Rowan County Animal Shelter fails state inspection

Published 6:07 am Tuesday, August 30, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Animal Shelter failed an Aug. 23 inspection because of sanitation problems, inadequate record keeping and various other issues.

Most of the issues noted in an inspection by the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Section were in the shelter’s cat wing. The inspection found feces smeared on the inside of cat cages, dirty and wet cage surfaces, a generally messy cat isolation room, a record keeping system that makes it hard to identify cats, peeling paint in dog holding areas and other issues.

In a written explanation, the Animal Welfare Division says it was conducting its annual inspection when it found the issues.

With just a single sentence, the Animal Welfare Division summarizes its report: ” Overall since last inspection sanitation is lacking.”

In the stray cat room, an inspector found three cat cages that were “very dirty.” One of the cages contained a mother cat and five kittens and was streaked with feces and litter.

Quoting shelter staff, the inspector said she was told that afternoon cleaning staff comes in on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. During the day, staff “spot cleans” cages, the report states.

“This was not the case during my inspection as the cages were left untouched with wet newspapers from at least 12:00 – 2:15 p.m.,” the report states.

Newspapers and towels were scattered across the table in a cat isolation room. The inspector said all bedding or newspapers should be stored in sealed containers in a separate room to prevent contact with any airborne illnesses.

The inspector also found that kennel cards and records are not kept in the cat rooms — something that was occurring during a previous report. Not keeping kennel cards and records in cat rooms makes it hard to identify and match records to cats, according to the report.

In holding areas for dogs — “dog runs” — the inspector found paint peeling off of cement blocks on the kennel walls. Inmates were painting the walls during the inspection. Animal Services Director Bob Pendergrass told the inspector that the paint was chipping off as fast as new paint could be placed on the walls. The inspector suggested using an epoxy paint and that the walls should be sanded down or treated before reapplying paint.

Open bags of food were also found at the shelter.

When asked, Rowan County Manager Aaron Church said he was aware of the report. The shelter has taken steps to immediately fix the issues, Church said.

“Summer brings an increase of animals,” he said in an emailed response. “This is our first summer with the cat wing and issues during the beginning are to be expected. However, we have excellent staff and fully expect that things will continue to improve while providing a service to the citizens and animals of Rowan County.”

The failed inspection comes just months after Rowan County celebrated the opening of a cat wing, which was donated by philanthropist Christine Morykwas. As part of the donation, Rowan County had committed to adopt certain cleaning practices to ensure the cat wing stayed clean.

A response to the state’s inspection report is due in seven days.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246