Rowan Co. Animal Shelter Director Previews Changes

SALISBURY, N.C. – Bob Pendergrass is going to face a tough crowd this coming Tuesday. He’s hosting a public forum to talk about the Rowan County Animal Shelter. The shelter has been under fire after a cat in their care had it’s jaw broken in March.

Now named Cooper, a Facebook page devoted to updates about him, is overflowing with angry comments about what happened. He tells WCCB News @ Ten Morgan Fogarty anchor, “It’s my opinion sincerely that this was an accident. It’s not to say maybe in the future we can find a way to prevent similar accidents.”

Pendergrass is new on the job: he’s been in charge less than three weeks. He wasn’t there when Cooper was injured while an employee tried to microchip him. That employee was placed on paid leave while the state investigated. Fogarty asked, “What is his (the employee’s) current status?” Pendergrass replied, “He is back at work. The state found no evidence of intentional animal cruelty.” Fogarty asked, “Do you think that he cares about these animals?”

“Yes, most definitely I do,” he said.

Pendergrass says he’s been consulting with other shelter managers, the state vet and state inspectors about best practices and policies. He expects to start making policy changes in a couple weeks. He’s already ordered a new piece of equipment designed to keep tough-to-handle animals safe while they’re being treated. The staff will need training on that – and in general? Fogarty asked, “Do you think that there needs to be more training for employees here?” Pendergrass replied, “I think there can never be enough training. I think we need to review training on a regular basis.”

Fogarty asked, “Do you know when the last time there was formal training provided here at the shelter?” Pendergrass replied, “I do not. I have to admit I do not know that.”

The county has recently budgeted for a shelter veterinarian. Pendergrass says, “I’m hopeful within three weeks to a month we will have somebody on staff.” But first, Pendergrass wants to run a productive forum next week and reassure people of this: “We want to be open to the public. We belong to the public.”

Pendergrass also tells WCCB an expanded volunteer program could be implemented in the next six months. The public forum is Tuesday at 6 PM at the Rowan County Admin. Building.