Why didn't shelter accept help?

Posted at 11:29 AM, Jul 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-10 11:29:28-04

We have new information on a FOX 47 investigation into the Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter (ICACS), and the treatment of dogs who were seized in a dog fighting ring last year.

Since we first broke this story several weeks ago about an investigation into the shelter, new questions have come as to why the Ingham County shelter didn't ask for help when all of the dogs first arrived and more importantly why they didn't accept the help that was offered.

"We housed a bunch of difficult animals and I think we did a great job with them. I think the staff did a great job with them, it was an extremely difficult situation we were put in and we did great," said Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter Director John Dinon.

Dinon, three weeks ago, explained why things went so bad at the shelter and why two dogs had to be euthanized after months of alleged neglect and starvation.

Hundreds of documents, pictures and medical records proving neglect and abuse. Even an investigation by the Michigan Humane Society, whose report concludes inadequate staff, lack of communication and more.

Local pitbull advocate groups told FOX 47's Alani Letang that there was help, and Dinon didn't take it.

"These experts waiting to be called for help, that's very disheartening. It puts everybody at odds and especially when he was making these calls and cries for help, ' I don't have anybody helping me.' That's not acceptable. How could you not accept expert help when these people are willing to come in no charge. There's no excuse," said Christy Lawrence, Founder, Coalition Advocates for Reform of ICACS.

Lawrence added, "There were many times, many people reached out to assist him with anything he needed he refused all of our help." She also said she received an email from Dinon that they could stop searching and they found someone. Lawrence said he or the Board of Commissioners would not release the name, and that concerned her. "We would've liked to have know there was confirmation that a group had been chosen," said Lawrence.

FOX 47 obtained an email from a national organization called Best Friends, that helps in situations like this to get dogs placed in homes and prevent any animals from being killed.

The email states "I wanted to get you information regarding the rescues and shelters which have offered assistance for these and the remaining 30+ dogs involved in the case."

In the email, there was a list of nine organizations.

"Humane Society of West Michigan offered assessment for behavioral and potential placement. The Buster Foundation, which is out of Michigan, they offered assessment and potential placement in a foster network. They were waiting for a call back for confirmation. The Humane Society of Midland County had potential placement available and assessment," said Jamie Hillman- Founder, Save The Lansing Michigan Pitbulls.

Hillman said all organizations willing to step in and help, including the Capital Area Humane Society (CAHS).

"We reached out to both shelter, and Eaton co said we are going to need some help managing this case from the animal side," said Julia Wilson- President & CEO, Capital Area Humane Society

Eaton County seized ten dogs from that same dogfighting ring and got help.

"So we were there and brought the dogs in, actually housed the dogs. And one was sent to rescue organization that specializes in post fighting dogs," said Wilson.

And when it came to Ingham County, the message the Capital Area Humane Society (CAHS) received was different than Eaton County.

"I got the impression they didn't need our help, and we haven't heard that they do," said Wilson.

Wilson told Letang that help from the CAHS is always available.

"It's a lot for any shelter to manage. I think that's something that's widely expected that there are situations where shelters need assistance," Wilson explained.

CAHS offered the help to Ingham County Animal Shelter more than once.

Wilson said again that she "didn't get the impression that help was needed after we'd reached out. We certainly would've been glad to help in any way"

Wilson said seizures like the one in Lansing last year can be tough situations on shelters.

Wilson said, "you have to re-evaluate and reorganize your space to see how many animals you can safely handle. You don't want to take more than you can care for or you end up in a bad situation. It's always a challenge and its hard on staff, and it's certainly an overwhleming situation."

Ingham County did get help from one organization called Bark Nation, who helped place several of the dogs.  And for the dogs that were part of the Michigan Humane Society's investigation, two were euthanized, and two have been adopted out.  We will stay on top of this and bring you the latest developments. 

We have reached out to Director Dinon on Monday for comment he has not reached back out