Forrest City, ARHempstead, New YorkJones CountyMaconBlog Upson County AustinAustinBlogBARC @ HoustonMonroe County Spalding CountyWarner RobinsTompkins County




We continue to showcase this story because it's the reason we launched this website.
After meeting Maggie, Ana, and Brandon, and realizing the plight of all the nameless dogs
and cats we never met, we couldn't turn our backs. We decided to do whatever we could to help,
and discovered that rescuers, rescue groups, and animal lovers throughout Georgia had
already been fighting this battle for years. Thanks to their and the community's efforts and
commitment, Macon has changed. Macon's victory sets a precedent for innocent animals
everywhere: "If you can move it an inch, you can move it a mile!"

Kathy Selbrede’s story below appears in abbreviated form on the back side of a flyer that was distributed at Macon's 2009 Cherry Blossom Festival (click here to see the front side of the flyer).

Kathy felt powerless to help the animals at the Macon Animal Shelter until she realized that she could share her story. Silence covers up abuse, but speaking out in whatever way you can brings wrong-doing to light so that it can be addressed and fixed by others who care (or who at least can be pressured into doing the right thing). Kathy sincerely hopes that other witnesses will also muster the courage to share what they have seen in Macon or other animal shelters. Justice has only one foundation (truth), but injustice has two foundations (lies and silence). Silence generally amounts to tacit consent.

To share your experiences, testimony, and photos through Shelter Reform, please write us. This page will become the clearing house for many more eyewitness reports concerning not only the Macon Animal Shelter but shelters all across Georgia and other states. The light of public scrutiny alone will force changes in places that otherwise may take decades to accomplish, during which time innumerable animals will continue to suffer.

After you’ve clicked the story links below and read them, please visit our Action page to see how you can help the animals in the Macon Animal Shelter.

Story 1: Kathy Selbrede in Macon

Story 2: Myshea Robinson in Macon

Testimony 1: Macon City Councilman Schlesinger

Adoption Story 1: Flippi

Return to top of page

Macon, GA: one visitor's experience

Kathy Selbrede of The Woodlands, Texas tells of her visit to Macon, Georgia in February 2009

Driving toward Macon on Sunday, February 8, 2009, my husband and I stopped to help a beautiful (and very pregnant) dog laying in the Highway 96 median. A local police officer who stopped to help us admitted that the dog had been there for three weeks. He said there were so many strays in the area that one man had resorted to driving around in his pickup truck to feed them all. Having no other options for the dog before us, at my request the policeman put her on my lap in our over-loaded car. We phoned my sister who gave us directions to the Macon Animal Shelter, assuming it would be safer for the dog than the freeway median would be.

Once we arrived in Macon, we dodged potholes gutting the route to the animal shelter. 11th Street dead-ended before we had found it. Backtracking, we were stunned to realize that the Macon Animal Shelter is actually inside the City Dump. My stomach tightened as we traveled the dirt road beside the dump scales. At the Shelter we found the gates were locked, but employee Nathan Millwood happened to arrive just as we were leaving and graciously let us in. He gave our canine friend (whom we now call Maggie) a clean, quiet pen in the Adoption Ward for the night. He explained that dogs in the loud and crowded pens in the Main Ward often judge the environment so unsafe they either give birth to still born pups or kill them outright if they’re born alive.

The next morning we returned to the Shelter to discuss options for Maggie. After being buzzed past the heavy locked metal front door and orientated, we got acquainted with Maggie’s cage neighbors – an English Setter puppy and a very skinny brown puppy. The gentle little brown dog was terrified and came out of her cage only after much affectionate coaxing; when I told Nathan she had diarrhea, he said he was aware that she had been sick.

Out in the back behind the Shelter, we noticed a concrete/cinderblock box about the size of a dumpster with a thick, heavy iron top attached to a pulley on the ceiling – Macon's gas chamber. Nathan assured us several times during our visits that all euthanasia was currently being done humanely by lethal injection. A little later Nathan asked me to stay in the Adoption Ward because the public was not allowed to see the removal of the bodies of the animals they had euthanized that morning – that removal process took more than 30 minutes. Based on an annual statistic posted at the Shelter, I calculated that 11 dogs per day were being euthanized, but Nathan said the number is actually much higher. I since learned that City Council member Rabbi Larry Schlesinger witnessed 17 dogs put into the gas chamber cage at one time and lowered into the cinderblock structure to be gassed, an experience that continues to haunt him.

We visited the Shelter several times that day and the next to walk Maggie and the adoptable puppies. The brown puppy refused the special canned food we brought her from PetSmart and threw up thick, clear mucus. Nathan assured us the vet was coming to check her.

We found a rescue group to foster Maggie AND her two neighbors in the Adoption Ward. We were particularly concerned for the brown puppy, surmising from her symptoms that she would eventually die of worms if left untreated. The group's director phoned Paula Fuller at the Shelter, who would not release either of the puppies because their adoption periods were not yet up. Ms. Fuller told the rescue group’s director that the vet was there checking the brown puppy as they spoke. We returned to the Shelter to find the vet was not there. We took Maggie with us, trusting Paula and Nathan who assured us that Dr. McCommon would absolutely come that evening.

The next morning we arrived at the Shelter early to check on the brown puppy. The receptionist called Nathan up front and he told us that he had “euthanized” the brown puppy because when he found her that morning, she had become too weak to stand and her eyes were jaundiced. He said that the vet had never come. After we had swallowed that news, we immediately took steps to adopt the English Setter to save it from a similar fate. The rescue group has since found Brandon a great home after treating his badly infected surgical scars from his neutering surgery at the Shelter..

We had commitments that Thursday and Friday in Alpharetta, but returned to Macon early Saturday morning specifically to attend a meeting regarding the Macon Animal Shelter. Those attending testified that:

Macon’s Shelter vet, Dr. McCommon, makes only sporadic visits.

There is no scale at the Macon Animal Shelter, meaning:

-- If lethal injections were done, there is no way to ensure animals receive the proper dosage; they may wake up in the City Dump or be buried there alive, and

-- Unless Dr. McCommon brings his own scale, spay/neuter surgeries are done with no way to ensure proper anesthesia.

There has been no stethoscope at the Shelter, meaning no matter how the animals are euthanized (by gas or injection), there's no way to guarantee they won't wake up in the City Dump or be buried there alive.

A rescue worker witnessed the wire cage lifted out of the gas chamber with the animals still moving and kicking inside.

An employee at the City Dump tells individuals off the record about seeing allegedly "dead" animals dumped there by the Shelter awaken and run away, but refuses to blow the whistle for fear of retaliation.

Macon Animal Shelter has killed all animals in the facility:

-- Before a number of holidays so that staff would not have to tend the animals,

-- Ten times for Parvo in dogs, despite the fact that the Dept. of Agriculture requires quarantine, not death, for Parvo, and despite the fact that Parvo was only reported once or twice to the Dept. of Agriculture in two years, and

-- On account of mere rodent and cockroach infestations.

Macon’s animals got the short end of the deal at City Hall last year when politics took precedence over animal welfare. Macon’s citizens, rescuers, and legislators ran into Shelter management’s stone-walling and bait-and-switch tactics as suggestions and donations to hasten transition to lethal injection were derailed. In the end, city leaders sentenced Macon’s animals to another year of over a dozen animals being cruelly gassed to death daily.

Animal rescuers in Macon and other areas operate in fear of punitive retaliation and report that when they become too proactive, Macon Animal Shelter shuts down to the public, denies rescuers access to the animals, and/or kills all the animals in the Shelter.

Service techs have gone to Macon’s Shelter more than once to forcibly clear puppies out of the gas chamber’s drain after the pups squeezed themselves down into it in their terror, tightly lodging their tiny bodies into the opening intended for the urine, blood, and other wastes generated by the animals suffering long torturous deaths with them in the chamber.

Regardless of which form of euthanasia is used, current Shelter staff who have mistreated animals, and allowed their mistreatment, must be replaced. No individual who is capable of treating animals so cold-heartedly is capable of humanely euthanizing them. (The witnesses at this Saturday meeting mirrored the views of noted shelter consultant and euthanasia trainer Douglas Fakkema, who wrote, "I think the best check and balance is to allow only compassionate animal care and control workers to euthanize ... when killing is done by poorly trained, unmotivated workers, or workers without compassion, then any method can and will be inhumane.")

On March 3, a Macon City Council member told me that the Shelter is not yet doing lethal injections but is still using the gas chamber, AND it still does not have a stethoscope (state law requires euthanized animals’ hearts be checked to avoid compounding a first tragedy with a second).

Macon citizens must understand that their tax paid Animal Shelter consistently hides the truth from the public. A very small percentage of animals surrendered to the Macon Animal Shelter have any real hope of being adopted or rescued. We learned that the Shelter routinely lies to those who attempt to locate, reclaim, or rescue animals; witnesses affirm that lovely animals are euthanized long before their hold times are up.

The treatment of animals at this Shelter rivals the barbarism and brutality of the gas chamber. Here's what we found:

Dogs caught by Animal Control on a single day are routinely packed together inside the same pen. On March 18, 2009, 10-12 medium-sized dogs were all together in one pen – this was an improvement over the past when the shelter workers would include big dogs with the small and medium size dogs and pack them in the pens so tightly they had no choice but to stand in their own feces. Forcing 10-12 animals or more to be together in such close quarters causes fights and injuries. A Sharpei rescued from the Macon Animal Shelter on March 18, 2009 needed stitches because its bite wounds were so deep. Smaller dogs starve during their hold times because larger dogs eat their food – rescuers report that animals are routinely emaciated after seven days in the Macon Animal Shelter.

On March 1, 2009, the day it snowed in Macon, a rescuer arrived at the Shelter to find that the staff had the doors in the Main Ward open, and the animals and their pens were wet. Callous shelter staff commonly clean the animals' pens by hosing them out with the animals still inside them. Rescuers who routinely visit the Macon shelter say that in the Main Ward the dogs and the concrete floor are often wet. Whether or not the heater actually works in that ward, it is always cold in winter.

Is it any surprise that an acronym FDIP (Found Dead in Pen) is routinely used in Macon’s Shelter Log?

When it comes time for animals in Macon’s Shelter to face the gas chamber, even transporting them to the device can itself be a brutal event. One witness we spoke with once saw Macon Shelter workers bringing dogs, cats and even a tiny, fluffy kitten on the ends of their control poles to the back of the Shelter and then using the poles to mercilessly fling or cast the animals alive, like bait on the end of a fishing pole, like worthless pieces of trash, into the gas chamber “dumpster.” After the kitten, they threw in an adult pit bull the same way. The sound of wounded, frightened animals tearing one another apart still haunts this witness. When the workers noticed this person (who was stunned and speechless in horror) watching them, they all fled.

It is unconscionable that a web of unspeakable mistreatment in partnership with fear, denial, and whistleblower retaliation has been woven around Macon’s lost and homeless animals. The tax paying public can and should demand that compassionate, responsible people who will implement humane policies without compromise be placed in charge of the city’s animals at every step. Macon could then point to its animal shelter with civic pride rather than shame. Citizens could then be confident that their own lost pets would be in good hands until retrieved.

I honestly don’t know how anyone in any position of authority in the city of Macon can sleep at night after being made so aware of the tremendous amount of suffering going on every day at the Macon Animal Shelter. My discovery of the details has been so unnerving that sleep has eluded me ever since.

On February 8, we heard a church sermon in Columbus that extolled the rich Biblical heritage of Georgia. Two hours later, we rescued Maggie, expecting that Georgians would live up to their reputation. In Macon, instead of an animal “shelter” we found a House of Horrors where the gas chamber not only operates, but is defended as “merciful,” and animals are callously treated. “The righteous man has regard unto his beast, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10). It’s like we uncovered a dirty secret that’s been hidden for years down in the most unsightly part of Macon, the City Dump. This blemish on the community of Macon is out of character for a city that can be so beautiful in the spring, in a state that has hosted the Olympics and boasts such a strong conservative Christian foundation.

It’s time to elevate Macon, GA above Third World standards regarding the humane treatment of animals and put an immediate end to untold suffering.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story.

Return to top of page

She was up for adoption, and I bonded with her, giving her much-needed loving care at the Macon Shelter. I was repeatedly told "the city vet was coming," always coming, to check her out. When I came back the third morning, she had been put in the gas chamber.


This is me (Kathy) with the little brown puppy at the Macon Animal Shelter on Feb. 10, 2009. The dog ran around the shelter on leash four times and was energetic. Is it true that she was so near comatose the next morning that she needed to be killed in the gas chamber?

Macon Animal Shelter's own website states: "The Macon Animal Control Division has a responsibility to assure that pets and people live together in safety and harmony - and that ALL pets receive proper care, including veterinarian care and housing."

Maybe you noticed that they capitalized the word "ALL."

The dog with me in the picture is proof that the Macon facility is NOT living up to its own stated responsibilities.

P.S. I hesitated to name this lovely, gentle animal. She is now Ana, short for Anastasia, from the Greek word for "resurrection."

My only consolation after I learned that Ana was gassed in the aftermath of veterinary neglect at the Macon Animal Shelter is that I had spent two days with her running and playing in the fresh air and sunshine behind the Shelter building. She knew that she was loved. I deeply appreciated that once when I arrived at the Shelter, Officer Nathan Millwood had already put her and Brandon in the outside pens to play.

Ana deserved much better than a terror-filled death in the gas chamber the day after this photo was taken ... especially since we had successfully placed an official hold on her to be safely transferred to a rescue group for adoption once her hold time had expired.

Ana should be enjoying a wonderful life with a great family, and instead she became the involuntary poster child for this website, a website that should never have been necessary.

NOTE: We were initially told that Ana was euthanized by lethal injection, but subsequent exposure to Macon Animal Shelter policy casts grave doubt on that claim. Also, I am left to wonder if it’s true that her health really did decline that rapidly.