Advocates fear Lawrence Co. Animal Shelter debacle could happen - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Advocates fear Lawrence Co. Animal Shelter debacle could happen again

(Source: WAFF Staff) (Source: WAFF Staff)

Nearly a year to the day the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or ASPCA rescued hundreds of animals from the Lawrence County Animal Shelter.

The rescue team described the conditions inside the shelter as filthy and deplorable. The shelter's leader, Bobbie Taylor, is awaiting trial and faces 16 counts of animal cruelty and one count of animal abuse. Now, we're seeing how the rescued animals are doing, digging into lessons learned, and asking could it happen again. 

"I don't abuse animals here. I would never abuse an animal. They are fed, cleaned, watered and walked," said Bobbie Taylor to a WAFF 48 News reporter back in June of 2015. To hear her describe the animal shelter and you'd never think anything was wrong.

Watch: Video from inside Lawrence Co. shelter released

But the ASPCA discovered anything but those days later. Their rescue team found animals living in dire and overcrowded conditions. While many were sick they also found dead animals as they tried to put together how a county-run animal shelter got so bad.

Flash forward one year later and the ASPCA adopted out hundreds of animals. They're scattered across the country. Some stayed in Alabama but other rescued animals are now living with adoptive families in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and even as far away as British Columbia, Canada.

Read: Judge denies former shelter director's request to halt ASPCA adoptions

"It's going to happen again. It's going to happen over and over and over again," said Morgan County Humane Society director Robyn Purdy.  

Purdy is disgusted and frustrated  over what happened. She told the ASPCA she had room at her humane society to take in any rescues, but they didn't need the room. Her biggest takeaway, as she reflects on the past year, is Alabama's laws are still not strong enough to deter others from going down the same road.

"We are so far behind in the animal world. I've had people from up north come down here and tell me they don't even have shelters like this,  said Purdy.

“They don't need them because they have a spay and neuter program."

According to Purdy, implementing a spay and neuter program in Lawrence County would have likely changed the final outcome and conditions that the ASPCA discovered. 

"Half of those animals would not have been out there," said Purdy.

We posed some of the same questions to Huntsville Humane Society CEO Jill Gardner. Her organization also told the ASPCA they, like Morgan County's Humane Society, had room for rescues.

And just like Morgan County, Huntsville's Humane Society didn't see a single dog or cat. The animal advocate said that's a good thing because that means the animals found homes.

We asked her if what happened in Lawrence County is an isolated incident or just the latest example of animal neglect in an ever growing program? 

"I don't know if it's a trend, but I think it happens especially in areas that are well funded," said Gardner.  

As for funds, the Lawrence County Commission terminated the $80,000 a year contract with Taylor. She's also facing some legal issues and recently requested a jury trial on her criminal charges.

On Monday, Taylor's attorney filed a motion claiming the search and seizure of her property were illegally executed and wants the evidence stemming from it tossed. A hearing on that matter is set for September. 

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