Tag Archives: NC Animal Welfare Act

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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Complaint lodged against Pender county pound

A volunteer at the Pender County pound emailed a local TV station with a complaint about the way the pound is run, “including that the shelter has failed to properly clean the dog kennels, which resulted in some animals suffering chemical burns. The volunteer says the animals are generally mistreated and if the volunteers don’t advertise the dogs, the animals will be euthanized.”

The Pender pound is under the jurisdiction of the county sheriff’s department. Lt. Keith Ramsey, the officer in charge,  says “We feed and water daily, we clean the pens daily.”

Regular volunteers did not respond to the TV station’s request for comment, which is disturbingly common in the animal shelter world because volunteers and rescuers who speak out fear they will be banned, leaving no one to advocate for the animals or help them get out alive. A volunteer who had been at the Pender pound for one day praised director Darlene Clewis based on having known her previously, but said nothing about current conditions at the pound.

The pound passed its last NCDA&CS inspection on April 23, 2012, but has had many previous problems, failing repeated inspections on April 14, 2011, Jan. 6, 2011,  Nov. 3, 2010, and  Oct. 27, 2010. Darlene Clewis was the director of the Pender pound at the time of those failed inspections.

The October 2010 inspection report, the result of a complaint about overcrowded cat cages and foul odors, is 6 pages long and includes photos of cats in dirty and crowded cages and other issues (click to see larger):

Photos from Oct. 27, 2010 NCDA&CS inspection of Pender County Animal Shelter

Photos from Oct. 27, 2010 NCDA&CS inspection of Pender County Animal Shelter

The inspection report states “This inspection finds this to be a valid complaint.”

In one black wire cage housing 13 kittens, there were at least two kittens with matted eyes who were sneezing. “The attendant said these kittens were admitted today and they had been commingled with the other cats due to lack of cage space,” according to the report.

So Darlene Clewis has presided in the past over a filthy shelter that failed to protect animals from the spread of disease.  Is it such a stretch to imagine it happening again?

While complaining about an animal shelter to the local TV station might shed some light on a problem, in order for an inspection to take place, the complaint must be in writing to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture Animal Welfare Division:. The email address for complaints is: AGR.AWS@ncagr.gov.

The second part of the recent complaint, that the shelter does not make any effort to advertise the dogs for adoption, is also not so hard to believe. The Petfinder page for the Pender County pound is run by volunteers. There are no animals listed on the Pender County Adopt-a-Pet page. There is a page for the Pender pound on Facebook, but it doesn’t appear to have ever been used to network animals for adoption.

In terms of saving animals, the Pender County pound did a worse job in 2011 than it did in 2010. Statistics reported to NCDA&CS show that pound staff killed more animals in 2011 than in 2010, despite an intake decrease. In 2011, 2,797 dogs and cats entered the Pender pound, down from 2,846 in 2010. Pound staff killed 952 dogs and cats, or just over  33 percent of animals taken in,  in 2010, and in 2011 they killed 1,021, or slightly over 35 percent. There was a very small uptick in dog adoptions in 2011, but that was counteracted by an even larger decrease in cat adoptions.

Pender County Animal Shelter Statistics 2010-2011

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McDowell County Animal Outreach fined for animal welfare violations

Thanks to Shirley at YesBiscuit! for this one, which I had missed. McDowell County Animal Outreach, which has the contract to run the McDowell County pound, has been fined $1,000 by the NCDA&CS for multiple, repeated violations of the NC Animal Welfare Act. The fine came after many violations found during a March inspection had not been corrected by an April followup.

The uncorrected problems in April included: animals kept in unapproved areas; insufficient ventilation; unsealed floors; cats stacked on top of each other in unsecured crates open to cross-contamination; crates stacked on unstable or unsanitizable surfaces such as tires, pressboard tables, wooden tables, card tables and storage tubs; no thermometers in housing areas; records lacking proper origination information, description of animals, location in facility, disposition information and vaccination status; animals lacking proof of rabies vaccination; sick cats being housed directly behind the adoptable cat area; and lack of veterinary care.

Inspectors were back at the facility on May 14, following a complaint that sickness resulting in the killing of many animals was an ongoing problem at the facility. The May inspection report was little better than the April one. Problems included, in part: an enclosure being cleaned while the animal remained in it,  food not in sealed containers ;  a “significant odor”  in the adoptable dog room; insufficient ventilation, insufficient staff for the number of animals housed;  tub full of dirty food bowls and stagnant water in the bathroom of the quarantine building; no heat or hot water in the facility; damaged and leaking ceiling; “heavily soiled” mop water, foot baths, and equipment baths; animals lacking records and proof of rabies vaccination; cat crates on unsanitizable surfaces; and potential for cross-contamination between cat housing.

One might assume that the MCAO entered into their contract with the county to run the animal shelter out of concern for the animals and because they thought they could do a better job than the county. But  Carol Ferebee, assistant director of MCAO, doesn’t make the group appear to be up to the task at all by passing on responsibilty and blaming almost everyone else:

  • The state: “None of us here have ever run a shelter before. (The inspectors) don’t let me know if they are done so I can ask questions. I feel like the state is lax in that area.”
  • The building: “Some issues with the inspection are not our fault. This building was not designed to be an animal shelter. We can’t afford and it’s not our responsibility to fix everything in the building. We are leasing it.”
  • People who don’t volunteer: “We definitely need dependable volunteers. We need people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. It can take all day just to clean the cat area.”
  • Other animal welfare groups : “We should all be partnering up to save the animals.”

The MCAO’s stated goal is to become a No Kill shelter, although they say in their FAQ that it’s “not possible presently,” which is generally shorthand for “We are paying lip service to the idea because we know it’s getting popular, but don’t hold your breath.” It’s especially impossible when you duck responsibility for running a clean, safe, humane shelter and blame everyone else for your problems. I’d love to report that they are on-track toward their stated goal of reducing the county’s kill rate (85 percent in 2011, so probably not that hard to improve upon at least a little), but I cannot find their statistics on their website. I have requested them, and if they send I will follow-up.

UPDATE HERE.

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