Clarke County is one of many counties in Alabama in which no county animal pound-shelter is provided, a violation of Code of Alabama, Title 3-7A-7. The City of Jackson Dog Pound is the sole animal pound in Clarke County. Jackson City Pound only accepts stray and unwanted dogs from within Jackson city limits. The Jackson Pound consists of 10 unenclosed kennels, topped with a roof, located at Jackson Sewage Lagoon/Plant, outside Jackson city limits.
Right before the July 4th holiday, Lisa and Richard Sokoll of Happy Tails Rescue, along with volunteer Monika Rester, made a gruesome discovery at Jackson Pound while responding to a distraught senior citizen's plea to go look for a pregnant Beagle dumped on the property. The resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, lives close by the pound. She had noticed the frightened pregnant dog begging for food, water and shelter outside the pound kennel. She said that Animal Control Officer Lee Hutto told her the dog hung out by a pear tree on the other side of the dumpster, but the elderly resident had no luck in catching her.
At the same time, the resident expressed concern for “noxious odors steaming from a dumpster”, described as the “smell of death”, and asked if Sokoll could check it out.
Hutto has stated numerous times that he stands by city government rules that “no dog outside Jackson City limits shall be admitted”. Therefore, the pregnant dog, origin unknown, was forced, in desperation, to try to survive outside the kennels, burdened with the impending birth of her pups.
Sokoll said, upon their arrival to the pound property, they spotted the pregnant dog hovering under the pear tree just past a dumpster.
“As we got near the dumpster, calling to the dog, we were overcome by a putrid smell,” said Sokoll. “At first, we tried to dismiss it, but it was so overpowering that we looked inside the open lid.”
This is what the two women observed inside the dumpster:
“Rotting - decomposing corpses of dogs, bodies that had been thrown into the dumpster, baking in the extreme heat. Thousands of maggots and insects – millions – enveloped the dumpster, swarming over the bodies and other debris.
“It was the most unnerving sight, unreal, like a scene from a nightmare.”
Richard Sokoll called the Clarke County Sheriff's office, given the location outside Jackson city limits, but instead, Jackson City Police responded. To date, no report is available to the public, but a request has been made to obtain a copy of the report.
The pregnant Beagle and her puppies are safe at Happy Tails Rescue, having given birth soon after the Sokoll's rescued her from untold suffering and a painful death on the grounds of Jackson Pound.
The Sokolls have been deeply involved in rescuing dogs from Jackson Pound since 2009. They have addressed the Jackson City Council in private and public meetings regarding substandard conditions, including deterioration and neglect of impounded dogs and lack of accountability records. Other issues addressed:
Enforcement of rabies vaccinations and spay/neuter upon adoption, timely humane euthanasia or medical care for severely injured and sick dogs languishing in pain, an adoption program, allowing willing volunteers and the offer of donated doghouses that would provide a level of shelter from freezing weather.
A hand full of the Sokoll's suggestions were implemented: puppy vaccinations, spay/neuter forms and creation of a Petfinder page, managed by the Pine City Veterinary Clinic, the clinic contracted to euthanize and assess impounded dogs.
The Sokolls exposed an incident in 2011, backed up by an eye-witness, in which Hutto was accused of shooting a dog confined in a live trap. Shortly after evidence was presented to Jackson authorities, the eye-witness recounted and modified his testimony.The matter was dismissed.
Subsequent, to press publications and meetings with Jackson Mayor Richard Long and city council in 2010-11, the Sokoll's efforts toward implementing improvements to the pound and requiring accountability records were met by distain and hostility, according to the Sokolls and their supporters. Currently, the Sokolls work directly through the Pine City Veterinary Clinic, in order to rescue dogs from the pound.
Since 2009, Happy Tails Rescue, the lone non-profit rescue in Clarke County, has rescued, rehabilitated and found appropriate homes for approximately 400 dogs in Clarke County and around 60 dogs from Jackson pound.
For a number of years, The Clarke Regional Animal Control Task Force has hosted fund raisers and meetings in a goal to build an animal control facility. To date there are no immediate plans to begin construction.
The Sokolls can attest, first hand, to the frustration and sadness that pervades the hearts and minds of citizens who attempt to rescue, rehabilitate and find homes for the steady stream of discarded, sick and injured animals:
“In the month of June alone, barely a day went by without a frantic call regarding abandoned or abused dogs and cats. We took in several starving mama dogs with puppies and a number of injured or sick dogs found on the road. A good many are simply brought to our doorstep. We can’t find it in our hearts to turn them away, but we’re finding it difficult to absorb the expense of making so many cast-out animals whole, or find the space or fosters to give them refuge.”
Current Alabama laws pertaining to carcass disposal and regulations required for “registered” animal facilities can be found on links below:
RULE 930-X-1-.36. Registered Animal Euthanasia Facility (RAEF) for the Humane
Euthanasia of Animals: Page 71 (6)
(6) CARCASS DISPOSAL:
(a) All carcasses shall be disposed of in a manner according to law and the RAEF procedures.
(b) Until the carcass can be disposed of it shall be kept in a freezer used only for this purpose.
Section 3-1-28 — Burial or burning of bodies of dead animals generally; burning of hogs dying from cholera, etc.; failure to burn or bury dead animal, etc.