29 cats mauled by pit bulls at Dothan Animal Shelter

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Dothan, AL (WTVY)-- Workers at the Dothan Animal Shelter were startled when they reported to work Thursday. They found 29 dead cats, attacked by pit bulls also housed at the shelter.

“Those dogs forced their way out of a pen. Then, they pushed hard enough on galvanized bars to knock (the bars) out of their clamps,” said Shelter Director Bill Banks.

That allowed them to push back enough on the chain-link type fencing to get inside and maul the cats.

“These dogs were able to eat their way out, for lack of a better term, and attack these cats. That is horrible,” City Commissioner Beth Kenward reacted.

She blames the incident on an outdated shelter and believes the city should have done something about the facility long ago.

Mayor Mark Saliba agrees. “It's sad, and there is no doubt that (a new shelter) is overdue,” he said.

The mayor, Kenward, and other commissioners recently made a new animal shelter a capital improvement priority. Right now, it's an idea that needs boosting or, more to the point, funding.

The hope is to form a public-private partnership to pay for the multi-million dollar facility. Not only must financing be secured, land is also needed. Three to five acres would be ideal.

Kenward believes now is the time to get involved. “We need business owners, private entities, humane societies, animal rights groups, and others to partner with us on this.”

She and Saliba hope a board will be created to oversee the shelter, now operated by the Dothan Police Department. The mayor wants Houston County and others to share in the cost. The Foundation is also a major component in plans.

“This commitment is there and I think we all realize the time is now. Whatever we do, it is going to be a nice shelter,” Saliba said.

While he and Kenward are saddened about the mauling of those 29 cats, they hope that tragedy will inspire interest in a new animal shelter.

Banks said the pit bulls had been brought to the shelter Wednesday after they were found roaming.

A decision has not been made about what to do with those dogs, but Banks said he can't see them being put in a position where they can harm again.

He said staff and volunteers at the shelter, some possibly traumatized, will be offered counseling.