by Elisa Black-Taylor
Cat with cigarette and knife
Good morning readers. It's another bad day in the cat world, and a shelter in Charlotte, NC is once again proving how "sick" some individuals can be. Three employees at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control in Charlotte, NC are the subject of an internal investigation. It's unclear at the present time whether any formal charges will be filed. The three are being investigated for taking photographs of sedated cats holding knives and cigarettes.
One photo shows a sedated cat with a cigarette in it's mouth, earphones in it's ears and a knife between it's paws. Another cat was photographed with a pen in it's mouth and a ferret was photographed after having a hair removal product used on it. The caption even suggested Nair was used on the ferret as a joke!
Lisa Easton, a former shelter employee filed the complaint because she wanted something to be done about the abuse. The photos began showing up on a social networking site back in August and were posted by a shelter employee(s).
Charlotte shelter director Mark Balestra was emailed by Ms. Easton on August 24 informing him of the sedated cat and hairless ferret photos. He did state the ferret came into the shelter with a skin condition that caused the loss of hair. So whether the Nair Hair Remover story is accurate - I just don't know. Balestra said he considered the abuse (and it IS abuse) and photos "extremely tasteless" and that the shelter had a "zero tolerance" abuse policy.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe reported their investigation is now complete and the workers who did this will be punished. A review board for the shelter met on November 17 and suggested disciplinary action ranging from suspension without pay to termination for the three employees involved.
The shelter management has declined to comment on their final decision.
Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon stated he had received complaints about the photos from people all around the country and wants strict action taken against those who thought they were doing creative photography.
This isn't the first time the shelter has come under the spotlight this year for questionable practices. Earlier this year they mistakenly put to sleep two pit bulls waiting for their owner. Their response to this was "No one knows what happened."
They gave a similar response when asked what became of the cats and the ferret seen in the photos. No one can verify the animals were adopted out or were killed after being photographed.
And as far as a skin condition on the ferret, please take a close look. The skin looks healthy. Usually there is some visible form of a skin condition. I believe someone used Nair, just as the photo caption on the social networking site claimed. They did it as a JOKE!
Animal lovers everywhere are calling for stricter rules and major changes at the Charlotte shelter. There is a petition at change.org you can sign.
Lisa Easton (the former employee) and local animal rescuer Samantha Laine are calling for the public to stand behind them in their fight for the animals. The current euthanasia rate at this shelter is 65%.
These two ladies are calling for immediate action to make the shelter and its employees accountable for their actions. They also want to move the shelter towards a no-kill facility.
If you're outraged at what was done to these poor cats and this ferret, please contact Major Pro Tem Patrick Cannon and Charlotte City Council at this internet address or write to them at 600 East 4th Street, Charlotte, NC, 28204. The mayors office and city council can both be reached at (704)336-2241.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control can be reached at 8315 Byrum Drive, Charlotte, NC, 28217. Their phone number is (704) 336-7600. The director is Mark Balestra.
Please make it clear that it's NOT okay to photograph a shelter cat holding knives, cigarettes, ink pens, or anything else the employees may think is cute. That any photos made of the cats should promote ADOPTION!
What do the readers here think the punishment should be? Keep in mind these cats didn't belong to the people who did this to them. This is a lot different than dressing your cat up for pictures in a Halloween or Christmas costume. They were sedated and ridiculed and no telling what else. If the ferret did have a hair remover used on it, there could have been a serious skin reaction. Apparently these workers didn't care.
I think we all agree the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control needs a major overhaul. I don't like to pick on individual shelters, but this is an unusual case I thought the readers here should be made aware of.
For those of you in other countries, please don't think all Americans behave this way toward animals. Most of us here dearly love animals. There are just some very rotten people out there who ruin the reputation for the rest of us.