Resident worries about conditions at Dog Pound | Archives


Editor’s Note: The full text of Melissa Davis’ questions to Dr. Robert Pitman and her answers, which are too long to appear in this edition, can be found at under the Local News tab.

Just over a week after Athens veterinarian Dr Robert Pitman requested $ 400,000 from the Limestone County Commission for Animal Control Services, he revised his request.

In a letter to the commissioners, Pitman said his claim was based on “incorrect information” and that he would instead be asking for a total of $ 287,860. Of that amount, the county would pay $ 215,895, or 75%, and the city of Athens would pay $ 71,965 or 25%.

Pitman said the $ 287,860 reflects the actual animal control costs incurred last year. His letter stated that the total income from September 2010 to August 2011 was $ 218,628. This total included the county appropriation of $ 109,963, the city of Athens appropriation of $ 65,608 and $ 43,056 in adoptions and other costs.

Pitman cited expenses of $ 287,860, a loss of $ 69,232. At last week’s county commission meeting, he told commissioners he paid for the shortages for the program out of his own pocket.

County Commissioner Bill Daws asked Pitman if he would be willing to consider a one-year contract rather than a three-year contract. County administrator Pam Ball said Pitman supported the request.

Citizen concern

Pitman, a veterinarian at the Limestone Veterinary Clinic in Athens, has provided contract animal control services for the county and city for the past eight years.

Dogs and cats collected by animal control officers or returned by the general public are sent to The Dog Pound where they are offered for adoption, taken by rescue groups or euthanized.

Pitman’s request for more funds to operate animal control services did not please some residents, the majority of whom were unwilling to officially speak out about their concerns. Anonymous complaints about the Pitman operation include accusations of profit-making animal euthanasia, while others cite concerns about The Dog Pound’s cleanliness and the lack of care for sick animals.

Athens resident Melissa Davis said she had “shot several dogs” from The Dog Pound in the past and described the establishment as dirty and embarrassing for the community.

“If he’s going to ask for $ 400,000 to handle this, why aren’t the county and city building their own facilities?” she asked, adding that all the dogs she had saved from The Dog Pound were sick. “I’ve had friends who have much worse horror stories. I’m on the tamer side of it.

Davis sent seven questions to the county commission and insisted the commissioners ask Pitman the questions before granting additional funds.

Pitman said he was not shocked by the outcry from some in the community over his practices. However, he said he invited Davis to come in and speak to him personally or call him, and she declined.

“I don’t know where she gets her information from and I usually don’t respond to people who aren’t informed,” he said.

Questions for Pitman

Davis asked if an increase in funds would allow all animals to be vaccinated upon admission to The Dog Pound. Pitman said neither Decatur nor Huntsville vaccinated all animals on admission.

“Many of those we welcome are sick when they arrive and it makes no sense to vaccinate a sick animal,” he replied. “There is no lack of attention to disease control, but we are not only dealing with diseases in Limestone County, but also diseases that the lifeguard carries from all over the county on his clothes and shoes. “

Priscilla Blenkinsopp, manager of The Dog Pound, said the facility is cleaned daily. She said cats and dogs are removed from their cages so the cages can be cleaned.

Davis also asked if an increase in funding would result in a reduction in adoption fees. She said the $ 92 fee, which only includes spaying or neutering and a rabies vaccine, “is higher than any surrounding county” with no reduction given to relief groups.

She also accused Pitman of charging a rescue group $ 300 for a dog, despite the listed adoption price, and of charging full price for spayed or neutered dogs and cats.

In response, Pitman said The Dog Pound works with several reputable agencies and staff “give far more services than we get reimbursed.”

He said that while The Dog Pound charges $ 92 for a basic adoption, the fee is only $ 10 more than the Huntsville Animal Shelter. (Fees at other facilities cover services such as vaccinations, deworming, heartworm and flea / tick prevention in addition to sterilization and rabies.) Pitman said animal shelter Decatur charges $ 110 for dogs and $ 85 for cats. (Decatur’s $ 110 fee for dogs covers sterilization and rabies, but also heartworm, flea and tick prevention, dewormer and distemper, and kennel cough vaccinations.) The local shelter without killing Peace, Love & Animals, he said, charges $ 150 for an adoption. As of Thursday, there were around 40 dogs and 35 cats at The Dog Pound available for adoption.

Population out of control?

Davis said Pitman earned the nickname “Dr. Death” because of “his clear preference for killing animals rather than doing the job of promoting them for adoption.”

Dog Pound’s annual adoption rate for dogs is around 18%, Pitman said, while the rate for cats is 10%. This means that 82 percent of the dogs and 90 percent of the cats collected are euthanized.

Breaking down Pitman’s expenses by $ 287,860, euthanasia fees were his third highest expense at $ 24,620. About $ 25,740 was spent on animal surgery and $ 10,288 was spent on vaccines.

Pitman told county commissioners on September 6 that the county and city spaying and neutering program had succeeded in slowing dog breeding, but it was not enough. He said the proliferation of aggressive dog breeds and a sluggish economy have not helped the pet population.

The relationship between euthanasia and delivered animals varied from month to month. In October 2010, 210 animals were returned and 101 were slaughtered. Six others died, 73 were adopted and 17 were redeemed.

However, the months of June and July of this year were much worse. In June, 435 animals were returned. Of these, 292 were shot, 40 were adopted, eight were redeemed and two others died.

In July, 304 animals were received and 253 were slaughtered.

“The industry (adoption) average is around 8 percent, so we’re way above that,” Pitman said. “Cats don’t get adopted very often and 92% of the 100 cats we get are not adopted. Eighty percent of them are wild.

He said the problem of high rates of euthanasia is not just an issue for The Dog Pound, but for shelters across the state.

Pitman cited a July 2010 article published by The Cullman Times, which contained similar grim statistics. In 2009, the Cullman Animal Shelter adopted 753 animals and euthanized 3,646 of them. Of these, according to the report, only 1,625 were adoptable.

“Half the animals we get are chicken killers, aggressive people, aggressive, sick, old, or ugly dogs,” Pitman said in response to Davis’ question about The Dog Pound’s adoption rate.


Davis asked if more money donated to animal control services could be used to improve the “dilapidated” facility.

She said The Dog Pound does not have the ventilated property to keep dogs healthy and that its play areas “are breeding grounds” for diseases like parvovirus.

“A new or renovated facility with clean tracks, clean and hygienic playgrounds, bright colors and adequate lighting… and a helpful staff would invite more adopters to see the dogs and cats available…” he said -she stated in her letter to the commission.

She also invited the Commissioners to visit the Huntsville and Decatur facilities for a comparison.

Pitman said if Davis didn’t like the current facility, she would have to consider a waste treatment plant surrounding the old pound. He said that although The Dog Pound was built in 1992, the tracks are clean and hygienic and are an improvement over the origin of the animals.

He said shelters in Huntsville and Decatur have areas where aggressive and sick dogs are placed, so the public never sees them. The Dog Pound doesn’t have that luxury, he said, so all dogs are forced to mix.

“The city of Huntsville is home to 10,000 animals on a budget of $ 1.2 million,” Pitman told the commission on Sept. 6. “Our operating budget is $ 175,000 and we are taking $ 5,000.”

Pitman said the redesign and addition of an isolation area for animals not suitable for adoption could improve The Dog Pound. He added, however, that The Dog Pound is not a long-term accommodation facility and is only required to keep stray animals for five working days.

“As Ms Davis suggests, visit Huntsville and Decatur, then give me $ 1.5 million and I’ll build a building for it with bright colors, lots of lights and even add a yellow brick road,” a- he said in response to Davis. comments about the establishment. “Also include an operating budget of one million dollars. “

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