Former volunteers complain of animal neglect at county shelter

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – There are plenty of animal lovers in San Diego and there are plenty of animal friendly areas.

But some people who used to work at the County-run animal shelters say there’s not enough love there and they’re making some serious allegations about the mistreatment of animals.

Former volunteers claim the dogs in the county shelter are not walked or exercised for days, sometimes weeks at a time.

Some claim they run out of beds for the animals and other say it is an inept organization that needs to outsource for the sake of the animals.

Bonnie Kutch volunteered at the County Animal Shelter for more than three years.

She left because she said the dogs were neglected by staff, no walked and some were put down to make room for other dogs that "presented better" for potential adoption.

"You come in and find out four of your favorite dogs were put down. You hold it in and when you get home you bawl your eyes out," Kutch said.

Kutch is one of several former volunteers issuing serious complaints against the San Diego Department of Animal Services, which runs three kennels in the county.

She said they need more volunteers and better training and that the overall mission needs to change to be more animal centric.

Two lawsuits were filed against the county earlier this year by veterinarians who also used to work for the Department of Animal Services.

They say they were retaliated against for complaining about policies and procedures. 

Attorney Dan Gilleon said vet technicians who are not qualified were put in charge by the county.

"When you are a vet and you say to a tech, ‘I’m not gonna euthanize the animal,’ you become a problem for that tech and when the tech is in charge you are in trouble," Gilleon said.

Gilleon’s clients told sad stories about dogs being hosed down while they were still in the kennels.

"They just sprayed the kennels with the dogs inside. Leaving them on the cold concrete 30-40 degrees because the boilers didn’t work," Gilleon said.

Kutch volunteers at the Humane Society now, which she said is much more rewarding. She said this information should not keep people away from the County Shelter.

"People need to go there, people need to adopt those animals," she said.

Former volunteers want change at the county-run shelter from the top down.

We asked the county for comment and they said they are working on a statement.

As for the civil lawsuits filed by the veterinarians, they are still pending in court.

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