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A local animal rescue is in trouble with the state again after more noncompliance issues were found at its facility.

A local animal rescue is in trouble with the state again after more noncompliance issues were found at its facility.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture conducted a follow-up inspection of Friends for Animals Humane Society of Burke County on Aug. 26 and found many of the same issues that forced the facility closed at the end of 2018.

The department also inspected the facility on Kirksey Drive on July 23 and approved the facility on a contingent/conditional basis.

Then the inspection on Aug. 26 says the facility was disapproved.

Heather Overton, assistant director of public affairs for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, told The News Herald that a disapproved inspection means the facility did not meet the requirement as laid out in the state animal welfare act. She said in most cases, the department gives the facility the time to fix the areas that need improvement.

Overton said each case is looked at individually. Depending on the circumstances, the department of agriculture may or may not issue disciplinary action for a disapproved inspection, she said.

The department’s animal welfare section is continuing to work with and monitor the shelter, Overton said.

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. The report said the facility should increase ventilation and/or air flow to reduce odor.

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.

The cause of the odor still has not been identified or corrected to prevent future odors and problems.

The report said the primary enclosures housing adult dogs are heavily soiled with feces. Inspector Lindsey Harris said she asked Toni Davis, director of Friends for Animals, if the enclosures were cleaned the previous day. Harris said Davis indicated the enclosures were cleaned prior to staff leaving on the previous day.

Harris said she noticed the food bowls available to the dogs in the enclosures were filled with dog food and Davis indicated that the dogs had just been fed and that was the reason for the multiple piles of feces in each enclosure.

“In almost all of the enclosures the animals did not have room to lie down without coming into contact with feces,” Harris said in the report. “An employee was hosing down the indoor portion of these enclosures at the time of inspection. I asked Ms. Davis if the increased amount of feces present in the enclosure(s) was due to not cleaning the previous day or due to over feeding and she replied that over feeding must be the issue as she knows the enclosures were cleaned the previous day.”

Harris said in the report that feces should be scooped as necessary to allow each animal to be able to walk or lie down without coming into contact with waste or debris.

BCFFA President Alan Keller told The News Herald on Thursday that when the employees get to the shelter in the summertime, the dogs go to their outdoor enclosure and they feed them there. The employees then clean the indoor enclosures, Keller said, and the animals are allowed to go back in so employees could clean the outdoor enclosures.

Keller said the problem was that employees weren’t “scooping” before feeding the dogs, but that has since been changed.

“It was a protocol that was approved by the state during shutdown,” Keller said. “She got there an hour after they were fed and already pooping. The employee was inside cleaning like protocol.”

In addition, Harris noted the area used for housing recycled cans is again overflowing with cans and discarded matter.

“What appears to be several white and/or grey tarps are covering the fencing around the area however it is noted that the bags of cans are stacked higher than the chain link fencing in this area,” Harris said in the report. She said the area should be maintained in compliance.

Another item that is out of compliance noted in the report is that primary enclosures and walkways should be constructed of sealed concrete or other surfaces impervious to moisture.

The report also noted a green algae-like substance in the area of the large dog play yard at the fence beside the walkway and that it should be pressure washed and resealed to ensure the surface is impervious to moisture.

The report said walkway floors have chipping paint that expose the concrete below. It noted the inspection report of July 23 indicated that touch up repainting could be sufficient at that time. The Aug. 26 report, however, said it does not appear that any corrective action has been taken to reseal the walkways and floors. The condition of the walkways and floors appears to have worsened. It said the facility should repaint/reseal walkways to insure they are impervious to moisture.

“During today's inspection Mrs. Davis stated that repairs for the floors and drains were scheduled for later this week. She indicated that supplies were on hand,” Harris said in the general comments portion o the inspection report. “After the inspection I spoke with Mr. Alan Keller (president of Friends for Animals board of directors) who indicated that ‘Jerry’ was supposed to be patching the floors routinely. Mr. Keller indicated that there were no current repairs scheduled for the floors and/or the drains other than patch painting by Jerry who is an employee at this facility. Mr. Keller stated that he would implement plans to reseal the floors and drains as soon as possible. Mr. Keller also stated that he was aware of the odor issue at the facility and has been discussing cleaning solutions with Mrs. Davis and with Sharon to improve this issue. He indicated that he has also been inquiring about traps in the drain system.”

Keller said Thursday that he thought about 75 percent of the issues with the building itself had been handled, including resealing the floors with epoxy.

He said BCFFA switched to a new product when renovations and updates were made to the shelter while it was closed. Keller said they weren’t sure how often they would need to reseal the floors with the new product, but the organization now has plans to reseal and patch the floors every four months.

The organization also got hit for weeds growing outside of the facility, but Keller said he disagreed with that. 

He said he goes to BCFFA every Sunday, weather permitting, to mow the grass and keep up with landscaping. 

In November, the organization suspended its state license to operate and it was forced to close for 60 days to come into compliance.

It also was slapped with a $7,000 fine in September 2018 after it failed its August 2018 state inspection for numerous violations. 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.

Sharon McBrayer is a staff writer and can be reached at smcbrayer@morganton.com or at 828-432-8946. Staff Writer Chrissy Murphy contributed to this article.

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