UPDATE: Heather Overton, PIO for the state Department of Agriculture called to update after the story was published. Overton said recent violations from the Guilford County Animal Services were not as serious or bad compared to violations the shelter received while under the management of the United Animal Coalition.
GREENSBORO, NC – Recently, the Guilford County Animal Services was fined $1,200 after six animals failed to have their rabies vaccinations within the 15-day window.
The latest fine and violation comes after years of problems for the county animal shelter; from the revolving door of directors, multiple violations, failed state inspections and mistreated animals.
Upon hearing the latest news, many viewers wondered on the WFMY News 2 Facebook page: why county commissioners, who oversee the organization, haven’t stepped in to help? Some wondered if a board should be put together to deal with problems. And others wondered, why all the problems to begin with?
It’s important to note, a citizen board was established in 2016 after the county took control of managing the shelter. The Animal Services Advisory Board is comprised of 10 members and includes the county’s liaison to the advisory board, Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad. The board meets and then makes recommendations to county commissioners.
2 Wants to Know’s Hope Ford called several commissioners Thursday morning, hoping to ask them those same questions. We reached Conrad and J. Carlvena Foster.
Conrad declined to comment on the recent violations and recommended we contact Clarence Grier, the county’s Deputy Manager and the shelter’s Interim Director.
In an emailed statement, Grier said, “We are disappointed in the recent violations at the Guilford County Animal Shelter, and we have already instituted new protocols to address these issues and be in compliance with these provisions moving forward. Guilford County Animal Services, as well as myself, are committed to providing the best possible care to the many animals coming through our doors, and we are dedicated to maintaining compliance with all protocols moving forward.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner Foster said commissioners are actively seeking answers to the shelter’s problems. And she was quick to point out the constant turnover in leadership as part of the overall problem.
“We’re still looking for the next director and that is one of the many responsibilities of Grier,” Foster said before adding, “We (commissioners) are here to serve the public, but the stability in leadership has definitely lead to many problems at the shelter. We are on the right track and then unforeseen things happen and that puts you back and progress gets pushed back. The change in leadership is a big part of it.”
Drew Brinkley was the latest director to take over the shelter. He accepted the position in August of 2016, but resigned in July of 2017, just hours after the shelter was fined $2,500 for housing dogs in outdoor kennels without adequate protection from the sun.
Brinkley replaced Logan Rustan who resigned in May 2016, just six months after he took the position.
Rustan took over the shelter after the United Animal Coalition, which operated both the Guilford and Davidson County animal shelters. That non-profit faced allegations of abuse, mismanagement of funds and drug violations.
In August 2015, the state pulled the Animal Coalition's licenses to run the two shelters. Three people faced charges including the former director Marsha Williams.
Meanwhile, 2 Wants to Know also contacted the state Department of Agriculture, to see if the problems with the shelter were unique to Guilford County.
Heather Overton, the department’s Public Information Officer said, “We have 900 facilities that we inspect and each shelter is different and unique.”
Overton explained each shelter is inspected twice a year, both at random. If a shelter has more problems, the state will continue to inspect until the staff and shelter follow guidelines.
On the topic of the Guilford County Animal Services, Overton agreed with Commissioner Foster, stating the shelter is experiencing a high volume of turnovers.
“There’s been other shelters that have had turnover like this. Guilford is a shelter having higher turnover but we are working them to get a regular staff and get them into compliance.”
As for why the shelter has a high turnover Overton said the specific reason was unknown to her.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates or join us at WFMY News 2 at 5:30 for more information.
Note: To be transparent, WFMY News 2 has a partnership with the Guilford County Animal Services for our 2 the Rescue series. While we do have this partnership, it does not impact our continuous coverage of the shelter.