Due to numerous concerns that escalated last week with the critical injury of a cat named Cooper, a Change.org petition calling for the firing of Rowan County Control (Salisbury, North Carolina) Director Clai Martin commenced March 13. I’m including three links following this article offering more information on this situation because it’s too much to go into in the short space I’m allotted here.
Animal advocates are petitioning Rowan County Commissioner Chairman Greg Edds and Rowan County Commissioner Vice Chairman Jim Greene after Cooper was injured by shelter staff after one allegedly stepped on his tail and another broke his jaw when he became unmanageable while being microchipped.
Cooper has since undergone two operations to repair his broken jaw and Facebook updates can be found on the Facebook: Saving Cooper community page. A Facebook: Fire Clai Martin community page has also been set up where anyone who has suffered a loss at the hands of Rowan County Animal Control is asked to tell their story.
After Cooper’s story made the news, the shelter allegedly retaliated by killing nine cats who were originally given several more days to leave the shelter and had rescues actively working to free them. Next came a policy statement that says “unmanageable” cats may immediately be killed.
Rowan County Animal Shelter Manager Aaron Church issued a statement on Facebook: Rowan County Animal Shelter on March 11 clarifying the issue:
There has not been and will not be a mandate to euthanize all feral animals. Animal Control may refrain from adopting feral cats to rescues or individuals if the cats cannot be safely removed from their cages, vaccinated for rabies or microchipped.
This does not mean that feral cats cannot be adopted. This means that if employees feel that the cat is a danger to them and/or the public they have the right to humanely euthanize the cat in accordance with all applicable state rules, regulations and laws thereby forfeiting the adoption.
Unfortunately, the shelter may get away with murder, because there are three reasons a shelter may kill a cat
- An owner-surrendered cat may be killed at any time because no one will be looking for the cat
- Any cat severely injured or critically ill may be humanely euthanized so as not to allow suffering
- A cat may be euthanized for behavioral reasons
Who determines “unmanageable, dangerous, feral”? ANY cat caught in a trap could be terrified and acting out. This shelter said Cooper was feral. Everyone from Cooper’s veterinarian to the rescue who saved him to his foster can verify Cooper is a very loving cat who was treated horribly at this shelter.
Tracy Waugh of Mooresville, North Carolina who has commented on the petition reported concern that for years 2010-2013 records indicate that over 2000 animals are missing from RCAS. She reports that she was threatened by Aaron Church to be happy with the status quo or else he could pick up the phone and have all animals killed at the shelter as the only requirement of the county is to control rabies.
Combine this with photos of a dog being dragged, reports of dead animals in cages and shelter leadership refusing to implement a volunteer program despite repeated, numerous requests and offers of assistance from the community and you can see the picture. Martin was also reluctant to abandon the gassing policy. Animal advocates are requesting Martin be fired and replaced with someone more compassionate and concerned with animal welfare.
Even the writing of this article may put more animals at risk. After all, the shelter could retaliate by killing more cats, as they did last week. Policy and management need to change at this shelter. Other shelters in North Carolina have made improvements over the past year when new shelter directors took over. Please share the petition and hope there’s no revenge killing because of it.
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