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Perhaps the letter's most damning charge: "Freezer is allowed to become 3 foot deep in dead animals on a continuing basis." According to Bass, "Aimee seemed reluctant to task men to load the crematory or take initiative to keep it low when she is in charge of kennel area. Dead deer left outside in wheel barrel for days decomposing when crematory is empty."
Bass, who is testifying on Martha's behalf in an upcoming unemployment hearing, also claimed in the letter, "Aimee often gives hugs to or touches employees in an inappropriate manner."
Wells denies those accusations. She says the complaint about deceased animals waiting to be incinerated might stem from a misunderstanding of how carcasses are disposed of. The incinerator is used for road kill, shelter animals, and pets euthanized by approximately 10 veterinarians, she says, and it burns for five to six hours each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Sometimes, she says, high turnover at the shelter or veterinary practices results in an increased number of bodies, causing the freezer to fill up.
Jones, sounding exasperated at the complaints that the shelter has drawn, says of the critics' claims, "It's like saying we have an epidemic of measles because we have one case." He goes on: "I think the law of averages says we're going to have something go wrong every once in while. But I don't think it's an inhumane building. I don't think that our people are treating animals inhumanely. I don't think there's anybody down there right now that would do that intentionally, by any means."
If the shelter were a no-kill facility, Jones says, he and Wells might be catching less flack.
"Many shelters have been able to go to no-kill shelters. And if they've gone to no-kill, they're not facing this because they don't have to make decisions about whether an animal is going to die or not. If they haven't [enacted a no-euthanasia policy], they're facing this. And most of us are seeing that we're facing more of it because it's part of a movement to make sure we become no-kill."
Animal shelters that euthanize animals, he explains, are accustomed to complaint salvos from animal lovers. "We deal with that on an almost daily basis," Jones says. "They care for animals. They're the same as humans to them."
The Missouri Department of Agriculture's June inspection report cites a number of violations.
"In the room referred to as Homeward Bound (previously referred to as Dog Room A), there is a large hole in the wall that is approximately 4 inches in diameter near the floor. This type of gaping hole prevents proper cleaning and sanitizing. It can trap dirt, waste, and debris, making it a breeding ground for bacteria and pathogens," the department's Tracy Houston writes in the inspection document.
Another sanitation concern: "In the kitchen, due to the leaning kitchen cabinet, the sink also leans. This causes water to pool next to the sink's fixtures. I observed a small pool of standing water and cat feces next to the faucet."
Houston notes the failure to treat the mange-stricken pit bull. "A 5-month-old Pit Bull puppy (ID # 12861337) was taken into this facility's care on 4/11/2011. Photos show that large areas of this puppy's body had no hair and exposed raw skin. These bare and raw areas covered most of his legs and feet, his face and muzzle, and his neck. There were also raw and bare wound-like areas on his back. Licensee did not provide this puppy with veterinary care until 4/13/2011."