JEFFERSON — Changes are taking place at the Humane Society of Marion County, the new interim president of the shelter said late Tuesday.
The nonprofit, no-kill Jefferson animal shelter had come under scrutiny recently after volunteers found injured, malnourished, neglected and dead dogs on the property. As a result, Interim President Brooke LaFleur announced Tuesday, “sweeping changes” are coming to the shelter.
“The conditions under which these dogs were made to live is not acceptable,” LaFleur said. “These changes come on the heels of the formation of an emergency board of directors comprised of President Brooke LaFleur; media/social media relations, Vice President Missy Delong; operations chief, Tammy Cornette; and Mary Bird.”
The new board was formed on Nov. 26, after volunteer Gayle Robinson took photos of the dogs’ conditions while volunteering at the shelter and later filed a police report.
The shelter’s former director, Caroline Wedding, was terminated by the board, and the name of the shelter now has been formally changed back to the Humane Society of Marion County.
“Upon inspection, their living conditions were not in keeping with the standard for an organization tasked with providing a safe environment for dogs that were awaiting adoption,” LaFleur said.
After the revelation of the dogs’ condition and the state of the facility, community members joined together en masse to volunteer to move the most ill dogs to an inside shelter while the remaining dogs’ kennels were cleaned, and they were provided igloos or dog houses for shelter.
“The board immediately began an aggressive outreach program to recruit volunteers to clean up the facility and to bring together food, blankets and other items to ensure that the 78 dogs they found could be taken care of while a more lasting solution could be found,” LaFleur said.
She said Tuesday that donations have been pouring in from Marion County and beyond, and the board is working to “reorganize the structure into a legal entity that is capable of serving the community’s needs.”
“So much of what needs to be done to help these dogs can be taken care of by the amazing people of our county,” LaFleur said. “We have a long way to go, and we need your help, but we are now organized, and we are taking action.”
How To Help
The Humane Society of Marion County will be working to place as many dogs as possible over the next month, LaFleur said. Profiles of the dogs available have been posted on the shelter’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Humane-Society-of- marion-county-699108623493510/.
To adopt or foster a dog, call (903) 665-4463. The shelter also needs donations and volunteers. To donate or volunteer, call the Humane Society of Marion County at (903) 601-3420 or message its Facebook page.