News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Dec. 31, 2012
EDGEFIELD COUNTY, S.C. -- Two dogs in Edgefield County have Facebook buzzing. People are not talking because of the bloodhounds themselves, but because of their living conditions.
"These are our county's and our citizen's patrol dogs, and they deserve better than what they have currently," said Michael Raffield.
Raffield is a former deputy who's now speaking out against his old employer, the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office. After he resigned for other reasons last week, he posted several pictures to Facebook of what he calls horrible conditions in freezing temperatures. The pictures show a large puddle of standing water at the foot of the bloodhounds' doghouse.
"Right now, basically, you have the fecal matter mixed in with urine, and it's concave because they've dug it out because they don't have a concrete pad," he said.
It's cause of concern for District 2 County Councilman Rodney Ashcraft who maintains kennels at his home for dogs he rescues.
He, along with another member of council, paid the county kennels a surprise visit Saturday night to investigate the claim for himself.
"They gladly came out and opened up the facility, and we went in and took a look, and, you know, I was happy with everything," he said, adding that cold temperatures help condition a service dog that must sometimes work in extremely cold crime scenes.
However, even after the surprise visit, he admits he wouldn't house his dogs in kennels like the ones the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office uses.
"Different people have different standards. I've got a high standard for my animals," he said.
Coincidentally, he says, a new animal control building is on the way, and it'll likely mean new homes for these two crime-fighters.
However, Raffield wants something done now.
"They're looking at a year's time frame. These dogs deserve better than that. We should be the role models to our citizens of how you're supposed to take care of your animals," he said.
News 12 also spoke to Cpt. Chris Walsh of the Sheriff's Office on the phone. He says the living conditions are up to par. He says they're outside dogs after all. He says the handlers love the animals they use in the field, and they take care of them accordingly. He says a concrete pad could have been bored, but it would be financially unwise since a new building is on the way.
Meanwhile, Raffield told News 12 the Sheriff's Office actually had a bloodhound freeze to death a couple years ago. Walsh admits an older dog did die, but they don't know if cold temperatures were to blame. Raffield says an autopsy should have been conducted.
Next door, in Aiken County, bloodhounds there have heaters installed in their kennels.