On Wednesday, NC State Rep. Pat McElraft and two pet advocates met with shelter manager Jeff Bass and Robeson Co officials to discuss recommendations for changes to improve the shelter:
A pattern arose during the two-hour meeting: Advocates presented an issue they wanted addressed, and county officials explained why it wasn’t feasible.
All major requests were denied by the county on the basis of a wait-and-see-what-the-HSUS-says-in-their-review excuse. But that HSUS review is by no means a done deal:
The Humane Society shelter review presented another issue: The national organization wants the county to pay for part of the cost, but so far its proposed costs have been too high. [Bill] Smith [director of the Health Department] said he won’t sign a contract until it’s affordable.
McElraft was surprised the organization wanted payment at all; she felt that could compromise the legitimacy of the review, raising questions about impartiality. She emphasized that she trusts the national Humane Society’s ability to conduct a solid review, and said she would call the organization and try to reduce or eliminate the county’s cost.
With all the coins in their coffers, I would think HSUS could work something out so that a poor county like Robeson could improve conditions at their shelter. We’ll see if the state Rep’s arm twisting squeezes any blood from that stone.
Pet advocates’ main issue was the killing of shelter pets by “heartstick” – overdose of barbituates injected directly into the heart of a sedated pet. Robeson currently has a system where the killing technicians go down the row of kennels and sedate each pet and then “the technician goes down the row and sticks each animal’s heart”:
Smith said if the shelter switched to intravenous, it would have to open two hours later because the method — inserting an IV of sodium pentobarbital into an animal’s vein, which takes two employees — is time consuming.
I don’t know how Robeson Co taxpayers feel about it but at my job, if my boss tells me I have to take on duties X and Y which will mean more work for me, I don’t have the option of a witty riposte such as, “Fine then – we’ll just have to open the office 2 hours later so I can get this extra work done!” I am simply required to figure out how to manage the workload I’ve been given because that’s what I’m being paid for. What are Robeson Co residents paying these yahoos for exactly?
The pet advocates also asked the shelter to switch from Clorox and Ajax to standard veterinary cleansers. A year’s supply of free veterinary grade cleansers was offered if the shelter would make the switch. No dice there either.
All in all, a basically fruitless meeting. The only concession made by the county was an agreement to put softer beds in with puppies – beds they got for free but were apparently not using. I guess this about sums it up:
At the end of the meeting, [Susan] Barrett asked Bass if he had a dog that she was supposed to adopt on behalf of a friend. She said Bass showed her the paperwork that said the dog was sick and had been euthanized that morning.
Right. Because we wouldn’t want to get treatment for a sick dog or let his adopter get treatment for him. That might besmirch the fine reputation of a classy establishment like Robeson.