Animal remains now frozen for burial in Lee County
CHESTERFIELD – Want an animal shelter?
Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker doesn’t know the fate of the county’s animal shelter or whose control it will be under during the next fiscal year.
“If any organization wants take the shelter or build a new one, we will take our animals to you,” Sheriff Parker said.
More than likely, the shelter will remain under umbrella of the sheriff’s office in July once the new fiscal year and budget goes into effect.
How the shelter will be run, will be different, Parker said.
“If we run it, it’s going to be done by the book, not by the seat of our pants,” he said.
Parker’s office has been the recipient of criticism local and nationally when volunteers uncovered two dogs believed to be some of many animals routinely euthanized by gunshot allegedly by some or all of Chesterfield County Animal Control officers, which is being investigated by State Law Enforcement Division.
“We’ve been abused and misused and called every name in the book. Of all the complaints we’ve gotten, nobody has yet to donate to the shelter. They’re welcome to adopt animals and they do, but they haven’t given any contributions,” Parker said. “This isn’t my problem, but everybody in Chesterfield County’s problem. Not New York. Not Nevada.”
The county’s animal shelter is a fiscal nightmare; no matter who is in charge of disposing unwanted animals, it’s going to cost.
With Dept. of Health and Environmental Control notifying the sheriff’s office the pet cemetery trenches are full and must dump carcasses in permitted landfills, the closest being in Bishopville.
Along with each trip, the tipping fee is $76, Parker said.
“The alternate is buying an incinerator, which costs $64,000,” he said.
From 2009 to 2010, approximately 6,000 animals were processed into the shelter with some adopted and most euthanized. Animals euthanized are being stored in freezers awaiting burial in a permitted landfill in Lee County.
The county shelter remains open and, as of press time, nine dogs remain along with “a lot of cats” available for adoption, Parker said.
Chesterfield County passes its 2010-11 annual budget. Approximately $162,970 is spent on salaries of its four animal control officers, $41,933 fringe benefits and workman’s compensation for employees and $13,000 for supplies.
Much of the upkeep, supplies and food comes from donations through Paws & Claws Humane Society. They have propped up the shelter for ten years, under the county’s authority now the sheriff’s office.
“None of these other organizations have left any money for the shelter,” Parker said.
The new trucks being used by animal control are part of department-wide vehicle lease paid mostly with federal dollars, Parker said.
“I use the federal money I get my hands on. The fence is bought by my office, the new building is bought by my office and the utilities is paid by my office. No one pays the bills for us,” he said.
All four Animal Control officers Brian Burch, Eric Donahue, Lee Carnes and Kip Gulledge remain on administrative leave.
Animal control officers aren’t permitted to carry firearms until completing training at the S.C. Justice Academy; animal control does have access to a tranquilizer gun.
Parker said he never ordered or okayed animals to be shot when chemical injections were available.
Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office assumed control of the animal shelter in 2009.
South Carolina’s acceptable ways of euthanasia include injection, carbon monoxide gas and shooting in an emergency such as preventing extreme suffering of the animal or for the safety of people.
The law also provides that individuals found in violation could face misdemeanor charges and upon conviction, be subject to penalties for each animal killed.
Parker said the dog shooting violated county policy.
This month shootings at Chesterfield County Animal Shelter isn’t the first the facility has garnered negative attention due to its conditions. The following is a time line of recent events pulled from multiple news sources chronicling problems at the shelter.
Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office takes control of the county animal shelter receiving its budget.
More than 3,000 animals are euthanized at Chesterfield County Animal Shelter.
Animal shelter volunteers from Columbia-based Wescott Acres Pet Rescue and Monroe, N.C., contact The Charlotte Observer claiming the shelter is unclean, understaffed and animals are malnourished.
Chesterfield County passes its 2010-11 annual budget. Approximately $162,970 is spent on salaries of its four animal control officers, $41,933 fringe benefits for employees and $13,000 for supplies.
An animal rights group set to adopt a dog named Bessie discover the canine was put down after receiving injuries fighting with three other dogs placed aside for adoption. Activists begin an Internet campaign against the county’s animal shelter using gas to euthanize animals. County Animal Control Supervisor Brian Burch tells The Cheraw Chronicle the chamber has not been inspected during his 13-year tenure.
The animal shelter’s gas chamber is removed and begins euthanizing animals through injections.
An inmate at the county jail tips off Paws & Claws volunteers about dogs being shot instead of injections.
Paws & Claws volunteers dig where animals from the shelter and dig up two dogs with what appears to be gunshot wounds in the head. Photos are posted on Facebook, which make their way to animal rights groups and various web sites to include a web side dedicated to firing Animal Control Supervisor Brian Burch.
Whitney Knowlton, CEO of New York-based Last Chance Animal Rescue Fund, holds a press conference outside the gates of Chesterfield County Animal Shelter. The doors to the shelter are ordered unlocked by Sheriff Sam Parker. Animals are adopted.
Animal Control Supervisor Brian Burch and officers Lee Carnes, Eric Donahue and Kip Gulledge are placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an in-house investigation by Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office.
Dept. Health and Environmental Control meets with Sheriff Sam Parker ordering his office to stop dumping animal remains in an un-regulated landfill.
State Law Enforcement Division steps in. Sheriff Sam Parker turns the investigation over to state police. SLED enters the investigation indirectly at the request of Solicitor Will Rogers who contacted the attorney general’s office.
Frankie Bowers, 38, of Pageland, claims he witnessed 40 dogs shot and at least 15 cats. Bowers was sentenced in January to the jail being $1,000 behind in child support. During his time at the county jail working in the animal shelter from feeding to dumping animal carcases in dirt, Bowers tells reporters he’s never seen a lethal injection take place. He describes seeing a dog that was shot sitting up suffering and using a pipe to bash cats in the head.