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.)


Georgia ACO Lets Friendly Dog Suffer and Die in Vehicle

Brad Pitt, as shown on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website.

Brad Pitt, as shown on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website.

When a 17 month old dog called Brad Pitt got lost in Georgia last month, owner Holly Roth and her family began looking for him.  They searched for him physically, put up fliers around the neighborhood, and reported him missing to Cobb Co AC.  The family kept checking in with AC to see if their pet had been picked up but they were repeatedly told no.  Then a neighbor called the Roths and said he had seen a Cobb Co ACO pick up Brad Pitt.

Oh, THAT dog.  Well, ok.  He was picked up but he was dead after having been hit by a car. It says so right here in the ACO’s notes.

Really?  Because the neighbor said:

“He (was) just a friendly dog. (The animal control officer) just put a leash on it (and) put him in the side of the truck and then drove away,” [David] Spontak said.

Oh, THAT that dog.  Well, ok.  He was perfectly fine when he was loaded onto the truck by the ACO but he was left in the metal box all day to suffer a horrible death from heat stroke.  So, still dead.

Gee, I’m afraid we’ll have to charge someone for that.  But don’t worry, just misdemeanor animal cruelty and misdemeanor obstruction for the attempted cover up.

The ACO, Matthew Cory Dodson, quit his job, was arrested and spent an hour in jail before being released on his own recognizance.

“Cobb County authorities want to reassure our citizens that this type of behavior will never be condoned and that the safety of any animal while in our custody (or otherwise) is paramount. We have met with the owner of the dog, advised them of the results of our investigation and are working with them regarding this tragic situation,” Cobb police said in a news release Monday.

I, for one, am so totally reassured.  It’s vewy sewious.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

More on United Animal Coalition Allegations

As posted yesterday, the secretive non-profit United Animal Coalition has had its registrations to run the Guilford Co and Davidson Co pounds revoked by the state of North Carolina.  The county editor for the Rhino Times, a paper in Guilford Co, reports that the allegations made by the state “are only the tip of the iceberg” regarding wrongdoing by UAC.

Citing a source who was in attendance at a secret meeting on July 27 held at the workplace of UAC president Carolyn Cudd, the Rhino reports that Cudd explained to the group how the investigation began:

On Tuesday, May 19, a severely injured dog that was paralyzed from the shoulders down and appeared to have a broken back was brought into the Davidson County shelter.

The next day, a shelter official assured a Davidson County sheriff’s deputy that the dog would be euthanized by the end of that day.  On Thursday, May 21, a deputy discovered the paralyzed dog still alive with maggots on its body and on the floor of the cage.

On Friday, May 22, a worker at the Davidson County shelter noticed a “bloody blowout” from the dog’s rear and took pictures of the animal’s plight and sent the pictures to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department.  The crippled animal was finally put to death later that day.

That led authorities to the investigation that expanded to Guilford County.


A picture of the dog with the broken back at the Davidson County shelter was also passed around at that time.

After the meeting attendees, including UAC’s former president, a current board member as well as county reps from both Guilford and Davidson, got a look at the maggot infested dog whose rear exploded while he lay paralyzed in UAC’s care, there was a discussion on whether UAC should suspend and/or hire a lawyer for Marsha Williams, the executive director of both shelters.  Because yeah, you know, not sure.

A Guilford Co pound volunteer told the Rhino that Davidson Co, the more recent contract awarded to UAC, was under greater scrutiny than Guilford Co.  In an effort to make Davidson’s numbers look good quickly, UAC set up a racket whereby dogs from the Davidson pound were sent to Guilford for killing and counted as adoptions on their way out of Davidson.  Hey, they went out the front door, technically.  I guess they were “adopted” by Fatal Plus at Guilford.

The vol also says UAC specifically directed employees to neglect suffering animals so that they would eventually die in their cages in order to manipulate the number of animals killed.  Hey, they weren’t “euthanized”, they just happened to be called to the Rainbow Bridge, la la la.

In addition, the volunteer told the paper the Davidson Co pound had no one licensed to kill animals for some period of time, donations were not being used for the stated purpose, the financial numbers being given to the county were false, and people were afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation by UAC.

Other allegations made in the piece:

  • Williams, who was paid more than $92,000 a year, hired several family members to work under her at the Guilford facility.
  • Controlled substances were not tracked and recorded as required by law.
  • Cats weren’t given sufficient quantities of food.
  • Animals were put in cages together without consideration of compatibility resulting in fights and food deprivation for weaker animals.
  • Bleach was poured directly into dog runs each day without rinsing causing dogs’ feet to burn.
  • Although severely injured and ill animals were often left to suffer, pets with minor ailments were regularly killed by UAC (I assume because they would take too long to die in their cages).

And of course, as is all too often the case in these situations, follow the money:

Guilford County Sheriff’s Department Col. Randy Powers said this week that the Sheriff’s Department is looking into multiple issues including concerns of financial fraud.  Powers also said the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department has some computer forensics specialists who were working with Davidson County in its investigation as well.

Several of the UAC board members have recently resigned and replacements have reportedly been made but the president won’t name them.  I’m guessing the UAC board, along with the officials in Davidson and Guilford counties, will claim they had no idea about the killing schemes, the animals forced to suffer for the sake of deceptive reports, the financial fraud and all the rest.  Did they have some obligation to make themselves aware of at least the surface appearance of things at the pounds?  Should someone/anyone who was writing checks to UAC have poked their head in the door at some point and asked why dozens of animals were literally dying in front of their faces?  Those are questions which will hopefully be asked by local animal advocates – asked until reasonable answers are provided.

The appalling level of suffering endured by the animals in Davidson and Guilford counties under UAC is enough to keep most anyone awake at night.  Hopefully, it’s enough to land those responsible in jail.  But anyhoo, should we hire a lawyer for the director?  Iffy.

State of NC Shuts Down Operator of Two County Pounds

The state of North Carolina has revoked the shelter registrations issued to the United Animal Coalition – one used to operate the Guilford Co pound and the other for the Davidson Co pound.  In letters dated August 17, the state ordered UAC to cease and desist operating both facilities within 5 days “based on UAC’s willful disregard” of the laws pertaining to the care of shelter animals.

In Davidson Co, the state investigated a complaint regarding a severely injured dog.  The state found that UAC had left an apparently paralyzed dog with a possible broken back to suffer without a vet exam for 3 days before killing the dog.  A review of records dating back to January 2015 revealed an astonishing number of animals who were left to die in their cages.  A few examples cited by the state:

  • From April 15 – 30:  40 animals found dead in their cages
  • In May:  91 cats and 5 dogs found dead in their cages
  • In June:  86 cats and 5 dogs found dead in their cages
  • In July:  78 cats and 14 dogs found dead in their cages

While the obvious suffering of animals at Davidson Co is disturbing, the state cited scores of specific examples of dogs and cats suffering at Guilford Co which are absolutely heartbreaking to read.  Among them:

    • A dog who had been shot in the face and had an eyeball hanging out was given pain medication upon intake and then left to suffer without a vet exam or meds of any kind for 12 days before being killed.
    • A cat who had been hit by car and had his tail degloved was given pain meds but never received a vet exam, wound treatment or antibiotics by the time UAC killed him 4 days later.
    • A cat who had been hit by a car came in with a missing leg and his chin degloved.  He never received a vet exam and UAC waited 10 days before killing him.  He may have received pain meds but the records contain conflicting information so that information is unclear.
    • A dog who had been hit by a car was bleeding from his penis and had abdominal swelling, possibly due to internal bleeding.  His breathing was labored and one of his legs may have been broken.  He suffered in this condition for 2 weeks without so much as a veterinary examination.
    • An elderly dog who appeared to be suffering was brought in by an owner requesting euthanasia.  UAC failed to obtain proof of ownership but took the dog and left him in a cage for 4 days before killing him.  He was never examined by a vet.
    • Another dog, circumstances similar to the above, was left for 6 days before being killed.
    • A dog with apparent neurological problems and leg wounds was left to suffer without a vet exam for 4 days before being killed by UAC.
    • A cat who had “severe diarrhea, anus and vagina swollen and raw, and hair under the tail missing” was given medication for one day then left without exam or treatment for 11 days before UAC killed her.
    • A dog whose feet were raw and who had a large mammary tumor was left in a cage and discovered with the tumor ruptured the following day.  The dog never received a vet exam and was killed after 5 days.
    • A cat who had a maggot in an infected hole in his neck was given pain meds without a vet exam, had the maggot removed and the wound flushed.  No antibiotics were administered.  The cat was found dead in his cage 6 days later.
    • An emaciated cat who appeared hypoglycemic and exhibited symptoms of conjunctivitis and a URI never received a vet exam or meds by the time UAC killed him, 11 days later.
    • An emaciated dog with multiple bite wounds, both old and new, came in with a swollen face and abdomen, a hematoma on the ear and the smell of infection in the mouth.  The dog was placed on pain meds without a vet exam and never received any wound treatment or antibiotics by the time UAC killed him 5 days later.

HSUS has listed Guilford Co as one of its “top ten emergency placement partners” and encouraged the public to bring the staff cupcakes to say “thank you”.  If anyone does plan on bringing cupcakes, please contact me for a top ten list of suggested places you can cram them.

While shutting down UAC is obviously good news for animals, it’s not good enough.  For one thing, the criminal douchebags responsible for what is likely years of animal suffering and death need to go to jail.  For another, Guilford Co taking over the pound is not exactly the knight on the white horse anyone was hoping for – unless the county has changed from doing basically all the same things UAC is accused of by the state.  Trouble behind, trouble ahead.  Annoying animal advocates needed in Guilford and Davidson counties.  Huge.

(Thanks Lisa, Laura and Arlene for the links.)


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