Idiocy and Evil Battle It Out in Decatur, AL

On Thursday, Mayor Don Kyle of Decatur, AL ordered the city pound to reduce its population from roughly 300 to 45 according to reporting by WAFF.  Although the piece does not provide the amount of time being allotted for this population reduction, a statement from the mayor describes it as “an aggressive time frame”.  The statement cites the reason for the order as “significant filth, odor and disease” due to the number of animals within the facility.  The number of cages at Decatur Animal Services is not mentioned.  The mayor’s statement stresses the fact that he has not ordered a mass killing to reduce population and that he has “suggested that staffers use all their contacts to move animals out.”

I would interpret this as an all-hands-on-deck crisis.  In order to humanely reduce the pound’s population quickly and dramatically, Decatur Animal Services should be using every tool in the toolbox.

This morning, Decatur Animal Services has just 117 pets listed on Petfinder.  The pound’s website states it sells dogs for $110 and cats for $95.  I looked through several pages on the site but saw no pleas to help save animals during the current crisis nor any specials such as waived adoption fees.  I’m not at all certain the shelter is pulling out all the stops during this crisis or even doing their jobs at a most basic level.

Overnight, a new article was published on with much more information including a number on that “aggressive time frame” – 30 days.  The piece indicates the pound’s manager, Carol Wicks, had responded to the mayor’s order with a threat to kill animals:

Wicks said she could only comply with the directive by euthanizing more than 100 animals.

The director determined this need for mass killing within 1 day of the order.  She never even tried listing all the pets online, running a promotion or using social media to reach out to the public for assistance.  The mayor reiterated his opposition to a mass killing in order to reduce the population:

“I never wanted that,” Kyle said.

The mayor’s order has been put on hold.

Misinformation and miscommunication are apparently the words of the day:

Shelter Advisory Board members said Friday they did not know how Kyle had arrived at the limit of 20 cats and 25 dogs.


“I’m not sure where those numbers came from,” [board secretary Carla] Swinnee said. “There has to be an analysis done as to how many dogs and cats the shelter is equipped to handle. Nobody ever said, ‘This is the number.’ ”


The shelter has 106 cages and kennels for dogs and 121 for cats.


“There’s no such thing as a maximum capacity,” Wicks said.

Let’s play Identify the Problem.  Or in this case, Problems.

  • No one has ever analyzed the shelter’s capacity.
  • The mayor thinks 45 is a good number – leaving 182 cages empty.
  • The director thinks the shelter’s capacity is Anything Goes.
  • The mayor specifically said he didn’t want killing used as a tool to reduce the population.
  • The director immediately threatened to kill more than 100 animals in response.
  • Decatur Animal Services is not offering any adoption specials, running any promotions or even listing all its pets online in order to increase live outcomes.

And in the Wait, There’s More Frightening Stuff Department, we have this:

Kyle said wants to hear ideas for reducing the numbers.

“For example, I heard a recommendation that when a pregnant cat comes into the facility it should be spayed, rather than holding it until it has the litter of kittens,” Kyle said. “That’s not been done.”

Wicks said she and her staff are aggressive in trying to reduce shelter numbers. In the past three days, she said, the shelter adopted out 11 dogs and four cats. It also euthanized 20 animals.

“That’s the normal euthanasia, not an accelerated rate,” Wicks said.

She said the shelter euthanizes animals that are aggressive or diseased, and others that would use up shelter space for adoptable animals.

“If an animal is here for a long time and nobody is showing an interest or is not doing well in this environment, they are pulled and euthanized,” Wicks said.

Killing unborn kittens is unconscionable.  Killing animals who take up space because “nobody is showing an interest” when the shelter doesn’t even list all its pets online or whip up an adoption promotion during a crisis is sickening.  It seems as if killing is the answer to all questions at Decatur Animal Services.  I hope there are some shelter pet advocates in the area who will stand up for the defenseless animals being needlessly killed at the pound.  Without such voices, there appears to be little hope for these pets.

(Thanks Thom for alerting me to this story.)

13 thoughts on “Idiocy and Evil Battle It Out in Decatur, AL

  1. Holy shit. It’s like the only tool they have in their toolbox is a hypodermic.

    You know what’s abysmally refreshing? The director never said, “Hey, nobody *wants* to kill pets.”

    Clearly what the mayor needs to do is get a new shelter director. This woman is obviously not good at what she does (unless overcrowding and filth are “what she does”, then she’s good at it) and they need someone there who has some concept of marketing animals for adoption. The mayor obviously has some concern, but to not even look at how much staff versus how much space before coming up with a number? WTF? Is this typical of how he does budgeting and such for his city?

    The fees for adoption seem awfully steep, but so much more so if *no one is pushing the advantages of getting an animal from this shelter* like “fully vetted”, “healthy”, etc. It’s just, “Hey, give us $100 and we’ll give you an animal. Oh, but you have to walk through our smelly, filthy shelter first and then think about the kind of disease that may be rampant due to conditions. If you don’t want to adopt, that’s fine, too. We’ll just slaughter them all and start over, no problem.”

    Gosh, I can’t see why people are LINING UP outside to adopt!

    1. Sorry, that was me. This is why I have a keyboard cover to prevent cats from helping me type…unfortunately, it doesn’t make the cats see-through and typing AROUND them is a bit hit or miss…

  2. Shameless laziness and ineptitude. No communication. No creativity. No desire to save lives. No numbers. No policies. No outreach. Filth and disease? No documentation.

  3. The opportunity to be the hero always seems completely missed by these regressive shelter directors. Put the word out to the community, reduce or waive fees for the weekend, save some lives. Not saying No Kill is easy. But some increased saving could be accomplished with no money and a little effort.

  4. If this shelter is as bad as claimed then why are charges of animal abuse and neglect not being filed against the staff and management? Anybody else that this would be said of would have their animals seized and they would be arrested. The director should face charges and be fired. KILLING is not the answer. The director needs to get off their butt and do some work but why when NOTHING is going to happen to them if they don’t. and that is why this shelter and many like it are in worse shape than any hoarders home! Shelter directors are worse abusers of animals than any private citizen.

  5. There is so much regarding this situation that is NOT told in this blog. First, the reason for the adoption fee price is that all pets adopted from the shelter have been spayed or neutered, have been tested for disease such as heartworms, feline leukemia, etc and have received all immunizations. If a person takes an animal themselves to a private veterinarian this would result in a cost of approximately $250 – $400 generally, depending on whether it is a cat or dog, the size of the animal and the individual veterinarian providing that care. So the adoption fees here are a bargain.
    Second, free adoptions are never a good idea. There is no “vetting” process of prospective adoptive owners because it is a public shelter. Only name, address and phone number can be asked. This means that offering free animals gives puppy mill owners, those seeking animals to sell to laboratories and dogfighters looking for bait dogs a chance to pick and choose whatever they want. Also, if someone cannot afford to pay an adoption fee of around $100 they can’t afford to properly care for the animals once they adopt it. As you all know, animals require more than just food, water and exercise. They need preventive medications and often do need to go to the veterinarian which can reach into several hundred dollars for a visit.
    Now, let’s get to the mayor and shelter director. The mayor issued a “directive” to the shelter director based on what he said was information from the Shelter Advisory Board. The mayor did not even know that 2 of the 3 veterinarians he was quoting had not even been on that board for several years. He admitted in an open meeting with the public last Monday night that he took an “off-hand” remark someone (he cannot remember who) made to him about the 25 dogs and 20 cats number during a conversation that was NOT part of any official meeting about the shelter and decided to send the directive.
    The Shelter Advisory Board has not had a meeting since July, 2013. Neither the mayor, nor the Advisory Board has been to the shelter themselves in months. Every board member denies having any conversation with the mayor and saying anything about reducing the number to 45 animals. He also admitted that he sent that directive to have 25 dogs and 20 cats left in the shelter by Oct 31, 2013 and did not ask her opinion or give her an option for discussion. He said that he wanted to “jack some people up”, including the public.
    The shelter director, Carol Wicks, has done a phenomenal job. The mayor’s description of a shelter that is “filthy and smells horrible” is not true. You cannot find one other person than himself who describes it that way. There are 4 full-time shelter employees and a plethora of volunteers who work in the shelter every day to keep it as clean as possible and the animals well cared for. When Carol Wicks received the mayor’s directive she immediately began working with the volunteers and rescue groups to get the word out about the animals. BUT, based on the mayor’s order, if there were more than 45 animals left on Oct 31, she would have been forced to euthanize them. The 20 animals that were euthanized were not put down indiscriminately. That number includes animals that are brought in as strays who are diseased, injured beyond help, aggressive, rabid, etc. If Carol Wicks has a fault, let it be said that she loves animals so much that she did NOT euthanize healthy animals which caused a crowded condition and pissed the mayor off because he doesn’t want to feed them. Trust me, Carol Wicks was devastated over the possibility of healthy animals being euthanized.
    I suggest if you really want to know the truth, don’t take my word. GO to the Decatur animal shelter, volunteer and find out for yourself that I am right.

    1. I got my last two shelter dogs for free, because compassionate people wanted to get them out of the shelters in a hurry, before they were killed. Now I am trying to figure out whether I am a puppy miller or a dogfighter.

      1. Well, I must be a kittymiller with my momcat and kittens. Totally free, btw, because someone didn’t want them to go INTO a shelter.

        Besides, I’m not sure what a puppymiller would want with a s/n animal from the shelter.

        If they want animals out of this shelter, they need to MARKET them. Saying, “Well, I guess we’ll have to kill them because the mayor’s an idiot.” is not marketing, btw…

  6. Public shelters generally ask for a whole lot more than the potential adopter’s name, address, and phone number. In fact, some of them screen potential adopters so rigorously that very few people who apply actually get to adopt animals.

  7. Here are the actual emails between the Animal Services Director and the Mayor as requisitioned by the local newspaper. Please read them and draw your own conclusions with the FACTS.

    The shelter’s (brand new) software does not play nicely with national adoption websites like petfinder. They have gotten around that by having a VERY active volunteer-run facebook page with animals listed for adoption, happy tails, fundraisers, etc. Volunteers have raised over 10K to date in order to lower the adoption fees on hard to place animals and in the past 5 years have gone from a 72% euthanasia rate to 50% (still heartbreakingly high, but also one of the lowest for a municipal animal control facility in the entire state).

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