Local News

Johnston County SPCA owner defends against neglect allegations

Posted March 5, 2012 5:40 p.m. EST
Updated March 5, 2012 7:02 p.m. EST

— The owner of the Johnston County SPCA in Clayton defended her practices Monday in the face of a Facebook campaign alleging neglect.

Susan Dunaway, a former employee of the shelter, alleges that owner Malinda Barefoot neglects animals and does not put enough of them up for adoption. The facility is only open by appointment.

In a tour Monday, WRAL News found animals being cleaned and fed. Barefoot initially tried to limit WRAL's access to areas recently cleaned, but eventually agreed to open two rooms that had been off limits.

Inside, one dog was trying to squeeze his way under a door, and dozens of other small dogs were in cages without water.

"We don't give them water until after they are cleaned," Barefoot said.

"It's not the prettiest adoption place, but they've got dogs that need love," said Jennifer Mitchell, who adopted a Shih-tzu from the shelter on Monday. 

Dunaway said she quit her job because she saw animals dying from neglect.

"I had to quit because I was a mess. I couldn't stop it. I couldn't do anything," former worker Susan Dunaway said.

Recent pictures posted to Facebook show a cat without water and garbage scattered across the property.

"I think both sides of the story need to be told. This is a vendetta. The animals are fed and watered every day, and I'm back every night," Barefoot said.

Barefoot, who is retiring in June, said she has dedicated 29 years to the animals and she would never neglect them.

"These people can say or do whatever they want to. I'm here for the animals. I've been here for the animals. Where have they been?" Barefoot said.

The town of Clayton pays the SPCA to take in stray animals. That recently stopped after Barefoot announced she was retiring and planned to close this branch of the SPCA. 

Barefoot said she plans to work with the Wake County SPCA to place the animals before her retirement. 

Members of the Facebook group plan to bring their concerns to the Clayton town council during its meeting on Monday evening.

Barefoot was given Clayton's Citizen of the Year award in January. It is the highest honor bestowed on a citizen in the town.