In a blog post titled "Volunteers speak out about the conditions at the Broward County shelter" it was mentioned that there were "witness/volunteers who knew Phoenix" that made behavioral claims and assumptions about the dog's current condition and past history.
The referenced sources for the blog post were volunteers and did not represent themselves as having a degree or training in animal behavioral sciences. Two of the three volunteers in question were recently separated from the shelter. The separation was for issues in regards to interactions with the staff and adhering to the staff's requests during volunteer activities.
This separation was not due to any personal opinions or criticisms toward the shelter. We encourage anyone to bring any issues or concerns to a staff member for evaluation.
In a blog post titled "Volunteers speak out about the conditions at the Broward County shelter" the author states that "Before writing this article, Broward County Animal Care and Adoption was contacted to give their side of the story on the killing of Phoenix and other issues brought to light by the three volunteers. They have not responded".
The author of the blog post sent an email prior to the article directly to the Broward County Commissioners and the Broward County Administrator and not the director of Animal Care and Adoption. The email was a list of grievances and did not address a statement of purpose for sending it. It did not state that a story was being written for a blog post and a response was not requested. The email title stated, "Terminating Your Current Director". The email also did not include a signature file designating the authors representation or affiliation.
Email titled "Terminating Your Current Director" and making the claim that "animal killings had gone up 157% during October and November of 2018"
"Good Day, My name is XXXXXXXXXXXX. I am a journalist who has been following and writing about the current goings on at your shelter under the incompetent direction of Laurelei Combs. Under her "dictatorship" animal killings had gone up 157% during October and November of 2018. Now, a dog named Pheonix was just murdered for no reason. The tragedy in all of this is; he had just had his photo taken by the shelter volunteers to promote him for adoption. Then he was killed at lunchtime. This is not a shelter, it's a concentration camp for dogs. Combs needs to go. She is killing adoptable animals. That is not the definition of euthanasia. Shame on your county for keeping a person in charge who has zero experience running a shelter. You need a complete and immediate overhaul of how you are doing business at your shelter. The community has been ignored too long in its desire to achieve a no kill community. Your current methods are antiquated and draconian. I will continue to expose the killings and incompetence that has been going on way to long at your shelter until something is done to correct this continued annihilation. Regards, XXXXXXXXXXXX"
We looked into the comment about a "157% rise in dog euthanasia" and found that the stated statistic distorts the facts. The facts are that 40 animals were humanly euthanized in September of 2018. Sadly, 11 animals were humanly euthanized in October of 2018 and 32 animals were humanly euthanized in November of 2018.
There are many factors that influence the decision to humanly euthanize an animal and the decision is never an easy one. When the decision is made, the process is done with compassion and with a heavy heart. We do not enjoy putting down any animal and make every effort to educate the community on pet responsibility. We want every dog and cat we receive to have a safe and loving home.
The statement "Now, a dog named Pheonix was just murdered for no reason." within the email titled "Terminating Your Current Director".
Phoenix was in an altercation with a kennel mate (another dog). The kennel mate was euthanized due to aggression and his injuries. Phoenix did not recover from the incident and staff became concerned about his behavior. It was decided for safety reasons to humanely euthanize Phoenix on Friday 7/12/2019 after a panel meeting, however the dog was not euthanized as directed on that same day. This was a serious and regretful error.
On Saturday morning 7/13/2019, a volunteer removed the dog for photography.
A meeting was discussed with both Supervisors involved as to why this was not carried out as discussed.
|Photograph of a bloodied dog (Kennedy) at the bottom of the blog post, "Volunteers speak out about the conditions at the Broward County shelter", that was claimed to been "attacked by a staff member".||Statements made by an Animal Care Veterinary Staff member, "I have to assume this picture of a bloodied dog was taken on November of 2013, the day Kennedy had to be euthanized. Kennedy was a long resident; he spent 5 months in the shelter. For a long time we were treating him for hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and that never fully resolved. Kennedy began to display signs of cage-anxiety and human aggression, and on November of 2013 there was an incident where he attacked several items in his run as well as the kennel staff member cleaning his run. He self-inflicted a lot of damage to his mouth and face which caused all the bleeding. We made the determination to euthanize him after that incident since he was clearly suffering from severe anxiety and had become dangerous for our staff to handle."|
|The statement “They are kept locked in a kennel with a padlock 24/7. No one is allowed to take them out.” made in the blog post "Volunteers speak out about the conditions at the Broward County shelter" ||Some dogs are quarantined if they have bitten or pose a safety risk to the public, other animals or staff. The Animal Care and Adoption staff, including medical staff, cares for such dogs.|
Statement made that “The facility is constantly dirty” in the blog post "Volunteers speak out about the conditions at the Broward County shelter"
Photos and video clips are sometimes posted by members of the public showing feces in some of the dog kennels. The kennels are cleaned daily, monitored throughout the day and cleaned again as needed. There are times during a day when a dog defecates or urinates and it is not immediately noticed by staff. We would ask any member of the public who notices such situations to inform staff so they can follow-up. It is noted that Environmental Protections and Growth Management Department level staff visit the shelter from time to time at various hours, unannounced, and walk the kennels. They have not observed a “constantly dirty” kennel situation and would report any situation to the appropriate parties to rectify the situation.
The “fed only once a day” comment from the blog post "Volunteers speak out about the conditions at the Broward County shelter"
Dogs at the kennel are generally fed once a day unless the dogs health or condition require additional nutrition. This is a long-standing policy and consistent with industry standards. Dogs are monitored under staff care, including veterinary staff, and may be fed more often as needed.
The comment “they are sprayed down and squeegeed while the dogs are still inside” from the blog post "Volunteers speak out about the conditions at the Broward County shelter".
Shelter practice and operating procedure is to not clean the kennels while an animal is in the kennel, unless the cleaning is “spot cleaning” (e.g. removing feces or urine and to utilize a non-harmful cleaning solution). Staff found to have cleaned a kennel by not following procedure would be subject to disciplinary action. This includes the kennel being "sprayed down and squeegeed while the dogs are still inside."
The comment of being “woefully understaffed and have been promised staffing for almost a year” from the blog post "Volunteers speak out about the conditions at the Broward County shelter"
This past year, the County Commission has approved the adding of 5 new full-time kennel staff and 8 part-time kennel staff.
The 5 full-time kennel staff positions have been filled and some the part-time staff position are still available. The part-time staff positions that are open have been in continuous recruitment.
If you are interested in applying to one of these positions or any other position within Broward County, please check out or job postings at http://www.broward.org/Careers.
The comment that the “shelter had a one-million dollar budget surplus from previous fiscal year” from the blog post "Volunteers speak out about the conditions at the Broward County shelter"
The source of this statement is unknown. The current fiscal year operating budget is being fully utilized. Broward County Animal Care and Adoption fiscal records are subject to public records requests, and staff has engaged in attempting to answer questions from time to time.
Note: Several of the Animal Care trust funds, which retain reserves and cannot be used for general shelter operations, may be a source of confusion.
The comment made that the “County has had to close intake repeatedly.” from the blog post "Volunteers speak out about the conditions at the Broward County shelter"
The shelter closed its intake for 2 hours early during one day over the Memorial Day weekend and for 2 hours early for two days during the 4th of July weekend. Those weekends experienced a large influx of animals into the shelter, and closing the intake a few hours early allowed staff to efficiently move animals into the shelter for care. All other shelter services, including adoption and emergency response, were in operation.
Recent Broward County Animal Care and Adoption shelter statistics on the new Director Ms. Combs.
Between April 2018 to June 2019, dogs were humanely euthanized at an average of 49 a month. Prior to April 2018, before the start of the new Director Ms. Combs, dogs were euthanized at an average of 100 a month.
In addition, 13.4% of the dogs entering and leaving the shelter have been humanely euthanized between April 2018 to June 2019 during the time of the new Director Ms. Combs. Prior to April 2018, 22.4% of the dogs entering and leaving the shelter were euthanized.
The timeframe in comparisons are April 2018 to June 2019, the last 15 months during the time of the new Director Ms. Combs, and January 2017 to March 2018, the preceding 15 months before new Director.
Please see Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Euthanasia Statistics.
A dog named “Grux”
Grux had behavioral issues at the shelter. The Broward County Animal Care and Adoption staff recognizes that some dogs’ behavior deteriorates in the shelter, and that behavior outside the shelter environment may improve. This is why we continue to reach out to the rescue community for assistance. On a case by case basis, Animal Care and Adoption staff is open to community members who can adopt, foster, or rescue such dogs and offer services that the shelter does not have. In this case, Grux was fostered and it’s our understanding that Grux is still being fostered.
A dog named “Hank”
Hank had behavioral issues, including biting an Animal Care and Adoption staff member. When being taken out of the shelter to a rescue vehicle, the staff had to use restraint poles. Animal Care and Adoption is not aware that the poles used caused the capillaries in his eyes to burst. A video recording of staff member taking Hank out to the rescue vehicle is available from the rescue representative.