Shelter workers 'out of doghouse'

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Grand jury delivers no indictment to workers accused of animal cruelty

By Beth Braden

 JACKSBORO—A Campbell County grand jury has considered all the evidence against the Adrion W. Baird Animal Center and found no criminal wrongdoing.

“[It’s] difficult to prove intentional animal cruelty,” said District Attorney General Lori Phillips-Jones.

On Aug. 16, the grand jury heard nearly two hours of evidence presented by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent Andy Corbitt. 

While no criminal charges were brought against former shelter director Betty Crumley or any of the employees, the grand jury issued a set of 10 recommendations in response to the evidence.

• The shelter should be required to have a working scale for proper dosage of euthanasia medication.

• The county government should consider a guideline for the euthanasia rate, acceptable temperatures in the kennel area and a standard euthanasia procedure to be followed. The jury recommended that there should be a second witness at each euthanasia, and that person’s name be on the log. Additionally, the jury recommends that somebody stay with the animal until it is certified to be deceased.

• There should be “better” record keeping procedures for the intake and euthanasia logs.

• Euthanasia technicians should be fully educated on the drugs used to administer euthanasia and should follow the best dosage in relation to the actual weight of the animal and the particular method of euthanasia used. (If continuing to use the IP [“heart stick”] method, the manufacturer should be contacted and should issue a written recommendation as to the dosage of the medicine.

• The county should review the records kept by the shelter on a regular basis. The grand jury recommends once yearly, if not more often, and the shelter should be subject to several unannounced visits by auditors and inspectors.

• Shelter employees should participate in yearly training to learn about any recent changes in laws or guidelines.

• The shelter should seek advice from other shelters about their procedures for operation and other pertinent information – including working with rescue groups and fundraising.

• Material safety data sheets should be at the shelter and available to the public.

• A website should be created to help facilitate adoption and control euthanasia rates

• The shelter should review all its policies and procedures to ensure practices are in line with state law. 

The document of recommendations was filed in Campbell County Criminal Court on Aug. 19. 

The grand jury hearing came almost four months after the shelter was closed in April following several allegations at the shelter including animal cruelty and improper euthanasia techniques. Former shelter director Betty Crumley was on paid administrative leave until her resignation at the end of July.

Phillips-Jones says Crumley cooperated with the investigation.