Animal rescue groups want change in Columbus County

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Submitted: Tue, 10/22/2013 - 3:50am
Updated: Tue, 10/22/2013 - 12:42pm

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Dozens of animal rights activists from across the state told Columbus County Commissioners that changes need to be made at the county’s animal shelter.

Last week more than a dozen dogs were euthanized after the shelters director said he didn’t have enough space.

Two weeks ago the owner of the 13 dogs, Bill Parker died. After his death his family decided that they could no longer care for the animals and surrendered them to the Columbus County Animal Shelter.

His widow says she did not know the animals she loved and nurtured would be sentenced to death.

“I can understand a couple of them being gone because they didn’t have the room for them, but a couple and all are two different words,” said Tracy Parker.

Parker addressed Commissioners Monday night. She says they need to make changes to the County’s euthanization policy.

“They were my babies. They were my husband’s babies. My husband always said that he would go without food to feed his dogs, we always made a way,” said Tracy Parker.

Rossie Hayes, director of the animal shelter says this experience has taken a toll on him emotionally and physically. He says he has spent the past 18 years helping to find homes for animals and that in this particular situation he had to use his best judgment.

“What we want to do is raise awareness of these actions and make sure that the laws are followed in this shelter. We want to make sure that the animals are given the time that we believe they need to find forever homes,” said Lynn Cristwell.

Cristwell is an animal activist and has taken her message to social media where more than 8,000 people have signed an online petition asking for Hayes to be fired.

Hayes says his shelter has one of the lowest kill rates in our area and that he is dedicated to saving animals.


  • Beth says:

    You have to take some responsibility. Owning 13 dogs is CRAZY no matter how you cut it. I understand the lady is a widow, but at the end of the day it was her and her family’s responsibility to find them all good homes.

    How can you say you love your animals when you abandon them to god knows what? Shelters ROUTINELY kill animals, unless they are a NO KILL SHELTER. Bottom line, don’t take in more animals that you can afford and find decent homes for them if your circumstances should change. The last place a pet wants to be a is the SHELTER.

  • Guest2020 says:

    I don’t like that they kill the animals. My family adopted a dog from Columbus County who was on their death row. Had we not been there, he would have been euthanized.

    My issue is this–if those dogs were her husband’s babies and her babies, why did she not take the time to try to find them good homes as opposed to dumping them off at an animal shelter that does kill animals?

    It sounds to me like she took the easy way out where those dogs were concerned and is now speaking out to make herself not look bad. I could be wrong, but that’s my view of it.

  • Grant Hall says:

    While I agree that this was a thoughtless manner in which to handle this situation, firing the shelter manager will accomplish nothing. The folks above him are perfectly happy with the way this was handled. Get rid of this manager and they’ll just hire another one just like him…or worse.

  • Dee Dee Smith says:

    They ONLY reason that shelter has low kill rates is because of LORETTA working so hard with ALL of the rescue groups along with volunteers to pull animals and send them to rescues out of state.

    It has nothing to do with Rossie or his work or his ethics.

    He even surrendered one of his dogs to the shelter during one of the busiest weeks.

    PLEASE REMOVE HIM …. this is a SHELTER. Look up what the word SHELTER means … it has nothing to do with KILLING!

  • Amber Mercer says:

    Yes the kill rates have dropped at Columbus County..but it is not because of Rossie is inspite of him! It is because of a group of dedicated volunteers that post and showcase the animals and pledge funds to help cover vetting costs and buy food for the shelter. I have personally adopted 3 dogs that he was going to kill because of age or a minor health issue..but luckily for me I have good friends that alerted me and I was able to save them, sadly 1 crossed the Rainbow bridge but she had 8 months of a good life with the best care and lots of love. I have had one of the others 3 years now and the newest I got only 2 months ago.

    But the rescue I work for has pulled multiple animals to save them from him killing them..some older but a lot were just babies , moms with litters, or pregnant moms. Last year I took over 20 dogs and cats to make sure they did not get killed for the holiday shutdown…because that is how he handles holidays..he kills the animals.

    Rossie taking the credit for the lower rates makes me sick to my stomach! He does NOT deserve it..I personally think he enjoys the killing and the power trip it gives him!

  • Christine Dean says:

    Do your research! The rescues and the volunteers were not anywhere near what they are today 3 or 4 years ago and the euthanasia rate was extremely high, around 90% or higher. As the volunteers and rescue began to force their way in to help, that rate has dropped significantly.
    I say force their way because Rossie Hayes was the ONLY one that was and still continues to fight against having rescues involved, down to not wanting their pictures taken and posted for rescues across the US and Canada to see them.
    The Columbus County “good ol’ boys” mentality goes far beyond the animal shelter, but if they want to try to “protect” Rossie Hayes, then that is their choice. We will not be giving up in our pursuit to have this man fired and this continues to be spread far and wide across the US and apparently worldwide now. Is this how the “good ol’ boys” want Columbus County to be known?
    Columbus County residents now is the time to stand up for yourselves and say enough is enough!! Clean house and get rid of all of those “good ol’ boys”, they are doing nothing for you!!

  • Elissa OBryan says:

    If Mr. Hayes’ best judgement includes killing 13 healthy dogs with 11 open kennels, his judgement is obviously clouded, possibly by power, and he seriously needs to be in a line of work that has NOTHING to do with animals.

  • Christine Zois says:

    Why was the issue of open kennel space not mentioned in this article ? If Mr. Rossi is obliged to keep only 1 kennel open, then why were these dogs not brought into the CCAC facility being there were 11 spaces avaiable ? And what professional training does he have, to determine whether a senior dog should live or die due to medical issues ?
    Indiscrement killling at will, is a dangerous philosoply for Columbus County officials to allow to continue at the hands of Mr. Rossi.

  • BC says:

    Why can the media not focus on the true subject of the public’s outrage? We understand that sadly, killing does take place in some shelters. Many shelters work diligently to find homes for every adoptable animal before killing them. This murderer destroyed these dogs within hours of their arrival at the shelter.

    The reason this shelter has such a low kill rate has absolutely nothing to do with Rossie Hayes. It is directly attributable to the efforts of Loretta Shipman, as well as the advocates who have run the volunteer-based Facebook pages. Anyone can review the records of the adoptions and rescues from the shelter and notice that a significant portion of them (my guesstimate is around 85% or higher) are from out-of-county adopters and rescues.

    Rossie Hayes needs to go. He refuses anyone except Loretta to take photos of the cats or dogs. He threatens to cut the volunteers off from access to the shelter. He threatens to kill dogs that he doesn’t like, just because they might be injured when arriving at the shelter, before any rescue group or adopter ever sees them.

    This is the 21st century. It’s time that the citizens of Columbus County, NC break down the pre-conceived notions the world has of them as a bunch of ignorant rednecks by standing up for these animals and telling the County Council that Rossie Hayes needs to go!

  • while I absolutely agree 13 dogs in a home is too many, and name-calling and negativity will solve nothing, I do have to address one thing.

    “And all these activists want the problem fixed by spending someone else’s money on it. next time you talk to an activist ask them how much of their own money they spend on the activity and how much is some one else’s”

    The Phoenix Rescue has taken in three dogs from this shelter, at this point, I have personally spent over $885.00 from MY POCKET. I have received a donation of cash in the amount of $24.00, some dog food and leashes. The $885.00, was my money, earned by me, myself and I.
    So there’s your answer. The thing is, if this isn’t your thing, whatever. But instead of bashing people who are trying to make a positive difference somewhere, why not go make a positive difference somewhere yourself?

  • beach guy says:

    I do not want to be hard hearted but how many of you posting that this guy has got to go were lined up to adopt these unwanted animals?

    Thirteen dogs from one household? kind of an odd choice if you ask me.
    A person goes out and gets thirteen dogs and for whatever the reason they basically dump the problem on the public.

    I do not advocate killing any domestic pet but what can you expect the county to do take the money out of the budget somewhere else to take care of dogs that should have never been there in the first place? Other people make bad choices and the rest of us have to pay for it sound familiar? When is the person making the bad choice going to be made to live with it? And all these activists want the problem fixed by spending someone else’s money on it. next time you talk to an activist ask them how much of their own money they spend on the activity and how much is some one else’s

    What really needs to happen is we need to shut down all the puppy and kitten mills and unless you are a registered breeder with the AKC and licensed with the state you cannot sell dogs or cats in NC. That way any time someone wanted a dog or cat they would have to go to the shelter or a pet store with only certified pets

    And any animal that is not registered for breeding purposes will have to be fixed period.

    But calling people names will not get anything accomplished except maybe to tick somebody off.

  • Sherrie says:

    I think the point is the dogs were PTS as soon as they got there. Some could have been placed if they were at least giving a few days.

  • R Jones says:

    Beach Guy,

    While I appreciate the general ideas expressed in your post (especially those relating to puppy mills, spay/neuter, etc.) I want you to know that you are misinformed about the reasons behind the outrage. This is not intended as a personal attack on you, so please do not take it that way. The public has not been told the entire truth, so it’s hard for those of us who know the truth to remain silent any longer.

    Please allow me to introduce myself, I am one of the so-called “activists” who are asking that this man be removed from his position. Not because he does the hard part of the job, but because he does not follow the legal procedures set in place to ensure the safety and well-being of the animals that enter his shelter. You can read the NC legal guidelines that outline the situations in which an animal can be euthanized without a 72-hour hold. I won’t bother to quote them here. Let’s suffice it to say that out of all of the dogs he put down that day, MAYBE (and I don’t know because the records are so messed up) but MAYBE 2 or 3 met the legal standard for euthanization. The rest did NOT!

    What I truly want to address are your questions in regard to what we “activists” are doing and or what we expect. So, let me start by saying that we are not “activists” nor are we people who protest for a cause while doing nothing to find a solution. The truth is the exact opposite.

    (1) The Facebook pages, photo taking and daily/hourly updates on all animals in the shelter are conducted mostly, if not entirely, by unpaid volunteers.

    (2) Through social media and other means, we share the information and pictures of these animals to gain awareness to find adoptive homes and/or ask for donor pledges to cover their basic pull fee + vet care.

    (3) We network with a variety of individual volunteers (like myself) as well as other non-profit rescues & organizations to find transport or foster homes for the animals until a forever home can be screened and secured.

    So who am I? Nobody. I’m just a married woman who holds a full-time job and has a love of animals. I’m not a public figure; I’m not a rich billionaire; I’m not a breeder; I’m not an activist. All I am is a foster. That may not mean much to you, but I guarantee you it means the world to the animals who come through my home.

    So what do I do? I log into Facebook everyday and share the picture of all the dogs who are in danger each week. I personally drive 250+ miles to pick up dogs who have managed to get enough donor pledges to cover their vet bills, but don’t yet have a forever home. (Yes, read that again please… DONORS pay the vet bills, the shelter does not)! Then I take that sad, lonely, scared, abused/neglected or otherwise broken dog into my own home. I care for them, feed them, train them, socialize them, love them and teach them how to love. Once they are ready to be a family pet, I interview potential owners, meet with them, drive back and forth several times for home visits with and without the dog to ensure that it will be a good fit. And then finally, with tears streaming down my face every time, I sign over the finalized adoption papers and let them go to the new, wonderful home with a family I know will love them forever.

    On average, the dogs I foster live with me for 6-8 weeks. That is more than enough time to emotionally bond. They are like children to me. I have tended to wounds, stayed up for days syringe-feeding baby food and pedialyte to sick puppies who would otherwise die because they cannot eat on their own, etc. I cuddle them and give them the love they so desperately seek, while working to heal emotional wounds or behavioral issues that would prevent a permanent adoption.

    What do I ask in return? Nothing. I pay for my own gas & time off work to drive the 250+ miles to pick them up from the vet. I pay for all of their food during the time they are in my care. I provide beds/kennels/toys for them at my own expense. I interview and screen homes and drive them back & forth each time (once again paying for my own gas & time off work). And then, once I find the perfect home for each one, I give up a little piece of my heart as I say goodbye and let them go to their new home.

    While I do follow up regularly with each family during the transition, I respect the needs of each dog & family and purposely do not infringe on their life during the first few weeks as they bond. Unless it is an emergency situation, I do not personally see the dog again until they have become part of the new family. Then, I visit and change my role from “Mommy” to “Auntie” and respect my boundaries with the new family and the role of my foster dog as their child now.

    In the past 6 months alone, I have done this 4 times and still maintain regular contact with each family. I currently have a foster pup in my care as I write this.

    So, while I once again agree that on a state level we need to set higher standards for pet owners and shut down the breeding mills, I will NOT call myself an activist. Instead, I prefer being known as a loving foster who made a difference. And trust me — it is the difference between life & death for every dog I’ve had in my care.

    In closing, I do understand that in any shelter there are difficult decisions to be made, but I cannot stand by silently while someone in a position of power ignores the laws in place, cannot account for the number of animals currently in his care, cannot say how many kennels are open or full, and in some situations, cannot product any paperwork for dogs that were euthanized (those dogs just ceased to exist with no paper trail whatsoever) or who accepted paperwork that was not filled out by the legal owner. I agree it is a hard position to hold, but having accepted that power, the person in charge must yield it according to the laws of our state and the laws of common decency.

    I cannot speak for the cats (as I only foster dogs) but I know for a fact that dogs in the Columbus County Shelter who have raised donor pledges are pulled within less than 48 hrs, taken to the vet for all shots, medical treatment and spay/neuter. Despite what Mr. Hayes may have claimed, NONE of the rescues I volunteer for have ever taken pledges for a dog and then left them at the shelter for days/weeks as if it were a “boarding facility.” I have paperwork that proves that all dogs who have ever been in my care were pulled from the shelter and brought to the vet the very next day. Any boarding, if needed, was at the vet’s office and was paid for by the rescue or donors.

    So please look deeper into this and understand that we aren’t “activists” on a random witch-hunt to remove someone for euthanizing shelter animals. We understand that is a reality at any shelter. What we ARE doing is trying to (1) Educate the public to the realities of what is happening, (2) Ensure that those in authority follow the legal procedures that have been put into place, (3) Make sure that there is a proper paper trail and full disclosure for any/all animals who pass through the shelter, and — most of all — (4) Make sure the animals are provided proper, humane treatment.

  • animal advocate says:

    Beach guy you have no clue what you are talking about. There were open kennels at the shelter. And the shelter doesn’t get enough funding. The “activists” pay for food, vet care, etc out of their own pockets. Get a clue and educate yourself.

  • Isabel Vanover says:

    They were killed so quickly they had no time to review other options! It’s so much easier to kill and get rid of the problem! Fire the bastard!

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