Euthanized puppies at Surry Co. Animal Shelter causes outrage

DOBSON, N.C. — Animal advocates are calling on county commissioners to fire Surry Animal Shelter Director Gary Brown.

Animal rescue groups are asking for Brown’s removal after he ordered five healthy puppies be euthanized Friday just hours after they were surrendered to the shelter and knowing animal rescue volunteers were trying to save them on short notice.

“We can find places for these dogs to go but not if you kill them before the end of the day,” said Melanie Morrison, with Carolina Caine Rescue.

Morrison says volunteers were told by a shelter staff member that they had room to keep the puppies until Monday. The puppies were killed just hours later. “There was no reason to kill the puppies and I don’t want my tax money going to support [Brown's] salary.”

All questions for Brown were referred to his boss Surry County Health Director Samantha Ange, who reviewed his actions and backed his decision.

A prepared statement from her office stated that because the puppies were surrendered, “No policies were violated” and claimed “at no time on Friday were Animal Control staff asked to hold the animals until Monday.”

Brown has come under fire in recent years for the shelter’s high euthanization rate and for failing to work with animal rescue groups. That changed last year after highly publicized protest and county commissioners forced Brown to open the shelters doors to volunteers and animal rescue groups trying to find homes for shelter animals.

“Mr. Brown has been given clear guidance from this point going forward of what is expected of him from the county commission,” said Eddie Harris, chairman of the Surry County Commissioners. “We expect him to fulfill that charge. The boards of commissioners are going to do the right thing.”

Since January of this year, 160 animals have been rescued from the shelter, 124 more animals compared to the same time period last year and before a new policy allowing rescue groups went into place.

“We are making some progress … but still have a way to go,” said animal advocate Paula Stanley. “If there is room there should be no reason to kill a healthy dog especially when they’ve reached out to us to find a home and we worked all weekend to do that.”