Franklin County Dog Shelter Needs Facilities Oversight

We built a beautiful $18mm facility for unwanted dogs in Franklin County. Prior to Rock coming on as Director (and Morton as the euthanization-happy veterinarian for the shelter), we held a lot more dogs at our shelter.

We put breed caps in place on the adoption floor, meaning we euthanize certain dog breeds over a certain number. For example, according to shelter reports, pit bulls on the adoption floor have long been capped at 10 dogs. Meanwhile, as many as 100 kennels sit empty at a time.

A FCDS priority should be reducing the number of unwanted dogs. Franklin County Dog Shelter could be allowing partner rescue groups use of the unused operating rooms for community spay days, organized and facilitated by partner rescue organization volunteers. Operating rooms sit empty, we could be spaying more dogs. One reason we can’t get more dogs spayed is lack of adequate operating space to perform these procedures.

According to FCDS staff, many dogs fail the medical exam due to dental issues. However, staff also reports that dental equipment sits unused. More dogs being needlessly failed.

Volunteers have complained to Director Rock about hallway visibility being dangerous due to various blind spots. Hall mirrors are an easy, inexpensive fix that could save Franklin County accidents and liability later.

Finally, on a beautiful spring day, dogs could be running around and releasing stress and anxiety in this gorgeous, grassy, fenced-in space. Because the fence was installed improperly, it’s of no use. The fence doesn’t reach the ground. Two years after being built, the space sits empty. Leadership has ignored a fundamental space that we all know will insure more adoptions: adequate exercise for dogs.20140422-172641.jpg

Dispatch LTE regarding Franklin County Dog Shelter

Commissioners invested heavily in the new Franklin County Dog Shelter. I believe that with the investigation underway, we are finally on the right track.

This author is right though, we need a no nonsense, expert board of pros to straighten out the toxic mess inside FCDS. May this investigation yield quick results and the leadership that FCDS dogs, staff, and taxpayers sorely deserve.

Franklin County Dog Shelter ‘compassionate care’ part 1

This is the first of several shelter stories I’ll post in the coming days as time allows. I apologize for the sometimes graphic nature of these posts.

The Franklin County Dog Shelter mission statement says that they provide “compassionate care.”

On the evening of Feb 15, a dog was shot in the head by a Reynoldsburg police officer. Reynoldsburg police believed the dog to be a serious enough threat to shoot it. However, police officers allowed the injured dog to roam free overnight.

The injured dog was later captured by Franklin County dog wardens and taken to Franklin County Dog Shelter the following morning.

When the dog arrived to the shelter, Dr. Morton didn’t immediately check the dog or provide wound assessment and compassionate care. No pain medication was given to the suffering dog.

According to FCDS reports, the dog was left in a kennel unattended, unmedicated, and bleeding. Dr. Morton, with Director Rock observing, finally examined the dog at 1:07pm on Feb 16. In his notes, Dr. Morton noted that the dog had been laying in pools of blood that accumulated on the floor of his kennel.

Despite being ‘very weak and wobbly’ from sitting in a cage bleeding to death, the dog was marked as ‘too aggressive for examination’ by Dr. Morton (with Director Rock present in the exam room). The injured dog was marked for euthanization.

Understandably, many dogs are too injured to save. Does this disallow them from receiving compassionate care in the meantime?

My question for FCDS leaders is this:

What part of “compassionate care” allows a dog who was shot in the head to sit unattended in pools of blood without care or even pain medications? Is this what Franklin County considers compassion?

Timeline established via shelter reports on Feb 16, 2014:

9:27 call received by FCDS
9:44 call assigned
10:08 warden arrived
10:17 dog impounded
11:48 RVT notes state dog interested in food, Morton will check in afternoon, letting dog settle down
1:07 Morton assesses the dog, dog lays in a pool of blood, dog is very weak and wobbly. Humane euth. determined
1:31 status changed to euthanized

To sign a petition asking County Commissioners for a thorough investigation at FCDS:











Franklin County Dog Shelter markets more badwill & misleading information.


Susan Smith is the spokesperson and marketing director at the Franklin County Dog Shelter. Smith is tasked with public relations and marketing dogs for adoption. According to shelter staff, Smith also maintains the FCDS website and social media accounts.

Recently, Smith publicly belittled volunteer efforts and partner rescue organizations via inaccurate statements posted on the FCDS website.

This wasn’t the first time that Smith provided misleading information when reporting Shelter marketing efforts to taxpayers.

Here is the text to Smith’s post on the FCDS web page (image from the website is posted above):
Another pit bull saved by our caring staff and Friends of the Shelter.
April has been waiting six months for a place to call her own…
This sweet pit bull came to the shelter a broken pup in January 2013. Her leg was left broken for weeks as rescue after rescue “committed” to taking her only to change their minds at the last minute when something cuter or less broken crossed their paths.

Emails between the shelter, local rescue organizations, and Friends of the Shelter show that Smith’s inflammatory post wasn’t accurate.

Accuracy aside, why would a paid county spokesperson spend county time and resources alienating and belittling valuable volunteers and their tireless efforts?

Shelter volunteers ultimately benefit taxpayers and the county’s bottom line. Volunteers reduce the County’s payroll at the shelter, they shoulder expensive medical care costs for animals, and they reduce the number of euthanizations. Volunteer efforts increase FCDS’s adoption rate, raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the shelter, and contribute to the shelter’s overall success.

Rescue groups and unpaid volunteers take the hundreds of dogs that FCDS deems ‘unadoptable’ each year. Often these are the dogs that the shelter refuses medical care for, regardless of how minor the diagnosis (dogs diagnosed with treatable ear infections have been euthanized at FCDS). It’s well documented that rescues take plenty of sick and senior dogs. Why would Spokesperson Smith post otherwise to the FCDS website?

What other county organization enjoys this much free labor and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from taxpayer volunteers? Why aren’t we nurturing these important partners and relationships?

We know Director Rock has a history of bullying and harassing rescue organizations and volunteers. Did Rock learn this social media behavior from Smith or is this simply the general culture at FCDS?

To all the tireless and unsung shelter volunteers and partner rescue groups, thank you for your valuable service to our community and for helping take a big bite out of FranklinCounty payroll and the bottom line.

Ask Commissioners to investigate, sign this petition:


The un-ironic bars of Superior, Wisconsin


40 years ago today I was born into an Irish-Catholic, Chicago-proud family. My generation was the first on both sides of my family to leave Chicago. Before you ask, the Cubs.

My clan spent summers vacationing in Wisconsin, my Gram kept Old Style beers in her fridge, we ate Vienna beef, my pop would spring for Cubs tickets once every summer, and we slept under wool blankets during the long winters.

When I see old timey signs for PBR, Pabst, or Schlitz, I don’t feel irony, just nostalgia.

Recently, Harold and I had dinner with some journalist friends. Journalists ask great questions. My friend asked me where my favorite place to eat/drink is. In my head I pictured the old dive Chicago bars I grew up around that specialized in Milwaukee beers and free popcorn, I didn’t have a name for them. Today, I figured it out: non-ironic Midwest dive bars.

To my small family: the Lessner’s, the Banner’s, the Stanton’s, and the West’s and the Chicago cold that shaped who I am today, I toast my salty Bloody Mary and a sniff (the small beer served with bloody marys in the Midwest) to you. I’m proud of my Midwest roots.































Diving back in, still bad news.

Today I got back to sorting through the Franklin County Dog Shelter public records. I’ve discovered some disturbing new items I’ll post as time allows in the coming days.

In the following report, the vet tech describes a dog as being very scared. Dr. Morton describes the dog as aggressive and marks the dog for euthanization.


20140416-034701.jpgA third person, a vet intern, witnessed this particular medical assessment and provides a handwritten report of what she witnessed. The frightened dog fell off the table, thanks to Dr. Morton. The dog was understandably scared, but not aggressive. (VM=Dr. Vince Morton)

20140416-034856.jpgThis dog was euthanized needlessly. Two shelter employees who were present saw a scared dog who was dropped during his exam and was then sent to his death. Management that treats animals this cruelly and coldly reflects poorly on our entire community.

If you’d like to sign a petition and ask County Commissioners to investigate this thoroughly, click here:


Director Rock on Administrative Leave

I’m hoping for clarity, quick resolution, and peace for all involved in the problems at the Franklin County Dog Shelter. Most importantly, may our dogs experience kindness and compassionate care from here forward.


Another report from CBS 10tv:

There were also reports from NBC4 and ABC6 but they’ve not yet posted their stories online. I’ll update when they do.

Petition asking County Commissioners to investigate thoroughly: