Tag Archives: NCDA&CS

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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Filed under NC county/municipal pounds, Pender County

Surry County pound lets coonhound wallow in his own blood

An April 26 NCDA&CS inspection report of the Surry County pound reveals that they housed an “emaciated and thin”  coonhound with a bloody tail without giving it veterinary care.

The report states:

One coonhound male named ‘Gunner’ (#57398) was found appearing to be severely emaciated and thin. This dog also has an injured tail that is bleeding. A sufficient amount of blood was found on the kennel walls and floor and on the dog’s left side. Records indicate that the dog arrived at this facility on 4/2/12. Upon review of this facility’s program of veterinary care the contract veterinarian should be contacted and his/her recommendation followed pertaining to this animal’s health. The animal should be isolated and evaluated. At the time of inspection such documentation was lacking. This animal was found in kennel 8 in the adoption area without a sign indicating that this animal was being evaluated and/or in isolation. This animal is in need of immediate veterinary care within 24 hrs.

Thomas Williams, a spokesman for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, which oversees shelter operations, said it was a “quirky time due to the ongoing budget process.

Even if Gunner did get the veterinary care he needed, his prospects for getting out of the Surry County pound are (or were, as the case may be) bleak. Surry County has the sixth worst kill rate in North Carolina, killing 90.7 percent of the dogs and cats they took in during 2011 (86.93 percent of dogs and 94.47 percent of cats don’t make it out of that place alive).

That kill rate isn’t so surprising considering the Surry County pound staff don’t seem to make any effort at all to adopt animals out. There are no pets listed on their Petfinder page or their Adopt-A-Pet page, and their Adopt-A-Pet page doesn’t even list them in the correct state (Nebraska instead of North Carolina).

Their adoption rate in 2011 was 5.10 percent for dogs and 3.96 percent for cats.

Other deficiencies noted in the April 26 inspection, which the Surry County pound failed, were:

  • A broken guillotine door needs repair/replacement
  • Cracks are appearing in the floor throughout facility
  • Two cat enclosures were without water
  • An open bag of food was found in the washroom
  • Rusted enclosure doors in the cat room
  • Damaged canine enclosure gates in two kennels, leaving one kennel not escape proof
  • peeling and cracking floors and walls throughout facility
  • Three cat enclosures lacking a litter box.
  • Five animals that had been at the facility for 15 days or longer lacking a current rabies vaccine


Filed under Surry County

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

Crunching the NC kill numbers

PLEASE NOTE: This post was published in MAY 2012 and the numbers referenced here are the 2011 NC statistics. The 2012 stats were only just released on May 21, 2013. I’m still crunching those numbers, but you can see my worksheet with percentages and dog & cat numbers totaled here. I am also working on a comparison with the 2011 numbers, and that file is here.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released their animal shelter report at the end of April. (Available in Excel format here.) The excel report is hard to read and requires a lot of math to obtain useful information like dog and cat totals, kill rates and adoption rates, so I spent some time turning it into a slightly more user-friendly version that shows totals (dog+cat and all animal) and kill rates. Considering that most people are more interested in the dog and cat totals than other numbers, I decided to separate them out to make it easier to parse and calculate a few other things like statewide totals and adoption rates. That sheet is here.

Before I go any further, I’d like to announce that the Killingest Kill “Shelter” in North Carolina is the Montgomery County Animal Control Facility. For $78.37 per animal, they killed  98 percent of the dogs  and 100 percent of the cats that came in, for an overall kill rate of 99 percent. Of the 1199 dogs and cats that went into that pound, only 12 dogs got out alive. (They also killed 25 raccoons, 20 opossums and one coyote.) (NOTE: Several pounds commonly thought of as “high kill,” such as Beaufort, Co., Hyde Co., Martin Co. and Sampson Co., did not report, so Montgomery County may not actually be the very worst pound in NC. But given that they have worse outcomes than even PETA, an organization that STRIVES to kill every animal that comes in, it’s hard to imagine a worse pound anywhere.)

In comparison, for a similar  per-animal cost (slightly less, actually: $73.30), Bladen County Animal Shelter SAVED 89 percent of the dogs  and 36 percent of the cats that came in for a combined save rate of  66 percent. That doesn’t put them into “no kill” territory (although they are getting close with their dog outcomes), but it’s a great example of the fact that saving lives doesn’t have to cost more. To be fair, Bladen County’s success rate is almost entirely attributable to the advocacy group A Shelter Friend, which relentlessly networks the animals and raises money for medical care and transport assistance. But that’s often what it takes–saving animals is a community effort. With a feral cat TNR program, Bladen County could probably reach No Kill community status very quickly.

Curiously, the “savingest” animal shelter in NC (and it actually deserves to be called a shelter, unlike all the others) did not even turn in their statistics to the NCDA&CS this year. I had been anxiously awaiting the outcomes from Foothills Humane Society ever since reading about their progress in the No-Kill Communities blog. They did not report, however, so I emailed to ask about their numbers, and received them very quickly. (The new director was not aware of the reporting requirement, and apparently no one from the NCDA&CS contacted her about reporting.) They have achieved a total live release rate of almost 98 percent. It appears that NC finally has its first open-admission no-kill shelter!

The NCDA&CS numbers should be taken with a shaker of salt because there are huge holes in North Carolina’s reporting system. These statistics are self-reported by the shelters themselves and NCDA&CS does not verify their accuracy. The shelters could be completely making them up.

Although it’s technically mandatory for all shelters that receive any public funds to report, the only penalty for non-compliance is ineligibility to receive spay/neuter reimbursement funds. So publicly funded facilities that do not participate in the spay/neuter program can fail to report with no consequence. Twenty one facilities failed to report for 2011. (Many of the non-reporting facilities are holding facilities that may keep animals for a short period of time before they are transferred to a central facility and rarely or never kill animals.)

Another problem is that, unlike Virginia’s comprehensive statistical tracking, NC’s system is missing a lot of data breakdowns. In NC the only outcomes tracked are adoption, owner reclaim and killing. Where does a facility put the number of animals transferred to rescue groups (or, in the case of holding facilities, to another facility)? It’s not clear where these go; presumably they would count under adoptions, but are all facilities reporting this in the same way?  What about animals that escape or die in custody?  Also, there is no clarification of the numbers of animals on-hand at the beginning and end of each year, so one can only guess what it means when the in and out numbers don’t add up. Overall, the NC system leaves a lot to be desired in terms of enforcing accountability.

In contrast, the VA system breaks down intakes and outcomes to make it more apparent what actually happens to the animals, making facilities more accountable and transparent. Intake details are broken down to show exactly how the animals come in (On Hand January 1, Stray, Seized, Bite Cases, Surrendered by Owner, Received From Another Virginia Releasing Agency, Others) and outcomes are broken down to make it clear what the shelter is doing with them (Reclaimed by Owner, Adopted, Transferred to Another Virginia Releasing Agency, Transferred by Approved  Out-Of-State Facility, Died in Facility, Euthanized, Miscellaneous [includes escaped, stolen and anything else not covered by the other categories], On Hand December 31). This way the numbers always add up, and no one has to guess what the facility is actually doing with the animals.

What’s more, the Virginia system includes all organizations involved in animal control or rescue, public and private. This type of accountability provides a safeguard against groups operating in secrecy with no oversight,  such as the Johnston County SPCA here in NC.

Per these reports, public pounds in NC took in 348,089 dogs and cats in 2011. Of these,  226,199 or  64.98 percent, were killed.  Dogs generally fared much better than cats in the state’s pounds. Of the 181,907 who entered pounds, 93,880, or 51.61 percent, were killed.  Of 166,182 cats, 130,639 were killed, for a rate of 78.61 percent. As noted above, the absence of statistics from several potentially “high kill” pounds means the actual number of animals killed in NC is likely a bit higher than this.

Because there are discrepancies between the data tracking, a direct comparison of these totals to Virginia’s isn’t possible, but taking everything into account it’s astoundingly clear that Virginia does a much better job of protecting companion animals than NC does. (Keep in mind that Virginia numbers include ALL shelters and rescues, while NCs only include the publicly funded facilities that bother to report.) With a population only 16 percent lower than NC’s (in July 2011: VA = 8,096,604, NC = 9,656,401), Virginia pounds, shelters and rescues took in 177,484 dogs and cats, or 54% fewer than the NC shelters that report to NCDA&CS. Of these, 67,134, or almost 42%, were killed. (That number drops almost a whole percentage point when you subtract PETA’s numbers from the equation.)

Just to be generous, let’s add in the animals who died in custody (2,969) before we compare that to the NC shelter kill numbers. That makes total of  70,103 animals who died in Virginia shelters during 2011, or 61 percent less  than the (known) NC death toll. For still another perspective, consider this: In Virginia, shelters killed one companion animal for every 115 people in the state last year, while NC shelters killed 1 companion animal for every 43 state residents. (Many of the NC animals are dying in gas chambers, which are outlawed in Virginia.)

Fortunately, shelters like the Foothills Humane Society are demonstrating that we can achieve the sort of success at saving lives that Virginia does. Virginia currently has seven confirmed No Kill communities (and a few in progess), but they started with just one.


Filed under Bladen, Montgomery County, NC county/municipal pounds, Polk County, statistics