Deteriorating animal shelter could get facelift soon

Updated: Feb. 11, 2021 at 5:15 PM CST
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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - 48 News got a look inside the deteriorating animal shelter in Marshall County.

The county has owned the building for less than two years but according to employees with the county engineering department, the building has not been inspected for at least a decade.

The dilapidated conditions have people across the area wondering what is going on inside.

Stray dogs sit in dark kennels with no running water, insulation falling from the ceiling, and a lack of temperature control inside the Marshall County Animal Shelter.

“Does the shelter look good?” asked Marshall County Chairman James Hutcheson. “No, but you need to realize last year we picked up 278 dogs and took them into the shelter. These are strays dogs, running wild not being fed. Took them in and got homes for all of them except one. One died of natural causes.”

Former volunteers with the shelter, who claim they were let go of their duties for voicing concerns, tell us those numbers are skewed.

We reviewed years of public records from the county and learned last year of the 450 animals the department received, 287 went to the shelter. The remaining 163 went to area providers.

“If our shelter is full, our first choice is Second Chance in another county, a no-kill shelter. We took 120 to Second Chance. If they are full, we still have to pick them up and take them somewhere and Guntersville Animal Hospital, they do a good job.”

Over the last two years, taxpayers paid at least $14,000 to the Guntersville Animal Hospital.

According to county receipts, roughly 10,000 went to boarding and caring for the animals, another 4,000 went to be euthanized of more than 70 animals.

“Once they go into the different entities, we don’t keep a record of that.”

There are multiple invoices between the county and Guntersville Animal Hospital that appear to show multiple instances of dogs brought to the hospital by the animal control officer being put down, many before the seven-day legal hold expires.

The invoices do not include any other data as to why an animal might have been euthanized

Doctor Chuck Young with the animal hospital said his team did what the animal control officer told him to do. Doctor Young said some of those animals were accused of being violent. The others his staff felt were too sick to keep.

He sent us this statement in part saying… “The county does not bring the healthiest most adoptable animals to us as they always pick up or get the worst cases turned over to them thus there are always going to be some that for humanities sake need to be put to sleep to minimize their suffering.”

Chairman Hutcheson said the facility is not considered a no-kill shelter, but emphasizes no animal has ever been euthanized due to a lack of space.

“If you got above a 90% survival rate it can count as a no kill. But I am not counting it as a no kill, I am saying we are going to save as many animals as we possibly can.”

Renovations for the shelter have been in the works since 2019, the chairman hopes to have a more accommodating shelter by this summer. He expects it could cost taxpayers more than 300-thousand dollars.

“We are going to do what it takes to have a nice-looking animal shelter.”

The chairman said the architect the commission hired out of Gadsen is expected to share updated renderings within the next two weeks and then bids will go out to begin the renovations.

We have requested a look at those renderings.

Doctor Young said his facility, Guntersville Animal Hospital, will no longer work with the county due to what he calls inaccurate number reporting.

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