The Campbell Co pound in TN is currently closed while the state conducts an investigation into alleged wrongdoing, centered around director Betty Crumley. The disturbing allegations of animal abuse have gone largely unsubstantiated – until now. In April, employee Brenda Watkins provided sworn testimony regarding her experiences at the pound and that testimony was made public this week by the LaFollette Press (paywall, with option for limited time free subscription).
Ms. Watkins began working at the pound in 2006 and was there the day that Ms. Crumley took over in 2008 – a day that the shelter had some empty cages:
“The first day she came in she done a count on all the animals and said ‘this is way too many animals in the shelter’ and that would change,” Watkins testified.
One of Ms. Crumley’s first orders to her staff was that rescues would cease, according to Ms. Watkins’ testimony. No reason was given. Staff began calling rescue groups on their own to try to save animals. Ms. Crumley picked which animals would be killed and some of them were highly adoptable according to the testimony. Some animals were killed in retaliation over personal disagreements Ms. Crumley had with individual pet advocates:
“If she was upset with a rescue, she wouldn’t let them pull. If it was a person that she didn’t like or was upset with or just didn’t want them to have that dog…they couldn’t adopt it,” Watkins said. “The majority of the time, they would be euthanized.”
There were often more dead cats in the freezer than there were on the intake sheet. Ms. Watkins could not say for certain why the pound had surplus cat carcasses but her understanding was that the extra cats had been trapped. The LaFollette Press offers this insight:
The shelter has a contract with Kennedy-Boyd Enterprises in North Carolina, a medical specimen facility that collects cat carcasses and distributes them to schools for dissection in biology classes. The county receives $3 for each specimen of at least 12 inches in length.
Ms. Watkins testified she regularly saw another employee kick the dog cages in order to scare the dogs. Ms. Watkins once complained to Ms. Crumley about the killing of a group of dogs who had rescue secured. Ms. Crumley described one of the dogs as being hunkered down in the back of the cage and so determined the animal to be aggressive. From Ms. Watkins’ testimony:
“I said ‘when people go down here kicking on the front of the cages, scaring them, yeah it’s gonna hunker down.’
Ms. Crumley offered no reply.
Warning: The details of shelter pet abuse which follow may be too disturbing for some readers.
Ms. Watkins testified that dogs were killed in view of one another in their cages. They were chokepoled and then jabbed with syringes of Fatal Plus. While Ms. Watkins never witnessed Ms. Crumley inject an animal, she did testify that the syringes were drawn up by Ms. Crumley, who has admitted to guessing the appropriate dosage. Animals were injected in “random areas” of the body, not in accordance with standard veterinary practices:
“Some of them will die quickly. Some of them it takes quite a while. Some of them thrash around in their cages. Some there’s feces we have to clean up afterwards. Sometimes there’s blood we have to clean up afterwards,” she said.
Blood sometimes came from injection sites. Other times it came from an animal’s nose.
After euthanasia, sometimes the still-breathing animals were placed into the freezers alive.
“I have seen them taken out to the freezer still alive,” Watkins said.
At the end of March, a video surfaced online in which a male voice is heard telling Crumley there’s a problem, that an animal is in the freezer alive. In April, another video surfaced showing deep, bloody scratch marks on the inside of the chest freezers used to store animals before disposal.
Betty had no problem with live animals being sent to the freezer, Watkins said.
The county has no plans to replace Ms. Crumley and the pound remains closed, pending the completion of the state’s investigation. A local volunteer group called Friends of Campbell County Animals (FCCA) is trying to provide care of the community’s homeless pets in the meantime. They also have animals for adoption.
Thank you once again to the so-called irresponsible public for your dedication and hard work.
(Thanks Joni for the link.)