Animal rescue advocates gathered in front of the Government Center on Friday to discuss allegations of animal mistreatment at the Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare shelter.
Regenia Brabham, who runs Critical Care for Animal Angels in Warner Robins, met with a dozen supporters to air allegations against Animal Welfare Director Sarah Tenon. They contend that Tenon isn’t doing her job, and they want her fired.
In a report sent to Macon-Bibb County officials, Brabham listed 17 issues about how Animal Welfare is being run, including “cases of cruelty and death ... occurring inside (Macon-Bibb Animal Welfare),” the euthanization of animals that had been placed on hold for rescue, and issues relating to the training of new employees.
Brabham said she received word of the various incidents from workers at the shelter.
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“There are serious complaints against Sarah Tenon,” Brabham said. “The new workers there are letting us know.”
Macon-Bibb County Deputy CAO Steve Layson, who oversees Animal Welfare, said every complaint against any city agency is taken seriously and investigated.
However, Layson said so far, none of the alleged abuse cases has pointed to any wrongdoing on Tenon’s part.
Layson referred to two dog deaths at the shelter during the previous two weekends in which some animal rescuers thought there might have been abuse or neglect. Layson said he spoke with the shelter’s veterinarian, Dr. Christopher Grice, who said the dogs had died of illness.
“He said that because the dogs don’t spend a lot of time (at the shelter), they’ve got diseases which (staff) doesn’t know about,” Layson said. “It doesn’t look like these were cases of cruelty. He said it’s very possible that a dog looks healthy but has some sort of disease. He also volunteered to me that he’s seen less deaths (at the shelter) in the last 18 months than he has ever seen.”
Layson said he has spoken with Tenon and other workers at the shelter, but he wouldn’t go into detail about what those discussions were about, citing personnel issues.
“Based on everything we’ve done to date, we think everything’s fine,” he said. “We need to tighten up on a few protocols and (standard operating procedures). There are a few things we can do better, and we’re going to work on that. But that’s true with every department.”
Grice said none of the workers he has encountered at the shelter seems abusive or negligent when caring for the animals.
“There’s a lot of accusations and unfounded stuff being thrown around,” he said. “I think it does more harm than good.”
Macon-Bibb County spokesman Chris Floore said the administration is making sure there’s an open line of communication between officials and residents who are concerned about animals.
Floore and Layson said there have been several committees of residents that work with the city on various animal-related issues, such as the new spay-neuter ordinance and the new animal shelter under construction.
“We try to engage different groups at different levels,” Floore said.
Brabham told those who gathered Friday that the administration has been working with them on various issues.
“The administration has been very helpful, very receptive,” she said. “We want to help make it better.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.