State Finds Evidence of Neglect at Robeson Co Animal Shelter

This note, posted on Facebook, is purportedly from the Robeson Co Animal Shelter (RCAS) director, April Lowry:

I am not writing this to you in defense i am writing this to you stating the facts…I do not need a defense…

What an opener.

First I will state that we have failed 2 inspections due To being over capacity.

I checked on the last 2 inspections for RCAS.  Indeed they are both fails but multiple issues are cited.  On July 29, there was an animal welfare inspection and a euthanasia inspection (both are pdfs).  Failed items include:

  • 4 cats crammed in one cage
  • Broken air conditioning units in the cat room so the temperature was too high.  A fan was brought in and the manager advised new AC units were ordered and scheduled for installation next week.
  • Cracks in the concrete floor need to be sealed
  • Food and water bowls have been chewed up and need to be replaced
  • Rodent droppings in restroom, bugs in pet food
  • Inadequate staff – by 3:30pm, the quarantine section of the shelter still hadn’t been cleaned for the day.
  • Sick cat had been at the shelter for 2 weeks without veterinary care
  • Cleaning is being done with dish soap and bleach.  Shelter needs to check with the vet for which disinfectants are appropriate for disease control.
  • Re-inspection to be conducted in 2 weeks.

August 12 (Follow up inspection to make sure items noted from last visit have been addressed):

  • Materials to fix some of the issues are on site but the work hasn’t been done.
  • 5 dogs had no resting platforms
  • Cat overcrowding issue unchanged
  • Chewed food/water receptacles still not replaced
  • Kill room has evidence of rodents
  • Open bag of pet food
  • Cleaning not complete by 3pm
  • Dogs were too hot.
  • Sick kittens had been at the shelter for 2 weeks without vet care.  Sick puppies had been at the shelter for more than 1 week without vet care.  A dog with multiple bite wounds has not been seen by the vet.
  • The shelter’s power goes out for extended periods of time.  Shelter needs to be checked on by staff more frequently on weekends.
  • Re-inspect in 30 days.

To my mind, the shelter failed these inspections due to far more than being “over capacity”.  I’m not sure how anyone could characterize these failures in that way.  The conditions described are inhumane and lacking the basics of appropriate shelter pet care and prevention of  disease.  Perhaps RCAS is “over capacity” for neglect, but that’s not one of the categories on the inspection form.

The Facebook note also refers to the recent killing of all dogs under one year of age at the shelter due to 2 puppies testing positive for parvo:

This is merely disease control…

Uh, no.  Make that – NO WAY.  Disease control is checking with the vet, like you were told, and finding out what cleaners to use to control disease at the shelter.  Disease control is getting your quarantine areas and the rest of your shelter cleaned every day in a timely manner.  Disease control is getting vet care and treatment for sick shelter pets.  What you did is not “merely disease control”.  It’s unnecessary killing in lieu of doing your job.

We will never get the problem here at the shelter rectified because people in our community fail to spay and neuter and also fail to vaccinate. Vaccination is a good prevention for this disease, but unfortuneatly these animals have not been vaccinated due to them being unwanted and dumped here.

Oh good.  Let’s blame the public.  Always a good fallback position for a shelter director trying to shirk responsibility.  By the way, is RCAS leading by example and getting a vet to examine all pets upon intake and vaccinating those deemed healthy enough to be vaccinated?

I have all been told “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” and this is so true.

I agree.  If only you’d done your job and followed the specific directions given to you at your failed inspection from July 29, that would have been worth at least an ounce of prevention.  But instead of using standard, established shelter protocols to control the spread of disease and instead of addressing the issues from your failed inspections, you chose to needlessly kill pets and then blame the public.

If this note was in fact written by the RCAS shelter director, I am appalled.  If not, the facts remain that RCAS is not working to prevent the spread of disease at the shelter but instead killing pets arbitrarily as a means of disease control.  That too, is appalling.

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17 Comments

  1. Why doesn’t the state step up to the plate. These are not the kind of people who should be running a “HUMANE” animal shelter. Are there any rescues around that could take some of these animals? This is repulsive!! Maybe April Lowry should spend a couple of weeks in this shelter. Poor animals are scared to death to begin with and then to end up like this!!!!

    Reply
  2. Kari Mueller

     /  August 22, 2010

    It is NOT the fault of these animals to be homeless in the first place. It’s all people who abandone them, dump them, or just walk away from them. Why do shelters make them suffer for something that is NOT their fault? This saddens me soooo much. It’s hard enough that they’ve come as far as they have only to be treated like this? Please stop this cruelty and help these animals so they can be adopted to a forever home! No one, not even humans would want to live like this, let alone someone who would want to adopt a loving heart!

    Reply
  3. They should be shut down along with all the other horrible concentration camps all over the country. Sure – they can try to blame the public – but the public is NOT working there – so the blame falls directly on them for being lazy, cheap and heartless.

    The poor animals are already petrified and to be treated in such horrific ways tells me alot of people are in the WRONG PROFESSION ! The word profession is almost too good for them,

    they’re nothing but jailers working on death row and and we all know HUMAN Inmates on Death Row are treated far better than any animal in this shelter.

    Reply
    • C. Talltree

       /  August 23, 2010

      If you work to shut them down, then what do you do with all the abandoned, injured, and lost pets? Better to work towards helping them set up a volunteer coordinator to help see that all tasks are done right, as well as fundraising so that all cleaning materials are present and available.

      Yes, this is a horrible situation… but let’s not make it worse! Let’s all work towards improving the situation. And for those who are not local to this shelter… there is a shelter in your town, in your county. Go help them out too. They need you, desperately, to help keep things clean, uncrowded, and the animals loved.

      Reply
  4. Stephanie

     /  August 22, 2010

    It’s apparent the shelter personnel don’t care about the well being of the dogs & cats. Why isn’t the county commissioner or someone over them doing something about this. Do they also not have any compassion? They can say they are overcrowded all they want but that is no reason for half the crap that goes on at Robeson!

    Reply
    • Trisha Trossbach

       /  August 29, 2010

      Sometimes I think that’s the type of person they want working there. They aren’t compassionate there, so why would they want people who care about animals as employees. They wouldn’t be able to get away with being cruel and inhumane then.

      Reply
  5. debbie bullard

     /  August 22, 2010

    This has been going on for so long.
    There is also the issue of one of the employee’s of being involved in the hit & run killing of one of their citizens.
    Mr. Fletcher was not even given a ticket, he claimed he thought he hit a deer.
    These people also are supposed to sedate the animals before they use the heart stick and they do not!!!!
    They are beyond the meaning, of Monsters.
    We have video footage of what they do there and every person there or no longer there should be imprisioned for their failure to act as a Shelter and for their animal Cruelities, that is happeneing every single day!

    Reply
  6. I like the suggestion I’ve heard elsewhere, that rescues and shelters should be legally required the meed the same standards as commercial kennels and breeders.

    Because right now, it seems like a lot of these folks are eager to bring the boot down on ‘greeders’ and the ‘irresponsible public’ while turning a blind eye towards their own lack of animal-care standards.

    Reply
  7. J. Eaton

     /  August 22, 2010

    Are there sufficient funds available for veterinary care? How much money does RCAS receive from the county per year to run this shelter? What are the food and water bowls made out of (Plastic??), that they got “chewed up”? (i.e. shouldn’t they be using ceramic or stainless steel?) If there is “inadequate staff” and substandard sanitation, who is responsible for the cleaning, and why hasn’t it been done?

    “I like the suggestion I’ve heard elsewhere, that rescues and shelters should be legally required the meed the same standards as commercial kennels and breeders…”

    I think this was proposed by Nathan Winograd’s No Kill Nation. A good idea, to be sure (and one that I support); but all of this takes funding…. Where is the money coming from, and where is it all going? This is what I’d like to know.

    Reply
  8. “This is merely disease control…”

    No. Disease control is vaccinating EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL that comes into your shelter, and using an appropriate disinfection program. That way when you do get a new animal with a disease, you don’t have to kill most of the ones that are already there. Vaccines are cheap and easy to administer.

    Bleach is only appropriate for disease control when used in the proper conditions and concentrations. It is easily inactivated in the presence of organic matter. IOW, you must scrub and rinse all the solid dirt out of the kennel/cage, before you use bleach, and it must sit for a certain amount of time to be effective.

    The UC Davis shelter medicine site has a huge amount of information on proper disinfection, which agents are effective on which viruses and bacteria, and HOW to clean effectively so that time and money aren’t wasted. This is not magical esoteric information, it is freely available to anyone.

    Reply
  9. Rick

     /  August 22, 2010

    April Lowry seems to me your incompetent to run this facility. Sick animals and you do not need a defense!! Two inspections and most everything is the same. You should be ashamed of yourself. There needs to be direction at this facility and you have failed miserably.

    Reply
  10. Carol Cleary

     /  August 22, 2010

    Holy Moly. Lets hear another lame excuse. So over crowding caused the electricity to go out? Over crowding caused you to be delayed in getting your AC fixed? Over crowding caused you to fail to get the proper equipment (food bowls) and proper Vet care? Ohhhh please……..Shut ’em down and indict every one of these county employees and anyone else in the chain of command for animal cruelty – OH! BUT WAIT!!! Let’s wait until December 1, so they can be indicted under SUSIE’S LAW!!!!!

    Reply
  11. I think I agree with J. Eaton that all the multiple things that are going wrong are likely to indicate that the staff are overwhelmed and unable to get things fixed because they can’t get permission to fund repairs. HOWEVER, that’s an excuse for the staff at the bottom of the chain of command, not the people at the top.

    Do we know whether the shelter is entirely dependent on funding from the county or whether they can appeal for additional donations from the public?

    Reply
  12. debbie bullard

     /  August 23, 2010

    yes they need help, but the need to rid the place of those horrible people that are in it now and find people who are compassonate and understanding.
    I’m very concerned about the medication that they are supposed to be sedating the animals with, where is it and why aren’t they using it????????

    Reply
  13. Kid

     /  August 23, 2010

    This is really sad, and there isn’t any excuse especially if they are adequately staffed/volunteered.

    I hope this, however, inspires people reading this to find an overcrowded problematic shelter and *volunteer*. I volunteer at four organizations weekly (and work FT), and one of them is hanging by a thread towards being like the one in this article. It’s the one I drive two hours to get to because it’s in such need of help.

    But anyway, if you volunteer, you can make a difference in the day-to-day life of animals in there. There are dogs who don’t even get to see the light of day, who are in kennels stepping in their waste – volunteers can actively make a difference and help rectify those issues, help the animals get adopted out too. You don’t have to agree with the shelter policies or practices (I sure don’t!), but you can go there for the animals and the animals alone.

    It’s not a solution of course – we absolutely need legislation to improve this widespread problem – but it’s something that many people can do today, in the meantime, until we can improve things on a larger scale.

    Reply
  14. clh

     /  August 23, 2010

    i called on friday august 20, 2010, to verify if a specific dog was still there…. two men together by phone would not go check… told me to call back in hour…. now.. they had just put down..God knows how many animals, AND, suspiciously left one severely infected puppy in the shelter… these men at almost 2 pm.. where sitting together by a phone together, not doing anything… wouldn’t get off there butts to check… sick puppy with dogs to be rescued…although order was to put down ALL one year & under.. two days prior… these men would not go to check if a dog was there…they were sitting there… doing nothing… no cleaning… no checking… nothing… this is why this shelter is this way… this shelter needs to care… EVERY person in this shelter needs to care…. if they don’t they need to be put out….

    Reply
  15. Darcy K,

     /  August 27, 2010

    First of all, I don’t think MEN should be working there. Nothing against the male gender, but women as a rule tend to have a hell of a lot more compassion. And what is the education level of people in Robeson County? Are there any intelligent and competent people that are willing to work there???? They shouldn’t be hiring lazy idiots to care for these animals. In the shelter I used to work for (in Minnesota), we had VERY strict rules about cleaning, getting it done right away in the morning, proper disinfection with veterinary products (dish soap + bleach mixed together produces a toxic fume!!!), and the animals were always checked on regularly…no one was allowed to “sit around” and do nothing!!

    Reply

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