Inspection clears animal shelter from complaints

Dec. 16, 2013 @ 09:42 PM

Complaints were filed against a shelter run by Vance County Animal Control and a state inspection has cleared the shelter.

Frankie Nobles, Vance County’s chief of animal control, said his crew continues to care for all admitted animals, working at a dedication level that he rates as “above the call of duty.”

“There have been complaints,” he said. “Everything we received a complaint on, the inspector looked at it and he cleared us of it.”

Conditions have been tough in recent weeks because of colder weather, a canine casualty and sparse conditions. The inspection was unscheduled.

Emotions among shelter supporters and other animal lovers continue to be tense. The different sides do agree there are limited shelter space, poor conditions and lacking supply.

The inspection report filed by Joe Bloomquist noted that all sanitation, watering and feeding routines, basic facility repairs and the keeping of records were in acceptable parameters during his visit on Wednesday.

He noted an indoor daytime temperature of 60 degrees.

Beyond the primary enclosures, however, there were problems.

Tarps are used as an attempt to shelter outside cat cages and kennel areas. Some of the tarps are worn with openings.

According to Bloomquist, he took photos of animals that had been reported to him as suffering under a lack of proper shelter, noting that clean comforters and tarp enclosures had been provided.

He also noted that a veterinarian is on record making daily visits to check on animals.

“There was a tear in the top of one of the tarps in the back area,” Nobles said, recalling Bloomquist’s report. “The temperature in the building is maintained at approximately 60 degrees at all times.”

He added that corrective measures were taken.

According to Nobles, the puppy that died had come with a litter of puppies and the female that birthed them. The one puppy suffocated inside a loosened patch of comforter fabric.

“I think it tore a hole in the comforter,” Nobles said. “It either suffocated itself or was suffocated when its mother laid down on it. It did not freeze to death.”

Laura Pegler, a rescue transporter for animals scheduled to be euthanized, said she saw the conditions and could not turn a blind eye. She filed a report with the N.C. Department of Agriculture, which prompted Bloomquist’s visit.

In a telephone response to The Dispatch Monday, she said the temperatures were “30 to 40 degrees in there during the day,” worse at night, and said the puppy that died “evidently” “froze to death.”

Pegler is unsatisfied with Bloomquist’s report, characterizing it as a whitewash of underlying problems.

Supportive of Pegler’s stand to expose the problems, but also supportive of Nobles and the shelter staff, are at least two local volunteers with the Ruin Creek Animal Protection Society.

According to Lisa Dickerson and Angie Rowland of Ruin Creek, Pegler is an asset to their efforts. They also believe shelter workers are doing their best.

Dickerson added that Pegler expressed to her repeatedly that she found the shelter staff to be very caring toward the animals.

A point of agreement between everyone involved is that a bigger, more complete shelter is needed along with more supplies and equipment.

“There is no debating the fact that our shelter is in very poor condition,” Dickerson said. “The shelter provides little comfort to the poor animals that are doomed to serve a sentence in it.”

Also taking a conciliatory tone is Kim Alboum, the state’s director for the Humane Society. She said no one benefits from a beat down of a dedicated staff that is making the best of a difficult situation.

“They can only work with what they’ve got,” Alboum said. “All of our rural shelters struggle with resources. Rather than attacking our shelters and abandoning them, we should stand up and work with them, assist and support them.”

Alboum added that shelter conditions can improve if supported by a broad positive front that includes the contribution of all animal lovers. The support can help promote another vital assistance to animals: encouraging families to adopt more shelter pets.

“Do they need better housing? Yes,” she added, “of course they do, and I think they are working toward that. I know it is frustrating for the staff also. For instance, better bedding is needed to keep animals from the concrete floor, especially in cold weather.”

Nobles said that above all else, he knows he can stand with his staff and vouch for their dedication, despite some turnover in recent years.

“I see improvement everyday,” Nobles said. “I have a fairly new staff, but they have good ideas and we are making changes. They really care about animals and go beyond the call of duty.”

Nobles said he believed most of the complaining arises out of frustration over the limited shelter capacity.

“Many think that complaining will get the new shelter built quicker, but it just doesn’t work that way,” Nobles said.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.