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  • Writer's pictureNo Kill Movement

Maryland: Photo Shows Likely Neglect and Abuse at Humane Society of Carroll County

Photo: Missy, a little Sheltie who suffers from pancreatic insufficiency and requires digestive enzymes in order to digest food, appears to have been neglected to death at the Humane Society of Carroll County.

A story that we have been following since February took a tragic turn yesterday when Missy's owner was contacted by the Humane Society of Carroll County, asking her permission to euthanize her dog.

Missy's owner wrote on Facebook, "Yesterday, I was called to the shelter, because Missy had collapsed. They wanted me to authorize euthanizing her."

Missy's owner refused to authorize euthanasia, and, instead wanted medical care provided to her suffering dog. She snapped this picture of Missy, documenting her condition. In the photo, you can clearly see that her fur is matted and discolored with urine and possibly feces. In the photo, she is severely emaciated and likely starving to death. Missy's owner says that the last she heard, Missy had been taken to an emergency veterinary clinic, but that the Humane Society was not providing her with any more information than that. Given her condition, it seems unlikely that Missy will survive.

The saga that led to the Humane Society's apparent neglect if not abuse of Missy likely began about 5 years ago. That is when the YesBiscuit! blog published a piece titled Lie of the Day: Carroll Co is "a great safe place for all animals." In it, attention was called to the Humane Society of Carroll County's extensive killing. For example, in the prior year, the agency reported killed 2,457 of the 3,053 cats taken in.

Toward the end of the 2012 YesBiscuit! blog, mention is made of Missy's owner Laura Shenk, a local animal advocate in Carroll County who offered to bring their shelter cats to adoption events in an effort to get them adopted, instead of being killed. The shelter declined her offer and years of conflict between the shelter and Shenk, who did rescue and advocacy work from her 150 acre agricultural property, ensued. The conflict escalated until one day in February a warrant was executed at Shenk's home and eleven dogs, including Missy, were seized. Initially, charges of cruelty were filed against Shenk for three of the animals. But the charges were dropped. In spite of the fact that the charges were dropped months ago, the Humane Society has refused to give Shenk her dogs back, even after a string of court cases that have not gone well for the County or the Humane Society.

Karen Baker, Deputy Director of the Humane Society of Carroll County said that all of the dogs seized by the County were in terrible shape, when they were taken. She stated that they all had a body score of 2, and that they had all gained a normal body weight, were doing well and were stable at the Humane Society. She also stated that the Humane Society had no record of Missy requiring digestive enzymes.

But, it is difficult to imagine how that could all be true. If Missy had arrived at the Humane Society with a body condition of 2 (no palpable fat) and had not been given her digestive enzymes, it seems impossible she could have survived the seven months she has been at the Humane Society.

In the photo above, it is obvious that Missy is emaciated, dehydrated and covered in urine at the Humane Society. When asked to explain that, Baker basically told us that that is how dogs look when they are dying.

But, clearly, dogs do not suddenly lose weight because they are dying. The level of apparent emaciation seen in the photo takes weeks or months of neglect to appear. Ms. Baker's statement also does not explain her matted, urine-covered fur or her terribly outgrown nails, after the Humane Society had had her in custody for more than 7 months.

Baker also insists that many changes have been made at the Humane Society since the YesBiscuit! blog was published. She says they have implemented all of the programs of the No Kill Equation, and that killing has stopped. If true, that is certainly good news. But, none of that explains the condition of this poor dog in this haunting photo. If the Humane Society was unaware that Missy required digestive enzymes to be added to her food, they should have been able to figure it out some time before she starved to death.

For the record, below are some pictures of Missy in her home before the local "shelter" came and took her.

Take action: contact the County Board in Carroll County and demand reforms. Late update: We did get an email from Baker including some photos, reportedly of Shenk's very messy house. But, they do not document anything near the neglect and abuse apparently perpetrated on Missy by the Humane Society. Regardless of what Humane Society claims happened to Missy before she came to them, they were responsible for her apparent lack of care after they took her.

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