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Animal shelter fails state inspection

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The Wilson County Animal Shelter has failed a state inspection for a range of issues cited in a scathing report by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Animal Welfare Section.

A seven-page animal shelter facility compliance inspection report provided to the county sheriff’s office May 13 following inspector Lisa Carlson’s April 23 visit cited “several chronic unresolved facility deficiencies that are resulting in a continuous status of noncompliance with the Animal Welfare Act.”

“Many structural materials in this older facility continue to deteriorate,” Carlson wrote. “Maintaining adequate daily operations in animal husbandry, safety and sanitation practices are unattainable.”

Carlson directed that shelter administrators provide her “a written timeline with reasonably short completion dates for all areas of non-compliance identified within this report” within two weeks.

On the inspection date, the 4001 Airport Drive NW shelter had 47 enclosures housing 19 dogs and 12 cats. The shelter has an allowable capacity of 46 dogs and 48 cats.
Carlson found the shelter out of compliance in terms of the housing facilities being structurally sound and maintained in good repair and noted that the facility lacks an adequate drainage system.

“This older facility is not structurally sound and is not maintained in good repair,” the inspector wrote. “Interior walls are beginning to buckle and form cracks causing concrete blocks to protrude. The entire left side of the floor of the cat area is sinking. The floors throughout the facility, to include the flooring in the primary canine enclosures, are not adequately sealed and the seal where the walls meet with the floors are inadequate as well.

“There are missing ceiling tiles. There is a blackish, greenish viscous substance covering a large corner area of one of the walls,” Carlson wrote. “The iron-type vents in the lower portions of the walls in the canine enclosures are rusted and have damaged iron that can potentially cause injury. The surrounding concrete continues crumbling and a blackish, viscous substance appears here too. The drainage continues to be an issue, thus rendering one of the animal rooms to remain closed.”

Carlson identified several interior building areas not in compliance.

“The floors and wall throughout the animal areas are not adequately sealed. Thus, they are not impervious to moisture and cannot be adequately sanitized,” Carlson wrote. “Despite several attempts to repair the drain issues here, the system continued to be sluggish. Run drainage remains insufficient and unable to be repaired. This room continues to be closed.”

The primary enclosures and walkways built with sealed concrete and other surfaces impervious to moisture were found to be out of compliance.

Noncompliance was also cited in the primary enclosures.

“The indoor and outdoor canine primary enclosures and walkways are not impervious to moisture,” Carlson wrote. “The indoor canine primary enclosures are not structurally sound and are not maintained in good repair. The galvanized fencing support posts of the kennels are rusted. Concrete surrounding the iron vents in each kennel is crumbling. The vents are rusting and some of the iron rods are protruding. Some of the outside kennel fencing is damaged.”

Cleanliness and sanitation issues were repeatedly raised in the inspection report.

“Surfaces in which the canines come into contact with are not impervious to moisture and the building is not kept in good repair, thus making adequate sanitation and husbandry practices unattainable,” Carlson wrote.

Isolation areas for sick dogs and cats were cited for noncompliance.

“There is no adequate designated isolation area,” Currently, felines and canines in isolation status are kept in the same small room, in separate primary enclosures, facing one another,” Carlson wrote. “Animals in long-term care have no access to other spaces when the facility is full.”

Carlson identified the facility representative in attendance at the time of the inspection as Lt. Brian Whaley.

The Wilson Times learned of the inspection when Assistant County Manager Ron Hunt fulfilled a public records request for emails from commissioners and county staff relating to the Wilson County Animal Shelter.

About an hour after receiving the inspection report from Capt. Todd O’Neal on May 13, Sheriff Calvin Woodard forwarded the report to County Manager Denise Stinagle, according to copies of the email messages.

“I am sending you an inspector report that does not make me happy,” Woodard wrote to Stinagle. “Our license is coming up in June and the state is looking at failing the shelter due to no work being performed at the site. I have kept conversations with them, because they could have closed it down the day of this report. There is a request on what the county will be doing to rectify the issues (see report) involving the current shelter.”

Wilson County has plans to construct a new animal shelter. Funds have been set aside for the new structure since 2016. The new shelter would triple the capacity of dogs and cats that could be housed. During a February meeting of the Animal Enforcement Committee, commissioners said the new shelter could cost about $650,000. The county had $330,000 in a capital reserve fund for the new shelter.

On Friday, Woodard said his staff would work to have the current shelter repaired while plans for its replacement progress.

“I am concerned about the report’s assessment of the structure and have always asked for a new shelter since I have been sheriff,” Woodard said. “We will continue our work with county maintenance to assure these issues are handled for the animals and especially for the safety of the women and men that make Animal Enforcement and the shelter the best with what we are currently working with at this time. We will never let it bring us down. I am extremely proud of my staff on how the report did not indicate any issues with personnel and the living conditions of the animals. I always stand vigilant in the shelter process and thankful that the county manager and commissioners are moving toward making this issue a reality for the employees, the county and our animals.”

Ventilation and drainage issues were also cited in a 2014 annual inspection of the current Wilson County Animal Shelter.