• Internet rumor from former employee saves dogs

    Updated:

    CHESTER COUNTY, S.C.,None - An Internet rumor about a planned mass kill at the Chester county animal shelter ended up saving the lives of dozens of dogs, even though it wasn't true.

    Eyewitness News learned Saturday that the former director of the shelter was dismissed, however county officials will not discuss the reason. At the same time someone posted on Facebook that the shelter would kill about 100 dogs this week.

    "That was a rumor, and it was totally, totally not true," said Chester County Sheriff Richard Smith. "We would not do that."

    However, what started as a scare may end up having a positive side. On Monday, animal rescue groups showed up from all over the place, looking to save the shelter animals before they were euthanized.

    Christine Brown drove seven hours from Tennessee when she heard the rumor.

    "That's what got me here," Brown said. "You're concerned because bad things have happened at other shelters."

    Brown said she has taken dogs from the Chester County shelter before and called it one of the good ones. She planned to take at least 10 dogs on Monday.

    Janet Richardson runs a rescue in York County. She showed up on Saturday after hearing the rumor, but then discovered the real
    problem.

    Saturday it was disastrous," Richardson said. "There were way too many animals for this facility to handle."

    Richardson said the shelter was overcrowded and not clean. She and others told Eyewitness News that the reason was that the previous director was not euthanizing enough animals or adopting enough of them out. The shelter soon had dozens of animals too many.

    "Their hearts go out, and they're thinking with their hearts, but in the end that's not what's best for the animals," Richardson said.

    Interim Director Mary Anne Tolbert worked at the shelter for several years and has just come back to take over operations. She said it was too hard for the staff there to put animals down. A lot of them were kept in the shelter much longer than they should have been.

    "You want people in animal control who love animals for one thing, but sometimes, you get attached," she said.

    Tolbert wants to encourage volunteers to step up and help. They need people who can take pictures of the animals up for adoption and post them online. That way they can increase the shelter's adoption rate.

    Records show 745 animals were adopted out last year out of more than 2,300 taken in. Another 624 were taken by other organizations. In addition, 757 were euthanized for various reasons.

    The origin of the rumor about the mass kill is unclear. However, Tolbert said if it brings attention to the problem of unwanted pets, it could be a benefit.

    Richardson said she hopes local rescues will work together to help the shelter, as well as seek funds for a spray and neuter clinic, educate the public, and find animals good homes.

    "We're all here for the same reason," she said. "We should work together."

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