Temporary freeze placed on rescue animals at shelter

Published 3:58 pm Friday, August 22, 2014

A temporary freeze was placed on animals waiting to be sent to rescue organizations early Friday morning by members of the Chilton County Humane Society board.

Discord between some local rescue volunteers and personnel at the shelter prompted an emergency decision from some board members early Friday to put a freeze on rescue animals.

“There were some personal attacks made about the shelter on the Internet, and we decided we needed to just put a halt to the rescue portion for right now,” Chilton County Humane Society Board Treasurer Tom Cuthbert said. “How long the freeze will last, I don’t know. We live in a day of the Internet where we have people who have a poison pen. We tried ignoring the comments, but it became too much to handle.”

Jemison resident Michelle Glass was upset by the decision to freeze the process of sending dogs to rescue organizations.

Glass agreed to foster a puppy for two weeks who had recently been selected for a rescue organization in Florida.

“I stopped by the shelter this morning to pick up the puppy, and they told me I couldn’t take him with me,” Glass said. “It seems like there are some disagreements going on, but my concern is about the animals. Some people just look at them as just a dog, but they are still a living creature.”

One of the requirements for an animal to be considered for rescue is all animals transported to various organizations throughout the country must be outside of a shelter for two weeks to ensure the dogs don’t contract diseases.

This often poses a problem with the rescue system due to a lack of individuals willing to foster animals in their homes during the “quarantine” period.

Volunteers work with the shelter to locate homes nationwide for dogs from the shelter in Chilton County and often use forms of social media to seek out anyone willing to foster animals.

Rescue volunteer Tina Austin spent the morning calling rescue organizations to let them know of the freeze, which will delay the animals waiting to be rescued.

“If there weren’t animals involved, I wouldn’t be bothered by it at all,” Austin said. “It is just devastating.”

Austin said she feared with the decision to freeze the foster program, many dogs waiting for new homes could be euthanized due to lack of space at the shelter.

“I just hope something drastic doesn’t happen with the animals that are waiting to go to new homes,” Austin said.

Cuthbert emphasized the decision was “temporary” until a solution could be reached by board members on how to handle the rescue portion of the organization.

“If someone wants to come and adopt a dog, we are still allowing that,” Cuthbert said. “We are just not open for any rescues right now.”

Cuthbert said the shelter closed early on Friday due to stress of employees.

“We are hoping to sift everything out,” Cuthbert said. “Right now, we didn’t know anything else to do other than to put a hold on the foster program, due to local individuals involved in the foster program attacking the shelter on the Internet.”

Cuthbert said most of the verbal attacks were about issues at the shelter, personnel at the shelter, or members of the board.

In the meantime, the eight dogs that were waiting to be fostered or transported to rescue organizations will be housed at the shelter, Cuthbert said.

“I expect to resolve this issue within the next day or two,” Cuthbert said. “Any rescue animals that have been spoken for we will make the necessary arrangements to have them taken care of. We know the ones who were waiting to be rescued, they are safe, and we will make the necessary arrangements for them. We will do our best to make the best for every dog waiting to be rescued.”