Citizen’s concerns lead to media tour
With an extension to the municipal pound three years ago, dogs are now put in kennels with outdoor runs, and the facility is able to hold more animals for longer periods of time until they are adopted or placed in foster homes. Carolyn Sloan
By Carolyn Sloan
Due to concerns regarding condition in which animals are being kept, municipal clerk Jacquie Farrow-Lawrence and animal control officer Ron Sabean opened up the doors of the Annapolis County Pound to reporters from the Spectator and the Chronicle Herald for a special tour of the facility.
Both newspapers had received emails from a county resident, expressing concerns about the public not being allowed inside the pound. The citizen also had heard reports that the facility was extremely filthy and poorly lit from a woman who claimed to have snuck inside while at the facility to adopt a dog.
So on April 23, Farrow-Lawrence and Sabean met up with Herald reporter Gordon Delaney and myself at the municipal pound, located just outside of Bridgetown, to allow us to see the inside of the facility for ourselves.
Before going inside, the municipal clerk reviewed the process by which dogs and cats are held at the facility and adopted out. She explained that while they are not mandated to keep animals for more than three days, if animals are not adopted within this period of time, Sabean will liaison with the Companion Animal Protection Society to transfer them into one of the society’s foster homes. “Ron does a lot of finding new placements on his own [as well],” noted Farrow-Lawrence. “He placed 100 dogs last year.”
She also explained that people who adopt an unneutered animal directly from the pound pay an adoption fee that is refundable upon proof that the dog or cat has undergone the operation within 60 days.
Going inside the building, there were five cat cages in one area, a series of older dog kennels further back in the building, as well as newer dog cages with outdoor runs that were added to the side of the facility three years ago. The concrete floors appeared clean, as did the cages for the dogs and cats, which were equipped with blankets, litter boxes, and ample supplies of food and water.
Farrow-Lawrence pointed to the drainage canals along the floor, which catch the waste from the cages as they are washed out. Although it is a small facility, she emphasized that the pound is only intended to house animals for brief periods of time. “This is a short term facility,” Farrow-Lawrence explained. “The old kennels are used from time to time when we have over capacity. This past year, we haven’t run into that problem.”
Most importantly, since the public outcry in 2004, when an article in The Spectator revealed that dogs at the pound were being put to death with a gun shot in the head, animals that need to be put down due to disease or a vicious temper have been taken to the veterinarian to be euthanized humanely. “We no longer shoot dogs,” said Sabean. “My rifle that I use…[it’s now] four years since its been fired.”
Dogs and cats are only euthanized if they are diseased or, because of their disposition, are unable to become companion animals, added Farrow-Lawrence. They may also be euthanized if CAPS cannot take them in, although this year, they have not had to put down any animals for this reason.
There is no regular inspection of the municipal pound. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) does not perform inspections of the municipal pound unless there is a complaint. While there are often members of the public who call wanting to see inside the pound or take the dogs out for a walk, all public access is prohibited due to issues of liability. If someone where to fall, get bitten by an animal, or even catch some illness, she said, the municipality would be responsible. “The pound is not a public facility,” Farrow-Lawrence explained. “It’s not because we’re hiding anything particularly because we don’t want to provide access. “It only takes the one incident and we got big problems.”