The Guilford County Animal Shelter has failed inspection and been hit with civil penalties.
On Wednesday, Oct. 4, the Veterinary Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services sent a “Notice of Civil Penalties and Notice of Warning” to Guilford County along with failing inspection results that listed numerous problems found at the shelter. The inspection report cited, among other infractions, a failure to address the spread of communicable disease at the shelter, a lack of required rabies vaccinations and a failure to provide water continuously to dogs while outside.
The Oct. 4 inspection results – stamped “Disapproved” in red across the top – also cites “numerous inadequacies” from previous inspections that still have not been addressed by shelter staff, though they are things the shelter has been warned about in the past.
In the new civil penalty, the Department of Agriculture has fined the shelter $1,200 and put the shelter on notice to get in compliance or face further action. The shelter was hit with fines in July when state inspectors found problems at the shelter.
The Veterinary Division report on the Guilford County shelter found that, during an inspection on Thursday, Sept. 21, 14 dogs were in outside play areas without water bowls, in violation of a requirement that the animals have continuous access to water.
The state inspectors also found that the shelter was not in compliance with several regulations meant to prevent the spread of communicable diseases among the animals. For instance, some dogs and cats with infectious diseases were not kept separate from the general population and the shelter also lacked proper signage that designated that the animals had a communicable disease. There was also no signage on doors to remind workers to close those doors to rooms where animals with communicable diseases were held.
The Guilford County Animal Shelter was also cited for a failure to obtain and follow a veterinarian’s recommendation for a disease lasting more than 30 days. In addition, some animal food and bedding was not in “protected areas.” For instance, open bags of cat food were found in cat treatment areas.
Inspectors found six animals for which required rabies vaccinations weren’t given or weren’t given within the required time period.
Though the shelter has been warned several times over the last year about keeping up to date euthanasia manuals, those manuals were found to be “non-compliant” in several ways, and some euthanasia guidelines were completely missing.
In addition to issues regarding the animals and proper documentation, there were numerous references on the report that showed the physical structure of the shelter was not in compliance. In August, Guilford County purchased land on Guilford College Road to construct a new animal shelter expected to cost $9 million and open in 2019. That will help address some facility concerns; however, in the report, state inspectors focused on the continued failure of the shelter to address concerns that aren’t related to the facility.
Immediately after the fines were issued in July, former Guilford County Animal Services Director Drew Brinkley resigned from that position. The county is now searching for a new Animal Services director.
The Oct. 4 notice, signed by Patricia Norris, the director of the Animal Welfare Section of the Agriculture Department, states that “Continued or future violation of the statutes or regulations referenced in this letter or the attached inspection reports will be considered a willful disregard or violation of the NC Animal Welfare Act and the rules issued pursuant thereto. Such willful disregard or violation may result in disciplinary action against your facilities license … and/or the assessment of a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation.
Heather Overton, the public information officer for the Department of Agriculture, said the department takes a failure to address previous concerns into account when issuing penalties.
Overton said the department will first generally issue warnings, then move to civil penalties.
“It depends on the number, type and severity of areas of non-compliance,” she said.
Continued problems can result in the suspension of a license to operate a shelter.
Guilford County has 60 days to pay the penalty or appeal the fine.
Last month, the Guilford County shelter rejected a truckload of donations from a High Point church because shelter staff believed a banned volunteer had been involved with that donation effort.
The Guilford County Animal Shelter had a giant scandal in 2015 when it was run by the now defunct United Animal Coalition, and the shelter was taken over by the Guilford County so that the county could exercise tighter control.
Guilford County eventually hired Brinkley, who came very highly recommended from Orange County Animal Services, but Brinkley resigned in late July after the civil fines were levied when state investigators found dogs at the shelter had been left without adequate protection from the sun on a hot summer day.