News 12 at 11, October 4, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---A veterinarian who works with the shelter is speaking out about what she says is a shelter on a killing spree.
Dr. Amber Polvere is a licensed vet who works in shelters across the state. She's worked part time at Richmond County's animal shelter for more than two years, and she says it's the worst she's ever seen.
She says the main problem really is the shelter's euthanization policy.
"Their euthanasia policy is insane. They euthanize everything that is sick, injured or scared when it comes in the door."
Dr. Polvere has been working at the shelter for two years, spaying and neutering animals every Wednesday. Now she says it's time to speak up for those who can't.
"There is no other county I'm associated with that would euthanize an animal for having matted hair when it walks in the door. A stray animal that could very well be someone's pet who got matted hair because it's been missing for three to four weeks, but they kill it right off the trucks there."
The shelter's director Diane Downs says the policy is to euthanize immediately only if an animal is in dire condition, or is incurable. Stray animals get three days, animals that may have an owner get five.
The animal is tested again, and if it's not viable for adoption it's put down.
Dr. Polvere says that's not true. "No. That is a policy that is adhered to only if the staff perceives the animal is perfectly healthy. Not a policy in the case of an animal with any sort of injury or illness."
Downs admits animals with heartworms or even a broken leg are put down nine times out of ten. She says that's because there is no vet on staff and no money to take sick animals to an outside vet.
That's why Dr. Polvere defends the Kennel Manager in question Priscilla Crisler. She says Crisler tried to buy some time for the two dogs giving their owners a chance to reclaim them, before they were put down.
"I don't think it's the kennel manager's fault the policy is bad. I think it goes higher than the kennel manager."
It's an opinion that Dr. Polvere admits could cost her her job at the shelter. "The honest truth is if I'm no longer employed there which i suspect may happen as a result of the information that i am providing that i won't be able to help all of the animals I've been able to help in the two years that i have been there."
The best advice Dr. Polvere has for pet owners in Richmond County is to get your animals an ID tag right away In her opinion, it's the only way to guarantee you'll get your pet back. And, she says if you have a problem with the shelter, speak up.
The Department of Agriculture will visit the shelter tomorrow (Friday, October 4) to further investigate the cruelty claims.