Officials say they’ve had multiple reports of a person posing as a Lewis County Animal Shelter staff member, and that the imposter has been going onto private property, including through closed gates, and telling people they’re there to “pick up the stray animal and transport to the shelter.”
County officials say staff members from the Lewis County Animal Shelter will always be carrying proper identification and driving in an officially marked vehicle, and will not show up unannounced to a home.
“At no time does our staff enter private gates — especially locked ones — after hours without proper identification,” Shelter Manager Jennifer Teitzel said during a Lewis County Board of Health meeting last week. “So that’s something we would like to reassure the public.”
Additionally, handing over a stray animal to the imposter would be “against the law,” according to a press release. Per state law, stray animals should be brought to a vet, a county shelter or to law enforcement.
To protect themselves from anyone posing as a county employee, Teitzel also advised residents to be sure not to disclose private information on Facebook, where county residents regularly post about lost animals. Disclosing addresses “could invite someone to show up and falsely claim to be associated with the shelter,” the press release reads.
Public Health officials also tried to assuage fears residents may have in turning animals over to the shelter. Animals are only euthanized if it’s necessary for safety, medical or humane issues, according to officials.
“We really here in Lewis County have seen a tremendous change in the last 20 years … We don’t have memories of putting down healthy animals,” Public Health Director J.P. Anderson said, adding that euthanasia occurs mainly when there’s a safety issue or a suffering animal, like one that has been hit by a vehicle.
According to Teitzel, euthanasia does not occur simply due to overcrowding or an animal’s extended length of stay.
“We have great partnerships with other humane societies and other rescue groups, and we transfer (animals) within those boundaries, all with fantastic outcomes,” she said. “The euthanasia rate is less than 10%, and that’s something we’re very proud of, because that’s something that used to not be the case.”
According to the county, when the shelter does take an animal, “every attempt is made to find its owner prior to putting the animal up for adoption. Having your pets microchipped is the best way to make sure they go back to their correct homes.”
Officials are also hopeful that a new animal shelter — a project currently in the works — will give more space to staffers and animals. SKHS Architects is currently in the site selection phase of the project.