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Residents call for change at S.C. shelter

Residents of Chesterfield County demanded improvements yesterday at a South Carolina animal shelter under investigation for, among other things, shooting surplus dogs and “euthanizing” cats by blows to the head with a pipe.

The allegations began surfacing a month ago, and yesterday’s county council meeting was the first opportunity for residents to speak publicly about them.

“Chesterfield County has a black eye, and I’m so ashamed,” Joy Young told members of the Chesterfield County Council.

“Significant changes must be made to ensure that this never happens again,” said Jerri Gaskins, who founded Paws and Claws, a volunteer group that helps run the shelter.

A member of Paws and Claws, Deborah Farhi, blew the whistle a month ago, coming forward to allege that dozens of dogs and cats were being shot rather than euthanized by lethal injection.

The allegations, and subsequent media coverage by WSOC Eyewitness News and others, led to an investigation by the state — the findings of which have yet to be reported.

County Sheriff Sam Parker, after the allegations surfaced, put all four animal control officers on leave and assigned deputies to run the shelter and answer animal-related calls.

Animal welfare activists also say the shelter is failing to properly care for dogs and cats and provides insufficient food and medical care.

Some reports suggest as many as 50 dogs had been shot and dumped in a landfill across the street from the shelter, and quote a former a former shelter worker as saying cats were euthanized by being beaten on the head with a pipe

According to Change.org, the shelter’s director, Brian Burch, is a convicted felon who served time on drug charges and is a breeder of pit bulls. Equipment that could have been used to train dogs to fight was found at the shelter, which doesn’t officially adopt out pit bulls, the Change.org article said.

Council members told Wednesday’s crowd that they are awaiting the results of the state investigation, and wouldn’t take any action until it is complete.

No charges have been filed in the case. Sheriff’s deputies said only about two dozen dogs remain at the shelter. A rescue group recently took all 38 cats from the shelter. More than 100 animals have been adopted out, and none have been euthanized since the allegations first surfaced last month.

Change.org reports that the State Law Enforcement Division wrapped up their investigation late last week and turned its findings over to the attorney general’s office. A petition urging the attorney general to file charges and hold the shelter accountable can be found here.

A rally is scheduled for April 21, at 3 p.m. on the steps of the State House in Columbia.

More information and updates are available on the Paws n Claws Facebook page.

Comments

Comment from smoketoomuch
Time April 7, 2011 at 9:37 am

Sickening.

Comment from Miss Jan
Time April 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Local news reports also revealed a Michael Vick/Brian Burch connection and disclosed that Burch was breeding some of Vick’s fight dog bloodlines and reportedly a Vick representative approached Burch about fight dogs; also disclosed in other local news was that there was a first person witness for a dogfighting demo by Burch at the shelter. Seems also the local TV station dug up that the euthanasia drugs are actually super hot-on-the-street drugs and that keeping paperwork and tracking the drugs kept on hand at the shelter for the purpose of humane euthanasia was done on the honor system.

The old metaphor of fox guarding henhouse seems appropriate here…..

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