October 3, 2002
Rescue kennel comes under fire
Banks Animal Rescue Kennel on Southbound Street near West Fifth
Avenue is the center of controversy regarding its 'no-kill' policy.
Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
By ANA AGUD
September 28, 2002
TO MAKE A COMPLAINT
* Complaints against BARK may be made to the Veterinary Division of
the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs by calling
Dr. Carol Woodlief, animal control veterinarian, at (919) 733-7601 or
sending e-mail to [email protected] or to Lionel J. Randolph,
Supervisor of the Charitable Solicitation Licensing Section, N.C.
Department of the Secretary of State, at (919) 807-2211 or Charitable
Solicitation Licensing Section, N.C. Department of the Secretary of
State, P.O. Box 29622, Raleigh, N.C. 27626-0622.
Ann Banks, owner of Banks Animal Rescue Kennel, finds herself at the
center of controversy over animals in her care who have been
Records from the Davidson County Animal Shelter show that Banks has
been responsible for the euthanization of more than 5,000 animals
between January 2000 and August 2002.
BARK and Project Smiley, a separate animal rescue organization that
joined forces with BARK in June and shares the same location on
Southbound Street, promote themselves as a "no-kill" facility.
The Charitable Solicitation Licensing division of the N.C. Secretary
of State has also received a complaint about BARK and is conducting
an inquiry into whether Banks should obtain a license as an
organization that solicits charitable contributions.
The situation was first reported when WGHP FOX8 aired a news report
Wednesday night that showed Banks physically placing animals in the
carbon monoxide euthanasia chamber at the Davidson County Animal
When animals are surrendered to a no-kill facility, most people
assume that the animal will be kept and cared for until it can be
adopted - and that it will not be euthanized.
Banks contends that a no-kill facility is a "facility that does not
have a means to euthanize animals" on site - not one that will keep
all animals until adopted. Banks said animals that are "too shy, too
aggressive, too contentious or too sick" could be euthanized.
"The state does not have a true definition of what `no-kill' is,"
said Eve Roser, the former volunteer coordinator with the Davidson
County Animal Shelter and the founder of the Eve Roser Animal
Rescue. "Ann chose to call herself `no-kill.'"
Roser said the National Humane Society and the American Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals say that a legitimate
rescue, "no-kill" facility will "turn away any animal that you
knowingly cannot find a home for. You would guide that individual to
wherever they should go."
The bottom line, Roser said, is to ask why would people go to BARK
and pay to leave an animal when a call to animal control could have
the animal picked up and delivered to the county shelter free of
"What would be the reason?" she asked. "Because they believe that `no-
kill' means that."
Dr. Carol Woodlief, animal welfare veterinarian with the N.C.
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said that the Animal
Welfare Act does not distinguish between types of shelters. "We do
not govern any shelter policy," she added.
Woodlief did confirm that BARK is licensed as a privately owned
Under the veterinary division of the Department of Agriculture, this
type of shelter is described as: "A facility which is used to house
or contain animals and which is owned, operated or maintained by a
duly incorporated humane society, animal welfare society for the
prevention of cruelty to animals or other nonprofit organization
devoted to the welfare, protection and humane treatment of animals."
Technically, "what Ann is doing is not illegal," Roser said. Robert
Hyatt, county manager, confirmed there are no county ordinances in
place to prevent what has been done.
However, Roser does question the tremendous number of animals killed.
She questions how many of those animals were healthy, adoptable
animals or ones that would have made suitable companions.
"You can't tell anyone there were 5,077 vicious, aggressive, sick
animals," she added. "She (Banks) was able to handle every one of
those animals (shown in the news video)."
Roser also said, as a licensed animal rescue shelter, Banks is
obligated to provide regular veterinary care for the animals under
her care and points out that it is against the law to knowingly adopt
out a sick animal.
Banks contends, "You can't treat them all," using extremely "wormy or
mangy" puppies as examples. "Sarcoptic mange can take weeks and weeks
to get rid of. By that time they can spread the mange to every other
dog in the facility.
"If I knowingly adopt (out) a puppy that has sarcoptic mange, they'd
bust my chops."
Roser has heard "so many horror stories, all affiliated with BARK,"
that she knows - and has proof - that "regular veterinary care" is
not being provided.
A veterinary technician with whom Roser deals regularly, Amy Knable,
paid $40 to adopt two kittens from BARK. From experience, Knable knew
that one kitten was obviously very sick. Not isolated - as is
required by state regulations - Knable adopted both the sick kitten
and the one with which it was kenneled in the hopes of treating the
sick one. Ultimately, it died from feline leukemia.
"She (Banks) knowingly adopted out a sick animal," Roser said.
Roser questions why not take a sick animal to a veterinarian if there
is any chance the animal can be healed and adopted in the
future. "Puppies with mange would not constitute (a need for)
euthanasia. In my opinion, Ann and Project Smiley are a business and
veterinary care cuts into the profit."
Roser also suggested that a review of the 911 Center's event log
documents in "Ann's own words describing what needs to be picked up."
Calls for animal pick-up are dispatched through the county's 911
Center. These animals are then taken to the animal shelter.
Fifty-five pages of recorded calls shows that more than 400 calls
were made for animal pick-up from May 1999 to this week at BARK.
There are countless calls for animal control to pick up sick cats,
dogs, puppies and kittens, more than one animal at a time, and/or
vicious, aggressive dogs.
Other calls are more specific. One call asks for nine dogs to be
picked up while in another Banks says she has three boxes of cats for
pick-up. At least two calls advise animal control "he will need an
A call on May 1 says to "have animal control come on as soon as they
can she has several sick dogs and some she can't get rid of" while
another call requests pick-up of "puny kittens."
Some of the calls are extremely graphic while a "big dog," "a dog
chasing cats" or "a female dog in heat and every dog in a 50 mile
radius is there trying to get to her" were given as reasons for pick-
At issue, too, is the fee schedule BARK has in place. Banks charges a
$10 surrender fee for puppies and kittens and a $50 surrender fee for
adult dogs and cats. At question is what these fees are being used
for if so many animals are being euthanized on a regular basis.
According to the Animal Welfare Act, a state licensed rescue shelter
can not misrepresent itself.
Lionel J. Randolph, supervisor of the Charitable Solicitation
Licensing Section with the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State,
explained that, in certain situations, fraud may exist. Examples may
be if a drop-off fee has been paid with the promise that the animal
will find a home but is later euthanized or if an adoption fee is
paid with the agreement that the fee covers the necessary shots,
spaying or neutering and general health care for the animal, but the
rescue shelter is not doing those things.
The Internal Revenue Service and/or the Department of Revenue may get
involved if fees being charged - fees that should be reported on
various tax forms - are paid but the notation on the check
"I see them in conjunction with solicitation of charitable
contributions," Randolph said. "I have to be concerned with
charitable contributions, how much she received and what she's done
If these contributions reach a certain level, it may mean that Banks
will be required to obtain a charitable solicitation license. In
cases of alleged fraud, Randolph forwards the information to the
Randolph has requested from Banks her articles of incorporation,
bylaws and past tax returns. A formal written request for the
information has been sent after two verbal requests to Banks failed
to provide the information.
"She may be under investigation by another group. She is not under
investigation (by CSL division)," Randolph said. "This is a routine
Randolph has also sent a formal request for the same information to
Brenda Bishop, owner of Project Smiley. The group has been with BARK
since its eviction from its previous location in High Point, Roser
In the middle of all this controversy is the Davidson County Animal
Shelter, which is under the direction of the Sheriff's Office.
Both shelter workers, Anita Wood, a veterinarian technician, and
Richard Varner, an animal control officer, were very disheartened by
the ongoing euthanizations, Wood said.
"There was nothing we could do. The dogs were in her possession,"
Wood said. "If she deemed them vicious, if she deemed them sick,
there was nothing we could do."
Roser said Banks made a conscious choice. "She has the option of
putting those animals in the general population area," Roser
said. "By saying they're sick or aggressive, it eliminates the option
Wood also indicated that despite the animal shelter's reputation for
euthanizing stray animals, she, Varner and their volunteers "work
hard to get these little critters a home." This includes
spaying/neutering and all current shots.
However, she added, they are candid with owners about the likelihood
of an animal being adopted.
"We will be honest and tell them that," Wood said.
Sheriff Gerald Hege said his office has been aware of the number of
animal euthanizations from BARK for quite some time and has even
conducted some investigations into incidents, but that they were
limited as to what they can do because of the lack of a county
"The county commissioners need to take a look at this," he
said. "We're talking with Commissioner Akins about it. Hopefully
we'll be able to change the situation and get an ordinance or at
least charge a fee or something."
All those involved agree it comes down to human responsibility for
their animals if the issue of homeless, unwanted animals is to be
solved. Banks uses it as a defense for her actions. "It's a Davidson
Hege urges the public to take more responsibility when surrendering
"People, when they take their animals to these `no-kill' places, need
to ask a lot of questions and find out just what `no-kill' means to
the owner," Hege said.
However, people who adopt animals from shelters and rescue kennels
are often looking for a specific size and breed of animal.
"What happens to all the others?" Hege said. "If people are truly
animal lovers, if the sole purpose is to save an animal, they should
adopt the next dog in line. That kind of eliminates what's happening
in this situation."
Ana Agud may be reached at 249-3981, ext. 228, or at ana.agud@the-
dispatch.com. Staff reporter Cherriece Wright contributed to this