Chesterfield Volunteers Allege Animal Abuse 

Street Talk

Last week, Crittenden helped pull two neglected dogs from cages, she says. An adult Rottweiler that normally should weigh between 80 and 120 pounds weighed less than 60 pounds, Crittenden says. Another dog, she says, had mange, a highly contagious skin disease. In January, Crittenden recalls, two dogs died from eating paint chips after the kennels were painted. The dogs were left inside during the painting, she adds.

Former Chesterfield Police Capt. Alice Berry, who manages the shelter, did not return Style's calls to her offices. Chesterfield County Police oversees the shelter's operation.

The Richmond animal shelter was bombarded with criticism several years ago after similar reports were made by volunteers there. The Richmond shelter has since changed some policies and has joined forces with the local SPCA.

In Chesterfield, Crittenden says she and other volunteers have for months "raised questions" with Berry and other administration officials about conditions at the pound. But volunteers — and two shelter workers who previously contacted Style with similar reports — claim they've been shut out by an administration awash in mismanagement.

Additionally, volunteers say the shelter and the Chesterfield Humane Society routinely ignore complaints and requests that dogs receive medical attention.

At a shelter board meeting last week, volunteers said the long-established dog-walking program was restricted to volunteers who agreed to sign a paper supporting the humane society and shelter. Some contend the move is an effort to thwart whistleblowers and any investigation of the pound.

The Chesterfield Animal Shelter is located on Public Works Road behind the courthouse complex. Conditions at the pound are cramped with as many as 300 dogs sitting two and three to a cage. More than 40 people volunteer there. On a recent visit it was possible to see that the dogs in the observation kennel had food and water and the place appeared relatively clean. Three other rooms containing dogs were not open to the public.

Volunteers like Crittenden say the shelter's appearance is deceiving. "No one is investigating how many sick dogs there are, how many are found dead in their cages and how many are treated inhumanely," says Crittenden, who has adopted four dogs from the shelter she says would have been euthanized.

Something has to change, she insists. "People need to know the chances of your dog making it out alive are one in 100." — BRANDON WALTERS



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