East Texas animal shelter in disrepair desperately seeks volunteers, homes for dogs

Updated: Dec. 12, 2018 at 4:05 PM CST
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JEFFERSON, TX (KSLA) - The Humane Society of Marion County is desperately asking for help after poor conditions at the facility in Jefferson was made public. A number of dead dogs were discovered Monday in freezers at the nonprofit that claims to be a “no-kill" shelter.

“The most important thing is finding them homes,” said Brooke LaFleur, president of the board overseeing the humane society. “Until they get adopted, we need people walking the dogs, showing them attention.”

Volunteers cleaning the humane society on Monday found the deceased dogs inside freezers, which prompted community members in Jefferson to respond in droves to make sure the animals are properly cared for and housed. LaFleur didn’t know how many dogs were in the freezers, but says 78 dogs were housed at the humane society at the time of the discovery.

“I would like to focus on the animals that are alive that we have and finding them homes,” said LaFleur.

LaFleur said a woman named Caroline Wedding lived on the isolated grounds at the humane society and was responsible for caring for the dogs. However, LaFleur said Wedding was not transparent about the conditions at the humane society; LaFleur added she had no knowledge of the dead dogs.

“She had control over everything and that was the main problem,” LaFleur said. “We were shocked, we had no idea.”

KSLA worked to get in touch with Wedding, but was not able to get a response.

Volunteers that spoke to KSLA report previously finding the humane society in bad shape, with multiple dogs living in a single cage — all of which are outside during winter months — feces scattered across the ground, and a lack of water and food.

“We’ve had an outpouring of volunteers in every way, adoptions, donations, volunteers,” said LaFleur. “It has been overwhelming in a great way and we welcome anyone to come.”

Close to 20 dogs were transported from the humane society to Jaynes Farm & Feed store in Jefferson, now serving as a warm and safe temporary home for many of the dogs. Right now, as dogs are adopted or fostered from Jaynes, more animals are being brought from the humane society.

“It is getting better for some of them, but [the situation] is still dire,” said Dina Carroll, a volunteer who stepped up after she heard about the sub-standard living conditions. “There’s animals here with extreme diarrhea...there’s an additional 40 or so [dogs] left out at the main facility that we’re trying to move and coordinate transportation here.”

Carroll, who is a high school English teacher in Jefferson, said she is calling for all hands on deck.

“We’re looking for fosters, anyone to adopt,” said Carroll. “The adoption fee is zero, as long as they can pass a background check.”

Supplies such as collars, food and extra large dog crates have become a necessity for the many volunteers working tirelessly to provide loving care for the animals.

Though volunteers have now galvanized around the dogs, Carroll said the Jefferson community collectively failed these animals.

“It’s heart breaking, absolutely heart breaking,” said Carroll. “We were supposed to be their voice, the humane society was supposed to be their voice.”

KSLA reached out to the Jefferson Police Department to ask about any pending investigation at the shelter. The chief said his department is looking into the matter and will be transparent with any discoveries made.

If you want to volunteer, foster or adopt, message the Humane Society of Marion County.

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