Major problems at Chatham County Animal Shelter

By Beth Hayes

Pittsboro, NC – We have major issues in Chatham County. Rescue is my life’s work. I must start by saying that I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I don’t really like what either party is doing and I don’t see them making much progress within the parties or with each other.

I have watched the state of animal welfare in our county plummet over the past two years and it breaks my heart for the stray animals not receiving help at the shelter. When the shelter moved from the health department to the sheriff’s department, the new manager told us not to come back until we had an appointment. She said “all rescues want to do is take all the good stuff and leave the shit” to herself. All of you who follow rescues know that we take in dogs with serious injuries and illnesses, which costs an awful lot of money (all the money we raise ourselves, not tax dollars like the shelter) We were told that Sheriff Roberson wanted the adoptions to be the shelter and not the relief.

I started by arranging a meeting with the interim director and the manager. The meeting was attended by me (rescue director), the president of Chatham County’s other major rescue, the acting shelter director, the director, and a brand new animal control officer. The meeting was totally missed. We were told the same thing (don’t come back), not allowed to share anything we needed to discuss, cut off by the acting manager, ridiculed by the AC officer, while the manager lied about what she had told us.

I contacted the permanent director for a meeting when she was hired. At that time, the director had been fired for misconduct. The manager never answered. I contacted three other shelter staff to no avail. Our rescue now supports other shelters, all of whom appreciate our partnerships. We respect each other.

I would like to share part of the email I sent to the Chatham Chatlist in August.

“Let’s look at the EFFECTIVENESS of our county shelter. I have provided links for those of you who wish to check. This is public data collected annually from public shelters by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.

In 2021, Chatham Shelter under the direction of our Sheriff took in 451 animals, spending $1,104,472.00. That’s $1110.02 per animal and more than all but one county in NC. Please note that Chatham County’s report to was submitted late, so their data is not included in the annual report
2021 Annual Report: LINK
Chatham Co late submission: LINK
In 2020, Chatham Shelter under the direction of our Sheriff took in 401 animals and spent $897,813.00. That’s $1024.90 per animal, the most spent by any county in NC. LINK
In 2019, under the direction of the Department of Health (Pre-Sheriff), the shelter housed 662 animals spending $807,926.00. It’s $506 per animal. LINK
And in 2018, hosted 665, spent $807,926.00. $569.76 per pet. LINK
*Please note that the shelter currently has 13 employees (shelter staff and animal control officers). Prior to the sheriff, there were 8 full-time employees and a temp (who cleaned the facility and kennels)
In summary:
– The current shelter accommodates approximately 50 to 65% fewer animals with more employees. This is due to the move from an “open admission” shelter to a “metered admission” shelter. Former shelter staff took in ALL animals in need.
-The new $5.5 million shelter uses a fraction of the available kennels.
– Citizens are told to take care of stray animals. The shelter sets up appointments to receive stray dogs up to 3 weeks later. We know this because many people contact us for help when it is not provided by the shelter.
– More and more unvaccinated stray dogs that are not spayed or neutered are roaming the county, posing an increased danger to humans and pets.
– Animal control does not help with many dangerous stray animals.
The transfer of the shelter from the Health Department to the Sheriff’s Department was a massive failure. As a citizen, taxpayer and animal rescuer, I expect more. You should too.”

Those aren’t all the battles we’ve had with the shelter. There are many more. Now I am truly blown away that so many people are considering supporting this sheriff knowing this information. These are not hearsay, these are facts provided by the shelter each year as required by law.

Animals suffer. Citizens are turned away and put in danger in the hope that they will take care of largely unvaccinated and intact stray dogs. Pets and livestock are killed by strays that Animal Control refuses to help with. Citizens are told to shoot stray animals. I myself have experienced a stray dog ​​coming onto my property (4 months ago). No help from Animal Control and was told to shoot the dog. I trapped the dog myself, then Animal Control refused to pick it up. It wasn’t until I told them I was going public that they came for the dog.

Do you care about Chatham County animals? I’m sure most of you do. Please, please, we need a change. The rescuers are tired and cannot recover the damage left by this shelter. We can’t even comment on the shelter’s Facebook page because the Sheriff has closed the page to comments, as he did with his Sheriff’s Department page. Who will help?

I voted for Sheriff Roberson in the past. I can’t support him anymore.

About Chuck Keeton

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