DOBSON — About 75 concerned animal lovers braved stifling heat to show their support for the animals at the Surry County Animal Shelter yesterday afternoon.
The group was on hand to “speak for the animals who have no voice,” as one attendee said, noting the 90-percent kill rate at the shelter.
“We’re here today to support this rally and its effort to call attention to the fact that there are policy changes needed in this county,” said Jane Taylor, of Mayberry4Paws, a local spay and neuter group.
Citing the kill rate at the local shelter, Taylor said she hopes the county Board of Commissioners will change the policy.
“They could reach out to local groups for input and assistance,” she said. “Together, we can bring down the numbers of animals killed and at the same time save money on the budget!
“The half-million dollars being spent to kill 4,000 animals a year in Surry County is such a waste,” she added.
While most people who attended the rally said they were there to support the animals and the shelter itself, emotions ran high as Director Gary Brown read from a statement and noted that a dog featured on a local news program had been put down.
In the statement, Brown noted that the animal was 10 years old and had health problems that a local veterinarian technician said made it “un-adoptable.”
“The dog was in a diseased state, with significant hair loss on its hind quarters, hips and chest, and was suffering from a severe flea infestation,” he said.
“Due to the age and condition of the dog, it did not meet the requirements to be placed in the adoption program,” Brown said, a statement that riled some attendees.
“My dog has fleas!” one lady shouted. “I’m not going to kill it!”
After his statement, Brown did not take questions, a move that many attendees seemed to see as evading public scrutiny.
“Are you afraid of us?” rang out from the crowd as Brown, flanked by his staff, returned to his office.
Organizer Wendy Willard stepped forward to quell the crowd’s rising tempers, noting that the majority of people attending the event were there to help rather than cause trouble.
“The way to change things isn’t through anger,” Willard said, “it’s by working with them, not against them.”
Willard urged the crowd to contact their county commissioners and air their concerns.
“If we go about it the right way, we can get things done,” she said.
It was a sentiment that rang true with Sherry Azelton of Second Chance Animal Rescue.
“We’re not here to cause problems for the shelter or the staff of the shelter,” she said. “We want to work with them, not against them, and team up to end this senseless killing.”
But Jim Hazel, representing the Surry County Humane Society, had nothing but praise for the work of the shelter.
“I think they do a really great job with limited resources,” he said, noting that he has been working closely with the shelter through the Humane Society for about 15 years. “This is the best group of people I’ve ever seen here.”
Hazel said the local shelter was ill-equipped to handle the volume of animals from its inception.
“It was too little when they built it, and it’ll still be too little if they add onto it,” he said.
Hazel said he believes the animals at the shelter receive “excellent care.”
“There are good people here,” he said as he surveyed the crowd from the air-conditioned shelter office. “These people out there?
“They may be well-meaning, but a lot of them are idiots and you can quote me on that,” he said.
During the rally, dozens of attendees signed sheets indicating that they are interested in either volunteering or adopting pets from the shelter.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.