KY Study Exposes Troubling Failures at Municipal Shelters

Warning:  Toward the end of this post, there are some graphic photos which may be disturbing to some readers.

In 2004, the state of Kentucky went from an Anything Goes type of attitude toward animal control facilities to a Well, Not Literally Anything Goes view with the enactment of the KY Humane Shelter Act.  Counties were given 3 years to comply with the new law.  It covers the bare bones of humane treatment for shelter animals, which is to say, probably most of the animals won’t end up as bare bones if the facilities provide at least these minimums.  Provisions in the law include:

  • Cages big enough for the animal to stand up, turn around and lie down in
  • Clean cages with adequate protection from the elements
  • Clean food, daily
  • Clean water, always
  • Provide sick and injured animals with veterinary care or kill them
  • Maintain basic animal records such as dates, coat color, whether the animal was reclaimed, adopted or killed
  • Provide quarantine areas for rabies hold cases
  • Be open to the public at least 24 hours per week with hours posted so visitors can see them

As noted in the recent report issued by the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine, there are a number of shortfalls with the law.  Namely, there are no inspections to determine if any of the 90 county shelters in the state are in compliance and it falls upon private citizens to file a lawsuit against any facility believed to be operating outside the law.  In fact, no one has apparently ever checked to verify that the state’s shelters are meeting the law’s very basic requirements for animal care.  So the vet school conducted a study to determine the level of compliance throughout the state.  Below is my summary of some of the findings:

  • Only 17% of Kentucky’s shelters were determined to be in complete compliance with the Humane Shelter Act.  Approximately half were failing to meet 3 or more of the law’s provisions.
  • 7% of shelters were either possibly or definitely not feeding the animals daily.
  • 11% of shelters were either possibly or definitely not providing clean water to all animals.
  • 6% of shelters kept no records on the animals.
  • 5% of shelters housed animals in cages too small for them to stand up or turn around.
  • 73% of shelters were over capacity with multiple animals per cage.
  • 12% of shelters were either closed to the public or open less than 24 hours per week.
  • 22% of shelters did not have hours posted.
  • 10% of shelters housed animals in a closed room with no air circulation.
  • 24% of shelters were either possibly or definitely not providing heat for indoor housing areas in winter.
  • 37% of shelters kept animals in dirty cages.
  • 42% of shelters had no quarantine area.
  • 23% of shelters did not take cats.

The study does not include a statistic on how many of the shelters provided vet care but does reference the lack of vet care as a problem:


A KY shelter puppy in obvious need of veterinary care (Photo from the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine study)


A KY shelter dog in obvious need of veterinary care (Photo from the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine study)


KY shelter kittens in obvious need of veterinary care (Photo from the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine study)

Bearing in mind how low the bar is for KY shelters – feed and water the animals, put them in proper sized cages, clean the cages, write down “brown male dog” on a card, etc. – it is completely unacceptable that any of the state’s shelters are not meeting these most basic requirements. What’s worse, with no mandated monitoring or enforcement, the burden of attempting to hold non-compliant shelters accountable falls to the taxpayers who are already footing the bill for these failing facilities. I hope the study will be useful for animal advocates trying to drag the state forward on these issues. In the meantime, animals are suffering in KY shelters and will continue to suffer while staff gets paid to not do their jobs.

(Thanks Clarice.)


Treats on the Internets

While cleaning at the Bedford Co Animal Shelter in VA, employee Bryan T. Skinnell allegedly beat a cat so severely that a vet could not save the animal. Skinnell has since been fired and charged with felony cruelty.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)


A young woman who volunteered at the Gwinnett Co pound in Georgia for two months was fired because the powers that be decided her dyed hair, tattoos and piercings did not conform to the county’s grooming policy. After two months. Gee, if only she looked more like Mr. Skinnell, whose appearance was sufficiently acceptable to give him a job, never mind accept him as a volunteer. Because appearance directly correlates to compassion, obviously.  (Thanks Valerie.)


Case Update:  Appomattox Co in VA finished investigating itself in the killing of shelter dog Sam.  The report released by the county basically says no wrongdoing by the county, other places are worse, and describes the facility’s number as “exemplary”.  The hastily named Animal Welfare Action Group opted to take no action for animal welfare, simply stating that they found details of the report to be inaccurate but they don’t want to make waves.  (Thanks Clarice.)


Case Update:  Mary Jo Frazier, former head of Boulder City AC in CO charged with felony animal abuse, accepted a plea deal to avoid trial.  Frazier who allegedly killed shelter pets illegally “for fun”, pleaded guilty to two felonies relating to two pets:

“You did willfully, unlawfully, maliciously and feloniously torture and or unjustly maimed, mutilate or kill a male dog names Oscar and or a pit bull puppy named Lotus,” said Judge Susan Johnson, in reading a description of the crime.

Frazier is free on bail and is scheduled for sentencing on January 31, 2017. The judge has ordered her to keep away from animals.  (Thanks Clarice.)


Dr. Todd Hayden, the interim director of the Montgomery Co pound in Texas, alleged at a public meeting last month that employees were using the shelter as a dog flipping operation:

“In our county, if you lost your dog and you were on your way to work and it was picked up and brought to our shelter, it was probably flipped before you got home,” he said. “It went to a rescue and it was sold. A lot of people made a lot of money.”


The interim director said he had counted 228 animals sold before the [three day] stray hold was up, including 56 that went the same day they were brought in.

The sheriff’s office is investigating the claim.  (Thanks Jan.)


The Lake Co pound in FL, run by the sheriff’s office, released some statistics to demonstrate supposed improvement at the facility.  However, more than 900 animals appearing on the report have no outcome listed rendering the stats useless. You are probably wanting an assplanation. Got it:

Lt. John Herrell, spokesman for the sheriff, wrote in an email that “there are so many variables in these calculations, coupled with the fact that the software system is calculating the figures, there is no way I can explain the stats and percentages the program generated.”

There. Is. No. Way. I. Can. Explain.

This is excellent and I’m going to start using it at my job too.  (Thanks Davyd.)


I’m sorry everything is awful.  Here, have an I Don’t Give a Damn cat:


Jack (photo by Casey Post)


Weekend Jade


Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments, anytime.  New Open Threads are posted weekly.



Name That Animal

This is just for fun and the only rule is:  no researching.  Post your guesses in the comments.  Reading other people’s answers before posting your own is look we’ve got enough problems so just don’t optional.  Answer will be posted in the comments tonight.


Case Update: Klein Animal Shelter Director Guilty of Cruelty

Many readers likely recall the horrors documented by the state of Texas at the Klein Animal Shelter in Jacksonville.  For those who don’t, click through using caution because the images are very disturbing.  In a nutshell, the untrained staff was physically abusing animals, leaving injured animals to suffer in filth without treatment, cruelly killing animals in view of other animals, mixing dead animals with live animals in cages – all while the director spent her days running a fight club of which the staff were members.  The facility has since closed, and some of the rural counties which contracted with Klein for AC have failed to secure new contracts, instead taking found animals to private vets to be killed.

Today, an update on the case.  Former shelter director Angela Wallace will spend zero days in jail:

Ms. Wallace pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor offenses in late June: Cruelty to non-livestock animals and illegal euthanasia.
She was sentenced to two years probation – the maximum length of time for misdemeanors.
She was charged $3,000 in fines and $594 in court costs for both charges and was ordered to perform 140 hours of community service, Cherokee County Attorney Dana Young told the Progress. Other conditions of probation included completing anger management classes and not owning any pets. Ms. Wallace cannot work with animals again.

If you are wondering what happened to the felony charge against Wallace, she utilized a state law which allowed her to admit guilt while not being prosecuted for it. If you are wondering where the justice is for the animals who suffered such heartbreaking abuse during Wallace’s time at the shelter, I got nothing.  I also have no information on what is happening with the other two employees who were charged in connection with the case but presumably, if the person in charge got off with probation, the subordinates will probably get less.  Maybe a bouquet with a “sorry we charged you” card from the DA’s office, I don’t know.

(Thanks Stephen, Clarice and Nathan.)

Weekend Jade


Happy birthday John Lennon.


Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments, anytime.  New Open Threads are posted weekly.




Shelter Pet of the Day: Memphis, TN



Bella, ID #290655 at the Memphis pound.  (Photo by Memphis Pets Alive)

This sweet dog has been kept behind locked doors in the “stray” area of the Memphis pound since she was surrendered on September 24.  And gee, no one has adopted her.  As if there’s some correlation between keeping pets hidden from the public and pets getting adopted.  So weird.  And now, her number is up.  She has until tomorrow, October 8, to get the hell out of hell.

Bella is 3 years old and heartworm positive.  Anyone interested in meeting her needs to wait for a hall monitor to become available at the pound so they can be escorted to her cage.  You will have to provide her ID number:  290655.  If anyone interested in Bella needs any assistance, please post a comment. We will try our damnedest to make it happen.

Memphis Animal Services
2350 Appling City Cove
Memphis, TN 38133
(901) 636-PAWS (7297)

(Submitted by Jody)

Young Hillary Clinton: Baby Bunny Defender

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou


It’s Silly Season in U.S. politics, where all manner of things get spotlighted in the media, including stories from 60 years ago. Snipped from an anti-Hillary Clinton article:

I interviewed Hillary’s grammar school classmate, Jim Yrigoyen, who told me the story of being ordered by Hillary to guard a warren of baby rabbits, and not give any of them away to neighborhood boys. When he did, recalled Yrigoyen, “Hillary hauled off and punched me in the nose.”

Hell to the yeah!

The author’s apparent intent in relating this anecdote was to smear Hillary Clinton but as far as I’m concerned: total fail. I love this story. You go girl.