Contributed photo |
The animal shelter is located at 529 U.S. 74 Business in Rockingham.
John Charles Robbins
Daily Journal Editor
Problems at the troubled Animal Shelter for Richmond County continue as state inspectors came in last week and ordered that no new animals be brought into the facility.
It means animal control officers are not allowed to pick up unwanted animals and deposit them at the shelter at 529 U.S. 74 Business in Rockingham, as would be the normal procedure.
Rumors have been circulating in the community that the state came in last week and shut down the shelter because of bad conditions.
Rick Sago, county manager for Richmond County and the man now in charge of administration at the shelter, said on Monday that the shelter did not get shut down.
He did acknowledge continued problems at the facility, including overcrowded conditions for animals, but noted that new staff are working to alleviate these lingering problems.
Earlier this year the county stepped in after the Humane Society of Richmond County could not continue to operate the shelter in its entirety. Outstanding debts and alleged mismanagement crippled the operation of the shelter, said officials.
About one month ago, county officials announced the reopening of the shelter to the public, after the hiring of a new director, Rebecca Davis of Ellerbe, who had begun to oversee operations as the county was finishing up renovations in and around the facility.
Last week, officials of the NC Department of Agriculture, Veterinary Division, paid a visit to the Animal Shelter.
“We did have an inspection last week for our operating license. We are not shut down, however we were told not to accept animals from the public until the inspector comes back this Thursday,” Sago said on Monday.
“We are still working with adoptions and rescues and our normal day to day operations and obviously Animal Control is still operating, they are just not picking up unwanted animals,” he said.
Sago said when the county sent in its application a couple of months ago, county officials were told to wait until the county took over the operation completely and then the state would issue a new license.
“Since we were still in transition, the shelter was operating under the Humane Society license, which is what the state said we were supposed to do. A week or so ago, we called the state and told them we were for the most part operating the shelter, we still have one Humane Society employee that will be here for another week helping us.
“They came and inspected the operation and indicated we had some cosmetic things that we needed to handle — most have existed for a long time, even when the Humane Society was handling the operation,” said Sago.
“We have been working very hard over the last couple of months trying to get the shelter in the condition we want it to be in, but there were a lot of deficiencies that needed to be corrected and we continue to work daily upgrading a facility that has had no maintenance for several years. There was concern about some sick animals and the amount we were housing. We began working on the most critical items immediately and we are continuing to correct the other deficiencies,” he said.
Sago planned to meet with the shelter staff late Monday to come up with a “game plan” to get the shelter where they want it.
“Let me assure you we are working daily to get this to be a first class facility,” Sago said.
The discussion that began last year between the Humane Society and the county manager centered around financial struggle on the Humane Society’s behalf, and an inability to keep the building up to code. The Humane Society Board and Sago discussed turning the shelter over to the county for several months before coming to an agreement.
— Editor John Charles Robbins can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 13, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.