Animal shelter accused of cruelty, neglect in Montgomery County

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The Montgomery County Animal Shelter is facing serious scrutiny after a set of pictures posted online by a volunteer allege cruelty and abuse.

The 28 photos were posted by volunteer Laurie Elliott to her Facebook page. They show several dogs in kennels smeared with fecal matter, overcrowded kennels, alleged improper medical attention, and even a male and female dogs who have not been fixed sharing one kennel.

"The rooms accessible to the public looked great, but the locked rooms, that's where the problems are," says Elliot, who took the photos during a surprise visit alongside a number of other volunteers and concerned community members.

On Wednesday, FOX26 went by for a visit. We were provided full access to all locked and restricted areas. It did appear the shelter had cleaned up it's act, but they also knew we were coming. Leadership did not hesitate to admit the shelter has problems.

"This year is the first year we are funded at a successful level," explained Jim Clark, County Commissioner for Precinct Four. "According to national standards, [we should be at] $8 per capita. That would put our budget at a recommended amount of $4.4M. We just passed [a 2017 budget] of $3.4M. In the past we've been at $2.5M, less than fifty perfect of what we should be."

Clark, who took on the shelter as his responsibility as a Commissioner, says without the proper budget they cannot provide a proper facility. Clark says the 2017 budget increase will allow for the hiring of three full-time vets on staff, a new director, and a free spay/neuter clinic in East Montgomery County.

"Fifty-seven percent of of the animals [we] intake into the shelter come from East Montgomery County. We've got to do a better job of spay and neutering to get the numbers to where they need to be and that's job one," said Clark.

A former contract veterinarian, Todd Hayden has been running the shelter since March.

"As a director, there's not really time to be a veterinarian and deal with the politics, and the budget, and everything that goes on," says Hayden, who points out he does step in to provide emergency medical care when needed. Otherwise, Hayden says he relies on the system they currently have in place.

Currently, that system is comprised of a single contract veterinarian, who Hayden say works four days per week serving the 700+ animals in the shelter's care. Hayden and Clark confirmed the average wait time for a spay or neuter is six months. Pets who are adopted are taken home without being fixed, and brought back later for surgery.

The Montgomery County Animal Shelter took in 1,641 animals in August 2016, according to reports provided to FOX26 by Todd Hayden. Of those animals, the report lists only 15-percent as having been euthanized, which is down from a reported 44-percent in August of 2012.

FOX26 spoke with a half-dozen vocal critics of the shelter on Wednesday, who voiced so many concerns with the shelter's operations we could not address them all in a single report. Continued investigations will occur.