Sampson County officials announced that they are hoping to put a permanent director in charge of the county’s pound. The director’s position has been occupied since June by Lori Baxter, former director of the Robeson County pound, who was hired on as “interim manager.”
County manager Ed Causey said he hopes Baxter will stay on. Baxter has not communicated to county officials what she plans to do, but on Oct. 15 she posted to her Facebook page that she is “sick to death of people who pretend to be all about the animals while kicking the ones who really are making a difference. I think the end of the year shall see a change in my life … one that doesn’t include an animal shelter.”
That sounds a lot like a no. A source said Baxter later deleted that post.
Shortly after starting in the position last June she posted in a Facebook note (also since deleted) that she took the interim director job in part so she could get rid of the pound’s gas chamber:
As of this writing, the gas chamber is still there. Previously, I wondered why it would take so long to switch kill methods from gas chamber to injection. I finally got the answer from Baxter herself after I emailed her requesting records. The Sampson County Pound is currently not licensed by the DEA and NC DHHS to possess the drugs necessary to kill by injection, and Baxter said it can take months to get the required inspection. (Currently all animals under 4 months old, elderly, pregnant or suffering from upper respiratory illness are sent to the pound’s vet to be killed by injection). Baxter told me that the inspection is now scheduled for the first week of November.
“I wish it wasn’t necessary to have an alternate method of euthanasia, but sadly it is,” Baxter said. Actually, it’s not. In fact, many public shelters across the country have switched almost overnight to not killing at all, only performing euthanasia in its true meaning for the relief of irremediable suffering. One example is the Seagoville, TX, Animal Shelter, which went No Kill on Jan 10, 2011, the day police Sgt. Karl Bailey took over as director. He turned his shelter’s gas chamber into an air- and watertight food storage cabinet.
Baxter could do the exact same thing herself by following a proven formula that’s currently working at open-admission animal shelters in at least 75 communities across the country. Of course, it involves doing things like expanding the shelter’s public hours to make it easier for community members to visit and adopt. One of the first things Baxter did as interim director was reduce adoption hours from 40 per week to 15 per week. The Sampson pound is not open at all on weekends or any weekdays after 4 pm, making it inaccessible to most working people.
So how much of a difference is Baxter making? Statistics she released following an open records request show that she has taken the Sampson County pound’s kill rate from an extremely high to very high. Partial-year statistics for 2012 show that Sampson’s live-outcome rate, as of the end of September, was just around 77 percent, down from almost 89 percent in 2011. It’s an improvement, but it puts her kill rate right around that of the Granville County pound in 2011, and their director isn’t even a fan of making animals available for adoption.
This is a good time for Sampson County residents to contact County Manager Edwin Causey and tell him how finding a director who will implement the No Kill Equation can transform his community without draining his budget. Residents can also schedule “Citizen/Commissioners Conferences” to meet with one or two representatives of the county Board of Commissioners and appropriate county staff members on the third Monday of each month immediately preceding the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting. Conferences must be scheduled in advance by calling the Office of the County Manager: (910) 592-6308.