In the report from January, Terry Kissell, of the Lauderdale County Animal Shelter, told a Humane Association employee that he had been shooting animals to euthanize them because their paperwork had issues and their euthanasia solution was expired.
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A detective with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department said he began investigating the shelter in Ripley, Tennessee, in March after he received a complaint about six dogs being shot at the facility. However, he could not find any evidence, and charges were never filed.
Detective Micah Middlebrook said that Kissell admitted to shooting and killing one dog but said he did it because the dog was aggressive and charged him.
At least two rescue groups said the husky was very friendly and not vicious.
“It was not aggressive. It was Snowball,” said Amber Reynolds with Halfway Home Animal Rescue. “I have pictures of him hugging me, loving on me.”
The Lauderdale Animal Shelter was temporarily closed in 2015, and a part-time employee was suspended after a local rescue group found a live puppy in a freezer.
Debbie Flowers with Ripley Animal Rescue said she came to the shelter to take pictures of puppies and heard several had been euthanized. Flowers said she checked the freezer and noticed one still had a pulse.
Reynolds said last week, she found one dead puppy and two live puppies in a dark, cold closet at the Lauderdale County Shelter and was told the dead puppy was put in the closet because it was dying.
“It was colder than it was outside,” said Reynolds. “The puppies didn’t have a blanket. They were just lying on the plastic crate floor.”
Lauderdale County Mayor Maurice Gaines said he didn’t know about any puppies being left in a closet and said 99% of the claims made against the shelter were false.
“I think there was an issue where a vicious dog was put down,” said Gaines. “He was investigated. Everything was dropped.”
Rescue workers said they found out dogs were being shot after Kissell was suspended and said an employee who shared pictures of Kissell with the dog and gun was fired.
The mayor would not say if Kissell had been temporarily removed from his job.
In the report, the Humane Association employee said all of the dogs in the shelter appeared to be in good health. However, she said the kennels and dogs were wet, and the shelter had no medical records to prove the dogs had been vaccinated or de-wormed.
CASA Transport and Halfway Home both rescue dogs regularly and say the kennels are sprayed down with water while the dogs are inside them and that some dogs have not been out of their cages in several months.
“Things we see are urine burns on the dogs that we pull because there aren’t beds. They are lying on the wet floor in their own feces and urine most of the time,” said Brittnie Battle with CASA Transport.
Battle said she has tried to rescue as many dogs as possible but says she has been banned from the shelter since posting a Tik Tok video asking the community to support their local shelter.
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“We are pulling dogs every week. So unless we are able to do that, those dogs stay there,” said Battle. “Him shutting us out is a death sentence for the rest of the animals coming in.”
Requests for comment from the mayor about the report from the Nashville Humane Association have not immediately been answered.