SLED Investigating ASPCA Partner Shelter for Embezzlement

The Charleston Animal Society in SC doesn’t say on its website how many pets it kills each year.  But it does point the finger at who is to blame for shelter pet killing:

The pet overpopulation problem

An estimated 3 – 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year in our country.  Because there are more unwanted pets than there are available homes, each new litter of kittens, puppies, rabbits, and other animals leads to the euthanasia of animals already waiting for new homes.

There is no pet overpopulation problem.  There are no unwanted pets.  There are enough homes for every shelter pet in America.  Each litter of pets born into the world does not cause the killing of shelter pets.  The people who kill pets at shelters are responsible for their own actions.

In the spring of 2008, the Charleston Animal Society moved into a “brand new state-of-the-art 31,000 square feet” building as Charleston County joined the ASCPA Partnership.  The partnership’s goal makes mention of “no more unnecessary euthanasia of adoptable animals” and states:

Through its participation in ASPCA® Partner Community™, Charleston County has pledged to move towards a 75 percent save rate for homeless companion animals by the year 2012.

The Charleston Animal Society is the only open admission shelter in the county, taking in more than 10,000 pets each year.  So how are they doing in their goal to reach a 75% save rate ?  I don’t know because they don’t post their stats online.  I e-mailed an inquiry this morning regarding the stats but haven’t yet received a reply.

However, even if they reach the 75% live release rate, we know from the numerous open admission shelters around the country who have ended the needless killing of healthy/treatable pets that a live release rate of 90% or greater is the standard.  In other words, a kill rate of 25% would not be indicative of the stated goal regarding an end to the killing of adoptable pets.

Setting all this aside for the moment, the Charleston Animal Society’s website, like the sites of many shelters, has lots of space dedicated to asking for donations.  One page states that your donation will help the group “provide food, shelter and medical care to nearly 12,000 homeless animals each year”.  That sounds swell.  And surely all those who have given money to the Charleston Animal Society, including the ASPCA, would take comfort in believing their donations were spent on community pets in need.

Unfortunately, that apparently is not what’s been happening with the money at the Charleston Animal Society:

In emails obtained exclusively by News 2 reporter Rebecca Ryan, Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon writes:  “It has come to my attention that the Charleston Animal Society […] has discovered some internal issues involving personnel and moneys that are missing, misappropriated, or otherwise not spent in professionally excepted [sic] practices.”


In other emails from Charleston County Council members, one council member said the Animal Society Board was writing checks out of their own pockets to cover up the “thefts”.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is investigating.  The board of the Charleston Animal Society issued a statement putting the allegedly embezzled funds at $69,000 over a period of several years.  The board’s statement hints that the 2011 save rate for the facility may be as low as 50%.  It paints the alleged embezzlers as a few bad apples.  The statement also contains this gem:

The timing of this discovery couldn’t be worse as we head into the last two weeks of the year, when those donors who make our life-saving work possible plan their year-end giving.

Dang, what a lousy time of year to have SLED knock on your door asking about tens of thousands of missing dollars.  *sniff*

As far as exactly which dollars were allegedly embezzled, the investigation is ongoing but naturally the county wants to know about the money it pays to the shelter:

Charleston County Council member, Elliot Summey, said so far it doesn’t appear any money is missing from the pool the county gives to the Animal Society.

So if it’s not the county money that’s missing, where would the alleged embezzlers be siphoning funds?

A photo on the Charleston Animal Society's website shows a $600,000 check from the ASPCA.

Blame the public for killing.  Lie about no kill.  Steal money from kind-hearted donors.  Where did Charleston Animal Society get its playbook?

Watch this space for updates.

9 thoughts on “SLED Investigating ASPCA Partner Shelter for Embezzlement

  1. “The partnership’s goal makes mention of “no more unnecessary euthanasia of adoptable animals””

    I once had a shelter director tell me with a perfectly straight face that the definition of an “adoptable animal” is one that is adopted. Guess most shelters have the same definition. PATHETIC!

  2. In the spirit of the season, may I have the Hallelujah Chorus for this? Way to go, Shirley. Thanks for all you do.

    Happy holidays!

  3. If I could i would start a “flash mob” on this site to sing the Hallelujah chorus.. Thanks Shirley..

  4. “The Charleston Animal Society is the only open admission shelter in the county, taking in more than 10,000 pets each year”
    Ummm, I don’t think so! Stats for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control for fiscal 2011 show they took in over 18,500 animals at their open admission shelter.

    Charleston Animal Society…Care to edit your statement?

    1. In Charleston Co ,SC- they are the only open admission shelter. One of their partners,PetHelpers , is and always has been a No Kill Facility.I am saddened to see this news. I know that since implementing a county wide TNR ordinance, the number of kittens , for the first time in their history, went down. By 13%. The number of adult cats adopted was higher than the number of adult dogs. I know they are reaching out to rescues. I know they have had several low cost / free adoption events, over the past year. I , personally , have participated in free s/n events.
      Do I agree with ALL of their statements?, no. Have I seen changes? Yes. Are these changes moving quickly enough? No. Are there people working to make change happen? Yes.

  5. I’m joining in Jay’s Hallelujah Chorus, and bringing in the woodwinds, starting with my family. today. Spread this blog to everyone you know. The thing is, this is not a unique situation.

    Some people have discovered that it is eezy-peezy to raise all kinds of money by claiming it is ‘for the animals’, without anyone investigating. First thing that happens when someone asks pointed questions or tries to look into animal charity finances, the ‘chorus’ from that ‘other place’ claims “ANIMAL ABUSERS, GREEDT, PUPPY MILLERS, FACTORY FARMERS!!!!” all, who dare to ask these questions. They are very loud.

    Thank you so much for doing what you do here. 2012 might be the beginning of the end of the giant public scam behind so many powerful and devious animal charities. It breaks my heart that these groups are allowed to interfere with the good works of so many of our truly UNSUNG heroes in animal rescue – the bona fide rescues and shelters who do NOT make the news on a regular basis.

    For one thing, the good people need to get a handle on the media – need I say more?

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