When there is no shelter
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1995:
A November 9 CNN expose of dog shooting at the Bullitt County Animal
Shelter in Sheperdsville, Kentucky, and a print edition simultaneously distributed by
Associated Press raised outrage almost everywhere but in rural Kentucky and adjacent
states, where dogs are shot every day, and modern shelters don’t exist. Thirtyfive
of the 120 counties in Kentucky and 20 of the 95 counties in Tennessee have no
animal shelter of any kind.
Explained Vicky Crosetti, executive director of the Knox County Humane
Society in Knoxville, Tennessee, “Most parts of those counties aren’t wired for
cable––people there didn’t even see the broadcast.”
“In one segment,” said America Online Pethost3, an animal control officer
by profession, “the man just kept grabbing puppies and shooting them. These were
not feral, sickly, nasty animals––they were very adoptable.”
“You can kill 50 dogs for a dollar,” said Bullitt County judge/executive
John Harper, compared with lethal injection costs of $4.42 per dog.
The exposes came four days after the Macon Telegraph published the story
of hospital clerk Elizabeth ‘Bodee’ Wallace, 26, and police chief Paige McNeese,
of Marshallville, Georgia, population 1,600. To avoid shooting strays, McNeese
takes them to Wallace, who now has 77 dogs and 17 cats in 16 crude pens on her
2.5-acre lot––and has trouble with neighbors over incessant barking.
After the late Ann Fields’ Love And Care For God’s Animalife [see
W a t c h d o g], the best known of many such makeshift no-kill shelters in the rural
South may be Anelia’s Animal Sanctuary, of Oneonta, Alabama. Though only
incorporated in November 1994, Anelia’s has been publicized in humane media
since 1992, when a brief item ran with a photograph of founder Anelia Smith in
Animals’ Voice. Smith’s handwritten or individually typed appeals then focused on
her feud with a neighbor who purportedly shot some of the 120 semi-feral dogs––
none neutered––whom she claims to keep on her unfenced 20-acre lot, along with a
deer herd big enough to draw poachers, and so many snakes that the dogs supposedly
can’t use wooden kennels she says she built at the back of the property.
The problem with the neighbor was eventually resolved with the help of
attorney Laura Alfano, of nearby Warrior, Alabama, who along with Eleanor Jones
of Birmingham serves with Smith on the three-member sanctuary board.
Smith soon had another crisis. In the July/August 1995 edition of ANIMAL
PEOPLE, she appealed through a classified ad for funds with which to help “ abandoned
pets in dump sites.” The Editor and Publisher questioned the story, but
agreed to let the ad run after Smith sent copies of her incorporation papers. The ad
was a success: DELTA Rescue founder Leo Grillo sent Smith a cage trap big enough
to catch large dogs, full of veterinary supplies. He sent his parents––who know their
way around dirt-poor shelters––to see if Anelia’s might be worthy of further support.
The senior Grillos reported filth, haphazard management, and said they
counted just 15 dogs, though they heard barking from others within Smith’s house,
which they weren’t allowed to enter. They also interviewed Smith’s veterinarian,
finding discrepancies between her account of veterinary care and his.
Asked about the Grillos’ findings, Smith cited Alfano, Jones,
Summerlee Foundation trustee Melanie Roberts, and longtime Alabama shelter
manager Anne Speakman as witnesses in her defense. Smith said Jones had visited
within six months; Jones said she hadn’t visited in two years. Smith said she got
no foundation aid; Roberts, who visited only two weeks before the Grillos, gave
Smith a ringing endorsement and said she was getting help from both Summerlee
and the Ahimsa Foundation, which have overlapping boards.
Alfano explained the latter as a technicality: grants have been approved,
she said, but Anelia’s can’t receive them before getting nonprofit status from the
IRS. Alfano acknowledged irony in Smith’s claim of an endorsement from
Speakman, who in March 1993 was removed from the management of the Shelby
County Humane Society she herself founded, amid allegations of missing funds.
Trying to take a more grounded
approach, longtime humane worker Virginia
Gillas, well beyond retirement age for most people,
has founded the Humane Society of Hickory
County, Missouri (Route 2, Box 2029,
Hermitage, MO 65668). “They’ve never had
one, they need one badly, and no one else wants
to start one,” she told ANIMAL PEOPLE, “so I
will do the legal stuff, and then turn it over to the
young folks of Hermitage,” where she moved
after her first “retirement” several years ago to
seek a quiet life.
“How I wish I were young again,”
Gillas added. “ I help anyone I can, but more
help goes out than comes in.”