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State looks at putting down no-kill shelter

Posted July 6, 2010

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— State regulators have given the operator of North Carolina's largest no-kill animal shelter less than two months to bring the facility up to code or be closed.

Linda Spear founded The Haven 16 years ago, but the shelter has failed every state inspection for the past five years, in part because it doesn't have enough kennels to house the hundreds of dogs and cats inside.

"We are continuing to have animals left anonymously at our gate. We don't turn those animals away," Spear said.

The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has given her until Friday to get rid of about 150 more dogs. If she doesn't meet that deadline, she has until Sept. 1 to bring the shelter into compliance with state codes.

“She has told us repeatedly that she was going to make improvements,” said Brian Long, spokesman for the agriculture department. “At some point, you have to say, 'Show us,' and she has not. Getting into compliance is not (the shelter's) top priority. Its only priority is to gather animals.”

The Haven animal shelter Animal shelter faces state deadline

Spear said she has added gravel and concrete throughout the shelter to meet state demands, but she said she still needs to add a septic system in a new building and install interior paneling in other buildings. She estimated the projects will cost about $40,000.

The Haven adopted out about 1,000 animals during the first six months of the year, but Spear said it takes time to ensure pets wind up with caring families.

"That’s not something that’s done overnight,” she said.

The shelter still has at least 1,000 pets up for adoption.

"The state says, 'Get rid of the animals. We don’t care how you do it, but they have to be gone,'” she said. “I think it’s horrendous. It’s unacceptable. The community wants to have a no-kill option for these animals."

If Spear fails to raise the money and complete the renovations by the beginning of September, The Haven could lose its nonprofit status, which would likely dry up the stream of donations used to operate the shelter and could force it to close.

Another option would be for her to lease the shelter to the state for $1 a year and step aside from operating it.

Spear vowed that The Haven would survive, and people adopting or fostering pets at the shelter said they hope to see it remain open.

"They definitely do need some improvements, but still, the living conditions are OK for the animals. They're not being hurt or harmed," Christi Huddleston said.

22 Comments

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  • Scarecrow Cow Jul 8, 5:05 p.m.

    The state was very generous in giving her 5 years. That was way, way more time than they would have given to anyone else to meet state codes. She put it off, now it's time to face the music. She is not doing those animals a favor by keeping them in a sub-par place that is about to be closed. It's sad, but some of them just have to be given to a shelter or to other rescue groups. She can't help all 1000 by herself.

  • nighthunter Jul 8, 9:16 a.m.

    Sorry, IMO, if you cant meet the state code, you shouldn't have taken in the animals. IE 5 yrs is a LOOOONNNNGGGGG time to not meet the requirements. You have to work with the resources you have, and if that means turning away some animals, thats what you need to do. Perhaps you can appeal to HSUS that just spent a lot of money lobbying the legislature.

  • Shadow213 Jul 7, 5:37 p.m.

    having enough room at any shelter is hard, but perhaps there are some rescue groups out there that can take in some of these dogs. i'd take a third dog if I had room in my apt :-/

  • rdeffend Jul 7, 12:52 p.m.

    wwyoud says that the shelter needs an army of volunteers to deal with that many animals. Well as a leader among the 200 volunteers I can say that we DO have one. Join us! The problem, though, is that we can't stop feeding the animals in order to redirect our meager income to building new physical structures demanded by the state. It's not that we don't want the new buildings. We DO. (BTW the needed septic is for a NEW building.) But we need major donations to do it. Our funds go first towards immediate expenses (food, medical) then towards the state demanded retrofit. We met code until the state changed the rules in order to shut down the no-kill movement. I have a copy of the "research" they use to justify their regulations. It states that an animal kept more than a few days in a shelter goes crazy and becomes a danger to the community. Bull-oney. If you love animals please donate at www.thehaven-friendsforlife.org. Every $1 helps. 1000 lives and the no-kill movement depend on you.

  • wwyoud Jul 7, 8:27 a.m.

    The state has been trying to work with The Haven for more than 5 years to get it up to code. Unless she has an army of hundreds of volunteers, I don't see how she could possibly take care of that many animals; I'm sorry, but it looks like she's gone from helping to hoarding. The septic system needs upgrading?! Can you imagine the stench of that many animals - over 1,000 - and an insufficient septic? Or the diseases that can spread so quickly, because it's really hard to sanitize grass instead of concrete. I'm not saying she should put down animals, but she certainly needs to refuse any more until she has a clean facility and fewer animals. Do a google search; many people who have been here to adopt, and other rescues who have tried to help, don't have the best things to say about this place...

  • dr1nk1ngm3rcury Jul 6, 7:55 p.m.

    The number one thing anyone can do to help the situation is SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR ANIMALS!

  • St Ives Jul 6, 7:41 p.m.

    I can not understand why the state is being so abserd about this when they do not sweem to give a darn when someone is abousing as dog hourse cat enough to made the sentenceing stricter.
    You know this should be a chalange to someone out there who loves animals and has the ability to help this place get it together.

  • jlh4jdj Jul 6, 7:31 p.m.

    So good to see our government using our tax dollars on the harden criminals out there. Just because this woman cleans up our society's mess they want to give her a hard time. I have an idea how about the state take all the money they have put into "taking down" this woman and help her fix the place. I mean I have heard of grants for many crazy things. How about helping a important cause, and no I don't mean a politician's back pocket. We all know that their back pocket's is only one of two things that will get them to do anything.

  • rescuefan Jul 6, 7:23 p.m.

    Wheel, you are so right. Some of the hunting dogs are kept on the verge of starvation to make them "more hungry" for the hunt. And the state turns a blind eye to them. It's really disgusting!

  • ribbons55 Jul 6, 7:13 p.m.

    As a former employee of the NC Department of Agriculture, where were they when the Robeson County Animal Shelter was violating every state ordinance that governed it, including abuse of the animals by the employees? In this case, the American Humane Society had to step in when citizens and volunteers repeatedly reports abuse to them. NCDA seems very selective in which shelters they chose to regulate.

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