Animal Control employees speak out exclusively to News 12

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News 12 at 11 o'clock, October 5, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The Department of Agriculture is investigating cruelty claims at Richmond County's Animal Shelter after News 12's investigation into what's going on at the animal shelter.

The shelter's director says she is confident the investigation will clear the shelter's name. But the man whose allegations started it all says he hopes the accused employee is held accountable.

The State Department of Agriculture in town from Atlanta, after allegations of animal cruelty are lodged against the last person you may expect, the kennel's manager Priscilla Crisler.

Allegations brought forward by her own Co-Worker, Bruce McClure. "I wanted justice for the animal."

He's referring two dogs, both found in their pens injured with no medical care. The chow mix sat for three days after it was hit by a car. It broke it's leg and the skin was scraped off it's tail.

Sweetie was burned in a fire at her owner's home. She sat for 13 full days, and her condition worsened, under Crisler's care.

"If I would charge someone else with animal cruelty based on the evidence I had, I would charge her and everyone else." says McClure of his reasons.

Both dogs were put down.

Shelter Director Diane Downs says the allegations of cruelty aren't true.
"We are a very good shelter out here and we try to run it to the best of our ability given many impossible situations."

Situations like a shrinking budget this year from 2006. A shortfall that leaves no money for vet costs to care for injured animals.

The shelter says that problem combined with an overrun animal population in Richmond County, leaves them no choice but to euthanize healthy animals, even puppies and kittens.

"Unfortunately that is the case. We don't set out to euthanize animals. We don't set out to intentionally kill animals. We are not murderers." explains Downs.

Downs says the investigation could take weeks, but she hopes it will help calm the negative attention growing against the shelter and it's staff.

But, McClure says it's all about what's right under the law. "Animal control and employees of animal control, including myself are not above the law and free to commit cruelty to an animal just because of our positions."

Since News 12 began our exclusive investigation, other allegations have surfaced. The shelter's part time veterinarian and pet owners now accusing the shelter of euthanizing animals illegally.

Downs and her staff say they are looking into the allegations.

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