Belmont County Animal Shelter answers claims

ST. CLAIRSVILLE The Belmont County Animal Shelter gave an interview recently, after allegations over social media regarding their record keeping and euthanasia policies. A video of an elderly rat terrier alleged that the dog was not in the shelter’s records and that officials intended to needlessly euthanize the animal rather than provide it a home.

Diane Amend, coordinator, said the dog, named Babygirl by shelter workers and estimated at older than 10 years, is in the process of being given to an animal rescue where she will be looked after and a home found for her. She said the dog had not been placed on the shelter’s Facebook page due to the loss of computer equipment due to a recent water break.

“Nine times out of 10 if people are looking for their little dog, and they call us,” she said.

The staff noted that the dog is on an antibiotic and is being treated for skin conditions and fleas. Amend noted the staff member’s speculation about the necessity of euthanizing the animal rather than returning her to her former owner. Amend said the remark was lacking tact, but she noted the poor condition of Babygirl when she was first brought to the shelter and the probably continued mistreatment she would suffer at the hands of her prior owner.

“If you had a dog in this bad a shape, do you think you deserve to have this dog back?”

Amend said the exposure of Babygirl’s case on social media made no impact on her transfer to an animal rescue.

“We just can’t adopt dogs out that look like that,” she said. “They have to be healthy. They have to be up-to-date on their shots. They have to be spayed or neutered.”

She added that Babygirl’s age and condition made it doubtful she would survive the process of a live vaccination.

“What we have to do is work with the dog, make it healthy, and able to be vaccinated and put under surgery as well,” she said.

She added that Babygirl was on the shelter’s records.

“Every dog in here has to be recorded,” she said. “Just because it’s not on our Facebook page or it’s not on our Web site or it’s not on Petfinder does not mean that it’s not recorded.”

She addressed the issue of the shelter’s use of social media to advertise animals. She noted that while she has only been on the job for a week and the shelter is still recovering from the recent waterbreak, plans are underway to revise and improve she shelter’s policies.

“There are changes being made,” she said. “The adoption process is going a lot faster. In the past week we’ve adopted out a ton of dogsmore dogs than what we’ve seen adopted out of here before, and it’s a much quicker turnaround because I’m able to market the dogs.”

She added that she makes a point of meeting and greeting prospective dog owners.

“That’s helping tremendously, and that’s what we’re here for. Getting dogs adopted,” she said.

“I’m hoping for a big turnaround for this place. I’m hoping that we can update this building. I’m in the process of updating policies and procedures,” she said. “They’re antiquated. They need to be updated.”

She added that a social media policy will be put in place addressing how quickly a dog will be put on Facebook and marketed. She said people frequenting the animal shelter’s Web site will notice the changes as they are implemented.

DeFrank can be reached at