound’s webpage detailing its adoption policies, and it’s got all the awful.  The second sentence:

If you are interested in breeding or have personal doubts about sterilization, you are looking for a pet in the wrong place.

Gee, how welcoming.

Next up is the price list where they outline that in addition to the $20 adoption fee, adopters must pay for the cost of the neuter surgery.  If the pet you want to adopt is already neutered, you have to pay a $15 penalty.  Because I don’t know.  Oh and if you choose a dog who is about to give birth, they will spay her, kill the puppies and charge you extra.  They don’t give vaccines either.

But anyway, it’s just a mountain of dead cats and cats come in sick and whaddaya gonna do – except spay and neuter of course.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Mitchell Co Kills Pets Slated for Rescue

A statement from the Mitchell Co Correctional Institute in Georgia indicates an adoption rate of just 21% at the pound and reads, in part:

On September 1, in accordance with its policies and procedures, Mitchell County Animal Control was regretfully forced to reduce the population of stray animals in its custody in order to maintain humane conditions within its capacity limitations. The County’s priority is to find homes for these animals as often as possible. However, with limited resources to house the constantly growing number of stray or forfeited animals, the County has no choice but to control the population.

Some of the dogs killed by Mitchell Co on September 1, as posted on Facebook.

Some of the dogs killed by Mitchell Co on September 1, as posted on Facebook.

Translation: On September 1, Mitchell Co killed 25 dogs and 22 cats – nearly every animal in the facility, including many who were slated for rescue:

“There was animals that were put down that were promised to be safe and to come in and see the furnace going was devastating,” said [pound volunteer Kathy] Harrell.

Imagine volunteering for a shelter and walking in to care for the animals you are helping to get rescued only to find them in the fucking furnace.

Apparently Ms. Harrell is one of the lucky ones allowed to help shelter staff do the jobs they aren’t doing.  Other rescuers have reportedly been turned away:

Janet Goree says her efforts to help get animals adopted from Animal Control have been denied.

“We are all volunteers that want to see this happen, but the Animal Control won’t let us help,” said Goree. “The doors are firmly shut in our face.”

An adoption rate of 21%, killing animals rescuers are willing to save, turning away volunteers – it doesn’t look like Mitchell Co is doing the best they can, as we so often hear from killing apologists.

To be fair, I took a look at the facility’s website to see how they market animals.  It directed me to this page to see the available pets:

mitchell co 1

Screengrab from the Mitchell Co website on September 9, 2015.

Screengrab from the Mitchell Co website on September 9, 2015.

Just in case this half-assed effort for two dogs (or halves of two dogs) wasn’t the only effort being put forth by the county, I went back to Google and found this page:

Screengrab from Mitchell Co website on September 9, 2015.

Screengrab from Mitchell Co website on September 9, 2015.

Now true, they only have one dog advertised here, and she’s from 4 years ago, but how about a round of applause for managing to upload the entire photo?  Finding homes for shelter pets is clearly a “priority” for the county.  And they are “regretfully forced” to kill animals, whom they haven’t marketed and whom rescuers are willing to take.  But nobody wants to kill animals.  That would be like, evil.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Lady Transforms Life at City Pound, Mayor Tells Her to Beat It

It sounds like life for lost and homeless dogs in Livonia, LA used to be pretty wretched if they ended up at the city pound:

The dog pound is located outside, directly behind town hall and is tended to by a single paid employee. The Mayor of Livonia tells NBC33 his name is Brian and he looks after the dogs every afternoon.

Penned up outside, waiting all day long for a guy to come by to clean and throw some food down. And I don’t imagine Brian works 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year either. So there were probably even longer gaps in there which would be cruel to any dog, especially puppies who need to eat several times a day. It doesn’t sound like there was any veterinary care offered to the dogs and ultimately, they were killed – because you know, “unwanted” and such.

But last year, Lisa Shields moved to Livonia from Texas where she had been a shelter volunteer.  She offered her services to the city.  And how:

For nearly a year, Shields fed, bathed, and cared for the dogs like they were her own children. She would take them to adoption events, raised money for them, paid for their vet bills and never asked for anything in return.

Ms. Shields says she had an agreement with Brian that she would care for the dogs in the mornings, since he wasn’t there.  She says things had been working out very well and killing had been completely eliminated since she came on board.  Success by anyone’s standards.  Or not:

At some point in the last month, Shields says Brian started having issues with the work she was doing with the dogs. The Mayor took issue too, saying Shields was over stepping her boundaries.

“I’m not saying she was breaking any rules but we have things that we have a guy, you know, that does washing of the pens, the feeding of the animals, you know, and we asked her, you know, don’t do those type of things” says Troy Chustz, the Mayor of Livonia.

The mayor banned Ms. Shields from the pound.  And that’s with her not breaking any rules but simply volunteering to do some additional feeding and cleaning.  I guess if she had broken any rules the mayor would have sent her to Gitmo.

“I can’t even drive by there and look now to see if there’s dogs down there because I know they’re just going to get the blue juice and be buried in the bayou and it’s just heartbreaking, it didn’t have to be this way, it didn’t have to go this far” continues Shields.
Shields is now hoping she can rally the town behind her at the next city council meeting.

Geez, I hope so too.  Come on Livonia, give the lady who single-handledly eliminated the needless killing of the community’s lost and homeless pets while vastly improving their quality of life and paying their vet bills one more chance.  Pretty please?  If she promises to let some puppies go hungry and sit in filth?

(Thanks Davyd for the link.)

Forsyth Co Oops-Kills Cherished Pet, meh

Maximus, as pictured on the Fox8 website.

Maximus, as pictured on the Fox8 website.

Forsyth Co forced the owner of a dog who scratched someone to surrender him for an 8 day quarantine at the pound.  Ashley Burton had adopted the border collie/labrador retriever mix, whom she named Maximus, as a puppy 5 years ago.  It was heartbreaking for her to surrender her pet:

“I was in tears and could barely speak with him because I just didn’t want to let him go,” Burton said.

After the 8 days expired on July 2, she went to the Forsyth Co pound to pick up her beloved Maximus.  Pound staff gave her a pitbull mix named Spike instead of her own pet.  She waited for 30 minutes while they looked for Maximus then was taken to the manager’s office:

“He said, I don’t want you to panic right now, but we can’t find your dog,” Burton said.
Burton was then told there was nothing else she could do, and to go home while the shelter investigated.

Yeah don’t panic.  And definitely don’t look at the numbers Forsyth Co reported to the state of NC last year, reflecting the killing of 63% of the dogs and cats in its care.  OK, do panic.  But please, do it at home.  We’re busy killing animals here.

Ms. Burton later received a phone call from the pound manager explaining that staff meant to kill Spike but killed Maximus instead.  Oops.  The local Fox affiliate went to the pound director, who never contacted Ms. Burton personally, to find out what happened:

“At some point, either the identifying kennel cards were switched, or the dogs themselves might have been switched,” said Tim Jennings, Director of Forsyth County Animal Control.

Jennings said, since the picture taken of Maximus was not clear, and their descriptions were similar, it resulted in the mistake.

“The photograph is to be the definitive security issue, and in this case we could have done a better job there,” Jennings said.

So basically something got switched, we don’t know what exactly, and we took a crappy picture which is our “definitive security issue” but whatevs, and big black dogs, and did I mention we kill 63% of the pets here?  So I mean, odds are…  Also:

Jennings also told FOX8 that this is not the first time the wrong dog has been euthanized at the Forsyth County Animal Shelter. He said a similar incident happened some time in 2014.

Some time in 2014, some incident, some thing.  Oh but don’t ask for any sort of reform because Forsyth Co is on it:

Jennings said the photograph issue, among others, has been addressed.

See, it’s a photograph issue.  Like cropping.  And it’s been addressed.  Whew.  So just forget about the oops-killing of an owned pet and whoever might have been responsible for that still working at the place and the fact that 63% of the pets who come through the front doors leave in garbage bags.  We’re keeping the public safe!

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)



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