Volunteer group threatens to pull support of Montgomery animal shelter

A Triangle-area animal advocacy group is threatening to cut its support of the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.

150420-WMTG-Logo-Local-News-WebThe volunteer group began working with the local shelter after WRAL-TV in Raleigh aired an investigative report in 2012 that claimed, among other things, that the county facility euthanized 98% of dogs and 100% of cats it took in the year before. The non-profit Montgomery County Humane Society later disputed those figures, saying they did not take into account the animals that were adopted through its program.

In a Jun. 1 email to Montgomery County Commissioners, the Triangle-area volunteers say their group “has provided more than $16,000 worth of donations to (the) shelter” since becoming involved. They say their efforts have resulted in a new kennel roof, fencing, a puppy shed, insulated dog houses and a security system. They have also worked to place Montgomery County animals through an adoption network and say more than $6,000 has been raised to establish an emergency medical fund.

At issue now is the use of four large metal kennels delivered to the shelter in January 2015. The volunteer group says the kennels were intended to be used in the shelter’s puppy shed “to house young dogs that are highly susceptible to contagious diseases such as parvo and distemper.”

Representatives of the group say the kennels were not at the shelter when they visited in February. The group’s email is critical of the shelter’s decision to loan the kennels to the Humane Society, calling the move “illegal” and demanding the kennels be returned to the county shelter.

In a May 19 email to County Manager Matthew Woodard, the group said kennels were provided to help prevent outbreaks. According to the volunteers, 14 cases of parvo were reported in local shelter animals over a recent one-month period.

In a written response to commissioners, Woodard said Animal Control director Leon Everett told him the kennels would not be used at the shelter. Woodard also said the “group is unhappy about (the county’s) relationship with the Humane Society.”

“They do not want animal adoptions from (the) shelter to be prioritized in favor of (the local) Humane Society,” said Woodard.

Woodard said the shelter has received “hundreds of items since the WRAL story,” but most of them cannot be used. He said the shelter gives some items to those who adopt and others to the Humane Society, but others, like plush toys, end up in the trash because of a risk for the spread of disease through cross-contamination.

Woodard indicated Animal Control staff have “worked above and beyond” expectations in their cooperation with the volunteers. At the same time, the county manager said Animal County has asked the county several times to cut ties with the group “due to their increasing demands and unwillingness to respect (the shelter’s) operational activities.”

The Triangle group says neither the county nor the Humane Society is fully vaccinating the animals in their care, which, they say, will result in outside groups not assisting with adoptions, a 90% decrease in donations, and a drastic increase in the rate of euthanasia.

The emails to local officials also warned of the potential for public relations fallout. The volunteer group says it has a social media reach of “nearly one million” people and “cannot assure (the county) that (its) volunteers and donors will remain quiet much longer.”

Woodard told commissioners he has offered to return the kennels to the volunteers and will reiterate the county’s desire to work with them, but under the county’s authority. He recognized the group’s accomplishments at the shelter, but said they refuse to embrace the Humane Society as a partner in the work. Still, Woodard said he would like “to find ways to work together.”

In response to WMTG’s questions about county shelter vaccination policy, Woodard replied Jun. 2: “State law requires a rabies shot if an animal is held for longer than 14 days. No other shots are mandated by the state. Sick animals are taken to the vet as required.

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