Selbrede’s story below appears in abbreviated form on the
back side of a flyer that was distributed at Macon's 2009 Cherry
Blossom Festival (click
here to see the front side of the flyer).
felt powerless to help the animals at the Macon Animal Shelter until
she realized that she could share her story. Silence covers up abuse,
but speaking out in whatever way you can brings wrong-doing to light
so that it can be addressed and fixed by others who care (or who
at least can be pressured into doing the right thing). Kathy sincerely
hopes that other witnesses will also muster the courage to share
what they have seen in Macon or other animal shelters. Justice has
only one foundation (truth), but injustice has two foundations (lies
and silence). Silence generally amounts to tacit consent.
share your experiences, testimony, and photos through Shelter Reform,
please write us. This
page will become the clearing house for many more eyewitness reports
concerning not only the Macon Animal Shelter but shelters all across
Georgia and other states. The light of public scrutiny alone will
force changes in places that otherwise may take decades to accomplish,
during which time innumerable animals will continue to suffer.
you’ve clicked the story links below and read them, please
visit our Action page
to see how you can help the animals in the Macon Animal Shelter.
1: Kathy Selbrede in Macon
2: Myshea Robinson in Macon
1: Macon City Councilman Schlesinger
Story 1: Flippi
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GA: one visitor's experience
Selbrede of The Woodlands, Texas tells of her visit to Macon, Georgia
in February 2009
toward Macon on Sunday, February 8, 2009, my husband and I stopped
to help a beautiful (and very pregnant) dog laying in the Highway
96 median. A local police officer who stopped to help us admitted
that the dog had been there for three weeks. He said there were
so many strays in the area that one man had resorted to driving
around in his pickup truck to feed them all. Having no other options
for the dog before us, at my request the policeman put her on my
lap in our over-loaded car. We phoned my sister who gave us directions
to the Macon Animal Shelter, assuming it would be safer for the
dog than the freeway median would be.
Once we arrived in Macon, we dodged potholes gutting the route to
the animal shelter. 11th Street dead-ended before we had found it.
Backtracking, we were stunned to realize that the Macon Animal Shelter
is actually inside the City
Dump. My stomach tightened as we traveled the dirt road beside
the dump scales. At the Shelter we found the gates were locked,
but employee Nathan Millwood happened to arrive just as we were
leaving and graciously let us in. He gave our canine friend (whom
we now call Maggie) a clean, quiet pen in the Adoption Ward for
the night. He explained that dogs in the loud and crowded pens in
the Main Ward often judge the environment so unsafe they either
give birth to still born pups or kill them outright if they’re
The next morning we returned to the Shelter to discuss options for
Maggie. After being buzzed past the heavy locked metal front door
and orientated, we got acquainted with Maggie’s cage neighbors
– an English Setter puppy and a very skinny brown puppy. The
gentle little brown dog was terrified and came out of her cage only
after much affectionate coaxing; when I told Nathan she had diarrhea,
he said he was aware that she had been sick.
Out in the back behind the Shelter, we noticed a concrete/cinderblock
box about the size of a dumpster with a thick, heavy iron top attached
to a pulley on the ceiling – Macon's
gas chamber. Nathan assured us several times during our visits
that all euthanasia was currently being done humanely by lethal
injection. A little later Nathan asked me to stay in the Adoption
Ward because the public was not allowed to see the removal of the
bodies of the animals they had euthanized that morning – that
removal process took more than 30 minutes. Based on an annual statistic
posted at the Shelter, I calculated that 11 dogs per day were being
euthanized, but Nathan said the number is actually much higher.
I since learned that City Council member Rabbi
Larry Schlesinger witnessed 17 dogs put into the gas chamber
cage at one time and lowered into the cinderblock structure to be
gassed, an experience that continues to haunt him.
We visited the Shelter several times that day and the next to walk
Maggie and the adoptable puppies. The brown puppy refused the special
canned food we brought her from PetSmart and threw up thick, clear
mucus. Nathan assured us the vet was coming to check her.
We found a rescue group to foster Maggie AND her two neighbors in
the Adoption Ward. We were particularly concerned for the brown
puppy, surmising from her symptoms that she would eventually die
of worms if left untreated. The group's director phoned Paula Fuller
at the Shelter, who would not release either of the puppies because
their adoption periods were not yet up. Ms. Fuller told the rescue
group’s director that the vet was there checking the brown
puppy as they spoke. We returned to the Shelter to find the vet
was not there. We took Maggie with us, trusting Paula and Nathan
who assured us that Dr. McCommon would absolutely come that evening.
The next morning we arrived at the Shelter early to check on the
brown puppy. The receptionist called Nathan up front and he told
us that he had “euthanized” the brown puppy because
when he found her that morning, she had become too weak to stand
and her eyes were jaundiced. He said that the vet had never come.
After we had swallowed that news, we immediately took steps to adopt
the English Setter to save it from a similar fate. The rescue group
has since found Brandon a great home after treating his badly infected
surgical scars from his neutering surgery at the Shelter..
We had commitments that Thursday and Friday in Alpharetta, but returned
to Macon early Saturday morning specifically to attend a meeting
regarding the Macon Animal Shelter. Those attending testified that:
Shelter vet, Dr. McCommon, makes only sporadic visits.
There is no scale at the Macon Animal Shelter, meaning:
If lethal injections were done, there is no way to ensure animals
receive the proper dosage; they may wake up in the City Dump
or be buried there alive, and
Unless Dr. McCommon brings his own scale, spay/neuter surgeries
are done with no way to ensure proper anesthesia.
There has been no stethoscope at the Shelter, meaning no matter
how the animals are euthanized (by gas or injection), there's
no way to guarantee they won't wake up in the City Dump or be
buried there alive.
A rescue worker witnessed the wire cage lifted out of the gas
chamber with the animals still moving and kicking inside.
An employee at the City Dump tells individuals off the record
about seeing allegedly "dead" animals dumped there by
the Shelter awaken and run away, but refuses to blow the whistle
for fear of retaliation.
Macon Animal Shelter has killed all animals in the facility:
Before a number of holidays so that staff would not have to
tend the animals,
-- Ten times for Parvo in dogs, despite the
fact that the Dept. of Agriculture requires quarantine, not
death, for Parvo, and despite the fact that
Parvo was only reported once or twice to the Dept. of Agriculture
in two years, and
-- On account of mere rodent and cockroach infestations.
Macon’s animals got the short end of the deal at City Hall
last year when politics took precedence over animal welfare. Macon’s
citizens, rescuers, and legislators ran into Shelter management’s
stone-walling and bait-and-switch tactics as suggestions and donations
to hasten transition to lethal injection were derailed. In the
end, city leaders sentenced Macon’s animals to another year
of over a dozen animals being cruelly gassed to death daily.
Animal rescuers in Macon and other areas operate in fear of punitive
retaliation and report that when they become too proactive, Macon
Animal Shelter shuts down to the public, denies rescuers access
to the animals, and/or kills all the animals in the Shelter.
Service techs have gone to Macon’s Shelter more than once
to forcibly clear puppies out of the gas chamber’s drain
after the pups squeezed themselves down into it in their terror,
tightly lodging their tiny bodies into the opening intended for
the urine, blood, and other wastes generated by the animals suffering
long torturous deaths with them in the chamber.
Regardless of which form of euthanasia is used, current Shelter
staff who have mistreated animals, and allowed their mistreatment,
must be replaced. No individual who is capable of treating animals
so cold-heartedly is capable of humanely euthanizing them. (The
witnesses at this Saturday meeting mirrored the views of noted
shelter consultant and euthanasia trainer Douglas Fakkema, who
wrote, "I think the best check and balance is to allow only
compassionate animal care and control workers to euthanize ...
when killing is done by poorly trained, unmotivated workers, or
workers without compassion, then any method can and will be inhumane.")
March 3, a Macon City Council member told me that the Shelter is
not yet doing lethal injections but is still using the gas chamber,
AND it still does not have a stethoscope (state law requires euthanized
animals’ hearts be checked to avoid compounding a first tragedy
with a second).
Macon citizens must understand that their tax paid Animal Shelter
consistently hides the truth from the public. A very small percentage
of animals surrendered to the Macon Animal Shelter have any real
hope of being adopted or rescued. We learned that the Shelter routinely
lies to those who attempt to locate, reclaim, or rescue animals;
witnesses affirm that lovely animals are euthanized long before
their hold times are up.
The treatment of animals at this Shelter rivals the barbarism and
brutality of the gas chamber. Here's what we found:
caught by Animal Control on a single day are routinely packed together
inside the same pen. On March 18, 2009, 10-12 medium-sized dogs
were all together in one pen – this was an improvement over
the past when the shelter workers would include big dogs with the
small and medium size dogs and pack them in the pens so tightly
they had no choice but to stand in their own feces. Forcing 10-12
animals or more to be together in such close quarters causes fights
and injuries. A Sharpei rescued from the Macon Animal Shelter on
March 18, 2009 needed stitches because its bite wounds were so deep.
Smaller dogs starve during their hold times because larger dogs
eat their food – rescuers report that animals are routinely
emaciated after seven days in the Macon Animal Shelter.
March 1, 2009, the day it snowed in Macon, a rescuer arrived at
the Shelter to find that the staff had the doors in the Main Ward
open, and the animals and their pens were wet. Callous shelter staff
commonly clean the animals' pens by hosing them out with the animals
still inside them. Rescuers who routinely visit the Macon shelter
say that in the Main Ward the dogs and the concrete floor are often
wet. Whether or not the heater actually works in that ward, it is
always cold in winter.
it any surprise that an acronym FDIP (Found Dead in Pen) is routinely
used in Macon’s Shelter Log?
it comes time for animals in Macon’s Shelter to face the gas
chamber, even transporting them to the device can itself be a brutal
event. One witness we spoke with once saw Macon Shelter workers
bringing dogs, cats and even a tiny, fluffy kitten on the ends of
their control poles to the back of the Shelter and then using the
poles to mercilessly fling or cast the animals alive, like bait
on the end of a fishing pole, like worthless pieces of trash, into
the gas chamber “dumpster.” After the kitten, they threw
in an adult pit bull the same way. The sound of wounded, frightened
animals tearing one another apart still haunts this witness. When
the workers noticed this person (who was stunned and speechless
in horror) watching them, they all fled.
It is unconscionable that a web of unspeakable mistreatment in partnership
with fear, denial, and whistleblower retaliation has been woven
around Macon’s lost and homeless animals. The tax paying public
can and should demand that compassionate, responsible people who
will implement humane policies without compromise be placed in charge
of the city’s animals at every step. Macon could then point
to its animal shelter with civic pride rather than shame. Citizens
could then be confident that their own lost pets would be in good
hands until retrieved.
I honestly don’t know how anyone in any position of authority
in the city of Macon can sleep at night after being made so aware
of the tremendous amount of suffering going on every day at the
Macon Animal Shelter. My discovery of the details has been so unnerving
that sleep has eluded me ever since.
February 8, we heard a church sermon in Columbus that extolled the
rich Biblical heritage of Georgia. Two hours later, we rescued Maggie,
expecting that Georgians would live up to their reputation. In Macon,
instead of an animal “shelter” we found a House of Horrors
where the gas chamber not only operates, but is defended as “merciful,”
and animals are callously treated. “The righteous man has
regard unto his beast, but the tender mercies of the wicked are
cruel” (Prov. 12:10). It’s like we uncovered a dirty
secret that’s been hidden for years down in the most unsightly
part of Macon, the City Dump. This blemish on the community of Macon
is out of character for a city that can be so beautiful in the spring,
in a state that has hosted the Olympics and boasts such a strong
conservative Christian foundation.
time to elevate Macon, GA above Third World standards regarding
the humane treatment of animals and put an immediate end to untold
you for allowing me to share my story.
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was up for adoption, and I bonded with her, giving her
much-needed loving care at the Macon Shelter. I was
repeatedly told "the city vet was coming,"
always coming, to check her out. When I came
back the third morning, she had been put in the gas
is me (Kathy) with the little brown puppy at the Macon Animal
Shelter on Feb. 10, 2009. The dog ran around the shelter on
leash four times and was energetic. Is it true that she was
so near comatose the next morning that she needed to be killed
in the gas chamber?
Animal Shelter's own website
states: "The Macon Animal Control Division has a
responsibility to assure that pets and people live together
in safety and harmony - and that ALL pets receive proper care,
including veterinarian care and housing."
you noticed that they capitalized the word "ALL."
with me in the picture is proof that the Macon facility is
NOT living up to its own stated responsibilities.
hesitated to name this lovely, gentle animal. She is now Ana,
short for Anastasia, from the Greek word for "resurrection."
consolation after I learned that Ana was gassed in the aftermath
of veterinary neglect at the Macon Animal Shelter is that
I had spent two days with her running and playing in the fresh
air and sunshine behind the Shelter building. She knew that
she was loved. I deeply appreciated that once when I arrived
at the Shelter, Officer Nathan Millwood had already put her
and Brandon in the outside pens to play.
much better than a terror-filled death in the gas chamber
the day after this photo was taken ... especially
since we had successfully placed an official hold on her to
be safely transferred to a rescue group for adoption once
her hold time had expired.
be enjoying a wonderful life with a great family, and instead
she became the involuntary poster child for this website,
a website that should never have been necessary.
We were initially told that Ana was euthanized by lethal injection,
but subsequent exposure to Macon Animal Shelter policy casts
grave doubt on that claim. Also, I am left to wonder if it’s
true that her health really did decline that rapidly.