**NOTE: The Cherokee County, SC Humane Society (CCHS) is an all volunteer, 501c3 dog rescue organization that attempted to work with the Cherokee County, SC Animal Shelter. They are two separate entities. The Animal Shelter is the county impound and it is an "all kill" shelter for strays and drop offs. Any animals dropped off at the Cherokee County, SC Animal Shelter are killed, any strays that are picked up by the County's Animal Control Officers are held for 5 days to see if their owner's show up then the animals are killed. The CCHS was attempting to help turn this around and rescue as many animals as they could. This is what happened.**
This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was submitted to County Committee on 6/11/2009 by CCHS President Jude Wyles.
Memorandum of Understanding
This document constitutes a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Cherokee County, South Carolina (The County), and the Humane Society of Cherokee County, Inc.,(HSCC), regarding adoption and rescue activities at the Cherokee County Animal Shelter (Animal Shelter), 300 Yale Street, Gaffney, South Carolina.
Together, the Parties enter into this Memorandum of Understanding to allow for the adoption and rescue of animals from the Animal Shelter, and the reduction of the number of animals euthanized at the Animal Shelter.
PURPOSE AND SCOPE
Humane Society of Cherokee County, Inc. (HSCC) is a 501c3 non-profit animal welfare organization established for the prevention of cruelty to animals and the purpose of saving the lives of unwanted and homeless animals in Cherokee County, South Carolina. HSCC is a volunteer-based organization, prepared to function as the adoption and rescue agency at the Animal Shelter.
For the purposes of this MOU, HSCC will be responsible for all expenses associated with adoption and rescue activities, and there will be no exchange of funds between the parties for tasks associated with this MOU.
The County will provide HSCC volunteers with access to the Animal Shelter during regular operating hours for the purpose of photographing shelter animals, meeting with potential adopters, and for removing animals from the shelter after the five day hold period and when they have been adopted or committed to a rescue organization, pursuant to South Carolina Code of Laws, Sec. 47-3-60. (Attachment 1)
The County will further provide office space for HSCC to conduct adoption interviews and to allow potential adopters to meet impounded animals outside the Animal Shelter building. No cost to either party will be associated with this provision, and HSCC volunteers will be responsible cleaning, decorating and otherwise maintaining this space.
MOU: Cherokee County/HSCC page 2
HSCC will perform Cherokee Shelter website maintenance on Petfinder for the purpose of providing all adoptable animals entering the Animal Shelter with broad exposure to potential adopters and rescuers via this widely utilized internet animal adoption site. HSCC will provide volunteers to function as adoption and rescue coordinators, to ensure responsible adoption policies and compliance with South Carolina state laws regarding sterilizations and vaccinations of adopted shelter animals, pursuant to South Carolina Code of Laws, Sec. 47-3-480. (Attachment 2)
HSCC will provide the following documents and information to Cherokee County:
1. A certificate of liability insurance coverage with a minimum umbrella of one million dollars to provide for any persons acting as HSCC volunteers on Cherokee County property
2. A Release of Liability waiver signed by any persons acting as HSCC volunteers on Cherokee County property
3. A list of all persons authorized to act as HSCC volunteers, with telephone numbers and residence addresses for each person
4. A monthly report listing the sterilization and vaccination status of each animal released by Cherokee County to HSCC, including identification numbers assigned by the Animal Shelter, the date these services were performed for each animal, and the signature of the veterinarian performing these services (Attached sample report)
TERMS OF UNDERSTANDING
The term of this MOU is for a period of one year, from the effective date of this agreement and may be extended upon written mutual agreement. It shall be reviewed at least once a year to ensure that it is fulfilling its purpose and to make any necessary revisions.
Either organization may modify this MOU at any time by mutual agreement in writing between The County and HSCC.
Either party may terminate this MOU upon thirty (30) days written notice.
In a County (Public Works) committee meeting, Ben Clary (County Administrator) and Holland Belue (Assistant County Administrator) arrived holding stacks of emails that had been sent by the public to them complaining about the recent decisions made at the Animal Shelter by Holland Belue and the Shelter Manager, Connie Singletary The attached MOU was presented by Jude Wyles of the Humane Society of Cherokee County, (HSCC) and the committee seemed unable to comprehend the simple requests made in the MOU. They did not take time to even read it. Nothing was agreed on and the next day, Friday, June 12, 2009, Holland Belue called Connie Singletary and told her to call Tina Christman and cancel the Snowball Program appointment for Friday mornings. Tina Christman called Jude Wyles and Jude Wyles had to call the volunteers in the HSCC Snowball Program to tell them that they were no longer welcome.
The Cherokee County, SC Council, County Administrator Ben Clary and Assistant County Administrator Holland Belue have been trying to control and micromanage the HSCC since the beginning of their relationship. The Cherokee County, SC Animal Shelter was in trouble due to their mismanagement before. The animal shelter was only a kill shelter. They harbored dogs/cats that were brought in by the public or picked up by the Animal Control Officers. They were held for 5 days, as per State law, to allow owners to find their missing pets. After that, the animals were killed by inhumane "heart sticks", literally stabbing the animals to death in the chest to kill them. This was the cheapest and most efficient way to deal with the animals that were accumulated at the Animal Shelter. When this leaked to the public, the County and the Animal Control Officers were accused of animal cruelty. Not once did the County accept that they were at fault or to blame for the negative media attention and legal consequences for their mistakes. All blame and fault was laid at the feet of Andrea Gilfillan (our Humane Society board member) and Jude Wyles, the current president of the HSCC, and the person who took the heart stick case to the Attorney General's office, resulting in two current and one former animal control officers being charged with animal cruelty. Two pled guilty in April, 2009, and one was found guilty by a jury of his peers shortly thereafter. The ACO who had been the Shelter Manager was removed to the Recycling Dept. while the case was pending, and has now returned to work as an Animal Control Officer. The other county ACO had "resigned" after pleading guilty to first offense animal cruelty in June, 2008. The 3rd ACO works for the City of Gaffney and was found guilty by jury trial. His service was never interrupted. The County paid for their defense and their fines.
They hired Connie Singletary to be the Animal Shelter Manager. They promised the public a cleaner and more humane shelter with heat and air conditioning and promised to open a Cat Room (separate from the noisy dogs), enclose an outside area for dogs so they could be safe while potential adopters met with the dogs. In reality, they painted the buildings and they have heat/ac in only 2 of the areas. The new pens do not have heat/ac. The Cat Room has never been opened. It remains locked and has no heat/ac or cat cages so cats are still in small cages in the dog areas. There is no quarantine area for dogs who come into the shelter sick. The fenced outdoor area has never been fixed so that it can be used for potential adopters to meet the dogs. In fact, several dogs have been able to get out of their kennels and out of the perimeter fences to disappear. There are open and unsheltered pens that are being used to house overflow dogs.
We have witnessed filthy conditions despite having 2 fulltime animal shelter employees, Shelter Manager Connie Singletary and Animal Care Technician Angie.
We have personally seen and heard in the news about animal cruelty cases, but the Animal Control Officers have done nothing. For instance, one day 3 of our volunteers actually saw 2 different vehicles bringing dogs to the shelter IN THE TRUNKS OF THEIR CARS! In this SC heat! Not knowing that dogs were in the trunks, the shelter manager took 15 minutes to take down the information necessary, but the dogs were left in the trunks for the entire time! Once the dogs were released from the trunks of the cars, the shelter manager took down the information needed for the Animal Control Officers to follow up. Those people should have been approached and even fined. Our volunteers heard the ACO tell the shelter manager that they wouldn't do anything because they didn't think it was against the law! There was also an incident of a man literally dragging his horse behind his truck after the horse fell down and yet, no charges were filed. This awful incident had two sworn witnesses and was even in the news.
There has recently been a Parvo outbreak at the animal shelter which has infected most of the puppies that have come in, as well as, some adult dogs (which normally have immunity to Parvo except in severe cases or if their immune systems are compromised). This Parvo outbreak has been mishandled by the Shelter Manager. You must quarantine the sick dogs from the healthy dogs, especially puppies who are the most vulnerable to the virus. Sanitizing the dog areas is necessary to kill the virus but it has been incompetently attempted with strong chemicals that have not been administered correctly. This endangers the animals AND the workers, including our volunteers.
The Humane Society of Cherokee County (HSCC) is an all volunteer organization who offered to help Cherokee County, SC. At the expense of The Humane Society of Cherokee County (HSCC) they would take dogs released from the county animal shelter and find reputable dog rescue organizations or adopters. HSCC is willing to assure that each dog is spayed/neutered and vaccinated as required by State law and to give proof of this to Cherokee County, SC. This meant the HSCC would have a volunteer come in daily and see what dogs were going to be available. Jude Wyles and Tina Christman volunteered 40-60 hours per week networking with dog rescue organizations; making appointments and meeting those appointments with potential adopters; taking released dogs to the Vet or Animal Allies Low Cost Spay/Neuter for spaying/neutering, vaccinations or vetting. They arranged transports, as well as, fielded emails generated from PetFinder.com, etc. These volunteers did all this using their personal time, their personal vehicles, their homes, telephones, and cell phones. The Snowball Program of the HSCC is made up of volunteers who went in once a week to take digital photos and videos of dogs available for rescue when released by the animal shelter. It took several volunteers to wrangle the dogs out of the kennels and walk them out to the parking lot so that photos and videos could be taken and then take them back to their kennels. Once the photos and videos were taken, they have to be edited in order to be posted on PetFinder.com. This took a lot of hours and this was done in anticipation of the release by the animal shelter. I.e., it was done in advance so that once the dogs were released they didn't have to stay in the animal shelter, everything was arranged for them to be transported out and to their new situations. The HSCC did not wish to leave dogs at the animal shelter as they take room needed for the new animals coming in. Everything was done in advance so the minute the dogs were released by the County, they could go into their new situation. The HSCC has paid for the vetting, spay/neuters, vaccinations and any boarding expenses without any cost to Cherokee County, SC. They have made all arrangements for transports and pickups with no help from the animal shelter employees. Saving these dogs has not cost Cherokee County, SC one red cent! And, the statistics of successful rescue/adoptions reflect just how many dogs have been literally saved from death at the hands of the County animal shelter. (See below)
Instead of being thankful for the help of the HSCC, it's volunteers, and their willingness to work within all County policies, the County Council, Ben Clary, Holland Belue, and Shelter Manager Connie Singletary have continued to make the working relationship difficult. For instance, the Snowball Program began in February, 2009. Our Snowball volunteers were told they could only come from 12-4pm despite the animal shelter being opened to the public from 9-5. During the winter and spring, this was acceptable, but as the hot and humid SC summer came on, the Snowball volunteers asked to be able to come at 9am during the cool of the day. They were refused several times and it is now too hot for our volunteers to be walking dogs on the hot asphalt and gravel of the parking lot to take photos and videos. This was inhumane to the animals and our volunteers. Because the back has not been secured as promised, our volunteers have to leash walk the dogs when they go out for their photos/videos. There is no place but the hot parking lot to do this and there is no shade there. There are no heated/air conditioned rooms to do this in either. This affects not only our volunteers but any potential adopter who has come for their appointment and who have to face the same conditions.
The HSCC also asked to be able to use the empty office at the animal shelter to meet prospective adopters (rather than having to meet them in the parking lot) and coordinate their work. This was refused also.
Friday, May 29, 2009, HSCC’s Snowball Program volunteers came to take their photos/videos. While there, one of our volunteers, Elaine Harris (who has her own 501c3 dog rescue organization called PomRescue.com) saw a Pomeranian mother dog there with 7 tiny puppies. The puppies were too small and too young to be spayed/neutered. Knowing of the rampant Parvo outbreak and the ineffective and incompetent measures the animal shelter had taken to deal with it, Elaine asked to be able to take the Pomeranian mother and all 7 of her puppies into her rescue right away. Even though the mother and pups had been there 5 days, Shelter Manager Connie Singletary refused citing the policy that the puppies had to wait until they were old enough to be spayed/neutered before being released. Understanding that, Elaine offered to "foster" the Pom and her puppies and then show proof of spay/neuter and vaccinations in order for them to be "released" to her so that she would then be able to find them new homes. Connie again refused. With the danger of Parvo and the overcrowded conditions, Elaine knew that the animal shelter would not keep the Pom and puppies long enough for them to be old enough to be spayed/neutered. So she called Assistant County Administrator, Holland Belue, directly and asked if he could make an a humane executive decisions and let her foster this little family. He refused. Finally, in desperation, Elaine asked if he would have Connie Singletary release them to a Vet to be boarded at the Vet at PomRescue.com’s expense until they were old enough to be spayed/neutered. Holland Belue agreed to that, but then he called the shelter manager and told her NOT to release them to Elaine after all. The next Friday morning, June 5, 2009, just before HSCC Snowball Program volunteers were to come for their weekly photo/video time, Connie Singletary put all the dogs, including the Pom and her puppies, to death. She said the puppies had developed Parvo and she would not release them to be treated at a Vet even though HSCC and/or PomRescue.com would have covered the expense. There were only 4 dogs that had come in that morning . (Except for several different litters of puppies thrown in one kennel and who were killed later.) The Snowball volunteer's took photos of the 4 lone dogs which HSCC did find rescue and adopters for.
We feel that we have done a yeoman's job in helping the County with their animal shelter and even brought positive press to Cherokee County about our efforts to rescue animals and at no expense to the County. Despite our success, our organization and volunteers have been treated disrespectfully and micromanaged as though HSCC were a County run department and our volunteers were paid employees. And I don't know many paid employees who would remain with an employer that treated it's employees in such a manner. The controlling, power plays and pettiness have caused endless complications and unnecessary deaths. Instead of working together for the good of the animals, it's become combative. When our volunteers were told not to come back today, we naturally assumed that our relationship with Cherokee County, SC is severed.
This is not what we wish and is not what we have worked and strived so hard for. We have tried to follow the County policies and State law to the best of our abilities and followed all the chain of commands and county procedures and still have been stonewalled. We take pride that HSCC has saved hundreds of animals despite all these obstacles and ill will within the County administration who have done nothing but hinder our life saving efforts.
Our Statistics speak for themselves.
Snowball Program at Cherokee County, SC Humane Society, Feb-June, 2009
228 Rescued By Reputable Dog Rescue Organizations
0 Still Available
286 Total Alive and Safe
4.7% 16 TIME EXPIRED-Put To Death
10.1% 34 SICK / INJURED-Died or Put To Death
14.80% 50 Total Deaths
336 Total Animals
85.2% of total animals are alive and safe because of HSCC!
If you wish to contact the Cherokee County, SC Administrator, Assistant Administrator, Animal Shelter Manager, Animal Control Officers, or County Council members...
To Contact our SC Governor: http://www.scgovernor.com/contact/
To Contact the SC Attorney General: http://www.scattorneygeneral.org/ag/contact.html
!!!! 7/7/8/2009 !!!!!
Thank you to everyone for your support!
Due to the large number of calls, letters, and emails that MANY sent out, the Cherokee County Council amended their shelter policy so that puppies, kittens, lactating mothers, seniors, and the infirm can now be rescued even if they have litters, are too young, too small, too old, or too sick to be spayed or neutered.
Before the tremendous public outcry, these animals were not covered by the existing shelter policy, and ALL of these helpless animals were being euthanized.
The Humane Society of Cherokee County, who is the sole rescue/adoption agent allowed into this rural County shelter to save the animals, launched a huge public campaign to bring this policy "oversight" to the people so that local government (that normally moves with the speed of a slug on cold concrete) would quickly amend this policy before more lives were lost.
And it worked! After a month of heavy public pressure, and multiple Public Works and County Council Meetings, the HSCC has been allowed to resume our Rescue and Adoption operations which can now include puppies, kittens, lactating mothers, seniors, and the infirm.
WhooHoo! Finally, a win for the Animals! Again, thank you so much for YOUR support! We couldn't have done it without YOU.......