Columbus Co. Animal Shelter Director addresses violations

Columbus Co., Dept. of Agriculture reach settlement over animal shelter violations

COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Columbus County has reached a settlement agreement with the N.C. Department of Agriculture over violations cited at the county’s animal shelter last month.

A fine of $6,100 levied against the county was reduced to $1,250. The remaining $4,850 will be waived if the animal shelter does not commit any further violations for a period of one year.

The shelter’s director, Loretta Shipman, spoke to WECT about the violations.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” said Shipman. “My employees are going in for training to make everything better again.”

The county also agreed to require all animal shelter and animal control staff to attend a veterinary assessment training course provided by the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Division.

The county also agreed to fully participate in a limited program review of its animal shelter.

The reduced fine already has been paid by Columbus County, according to state officials.

In a letter dated Jan. 22, Animal Welfare Section Director Patricia Norris alerted County Manager Mike Stephens of the violations and the $6,100 fine.

A large portion of the fine - $3,000 - was for “failing to provide veterinary care for a seriously injured dog, Pax, for 16 days and then not providing the veterinary care as directed by the licensed veterinarian.”

According to the report, an animal health technician conducted an inspection of the facility on Jan. 3. During this time, the inspector observed a lab-mix dog named Pax, who was not bearing weight on his right rear leg. Pax was brought into the shelter on Dec. 18, 2019, but wasn’t taken to a veterinarian’s office until Jan. 3.

Shipman said the incident happened while she was out of town over the holidays and addressed the problem as soon as she was back in town.

“The dog that was here, we did medicate him,” said Shipman. “It may not have been like the vet preferred for it to be, but those were over the holidays. But we did, to what we thought, as Animal control employees to medicate the dog.”

The examination revealed that Pax had a fracture of the right femur and needed immediate surgery.

Also during the Jan. 3 inspection, three shelter cats were found behind the building in small transport carriers.

“I know the cats didn’t stay out overnight,” said Shipman. “That was just a mishap of an employee leaving the cats out for a farmer, but I just want to let everybody know that the cats weren’t outside overnight and that the dog did get medication every day that he was at our shelter.”

More information on the violations can be found here.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website, the shelter has received multiple warnings and civil penalties over the last 10 years. The previous warning was issued in October 2017.

More on these previous infractions can be found here.

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