In early January 2010, a concerned volunteer with the City of Clarksdale Animal Shelter called the ASPCA to report the squalid living conditions and overpopulation crisis at the shelter. ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response Tim Rickey contacted the Clarksdale Police Department, and with the help of Police Chief Greg Hoskins, a formal charge was filed and the ASPCA went into action.
On January 24, the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team assisted in the removal of more than 400 cats and dogs from the City of Clarksdale Animal Shelter. The animals were suffering from obvious neglect and health problems as a result of overcrowding. With the help of numerous veterinary professionals and rescue organizations, we were able to provide much-needed relief.
“We found more than 400 animals living in a space designed for about 60,” reported Rickey. The animals received essential medical care provided by a veterinary team from Mississippi State University led by Dr. Phillip Bushby, as well as local veterinarians Dr. Andrea Marble of the Animal Medical Clinic, Dr. Jody Swartzfarger of the Lawndale Pet Hospital, Dr. Wayne Adams of the Adams Vet Clinic, and Dr. Rebecca Coleman.
"It appears that this is a situation where the intake of unwanted animals was much higher than the number of animals being adopted, and it led to horrible living conditions. We are glad to be able to provide relief," Rickey said. He noted that no animal was ever turned away and that male and female dogs shared cages, resulting in breeding.
On January 26, groups of animals began leaving the site with various rescue agencies, including the ASPCA. Six dogs were brought to our NYC headquarters, where they were made available for adoption.
“Animal shelters and rescue groups from all over the country offered their assistance in placing these animals up for adoption,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Anti-Cruelty. “This is a great example of what like-minded animal welfare professionals can accomplish when they work together for the common goal of saving lives.”
The ASPCA is immensely grateful for the support of regional organizations that offered temporary housing—and permanent placement—of the rescued pets. The Atlanta Humane Society transported at least 100 animals to Georgia, and critical support poured in from countless other shelters, individuals and organizations, including:
- Anna Ware of Holland M. Ware Foundation
- Mississippi State Animal Response Team
- Greg Norred with Norred & Associates
- Mississippi Animal Rescue League
- Tailwaggers for Life, Mississippi
- Jane Berry of Sterile Feral, Georgia
- PAWS Humane, Georgia
- Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society, Mississippi
- Tampa Bay SPCA, Florida
- Broward County Humane, Florida
- Delaware Humane Association
- Kent County SPCA, Delaware
- White River Animal Rescue, Vermont
- Northern New England Dog Rescue, Vermont
- Bolivar County Animal Shelter, Mississippi
- Louisiana SPCA
- Capital Area Humane Society, Ohio
The ASPCA provided a large amount of financial support and resources to help cover animal supplies, vet care and heartworm treatments, as well as temporary boarding and transportation of the animals. The ASPCA Community Outreach Team also pledged to provide professional consultation on proper shelter management in order to prevent future overcrowding.
The city, which for the past 12 years contracted with Cathy Phelps to operate the shelter, hired a new shelter director and is working with the ASPCA to develop new policies and procedures for the facility. No charges will be filed against Phelps.
To learn more about animal hoarding, visit our Hoarding FAQ.