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.’

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

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.

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