Dear Mr. Matt Coffland,
My name is Kayla Silver and I am a lifetime resident of Belmont County. I am writing to you in regards to the Belmont County Animal RescueLeague.
I have volunteered at the shelter several times and have spent countless hours walking the dogs and spending time with them. I have donated cash, food, blankets, laundry detergent, bleach, leashes, collars, treats, toys and so much more.
In May of 2012, I applied for a Pit Bull named Lotis. I had walked Lotis several times and fell in love with her. I am a huge fan of the Pit Bull breed and believe they are misunderstood. Upon reviewing my application, Verna specifically pointed out that I had a Bellaire address. Now, please keep in mind that although I have a Bellaire address, I live near Key Ridge. She then went on to insult me by saying, “People from Bellaire can’t afford their animals!” What Verna failed to view was the “income” part where I wrote in that my family makes over $100,000 per year. A few days later, I went back to the shelter to visit Lotis, but she was gone. I was told she was sent to a rescue, but I knew better. My friend was only sparing my feelings. Lotis had been put to sleep.
On another occasion I was visiting a friend at Bel Capre Apartments when Verna and the warden responded to a call of 2 pits running loose. A friend of mine had been out there that day and seen the pits and being a dog lover, she took them home where they happily reside and are totally healthy. I told Verna that the dogs were with a friend of mine and that they were safe and being vetted in the morning, she told me that my friend “stole” Belmont county PROPERTY and asked me if I knew “how VICIOUS” a pit bull can be”? She also went on to very boldly say to me, “Do you have ANY idea who I am?!” I then watched her as she took a dog from a man’s home (where she was not even called to) as he was following her crying asking to keep the dog with him. Her response to him was, “She should be tagged”. This dog WAS a neighborhood stray, HOWEVER, the man took all measures to keep her fed, watered and fully vetted.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine inquired about the 6 Pugs that were up for adoption at BCARL. A 501c3 rescue from Pennsylvania was willing to pull ALL 6 pugs and was fully funded to do so. Verna DENIED their paperwork and said, “They’re pure bred, they’ll get adopted.” So not only did she stop 6 lives from moving forward and getting out of the shelter, she prevented 6 more lives (the 6 dogs who would have taken the 6 pugs place) a chance of surviving.
Recently, I read a story on Facebook regarding Lori, a female pit who was pulled from a hoarding situation. From what I understand, there was a rescue (501c3) willing to pull her; they just asked that she be cat-tested. Instead of taking the 5 minutes to cat-test her, Lori was put to sleep. I am outraged with this! An innocent dog dies because someone is too lazy to see if she can get along with cats? Is it more cost effective to put her down than to have a fully sponsored rescue pull her?
I would like some answers, Mr. Coffland. I would like to know WHY Verna has the authority to do these things. WHY she is the one who can decide who lives or dies, or who can adopt or what rescue can help. I haven’t seen ANY great decisions come from her in my 2 years affiliated with the shelter.
I am OUTRAGED as well as many of my fellow animal lovers. A lot of people REFUSE to even go look at BCARL because they have heard nothing but BAD THINGS about them. How they shut everyone down for adoptions and how the animals are treated, how the staff treat potential adopters! This is UNACCEPTABLE!
I am asking you, as a registered voter, a Belmont county resident and an animal lover/advocate to PLEASE take a second and look into things at the animal shelter. It’s time for a change, Mr. Coffland. Our 4 legged friends depend on us. We are their voiceplease, stop letting her silence us.
I look forward to hearing from you soon with your thoughts and feelings on this matter.
Kayla A. Silver
I recently paid a visit to the Belmont County Animal Rescue League. I also have done some digging and what I have seen and found out completely appalls me. The fact they call themselves a “rescue league” is a shame. You see a true rescue league does not euthanize animals when rescues or foster homes have offered to pay adoption fees and take the animals.
A few weeks ago, a pug rescue inquired about 6 Pugs that were up for adoption at BCARL. A 501c3 rescue from Pennsylvania was willing to pull ALL 6 pugs and was fully funded to do so. Verna, the shelter director, DENIED their paperwork because she said, “They’re pure bred, they’ll get adopted.” So not only did she stop 6 lives from moving forward and getting out of the shelter, she prevented 6 more lives (the 6 dogs who would have taken the 6 pugs place) a chance of surviving. Several private adopters ended up adopting these pugs. One of which who’s eye was in such bad shape it ruptured a few days after leaving the shelter which immediately needed removed. The shelter told the adopter this dog’s eye was just “dry” and he had eye drops which of course they couldn’t find when the person transporting the dog showed up. Had this dog gotten proper medical care and been adopted out in a timely manner this probably could have been prevented.
Most recently, I came across a story on Facebook regarding Lori, a female pit who was pulled from a hoarding situation. From my understanding, there was a rescue (501c3) willing to pull her and provide her with all the love and care she needed; they just asked that she be cat-tested. Instead of taking the 5 minutes to cat-test her, innocent Lori was put to sleep for no good reason. I am completely disgusted about this! An innocent dog dies because someone is too lazy to see if she can get along with cats? Is it more cost effective to put her down than to have a fully sponsored rescue pull her? An innocent life was lost all because of someones stubbornness and laziness.
Also the condition of the shelter is nothing to be desired. It looks like a disgusting hoarding situation. All of the animals have something wrong with them health wise. I couldn’t begin to count how many animals had fleas and how many piles of feces had worms in them, which the dogs walk right through, which in turn just continues to pass the worms around and contaminate the soil.
Then there is the issue of how difficult it is to adopt a dog. It’s taken several people over a month to actually adopt the dog. Anytime adopters follow up on the applications no one answers their calls, no one responds to their emails or anything. The message at the shelter says the animal is no longer available if no one returns your call when most of the time the animal is still there, and secondly if the animal is not available maybe the person would be interested in another one then.
I’ve heard several stories where adopters were denied just because Verna didn’t like the way they looked, talked, or felt because of where they lived they couldn’t afford an animal. Who is she to judge people based on the city where they live?
These are just a few of the things. This place needs a complete overhaul. Innocent dogs are dying all because of the lack of management and compassion at this “rescue league”. I encourage all animal lovers everywhere to let all of the Belmont County commissioners know just how terrible the situation is and demand change!