Campbell shelter worker confirms reports of abusive conditions

Campbell County shelter worker confirms reports of abusive conditions

"I'm ashamed and sorry that it's gone this long and this far," said Brenda Watkins. "I'm ashamed and sorry that it's gone this long and this far," said Brenda Watkins.

6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - An employee of the Campbell County animal shelter confirmed Tuesday disturbing rumors being reported by others about abusive conditions at the shelter.

"I'm ashamed and sorry that it's gone this long and this far," said Brenda Watkins.

Watkins has worked at the shelter since 2006, the year after it opened, and two years before Betty Crumley was hired as director.

"Betty could do this and do it right. Don't know why she chooses not to," Watkins said.

Watkins says too many adoptable dogs are euthanized, sometimes the same day they come to the shelter, even when there's room to keep them and rescue groups willing to find them homes. 

"She just says this is how it's going to be run and done and that's what we had to go by," Watkins said.

She confirmed that no sedative is given to the animals before they're killed.

"Some, they thrash around in the cages. There's a lot of yelping, yelling, screaming from the dogs. It's very painful sometimes."

Watkins also says a smaller-than-recommended dose of the euthanasia drug is used.

"They lay there sometimes for hours before they actually completely die," she said. 

The euthanizations, Watkins says, are usually done in the kennels among other dogs and not in isolation or the euthanasia room. 

"If you've got three dogs in a kennel and you euthanize one, if it's been a painful injection or this dog's yelling or screaming and then the other dog has had a catch pole put on it, and it's been held down to be euthanized, yeah, these dogs know what's going on," Watkins said.

According to Watkins, the drug is sometimes injected directly into the heart.

"When you hit an organ without a tranquilizer or being sedated, it's very painful," she said. "I've seen them taken back to be put in the freezer knowing they're still alive."

While the animals are in the kennels, Watkins said, the heat is rarely turned on, even in the dead of winter.

"They lay there and shake," she said.

Watkins says Crumley sometimes even denies the animals beds and blankets.

"She's actually told us not to put blankets down, and she's actually went through and took blankets up after we've put them down."

Watkins says she doesn't know why the shelter is run the way it is. She has stayed so long because she worried things would get even worse if she left. She hopes speaking out now will bring change.

6 News spoke to another shelter employee who did not want to be identified, but confirmed everything Watkins said.

Director Betty Crumley originally told 6 News last week she had done nothing wrong. More recently, she has refused to answer questions about the allegations, except our inquiry about whether she would consider resigning.

She answered by email, "HELL NO!"

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