Chesterton Tribune



Gary mayor orders assessment of animal shelter

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GARY, Ind. (AP) Concerns over high euthanization rates and illness have sparked a petition calling for Gary's city-run animal shelter to be transferred to Lake County and have prompted Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson to order a weeklong assessment of the shelter's needs.

The mayor said the current facility isn't equipped to handle the volume of animals coming through its doors and can't provide an effective quarantine area for infected animals.

"Our first priority is to provide a safe and sanitary location for these animals to dwell until rescued," she said in a statement. "Ideally, we want to keep these vital services here in our community. A city of Gary's size and population deserves it."

A petition launched by Save A Dog Rescue director Char Swift on urges Freeman-Wilson to shut down the city shelter, saying animals are being euthanized after a rescue has been arranged. The petition also accuses the shelter of using euthanasia as the solution to control a recent outbreak of parvovirus that sickened several dogs.

"A few weeks ago, an outbreak happened and we rescued three dogs who have so far not contracted the disease," Swift told the Post-Tribune. "A bunch more came in the week following, but when I called, they said no, we can't release them. On Monday, I called again and they said they're not letting us take the dogs. On Tuesday, we found out that they euthanized all of the dogs, which I was initially told was eight dogs and now they're backtracking. At least one of those dogs had a rescue and I willing to bring the dog home and quarantine it."

Swift, who has pulled dogs from the pound for years, said the facility isn't adequately testing dogs for parvovirus and gets many false positives because it tests the dogs within a day of administering the 7-in-1 vaccine.

"They just seem to euthanize when they feel like it," she said. "And we know for sure they don't use sedation when they euthanize."

Freeman-Wilson said Animal Rescue Corps president Scotlund Haisley will visit the facility from July 8-12 to assess its operations. Freeman-Wilson said she hopes the process will lead to the construction of a new facility, renovating the existing building or finding another location in the city.

Swift's petition has received more than 650 signatures. She said she hopes the city institutes changes at Gary Animal Control.

"Maybe it's just going to take a storm of people who are outraged for them to even to shape up," Swift said.


Posted 6/23/2013