Spencer County animal shelter under investigation


CHRISNEY — The Spencer County Animal Shelter is under investigation after reports of staff euthanizing cats by putting them in freezers surfaced on Facebook Saturday.

Initial public reports came when Bridget Woodson, a former Spencer County Animal Shelter employee, posted a public post on her Facebook page that said, “Yes, shelter employees have been asked to put injured/sick cats that were still alive in the freezer to die...” Woodson said in the post she was asked to place cats in the freezer twice during her three-month employment and refused both times.

In her Facebook post, Woodson also included screenshots of text message exchanges with Christina Payne, the Spencer County Animal Control officer in charge of the shelter, about a request to place a cat in the freezer.

The shelter is located in Chrisney.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, hypothermia is never an acceptable euthanasia method for companion animals, including cats.

Following the post, two Evansville television stations aired segments about the allegations, and the Spencer County Sheriff’s Department ran an investigation.

Detective Chris King told The Herald this morning that he talked to Woodson and the parties mentioned in her post and obtained screenshots of text message exchanges. King said he did not see any animal carcasses himself. He planned to check the shelter Tuesday, but received word that the carcasses had been removed, he said. He turned his preliminary investigation over to Spencer County Prosecutor Dan Wilkinson and recommended another agency continue the investigation.

Since both the animal shelter and the sheriff’s department are county agencies, King said, having an outside agency continue the investigation would better provide an unbiased investigation. The next steps in the investigation are up to the prosecutor.

A Facebook message from The Herald to Woodson was not returned by press time.

The Spencer County Animal Shelter’s Facebook page has been removed and calls to the shelter ring with no answer. Rumors are spreading on social media that the shelter has closed, but The Herald has yet to confirm those.

A public Facebook post from Laura Harlen said the cats have been pulled from the shelter and are housed at southern Indiana rescue TLC Pals 4 Pawws. Harlen said in her post that she is collecting donations of wet kitten food, cat litter, paper towels and other cat necessities to donate to TLC Pals 4 Pawws. Donations can be dropped off at Rockport Trading Center in Rockport.

No information was available about the fate of the dogs under the shelter’s care.

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