If there’s one place — one place — that dogs should be safe from cruelty and abuse, it’s in a place that calls itself an animal rescue shelter. The whole point of such a place is to provide a haven from the cruelty that humans can inflict on animals either directly or by simply turning their backs and looking away.
Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be true in Lawrence County, Alabama. On Monday, the Moulton Police Department executed a search warrant at the Animal Rescue Shelter of Lawrence County after a volunteer filed complaints about abusive conditions. What investigators found was horrible. Only last week, Director Bobbie Taylor, who maintains the shelter at her house, told police that she had about 85 dogs on the grounds. Instead, there were 250 to 300, many suffering from neglect and poor health.
“We estimate there to be [approximately] 300 animals,” ASPCA investigator Tim Rickey told television station WAFF. “We’ve got a lot of inadequate housing and a number of medical issues that we are dealing with — not the least of which is continuous fighting that’s going on between dogs throughout the property.”
Police also say that they found the bodies of dead dogs on the property, and Caleb Scott, the volunteer who filed the complaint, also provided a video showing Taylor striking one dog on the head. Other photos taken on the premises by Scott showed dogs crammed into cages too small to turn around in, lying in their own waste, and emaciated from hunger.
In her defense, Taylor has claimed that she struck the dog in order to stop a fight between two dogs, and that animals often arrive at the shelter in poor health. However, Moulton Police Chief Lyndon McWhorter told the Decatur Daily that investigators found dog bowls filled with green water and kennels with dried feces in them.
Matthew Seahorn, one of the workers who inspected the facility in full hazmat gear, said, “They are all in cages to the point where they can’t even turn around, and the stench is unbearable. No one should live in conditions like that. Not even an animal.”
Workers from the ASPCA are now providing medical attention to dogs and moving some to a new, unnamed facility. Right now, a sort of triage is happening; only those who need the most urgent care are being removed to the new facility. We hope the new shelter will live up to the idea better than the one they’re leaving.
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