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Former employee: Harbor Humane Society mistreating animals

9:31 PM, Aug 23, 2013   |    comments
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WEST OLIVE, Mich. (WZZM) -- Overcrowding, poor conditions, and mistreatment of animals are just some of the accusations against a local shelter by a former employee.

The former employee took her concerns about the Harbor Humane Society online and received nearly 1,400 petition signatures on the website www.change.org

Jessica Swett took photos of rusty cabinets, feces in kennels, and an empty room with a dog named Celia.

"Basically in solitary confinement for almost a year," says Swett, a former employee at Harbor Humane Society. "It took me a day to realize that place is so screwed up."

She worked and documented her concerns for three months. This week, she took her message to the internet and gathered nearly 1,400 online petition signatures. 

"The public just has no idea that this stuff is going on," says Swett.

WZZM 13 took the concerns directly to the Harbor Humane Society board. 

"This place is falling apart, we do need help," says Teresa Huxhold, treasurer on the Harbor Humane Society board.

Huxhold says the shelter is in desperate need of funding, but she defends the decision to keep Celia isolated. "We did have to put her in isolation because she was aggressive," says Huxhold.

However, there's another procedure she could not defend: There is a room where animals are euthanized while other animals watch. WZZM 13 asked Huxhold if that was a proper environment for animals.

"No, I don't think its proper," says Huxhold.

"Countless times I saw crates of cats on top of that freezer with dead bodies in it, its just gross," says Swett.

The shelter recently hired a new director and says it is planning improvements, such as expanding the outside area. WZZM 13 asked if the public should have more confidence in the new management than the old management.

"The public should have confidence that we are always improving," says Huxhold.

Swett hopes her story brings more change, including changes in the board of directors.

Harbor Humane Society invites the public to check out the building to show they are not hiding anything. WZZM 13 has also seen a chance: During at least one story last year, the shelter would not allow cameras on property but recently shelter officials have allowed video on several occasions.

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