Allen critical of Bibb Animal Welfare

pramati@macon.comJuly 9, 2013 

Officials with the state Department of Agriculture said Tuesday that the Bibb County animal shelter’s self-imposed quarantine for parvovirus can be lifted Thursday.

The shelter, however, is still taking criticism from a resident whose puppy died of parvo, which set off the controversy.

Irving Martinez, a former state Senate candidate who adopted the puppy last Wednesday from the shelter, said at a Tuesday news conference he is still angry about his dog dying two days later. He called Tuesday for the firing or resignation of Animal Welfare Director Sarah Tenon.

Martinez acknowledged during the news conference that he received a copy of a report that showed his puppy had been vaccinated before he adopted it, but he said the shelter is poorly run. The puppy could have been infected with parvo before it was vaccinated, however.

Once the parvo was discovered, five other puppies at the shelter were euthanized Monday, Tenon said. She said she’s been in contact with four of the six other people who had recently adopted puppies from the shelter, but so far, none of those dogs has shown any signs of illness.

The area where the puppies were kept is under quarantine until Thursday, and no puppies will be accepted at the shelter until the quarantine is lifted. The rest of the shelter, however, remains open.

Martinez was joined Tuesday by Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen, who said he has been trying to get answers since Friday -- when Martinez’s dog died -- about what happened.

Allen said he has seen Facebook complaints from local residents about the shelter, and he laid the blame at the feet of the other commissioners and county Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson.

“The commissioners and the CAO need to do their due diligence,” Allen said. “I don’t think we have the right person in the job.”

Allen added that if the current county commission doesn’t take action, perhaps the new Macon-Bibb County consolidated government will when it takes over Jan. 1.

Reached later, Layson defended Tenon and said the shelter followed protocol when the parvo was reported. He said the constant criticism of Tenon and the shelter is misplaced.

“I think you’ll find that in the past year, we’ve done a pretty good job compared to the shelter’s past history,” Layson said.

Layson said Tenon is set to make a report during Tuesday’s commission meeting about the number of adoptions, euthanizations and other relevant data since the county took over the shelter from the city a year ago.

Tenon declined to comment about the news conference, instead saying the community needs to do a better job getting their animals spayed and neutered in order to control the pet population, which would alleviate a lot of problems.

Macon City Councilman Larry Schlesinger, who attended the news conference, said in this particular case, he doesn’t think any single individual deserves blame.

“I’m here because the community has a problematic situation,” he said. “I think this whole thing is just an unfortunate situation. I don’t think there’s any one person at fault.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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