Local News

Robeson County Health Officials Respond To Allegations Against Animal Shelter

Posted November 16, 2001

— For the first time, officials from Robeson County's Health Department are responding to concerns about how they are euthanizing animals.

The Robeson County Animal Shelter is packed with new residents, and more are coming in every day. The county euthanizes as many as 6,000 animals a year. An undercover video from PETA shows workers killing animals in what many people say is an inhumane process.

"We had thought it was correct. The officers state that they were doing it correctly according to the process they had," said Bill Smith, Robeson County health director.

The video prompted animal rights activists to file a lawsuit against the county. It also prompted the county to re-think its method.

"We didn't care for the way it looked on the video. That's what really led us to the sedating of the animals. It just looked terrible on the video," Smith said.

The county now says animals will be sedated first, then killed with an IV instead of a needle to the heart or abdomen.

"The animal comes up there asleep and goes deeper asleep if you will. There's no appreciable difference. You won't see any signs of struggling," Smith said.

Faith Walker, one of the activists who filed the lawsuit, is not convinced.

"Why should we believe them if they say now they're going to when they have repeatedly deceived us in the past? Why should we believe it will be any different in the future?" she said.

The county said it will let witnesses watch the euthanasias. The killings will also be videotaped, which the public can then view.

"We think it works on our side. It holds the employee accountable. He knows there is a videotape there," Smith said.

The next time animals are scheduled to be euthanized will be Tuesday morning. In the meantime, activists are working around the clock to get the animals adopted.

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