Last week the Chronicle Herald article ran a story that no one seemed to notice or talk about. It was in the paper and then nothing. So I wanted to put it here so that maybe someone will remember it.
It's about the pound in Annapolis Royal. It's a bit of an odd story - I first wrote about that pound in 2004 when it was discovered that pound euthanized it's dogs by shooting them in the head. It was not only horrible for the dogs - but I'm sure it was also horrible for the human who had to do the job - Ron Sabean. It's my understanding that he's always been very rescue friendly, and he cares for the animals that come through the doors of the pound, so it must have been very hard for him to shoot an animal in the head.
The thing I'm worried about is the tone of the complaints, and the fact that no one can get in to see what's going on at the pound - it just sounds like what might have been going on at Port Hastings - people who HAVE gotten in complain that they saw urine and feces filled cages, and now no one can get in at all.
And it also worries me - because a volunteer from the TLC shelter in Digby is also complaining - and it was another person from the TLC shelter sho complained in 2004 about another cruelty case that went on for way too long and no one listened in that case either.
It just shows that we need better laws to inspect - government run shelters, as well as pet stores, AND homes. Someone should be able to get into this pound to do an inspection. We can't just rely on the people who are running the facility. And just let it go. At this point in our province's humane development, I don't think we can.
BRIDGETOWN — Ron Sabean takes his job seriously.
He's been the animal control officer in Annapolis County for more than 20 years and has personally placed hundreds of stray animals into homes over that time.
He's been known to occasionally take home stray kittens and nurse them from a bottle, say people who know him.
So when someone complains about the way lost and stray animals are treated in Annapolis County, he takes it personally.
"I placed 100 dogs into homes last year, myself," Mr. Sabean said in an interview outside the county's dog pound, which has recently been the subject of criticism by some local animal lovers.
"I personally have serious concerns about the pound situation in Annapolis," Kris Murdock, a volunteer at the TLC Animal Shelter in Digby, wrote in a letter to Premier Rodney MacDonald.
Her letter questions the "effectiveness" of the provincial SPCA in monitoring such facilities, given the current turmoil and complaints about that organization.
"Four years ago, it was brought to light that the pound had a history of shooting dogs that couldn't be placed," Ms. Murdock wrote.
"In addition, the facility itself was in a state of absolute filth and the animals were left by themselves with no human interaction in cages on cold cement floors."
As a result of those complaints, a group called the Companion Animal Protection Society of Annapolis County was formed to work with the county at finding foster homes for lost and stray animals.
But some issues have raised alarm bells again and people have complained to her about "filthy and deplorable" conditions at the pound, she said.
She tried to visit the facility but was told by county officials that the public was not permitted inside because of liability issues, she said.
"The SPCA seems unwilling or unable to do its job of monitoring and the organization set up to help out with the pound situation in Annapolis County seems to be having little effect on the numbers and is barred from the facility to check on the conditions inside as well as ensure that the animals are regularly fed and exercised," Ms. Murdock wrote in her letter to the premier.
She asked for mandatory monitoring of facilities where animals are housed, and she suggested the TLC shelter in Digby be a model for others across the province.
Ms. Murdock said in an interview she has tried to get information, including the number of dogs euthanized and by whom, but was turned down.
She said she was told to make a formal freedom of information application and pay the application and search fees.
"When you're met with this kind of secrecy, you don't know what to expect," she said. "If it doesn't raise some red flags, I don't know what will."
Rose and David Crouchman of Three Mile Plains adopted a border collie from the pound last year. Mrs. Crouchman said she saw inside the facility.
"It was deplorable. The odour from urine and feces was so strong it took my breath away," she said in an interview. "The floor was not clean. . . . I couldn't believe how dirty it was."
The dog had to be euthanized after it bit Mr. Crouchman.
Annapolis County Warden Peter Newton said he has not heard any complaints about the pound since the dog shooting issued was raised and dealt with four years ago.
"We work with the animal control officer and his staff, and I can't say anything bad," said Anna Clark, chairwoman of the Companion Animal Protection Society of Annapolis County.
She said no lost or stray animals are being shot.
"That was an issue four years ago and it was resolved."
Her society has 123 animals in foster care and last year found homes for 161 dogs and cats.
"I have never actually set foot inside the pound," she said. "But I have seen inside and it is clean, the runs were clean. . . . We know the animal control officer. We work with him on a daily basis and he's a kind man."
She added, "There was a time when it was not the ideal situation, but we have no qualms with anything they are doing now. Things have changed."
Ms. Clark said the pound has been renovated and enlarged over the past three years, including new outdoor runs for the dogs.
Jacquie Farrow-Lawrence, director of human resources and administration for Annapolis County, invited reporters to visit the pound after hearing that complaints were being made.
"We're not trying to hide anything, but it's not a public facility," she said.
The building is old, but the floors were clean and the smell of bleach was in the air. There was no feces or urine in the kennels and the two dogs were in the outside runs.
Ms. Farrow-Lawrence said the pound is not extravagant, but it serves only as a short-term home for animals, which are taken by the protection society after three days.
Mr. Sabean said no animals are being shot. He personally placed 100 dogs in homes last year.
He picked up 201 dogs last year. Fourteen were returned to owners, 120 were adopted from the pound, 61 were turned over to the protection society and six were euthanized by a vet.