Updated: Counties Cancel Animal Shelter Contracts Over Abuse Concerns

Updated: Counties Cancel Animal Shelter Contracts Over Abuse Concerns

5:43pm Aug 17, 2015
Commissioners in both Guilford and Davidson counties canceled their contracts with United Animal Coalition Monday.
Keri Brown

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture revoked the licenses of the organization that ran animal shelters in Guilford and Davidson Counties Monday.

Both Guilford and Davidson counties held special meetings to address the issue, with each voting to cancel their contracts with the United Animal Coalition.

The NCDA pulled the licenses after a months-long investigation that uncovered more than 100 incidents of failure to care for animals at the shelters. The investigation – which began in June – was spurred by a single complaint about a dog at the Davidson shelter that appeared to have a broken back and allegedly received no care at all.

Department of Agriculture spokesman Brian Long says he was disturbed by the sheer number of improprieties the investigators found.

“We’ve had instances before where there were isolated occurrences or something like that,” Long said, “but the volume our investigation turned up is what really stands out to me.”

The NCDA says it’s extremely rare to revoke an animal shelter license, but state agriculture commissioner Steve Troxler said an underlying failure at the two shelters necessitated the action.

Guilford County Commissioners held an emergency meeting Monday morning to address the issue, voting to terminate their contract with UAC and naming Deputy County Manager Clarence Grier the shelter’s interim director.

Commissioners in Davidson met Monday afternoon on the issue, also rescinding the county’s contract with UAC.

Guilford County Sheriff B.J. Barnes said Monday a coalition of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies were still gathering evidence on everything from animal abuse, to financial mismanagement, to drugs.

“We will finish it as soon as we possibly can,” Barnes said. “To be quite frank with you, I expect to see criminal charges come out of this.”

Guilford officials say their shelter will remain closed until Saturday, but donations and volunteers will still be welcome once they reopen.

In the meantime, residents seeking shelter for animals can call Guilford County Animal Control at (336) 641-5990.

Update (Aug. 18): The Greensboro News & Record is reporting Marsha Williams, director of the Guilford County Animal Shelter, has been fired by the United Animal Coalition.

Williams had previously been suspended with pay while state and local officials investigated the Guilford and Davidson shelters.

She had been with UAC since 2001.

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