Category Archives: Richmond County

Richmond county update: Man banned from pound, director resigns

The Humane Society of Richmond County, which had voted to cease running the county pound and then reconsidered, has made the news again. On Sunday, a man who had criticized the groups leadership was told to leave the pound and never return after a verbal disagreement and last Friday, pound director Valerie Davis resigned.

The banned man, Russell Fincham, was reportedly loudly criticizing the HSRC board, particularly Chair Evonne Swanson. Pound staff say he refused to leave when asked, but Fincham says he was leaving when someone assaulted him and shoved him toward the door.

Fincham said he thinks the HSRC’s problem is Swanson. “She has had four different directors in the past year because no one satisfies her.”

I’ve not been able to uncover any more details about Davis’ resignation.

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Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Richmond County

Humane Society of Richmond County may continue to run high-kill pound

According to a report in the Richmond County Daily Journal, the Humane Society of Richmond County may change its mind about turning the animal shelter over to the county at the end of October, which they voted to do last week.

Some animal advocates believe that turning the pound over to county would be a bad thing. One wrote in the comments of a previous post here:

When city/county/state government is in charge of “shelters” you can bet deaths will be their top agenda. Their idea of “efficient” means killing more, less work for them. There is no compassion in any government run “shelter” I’ve ever seen. They are not shelters, but a place to cage cats & dogs until they kill them.

The Humane Society running that shelter may not of saved as many lives as possible, but when the local government takes over you’ll see the killing increase greatly. I’m just so sorry for dogs & cats that ever get involved with “shelter/pounds”. There’s gotta be a better way.

But a look at HSRC’s killing record casts doubt on that view. In 2011, slightly more than 70 percent of the “furbabies” that came into their pound ended up in the dumpster. Even county-run pounds not known for trying very hard can manage a better live outcome rate than that:

Heck, even the Granville County pound, whose director purposefully doesn’t put pets up for adoption because she would rather kill them has a kill rate only slightly higher than the HSRC’s (77.75 percent).

A look at the stats over the last 10 years shows that the pound has always been high kill. The best year of that whole period seems to be 2004, when the adoption rate was up to just over 28 percent and the kill rate dipped to just under 64 percent.

Being run by a non-profit group instead of a city or county does not at all guarantee that a pound will be better run or kill fewer animals. The late not-so-great Johnston County SPCA was a stinking example. The Durham County Animal Shelter is run by the very well-funded non-profit Animal Protection Society of Durham, and its kill rate was more than 68 percent in 2011.

What determines the success of a shelter is the dedication of it’s leadership.  A look at the ever-growing list of No Kill communities shows a mix of  shelters run by cities/counties and by non-profits, all with save rates of more than 90 percent. What they have that kill pounds don’t is leadership that rejects the “save a few, kill the rest” approach, is committed to implementing the programs necessary to stop the killing and is dedicated to working with their community instead of blaming them.

HSRC director Valerie Davis, on the other hand, gets defensive, calls her community irresponsible and tells them to just shut up. Instead of being inspired to help at Davis’ pound, some volunteers feel driven away. Here are some excerpts from a comment left at the FixNC facebook page:

There are some really good people that truly want to help animals but they are outnumbered or overpowered by the people that don’t have a clue what they’re doing and as you can see, refuse to listen to feedback to make improvements.

They had some fabulous volunteers and people working for no-kill (which only lasted a few months), but many have become fed up or were run off. The doors are often locked early but they blame people for not coming in. I’ve shown up with 250 lbs of food when a facebook request went out (by the way, Valerie made a post on FB to refute their being out of food and defending their practices rather than clarifying and showing appreciation) because they were so low, and the shelter was closed 30 minutes early. Another person from out of town was trying to donate an SUV full of cat items after her pet passed away, a third person had a large bag of food, and two families coming to adopt left because they couldn’t get in. I waited until someone was leaving and caught the door and carried everything in, with the help of that one person leaving, without so much as a thank you from Valerie and Cindy who were talking at the desk no more than 2 feet away.

The shelter smells so bad it’s horrible even though the local mercantile has donated cleaners. The building is not properly ventilated and the only response you get is “it’s a shelter, what do you expect.”

My fiance went to HSRC for the first time so we could fill out adoption papers for 3 dogs my Mom and I fostered and when a couple weren’t even spoken to and were about to leave, he jumped in and showed them around by following the pawprints and guessing, talked about the benefits of pets, and helped them find a dog that would fit their lifestyle so they became adopters that day without ever speaking to an actual employee until signing the adoption papers.

We’ve fostered, adopted, donated money and hundreds of pounds of food, and taken treats and toys to the animals but I don’t even read the FB page or walk in any longer because it’s so frustrating and breaks my heart that so many animals die via heartstick while blaming the community instead of finding ways to home or foster pets and educate the public.

If the employees seem to hate the place, what are potential adopters supposed to think? I thought having some brochures that would help people find animals that would best fit into their homes and lifestyles would be a help in adoption and preventing returns to the shelter but never heard a response.

I suggested having a program to get local businesses to partner with the shelter to become their “pet partner” or “partner in paws” for the month. The business makes a donation and for that month the shelter puts up a flyer and info on facebook about that business. I gave the example of working with an autoparts store and in exchange for the donation, the flyer would describe a suggestion for preventing accidents when animals run into the road by replacing windshield wipers or headlights and have the store include coupons for just 5-10% off those specific items. People would come into the shelter to get the coupon and have a chance to see animals and the business benefits by increased exposure and customer traffic. Small coupons won’t cut into the profit margin but will draw customers so everyone benefits. I even offered to go with an employee to help pitch the idea but didn’t get so much as a “no thank you.”

If they worked as hard on changing their image as they do blaming the public, maybe so many people wouldn’t be driving to Scotland and Moore Counties to adopt and volunteer instead of the 5-10 minutes across town to their own shelter.

Having the county take over the management of that pound would probably be a good thing. It certainly couldn’t be much worse.


Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Richmond County

Humane Society of Richmond County to cease running shelter


Citing insufficient county funding, the Humane Society of Richmond County voted Thursday to cease running the county animal shelter, effective October 31. Shelter operations will become the responsibility of the county.

County Commissioner Thad Ussery said that if the HSRC pulls out  shelter, the county will take over operations and “run it more efficiently.”

The HSRC posted on their Facebook page that they will “use our time, funds, and energy towards education and public outreach on neuter and spay programs, pet rescue and adoption events, and vaccination clinics. ”

They are also adopting out all existing animals in exchange for a donation and a promise to spay/neuter, and have shortened their open hours to Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 3 p.m.

HSRC FB post 9/22/12

HSRC Facebook post Sept. 22, 2012





Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Richmond County

Director of Richmond Co. HS complains about the public, tells them to just shut up

Valerie Davis, director of the Humane Society of Richmond County, wrote a letter to the editor of her local paper in response to “several issues that have come about lately in the public eye.” (Anyone have any idea what these issues are and care to share?) Instead of addressing the actual issues, however, Ms. Davis ripped a page out of the High-Kill Shelter Director’s Self-Defense Manual and decided to get defensive, blame the public and call them irresponsible and then tell them they have no right to say anything if they aren’t doing her job for free.

The public is so quick to demand service. They wish to surrender animals at will without making donations. They allow their pets to breed and then surrender the litters to us. They will refuse to spay or neuter even when the service is offered at a low cost.

If the residents of Richmond County and the surrounding townships wish to help with any of these shortcomings we welcome their help and guidance. If you’re not supporting the shelter in some way, then please guard your criticism.

In 2011, the Humane Society of Richmond County threw more than 70 percent of the pets they took in into the dumpster. And the woman in charge there wants to lecture her community about how to take care of animals? So much for leading by example. And is it any wonder that the public is not beating a path to volunteer for her when she has demonized them and blamed them for her inability to do her job and protect the animals in her so-called “shelter?”

Ms. Davis and/or her staff apparently can’t even thank a supporter without getting in a swipe at her community:

Richmond County Humane Society griping

From the Humane Society of Richmond County Facebook page

Perhaps if Valerie Davis would stop taking potshots at her community, she could take a few minutes to see that there is an actual proven program that would end the killing of healthy and savable pets in Richmond County. It is in place and working at more than 50 open-admission shelters in communities across the US. But it only works if  you stop blaming your failure on your community and forge an actual trusting relationship with them.

But instead Ms. Davis, whose shelter is a recipient of public funds, has the gall to tell taxpayers that they have no right to complain about the service their money is paying her to do. This brings to mind one of my favorite quotes (from YesBiscuit’s Facebook page):

If you are a taxpayer, you have the right to complain about the municipal services, including your local animal shelter, funded by your tax dollars. Don’t let anyone bully you into silence by telling you that if you aren’t at the animal shelter volunteering, adopting, transporting or whatever, you have no right to speak about the shelter. You are paying for it. You have every right.

Imagine if the city hospital was killing the patients and all the candy stripers did was wag their finger and tell people that if they weren’t at the hospital passing out magazines, they had no right to complain.

UPDATE: Reader Charlene contributed a comment about her experiences with the Humane Society of Richmond County on the FixNC facebook page.


Filed under "irresponsible public", Richmond County

Amid statewide distemper outbreak, local vets shut down Richmond County affordable vaccination clinic

Over the past few months, distemper has closed pounds and cost the lives of hundreds of dogs in North Carolina. Robeson, Duplin, Wayne, Mecklenburg, Iredell and Ashe counties have all had outbreaks in their pounds, and there are probably more places where the pounds are keeping their outbreaks hushed up. In many cases, the shelter directors, most of whom did not have a policy of vaccination upon intake, blamed pet owners for not vaccinating.

Meanwhile, the NC branch of HSUS  and the Richmond County Humane Society (which runs the county pound) teamed up to make it easy and affordable for “underserved” pet owners in that county to help stop distemper via  a $3 vaccination clinic.  Each $3 copay for the donated vaccines was to go to the participating vet clinics, and pet owners would be referred to the vets for further services. But veterinarians Will Cooley of Cooley Veterinary Hospital in Rockingham, and Ralph Souder of Gandy Animal Hospital decided not to participate in  the clinic, which was to be held Saturday in Rockingham.

In a stunning display of complete stupidity and irresponsibility, Cooley said: “The general public’s animals are not affected by the distemper outbreak. We feel like non-profits are coming in to practice veterinary medicine. This hype about distemper alarms the public about a problem that is not a problem. They were not going to address the problem. Gathering dogs that are unvaccinated in one area would only make the problem worse.”

He went on to say that NC State University veterinary students, who were going to perform the actual vaccinations as practice, don’t need the practice and should “go to shelters and vaccinate those dogs.” While that would be a fantastic idea, Cooley’s argument that the “general public” shouldn’t bother vaccinating their dogs amid a statewide distemper outbreak is appalling.

Would Cooley say the same if someone were paying him the going rate of $15-30 per shot (plus office visit fee) for the service, or would he shut up, vaccinate the dogs and thank the owners for their business?

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Filed under Distemper, Richmond County