Campbell County mayor may close animal shelter after abuse

Campbell County mayor may close animal shelter after abuse allegations

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Employees and officials said that dogs euthanized at the shelter were not given proper sedative or euthanasia drugs and were kept in unheated kennels. Employees and officials said that dogs euthanized at the shelter were not given proper sedative or euthanasia drugs and were kept in unheated kennels.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

JACKSBORO (WATE) - After multiple allegations of abuse and neglect at a Campbell County animal shelter, the Campbell County mayor is stepping in.

The shelter and its director, Betty Crumley, have come under fire after employees and officials said that dogs euthanized at the shelter were not given proper sedative or euthanasia drugs and were kept in unheated kennels.

On Thursday, Campbell County Mayor William Baird went to the shelter in an effort to either shut it down or have Crumley suspended as director.

He told 6 News Thursday afternoon that he has decided to keep the shelter open until he figures out what to do.

He said in the next 24 hours he planned to make a temporary decision to either close the shelter or have Crumley suspended.

The kennels at the Adrian Baird Animal Center were empty Thursday afternoon except for one dog waiting to be returned to his owner.

"Betty just came out of her office and said we could take everything. I double checked and said everything? She said everything," explained Patricia Simpson, a volunteer with the rescue group Friends of Campbell County Animals.

Simpson and others were allowed to transfer the animals to other shelters or foster homes.

That happened after Baird visited the shelter in the morning.

"We've got to do something about it. Something has to be done and be done fairly soon," he told 6 News.

The mayor said hearing allegations straight from shelter employees, like Brenda Watkins who talked to 6 News on Tuesday, has had an impact.

"It's hard not to believe those folks, but I'm not going to pass any judgement until all the investigations are complete," Baird said.

It's taken him awhile to get to this point, he said, because of Crumley's history in the community.

"We are good friends, but that's not the reason she's kept her job. Betty has been involved with Humane Society for years. She raised a lot of money for spay and neuter programs," Baird said.

The mayor said if he can find other shelters to take Campbell County's incoming animals, he may temporarily close the shelter.  If not, he said he's looking for someone to fill Crumley's shoes so he can put her on administrative leave.

"I think there is probably a pool of several people pretty close that could step in and run it adequately and compassionately," Simpson said.

The mayor said he wants to wait until the state finishes its investigation into the shelter before he makes a final decision on Crumley's job.

Though the Department of Health refuses to comment, multiple sources confirm one of their investigators was at the shelter Tuesday interviewing Crumley and the two animal control officers.

But as of Thursday afternoon, the three part-time employees who have alleged abuse, including Brenda Watkins, had not been interviewed by that investigator.

Some of the animals rescued Thursday from the shelter are being cared for by the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley in Knoxville.

When 6 News asked Crumley earlier in the week if she would step down in light of the allegations, she responded via email "HELL NO."

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