Animal shelter

The Madison County Animal Shelter is the subject of an ongoing investigation.

By Gracie Hart Brooks

Editor

One month after supervisors requested an independent investigation into the Madison County Animal Shelter, citizens are seeking updates.

In late August, Madison County Supervisors asked the Virginia State Police to conduct an investigation into allegations of criminal activity at the county’s animal shelter. The investigation was initiated days after former shelter employee Tina Auth approached the board with a variety of concerns including the mistreatment of animals.

Auth, who worked at the shelter since November 2017, said she couldn’t begin to explain the things that go on behind shelter doors. She said many animals were dying of simple things like colds and infections because they weren’t receiving proper medical care.

“It’s wrong this is happening,” she said, pleading with county officials to remove shelter manager Greg Cave from his position.

She also stated that the shelter, which she said claims to only euthanize animals who are aggressive or extremely sick, was euthanizing animals every day including those being surrendered by owners for rehoming.

According to annual custody reports by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences (VDACS), Madison’s euthanization rates are higher than the rates of all state agencies combined and Orange and Greene counties’ rates. In 2018, Madison County Animal Shelter euthanized 26 of its 297 dogs, or 8.96 percent compared to the state’s 6.93 percent euthanization rate and the 5.68 percent rate of the Orange County Animal Shelter. Greene County only euthanized one of its 305 dogs. As for cats, Madison euthanized 236 of its 480 cats or 49.16 percent compared to the state’s 17.26 percent rate and Orange County’s 12.23 percent rate. The Greene County Animal Shelter doesn’t house cats, which are instead taken in by the Madison-Greene Humane Society, which is not affiliated with the Madison County Animal Shelter.

Last week, county citizens addressed supervisors, asking for updates in the case and sharing their own experiences with the shelter.

Roxanne Barnes said she recently had a stray show up at her house. She said she spoke to the animal shelter and was ensured it’s a “no kill” shelter. However, she said within 10 days, the cat was killed.

“I was told it’s a ‘no-kill’ shelter,” she said. “Why are citizens being lied to?”

She also asked why there had been no reprimands issued against shelter staff.

“In the meantime, we’re still getting lied to,” she said.

Holly Brooks said she also took cats to the animal shelter. She said there were approximately 15 cats in her neighbor’s yard which then filtered into her yard. On advice from the shelter, she said she trapped the cats and brought them in, being told they wouldn’t be killed. Eight of the cats were spayed or neutered when Brooks trapped them, one was not she said. She said the shelter told her the cats had gone to a farm, but intake sheets revealed they had actually been killed the next day.

“These were really nice cats,” Brooks said. “They weren’t wild or feral acting. I don’t understand why the shelter can’t be upfront? [The cats] didn’t thrash around or try to get out [when trapped]; they were as docile as can be. I don’t understand the policies of the shelter. There needs to be clarification.”

Board of supervisors chairman Clay Jackson said the board was unable to release any information as the state police investigation, and a separate investigation by the VDACS, are ongoing.

“The county cannot take any position until it has been formally informed by the state vet’s office,” county attorney Sean Gregg added.

On Friday, VDACS Assistant Director of Communications Michael Wallace said the agency’s investigation is in the final stages.

Meanwhile, Virginia State Police Public Information Officer Sergeant Brent Coffey said the state police investigation is ongoing and active. He said there are currently no updates.

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