Category Archives: Pender County

Pender County hires new manager for killing facility

Pender County has hired a new manager for its pet killing facility. The new manager will be Jewell Horton who, according to her 2012 application for appointment to the Pender County Health Board, was a “manager/technician/receptionist” at Rocky Point Animal Hospital.

According to statistics that Pender County Health Director Carolyn Moser provided to the Star News but has refused to provide to me in response to a public records request, Pender pound staff killed more than 73 percent of the pets that came in during July 2013, an increase over the 66 percent that were killed during July 2012. There’s no way to compare either rate to the overall 2012 Pender pound kill rate because pound staff submitted clearly bogus numbers to the state.

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Death takes no holiday at Pender County killing facility

Staff at the Pender County pound are so dedicated to killing animals that they are doing it on holidays. According to information received by a local animal advocate as a result of a public records request, Pender pound staff went to work on July 4th to kill 29 cats and one dog.

29 cats and one dog killed at Pender County pound July 4, 2013.

Meanwhile, Pender County Health Department head Carolyn Moser, who is now overseeing shelter operations, has shut down the pound’s Facebook page, which was used to network animals to rescues and adopters, and fired the employee added earlier this year to maintain the page, photograph animals and post pictures. Moser said that volunteers should be used to manage the page. But new volunteer orientations have been placed on hold until a new shelter manager is hired, and longtime volunteers say they have received letters telling them their services are not required.

Meanwhile, the only way Pender pound animals get “seen” is via their Petfinder page, which looks a little like this:

Pender county pound Petfinder page

or this:

sideways "Finnish Spitz" at Pender County Pound

One might be forgiven for assuming the Pender County pound’s killing facility’s adoption program is designed to make sure that insanely adorable pets like this guy never make it out alive:

Insanely cute dog probably destined to die at Pender County pound

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Help wanted: Pender County advertising for animal shelter manager

The Pender County employment page lists a job opening for an animal shelter manager. The closing date for applications is July 20, 2013.

Could this mean they have gotten rid of Darlene Clewis? There don’t seem to be any searchable news reports indicating she has resigned or been fired. UPDATE: I have since learned that Darlene Clewis, who has been on vacation since July 1, is not technically the shelter manager, she is an “ACO II” and only fills the duties of shelter manager (or not so much, depending on whether you’re seeing the matter from the perspective of compassionate animal advocacy or not). Word from sources is that Clewis “may or may not” apply for the job.

Starting salary for the job is $33,223. Skills and education required are:

Graduation from high school or GED, and demonstrate possession of knowledge, skills and abilities through at least 4 years of experience working in an Animal Shelter, Kennel or related experience; or an equivalent combination of training and experience.  Must have a valid NC Driver’s License; and must have or be able to obtain CPR, Rabies Vaccination and Euthanasia Certifications within 30 days from date of hire. Must be computer literate and experienced with Microsoft Office, Excel, Word and Outlook. Must have ability to utilize social media in position.

Applicants can apply online.

No-Kill Animal Shelter Management CertificateIn related news, The University of the Pacific has just announced an online No-Kill Animal Shelter Management Certificate program. One of the instructors is the amazing Bonney Brown, who has been Executive Director of the (No KIll!) Nevada Humane Society since 2007. She has been the recipient of the No-Kill Advocacy Center’s 2007 Director of the Year award and the 2009 Henry Bergh Leadership Award. More information here (pdf).

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Inspector finds cats kept in traps for three days at Pender County pound

On a surprise visit to the Pender County pound on Monday, March 11, the NCDA&CS inspector discovered two cats who had been held in traps without litter pans for three days. “Feces was noted on the floor where they sat,” according to the report. The inspector “advised manager not to allow traps to be set unless there is an adequate shelter enclosure available for the cats.”

The impulse to bring in more cats than there is room for could be because dead cats are a revenue source for the Pender County pound. Between June 26, 2012, to Jan. 31, 2013, the Pender County Animal “Shelter” sold 660 dead cats to LBS Biological Inc. for $4 each, according to receipts obtained through a public records request. That’s $2,640 in revenue over a seven-month period, which means that over the course of a year, dead cat sales could potentially bring in nearly $4,500 in revenue. The cat-selling practice raised at least one county commissioner’s eyebrows when it was revealed last month.

LBS Biological sells the cats to Carolina Biological Supply, which turns them into dissection kits so that school children can learn all about the miracle of life in biology class.

Carolina Biological Supply

Is this your lost kitty?

A request for records of all animal-killing drugs purchased for the Pender pound between August 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013 revealed that $636.60 was spend on Fatal Plus and Ketathesia (ketamine) during that time period. During the same period, pound staff used the drugs to kill 769 cats and dogs, one chicken, one dove and 27 opossums, raccoons and foxes.* The revenue from the sale of dead cats appears to more than cover the Pender County pound’s business of killing animals.

Given that the capture and sale of cats is a revenue source for the Pender pound, it’s not hard to see why they would disregard animal welfare laws to trap more cats than they have room to house.

Pender is not the only so-called “shelter” in NC that  profits from killing and selling animals. LBS Biological obtains cats from shelters in 34 NC counties and cities (including Brunswick, Onslow, New Hanover, Duplin Beaufort, Lenoir and Surry). LBS is just one of many dealers operating in NC and elsewhere in the US to obtain animals for dissection or experimentation.

Other problems found in the March 11 Pender County pound inspection included:

  • 18 sick cats with matted eyes and nasal mucus who had not been provided any medical care. Shelter staff killed the cats during the inspection.
  • Dog biscuits lying on top of a storage cabinet and an open box of dog treats were noted in multipurpose room. 
  • Spilled dry food inside an outdoor storage building
  • Holes in the metal walls of indoor dog kennels. Dogs noted urinating and sticking their feet through the holes.
  • Chewed dog houses in the outdoor kennels.
  • Seven cats in a kennel with two litter pans (acceptable ratio is one  pan per three cats).
  • Cat urine and and feces and spilled dry food inside an outdoor  food/bedding storage building.
  • Trash around the storage building and the kennels.
  • The cat isolation area is in a poor location in that workers must pass through the healthy cat room therefore may easily transmit disease to the healthy cats. (It was recommended that fixing that deficiency be a long-term capital improvement project.)

There is  to be a follow-up inspection to see if the deficiencies have been corrected on March 25, 2013.

Pender County Photo Gallery (all photos taken while shelter open to public):

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* The killing log notes that many opossums and raccoons were killed for being “feral.”  Isn’t that pretty much a NORMAL way to be for wild animals? Why are they not being released back into their habitat? Depending on how and why they are trapped, the impoundment and killing of these animals may not actually be legal under NC law. According to The NC Division of Wildlife management, if an ACO sets a trap for a cat and by chance captures an opossum, the animal must be released from the trap on sight and should not be relocated or euthanized. If a depredation permit has been issued for the removal of an animal causing damage then it could be euthanized by the animal control officer or at the animal shelter if that is where animal control captures are killed. Also, if an animal is rabid or displays disease-like symptoms for rabies ACO’s are responsible for capturing those animals euthanizing them and submitting them for testing. The NCWRC statues and rules addressing this issue are G.S. Chapter 113 Article 21 and 22 and Title 15A NCAC 10B .0106. Back

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Pender County forming Animal Shelter Advisory Committee

Attention Pender County No Kill advocates: Please, please apply to be on the county’s new Animal Shelter Advisory Committee. County commissioners will select three members for the positions of citizen-animal rights champion, citizen at-large and veterinarian.

The application is here.

If you don’t end up getting selected, please go to their meetings anyway, which will be subject to NC’s open meetings law. They need more watchdogs over that awful pound.

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Pender County pound volunteers required to attend re-education session

More than two months ago, Pender County pound employee Darlene Clewis sent all of the pound’s volunteers a notice telling them they were not welcome at the shelter until further notice:

From: Darlene Clewis <darleclew@aol.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 5:14 PM
Subject: updated volunteer procedures

we are currently updating our volunteer procedures until this is done we ask that you be patient with us every one will be notified with the new volunteer sheet. no volunteers at the shelter until the new policy is in place.

Some believe this was done because Pender volunteers were telling other folks what sort of things went on that the pound, and apparently Clewis and former director Keith Ramsey* didn’t like that.

The new policy appears to be in place now, because the volunteers have all been invited back to the pound for a volunteer orientation, or re-education in the case of existing volunteers, this Saturday, February 16, at 11 am.

Would it be surprising if the re-education includes volunteers being made to sign an unconstitutional “confidentiality clause?” Maybe not. Directors and staff of high-kill pounds like Pender often prefer to intimidate volunteers into keeping their mouths shut than to be held accountable for dismal conditions, questionable practices and high kill rates.

Fortunately for animal advocates who want to improve conditions for and save the lives of pets in pounds, it is illegal to ban or retaliate against volunteers or rescuers who exercise their First Amendment rights by talking about what they see going on at the pound. A federal statute best known as “Section 1983,” has been successfully used by animal advocates whose ability to help or save shelter pets was restricted  after they went public with their observations of shelter conditions and neglectful treatment.

In fact, the very existence of a mandatory “confidentiality” agreement could be considered a threat of retaliation against a volunteer or rescuer exercising his or her constitutionally protected rights. In the words of attorney Sheldon Eisenberg, (who successfully sued the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control in such a case):

A question may arise as to whether a volunteer or rescuer needs to wait for a government official to follow through on a threat to retaliate before filing a claim under Section 1983 or whether a threat of retaliation alone is sufficient to trigger one. For example, some volunteers have been told by officials that publicly speaking about a shelter will result in the volunteer being banned. Since the whole point of a Section 1983 retaliation claim is to prevent the “chilling” (discouragement) of constitutionally protected rights, it seems clear enough that a threat of retaliation for exercising those rights, which is specifically designed to obstruct the exercise of those rights, should be sufficient to satisfy the actual injury element of a Section 1983 claim. (From: Section 1983 To The Rescue)

There is also precedent under US statues for the prevailing party to recover all attorney fees in a suit filed in vindication of civil rights. This means that volunteers and rescuers, who often don’t have a lot of money to hire lawyers, may be able to find an attorney who would take such a case on contingency. For more about Section 1983 and its application to animal shelters, see Sheldon Eisenberg’s slide show.

The Pender County pound volunteer orientation is open to new and existing volunteers. The pound is located at 3280 New Savannah Rd. Burgaw, NC 28425. Phone: 910-259-1484.

*In January, the animal shelter was taken from under the control of the Pender County sheriff’s department and put under the county manager, so Ramsey, a sheriff’s lieutenant, is no longer director and Darlene Clewis (who was director before the sheriff  took over the shelter) is back in that spot.

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Dalmation sits in Pender County pound for two weeks with a broken hip

Dalmation with broken hip in Pender County pound

This boy came into the Pender County pound on Sept. 27, 2012. He was pulled on Oct. 10 by a rescuer, who immediately noticed something wrong: He had a broken hip.

On Sept 27, 2012, a Dalmation came into the Pender County pound. He was there almost two weeks, until Oct. 10, when he was pulled by a Dalmation breed rescue group, who immediately discovered that he had a broken hip. He had surgery to correct it on Oct. 16.

Dalmationwith broken hip from Pender County pound

The Dalmation after his rescue from the Pender County pound, lying on something cushy.

A pound employee told rescuers that she walked the dog and didn’t see any problem. Sources close to the pound say employees never walk the dogs, however. “The only time those dogs get walked is when they are taking them to the incinerator,” one source said.

The incinerator is where they kill animals.  The kill process at Pender County pound has been described to me like this: the animals are taken out to the incinerator, which is in a fenced area behind the pound. The pets are injected on a table right in front of the incinerator and then rolled into it. One person close to the pound told me: “I’m sure not every animal going into that incinerator is already dead.”

The purchase of the incinerator last year was opposed by one county commissioner, Jimmy Tate, who said he was afraid it may speed up killing at the pound. He was right.

The fencing that is now around the incinerator had originally been donated by a volunteer to make a place where adopters could go spend time with animals one-on-one. But when Lt. Keith Ramsey, the pound director, got his new incinerator, he dismantled the adoption area so he could put the fencing around his new toy. In other words, he took materials that had been donated to get more animals out of that pound alive and repurposed them to make killing animals and burning their corpses easier and quicker. Oh, but Ramsey just hates the idea of killing any animal and calls it “an unfortunate part of the job.” (And completely unnecessary.)

As for injured and sick animals, the Dalmation is not the first one not to receive necessary veterinary attention at that pound. (NC Animal Welfare Administrative Code.) On Oct 3, 2012, I had posted about a hound with an injured nose who received no care while at the pound, and instead of being released to a rescue that had planned to take him to a vet was given to a man who said he was going to tie the dog to his porch.

I had sent an open records request via email on Sept. 26 for “all records (intake details, records of vet care given while in shelter custody, including vaccinations, and adoption or other outcome details) pertaining to a hound or hound-looking mix with a severely injured nose that was adopted out of the PenderCounty shelter on Friday, Sept. 21.”

Several days after publishing the post about the dog, I received a response, postmarked Oct. 3–the day the post was published. All the materials inside were dated Sept. 27, however. The packet also contained documents I did not request: statements by pound workers Darlene Clewis and Danielle Miller that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the hound.  If the statements hadn’t been dated Sept. 27 I would swear they were written specifically in response to the blog post.

Statement by Darlene ClewisStatement by Danielle Miller

Duke the boxer mix came in to the pound on March 24, 2012. On Saturday April 14, a volunteer noticed that he had become sick and had bloody diarrhea consistent with parvo. Pound staffer Danielle Miller told the volunteer that Duke had been sick all week  and that they were de-worming him.

Duke at Pender County Animal Shelter

The volunteer rushed Duke to a veterinarian. He had a very advanced case of parvovirus. Duke received treatment at the volunteer’s expense, survived and is now in a new home.

On August 24, 2012, a little cattle dog pup was pulled by a rescuer, who discovered the dog had been sitting on the concrete at the pound with a broken leg, receiving no care.

Cattle dog pulled from Pender County pound with a broken leg

On Sept 15, 2012, a rescuer visited the pound only to discover a litter of puppies so full of worms that the rescuer didn’t think they would survive. They had been in the Pender County pound for a week.

Wormy puppies pulled from Pender County Animal ShelterWormy puppies pulled from Pender County Animal ShelterWormy puppies pulled from Pender County Animal Shelter

It’s almost a given that, without fundraising to supplement their budgets,  public pounds in rural places like Pender don’t have the money to pay for much veterinary care. That’s why it’s so important for them to partner with rescue groups who will get the animals out of the pound to the care they need. But in NONE of the cases above were rescuers called by pound employees and asked to pull animals who needed vet attention. Instead, rescuers went to the pound on their own initiative and discovered the sick or injured animals sitting there without care (or with improper care, as in Duke’s case).

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