Animal Shelter Faces Financial Questions, Criminal Probe, Volunteer Revolt

Update: Saturday, 3:11 P.M. CST
32 dogs were transported to the Marshall Animal Hospital Friday night. The Jimplecute witnessed an anonymous donor guarantee funds to pay for the $350/dog cost after HSMC depletes all of their funds. 20 dogs from the Jaynes facility in Jefferson are reported to be on their way to the Marshall Animal Hospital; a reduction in 6 dogs HSMC reports is because of fosters or adoptions.

>>> Watch the last of the HSMC dogs dogs arrive at the Marshall Animal Hospital

By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute Editor
Posted:  Friday, 5:39 P.M. CST
Updated:  Saturday, 7:11 P.M. CST

Several people who stepped forward to help rescue dogs at the Humane Society of Marion County facility for the past week have turned in their keys in protest over what they perceive as foot dragging by the Society’s board.

HSMC legal advisor Bob Avery said Friday the board believed the volunteers were “making demands” and attempting to “take over.”

“I think the board needs to come forward and be honest,” volunteer Christie Woodson told the Jimp. “They keep promising transparency, and we need to work together. We need a number of how many dogs are still needing homes. We need a number of how much money the board has after Caroline went through what she did. It truly looks like more time is being spent by the board trying to do damage control. When more board members are in front of the camera, and not out helping, it doesn’t look right.”

IMG-3139
HSMC volunteer Connie Cunningham at the original animal shelter facility Wednesday morning.

Another volunteer, Connie Cunningham, told the Jimplecute. “As far as quitting, I and Laura Romine, and her grandson, picked up shovels and started cleaning kennels on Dec. 1. We were knee deep in filth, I was never offered a job. I was a volunteer.”

It was not the hard work that discouraged Cunningham.

“A bunch of people I’ve never seen before, who have never touched a shovel, are now in charge,” Cunningham said. “It’s all gone crazy.”

Some volunteers reported an offer from the Marshall Animal Hospital to treat and assist in finding new homes for the dogs at both the Jayne’s facility and the original shelter location on Hwy 49 where 12 dogs are still housed in open cages.

Melissa Lee, office manager with the Marshall Animal Hospital, explained for $350 per dog, the animals will be spayed and neutered as well as given shots.

“All I can tell you is it would include a lot of work that will show if there’s anything wrong with their liver values,” Lee said. “Internally, it would pay for the heart worm test, a fecal exam to make sure there’s no worms in the soil that we need to treat and then a rabies vaccine, everything they need including trimming their toenails.”

Lee said the service would normally cost $475 per dog.

Lee continued, “When we were there [the Jayne’s facility] yesterday, they’re standing in kennels. At our facility, I just feel like our staff there, they get paid to take them out several times a day and play with them. It would help socialize them. ”

Avery said while the Marshall Animal Hospital offer sounded interesting, the board was concerned about what would be the on-going fees if a dog was not placed after a week.

“If it needs to go longer than that,” Lee said, “we’re not going to kick them out.”

Avery said he would contact Lee to learn more and would inform the Jimplecute of the results of that conversation.

At a later interview, Avery said a statement from HSMC would be forthcoming.  At the time of this publication, the press release had not been received.

The Jimplecute confirmed with Lee that HSMC had agreed to bring 25 dogs to Marshall Animal Hospital Friday night but had not received them yet.  Although HSMC has more than 25 dogs in its custody, Lee reports the organization only feels they can afford to turn 25 dogs over for boarding and care.

“We want them to feel free to bring all of the dogs without regard to financial constraints at this time,” Lee said.

FINANCIAL ISSUES

Money may be available to pay for what some call the “Marshall Plan.” There is about $10,000 in the bank account at Citizens National Bank, Avery told the Jimplecute today.
“There is money available (after bills are paid) if the board wants to do that,” Avery said.

“I know they’re thinking about it, but they need to know of what the end game is.”

Further clouding financial issues is the need for a corporate resolution from the HSMC board authorizing accounts and signatories. Avery did not know Friday afternoon when a board meeting might be called.

Humane Society SOS form
Certification of Formation of Nonprofit Company for the Humane Society of Marion County.

On Monday, Wedding had turned over $4,800 to Avery from an account at the Northeast Texas Credit Union of which she was the only signatory. The credit union staff confirmed for Avery that board minutes would be required to change the signatories on the account. Avery could not confirm today if that had been done or what names were on the HSMC account at Citizens National Bank.

The Jimplecute has asked for copies of the board minutes naming the present board. The only records filed with the Secretary of State’s office show Caroline Wedding, the recently dismissed operator of the shelter, Christina Wedding of Marshall and Sher Thompson of Avinger as directors.

Avery reports the board met Dec. 3 in response to Wedding placing a criminal trespass violation on volunteer Gayle Robinson Nov. 26.  Brooklynn Bradley-LaFleur is reported to be currently serving as interim president of the board while Missy DeLong is vice president. Tammy Cornett and Mary Bird also serve on the board. David and Dusty Axe have been serving as board members but resigned last week.

Avery said board resolutions are required, and Jimplecute legal consultant Steven Shaw confirmed, to access bank records for him to research how Wedding spent money donated to HSMC and paid by the City of Jefferson for animal control services.

Tidying up board resolutions has taken a backseat for the last two weeks to caring for the dogs, Avery said.

The Jimplecute has made a Freedom of Information Act request of the City of Jefferson and Marion County for records of transactions between the two government entities and Wedding or the Humane Society. So far, the City of Jefferson has provided the Jimp with copies of the $13,000 check made out on Oct. 25 to the “Dixie Humane Society” for animal control services.

GRIEVOUS VIOLATIONS

IMG_1281.JPG
Jefferson police cars on the scene Thursday of what was formerly called the Dixie Humane Society, now Humane Society of Marion County.

Jefferson Police Chief Gary Amburn said Friday, “there are grievous violations there (the outdoor facility off SH 49).”

JPD officers were seen on the ground there Thursday. Crime scene tapes could also be seen.

Amburn explained the investigation got off to a slow start but his department was now fully engaged and would be thorough.

“We had to look at the situation then figure out what to do,” Amburn said. He plans to complete the investigation then give the results to the district attorney who will then determine if criminal charges are warranted.

“We’re not going to cover anything up,” Amburn said.

Amburn also spiked a rumor about the bodies of 27 dogs being removed from the building Wedding used as a residence.

“That’s not true,” Amburn said.

Attempts to reach Caroline Wedding for comment were unsuccessful. Christina Wedding, her daughter, said she “helped her mother move out of the house and there were no dead dogs in the house.”

One volunteer who was targeted in Facebook posts is irate of recent events.

“Whoever told you I removed dogs from anywhere is lying, or misinformed.”

Humane Society representatives say many dogs have been adopted and 7 of the 19 remaining dogs at the original shelter location off Hwy 49 have been moved the former Jayne’s Farm & Feed Store off US 59. Jaynes furnishes the building rent-free to HSMC.

Lee said, “we went yesterday and got four of the dogs that needed treatment big time. When we walked in, two of my staff members immediately started balling. It’s not about the money.  This is half of the cost of what we normally do. The end result here is these guys need to see a vet.”

 

 

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One thought on “Animal Shelter Faces Financial Questions, Criminal Probe, Volunteer Revolt

  1. Caroline wedding has been a horrible animal person for a long time. Its about time people stopped turning a blind eye..before Dixie she had dogs at her house amd I would send people there to adopt amd they would come back to me and tell me they couldn’t adopt from her chase the dogs werw in a horrible mess and the kennels were horrible… All I say is … Its about darn time somebody finally sees what jas been goung on under their noses.

    Like

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