A dark cloud hangs over the Broward Co animal shelter in FL:
To solve problems uncovered in 2007, the county spent $30,000 on an independent audit by national animal care experts. The National Animal Control Association made 102 recommendations on what should be done to improve conditions at the shelter, which handles more than 20,000 animals a year.
Allegations ranged from animal carcasses rotting in maggot-infested bags to workers selling valuable dogs for their own profit. Food was in short supply, and some visitors said they found dirty cages and uncaring workers.
Now, the community is wondering how many, if any, of the reforms were put into practice.
Owners of a lost cat in Broward Co searched for him for weeks earlier this year. He was in fact picked up by animal control and brought to the shelter. Staff scanned the cat, named O’Malley, for a microchip but missed it entirely. They left him in a cage for 5 days while his health deteriorated significantly. No one reported that the cat was sick to a supervisor until the fifth day:
The investigators said workers did not immediately report O’Malley’s health problems as required and questioned whether the staff had been properly trained. Two workers who primarily handled O’Malley stated they had not seen nor read the shelter’s operating procedures.
OK, maybe the shelter management dropped the ball on providing copies of the SOPs to these two employees. Even so, if it is your job to care for the shelter’s pets, wouldn’t you just sort of know that a cat who is going downhill rapidly right before your eyes is the sort of thing you should tell your boss about? I mean, even if you didn’t read it in an employee handbook?
On the fifth day, they took a reportedly very ill O’Malley out to kill him. After administering the sedative which is given prior to lethal injection, they scanned the cat, as per county protocol, and this time found the chip. They tried to contact the owners but O’Malley’s health was failing so rapidly that “he had to be put to sleep immediately”. That’s a pretty sick cat that can’t even hold on long enough to reach the owners. Why did the shelter allow him to reach this point? Was a Veterinarian ever consulted about treating the cat?
“I hope no one has to go through what we went through,” said Deborah Coombs, O’Malley’s owner. “It seems to me that a ton of money is spent on the department but nothing really has been straightened out in years.”
Unfortunately, it sounds like others have indeed gone through what O’Malley’s owners endured:
After O’Malley’s death became news, others have reported similar problems with the Broward shelter.
A broader investigation of shelter practices is due to be completed this month.