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Photo Gallery: Residents Protest Animal Control Director

About 30 residents gathered today in front of the Douglas County Courthouse to protest the Douglas County Animal Shelter's new director, Rick Smith.

About 30 residents gathered today in front of the Douglas County Courthouse to protest the Douglas County Animal Shelter's new director, Rick Smith, and the policies he has put in place.

County spokesman, Wes Tallon, told WSBTV that Smith has been on the job for less than 90 days. “Mr. Smith has got to be given a chance," he said. "He has not been here long enough to establish his programs and what he plans on doing,” Tallon said.

In February, more than 1,300 people signed an online petition to remove the Douglas County Animal Shelter's new director, Rick Smith. 11Alive news reported that at least one more petition existed, also with more than 1,000 signatures.

"New Douglas County animal shelter director Rick Smith is making numerous changes at Douglas County Animal Control, all of which will result in more animals being killed," read the online petition, posted by Douglas Animal Advocates Network. "Rick’s proposed new animal ordinance updates will make him judge, jury and executioner and will give him even more power to kill animals."

Tracy Thompson was the kennel supervisor for three years, but joined the shelter's field supervisor and resigned shortly after Smith was hired.

Carl Pyrdum, an Animal Control Advisory Board member was removed by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.

A related Douglasville Patch article:

Controversy Rages Over New Animal Shelter Director

Douglasville Patch blogs written by Carl Pyrdum:

Will the BOC Listen To the People?

Related Topics: Animal Control, Douglas County Board of Commissioners, and Rick Smith

Fran Armstrong March 07, 2013 at 02:17 PM
The facts are that Elizabeth was already found guilty on the Friends For the Forlorn Pit Bull website even before her case was heard in court. It's a fact because I read what Jason Flatt had written and I know most of you did also. She was portrayed as a money hungry woman who said the vet bill was $2,000 but she only paid $200. it went on to clearly show favoritism towards the owners of the two offending pit bulls putting the blame on her Boston Terrier and saying she wasn't there at the time. I believe her when she says she was present when the incident took place because her dog would clearly have been killed if she weren't. Later to learn from Elizabeth that these dogs had killed other family pets yet the owner did absolutely nothing to safeguard his neighbors shows he simply didn't care. Then Karen Orgeron asks me on the Douglasville patch blog " are you that woman who claimed your vet bills were $2,000 but the were really only $200.00" simply because I will not take part in what Tom Worthan calls a "witch hunt." Thank goodness you folks who claim to be advocates for animals weren't judging this case. You clearly don't care about what happened to Elizabeth's dog. I will continue to support enforcement and strengthening of the laws so the public and family pets are protected.
Elizabeth Bennett March 07, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Funny no one knows what my vet bills where I've never told anyone but my husband, not even court have I disclosed what I paid...it was not $2000 but believe me I paid way more then $200. I have receipts that will be offered when requested. I did send a complete set of the bills to the defendant requesting payment, never heard a word from them...but now with the guilty verdict I can move ahead getting my money back. This means the individuals will make up any numbers to make their case! As far as telling the judge I was feeling harassed I admit that fully...because I did feel harassed. When someone seeks out the person who has done your family wrong and wants to help by giving them talking points to make it your fault that is harassment. When someone who did not stay for the whole trial and post only what they want to be seen that is harassment. Especially when you involve my grandchildren.. The judge saw through all the lies that were told about everything! He realized that if I had not seen it and how it was portrayed my dog would have been dead in those few moments it would have taken to find me...
Fran Armstrong March 07, 2013 at 04:29 PM
Even though now Rich Smith has shown cooperation to the group of "dedicated volunteers" by allowing them to spend much more time with the dogs and video tape them so it they be shared via the internet he is not given credit. Yesterday it was posted that it was due to the pressure that their group put on him. I can tell you, considering how this man and his wife have been maligned and harassed by this group and their followers and from meeting with Rick Smith and his wife in person I can tell you that he will continue to do the job he was hired to do .Your groups "pressure" was NOT responsible for the adjustment made to the time you have been allotted, Rick Smith has shown his willingness to cooperate to help you get these dogs adopted. He will, however, follow the rules and regulations mandated for all county animal controls by the State. Just because prior staff did whatever they wanted to regardless of the rules doesn't make them any better. The dog I adopted was in an outside kennel with another dog and two huge igloos. She was laying in feces and the other dog had no where to lay down other then on top of the igloo. That is a hoarding situation not to mention unhealthy for the dogs.You just are hell bent are getting your way and putting him in the most negative light possible. You loose your credibility every time you spread untruths. Oh, 30 people protest out of the entire population of Douglasville?
Elizabeth Bennett March 07, 2013 at 05:27 PM
So your saying I had an article in the Friends For the Forlorn and I didn't know it???
Lisa Levesque March 07, 2013 at 05:50 PM
To be clear: I use to arrive at approximately 2 pm on Sunday afternoons & usually left after 5 pm. I did so while walking dogs, socializing puppies, mentoring potential adopters, and offering to help in any other way shelter staff requested. Then, Rick Smith forced the expiration of my volunteer status with the county because I refused to sign up with his wife's developing non-profit. Why? As I stated before: he appointed her without considering anyone else for this position (nepotism), there is a clear conflict of interest (Rick & Cindy Smith will be covering for one another, so there is no transparency, and anyone that does not see this is choosing not to do so), and a violation of my right to freedom of speech (as they will dismiss any volunteer that speaks out against any issues they witness at the shelter). As evidenced by video of Natalie, there was a new policy put into effect for 10 minutes limit. That policy disappeared very quickly, and was replaced with this latest one hour appointment policy. I now have one hour appointments for each Sunday in March, but must be monitored, which is a total waste of taxpayer dollars for shelter staff to have to monitor my activity. I am no threat to the dogs, but must be monitored, yet community service workers (who are there because they have to be, not because they want to be) have full access. What is wrong with that picture? In any event, do the math, I use to spend 3 hours, and I am now limited to one.
Fran Armstrong March 07, 2013 at 06:03 PM
It seems to have been removed now Elizabeth, but it was there because I read it myself. Jason had spoken to the owner of the two pit bulls, got only his side of the story and ran with it. The others posting here read it and quoted his exact words. No one took the time to speak with you and get your side until you went to court. Then "someone" sitting in court picked out bits and pieces of testimony and posted it here in an effort to make you look bad. You know the old saying actions speak, words deceive? All these people here are somehow linked together whose sole aim is the removal of Rick Smith and his wife. Go on line and follow the blogs. Obviously, the "dedicate group of core volunteers" don't care about all dogs or they might have tried to help you out. If, after all the complaints I have made and my daughter or her dogs get injured, I will be suing the county. We are keeping all the paperwork. Every dog this neighbor has owned as been allowed to roam. When one dies they get another. In the past we were able to say "go home" and the more docile ones would and the animal control was never called. Unfortunately, the dog(s) they now have aren't that docile. Thank goodness there are laws out there and if those prior folks in charge of the DCAC didn't want to enforce them, thank goodness the courts will.
Lisa Levesque March 07, 2013 at 06:20 PM
I will add that my efforts were commended by both the former director and county commissioners, yet now the county commissioners choose to turn their backs on me along with the others who have given so much to these homeless animals. I have done nothing any differently, nor have they. Meanwhile, while we quibble about this, I learned that 19 dogs and cats were killed earlier this week. They had labels cast upon them to justify their killing, but I spent time with the dogs only Sunday. They deserved better.
Fran Armstrong March 07, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Interesting read from 2009 on the past efforts by the then director of the DCAC and his staff. Yeah, let's bring that back. NOT! www.topix.com/forum/city/douglsville-ga/TUIHFP5JDFGUR8147
Fran Armstrong March 07, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Thanks for the link Tracy- Some 70,000 deaths later, you'd think Mr. Smith would get used to death. That's his estimate of how many dogs and cats have been euthanized at the St. Joseph animal shelter since he started working there about 30 years ago. You get used to it, but then you don't, either. SINCE HE STARTED WORKING THERE.
Fran Armstrong March 07, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Mr. Smith had worked there for roughly 30 years. HOWEVER, he was not in a position to decide which dogs were euthanized for those entire 30 years yet the "core group of dedicated volunteers" has been twisting this information and spreading on their blogs and petitions in an effort to mislead and incite not only local animal lovers but those from different states. The first position Mr. Smith had there was cleaning kennels. If they will twist the truth in this instance, what else if anything that is being spread is the truth?
Elizabeth Bennett March 07, 2013 at 07:23 PM
When I stood up at the Animal Board Meeting and stated I hated Pit Bulls - I was automatically put on the "out to get you list"...The old "regime" at the animal control center basically told me in October...tough sorry your dog got hurt, but you knew about the hole in the fence so sorry...and you had him in your back yard without a lease...so sorry. Thanks to Mr. Smith and when I spoke at the County Commissioners meeting about the Dangerous Dog law approaching me and asking me about it, he had been told there were no witnesses, once he found out that I and my two grandchildren saw the whole thing...he pursued it and got justice for Mugsy!!!
Elizabeth Bennett March 07, 2013 at 07:25 PM
There is also a certified letter at the courthouse from the author that wrote the article that states "the group is taking the numbers out of context" Once again I stand by my statement, this small group is twisting things to their advantage and getting the emotions worked up!
Lori March 07, 2013 at 10:12 PM
One should NEVER "get used to" killing animals. A very scary statement. Fran and Elizabeth, you've drank the Kool-Aid.
Fran Armstrong March 07, 2013 at 10:18 PM
OK Lori a little reading lesson is in order. What was actually said was "you get used to it but then you don't"..meaning that you really never get used to it. Oh, and your the one who's drank the Kool-Aid. Keep spreading your misinformation. The sheep will undoubtedly keep passing in on .
Lori March 07, 2013 at 11:22 PM
There is no misinformation being spread and I can read just fine, thanks. Anyone who "gets used to" seeing 70,000 killed needs to stay retired. They are numb to the killing after 30 years. Common sense. Also, I'm sure Mr. Smith will be glad to explain why all those animals were killed this week saying they were wild or mean or sick. Not all of them. In fact, many of them are on video playing and socializing with volunteers. IT HAS BEGUN!
Lisa Levesque March 07, 2013 at 11:29 PM
I have tried multiple times to open this link, but I get the same message indicating page can not be found. Nonetheless, I fail tos ee what relevance an article from 2009 has to do with issues that the shunned volunteers began to address in late 2011. I don't think any of us would argue the point for 2009, so who is spreading misinformation?
Lisa Levesque March 07, 2013 at 11:36 PM
I believe Tammy adequately addressed Rick Smith's kill rate while he was manager in her post from Wednesday, and it is my undestanding that she got the information from an open records request to St. Joseph, MO. If you doubt the information, please submit your own request. I loved a song Ray Stevens sung when I was a child, Everything Is Beautiful, and I am reminded of a verse: there is none so blind as he who will not see. Good day ladies!
It's the right thing to do March 08, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Exactly what they were looking to happen, citizens against citizens while the focus is taken off of the issue at hand! Fran you sound like a very intelligent person and someone that loves animals, have you signed up for the HOPE volunteer group? You said you sat with Mrs. Smith and based on what your saying you agree with the directions they are heading, so why don't you prove everyone wrong on here and join her volunteer group and then come back and share all the "positive" things they are doing to save animals, I mean you are trying to silent everyone on this topic and you felt the system wasn't working before right? And I'm not trying to be rude or disrespectful, I'm trying to understand both sides but so far I only understand one side and that's of the folks that have given their own personal time and energy into helping animals! I know no one on here, just a outsider looking in! And you don't have to prove anything to anyone but these people deserve to know if the directions they are going is truly to help the animals, clearly their is no financial gain for these people who are speaking out here so they must truly care for the animals! To all of the volunteers and animal advocates who are going above and beyond for the rights of these animals, keep doing what your doing, I'm sure more support you than against you. You truly have a spot in heaven!
Elizabeth Bennett March 08, 2013 at 01:12 PM
I have not volunteered yet because of the case that was pending. Like I said before, it is because of the old regime that nothing was being done. Thanks to Rick Smith and his willingness to talk to me and looking at the evidence I was able to take it before a court and have a judge decide. The old regime was so tied up in and with the pit bull rescue they wanted to make what happened to my dog our fault. This old group was willing to let an owner who would not take responsibility for their dog continue on, at the expense of who knows how many other family pets! The same pitbull group had made up numbers to make me look like a money hungry woman that was just in it for the money...once again I have told no one of my bills...this same group harassed someone that they just THOUGHT was me. This same group posted on their website a story that was untrue..This same group claimed to have saved many dogs, but come to find out, all they did was feed and water the dogs, none where relesed to them. The same old regime has had shelter closed because of the awful work they did and it was found deplorable and dirty! If I had people volunteering for me and they were bad mouthing me, I don't think I would want them around either. I would do what I could to make the place as peaceful as I could. According to one employee that I have had contact with, Mr. Smith is doing a good job and so is his wife that stepped up to the plate when people left.
Fran Armstrong March 08, 2013 at 02:14 PM
RE: It's The Right Thing To Do~ Firstly I want to start out by saying I know all these people on this blog are good people trying to do the right thing for animals. At times people get caught up in their emotions and things get said that shouldn't be. You read the experience Elizabeth had. It was unfortunate but people here took sides against her and sided with the owner of the two pit bulls. They took the information the head of a pit bull rescue had posted on his blog after only talking to the owner of the pit bulls and they ran with it. Turns out these dogs had killed before. They took something out of context regarding the amount of animals killed (70,000) in Mr. Smith's career in Missouri and blamed all those kills on him when he wasn't even in a position of make those calls until later on in his career. That misinformation was spread on the net solely to incite and get people all over the nation to sign a petition to get Rick Smith removed. As soon as he took over the position of Director, two people chose to leave and eventually someone was removed from his voluntary position due to what I read was making extremely negative comments and threatening statements towards Mr. Smith. I am an educated person who only wants to hear the truth. I've lived here for 17 years and and in that time the population has grown substantially. DCAC is one of the smallest in the area and cannot keep up with the amount of animals being surrendered or picked up as strays.
It's the right thing to do March 08, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Now I have to disagree with that statement bc whether they tk the dogs home with them or fed them and walked them, they contributed their personal times. I personally wouldn't want to join a group that was ran by the owners wife, that's just not ethical which is why a lot of companies don't hire EEs that are related because it is a conflict of interest! I am glad you feel like justice was served in your case, but there are a lot of people out there that hasn't received any justice since Mr. Smith has been there, he's busy writing citations for dogs barking when he should be addressing issues like yours and how to save animals that are presently in the shelter. In reading the reports look how many animals have been killed this week alone, the proofs right there in which direction we are heading! As for your statement about the staff saying he's doing a great job, guess what I was told Tracey was the best and great with the animals and that was an EE that worked with her and oh DCAS was too proud to have her on board! If I was running the shelter I would be too proud to have volunteers pouring out of my shelter FREE labor and helping the animals cope being there bc I think as humans locked up in a cage it only build up aggression so if there's no one there to interact with the animals they will become aggressive at some point, right? I read there's less staff there, so who's walking the animals and talking to them?
Fran Armstrong March 08, 2013 at 02:43 PM
(con't) Moving to Douglasville was a big change to the large city I grew up in. People like what works for them and dislike change. When I was confused about this situation, I went to speak with Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Not only did he deal with the stray, abandoned and surrendered animals, he had to deal with the puppy mills. The hours were changed because they are not fully staffed yet and Mrs. Smith said the hours were chosen so they could be open when the majority of potential adopters were shown to be visiting. When they get more staff they may change those hours. I also realize that Mr. Smith and all animal control facilities are governed by state and local regulations. He does not make the laws but he must see that they are carried out. He is not the one that adjudicates cases brought before the court. The "core group of dedicated volunteers" want him to concentrate on the sheltering of animals more than the "animal control" part. People as well as family pets have been maimed or killed due to a lack of enforcement of the leash laws in the past. You can read about those attacks on the net. They say "I am blind, or I drank the Kool-Aid" because I believe that change was necessary to protect the public. Why not spend your time petitioning for a larger facility instead? FYI, I have adopted two dogs from DCAC and am giving them a lifetime of love. It's unfortunate that if you see things from a different perspective than this group does you are maligned. So be it.
Lori March 08, 2013 at 03:48 PM
You CAN have it both ways. Through working together and with the help of ALL volunteers helping, networking with rescues and potential adopters getting the animals out, the "animal control" part can concentrate on enforcing the ordinances and laws. It is a very antiquated way of thinking that it can't ALL be done successfully. The "core group of volunteers" have now been told they can not help in any way unless they join Mrs. Smith's group. Ridiculous. It takes all kinds of groups working together. What kind of Director would limit his opportunity to make things better? One who could care less about the animals.
Tammy Rakestraw Pyrdum March 08, 2013 at 03:48 PM
In less than a weeks time 30 animals have been killed at Douglas County Animal Control. This is the slowest part of the season. What will happen when kitten and puppy season hit. What will the numbers be at that point and time. The facts speak for themselves. Mr. Smiths records or stats from St. Jo MO were horrific. Lets look at from 2008-2012 . He was the manager during that point and time. He was in charge of making the decisions for euthanasia. These numbers are unacceptable. Feel free to support these numbers if you will.. I refuse because the animals of Douglas County deserve better, the citizens of Douglas County deserve better. Here are his numbers ..provided by the St.Jo Mo Department of Health , Mr. Smith's former boss. Animals Reclaimed 2706, Animals Adopted 3490, Animals Rescued 144, Animals Euthanized 9658. The percentages are as follows: 15.8% Reclaimed, 20.41% Adopted, 6.44% DOA,.843 % Rescued and 56.48% Euthanized. The stats no not lie. Over a five year period almost 57% of the animals at the St. Joesph Mo shelter were euthanized. Only 144 were rescued during that time period. There is NOTHING acceptable about the above numbers. More than HALF of the animals that came into the shelter during that time period were put down. Very sad for the animals. After the killing of 30 animals this week, Douglas County is headed in the same direction. Pathetic.
Elizabeth Bennett March 08, 2013 at 05:01 PM
in doing my own research this is what I found. 1. Mr. Smith was with St. Jo Mo Animal Shelter for over 30 years 2. The county commissioners sung his praises and were sad to see him go 3. When he left there were over 40 volunteers that worked with him through the "Friends of the Animal Shelter" program. They wrote a letter to the newspaper there thanking him for a job well accomplished and thankful for the great job he had done there, including securing several grants to help insure the animals in St. Jo where treated humanly. 4. He started a program to educate the youth of this town how to treat and respect animals. 5. On October 23, 2008 he was very successful in helping with a hoarding situation and his efforts were rewarded with many praises of his fellow workers. 6. He helped change a law there that required breeders to have larger kennels for their animals, helping with the humane treatment of these animals. When Mr. Smith arrived in Douglasville, the Dangerous Dog Act that mirrors the state of Georgia's law was already in progress with the County Commissioners. What a horrible man he is, really? Seems if he would have been doing such a bad job in MO as so many claim they would have run him out on a rail, instead the total opposite is true. Many articles have been written regarding the great job he did in MO.
Lori March 08, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Bottom line is that OVER HALF the animals DIED during his tenure. St. Louis must have lower standards than we are willing to accept here.
Elizabeth Bennett March 08, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Lori, please don't get mad or take offense to this, but have you seen this report or are you taking the word of someone? From personal experience, I know that numbers are made up to support their own cause?
Lori March 08, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Elizabeth, I have seen the numbers provided by his previous employer through the open records request. The numbers posted by Tammy P. are the actual numbers provided on that request. They aren't made up.
Elizabeth Bennett March 08, 2013 at 06:31 PM
can you please give me a link to the article that continues to be quoted here, I have searched and can not locate it
Tammy Rakestraw Pyrdum March 08, 2013 at 09:58 PM
The numbers were not made up but were provided by filing an open records request with Mr. Smith's previous employer. You can contact them at Director of Health, City of St. Joseph Health Department,904 S. Tenth Street, St. Joseph, MO 64503. I am sure they will be able to provide you with the same information. Here are his numbers from 2008-2012 , provided by the St.Jo Mo Department of Health , Mr. Smith's former boss. Animals Reclaimed 2706, Animals Adopted 3490, Animals Rescued 144, Animals Euthanized 9658. The percentages are as follows: 15.8% Reclaimed, 20.41% Adopted, 6.44% DOA,.843 % Rescued and 56.48% Euthanized. The stats no not lie. Over a five year period almost 57% of the animals at the St. Joesph Mo shelter were euthanized. Only 144 were rescued during that time period. There is NOTHING acceptable about the above numbers. More than HALF of the animals that came into the shelter during that time period were put down. Very sad for the animals. After the killing of 30 animals this week, Douglas County is headed in the same direction.

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