A “Shelter We Love”
December 28, 2012 by Nathan J. Winograd
Excerpted from Friendly Fire:
Animal lovers call Davidson County, North Carolina’s shelter “savage,” a “disgrace,” “disgusting” and “horrific.” What does HSUS call it? A “shelter we love.”
In 2010, 3,984 of the 4,133 cats taken in by the Davidson County, North Carolina shelter—96 percent—were put to death. While dogs fared a little better, eight out of 10 were still killed: 2,846 of the 3,625 they took in, including every dog they deemed a “Pit Bull” or “Pit Bull”-mix as a matter of policy. With an adoption rate of only six percent, they don’t even really try to save lives, choosing to kill them instead. But it gets worse. Not only does the shelter do little more than kill animals, they kill them in one of the cruelest ways possible: the gas chamber.
Although the gas chamber is legal in North Carolina, it is illegal to use it for animals that appear to be 16 weeks or younger, pregnant or near death because it takes sick, younger or older animals longer to absorb the gas, resulting in a slower and more agonizing death. The state also prohibits animals of different species from being put in the gas chamber together. But the employees of the Davidson County shelter do not care. And neither does the Sheriff who was supposed to oversee them, but chose to turn a blind eye to the illegal and sadistic killing of animals occurring under his neglectful watch.
Davidson County has a history of killing kittens and puppies using the gas chamber in violation of North Carolina law. It has a history of killing elderly and sick animals in that manner, which is also illegal. And, according to an eyewitness, shelter employees put a raccoon in the gas chamber with a mother cat and her kitten in order to sadistically watch them fight before they died: “The gas chamber has two windows, one on either side. The raccoon and the adult cat started fighting. Then they turned the gas on. The adult cat got on one corner and the raccoon got on the other, and as soon as they turned on the gas, the kitten started shaking and going into convulsions.”
A contractor who was working at the shelter told the County Board that he heard the employees laugh when they did it. He said he was sickened by the incident, as were animal lovers nationwide who condemned the shelter for its cruelty and barbarity. But it did not sicken the Sheriff. Rather than condemn the staff, the Sheriff defended them, saying the staff are doing a good job (“shelter employees don’t want to euthanize animals”) and claiming they gas animals because that is “the most humane way to deal” with the animals. And it did not sicken the Humane Society of the United States. Instead, HSUS gave them an award at a public ceremony, calling the Davidson County facility “A Shelter We Love.”
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