What do the First Amendment Rights of Volunteers & Citizens and the Animals at Whitfield Animal Shelter have in common?
They are two things Commissioner Lynn Laughter doesn’t respect.
On Thursday, June 8, 2016, a call was made to the Administrative Assistant of the Whitfield County Commissioners. A Citizen was requesting to be put on the agenda for the Commissioner’s meeting on Monday. Blanca the Assistant put the the citizen on the Agenda for Monday. It was also mentioned to Blanca that she would be sent a copy of what would be presented to the Commissioners by Friday along with any material that could be handed out as reference material for the Commissioners as well.
Later that evening the individual (Citizen) received a call from Commissioner Laughter. During the call Ms. Laughter stated she wasn’t going to allow the person to speak on the agenda but, only on as public for five me. Well Ms. Laughter again that is not up to you if a Citizen makes that request that is there RIGHT TO BE PUT ON THE AGENDA. You are violating the Georgia Sunshine Act. Perhaps a nice fine from the Attoney’s Genral’s Office will help you remember to follow the law. Ms. Laughter then preceded to threaten the Citizen by telling her that she would change nothing at the Shelter until people quit speaking out on Facebook. The Citizen then asked her if that was a threat? At which point Ms. Laughter tried to back pedal. The Citizen told her she definitely took it as a threat. What? Pardon Me? Ms. Laughter the last time I checked you don’t have the right to control what anyone says . Our Founding Fathers ensured that with something called the Bill of Rights. So far you are up to breaking & violating 1 Georgia Law 2 Civil Rights and yet you claim to be this fine upstanding pillar of the community.
Freedoms, Petitions, Assembly
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Why are you so mad that people are speaking out about proven incidences of neglect at the shelter? It has been brought to your attention numerous times and yet you have done nothing but, gone on the attack and tried to discredit and punish those speaking up. Why aren’t you fixing the problem and punishing the ones committing the neglect?
In March of 2017 David Hedden had Target Zero come in and examine and give recommendations on what needed to happen with regards to changes at the Shelter. Yet to date none of those recommendations have happened. Let’s discuss some of those recommendations shall we?
Target Zero state,”Although Whitfield County is tasked with the enforcement of animal laws in callboration with the sheriff, it also bears the responsibility to provide the basic standard care and line items allocations should include those for food, preventive care on intake, spay/ neuter, microchipping, and basic medical care (See Population Management). Shelter Leadership reported that the only medical care provided is exclusive for animals part of cruelty, neglect, or court cases”. While we are on this subject I am also going to add pictures of cases where animals came in injured & sat for 3 days or came in not injure but, got into a fight ended up hurt under odd circumstances left with a broken pelvis after 3 days. These are just two examples of pictures of dogs that sat without medical for days until the volunteers came and got it for them. The Shelter staff didn’t even lift a finger or attempt to do a thing.
Target Zero also discussed the fact that Whitfield Shelter only has a 14% animal return back to owner. Why is that? Oh ya because people are not allowed down to the shelter.
Which resulted in the death of two animals back in December 2016. A chihuahua and a pitbull mix were both picked up as stray and brought to the shelter. Neither has a previous history of aggression they had been getting along just fine. Then feeding time happened the food went into the trough and the two dogs got into a fight over the food and the pitbull killed the chihuahua. The pitbull was then euthanized. Beginning to notice a pattern here how your short cuts lead dire consequences and neglect. What makes it even worse is neither dog had to lose their life 2 days prior the chihuahua dog called the shelter and spoke with Tammy the dog was there and she was told he wasn’t. Had Tammy gotten up gone in back she would have seen the dog was there and again two dogs would still be alive. Let’s take it even a step further because technically I can’t even hold Tammy at fault it comes from the Shelter Management and commissioner Laughter if you had, had the right tracking programs in place from the time animals came in the door to the time they left Tammy could have adequately been able to do her job and two dogs would still be alive. The owner filed a complaint with the Department of Agriculture.
Target Zero made an interesting recommendation to this solution while Whitfield County works on a way to find a solution to better figure out how to reunite pets with owners. They recommended setting up a Foster to Adopt program in order to move animals out of the shelter quicker and to keep over crowding and euthanasia down.
Target Zero also recommended starting a volunteer program. Getting them to help with feeding, walking, grooming, & bathing. TZ stated, “The value and importance of a formal volunteer program cannot be overemphasize. Volunteers can provide enrichment, socialization, exercise, behavior modification, enhance the care of the shelter pets, assist with adoptions, transfer pets to spay/neuter and rescue groups, bathe and groom dogs, fundraiser and more”.
It was also recommended that Whitfield get a low-cost spay/neuter program set up for the community to help lower the number of animals coming in and also to help prevent unwanted animal pregnancies.
A few other recommendations were given to lower the number of owner surrenders such mandatory appointments, setting up a fund to help owner with minor vet bills of that was the reason for surrender, and to charge a fee upon intake that the owner must pay in order to surrender their pet.
The next big thing Target Zero looked at was Whitfield’s Standard Operating Procedure, they found that it was out dated. TZ stated, “Although Standard Operating Procedures are in place, they should be updated to be in line with proven Best Practices that are fiscally responsible and geared toward lifesaving”. Something Lynn nor the Shelter seemed too concerned to fix.
We next go on to discuss the huge elephants in the room. The situation with space or the lack there of and the way the space is utilized by the shelter. Apparently when the Shelter was built some genius decided hey lets put the drain in the center sloping down. Instead of hey lets put one on each side & slope it down so we can keep the animals on the other while we clean & then switch and do it again but, they do have a divider for inside to the outside so that is one saving grace but, still not a cure-all.
Then they have only 11 runs and no adoption program open to the public. I think Target Zero sums it up best, “Proper sanitation and feeding are complicated by the fact that there are no proactive Safety Net programs providing alternatives to intake, no direct adoption program for the public and the availiability of only 11 dog runs. This combination of factors forces shelter staff to co-house multiple unfamiliar dogs that results in dominant behaviors, fighting and injuries. This issue is the result of the the lack of proactive programs both on the intake and live outcome sides so should provide ample motivation to implement Best Practices as opposed to using euthanasia as population control”. Target Zero had noted during its investigation that pad injuries dogs had gotten were due to improper dilution of the cleaning chemicals. They also came up with a strict set of Sanitation Guidelines the Shelter needed to adopt and follow in order to limit incidents with injuries to the paws.
Target Zero also looked at the how the Shelter was feeding the dogs because the shelter can be a stressful environment for an animal. Target Zero state, “Dogs should be fed a combination of canned and dry dog food twice daily. Each dog should eat out of their own dog bowl and dogs separated during feeding to avoid issues with food guarding/ fighting, an understandable issue with shelter dogs. If shelter leadership embraces a volunteer program, volunteers can help with this process”. <~ Look even Target Zero is way smarter than Lynn Laughter! Now what is ironic about this suggestion is the fact is had been an ongoing theme, as in an issue with the shelter. See when the got busted throwing food on the floor by the DOA in July 2016 they were told individual bowls for the dogs. Instead they went with a trough which is still making dogs fight for food. The other interesting part is they didn’t follow the suggestion of feeding them twice a day. Now why is that such a sticking point do you think? Hmmmm hmmmmm hmmmmm……. laziness I’ll go with that. Well let me propose this because Lynn, Dave, Don, Mark (Co Mgr) you guys look like you could stand to miss a few meals. For the next 30 days you are allowed 1 meal a day limited to no more than 700 calories. Oh and one 32 oz of water a day too (so make it last) nothing extra not a pop, juice, tea, coffee, nothing. That’s it. Good luck. Now to your family and friends don’t give them anything extra if they ask JUST SAY NO AND TELL THEM RHETT SAID SO. Because by all means if the animals at the shelter can do it so can you! RIGHT!?! Now to your family, friends, the other 4 Commissioners, and Mr. Smalley look at these pictures and look at them good! Then you tell me why I should not be furious and why the others yelling for changes shouldn’t be angry.
Both of these dogs came in at healthy weights. The pit was in his own run, he was only there 30 days. Yet none of the staff did nothing to try and get him to eat or even when they noticed the dramatic weight loss to contact and get him medical care what does that say about them. VOLUMES! THE VOLUNTEERS STOOD UP AND GOT HIM AND HER OUT! Lynn you keep trying to threaten us by saying you won’t change anything until we quit talking on social media well I got news for you sit down you are in for a bumpy ride. Because this is just the tip of the iceberg.
In July of 2016 the Shelter was reported by Volunteers for throwing food on the floor during feeding time it was getting cross contaminated with urine/ feces and cleaning chemicals. Georgia Department of Agriculture has rules and they are easily accessible online there is no excuse for the Shelter Staff not to be following them. Hell I don’t have a shelter or a rescue but, I can recite them in my sleep kind of scary.
One of the big points Target Zero kept hitting on in their evaluation on Whitfield was the importance of having a good Volunteer program so they could help to assist with the daily care of the animals.
Another subject that came up was the intake of feral cats. It was suggested that instead of bringing them to the shelter that instead they give them a rabies shot, tip the ear, spay/ neuter then release. To keep the crowding down and to keep from mixing the feral and domesticated cats together.
They also recommended building the cats a separate area which was a fairly cheap endeavor cats do not require a lot of room less than 12 sq feet per cat.
Oh boy do I have a Gem for you guys, I am literally rolling my eyes at this one (mumbling under my breath too). Let me get this straight Don you told Target Zero that 1) you only count dogs because you euthanize cats more 2) you don’t vaccinate upon intake because you interpreted a DOA rule that does not allow for medical care to be provided by a non veterinarian. So please Don explain to me under which of these laws did you interpret that a non- veterinarian can’t perform some medical care. Because my next question is did you eat lead paint chips as a child? I think what it really comes down to is you just don’t care. You have other income outside of the shelter what does it matter to you if the animals make it out alive or have any quality of life while they are there? Probably Not. Do us all a favor a resign.
Wow nice little tidbit in Policy & Procedures the animal shelter “is not authorized to spend taxpayer’s money on veterinary assistance” <~ talk about a sleaze ball move Lynn I am convinced you are going to h e double tooth picks for all the lies and horrible things you do to others. You aren’t a good Christian. A good Christian wouldn’t prevent animals in the County’s Care from getting medical care which is against the law when needed.
So one again the suggestion of Target Zero is to implement a plan to adopt out animals, work with volunteers to ensure animals come out of the shelter ALIVE <~ SEE THAT WORD DON & LYNN. Use proper record keeping and use neck bands to keep track of animals while in shelter.
Target Zero also wanted them to implement Basic Standard Best Practice which includes providing preventive care at point of intake.
What they did say was not acceptable was using euthanasia as a tool for population control and due to the lack of humane housing capacity for cats, cats are usually euthanized more frequently.
So again Target Zero touched upon the fact that only a small percentage of animals ended up back with their owners and it was mainly dogs vs. cats. They even ensured the City had working scanners to scan for micro chips and they did. Target Zero encouraged the shelter to make a Facebook Page to post animals, post via petfinder, have the County Attorney work on a plan to create a release to allow adopters to foster dogs & puppies during a 5 day stray hold, requiring them to return if the owner is found.
Back in January Citizens had asked previously when searching for a pet if the shelter was checking all pets for a microchip. They were told they are not required to. Again that is just sheer laziness on their end. Anything to not have to do the job properly.
In this Target Zero report I was made aware that the staff at the Shelter is making false statements about the Pitbull Breed and miseducating people about the breed. Well let where to start a few words come to mind all of them contain four letters but, I will say it’s safe to say there is a special place in hell for all of you. The staff at the shelter and Lynn Laughter are a prime example of what is exactly wrong with this Shelter. They refuse to do what is right by the animals they punish those who would stand up and speak out against the wrong they are doing. Then they go and pass falsehoods about a breed get out of here! Seriously!
I think Target Zero said it best, that the shelter staff should advocate for all breeds. So any reason the pit came out emaciated? Since you seem to be prejudiced against the breed. Don or David care to respond? I mean I’m assuming Don you will just lie as usual.
So I made it through the whole Target Zero evaluation of the Shelter which was pretty impressive to be honest. I thought they did a pretty through job of figuring out exactly what they need to address. What I really don’t like is the blatant dishonesty from the Shelter staff and Commissioner Laughter. What makes it even sadder is she could have had people supporting her instead of against her but, she chose to lie and be dishonest with what is really going on.
There are a few other points I would like to hit in addition to Target Zero. Some of the suggestions the Volunteers tried to bring up in a meeting with Lynn Laughter but, were immediately shot down. Was training for the staff at University of Florida, they offer a special online program called Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Online Programs. It teaches people who are in the animal welfare field how properly recognize and manage infectious diseases. It is a year-long online program pretty reasonable price wise and would be a good thing for the staff to know. I looked up programs it’s one of a kind not another one like it.
The next issue I wanted to discuss was the budget for the shelter. I feel like this if the shelter staff has no training, isn’t properly performing the jobs to the best of their abilities, and honestly it can be proven they are not taking proper care of the animals in a humane way. It’s safe to say why should their income suck up well over half the budget! It could be used for much better things. The annual yearly budget is 207,993.00 if one full-time position let’s say an ahem Management (Cough Director Cough) because as of right now the yearly employee budget total is $121,550.00 divide that by 3 since we don’t really know what each individual makes and I am trying to be fair. That would have them making 40,516.66 a year for having zero training, being below par at their job, and well horrible to the animals. So we cut Don replace him with a full time volunteer position. That adds $40,516.66 back into the budget. Then apply for a grant for $200,000 that would allow the shelter to start implementing the Target Zero recommendations but, still implement what could be done before hand. Revise the Policies and Procedures with actual Policies and Procedures that work. Make shelter staff accountable for anything that happens in that shelter. Honestly I would just clean house. There is absolutely no way I would leave staff in place that I thought had questionable morals or even went along with questionable practices.
Personally Ms. Laughter the fact you had lack of knowledge up until 2 mos ago is no excuse. When you were told by Volunteers you instead chose to do the wrong thing by trying to cover it up. Which is the route you continue to take. Personally I don’t feel an ounce of pity for you I feel bad for the animals because they have to suffer due to your ignorance and lack of compassion.
What I find even more hilarious is the fact a business in Whitfield County is supporting the shelter in a neighboring county. Congrats Murray County Shelter.