Category Archives: McDowell County

McDowell County to take back control of animal shelter

McDowell County animal shelter operations will be reverting back to county control, with the previous shelter reopening on Monday. (Read FiXNC’s previous entry on MCAO.)

The decision came after a meeting in which various local rescue groups asked McDowell County officials to take back operations of the animal shelter from McDowell County Animal Outreach, which had been running the shelter out of an old car dealership building. MCAO had been fined $1,000 by the NCDA&CS for multiple, repeated violations of the NC Animal Welfare Act after failing several inspections.

There’s no telling whether this will be a better deal for the animals of MCDowell county, but at least the MCAS had an acceptable last inspection. In 2011 the MCAS killed 79.73 percent of dogs and 94.29 percent of cats for a combined kill rate of 85.08 percent. That’s pretty terrible, and I guess the hope of MCAO was to do better. One of their state goals was to “improve the ‘all-around negative image’ about how McDowell treats unwanted dogs and cats,” but they were not doing so well on that front.

The answer for McDowell County now is to work openly and freely with all the rescue groups who have shown interest in the issue to get those animals OUT of the shelter and into adoptive or foster homes quickly (and to embrace TNR as a humane, life-affirming  alternative to killing feral cats). I’ve emailed the McDowell County commissioners and shared resources from the No Kill Advocacy Center. This could actually be a perfect opportunity for them to have their own well-run, lifesaving animal shelter.

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Filed under McDowell County, NC county/municipal pounds

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.



Filed under McDowell County, NC county/municipal pounds