Rowan Co Pound Gets a Million Dollar Donation and Totally Blows It

rowan co cat

Cat ID #A103582 at the Rowan Co pound, as pictured on Petfinder.

In February 2016, the Rowan Co pound in NC unveiled a new cat wing.  The $1.1 million, 160 cage area of the facility was supposed to be an enormous upgrade for cats who were previously housed in groups inside dog runs. Anti-microbial floors, an isolation area and separate ventilation systems for each room were designed to keep cats healthy. Donor Christine Morykwas paid the bill but she didn’t simply hand over the money and hope for the best. She demanded better care for the cats:

[…]Morykwas required Rowan County to adopt specific medical treatment and sanitation protocols.
[…]
[F]our full-time staff members and four part-time staff members who are specifically responsible for cleaning the cat wing [were added].

On August 23, the state of NC failed Rowan Co on its routine inspection, primarily because of the suck-ass conditions in the cat wing:

The inspection found feces smeared on the inside of cat cages, dirty and wet cage surfaces, a generally messy cat isolation room, a record keeping system that makes it hard to identify cats, peeling paint in dog holding areas and other issues.
[…]
In the stray cat room, an inspector found three cat cages that were “very dirty.” One of the cages contained a mother cat and five kittens and was streaked with feces and litter.

Upon seeing all the filth in the cat wing, the inspector asked when the afternoon cleaning begins. The director responded with a reassuring *shrug*. Another staffer offered that the inspector happened to be there on the only weekday when they actually have no afternoon cleaning crew but said the staff did do spot cleaning. The inspector, who was there more than 2 hours that afternoon, noted that she did not see any evidence of spot cleaning. In fact, no one bothered to clean up even the most egregious offenses the inspector was pointing out during the time she was there.

The fancy anti-microbial floors hadn’t been swept or mopped, apparently in some time.

There were no cage cards or any other animal records in the cat wing.  When the inspector asked to see records for cats under medical care, she was told there were no paper records as everything was done on the computer.  When she asked to see the computer records, the staff was unable to access them.

The Salisbury Post asked Rowan County Manager Aaron Church about the failed inspection and he issued this really swell statement:

“Summer brings an increase of animals,” he said in an emailed response. “This is our first summer with the cat wing and issues during the beginning are to be expected. However, we have excellent staff and fully expect that things will continue to improve while providing a service to the citizens and animals of Rowan County.”

Your “excellent” staff members are not doing their jobs. The “issues” are negligence and/or incompetence. In order to “continue to improve” you have to have some improvement to start with. It’s been 6 months.  How much longer do you need to figure out that shit smeared cages are supposed to be cleaned?  Did Rowan Co think the anti-microbial floors were going to sweep themselves?

The county manager told WCCB that the pound’s veterinarian, Dr. Robert Krawczyk, was fired on August 23 – the date of the failed inspection. He’d only been on the job for 3 weeks:

Church tells me the decision to terminate Krawczyk was, in part due to the inspection, as well as previous issues.
The termination letter (see pictures) accuses Krawczyk of “improper comments to staff and visitors,” “failure to properly document medications,” “failure to complete an assigned daily task,” and “lack of attention to detail in applying medical treatment and evaluations.”

Yes, he definitely sounds excellent. You know who else is excellent?

Church tells me he and Shelter Director Bob Pendergrass talked about the inspection for three hours today. He says, “Bob doing an excellent job,” and, “Bob is new to the position and we have a lot of employees.”
To be exact, there are 8 animal control enforcement officers, 4 full time shelter attendants and 4 part time shelter attendants as well as the director and the shelter vet (now vacant; the search for a new shelter vet is already underway, says Church.).

Oh man, it’s a hard job.  I feel sooooooooo sorry for people who have hard jobs.  It sounds like work.  Oh the humanity!  Somehow, presumably during the never ending toil of hard labor and beneath a sweaty brow, the director managed a response:

Pendergrass sent me a statement today, that says, “The purpose of the state inspections is to help us be aware of and address any issues that their experience reveals during the inspection so that we can to do a better job. Staff is meeting internally and working hard to come up with a plan to address those concerns with a plan of action. We have a great staff and will make sure that they are addressed thoroughly.”

Great staff? Why I’ve heard they’re excellent!

But let’s get one thing straight, bub:  The purpose of the state inspections is not to babysit you and remind you to wash your hands before dinner and make your bed.  The purpose of the state inspections is to hold you accountable – to reassure taxpayers that you are at least meeting the bare minimum standards required to prevent you from being shut down.  You failed.  You should be exceeding these rock bottom minimums by a mile – because it’s your job.

Three days after the failed inspection, the Salisbury Post published a piece from the Rowan Co pound director.  In it, he perpetuates the long debunked myth of pet overpopulation and touts his facility’s “outstanding record” which you know, long live irony.

And since we have just enough room left for one more enabler, enter County Commissioner Craig Pierce:

Despite the improvements, he said county officials “aren’t sitting on our laurels” and continue to pursue animal-related policy changes. The alternative, he said, is for the Rowan County Animal Shelter to euthanize a larger percentage of its animals.

“If all we had to do was euthanize the animals, we could have the cleanest shelter ever,” Pierce said.

Oh dear.  Maybe you should just go sit on your laurels.  In that corner over there.  No waaaaay over there.  Keep going.  I’ll tell you when to stop.

Ms. Morykwas is not pleased:

“Just like you can lead a horse to water, you give these people a million-dollar cat wing, and they still can’t do it right,” she said in an interview with the Salisbury Post. “I don’t regret it, but I’m saddened by what’s going on. It would convince me not to invest anything else.”

[…]

“There just needs to be a complete overhaul,” she said. “Maybe one of these centuries, we will finally get someone in there that knows what they’re doing.”

Rowan Co is not committed to lifesaving.  Taxpayers need to demand better – starting with their county officials all the way down to part-time shelter staff.  It takes a special kind of incompetence to completely screw up a million dollar donation in a matter of months (or weeks, in the vet’s case).  I’d hate to think what these people are capable of over the long term – and what their enablers are capable of attempting to justify.

(Thanks Lisa.)

Pets Suffering at OK Pound

When June Woodall went to the El Reno pound in Oklahoma to reclaim her family’s lost dog, she found him in terrible condition and took him to her vet.  The vet determined he was extremely dehydrated.  The dog’s urine was black.  He had been at the pound for 2 days because the place is not staffed, making it difficult for the public to get inside.

Ms. Woodall went back to the facility later that week, concerned for the welfare of the pets still housed there.  She took video of caged pets in filthy conditions with no water or a very small amount of dirty water.  Outside, there were animal bones and piles of fur on the ground near the dumpster.

“So, I posted on Facebook trying to get some help. I called the after-hours number, and they said there’s nothing they can do. The police department answered. They said the guy was off work,” Woodall said.

The police department is responsible for running the pound:

“It’s not manned here, but we have two full-time animal control officers. They’re in and out, dropping off animals and then back out on calls,” said Lt. Greg Meeks with El Reno PD.

With one of those officers on vacation, Meeks said it’s been a tough week.

[..]

He said the animals are fed and provided water daily.

If a dog in your care for 2 days is pissing black, your “daily” watering would appear to be insufficient.

Lt. Meeks also told KFOR that people tie animals outside the facility since it’s usually closed.  He says the remains filmed by Ms. Woodall may have been dumped there too.

Maybe, although it seems extremely implausible to me that someone would dump bones and piles of fur next to a dumpster at a pound.  Most likely the pets were left there in some other state, prior to the extensive decomposition evident on the video.  I guess my question is:  How do they know that one or more of those pets were not left there ALIVE, perhaps tied to the dumpster or immobile from injury or old age?  They say people leave pets there regularly and they don’t know anything about how the bones got there.

In fact Lt. Meeks told News9:

“People will drop off animals, tie them up to the poles in front of the shelter or just tie them to the door knob or dump them off at the dumpster and we asked they don’t just dump the animals because it may be an hour or so before an animal control officer gets back and we want to make sure the animals are left in a safe manner,” El Reno police Lt. Greg Meeks said.

An hour or so. Bones and fur. Reconcile at will.

Here are a couple of screenshots from the video posted by Ms. Woodall.  The first shows kittens who appear to be sick and the second shows dogs in a dirty kennel with what appears to be a gaping hole in the floor, possibly an uncovered drain:

kittenselreno

dogselreno

I get someone going on vacation but come the hell on. This place either needs to be staffed properly, possibly with the help of volunteers if the police will unlock the doors, or they need to shut it down. Because this is unacceptable. I hope local residents will demand immediate reform in El Reno.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Montgomery Co Vols Call for Shelter Reform

When a dog named Peggy Sue tried to break out of the terrible Montgomery Co pound in Texas, she wound up hanging by the neck, pinned between what appear to be metal grates shoddily fastened on top of her kennel.  She suffered there until a volunteer found her and saved her life.  This is a photo, posted on social media, of the dog being helped by the irresponsible public, while the staff was doing I don’t know what:

peggy sue montgomery co

The Montgomery Co pound is the same place where a sheriff’s deputy bashed a dog’s head in with a 2 X 4 then adopted another dog because the staff allegedly had no idea what was going on in their own facility.  And when they figured it out later, meh.

The shelter volunteers are fed up and calling for reform.  See their action alert here.

(Thanks Nathan.)

MAS Takes in 3 Kittens, 3 Kittens Die Alone in Their Cages

mas 287452

Kitten ID #287452 was brought into the Memphis pound on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. The MAS vet noted he had a soft tissue ulceration near the tail base and was underweight. The kitten’s weight was recorded as 9.3 ounces. A note was entered into the kitten’s record that he should be transferred out immediately and not be kept overnight:

mas 287452 note

This kitten was left alone overnight in a cage to suffer until he died. His remains were discovered the next day.

***

mas 287971

Kitten ID #287971 was brought to the Memphis pound by the owner of the litter on June 17. The owner requested euthanasia because the kitten was lethargic, not nursing and had crawled away from the mama cat and siblings. The kitten’s weight was recorded as 10 ounces.

This kitten was left alone in a cage to suffer until she died. Her remains were discovered during vet rounds the same day she was brought in for euthanasia.

***

mas 287672

Kitten ID #287672 was brought to the Memphis pound on June 7. The kitten’s weight was recorded as 1.4 pounds. On June 10, a veterinary evaluation was requested because it was noted the kitten had diarrhea. On June 11, the kitten was seen by the vet and the following notes were entered into his record: Age was corrected from 9 weeks to 6 weeks. Not eating well, no interest in food, underweight, recommended for transfer to foster care and recommended to see a vet. Really.

This kitten was left alone overnight in a cage to suffer until he died. His remains were discovered the next day.

***

The complete records for these kittens can be viewed here.

How many more, Memphis?

(Thank you Lou Ann.)

Ohio Shelter Oops-Neglects Sick Dog to Death

Last week, four employees of the SPCA Cincinnati transported a pitbull type dog for an adoption fair. In the freezing winter cold, they oops-neglected him to death:

Upon arriving in Sharonville between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Thursday, [SPCA Cincinnati Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Dr. Dave] LeBourveau said, four employees assigned to unload and clean the transfer van failed to follow proper unloading procedure and left the animal in the vehicle overnight.

Roughly 16 hours later, SPCA employees discovered the dog suffering hypothermia Friday around 8 a.m. The dog was not expected to survive its injuries and was euthanized.

Oops. And:

Dr. LeBourveau said the dog had kennel cough.

They were taking a sick dog to an adoption fair? Oops.

LeBourveau said the animal would have been found had the employees followed proper protocol.
“Whoever unloads the van, then they check off a roster to indicate that all the pets were there,” LeBourveau said. “The roster in this case, there was some question whether it was accurate or not.”

Oh see, that explains it. There was some question. I know at my workplace if there is ever any question, we all just err on the side of shrug, crank up the heat in our cars and head home for the night. Because question.

Pitbulls have very low tolerance for cold due to their coats, which anyone working in a shelter in Ohio should know.  This particular dog was reportedly sick and likely felt crummy.  It is heartbreaking to think of how he spent his last night on this earth.

The four workers whose failure to do their jobs resulted in the needless suffering and death of a dog entrusted to their care have been disciplined.  They all kept their jobs.

Dr. LeBourveau describe the disciplined employees as animal lovers and great workers.

Well gee if these are the great ones, I’d hate to run into the adequate ones.

And in case you were wondering:

The SPCA transports nearly 7,000 dogs a year.

No word on the number of survivors.

(Thanks Clarice and Lisa for the links.)

Sumner County’s State of the Art Shelter Stands on Crappy Floors

Sumner Co AC in TN is a hot mess.  After the pound’s vet was caught on hidden camera heartsticking fully conscious dogs in 2007, reform was promised and the pound was put under the control of the sheriff’s department.  Taxpayers spent $1.3 million to build a new facility in 2011.

The sheriff ended the volunteer program, won’t let anyone post pictures of the animals online and in fact, won’t let anyone past the lobby.  If you want to save an animal, you have to look at pictures the sheriff’s office provides in the lobby.  Despite all these swell reforms, killings are up and live release outcomes are down.  So weird, right?

And there’s more bad news:

When taxpayers spent $1.3 million dollars on this state of the art shelter in 2011, complete with its own flushing system, concrete crews poured a flat floor— a $52 thousand dollar mistake.

As a result, urine and feces pools on the kennel floors, which should have been built sloped in order to allow debris to drain into the flushing system.

A great dane named Chief was held at the Sumner Co pound for 10 days in August following a bite.  Owner Jason Corlew was on vacation but called several times to make sure his pet was ok.  He says none of his calls were returned.  When he picked Chief up from the pound, he was startled to see the dog’s condition:

“He comes out covered in feces, and has urine burns all over him,” recalled Corlew. “His paws, the skin was peeling off because he had been standing in feces for so long.”
Corlew estimated Chief lost about 40 pounds and also had a blood infection.

burned paw

One of Chief’s burned paws, as shown on the News Channel 5 website.

Mr. Corlew has filed a lawsuit against Sumner Co:

The lawsuit is seeking $1,000 to cover bills from the veterinarian. It is also asking the county to upgrade the facility to improve the floors so feces and urine will properly drain away from the animals.

I doubt a lawsuit will do what has clearly needed doing at the Sumner Co pound for many years – put a figurative match to the place, run the pet killers out of town on a rail and start doing the work to actually shelter animals.  Taxpayers need to make their voices heard if any not-fake reform is to ever happen there.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Kittens Meet Grisly End at NC Pound

Kitten #35611, identified by animal advocates on Facebook as one of the cats killed by a dog at the Columbus Co pound.

Kitten #35611, identified by animal advocates on Facebook as one of the cats killed by a dog at the Columbus Co pound.

More violence at the long troubled pound in Columbus Co, NC – this time, reportedly due to an ACO who “accidentally” left a dog’s cage unlocked and “accidentally” left the door to a room housing cats unlocked then went home for the night.  Oops.  Director Rossie Hayes told a local paper:

“The door was open when we came in Monday and found what we found.”

Found what we found is a way of avoiding saying that the dog killed more than a dozen cats, most of whom were kittens.  Nobody seems to agree on the exact number killed but hey, they’re just cats.

The ACO has been fired.  And Hayes wants to know where he goes to accept his I Refrained from Killing One Dog award:

“This was just as friendly a dog as you would ever see,” Hayes said of the female pit bull. “I think the animal groups thought I would euthanize her, but I didn’t.”

The dog has reportedly been rescued.  The county recently appealed a fine assessed by the state for illegally killing an owned pet.

(Thank you to everyone who sent me links on this story.)