Georgia Department of Agriculture closes case against Effingham County Animal Shelter after accusations labeled ‘unfounded’

The Georgia Department of Agriculture performed a surprise inspection December 11 at Effingham County Animal Shelter, located in Springfield, Georgia after receiving several complaints. The case is now closed after being labeled ‘unfounded.’

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Comments are encouraged by those who are following this case, as this is a complex situation.

First, the allegations. Several viewers of WTOC News reached out with complaints saying the shelter was misdiagnosing illness or behavioral issues as a reason to euthanize earlier than following the waiting period required under Georgia law. Improper disposal of euthanized animals was also alleged.

Steve Davis, Effingham County administrator met with Inspectors from the Georgia Department of Agriculture on Monday and addressed areas of concern including failure to provide proper heat and blankets, unclean enclosures, no food and failure to report diseases. Davis says the shelter passed inspection with no violations.

According to the report, the dogs and cats had access to large dog beds and blankets in one area. The stray holding area, however,  was cold and Davis stated a thermostat and a safe way of heating that area would be purchased and provided immediately.

In an interview with WTOC, Davis stated

“They went around it. They took pictures. They inspected it, the areas, for cleanliness and all of the above. Plus they checked our records. We’ve got professional staff down there, and we document everything we do. We have nothing to hide at all.” 

Heather Holmes, lead foster for Cherokee Humane Society in Acworth, has serious concerns about how animals are euthanized. The Georgia Department of Agriculture says it’s not a violation to not sedate an animal before euthanasia unless it’s a rarely performed intracardial procedure.

Davis says there’s no inhumane treatment at the shelter and that state guideline are being followed in the treatment of the animals. Holmes received from the shelter, 1,974 animals were moved out of the shelter between January 1, 2017 and October 27, 2017. A total of 963 of those were killed.

Several others reached out to WTOC with complaints against the shelter, alleging misdiagnoses of illness or as feral as a reason to euthanize, improper disposal of animal bodies and animals being scheduled for euthanasia earlier than required.

None of those complaints were found or addressed in Monday’s inspection report, and it’s unclear if those complaints led to the state investigation.

A concern for Holmes that isn’t cited in the report is the shelter euthanizes animals without sedation.

“It’s my understanding that the ferals or the cats they can’t handle, they’ll stick them in their stomach, wherever they can stick them,” Holmes said. “I’ve heard that the dogs when they’re euthanized some of them howl and carry on while they’re dying. The cats bounce around in their cages before they die.”

A veterinarian licensed by the county performs the procedure unless the animal is labeled scared or dangerous. If so, the shelter director is able to offer sedation since the drug used isn’t a controlled substance that would require a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) number.

Please take the time to read over the entire report found on Google Docs and comment if you have additional information. Also feel free to leave an opinion on whether the Effingham County Animal Shelter is doing a good job or what needs to be done to lower the kill rate below 48 percent.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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Elisa Black-Taylor

Elisa is an experienced cat caretaker and rescuer. She lives in the US. As well as being a professional photographer, Elisa has been a regular contributor to PoC for nine years. See her Facebook page.

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26 Responses

  1. Amy says:

    Maybe if we can spread the word home these animals would have lived. Spread like wild rite

  2. Louise Burns says:

    People in that town need to do something!!

  3. B says:

    Can some other shelter or organization not provide training in euthanasia? It doesnt have to be like this.

  4. Heather Holmes says:

    Effingham constats from jan 2017 – oct 2017

    • Heather Holmes says:

      100 of the cats out were from me and my network from north ga helping to get them out.. furkids saved 23 on one pull in feb? I pulled and transported them up.. then hoarding case 21 sick cats w coccidia and uri .. 24 hrs left.. again i contacted my north ga rescue peeps.. half way home and furkids pulled i transported them up .. Louise Basia Burns raised $2500 in pledges to vet these cats! I have pulled for cherokee humane society between june and oct 40 cats and kittens..we have several fosters homes here .. Also furkids contacted me in sept about hurricane evacuation plans for the shelter.. offered to pull.. I contacted the shelter and we had 34 cats loaded on a cessna airplane the next day from effingham ac and jesup ac.. then i contacted fort stewart stray facitlity to help their animals fly out also.. this is my passion and i have been blessed with an awesome network of rescue friends ..

      • Sarah DeJesus says:

        It sounds like you are doing good work on behalf of the animal community. It is sad that everyone targets the employees and facilities that are responsible for attempting to maintain so semblance of animal control and saying nothing of the hundreds of animals that are abandoned, hoarded and breed for financial profit by PEOPLE with no conscience. I wish people would target the irresponsible pet owners for the conditions that the animals are placed in.

  5. Amy says:

    We.need to spread the word!

  6. Vicky Wolf says:

    They need to go to this place unannounced at different times throughout the year they also need to go in there with hidden cameras it’s the only way you’re going to catch him

  7. Frances A Danna says:

    I do not know anything about this animal shelter, but reading the way that euthanasia is handled brought me to tears. This place is violating the rights of these poor cats and dogs. This is outright cruelty, and it is horrifying.

    • Elisa Black-Taylor says:

      A lot of people don’t realize how easily shelters kill due to “behavioral” issues. This shelter having a 48% kill rate isn’t good and should set off warning bells that things aren’t being done right as far as the dogs and cats are concerned. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

  8. Amy says:

    Not all cats are feral
    They are just scared.
    Dogs come in aggressive doesent mean they are. They are all scared

    • Amy says:

      Not all cats are feral
      They are just scared.
      Dogs come in aggressive doesent mean they are. They are all scared

      • Elisa Black-Taylor says:

        Amy, I’m glad you’re able to get photos to load. It means more coming from those who witnessed this first-hand.

        • Amy says:

          You wouldn’t be live how cold it ge rd. And how hot it gets them dignoasing that poor dog with a broken back.yhank god Heather got him to sav are he would of been put down for broken back.yhats against at law

  9. Elisa Black-Taylor says:

    Do they not feed these “feral” cats?

  10. Amy says:

    The effingham county animal shelter almost 3 years for last year I was bullied they treated me like I was nothing I was supposed to be adoption coordinator I was i was not allowed to contact rescues I wasn’t allowed to do anything .I got wrote up for trying to kittens. I was then told I was not allowed to have my phone on had to stay in the car.while every one had their phone but me.the director was always mean too me.slways tried to make me feel stupid.insulting me by saying.your doc might want to change the dosage.How dare she. My cat died told her I would be a little late.when I got there first thing she said don’t be boohoo !!!! That hurt
    I stopped working there because it was a very hostile work environment. County admin did they are saying the fired me but I resigned

    • Sarah DeJesus says:

      That is interesting that for three years you sat by idle and did nothing. Anyone who has half a brain can do a little research and see that you are just an angry employee who was let go based on your own conduct. The fact that you are misleading others into believing that there is somehow nefarious conduct taking place at a shelter is irreprehensible. Take responsibility for your actions and find something productive to do with your time.

  11. Elisa Black-Taylor says:

    labeled “feral” with no food or water.

  12. Amy says:

    I know first hand that they didn’t start putting towels in the cages untill Heather said something. I know for a fact that kittens or cats have been put to sleep for having so called certain parasites.without being fecal tested. How do u know what to treat them for if u don’t test them. Putting kittens down because they are scared so the call them feral.I can back up everything up. I use to work there thank God for Heather because maybe they will finally put proper a.c. unit and heating in the back….so thank u Heather….also they were gonna pu t down a wemirner with a so called broken back untill Heather stepped in and got the dog to Savannah vet. The vet found a chip called the owner and guess what the dog did not have a broken back…

  13. Louise Burns says:

    Its all a good ole boy club 🙁
    They all cover for each other at the expense of the animals..makes me furious!!!
    I commend Heather for speaking up..more people need to take a stand and stop remaining silent!!

    • Andrea Weingarten says:

      BINGO. I found that out about Bryan County Animal Control in Richmond Hill. Same story. When I started to speak up, I was harassed, taken to court 15 times, arrested twice, AND when I put home security cameras on my house, I was told to take them down or go to jail. Talk about civil rights violations! And yes, I captured the harassment and goings-on. I no longer live there, when you can’t walk out of your own home without a camera in your hand, that’s unbearable.

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