Tuesday, 26 January 2021 14:52

LETTER: Richmond County Animal Shelter director should be replaced

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Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter to express my concern over the recent article referencing the investigation by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Veterinary Division of the Richmond County Animal Shelter. 

In a letter from Dr. Patricia Norris, director of the Animal Welfare Section, to the county manager, Bryan Land, dated Jan. 8, 2021, specific details were addressed regarding an investigation that occurred following a complaint filed in October 2020 alleging failure of the Richmond County Animal Shelter to provide veterinary care to a severely injured dog, Princess.

Details of the investigation shared that Princess was picked up by an animal control officer on July 19 and transported to the shelter. She was left alone without care until the following day. The director returned to the shelter on July 20, but didn’t make an appointment with the vet until  July 21.

The Richmond County Humane Society was contacted to see if they would pay for the appointment. Shelter staff took Princess to the vet, where she was diagnosed with paralysis and a spinal lesion, and euthanasia was recommended. No pain meds were dispensed, and Princess returned to the animal shelter. On July 22, the owner contacted the shelter after seeing a social post, and Princess was reclaimed the following day. There was no evidence of full written disclosure about the physical condition of Princess. She failed to receive veterinary care for another 22 days.

The owner contacted the Humane Society on Aug. 6 to surrender the dog. Princess was seen by a second veterinarian on Aug. 18, and she was diagnosed with a dislocated right hip, a severely fractured right femur, severe arthritis of the right stifle, and a severe fracture of the left tibia. The vet recommended euthanasia or a veterinary orthopedic specialist. Princess finally received pain medication, 30 days after her initial injury. On Aug. 19, Princess was transferred to a rescue to assume her care. An orthopedic veterinary surgeon amputated her right rear leg and surgically repaired her left rear leg on Aug. 24. The rescue agency says that Princess is recovering nicely with her new family.

The failure of the animal shelter to provide veterinary care to a severely injured dog resulted in a $2,000 fine to the Richmond County Animal Shelter.

An additional violation for failing to properly clean enclosures a minimum of twice daily on July 19 resulted in a fine of $250. Also, warnings were given for failing to have staff available to feed the puppies and kittens less than 6 months old twice daily on July 19, as well as failing to provide full written disclosure to Princess’ owner regarding her medical condition. 

This is the second time in the past two years that the Richmond County Animal Shelter has been investigated and fined by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Veterinary Division. It is more than obvious that it is time for a change in the management of the animal shelter. The director, Bonnie Wilde, needs to be replaced. It is evident that she cannot handle the responsibilities that come with this position.

When the shelter was investigated, and then fined in 2019, a large group of concerned citizens made a plea to the County Commissioners that the type of behavior that was occurring at the shelter — abuse, neglect, mistreatment, euthanasia — should not be tolerated. But the commissioners ignored us and tried to pacify us with renovations that were long overdue, and cameras that only God knows who has access to. Volunteers are not allowed to help, and people looking for their lost pets, or wanting to adopt, have to look at a book with pictures of the animals. It certainly makes a person suspicious about what is going on past the front lobby when you are not allowed to go past there.

In September 2020, the Richmond County Humane Society cut ties with the shelter, as they felt their “presence ... has been neglected and taken advantage of for way too long ...”

It is a new year and, more than ever, the Richmond County Animal Shelter needs a director that will take on the numerous responsibilities that come with the job. We cannot continue to allow innocent animals to suffer in pain, go unfed, in dirty cages … this is unacceptable! And the citizens end up paying for all her mistakes with tax dollars! Please join me and many other concerned animal lovers in calling for the termination of Bonnie Wilde for the betterment of Richmond County! Only under new leadership will we see a new and positive future for the animals that receive services at the shelter.

Pamela S. Young,