Animal shelter director defends euthanization of 13 dogs

One of the dogs left after Bill Parker passed away.
One of the dogs left after Bill Parker passed away.

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Animal rescue groups are calling for commissioners in Columbus County to make policy changes after more than a dozen dogs were euthanized before being given a chance to be adopted.

Thirteen dogs were recently euthanized at the Columbus County Animal Shelter, after their owner passed away. The dogs belong to Bill Parker. Parker's neighbors had complained about the poor living condition for the animals to authorities before.

Rossie Hayes, director of the animal shelter, said his department obtained ownership of the dogs when Parker passed away. According to Hayes, he had no choice but to euthanize the animals, since his shelter did not have any space and he did not want to violate state law.

"The dogs we had in the animal shelter are already on Facebook, and I'm sure the rescue groups are out there raising money to get them adopted, and vets to come pick them up," Hayes said.

Animal rights advocates like Pat Lambert, however, are not buying it.

"If the shelter was so full, there had to have been animals that were in there and were in there longer than these animals that were put down," Lambert said. "How come those animals weren't put down?"

Hayes said he had to make a choice. He could either euthanize Parker's animals or the ones that have been promoted online in hopes for adoption.

"I couldn't leave them at the residence where they were, because the owner was dead. His wife had moved over to her sister's house and these dogs were in poor condition," explained Hayes.

Lambert believes workers at the health department or sheriff's office should operate the animal shelter. 

On the other hand, Hayes said his shelter has one of the lowest kill rates in our area, and that statistic shows he's dedicated to saving animals.

Monday night, many animal rights advocates plan to attend the county commissioners meeting to voice their concerns. The county manager tells us, the incident is under investigation. 

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