Published On: Fri, Oct 11th, 2013

Humane Society faulted for failure of policy and procedures

In recognition of National 4-H Week, Robin Haynes (left) and Emily Cross (far right) with Hallee and Sallee Richmond, Suzanne Bicksler and Walker Hager, participating 4-H students whose positive experiences within the various programs were cited at the GCC meeting.

In recognition of National 4-H Week, Robin Haynes (left) and Emily Cross (far right) with Hallee and Sallee Richmond, Suzanne Bicksler and Walker Hager, participating 4-H students whose positive experiences within the various programs were cited at the GCC meeting.

A difficult and painful experience a local family endured after they adopted a dog from the Greenbrier Valley Humane Society was heard at the Tuesday evening county commission meeting. Alderson residents Stephen and Wendy Snyder described their family’s ordeal as “ground zero” for the failure of policy and procedures for public safety in potentially creating a serious health hazard by allowing a dog to be released to the public without shots or vaccines nor any records of it’s health history. After having it in their care for only four days, the dog died from unknown causes.

While Snyder did not fault the Humane Society, per se, the cause of the dog’s death is still a mystery. The dog was to be a gift to the Snyder’s eight year old son but it quickly became ill. Visits to the veterinarian’s office did not determine the source of the dog’s obvious distress. Snyder said the animal, which had initially been picked up by Animal Control and taken to the animal shelter, tested positive for hookworms, tapeworms and lyme disease. The Humane Society’s responses were minimal, Snyder said.

Snyder’s wife, Wendy spoke passionately, stating, “We have spent two weeks trying to explain to our eight year old why we can’t get another puppy because our home and grounds are contaminated.” Seven gallons of bleach were used to kill bacteria where the dog had been sick. Rugs, blankets, bedding, dog collars, leashes, and other paraphernalia had to be thrown away. “You name it,’” Snyder said, “this has been a big expense for us and quite frankly this is something that did not have to happen.’”

Snyder said the Humane Society has a responsibility; it’s stated in their lease and on their website. Unfortunately for the County Commission he went on,- …it’s going to drop right in your lap if something goes drastically wrong.”

The commissioners were clearly sympathetic and apologized on behalf of the county. “This sounds like a perfect storm,” Commissioner Mike McClung said. “It’s regrettable, and I’m sorry.”

In other business:

• Kevin Groves, USDA rabies team leader for WV, brought the commission up to date by giving some details of the Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. He said last month 7,000 new rabies vaccine pellets were dropped over Greenbrier County. Since the new vaccine was developed two years ago, the UDSA has found no raccoons with rabies. In that time period they did find five skunks with rabies and authorities are still unsure why the vaccine works less well with skunks. When the federal government closure is lifted, Groves said, 900 traps will be placed throughout Greenbrier, Monroe, Nicholas, and Fayette counties for evidence of the vaccine’s success.

• Commissioner McClung was quite reluctant to discuss the findings of a meeting held at the county courthouse last week which he and prosecuting attorney Patrick Via met with New River Community and Technical College president Dr. L. Marshall Washington and the attorney for the college Charles Houdyshell of the state attorney general’s office. McClung said he did not go to “make a deal.” Rather, his mission was to hear what they had to say and report back to his fellow commissioners. “At this point and time,”” he said, “that’s about all I can
say.” McClung is waiting to hear from the NRCTC board which will be meeting on

Monday “Until they meet, it would not be appropriate for me to publicly say anything further.”

Citizen comments from Steve Malcomb and Mary Jo Sharp both of whom brought their opinions to bear on the topic, with Malcomb’s remark pretty much summing it up: `This is a blackeye on the col lege” if the $1.3 million is not returned to the county.

• A possible lawsuit was resolved in regards to livestock owner Albert Stidom’s bull which was shot by a state police officer when the animal was found in a public roadway presenting a dangerous hazard to public safety. Commission President Karen Lobban stated a mutual agreement was reached between the commission and Stidom with a $3,000 settlement.