Mayor: Photos of filthy Lucedale animal shelter don't tell the f - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mayor: Photos of filthy Lucedale animal shelter don't tell the full story

The images shared with WLOX by Tammy Miller are disturbing.  (Photo source: WLOX) The images shared with WLOX by Tammy Miller are disturbing. (Photo source: WLOX)
LUCEDALE, MS (WLOX) -

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but Lucedale's mayor says sometimes a photo only tells part of the story. Mayor Doug Lee said images of unsanitary conditions at the city's animal shelter posted on social media this week, don't reflect what's considered business as usual at the shelter.

The images shared with WLOX by Tammy Miller are disturbing. Miller is with an animal advocacy group called I Fight So My Dogs Won't Have To. The photos show dogs and cats at the Lucedale Animal Shelter in pens that appear to have not been cleaned for some time.

"Honestly, a dog that is staying in its own waste day in and day out, it's not healthy. That breeds bacteria. That breeds parasites. There's diseases," said Miller.

Lee said the part of the story the pictures don't tell is that on Saturday, a worker noticed a septic pump had gone out but didn't report it until Monday. Nothing was done on Monday. The mayor said the pump was fixed on Tuesday evening, but in between that time, he says photos were taken.

"Is that the way our operation is? No. It's not how our operation is," said Lee. "Every day, day in and day out, we try to do the right thing and keep the animals in a safe and clean environment, and it wasn't a true picture of what occurred."

Lee admits the shelter has its problems, and the main one is overcrowding. It was built for 40 animals and normally has about twice that.

"When you turn a person away from the shelter and tell them you can't take their animal, they go out there to the gate in or maybe go across the railroad track and throw the animal out," said Lee. "The animal is going to show up at our gate, so we have to take it in."

Another issue is a budget for operations and maintenance.

"We do not abuse the animals. We try to do the best we can. We are a small community. We are the only shelter in George County," said Lee. "We're just doing the best we can. Keep it clean and keep them fed and watered. That's about the best we can do until someone wants to step up to the plate and help us transport them on down the road. I say on down the road. I mean to other shelters for adoption and what have you. That would be great."

On her first time back to the shelter since Monday, Miller had a mixed reaction.

"Overall, there is a little bit of improvement here, but it still needs to be bleached and scrubbed," said Miller. "I have a large group that's willing to volunteer to help me clean and bleach walls and floors and stuff like it needs to be. And, let these guys out in the play yard to run around and play instead of staying in these kennels all day."

Lee said volunteers are allowed, but they must first go by city hall and fill out a form for liability purposes.

Miller also said a concern is that male and female cats that haven't been fixed are being kept in the same area. Lee says the problem has been lack of funding, and the city recently received a spay and neuter grant.

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