Updated: Whistleblowers Expose Parvo Coverup at Atlanta Humane Society

Atlanta Humane Society has 2 facilities, one of which cost 10 million dollars and was just opened in December 2011.

Three whistleblowers went to the local Fox affiliate to expose wrongdoing at the Atlanta Humane Society, prompting the reporter to investigate further and visit the facility to ask for the other side of the story.  The allegations involve a failure of the Atlanta Humane Society to report the occurrence of contagious diseases such as parvo to the state Department of Agriculture, as required by law.  The reporter found that the Department of Agriculture hadn’t received a single contagious disease report from the facility for at least 2 years.  Yet kill records from Atlanta HS for recent months indicate that almost all of animals killed have been puppies – for contagious disease.

There is a video of this great investigative piece at the link which I will describe in part for anyone unable to watch.

When visiting Atlanta HS, the reporter is met outside by Richard Rice, Vice President of Operations who, based on his response, has single-handedly lowered the bar for media crisis management for shelters.  When first asked about the shelter’s apparent failure to report contagious diseases, Mr. Rice looks like an immune compromised medical patient being asked for a hug by a plague victim.  As he dashes away, he promises to return with the records in question.  The reporter sits outside on the curb for ninety minutes before Mr. Rice shows his face again.  He doesn’t have the records but he does have a puppy.  In what looks like an attempt by Gilligan to avoid being bonked with the Skipper’s hat (You wouldn’t hit a guy with a puppy, would you?), Mr. Rice explains that they’ve done their jobs, are in compliance with state law, nothing to see here, etc.

Eventually, Atlanta HS produces a bunch of fax forms which contain no identifying information about the reporting agency – an obvious requirement – which it says were used as an alternative to phone reporting to the state.  The state says they never received a single one of these forms by fax.  The fax machine at Atlanta HS prints out a record of every number ever dialed and the Department of Agriculture’s number appears zero times.  Even if the faxes had been sent and received, they would not have brought Atlanta HS into compliance.

Apparently 10 million dollars does not necessarily buy plausible deniability.

Update:  Atlanta HS has a response to the investigative report on its website.  And the response is:  You know that lame story we concocted about generic faxes that there is no evidence of ever having been sent or even existed prior to the news showing up?  Well yeah – that, still.  Also:

It is our hope that the perspectives of former employees do not overshadow the exceptional work that our team performs every day.

The “perspectives” of your former employees come with proof, Atlanta HS.  Your “exceptional work”, not so much.

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21 Comments

  1. mikken

     /  April 29, 2012

    Ten million dollars doesn’t buy competence or class, either, apparently.

    “I have no paperwork and no proof – LOOK, A PUPPY!!!!” Really, dude? Sheesh.

    I imagine legal charges and lawsuits will be in the works with this, as they should be.

    Reply
  2. Jeanne

     /  April 29, 2012

    Part 2 in this series is coming up Mon. and will cover where Atlanta Humane gets their dogs (not from local shelters where their help is desperately needed). Stay tuned.

    Reply
  3. Sarah

     /  April 29, 2012

    Seems like this is the tip of the iceberg. Interested in the one lady’s claim, proven at an unemployment hearing, that a board member told her to forward an email to her personal account and was later fired for it? Just how involved ARE these board members?!

    Reply
  4. Beth

     /  April 29, 2012

    YOU, my dear, are ON THE MONEY! Thanks for reporting. Brilliant!!!

    Reply
  5. db

     /  April 29, 2012

    Why do these kind of folks even get involved with animal-related jobs? I just don’t get it!

    Reply
    • vida

       /  April 30, 2012

      For the incompetent and crooked it’s best that their victims can’t complain, that’s my take on it.

      Reply
  6. ruthrawls

     /  April 29, 2012

    OH,freakity frack. My local shelter here in lowcountry SC has been transporting puppies and kittens to, yup, Atlanta.

    Reply
  7. Triangle

     /  April 29, 2012

    Was he trying to prove they didn’t kill ALL the puppies in the building? Look, we saved one!!

    Reply
  8. Karen F

     /  April 29, 2012

    Really fine work by the station, and the whistleblowers did a great job in their interviews. Glad to know the reporter will be following up. It sounds as if there’s a lot more to cover at AHS.

    Reply
  9. Betsy

     /  April 29, 2012

    People need to get out their shovels and dig dig dig, this is so much deeper than unreported Parvo and where the animals come from. I hope someone has the fortitude to expose what is *really* going on.

    Reply
    • Anyone with information, photos, shelter records, etc. is welcome to contact me. I am always happy to help.

      Reply
  10. Kittypurr

     /  April 30, 2012

    Yeah- guess the message is when you pay the big bucks you are exempt.
    Wonder how many smaller all volunteer orgs struggle to comply with the rules-

    Reply
  11. outnabout

     /  April 30, 2012

    My concern isn’t just parvo, a horrible, but treatable disease. What about distemper? Even adult dogs who have not been properly vaccinated don’t typically survive distemper. Parvo treatments have a 90% success rate for those who can afford the $600-$1100 costs. Distemper treatments have at best a 10% success rates. In some cases, the dog’s brain swells, causing seizures which are often mistaken for something else. So if AHS has not reported ANY contagious diseases for TWO years, how many unreported cases of distemper and distemper exposures are there? I wonder how many vets would test for distemper (which often causes primarily neurological symptoms) on an animal coming from AHS? Prior to this everyone but those who really knew the inner workings thought Atlanta Humane Society set the gold standard in animal rescue. Now we know they hid poor quality care and deaths of animals behind that reputation. WHERE IS THE BOARD IN ALL OF THIS?

    Reply
  12. Jennifer

     /  May 1, 2012

    It sounds as if the Dept. of Agriculture should have checked up on the Atlanta Humane Society since it did not receive a report for 2 years. Someone there should have realized there was a problem long before 2 years! Does the Dept. of Agriculture also evaluate kennels in GA? I wonder how that is going for them! The Dept. of Agriculture needs to be looked into also!

    Reply
  13. YesBiscuit, can you investigate other shelter issues? A really bad one just happened in PA.

    Reply
  14. Well, oh, boy!!! Bibb County, Ga. might hire Richard Rice. Aren’t WE HAPPY. Good God, first they hired Biggs and now they’re looking at Rice and

    Reply
  15. Lance

     /  August 24, 2012

    Apparently, Bibb County (Macon GA) is the dumping ground for Atlanta’s trash.

    Reply
  1. Are Georgia shelters breaking the law?
  2. Are Georgia shelters breaking the law?

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