Jan 27, 2009: Police: No charges against ex-animal shelter director
The Clarksdale-Coahoma County Animal Shelter remained closed Tuesday as officials strategized on where to place the animals and how to reopen the shelter.
Clarksdale City Attorney Curtis Boshert said the city owns the building and contracted with Cathy Phelps over the past 12 years to operate the no-kill shelter. He said the city's budget for the shelter was about $20,000 annually.
Although the shelter was supposed to be for the city and county, Boshert said the shelter did not turn away any animals.
"We know some were being brought in from outside the county. They didn't put any down, and that's how we got this overloaded," Boshert said.
Phelps was not available for comment Tuesday.
A complaint reported to In Defense of Animals led to the discovery of 340 dogs and 40 cats at the shelter. The shelter was designed to hold about 60 animals, said Doll Stanley, regional director of investigations for the animal rights group.
Stanley said the animals were living in deplorable conditions. Many were maimed and exposed to diseases. Some lived in those conditions for years, she said.
"You don't store animals. They're living beings," Stanley said.
Stanley presented her findings to city officials, and they confronted Phelps. On Friday, Phelps resigned, Stanley said.
City officials hired a new shelter director Monday. The city is working to frame new policies and procedures for the shelter. Included is whether the shelter will remain no-kill and establishing a maximum number of animals it will be allowed to take.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals already moved about 180 animals to animal shelters in Atlanta and Florida...." Link
- Shelter operators tried to run "no kill" shelter
- 400 animals found in shelter meant for 60
- ASPCA, other groups clean up, remove animals
The situation at a Mid-South animal shelter has become so bad, city leaders called in a national group to step in and take care of a growing problem.
The Clarksdale shelter was closed Monday, so volunteers could get a handle on a situation that left more than four hundred animals crowded into a space meant for just 60.
Hundreds of dogs and dozens of cats shared space in what volunteers called a dilapidated metal building just hours before animal lovers from around the country descended on the Clarksdale-Coahoma animal shelter to take charge and clean up what they called a horrible mess.
It left animal lovers here almost in tears. "I didn't really know all this was going on. I just found out this morning and it's upset me," said Linda Taylor of Clarksdale.
She says Kathy and Tom Phillips had done their best to run a no-kill shelter and ended up with more than they could handle.
"The smell was overwhelming. The room we are in now, was crowded with animals, there were feces, it was a horrible environment for these animals to live in," Said Tim Rickey of the ASPCA.
Over the weekend, town leaders finally stepped in.
Clarksdale Police Chief Greg Hoskins called in the ASPCA to help address the many problems. They in turn, put out the word, and groups responded from around the country.
Some of the volunteers weren't quite ready for what they found. "This is one of the most dire, horrendous situations I've ever seen," said Linda Ware of the Atlanta Humane Society..." More & video