Caruthersville Humane Society to move to new temporary facility - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Caruthersville Humane Society to move to new temporary facility

CARUTHERSVILLE, MO (KFVS) -

The Caruthersville Humane Society will be moving into a new temporary facility by September 1.

Workers are now taking steps to plan that move.

"We have basically been out of business since we received a letter from City Operations Supervisor, Terry Rushing on April 19 that we could not take in any dogs. After our Board met this week, we decided we needed to make plans to move forward and try to go back to operating normally, "said Karol Wilcox, Caruthersville Humane Society president. "We have taken a large financial hit because of the closure and the move to a temporary location, so we need to be up and running. There are animals that need our help."

According to a news release form the Caruthersville Humane Society, the animal welfare group received a letter from City Attorney Lawrence Dorroh on June 9 stating that the city had chosen to disassociate from the Society.

They temporarily moved into the former Cupples Rubber factory building, for what was supposed to be five days but have yet to be allowed to return to the shelter building.

According to the Humane Society, board members went to the City Operations Supervisor in March with complaints concerning inhumane treatment of animals by the City's Animal Control Officer.

The Humane Society then placed a camera pointing at their animals due to mysterious deaths of several Humane Society animals after discussing the situation with Rushing. That camera was seized and the Humane Society says they has yet been allowed to view any cameras or have the camera returned them.

Humane society officials say the city said the reason for the Humane Society remaining in the Cupples building was that they were making necessary repairs from a May inspection by the Department of Agriculture. Those repairs were scheduled to be completed no later than June 12.

After a second inspection on July 30 by the Department of Agriculture, many items were not done and other critical issues were failed to be addressed by the city. The same inspection yielded an Official Letter of Warning for the city's pound for items yet to be corrected, according to the Humane Society.

"We chose to move our items at the Caruthersville Pound to a storage facility while we prepare our new facility," said Mindi Rice, CHS public information officer. "We think that will assist the city in making its repairs."

An inspection of the temporary facility in which the Humane Society is currently housed on the same date indicated no non-compliant items for the Humane Society.

Shortly after the inspections, the Humane Society received another letter from the city's attorney.

"Our attorney received correspondence from Lawrence Dorroh dated July 31 stating that the city would allow us to utilize the shelter building for six months until we found a new location, said Rice. "That letter stated that the city wanted us to pay them $1,000 a month and sign away any rights or claims the Humane Society may have for loss of income, the money we have invested in the building or claims for damage to our equipment. Our goal is protecting the animals and being their voice. From what we can see, nothing has changed at the City Pound and it would be negligent on our part to return our employees to a hostile work environment and one in which we could not speak up when we see inhumane behavior."

A second letter from Dorroh said that Mayor Sayre would tell the Council to waive the $1000, but it would be necessary for the Society to still sign a waiver that they would not pursue any action against the city for anything, according to the Humane Society.

"We did not feel that we could sign away any of our rights for claims against the city on the advice of our attorney. We are just trying to help the animals, but it is not fair to our donors if we neglect to consider our options on money raised for the building and other areas of concern," said Rice. "We would feel that our hands would continue to be tied if the inhumane treatment of animals continued in front of us and we felt that we needed to go ahead and try to move forward in a positive direction. Our attorney is going to continue to negotiate our concerns with the city as we continue with the transition period first allotted us."

Humane Society officials say the unforeseen closure in May and the necessity to transport animals to other locations to try to appease Rushing ran up fairly large bills. The Humane Society cites extra vaccinations for both city and HS animals, transport of animals to other facilities, consultations with veterinarians and other expenses piled up, only to have Rushing refuse to allow the Humane Society to operate normally.

The Caruthersville Humane Society voted this week to send a negotiable offer back to the city, but since no offer to sit down and discuss issues was apparent, the CHS Board also voted to sign a lease on a building out in the county. That lease was signed on Friday. CHS hopes to move into the building by the first of September if all goes well.

"We were very pleased that a kind family had a building that would be suitable," said Wilcox. "They came forward and offered it to us so we may operate to save the animals. We are working over the next couple of weeks to make sure we continue to meet Department of Ag standards."

The Caruthersville Humane Society has asked the Department of Agriculture to consult with them as they set up the new temporary facility.

"We will make sure we set it up correctly and maintain compliance. They (Department of Agriculture) have agreed to consult with us along the way," said Wilcox. "We do have experience in setting up both emergency and temporary shelters and feel that with the help of our group of volunteers, we can be moved by September 1. We are asking our volunteers to once again give us a hand with remodeling, preparing, gathering donations of supplies and monetary donations. Many people have already come forward with offers of labor and help and we are excited to begin working on the property."

"We knew December 9 would rapidly approach and we needed a location to operate," said Rice. "Many requests for help with animals have gone unanswered as we have been unable to respond to the calls because of the current situation. We have a wonderful group of citizens supporting us now and we are confident with their help, we will reach and exceed our short and long-term goals for the Humane Society."

The group Rice referred to is a Facebook group named "Friends of the Caruthersville Humane Society".

Officials say the friends group sprang up almost overnight after the initial story hit the news. Within ten days, they were over 1,100 citizens strong. The group held a fundraiser within ten days of formation, netting over $3,000 in donations.

"We are so grateful for the members of our community that have come forward to support us," said Wilcox. "We have been able to re-home over 16 animals in 10 days and it is exciting to have a sense of normalcy within our reach."

To reach the Humane Society during the remodeling of the new temporary facility, call Karol Wilcox at (573) 359-5802. The (573) 333-0100 number has been disconnected due to the move. Calls for City of Caruthersville Animal Control will be handled by the City.

To make donations towards the relocation of Caruthersville Humane Society, donors can mail a check to:

Caruthersville Humane Society

P.O. Box 345

Caruthersville, MO 63830

Or, officials say you can make a secure online donation via PayPal at www.caruthersvillehs.com.

All donations are tax deductible.

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