PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - The City of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Humane Society are facing violations for mistreating animals that involve creating a feral cat colony.
In a letter to Portsmouth City Manager John L. Rowe, Jr. and Portsmouth Humane Society Executive Director Jennifer Austin, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services outlined violations of a section of the Code of Virginia made at a pound facility in Portsmouth.
The letter was written by Daniel A. Kovich, State Veterinarian and Director of the Division of Animal and Food Industry Services, and blamed the City of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Humane Society for two “critical” violations discovered at the facility on August 30:
The facility was found to not be providing “adequate feed, water, space, and shelter” to all the animals in its custody.
Not all the animals at the facility were being kept in areas that would keep them from escaping, getting injured or being stolen.
The violations were discovered when Kovich’s office visited the Portsmouth Humane Society – which doubles as the contracted animal pound facility for Portsmouth -- to investigate claims that cats were being turned loosed into a wooded area on the facility’s grounds.
During the investigation, the facility’s staff said over the past year, employees had adopted about 40 of the pound’s cats and then released them into a densely wooded area to the west of the shelter building. Staff said a “feral cat colony” had developed.
Those investigating were told there were several foam shelters in the woods. They also found two large piles of cat food on the edge of the woods that had become saturated with moisture and spoiled, attracting flies. Staff members confirmed no water was set out for the cats at the time.
Employees also provided records of cats adopted by members of the Portsmouth Humane Society. The records showed the members had adopted approximately 91 cats and released them on the property.
In the letter, Kovich also noted a “non-critical” violation discovered at the pound on both March 6 and August 30: animal runs inside the pound did not have a surface material that allowed proper cleaning and disinfecting.
The letter went on to asses the penalty for the violations – a fine of $1,250 to be paid within 30 days.
The City and the Portsmouth Humane Society have the option of contesting the violations.
For a more detailed description of what was found during the investigation of the pound on August 30, click here.
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