05/04/04 — Duplin women save dogs from death

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Duplin women save dogs from death

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 4, 2004 1:56 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Several animals were rescued from "death row" Monday after residents called on the Duplin County commissioners to make changes at the dog pound.

A group of women adopted dogs and cats from the Duplin County Animal Shelter after leaving the county commissioners meeting. That left about 25 animals scheduled to pass through the gas chamber this morning at the Duplin County Animal Shelter.

Kim Loyd of Wallace asked the commissioners to appoint a task force to investigate practices at the animal shelter. She said she was appalled at the treatment of the animals she saw when she went there to adopt a puppy.

She saw several dogs of different sizes and health status crammed into one kennel, while other kennels sat empty. Six-week-old puppies were in a kennel with a water container so large that, if they were able to reach it, they could have fallen into it and drowned, she said.

"A puppy was so sick, it kept falling down. When they're that sick, they should be taken out of the cage with the healthy animals."

All of the animals had a maximum of a week to live. The cages they were in designated what day they were to die. The dogs on the left side of the aisle Monday were to enter the gas chamber today. Outside next to the gas chamber were several rabbit cages with cats in them.

"I'm not a cat person, but I love all animals, and my heart was sick," said Ms. Loyd regarding her first reaction to the cat boxes. "I followed a man who went to pick up his cat. They had 12 back there. They had no food, no water."

Ms. Loyd saw a full-blooded Dalmatian in one of the kennels inside and e-mailed a Dalmatian Rescue organization. The pound was flooded with phone calls the next day, and someone came to adopt the Dalmatian.

Ms. Loyd said she received 52 e-mails about the Dalmatian. Several people said they would be willing to volunteer to work at the pound, which is open from noon until 1 p.m. five days a week. One hour a day is not long enough for the dogs and cats to have someone adopt them, she said.

The county commissioners told County Manager Fred Eldridge to meet with Ms. Loyd and come up with a list of people willing to serve on the task force.

The pound is not a new issue, said Commissioner Chairman L.S. Guy. Eldridge has been working on the situation, he said, "and I have respect for his ability to see to it that it's improved."

Commissioner Reginald Wells said the original mindset upon building the pound had been capture and execution, but today there is recognition of a need to have the animals adopted.

"We need to educate the public about spay and neuter," he said. "There needs to be dialogue, not finger-pointing. ... We recognize there is a problem. ... Rather than public outrage, we need to sit down and find a solution."

Eldridge said he has had people say they would be willing to volunteer at the pound, "but then, they failed to materialize," he said. "It's still a long way from where we'd like to see it, but it is better."

Eldridge "is key to some instant changes," said Ms. Loyd, who met nine of her e-mail contacts, some for the first time face-to-face, after the presentation to commissioners. They introduced themselves in the lobby of the county administration building.

Celia Williams of the Scotts Store community of Duplin County was one of a few who arrived at the pound before noon.

The door was open, although the hours posted are noon to 1 p.m. Animal Control Officer Gerald Lanier and his assistant Chris Sumner helped them with their adoptions.

"If only you could see the way it was last year," said Ms. Williams, who found a pregnant dog in one of the cells.

She loaded a cat into her car, saying, "That was number 17 in the last year. Most of them I give away through the News-Argus. Two weeks ago, I gave away a St. Bernard I'd had for six months. You get attached to them."

Sherry Waters of Wilmington saw a couple of puppies she wanted to adopt. She said she picked up six animals last week. Four were dogs, two were cats. Four of the animals already have new homes, said Ms, Waters, who also rescues animals and finds homes for them.