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.

Late last year, Smith publicly insulted volunteers and partner rescue organizations via misleading statements posted on the FCDS website.

Smith’s public comments were not only inflammatory, nauseatingly passive aggressive, and disrespectful to countless local volunteers, they were also false. We know that this isn’t the first time Smith provided false information when reporting Shelter marketing efforts to taxpayers.

We also know that as recently as last month Smith disregarded Franklin County ethics policy by providing exclusive marketing opportunities for Director Rock’s wife’s rescue organization (which accepts donations on behalf of COPS) while representing the county on county time.

Given these major issues, is Smith an appropriate spokesperson to represent the best interests of the shelter and our community?

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, area rescues, and Friends of the Shelter prove that Smith’s inflammatory post was false. Multiple volunteers from Friends of the Shelter and other rescues also verify that Smith’s post was false.

Why would a paid county spokesperson spend county time insulting and alienating volunteers who ultimately assist in reducing the County’s payroll, medical care costs, bottom line, and euthanization rate while helping to increase FCDS’s adoption rate and overall success? Why would the County spokesperson mislead the public and recklessly disregard the work of shelter volunteers?

Shouldn’t the county spokesperson be thanking our tireless volunteers and working collaboratively to engage them further? Doing so saves taxpayers money and other resources.

It’s well established that rescue groups and unpaid volunteers take the dogs that FCDS deems ‘unadoptable.’ Often these are dogs that the shelter will not provide medical care for, regardless of how minor the diagnosis. It’s well known that rescues take plenty of sick dogs in their care.

Rescue groups and volunteers are the county’s unsung and unpaid heroes and tireless worker bees. Why would we allow a paid FCDS employee to insult and alienate these important people? How do Smith’s actions benefit taxpayers and the bottom line and the goodwill of the community at large?

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

We know Director Rock has a history of bullying and harassing other rescue organizations and volunteers. Did Rock learn this social media behavior from Smith or is this 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 County payroll and the bottom line.


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. Why wouldn’t a report be made if a dog fell from the exam table? (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. How do we insure this won’t happen again?

I don’t have an image of the dog that was euthanized unfortunately. Here’s another dog we put down:


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 humaneness 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.

Franklin County Dog Shelter dogs as Animal Test Subjects?

In February 2013, following multiple complaints, Director Joe Rock told concerned volunteers and employees that Franklin County Dog Shelter would no longer send their dogs to Columbus State Community College or Bradford College to become test subjects in their vet tech programs.

In January 2014, four dogs were sent to Columbus State for the program. FCDS is no longer sending dogs to Bradford School.

A current employee at Franklin County Dog Shelter and a Columbus State vet tech student confirmed that some dogs stay at the school as test subjects for as long as 2 years. The kennel system at Columbus State Community College does not allow dogs to have blankets, beds, or toys.

The dogs are subjected to multiple shots, blood draws, and other testing. Dogs showing signs of extreme stress are euthanized.

President, an 11 month lab, is pictured below. President was so stressed at Columbus State that he bit his tail to the bone and had to have his tail amputated.

Columbus State students said that one weekend the pipes burst at Columbus State. The dogs sat in freezing water for hours. The door to the kennels had been frozen shut and had to be bashed in to remove the dogs. When the pipes burst, the lightbulbs also shattered, sending shards of glass onto the scared dogs.

Concerns have been brought up to the FCDS Director but they’re often minimized, some speculate that this is because FCDS receives funding from Columbus State for the shelter dog program.

Franklin County Dog Shelter contends that the dogs at Columbus State go home with students on the weekends and stay no longer than nine months at a time. Students that work with these dogs at the schools confirm that this is not the case.

Last year, Director Joe Rock told shelter staff that Columbus State could have any of the pit bulls on the adoption floor and any dogs who hadn’t passed behavior tests in the back room. Pit bulls are known for their loving dispositions, I imagine that they’re good test subjects. Rock has singled out this breed to live their lives in school testing programs.

This post is not meant to advocate one way or the other for the use of dogs in Columbus State’s vet tech program.

This post is meant to ask Franklin County Dog Shelter to create clear guidelines and humane standards for animal care at Columbus State based on best practices from experts throughout the country. Franklin County should also provide routine audits related to the ongoing care of the dogs to insure humane treatment is ongoing.


Speaking of job descriptions…

Here’s the job description for the Director of the Franklin County Dog Shelter position:


A dog advocate reached out to Hanna Greer from the Franklin County Commissioners’ office to inquire about specific requirements for the Director of the Franklin County Dog Shelter job, such as a college degree, business skills, or minimum years of management experience. Greer hasn’t responded yet. We will post it when she does.

Joe Rock does not have a college degree and has no management experience. Before working as a deputy dog warden and becoming a second shift supervisor, he was a stall cleaner on a horse ranch, and prior to that, he worked at a Rent to Own place.

The fact that the commissioners handed over an 18 million dollar shelter to someone with so little experience in business or management is concerning. By all accounts, Joe was a great dog warden who never should have been put into this role.

The job description lists the duties in order of importance. The very first item listed is to ‘formulate and set policy and procedures.’ Had this one task been accomplished from the start, these blog posts probably wouldn’t need to be written.


Franklin County Commissioners should muzzle their spokesperson

Today’s Dispatch story about Franklin County Dog Shelter:

Are pit bulls why more shelter dogs fail adoption test?

Spokeswoman Susan Smith’s comments:

“The shelter does not keep data on how many pit bulls have been tested for behavior, Smith said.”

The data Smith is referring to is in fact released monthly by the Franklin County Dog Shelter and compiled into an annual report. I’ve got the PDF of these reports.

The March 2014 region statistics also show 43 adult pit bulls that were euthanized because they were not reclaimed. They did not fall into the failed behavior or medical categories, therefore it can be inferred those pit bulls did not fail medical or behavior and yet were still euthanized. FCDS euthanized pit bull puppies as well.

An OSU Vet Clinic behavior specialist is also quoted in the Dispatch story. The behavior specialists speaks in response to the incident reports filed against Dr. Morton. Behavioral testing is done separately and independently from medical tests for obvious reasons. Why would Dr. Morton be performing behavior tests during the stressful medical exam?

Here’s hoping FCDS staff keeps talking, the lack of knowledge about their own policies and practices should prove helpful in this investigation. We also know this isn’t Susan Smith’s first time being less than forthright about shelter information.