Guntersville veterinarian responds to allegations of taking advantage of animal euthanasia

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – A veterinarian in Guntersville denies News 19 allegations of inadmissible euthanasia.

One person emailed News 19 that they took seven kittens to the Guntersville Animal Hospital & Surgery Center this summer after finding them abandoned by the roadside.

They said all but two who appeared to have some type of eye infection and congestion appeared to be in perfect health.

The person chose the Guntersville Animal Hospital & Surgery Center in the hopes that the kittens could be adopted.

They said that when they called the vet office about six hours later, they were told that all of the kittens had been euthanized.

The complainant said that it was later made aware that the veterinary clinic benefited directly from euthanasia of animals within the city limits.

The rumor comes after we began investigating Marshall County Animal Control after complaints from former shelter volunteers regarding the forging of documents by Animal Control Officer Kevin Hoks found a lower than actual euthanasia rate.

Dr. Chuck Young told News 19 that staff at the Guntersville Animal Hospital & Surgery Center are paid for euthanasia services but do not make a profit.

In a written statement, he stated that of the 455 animals admitted by Animal Control in 2020, 57 animals were brought to them.

He explained that 27 were adopted and 30 euthanized after Hooks told him they were weakened, sick, aggressive, or court-ordered animals.

According to Young, this equates to 6% euthanasia.

He told News 19 that they euthanized these animals to minimize their suffering.

Young also commented on the documentation that several animals were not kept for mandatory seven-day retention at the Guntersville Animal Hospital & Surgery Center.

Young explained that while they were there, the animals became very sick and were euthanized.

He told News 19 that he recently spoke to a former Marshall County Animal Shelter volunteer and believed their concerns were legitimate and should be heard by the county.

He added that he believed there should be adjustments in the animal control department.

See the full explanation below:

The county council came to GAH a few years ago, just like they did with other hospitals in the county, to ask if we would be willing to help with animals that were weakened, sick, or aggressive. We did this to the best of our ability and only did what they asked us to do about these animals. Of 455 animals collected in 2020, 57 were brought to us, of which 27 were adopted and 30 weakened, sick, aggressive or court-ordered animals were euthanized. If these were the only numbers counted by the 455 in the county, then that is a rate of 6%. Anyone who took the time to examine euthanasia rates for counties across the state would find that these numbers are actually better than most. The county doesn’t bring the healthiest and most adoptable animals to us as they always pick up or hand over the worst cases. Hence, there will always be some who, for the sake of the humanities, will need to be put to sleep in order to minimize their suffering. Some of these animals, which were temporarily detained during the 7 days, became seriously ill during that time and had to be euthanized at that time. We have never laid down an animal before it was hired for no legitimate reason. It is not fair for an animal to go through this level of suffering when we have the ability to alleviate it. Veterinarians in the United States perform euthanasia every day to minimize all types of animal ailments. In these cases, it is no different when a patient has no owner, is sick and no one is ready to take care of them. And even if it were, after a certain point in time, many of these cases, regardless of medicine or money, could not be fixed. All of us here, like in other hospitals, have spent our lives healing and caring for animals rather than looking for reasons to euthanize an animal. It should be clear to everyone how hard we work to adopt animals by visiting our website animal shelter page as well as our Facebook page, which we update daily to accommodate each animal. And it’s not hard to see how passionate we are about adoption, and as many as possible find their homes forever, given all the happy adoptive clients we have every day. Our nurses who look after the animal shelter are dismayed that anyone would think they are deliberately harming an animal or complicit in anything in this category. None of us were consulted or asked before any of this came out. We offer full tours of our entire facility so everyone can see how each patient is being cared for. I am not sure what the county will do if we or the others stop helping them because the public is negatively informed about this problem or what is going to happen to sick, weakened or suffering animals, but we cannot Afford to do harm to our professional transportation companies or reputations when the county inquiries are an incredibly small fraction of a percentage of our operations and any money that is received largely covers the expenses. If animal shelting were profitable they would be everywhere, it’s a tough job and most don’t want it, especially when it comes to these decisions. We have not been to any other public or private establishment in our county and cannot talk about how things are done or kept, but as anyone can testify that this was here, everything is kept spotless and absolutely according to the book, and everyone who says otherwise, it would do challenge to see. Additionally, all of our records are given to the county for use at their own discretion. We have no idea if the total euthanasia count in the county is below 10% because we don’t see this information, but it would have to be below 10% for it to be considered “no killing”. If not, they should be classified as “low risk” and ensure that they accurately reflect where each animal went and what happened in the circumstances. In addition, this information should be made available to the public. If there are tax or structural changes that could or should be made in the County Minutes, they can and hopefully will be made to allow for a more transparent process. We would like to believe that no one in any setting, in a shelter, or in any other way, would ever like to see weakened, sick, or aggressive animals suffer without intervention, even if it means they walk peacefully with help, but when that is said , we don’t want an animal that might be adoptable so as not to have the opportunity to find a home. We’re doing everything on our side of the fence to make this happen, and hopefully the country too. We don’t mind helping them deal with animals, but we don’t want to be accused of having things in public that are far beyond our control when we’ve just done our best to help the animals. We have just spoken with Mary Harris and Natalie Burwick on these issues for the past few days and we understand they have legitimate concerns and should be heard regarding their questions and recommendations regarding the county. They also understand that we didn’t purposely cover up any of these numbers and have relied on the county to give us accurate information about each animal in order to make it public. Above all, we hope that in the future the county will be able to obtain the funds to open a facility, and we will try to help in any way we can.

GAH employees

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