Animal shelter needs help | Local News
Rumors that the Sheriff’s Department euthanized animals at the Henry County Animal Shelter due to the loss of an animal control officer are baseless.
“While we hope never to have to euthanize an animal, there are times when it is necessary or required by law,” a statement from the sheriff’s office said. “We are working diligently with our shelter partners to transfer as many animals as possible for adoption.”
But it was a senior partner at the shelter who apparently started the rumor.
On Wednesday, the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA posted on its Facebook page that “Henry County Animal Control is losing its animal control officer next week, therefore they will be euthanized for as much space as possible. The sad reality is that if we don’t get the precious animals out soon, they will be euthanized.
The Sheriff’s Office said it has advertised for a full-time shelter office manager and is currently accepting applications for the position, but “The Henry County Animal Shelter is operating normally with the application and animal care. A message said we were terminating an animal control officer, but that is incorrect.
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“Enforcement and animal cruelty protection is a vital part of our office and important to the community.”
A second message released Wednesday by the SPCA said, “There are dogs at risk of euthanasia at Henry County Animal Control. Everyone is at full capacity and space is limited.
The SPCA, in a follow-up post Thursday, said it wanted to “clarify some misconceptions that have come to light since we posted about the urgent situation with Henry County Animal Control.”
This clarification was intended to reiterate that the SPCA is classified as a “no-kill facility,” but there was no retraction to its previous posts that euthanizing animals at the Henry County Animal Shelter was imminent.
On Friday, the Bulletin reached out to the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA for comment and learned that Executive Director Catherine Gupton was out of the office.
Christina Thienemann lives in Henry County and is employed at the Franklin County Humane Society, but began volunteering at the Henry County Animal Shelter in October 2019.
“I decided to start volunteering at my local animal control in hopes of helping the animals there,” Thienemann told the Bulletin via email. “I quickly learned that few if any animals escaped animal control. Owners rarely seemed to come, the SPCA had stopped coming as often and no one was taking pictures or helping these animals reach the public of regular way.
Thienemann wrote that she has observed animals with contagious diseases and obvious health problems “wasting away without worry.”
“Several times, just because I was there twice a week and constantly asking about old, decrepit and injured people that they even got out of there and got the help that they needed,” Thienemann wrote. “I’m happy to say that the SPCA has done much better over the past year in pulling animals in need of medical attention, but they weren’t rescuing them at all when I started. Animals suffer in a filthy environment and with a lack of reliable HVAC, also suffer from extreme temperatures.
The Bulletin visited the shelter on Kings Mountain Road on Thursday afternoon. The facility was closed, but an inspection around the building revealed several cooling units outside that served the shelter and appeared to be operational. You could hear a dog barking from one of the air vents.
The Sheriff’s Office had posted about two hours earlier on their Facebook page that they had a dog, a German Shepherd mix, on stray wait and encouraged anyone recognizing the dog as their own to contact dispatch at 276- 638-8751 or to visit the animal shelter from Tuesday to Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“Stray hold” is a term used for an animal in the care of a shelter that is not up for adoption until a period of time has elapsed, allowing sufficient time for the owner to recover the animal.
Thienemann provided the Bulletin with three photographs to document his claims of “improper animal care and lack of cleanliness of the facility.”
These three images are “drains going through kennels, a ringworm suspect kitten left in their isolation room” and “a dog with a built-in collar that received veterinary care only to return to animal control and not receive no follow-up care,” Thienemann wrote.
Although Thienemann did not specify when the photos were taken, the exif metadata (the embedded information of a digital image) indicated that the photo of the kitten was taken on September 9, 2020. The dates were not available on the other two pictures.
“The community needs to be made aware of the horrific conditions at the Henry County Animal Shelter,” said Donna Essig, president of the Franklin County Humane Society and Planned Pethood Clinic & Adoption Center. “I hope their concern puts pressure on the county administration to make the necessary improvements and add adequate staff to run the facility.”
The Henry County Sheriff’s Office is currently seeking an Animal Shelter Office Manager position. Duties include: assisting Animal Control Officers with clerical duties, submitting and filing reports, importing data into computer systems, assisting with adoption reunification of animals with owners, ensuring that all required documents are submitted and assist in the daily maintenance of the facility.
Qualified applicants will need to attend a shelter management school and must be able to pass a background investigation, the job posting says.
The full-time position lists a starting salary of $32,000 per year with benefits and the work schedule is Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The shelter is also advertising to hire a part-time shelter cleaner with a variable work schedule at $12 an hour.
Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 2360. Follow him @billdwyatt.