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Friends for Animals Humane Society of Burke County has had its share of problems in meeting state compliance standards for a shelter.

But a state inspection this week of the facility was favorable.

Lindsey Harris, an inspector with the animal welfare section of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, noted in the Wednesday inspection that, overall, the facility is much improved from the previous inspections.

“The odor in the large dog indoor area has been greatly reduced in so much that the area appeared fresh with a pleasant smell after morning cleaning,” Harris commented in the inspection report. “The indoor large dog enclosure drains have been renovated and are within compliance. Drain covers are in place to reduce odor as well. The floors have been resealed in the puppy/kitten area, the cat colony room, and the indoor puppy area.”

Harris noted the floors are chipping in a couple of areas in the indoor puppy area but that Alan Keller, president of the board of directors for Friends for Animals, told her he plans to reseal them.

While the facility was approved in the inspection, Harris noted that the area designated to storing cans prior to recycling is running over with bags of cans. The truck and trailer also are full of cans, she said. Harris said Toni Davis, director of Friends for Animals, indicated plans are in place to continue recycling the cans and to get the area clean again, according to the inspection report.

In addition, the inspection found drains in the area of the large dog outdoor enclosures remain chipping and peeling. Harris said Keller told her he intends to update the drains to match the renovated indoor drains as soon as weather permits.

But Harris ended her inspection comments, saying the interior of the facility is neat and orderly and that records for all animals requested included all required components and are neatly organized.

The organization’s inspections haven’t ended up so well in the recent past.

An inspection on Aug. 26 and found many of the same issues that forced the facility closed at the end of 2018. The August inspection disapproved the facility.

One of the things noted in the Aug. 26 inspection report was a pungent odor in the main lobby that is consistent throughout the entire indoor spaces of the facility. A significant odor also was noted at the drain in the outdoor area housing adult dogs on the back side of the building. The odor was noted during previous inspections Jan. 15 and July 23. Other issues involved enclosures being heavily soiled with feces and a green algae-like substance in the area of the large dog play yard at the fence beside the walkway.

The organization failed its August 2018 state inspection for numerous violations, was fined $7,000 and received a letter dated Nov. 5, 2018 informing it of the state’s decision to suspend its license. Friends for Animals had to close for 60 days to bring the facility up to state standards.

State officials said at the time that suspending a shelter is a very rare occurrence. Inspectors had found several areas of continued non-compliance, according to the state.

Because of the revocation of its license, Burke Friends for Animals had to get rid of all its animals and stop taking in more animals.

Violations included not getting care for a dying puppy and lack of proper record keeping to not storing food properly and failing to keep the premises free of accumulations of trash and discarded matter.

It said with the suspension that the shelter willfully disregarded and violated the N.C. Animal Welfare Act and rules issued.

The facility’s license was reinstated in January.

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Sharon McBrayer is a staff writer and can be reached at smcbrayer@morganton.com or at 828-432-8946.

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