Activists, council spar over animal shelter issues

Josh Echt

Craig Stanley, the county’s deputy director of facilities, stands in the dog kennel area of the Summit County Animal Shelter, located on East North Road in Akron. The shelter has been under fire over the last three years because of allegations of animal m

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

More than 40 citizens and animal rights group members attended yesterday’s Summit County Council committee meeting to react to recent allegations of mistreatment of animals at the Summit County Animal Shelter.

“We represent a coalition of animal rights organizations,” said Pet Welfare Coalition spokeswoman Deanne Christman-Resch. “We’re a citizen advocacy group.”

The Summit County rules committee did not pass legislation allowing animal rescue groups, such as the Pet Welfare Coalition, to review or implement changes to the shelter recommended in a March 2004 audit. However, the committee tabled the issue for upcoming meetings in two weeks.

Heather Nagel, representing Heaven Can Wait, said she established her organization in order to rescue and place animals in better households. She said she wanted changes to be made to the Summit County Animal Shelter, such as the addition of a veterinarian. Nagel also said she disagreed with the shelter’s record-keeping procedures.

“I personally rescued a dog from there -the tag number did not match the log book,” Nagel said. She said the log book was used to sign animals in and out of the facility.

Craig Stanley, Summit County deputy director of facilities, said some changes have been made and others are being worked on. He said the log book was still manual, but that shelter workers inputted the manual results into computers.

Pet Welfare Coalition member Tracy Popio said the county has a “moral obligation to treat animals universally” and denied Stanley’s claims of the shelter not taking in sick animals.

Councilman Paul Gallagher, council planning chair, questioned Stanley in front of the crowd. He asked various questions about Anthony Moore, the shelter’s animal control manager. He also asked Stanley various questions regarding a purchase of a scale for the shelter.

“Money was donated for a scale used to weigh animals, but the scale was never used,” Gallagher said.

Rules committee chairman Tim Crawford, Akron 7th District representative, acknowledged the groups’ various allegations against Stanley. However, he said certain things need to be in place before more action can be taken, such as having the shelter improve its online photos of animals in the shelter’s care and increasing animal drop-off and pick-up times from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. instead of the current 3 p.m. time.

“Putting a veterinarian in the facility would cost an estimated $100,000 to $150,000,” Crawford said.

In addition to the various organizations’ allegations against the county, the Humane Advisory Board was urged by council members to improve membership totals before changes could take place regarding the animal rights’ groups.

Humane Advisory Board chairman Chris Mosey said the board, which reported to Summit County executive James McCarthy, disbanded in 2004 and has not met since March 2005. Crawford said yesterday’s meeting was the first time he heard of the board’s problems.

“Five members were supposed to make recommendations, but this is the first time I heard it had fallen apart,” Crawford said.

Contact general assignment reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].