Summit County Animal Shelter

Anthony Moore

Craig Stanley

Christine Congrove

James B. McCarthy

Abuse alleged at Summit County Animal Shelter

Akron, OH

June, 2002 to

July 31, 2006

Original Case information 11/20/03:

Approximately 20 cats and kittens a day are brought to the pound and most are killed the same day.

(photo courtesy of the Akron Beacon Journal) Animal lovers in Akron, Ohio are trying to address a new ordinance that the Akron City Council has rammed through as an “emergency” to avoid any voter input. A few weeks ago the council passed an ordinance to trap any cat that is no restrained in its yard. So far 118 cats have been put to death.

Many cats were put to death within hours of their arrival at the cattery because they were “diseased” with things like fleas, ringworm or were to young to be weaned. The cattery said that they would hold cats three days before killing them. What makes this situation even more despicable is the method they are using to kill these cats. The heart stick method without anesthetization is not legal in many states because it is so cruel to the animals.

To handle a feral cat population in this matter is barbaric and backward. Even if you don’t like cats this is an inefficient and ineffective se of taxpayers money. This ordinance penalizes helpless cats and benevolent cat owners. There is no registration program in Akron for cats. If someone accidentally lets the cat out, before you realize it, the cattery may have already put it down. It does nothing to penalize or educate people who dump or neglect animals. In fact it gives the less than subtle message to people who abuse animals that is acceptable in Akron. Certainly the city counsel in Akron has no respect for animals, Why should citizens?


(photo courtesy of the Akron Beacon Journal)

Update July 31, 2006:

On Monday, July 31st, members of the Pet Welfare Coalition held a news conference to allege that animal abuse and neglect continue at the Summit County Animal Shelter.  The group stated that it would ask the County Council for the immediate resignation of Animal Control Director Christine Congrove and the County Director of Administration, Craig Stanley.


(photo’s courtesy of Summit County Animal Rights Enforcement (SCARE)

Christine Congrove, Craig Stanley and James B. McCarthy

The Pet Welfare Coalition will also ask the Ohio Pharmacy Board and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to investigate allegations of missing drugs and the improper dosing of animals that are euthanized.

Lori Ballenger of Trumbull County stated that a Bull Mastiff she obtained at the shelter died within two days after adopting the dog.  She also stated the animal was emaciated, had chemical burns on its flesh and was kept in a cage at the shelter that was too small for the dog to stand in.

Summit County Council members received two vastly different evaluations of the county’s Animal Control Facility.

A June re-evaluation by the National Animal Control Association stated the shelter is now in compliance with state and local animal-control laws.  A cover letter from the NACA dated July 28th, stated…’it should be noted that sanitation levels and animal care have greatly improved since the 2004 study’.

At the same meeting, Trumbull County resident Lori Ballenger stated cleaning methods at the shelter probably caused the death of a Bull Mastiff that she adopted there.  She stated the dogs coat was ‘dirty blond, rather than auburn and smelled of chemicals as if someone had over-processed it with bleach.  The dog also had sores on his skin and slime in his fur that took three washing to remove.  Ballenger took the dog to her vet and the dog later became violently ill, could no longer control his bowels and died a day later. She believes the dog was burned with chemicals used to clean animal cages and may have been poisoned by drinking some of the fluid. Ballenger told the council that she became aware of past problems at the shelter only after her dog died.

An attorney from the executive’s office, Stephen Dyer, responded to questions from the council regarding the care of the Ballenger dog by reading the NACA letter that stated the county facility was in compliance with laws.  Dyer also made it a point to state that the shelter had kept Ballenger’s dog 11 days longer than the law requires affording it the possibility of being adopted.

County Communications Director Jill Skapin stated she spoke with the Receptionist for the veterinarian who cared for the Ballenger dog and was told the animal was treated for heartworm and rabies but was not seen again over the weekend. Skapin stated the Receptionist told her the office did recommend that the animal be taken to a 24-hour clinic.

In a letter from Ballenger’s veterinarian dated Friday, July 29th, Dr. E. H. Holliger of Warren wrote that based on the symptoms related to him by the Ballenger’s, the dog ‘either had a terrible virus or was poisoned and this had to be in his system when he left the facility’. A necropsy was not done on the dog because of the expense.  The Mastiff was in county custody from June 28th until it was adopted on July 13th.

Christman-Resch stated it is clear from Ballenger’s photos, reports from other animal rescuers and public records requests, that animal abuse continues at the county facility.  In 2004 the NACA report stated that investigators recommended that animals be removed from the kennels before workers spray the areas with water and cleaning solution.  The NACA’s re-evaluation stated that recommendation had been fully implemented.

Update 8/15/06:

The Summit County Animal Shelter is no stranger to problems.  Problems have been surfacing since 2002 in this shelter.

The Akron City Council passed an ordinance to include fines against cat owners who fail to clean up after their cat and gives the city animal wardens the authority to capture roaming cats.  As of 6/25/02, 243 cats and kittens were killed due to this ordinance.  A lawsuit was filed on behalf of cat owners asking that the Summit County Common Please Court block the ordinance.  The suit filed also asked for damages for a woman whose cat as captured and destroyed.  The suit claims the ordinance is unconstitutionally overboard and vague and deprives cat owners due process of the law.

CHAPS – Citizens for Humane Animal Practices opposed the ordinance because

1.      the 5 day waiting period for owners to reclaim their cats was ignored and most of the cats were killed with a heart-stick within hours of capture in violation of ORC 4729.532(A)(3) which states the heart-stick method should be used on sedated animals – these animals were not sedated first

2.     cats/kittens were killed for having common ailments such as fleas and ringworm

3.     stressed cats were termed “feral” and killed

4.     collars with ID attached were found in the street where the Akron Wardens truck picked up the cats.

5.     animals were being harmed in the traps, including being left in the extreme hear for many hours and in some cases for several days

6.     request for information to the public has been denied

7.     TNR has been proven to be an effective, taxpayer saving and is being ignored by the shelter

8.     spay/neuter programs were being ignored and rejected by the city council.

In September, 2004: Fired dog warden Glenn James was accused of stealing 12 vials of sedative known as Ketamine from the shelter as well as illegal processing of drug documents and tampering with records.  The indictment follows a 9-month sheriff's investigation into alleged wrongdoing at the animal shelter.  McCarthy fired James, age 43, in January 2004 for insubordination and misuse of county property.

(photo’s courtesy of Summit County Animal Rights Enforcement (SCARE)

This dog was logged in at the Summit County Control Facility on 6/28/06 and remained there until 7/13/06.

In November, 2005 – Shelter Director Anthony Moore administered only 2cc’s of sodium pentobarbital to each of 18 dogs.  The dogs weighed as much as 100lbs. (Fatal Plus dosage required to euthanize humanely is 1cc per 10lbs of body weight).  The dogs were then placed into a freezer while still alive.


(photo’s courtesy of Summit County Animal Rights Enforcement (SCARE)

Dead Animal Freezer - this dog sits in his cage surrounded by his urine and feces

53 dogs/puppies, cats/kittens were found dead in their cages during an 18 month period.  Kittens and puppies were going without food and water for 24 hours between feedings. Dogs were fed only once per day because, per a statement from a pound worker, they ere understaffed and do not have the employees to clean cages if animals are fed twice.  The Ohio Revised Code states that animals must go no longer than 13 hours between feedings.

Witness statements state dogs have had no food or water in their cages, layers of mold are found in the cat bowls.  There is no veterinary care given to sick and injured animals, nor any diagnosis because there is no veterinarian on staff – ORC 505.09(a) (1) and 959.13(A) (1)

On October 19th, 2005 a beagle puppy, which was purchased from the shelter was returned after having been diagnosed with parvovirus.  The puppy was not euthanized but rather died a slow death by hemorrhaging overnight in a cage.

An owner released a dog with a festering wound on its neck and containing an ingrown collar.  The dog was euthanized but the owner was never charged with neglect

Newborn kittens found by the animal warden were taken to the shelter and placed in cages without their mothers and left to die.

The area of the facility used to kill 5000 animals each year has no euthanasia table. – they are killed on a concrete floor.  Staff requests for needed equipment and replacement of worn and dangerous items were ignored.

Inhumane euthanasia practices, inaccurate record keeping, and lack of proper sanitation were documented by an employee who was subsequently fired.

On February 27, 2006, Christine Congrove, age 23, the daughter of Ward 6 County Councilman Dan Congrove was hired by Summit County Executive James B. McCarthy.  Congrove worked for 4 years as secretary to the fired Animal Control Director Glenn James.  She will no supervise 3 deputy dog wardens and 5 pound keepers.  The job also requires her to supervise scheduling and budgeting, develop a plan for enforcement of animal control laws and monitor licensing and public education programs.

Pat Mihaly of the Heaven Can Wait Rescue Group says the improper treatment of animals continues to exist as it did when Congrove first worked there.  “She’s just not qualified” “What little training she had came from a director who was fired”.

When Summit County went looking for an animal control director in 2004, the job required a minimum of 5 years animal control experience and state certifications for animal euthanasia and immobilization.  To hire Congrove the county waived those qualifications.

McCarthy was free to choose anyone he wanted for the position because the job is categorized as Unclassified.  McCarthy chooses not to go through the interviewing process and did not post the job.

Jeff Wright was hired to do the job in 2004, for $55,000 and he came to it with 2.5 years experience as the Stark County Dog Warden and 19 years private security experience.  Wright resigned the position after a year claiming every step he took was micromanaged.  Wright had proposed a 20 point plan to improve the shelter.  It included using the internet site to post pictures of dogs for adoption.  Wright was told to discontinue posting the animals because he didn’t get approval from the county spokeswoman Jill Skapin.

9 people applied for Wrights director’s post in 2004.  5 had experience with animal control, animal care or shelter management and the required certifications.  2 applicants continued to contact the county about the job after Wright left.  They were never contacted for the position Congrove now holds.

A County Council resolution passed in February 2006 to verify whether improvements have been made to the Summit County Animal Control Department was derailed by a disagreement between council and Summit County Executive James B. McCarthy.  The changes have the council rethinking about scrapping the legislation and animal activists considering a recall of the county executive (McCarthy).  The resolution required a report of the evaluation be presented to the council in a public session.  However, McCarthy made changes to the contract which the Council feels compromised the integrity of the report.  Those changes include the NACA report be given to McCarthy and the inspectors are limited to looking into only the 132 suggested changes.  The council feels if McCarthy persists, the council will repeal the resolution stating “they are not going to authorize money for a report McCarthy controls”.  – The council paid $5,000 for the inspection and report.  On 4/23/06, McCarthy signed the contract for the audit – complete with changes he made contrary to the County Council’s wishes.  The Council had planned to vote to rescind the legislation but McCarthy beat them to it by signing the contract.

McCarthy dismissed charges that the changes put him in the position to edit the NACA findings.  Animal groups have said McCarthy’s interference is an abuse of power and that he should be removed.  Deanne Christman Resch, a local animal rescuer believes the only way conditions at the shelter will change is by getting rid of McCarthy.  Resch said she is not surprised that there is a dispute over the NACA contract.  “What they have to hide, I wonder”  “Pretty much everything:  There’s patronage hires, improper and cruel euthanasia, incompetent staffing, poor record keeping and inhumane practices across the board.  These animals continue to suffer on a daily basis”.

Former dog pound worker James A. Farrance sued in the Akron federal court that supervisors McCarthy, Facilities Director Craig Stanley and then Animal Control Manager Anthony Moore deprived him of his civil rights and engaged in employment discrimination.  Farrance said he had no choice but to resign after complaining about the mistreatment of the animals.  He as fired from the Akron Animal Control Department when the county barred him from entering the Summit County Facility.  “It was retaliation, the day after he told them Anthony Moore could very well be throwing live animals in the freezer, they wrote him up for making false statements”.  Farrance was hired by Akron to transport stray animals after losing his job at the shelter, but because shelter officials would not let him on the property he could not perform the job he was hired for, thus he was fired.

Moore was demoted for inadequately euthanizing animals and Congrove hired in his place.

In April 2006, it was announced that the taxpayers would be financing on-the-job training for Congrove – training McCarthy said ere unnecessary for the position.  Congrove complete a euthanasia workshop held by the American Humane Association and is scheduled to attend a week long seminar by the NACA to the cost of $3,033.  The seminar will include topics of animal behavior, first aid, disease, rabies, euthanasia, court testimony, evidence collection, crime-scene documentation and news-media relations.  State laws requires 16-hours of euthanasia course work approved by the State Veterinary Medical Board that covers pharmacology, drug storage, stress management and proper disposal of animals.

(photo’s courtesy of Summit County Animal Rights Enforcement (SCARE)

This puppy has been rescued from the Summit County Animal Control Facility .

A police report was made regarding the neglect of this puppy as well as numerous other Ohio Revised Code Violations while under new director Christine Congrove's supervision.

Congrove has instituted the policy that ALL owner surrenders ill be immediately Killed, unless the owner can provide proof that the animal is spayed/neutered and vaccinated.

On July 31st, 2006 the NACA re-evaluation was presented to the county.  Of the original 132 recommendations for improvement, 61 were found to be implemented, 33 were listed as no progress and 38 were partially implemented.


Akron Beacon Journal

The Associated Press

Summit County Animal Rights Enforcement - SCARE