On Dec. 4, 2012, the Sampson County pound took in two “strays,” Rebel and Sheba. Their owner had let them out to relieve themselves* and a neighbor called animal control to pick them up, according to a comment posted by the owner’s daughter, Samantha.
Samantha contacted the pound and was told that the dogs were safe there for three days and would not be put up for adoption, but without proof of ownership it would cost the family $195 to get them back.
Meanwhile, however, Samantha saw Rebel, renamed “Levi,” posted for adoption on the Sampson pound’s Facebook page:
Rebel, renamed Levi and posted to the Sampson pound’s Facebook page despite the fact that his family already notified the pound that they wanted to get him back.
Samantha said the Sampson pound staff kept deleting her comments off of the page.
I contacted Sampson County pound director Lori Baxter on Friday morning, Dec. 7. She said “I can tell you that both dogs are at the shelter and safe. We have spoken with the owner and they are planning to pick them up when we open at 1:00 this afternoon.”
But as it turns out, for lack of $65, Samantha’s dad was only able to reclaim one of his dogs. Samantha wrote in an email to me:
My dad took $130 with him and we ask to work out something so that his mother Sheba could be brought home Monday. She said she (Lori) couldn’t promise anything, then I said how come, I mean we are here to claim them but we are lacking $65, we want them both home. My dad told Anna he was financially embarrassed and that he has shed tears over his dogs since they’ve been gone. So then she said as long as we are in contact with her she would be there Monday for pick up. So we get to worry all weekend if something will happen to her, these people are too wishy washy. These animals belong to someone and it shouldn’t be this way when trying to reclaim your animals.
Lori Baxter “couldn’t promise anything” even though as pound director it is completely within her power to give Samantha’s dad his dog back. If she wanted to, Lori Baxter could say “Hey, I love empty kennels, you want your dog back, and sending a dog back to her home is a life-affirming way to make space for another dog. So why don’t I just waive the $65 and let you have your dog? That would be a win for everyone.”
So why doesn’t she? After all, earlier this week she posted that a lot of dogs were “out of time” because she was “out of space” (which doesn’t actually mean all the kennels are full, because Lori Baxter maintains half of the Sampson pound kennels empty at all times).
Following is an excerpt of an email I sent to Lori Baxter:
In a previous correspondence, you told me you use the gas chamber “as little as possible.” You wrote: “If you follow our page, then you know that I am forever begging for rescues to save them.”
I do follow your Facebook page, and I also see that you are always writing about how you must “make space” in your pound. Meanwhile, rather than work out a payment plan or, heaven forbid, actually waive $65 in reclaim fees in the interest if reuniting a dog with a family that desperately wants her back, you have chosen to hold that dog in your pound over an entire weekend, taking up the space that you claim is so scarce.
I wonder which dog you killed in order to house Sheba, a dog who already has a home and family?
On your Facebook page, you make it appear as if your main goal above all else is to get pets out of your pound alive. Sheba is a dog who would be very easy to send home to a family who wants her back, yet you refuse. It almost appears that your motivation is not to protect animals or save their lives, but to vindictively punish a man for not having enough ready cash to redeem his dog. Or worse, could it be that you love demonstrating your powers of life and death over people’s beloved pets? Whatever your motivation, you are doing the wrong thing.
I urge you to do the right thing: waive Sheba’s fees and return her to her family now.
Sampson County pound director Lori Baxter can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and the pound’s phone number is (910) 592-8493. Sampson County manager Ed Causey can be reached at (910) 592-6308 or email@example.com. Sampson County residents who would like to discuss animal shelter issues with county commissioners can schedule “Citizen/Commissioners Conferences” to meet with 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.
*Yes, people would be wise to confine or leash their dogs and keep identification on them, as well as up-to-date rabies tags. (I triple ID mine with microchips, rabies tags and “Boomerang” collar IDs.) But the focus of FixNC is shelter reform. Regardless of how dogs end up at the pound, what happens to them once they are there is the responsibility of the pound director and staff. So I will not be publishing any comments on this post about what is or is not responsible pet ownership because the point of discussion here is what happens to pets after they get to the pound. There are lots of free blogging platforms where you can start your own blog and discuss whatever you want there.