Bertie to spend #036;5,000 at animal shelter

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 4, 2005


WINDSOR – Although PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is now out of the picture in Bertie County, that hasn't prevented local officials from carrying on their work for unwanted dogs and cats.

Apparently, Bertie officials are concerned about the welfare of these pets as they voted unanimously here on Monday to spend upwards to $5,000 for improvements at the county animal shelter.

Bertie Animal Control Officer Barry Anderson addressed the Commissioners concerning a few problems at the shelter. He said the floor of the animal cages was dirt, a fact that promotes the spread of parvo n a highly contagious disease that attacks a dog's digestive system. It is easily transmitted as the virus can remain infectious in ground contaminated with fecal material for five months or more if conditions are favorable.

"Parvo is very deadly," Anderson told the Commissioners. "I've been monitoring it very closely since PETA stopped serving us."

Anderson said parvo could already be present in the dogs upon their arrival at the shelter. However, he said the dirt floor of the cages acts as a catalyst for the spread of the disease.

"I really believe that by using concrete as a floor, we'll see a decline in parvo," Anderson noted.

He went on to say that a concrete floor will allow him to bleach the area and rinse it off, thus promoting a more sanitized area for the pets.

Anderson also proposed a separate area for puppies. He suggested a 10-foot-by-10-foot area with a concrete slab to serve this purpose.

The Commissioners, acting upon a motion by Vice-Chairman Norman Cherry Sr., approved spending up to, but no more than, $5,000 on the concrete slabs and the separate puppy pen.

Prior to making his motion, Cherry inquired of Anderson's workload since the Bertie Commissioners formally ended their agreement with PETA on June 20.

"Now with PETA out of the picture, how has that affected you," Cherry asked.

"It leaves me with no other alternative than to take the animals to the vet's (Dr. Cheryl Powell) office in Powellsville so she can perform the euthanasia procedure," Anderson answered. "Then I have to leave there and go to the landfill to properly dispose of the animals."

Prior to June 20, PETA collected the unwanted animals at the Bertie shelter and transported them to their Norfolk, Va. headquarters where, according to PETA officials, the majority were euthanized. PETA performed this work at no cost to the county.

However, that venture ended with the June 15 arrest of two PETA employees, Andrew Cook and Adria Hinkle, who stand charged with 31 counts each of animal cruelty and illegal disposal of dead animals. The majority of those 31 animals, some located in an Ahoskie dumpster and others in a van operated by the duo, were picked-up from the Bertie County Animal Shelter on June 15.

During a June 20 meeting of the Bertie Commissioners, PETA representative Daphna Nachminovitch asked if her organization could continue to serve the county.

"There is no excuse for such shocking conduct," she said, making reference to the arrests of her colleagues. "I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive us. PETA will do everything in its power to make amends and is open to your suggestions."

Bertie Board Chairman Rick Harrell thanked Nachminovitch for PETA's involvement in the county, but maintained that the priority of the Board was, "accountability to the taxpayers of this county and protecting the public's perception."

After checking with Bertie Sheriff Greg Atkins of what other options the county had in lieu of PETA taking care of discarded and/or unwanted pets at the animal shelter, Harrell learned that Dr. Powell's services were available.

Harrell then recommended to the Commissioners to end its partnership with PETA while the county assesses its future needs in regards to the animal shelter.

His recommendation was approved without objection.