Discussion: Manager Explains Deaths at the Bulloch Co Pound

Georgia – The Bulloch Co pound’s webpage is on the county government website. It indicates the shelter is closed on weekends and describes what appears to be a limited admission status. The local paper, the Statesboro Herald, publishes weekly reports detailing the number of animals handled at the facility. I previously wrote about a 3 week period in Bulloch Co from August 26 – September 15, 2013. Here are the reports in the weeks since that post:

Screengrab from Statesboro Herald, September 29, 2013
Screengrab from Statesboro Herald, September 29, 2013
Screengrab from Statesboro Herald, October 6, 2013
Screengrab from Statesboro Herald, October 6, 2013
Screengrab from Statesboro Herald, October 13, 2013
Screengrab from Statesboro Herald, October 13, 2013
Screengrab from Statesboro Herald, October 20, 2013
Screengrab from Statesboro Herald, October 20, 2013
Screengrab from the Statesboro Herald, October 27, 2013
Screengrab from the Statesboro Herald, October 27, 2013
Screengrab from the Statesboro Herald, November 3, 2013
Screengrab from the Statesboro Herald, November 3, 2013

It is unknown how many animals died in their cages, were impounded or were killed during the week of October 14 – 20 since the paper reported the information was “unavailable”. If we exclude that week entirely and include the stats from the previous post on Bulloch Co, we have 8 weeks worth of data from the pound. In the absence of a yearly report, which does not appear on the pound’s website, we can at least gain some insight into how shelter animals fare in Bulloch Co by examining the numbers for these 8 weeks.

For the 8 weeks worth of data collected between August 26 and October 27 at the Bulloch Co pound:

  • Total intake: 420
  • Total killed: 263
  • Total died in cage: 99
  • Live release rate: almost 14%

I have never seen any published data on the number of animals who die in their cages at shelters.  I once asked the director of my local pet killing facility (where 3 out of 4 animals are killed every year) how many pets die in their cages there and she told me it was a “very rare” occurrence. I contacted former shelter director and current No Kill Advocacy Center director Nathan Winograd for some hard numbers:

In Tompkins [County, NY], when I was there, it was just under 1%. When I’ve crunched the numbers, using a database of about 1,100 shelters, the average was 4% (I always thought that was incredibly high) and that included kill shelters which would drive that number up.

While 4% seems very high to me too (I would have thought 1% at most), at least it gives us a number with which to work. In Bulloch Co, the percentage of animals dying in their cages for the 8 weeks worth of recent data published in the Stateboro Herald is approximately 24%. This is 6 times the average calculated by Nathan Winograd. And by any compassionate human being’s account, it’s obviously a staggering figure. Roughly 1 in 4 dogs and cats impounded by the Bulloch Co pound are falling over dead in their cages and less than 14% are getting out alive. And this is happening at a public facility which limits admissions for owner surrenders.

I’ve asked before and I will ask again: What is going on at the shelter in Bulloch Co?  Neither healthy dogs and cats nor those being treated for conditions commonly seen at shelters (coughs, colds, mange, broken limbs, etc.) die in their cages under ordinary circumstances.  It seems only logical to believe that there are an unusually high number of dogs and cats who are being left to suffer to death in their cages at Bulloch Co.   But how and why is this happening?  In the absence of any sensible explanation, my mind started to venture into some very dark places.  So I wrote to the shelter and asked.

I received 2 responses from Bulloch Co pound manager Wendy Ivey.  I have snipped the relevant portions from both e-mails and pasted them below:

Do animals die in their kennels, yes sometimes they do. When an animal becomes unexpectedly sick, which is very common in the Shelter worlds due to not knowing the animals history or previous medical care, unfortunately the passing of the animal can take place in their kennels while staff is not here. Sometimes even while the animal is being medically evaluated and treated, the animal still may pass while in their kennel. This is no different than being in a Veterinary Hospital, under 24 hour staff care and they pass while in their kennels.


The high numbers of our “died at shelter” are normally within the Feline population. We have disease outbreaks that we encounter often with housing a high number of animals, Feline or Canine. Unfortunately, Bulloch Co. is highly over populated with Felines as we all know. When these cats come into the shelter in large groups or litters, especially feral and ones from within colony’s, it’s common for most of them to come in with upper respiratory infections as well as other forms of contagious diseases amongst cats. We have also in the last 4 months or so, been fighting a new disease to us within cats, known as Feline Parvo. It is much like Canine Parvo, where it hits without warning. Symptoms begin to show and within hours can be fatal and spreads very rapidly. We are still learning this form of disease within the feline population. There is no vaccine to prevent it nor is there a cure when they become stricken with it. Our sick and feral cats that come in are isolated away from our domestic and healthy cats, to help with the disease control process and prevent further spreading to our healthy cats, but is not always a 100% effective. Due to this, unfortunately you have at times a large number of sick cats together at one time. So the number of decease cats from sickness is not uncommon at the shelter, especially during our peak months. During these months, a normal number of cats housed ranges between 85 to 100 cats a day. The high numbers can also be contributed to having litters that come in that no longer have their mother to nurse and are already sickly. We then try to place them with another nursing mother that’s available, but most times those litters don’t make it or the new mother is not accepting of the babies. I could go on and on with other reasons that numbers can be high at times at the shelter but again, being a county wide animal shelter facility, not having a 24 hour staff available as a Veterinary Hospital would, and dealing with approximately over 250 animals a month (not including wildlife and our peak months), it can be difficult to save everything. We do our best to eliminate these situations from happening as much and best we can. It is of no fault or lack of care from our staff or facility. We do the best we can to house these animals and isolate the disease as best we can. I feel our numbers are typical, compared to other shelters. I also do feel it’s hard to say or compare our numbers as being “high” only at the Bulloch Co. Animal Shelter, because most shelters do not even report these numbers of a animal dying at shelter or necessarily keep record of them. Bulloch Co. chooses to give this information openly, because we want the public to be aware of all of it.

What do you think? Do you agree with the manager that having 1 out of 4 animals fall over dead in their cages at the Bulloch Co pound “is of no fault or lack of care from our staff or facility” and that they are doing the best they can?  Should this municipal pound be given some sort of pass for publicly reporting their stats?  What do you make of the manager’s assertion that there is no vaccine to prevent “feline parvo” aka panleukopenia (the P in the routine FVRCP vaccine administered to cats)?

Note:  After I received the second response from Ms. Ivey, I requested the most recent year’s statistics for the Bulloch Co pound. I haven’t yet received a response to that request.  If I do, I will update this post.

23 thoughts on “Discussion: Manager Explains Deaths at the Bulloch Co Pound

  1. I think there is something very, very wrong at that pound. Here two more comparison examples:
    In the entire year of 2012, 23 pets died in facility at the Person County, NC, pound, a very high-kill facility: http://www.personcounty.net/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=1959
    At the Surry County, NC, pound, a very, very high-kill facility with a manger who gives the impression that he dislikes animals, TWO pets died in facility between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2013: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bwys64uaCL1gOXVoZDc3alROeEU/edit?usp=sharing

  2. The link for Austin Animal Services statistical reports is down right now, but IIRC they do report the numbers for animals dying in the shelter, and they’re very low. Certainly nowhere near 25%, even for neonates. As for those litters of motherless kittens, it sounds like this shelter has pretty much given up on them. Austin Pets Alive has a bottle baby program, which is something these folks might want to look into. And as for the “feline parvo” nonsense, I don’t even know what to say. Ms. Ivey is just full of excuses. Overall what I’m getting from these responses is the typical “you just don’t understand, you don’t know what it’s like here and what we have to deal with, blah blah blah.”

  3. “New feline parvo”. Um…okay. Kittens die in mass quantities! Um…okay. Let’s say that all of this is totally true. The next question is, “So what are you doing to prevent these deaths in the future?” I mean, since they’re still happening, what you’ve done obviously isn’t working, so what are you trying next? Something radical like hand washing and keeping cages clean? Or lining up bottle baby fosters? You know, *crazy* stuff like that?

    1. It’s too horrible to contemplate that they are putting orphaned kittens with other mama cats who have their own litters and letting them starve to death in the cages. How emotionally devastating for those mama cats, trying to keep their own kittens alive in this hellhole. How awful for the rejected kittens, forced to suffer until they finally die. Imagine working at this place where coming across a dead pet in a cage is something that happens ALL THE TIME.

      1. I’m almost positive tiny kittens probably account for the majority of the number. If an entire litter dies, that could be 6-7 deaths right there. Two or three litters a week…

        This reminds me so strongly of my own local shelter. When I was in school for Animal Science, we did turns at the shelter checking the animals for heart worm/vaccinating/etc. One time they had a mother dog nursing TWO litters of orphaned pups in addition to her own. One by one, all of the pups sickened and died. The shelter had no interest in actually improving their chances, and even when the vet tech students offered to bottle rear the extra babies, we were refused.

        Putting orphaned babies in with ‘wet’ mothers SOMETIMES works…but only if someone is going to closely monitor the situation and weigh the babies often. You don’t just throw them together in a cage and hope for the best, then shrug as they slowly starve.

        As for sick animals…do they provide ANY care for them? Let’s say there really is some super disease that they just can’t control…who let’s an animal gradually die by inches in a cage? You would think such sick, sick animals would be euthanized. If they’re dying from a very severe URI, that isn’t going to happen in a snap of the fingers. Are they stacking ill animals and emptying out the deads every morning? Has the shelter ever tried, I don’t know, antibiotics?

  4. IF I worked there or just happened to go there to see if they had a pet I wanted to adopt and found a pet dead in it’s cage, I would be simply LIVID and turn them in to the authorities and pray it did some good.. if it didn’t I’d keep on until it DID do some good.. This is totally uncalled for and a simple act of not caring and not taking care of the animals! What a bunch of lying Bastards! How horrible for he sweet little babies that have been taken from their mothers so that the mother can be murdered, the kittens can die in the cages with the other mother cats or spread diseases.. How do they let this happen? WHY do they let this happen? It’s something that should NOT HAPPEN ALL THE TIME!! Someone there needs to step up and open their mouths and say something!! This is simply WRONG!! They are no better than the animal abusers and others that do not care for their animals and they have the guts to go take them from their owners for not caring for them. They are doing the same thing! This makes me simply IRATE !! God help these poor little souls!!

  5. This is the first time I’ve read something on this blog and sat here with my mouth open and STUNNED! I’m stunned. Is this facility a shit covered, urine soaked, non ventilated dark crap hole? Does anyone do anything there except scoop up dead animals and then go home? How can a “shelter” justify even a tiny fraction of what’s going on in this place? These people need to be kicked to the curb – no, arrested – and new, caring, experienced people need to take their place. And the public reads these statistics every week and no protests are going on, no demand for reform, no storming the mayor’s office? I’M STUNNED!!

  6. I agree with you Anne. There should be a formal investigation by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Problem with that is they are slow or wont do a dam thing about it. Floyd county is just as bad if not worse than this so called shelter. State of Georgia refuses to investigate.

    1. It doesn’t surprise me one little bit, it being Georgia. I lived there for about 10 years and I owned dogs, cats and horses. My neighbor had way too many horses with no place to keep them, fences down and nails and no telling what else in the pasture, they could not or rather would not feed them and they just kept buying. I drove past the place one day and I was just floored.. these horses were showing every bone in their body!! I immediately went home and knowing there was no sense in calling the local county SPCA, (so they called it anyway) so I called the STATE and they actually did show up but did absolutely NOTHING for these poor dying animals! I think at last count they had 27 from a few months to 26 years old.. dying. starving to death and not even enough water in the trough to give one of them a good drink. I know of one reason they didn’t have anything done to them, but the other reason is they just simply didn’t give a damn. They also TOLD these people who turned them in which they were NOT supposed to do.. I really didn’t care as ME buying my horses was the only reason they started buying theirs.. and they would buy anything they thought I was the least bit interested in.. they needed to be prosecuted and the animals taken away.. but that never happened. When I left Georgia , they still had a few left that didn’t die from starvation.. so it really does not surprise me one bit that Georgia did nothing at all to these people or anyone else for that matter. They didn’t have the time to do it. They just simply did not care. And I can see they still do not care.

  7. I haven’t been able to find any mention of a new unusually virulent form of ‘feline parvo’ or ‘feline distemper,’ nor of any strain for which the panleukopenia vaccine is not effective. I tried to find out when the panleuk vaccine was developed, but failed – it’s so common and so routine no-one mentions it. I know it was available and a core vaccine when I was a kid, so we’re talking at least 50 years.

    So, I don’t know what’s up with Ms Ivey’s assertion that it’s a new disease for which there’s no vaccine. She describes it in enough detail to make it pretty clear she means panleuk. I also note she describes it as ‘new … to us,’ and I’m finding it hard to imagine any ACC, shelter or cat rescue that’s never had any experience with panleuk.

    In the process of searching, though, I also found this nifty .pdf poster from Perdue on:

  8. This shelter manager is an idiot. “Feline parvo” is otherwise known as panleukopenia–it is well known and there has been a highly effective vaccine against it for many, many years. Unless they aren’t really testing for it and are seeing instead hemorrhagic calicivirus, which does resemble a very aggressive parvo and had been hitting some shelters in the south and along the eastern seaboard hard a couple of years back. However, there *is* a vaccine out for it now, though it is rather expensive.

  9. sounds like they are just murdering animals….so they don’t have to take care of them….sound like some one needs to go check it out a little further….and bust their ass for murdering innocent animals….nasty cruel people…..

  10. I work at a no kill shelter and in the eight months I’ve been there, one poor old boy passed away in his cage. In that time, we’ve had somewhere in the vicinity of 300 dogs pass through – around 30 in the kennels at any one time and an equivalent number in foster.

    1. Tansy, good for you! Someone that really cares is hard to find. God Bless! You and the animals you care for!

  11. Bad kittie, being caught with a cough! “When these cats come into the shelter in large groups or litters, especially feral and ones from within colony’s”. – if they are feral and you are going to kill them, How bout you just don’t take them instead of blaming the cats for dying.

  12. I don’t understand why an animal at any shelter would die in the cage, anyone
    have any idea ??? The PPL working at the shelter would have to go a long
    time no feeding or watering of these dogs/cats.

    1. Some general scenarios that could lead to a high number of animals dying in their cages at a pound include:

      *Failure to vaccinate upon intake
      *Failure to isolate sick animals from healthy ones
      *Failure to feed and care for orphaned kittens/puppies
      *Failure to treat sick and injured animals
      *Failure to provide basic life sustenance such as food, water, reasonable protection from the elements

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