Although the Smithville animal shelter is supposed to be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., a Smithville woman found it closed when she went there Thursday morning. But what she discovered when she arrived there disturbed her more.
"I pulled up and found a dead dog inside of the fence and then I found ten to eleven (living) puppies were inside of a turned over trash can (outside the fence in front of the building). It was definitely upsetting," said Lindsey Maestri.
It's not known exactly what caused the dog's death but someone had apparently dropped off the puppies in the trash can.
Maestri said the reason for her coming to the animal shelter was because she had lost her cat and was hoping someone had found it and brought it there. After finding the dead dog and the puppies she contacted the Joe Black Effort, a "no kill" animal rescue group.
"I got a call about 10:30 a.m. from Lindsey saying there was a dead dog on the premises and that there were puppies in a trash can," said Emmaly Bennett, Vice President of the Joe Black Effort. I called the mayor and he came over and we rode over here," she said.
"Its alarming, disturbing, disgusting, and shameful to our town. These dogs (at the shelter) are clearly not being taken care of properly. I just got a call one week ago from a man who picked up a stray in the housing projects and he had been trying to contact the animal shelter here since 9:00 a.m. that morning and at about 3:00 p.m. he contacted us (Joe Black Effort) because no one would answer the phone from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Then I called (Mayor) Jimmy Poss and he went and picked up the dog himself and brought it here to the animal shelter," said Bennett.
Maestri said today (Thursday) wasn't the first time she has come the shelter and found it closed. "I have been by once already this week about 9:30 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. and the animal shelter wasn't open. I had to come back around noon and somebody pulled up right when I got here," she said.
Mayor Poss said sickness prevented animal shelter employees from being there Thursday. When they are on duty, Mayor Poss said the employees, David and Monica Summers sometimes have to be away from the shelter when they are answering a call regarding an animal. In some cases, they are also called out after hours. "They got called out last night because a dog had bitten a boy," he said.
As for animals who are brought to the shelter, Mayor Poss said they are fed and watered daily and he denies assertions by the Joe Black Effort that the city is not trying to care for them. "It's not what Joe Black is saying. People drop dogs over here. Sometimes the dogs are sick. Some have Parvo. We can't help it. They (people) don't want them. Just like these eleven puppies brought here today. I can't stop people from doing that. We do have an issue but anybody who wants these dogs, we'll give the dogs to them. That's our policy," said Mayor Poss.
"Basically now we will try to find foster homes for all the puppies and try to get these other dogs out of here," said Bennett. "You can call us at 615-464-5683 or 615-215-7289. If you can foster a dog, we can provide food and crates for them to sleep in," she said.