AL Newspaper Reports Allegations of Cruelty Against Dogs Impounded by City Animal Control

Warning:  The first link in this post contains graphic images and descriptions of dead dogs which may be too disturbing for some readers.  The second link covers the same story but is far less graphic and does not contain any photos.  There is a video at that link which I have not watched so exercise your discretion.

***

The police department runs the pound in the city of Eufaula, AL.  The Barbour County Reporter posted a piece last week citing allegations of animal abuse made by current and former city employees who did not wish to be named for fear of retaliation.  These sources allege that most stray dogs impounded by the city are held for a few days then taken to a local vet, Dr. Tommy Horne, for killing.  The city employees report they pin the fully conscious dogs to the ground with chokepoles while Dr. Horne heartsticks them.   The dogs are then allegedly put into trash bags and carried to a dumpster.  Sometimes the dogs are allegedly still moving inside the bags and are brought back for another injection:

One dog who was still moving was retrieved and returned to the veterinarian where they were given angry advice, allegedly by Dr. Horne, to “put them in a sack and don’t look back”. At times the employees would pull over on the side of the road and vomit.

The sometimes overflowing dumpster is allegedly filled with maggots and buzzards regularly feed on the dogs.  Employees who complained to their supervisors about the killings were allegedly told to keep quiet or they would be fired.

The Barbour County Reporter article includes a quote from Dr. Horne, apparently confirming that he does heartstick dogs for the city:

“I don’t like it but..yes I have done that, its not the best thing, but its an acceptable method”, he said.

In response to the piece, area news station WTVM attempted to speak with Dr. Horne:

WTVM wanted to get the other side of the story, so we went to the veterinarian that the Barbour County Reporter names in it article, but the doctor drove away as we approached his clinic.

A woman inside the building locked the door and put up a sign to say they were closed, but according to the hours, closing time was not for another 90 minutes.

WTVM also reached out to the mayor, a city councilman and a current ACO but no one was willing to speak with the station about the allegations. The Eufaula police department issued a written statement to WTVM in response to its request for comment. The statement reads:

The Eufaula Police Department’s Animal Control Division performs all duties required of them in a professional manner and in accordance with applicable state laws and city ordinances. “Animal Control” is often the handling of feral, sick, aggressive, or otherwise unadoptable animals. For those animals that are healthy and of temperament to be relocated, home are actively sought when possible. However, the fundamental mission of the Animal Control Division is not to rehabilitate, rescue, or solely adopt animals, which is typically the mission of a humane society or local rescue group.

Our primary concern and duty is to protect the health and safety of our citizens. We recognize the unpopular position that places us in at times and we do not take that responsibility lightly. With continued training, conformance with law, and cooperation from overseeing state agencies, we will continue to offer assistance to the citizens of Eufaula in respect to animal control. We could not be able to fully meet the demands of this responsibility without the professionalism from veterinarians such as Dr. Tommy Horne, who has provided years of service to an unfortunate and unpleasant process with integrity and respect for the animals involved.

As always, we ask for the public to assist us and to be responsible animal owners and have their pets spayed an neutered to help control the animal population in town.

Anyone feeling comforted?

The Barbour County Reporter is calling for citizens to contact Eufaula mayor Jack Tibbs and request that all pet killings be suspended while a full investigation is conducted by an outside agency. The article lists the mayor’s contact information:

The Mayor’s office phone number is (334) 688-2005
or you can reach him by email at tbush@eufaulaalabama.com

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Leave a comment

15 Comments

  1. mikken

     /  February 10, 2014

    Is unsedated heartstick legal in Alabama?

    “However, the fundamental mission of the Animal Control Division is not to rehabilitate, rescue, or solely adopt animals, which is typically the mission of a humane society or local rescue group.”

    Translation – “Compassion is not our job.”

    “Our primary concern and duty is to protect the health and safety of our citizens. ”

    Translation – “Killing animals is our job.”

    “We could not be able to fully meet the demands of this responsibility without the professionalism from veterinarians such as Dr. Tommy Horne, who has provided years of service to an unfortunate and unpleasant process with integrity and respect for the animals involved.”

    Translation – “We finally found someone who is totally cool with mass killing of healthy animals for a steady paycheck. Yes, he makes the process unfortunate and unpleasant for the animals, but since killing is our number one priority, everything else is secondary, including humane treatment, proficiency, and competence.”

    “but the doctor drove away as we approached his clinic”; “WTVM also reached out to the mayor, a city councilman and a current ACO but no one was willing to speak with the station about the allegations.”

    If you can’t OWN it, you shouldn’t be DOING it.

    Reply
    • IDK that it’s specifically worded as such, e.g. “only unconscious animals may be euthanized via cardiac injection” but certainly I think a case could be made that it violates the state’s cruelty laws. Any euth publication from the AVMA or HSUS or whoever is going to specifically state that heartstick only be performed on unconscious animals. Therefore, I don’t think the defense could argue that it falls within standard practices.

      Perhaps someone in AL with a more thorough knowledge of the animal laws will weigh in.

      Reply
      • mikken

         /  February 10, 2014

        Method of euthanasia doesn’t seem to be spelled out, you’re right. They must take the euthanasia course and be certified, but that seems to be it. Although I did find this –

        “No animal may be left unattended between the time euthanasia procedures are first begun and the time that death occurs, nor may the body of the animal be disposed of until death has been confirmed by a euthanasia technician or other qualified person as defined by this chapter. – See more at: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/alcode/34/29/6/34-29-133#sthash.WuPSZV5j.dpuf

  2. T.Burrows

     /  February 10, 2014

    Killing an animal via intracardiac injection without benefit of anesthesia (note that only anesthesia is acceptable, not simple sedation) is animal cruelty which is not “allowed” by any state. I wrote the mayor and also the Alabama State Veterinary Board. I’m also thinking that putting dead dogs into a dumpster is not appropriate either. Not to mention the whole other issue of not posting the dogs, not trying to locate owners or rehome them.

    Reply
  3. brenda

     /  February 10, 2014

    I just sent the mayor an email. It was respectful and courteous. If I get a response, I will post it here.

    Reply
  4. Interesting to see the comments written below the WTVM article all trashing the Barbour County Reporter article. Be interesting to see how this plays out; someone should have pulled a couple of the bodies out of the trash and had necropsies done for more evidence.

    Reply
    • I noticed that too. It made me wonder how I might react if my local paper reported allegations of animal cruelty against me. I can’t think HIDE would be among my possible responses. I would be eager to set the record straight although I understand everyone handles crises in their own way. Even so, the public entities being paid to care for the community’s pets should be held to a higher standard of complete transparency and they should not only be accessible but also forthcoming in their prompt response to such serious allegations.

      Reply
  5. T.Burrows

     /  February 10, 2014

    I got a prompt reply from the Executive Director of the Alabama State Veterinary Board…

    “This agency was made aware of this last week, and even though we do not regulate the Eufaula Animal Control we are investigating this situation because there is a veterinarian mentioned in the article.
    We thank you for your email regarding this matter.”

    Reply
    • Thanks for letting us know. I hope their investigation is thorough. It sounds like this place (Eufaula AC) could use some outside agency eyeballs.

      Reply
  6. It seems to me that lately we hear a lot about animal cruelty, neglect and abuse from Animal Control facilities that are overseen by local law enforcement agencies. One would think that a law enforcement agency would make sure that everything is done the right way but the opposite of that seems to be true. It seems logical at this point that Animal Control should be separated from any law enforcement agency. There just seems to be way too much cover up and transparency issues.

    Reply
    • mikken

       /  February 10, 2014

      “One would think that a law enforcement agency would make sure that everything is done the right way but the opposite of that seems to be true. ”

      I wonder why that is? A psychological thing? Or just that animals are such a low priority in their day, they get shunted to the same level as garbage? It’s worse than that, though…less…benign/neutral/apathetic. So yeah, I’m going to have to go with some kind of psychological thing.

      We all know that there are people attracted to the career of law enforcement who should not be there. And we all know that kill shelters both attract and make monsters of people. When these two factors combine (especially in groups of people who will feed off of not only the environment, but also each other), it’s a disaster.

      Reply
  7. Robin Gafford

     /  February 10, 2014

    Unfortunately, there are many law enforcement agencies that believe they do not have to answer to anyone. They also believe they are above the law and have the right to do most anything they wish to do. These are the ones we as Americans should fear the most.,

    Reply
    • I have a close relative who works as a canine narcotics officer. And from his stories…yeah, way too many law enforcement types think the law doesn’t apply to them. Much like killing animals seems to attract abusive types, so does law enforcement.

      (Which is not to say ALL cops are this way, but PLENTY are.)

      Reply
  8. FixCharlotte

     /  February 11, 2014

    Anyone else think that “Dr.” Horne needs to have his license pulled?. Would you want to take your pets to a monster like that? Seriously…

    Reply
  9. They cover up for each other. They’re lousy at caring for animals and all need to be replaced!

    Reply

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