MARYLAND

Former employee of Humane Society of Washington County alleges mistreatment of animals

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WJLA) - At least two former employees are sounding the alarm saying the Humane Society of Washington County mistreated animals, adopted out sick animals, and had a mass euthanization in one day. One of those workers has filed suit saying she was wrongfully terminated when she refused to keep the shelter’s secrets.

Amanda Surber is now showing evidence of what she believes is cruelty to animals at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them.

For two-and-a-half years, Surber was an animal care technician at the Humane Society of Washington County in Hagerstown. She says new management that came on board in January 2013 was fixated on making the facility a no-kill shelter. The results – there were too many cats, many of them sick.

“The overcrowding, the best way to describe it, it looked like a concentration camp. The way they were stacked on top of each other, we would have five to six cats in a cage.”

Former volunteer Andrea Carroll witnessed the same conditions.

“Forty cats would be coming in every day. We had nowhere to put them. They’re sick, diseases were spreading that we can’t treat.”

Surber says the mistreatment ran the gamut from cats with infections and disease to in one case more than 100 being euthanized in one day.

“We had to go room to room to put these animals down. You can’t kill 130 animals in an hour and expect it to be humane,” she says.

Surber and others became increasingly concerned about the conditions and an effort, she says, to cover up the number of cats being euthanized.

“They did not have the welfare of the animals in mind. They were more concerned with getting the number of euthanasia’s down at whatever cost," Surber says.

Surber was asked to sign a non-disclosure. When she refused, she was fired.

“They wanted me to keep the secret and not speak out,” she says.

The Humane Society allowed ABC7 inside the animal adoption rooms, which were clean and not crowded. Declining an on-camera statement, it the Humane Society said, "We strongly deny the allegations in the lawsuit and will defend ourselves at the appropriate time in court."

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