Dogs appear starved at Warren County Animal Shelter - WSMV Channel 4

Dogs appear starved at Warren County Animal Shelter

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A Middle Tennessee animal shelter accused of starving the very animals it brings in is now responding to its critics.

Animal rescuers say Warren County Animal Control is allowing dogs to suffer and fight for food while at the same time disposing of dead animals in a gruesome manner.

A group of Nashville dog lovers with the group Big Fluffy Dog Rescue say they found several dogs emaciated and fighting for life at the Warren County Animal Shelter.

Led by owner and lawyer Jean Harrison, the rescue group picked up a van full of dogs Wednesday to begin their long road to rehabilitation.

They say the dogs appear to have been slowly starved and injured, and they suspect the mistreatment happened after the animals entered the shelter.

Concern was first raised when someone noticed the dogs were much skinnier when leaving the shelter than they had appeared in photographs before entering the shelter.

"They need to explain how they let this happen and why. I'm not OK with this, and I want some explanation," Harrison said.

As if that wasn't enough, Harrison said they made another disturbing discovery behind the shelter.

"What I've seen is enough to turn anyone's stomach. They appear to have an open pit behind the shelter in which they are disposing the bodies," Harrison said.

Many of the deceased dogs also appeared to have been starved, Harrison said.

Warren County Executive John Pelham gave Channel 4 News a tour of the facility Thursday, showing us all the dog food and said the dogs may have appeared starved because they weren't fed Wednesday before their removal.

"We feed our animals regularly - feed and water regularly. We have plenty of food and water. We do not have a shortage of food," Pelham said. "We normally do not feed those animals that morning because we know they're going to be traveling and that will prevent them from getting sick during transport."

Rescuers say that is absurd and that dogs don't look so thin from missing one meal. They say the dogs are from 10 to 40 percent below their normal weight, and that doesn't happen in a day.

Pelham contends why, then, are the remaining dogs in such good shape?

Well, the rescuers say they may be the winners in the fight for food.

As for the pit behind the shelter, Pelham said it is also used by the county highway department and some of these dogs are road kill. He adds he has no problem with using a pit for dead dogs.

"It's just a place that allows us to humanely place the animals that have been euthanized," he said.

Harrison said the pit is inexcusable and a potential source for clues about additional maltreatment.

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