No water, shade for animals at city shelter

Published 9:05 pm Saturday, September 10, 2016

The condition of animals kept at the Vicksburg Animal Shelter has one PAWS member upset and she’s taking her complaint to City Hall.

Darlene Hughes, a regular visitor to the animal shelter at the end of Old Mill Road off Washington Street, said she’s appalled by how she believes the animals are being treated.

“Since the first day I came down there it insulted me, just seeing how they were and how they were treated,” she said. “That down there is nothing but animal abuse. It’s sad, when you go in there and look at them. I’m an animal lover. (But) Even if you’re not, you don’t want them to be treated that way.”

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She said she is meeting Monday with Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and shelter officials to discuss the problems.

Hughes’ complained to Flaggs Thursday about a lack of water for the animals and some animals staying in the outside portion of the pens had no shade.

Hughes visited the shelter early Thursday afternoon and arrived to find no workers at the shelter building and several animals without water. One animal had its access to the inside of the shelter blocked by a door. It had no water outside and it hung close to a wall separating another pen for shade.

After shelter supervisor Robert May arrived, Hughes went inside to look for a dog with matted eyes she could take to a veterinarian for treatment. The dog was not there. Also, several of the animals had no water on the inside of the pens.

“The problem is no one cares about this down here,” she said Thursday. “It’s like they’ve just pushed it to the side.”

Hughes said she has several issues she wants to discuss:

• Hours: “Nobody who works can come down there and adopt an animal, when there is nobody there.”

• “There’s no record on any animal coming there or what they have done or what happened to them and why they don’t take animals to the vet.”

• Volunteers: “Why can’t they have volunteers? What’s the reason behind that? The humane society takes volunteers. You can volunteer; people can come down.”

“I want more attention to be paid down there as far as what’s happening and what’s going on,” she said. “I feel it’s just there and nobody really know what’s going on. People don’t like to go down there because it’s just nasty, and it’s horrible. They don’t want to go and adopt a dog from a place like that. I just want something done.”

Jeff Richardson, assistant director of public works, who is over the shelter, said he has talked with May about developing a watering system for the animals, and he will examine putting some shade material over the outside pens.

The city’s animal shelter came under fire in July, when city officials receive complaints about animals being left in the cinderblock building without adequate ventilation or air conditioning.

At that time, Richardson discussed several issues with members of PAWS — spaying and neutering, educational programs for the workers, and taking the animals to the vet. He said he found educational programs for the employees, but said requiring owners to spay and neuter their animals requires a board decision.

On taking animals to the vet, he said, “When we take the animals to the vet, they get destroyed.” According to city records, the animal shelter took in 738 animals during fiscal 2015, and 268 were euthanized because of illness or over-aggressiveness or other unnamed reasons. Richardson said animals with collars or some proof they are owned by individuals are held for owners, and strays picked up that appear to be in good health are put up for adoption.

Flaggs said the Monday Hughes’ points “are well-taken.”

“First of all, we’ve got to hold the employees of animal control more accountable for those animals,” he said. “It is indefensible for me to set here and animals not having water or being fed appropriately.

“We’re looking at relocating (the shelter), and when we relocate, we need make modern feeders or water dispensers — mechanisms so these animals can be fed and given water at the proper time. I’ve had one meeting, but on Monday, we’re going to correct it once and for all.”

“To me, animals don’t have a voice; I am that voice,” Hughes said. “That down there needs a lot of correction. Bottom line, it has to be changed, I can’t stand it. It’s such a shame it has to go this far before it gets done.”


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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