Three former employees of the Canyon Lake Animal Shelter Society were issued criminal trespass warnings by the Comal County Sheriff’s Office Monday after a newly elected board of directors fired them over allegations of animal mistreatment and neglect.
Those allegations centered around complaints and pictures posted on the Comal County Lost and Found Dogs Facebook page.
Pictures posted on the page show kennels covered in feces and bowls full of green water. A soda bottle is seen sitting at the bottom of one of the water pails.
The board of directors in place at the time was aware of the allegations before Sunday’s meeting- the night before the three employees were fired. During that meeting, Angie Gilstrap was elected to the board.
Shortly after, the rest of the board -- all except one member -- decided to step down. The former board members officially removed themselves after the employee termination.
The following morning, all current employees of CLASS were fired. “When we got here, the animals were laying in their own filth," Gilstrap said. It was deep. It wasn’t just an overnight thing. A lot of them didn't have food, they didn’t have water.”
On Tuesday, stacks of donated food and supplies filled the front office of the shelter after word spread. Dozens of volunteers showed up at CLASS to help clean, organize and care for the animals.
Kelsey Calcote and her mother were some of those volunteers who also gave of their time at the shelter before Monday’s takeover. Both say they witnessed neglect with one dog in particular.
“She had like a leash mark on her neck. Skin had grown onto the leash like it had choked her,” said Calcote. “Me and my mom were just disgusted with how the cages looked.”
Calcote said she was one of the volunteers who, on the previous Saturday, stacked animal food to the top of a storage shed outside the shelter. On Tuesday, the food was gone.
The shelter is supposed to be a no kill shelter, but new management said euthanized animals were found in a freezer.
Randy and Gina Archer were two of the three employees terminated Monday. Gina Archer is the former executive director. The Archers deny any of the allegations and say none of the animals were covered in their own filth.
“There might have been that on Monday morning,” said Gina Archer. “That was not the case when we walked out of there at five in the afternoon on Saturday. We did everything we were supposed to do, according to the laws of the state of Texas.”
Comal County Animal Control director Steve McKinn says he inspected the shelter on May 12, June 19, and July 11 following complaints of neglect and found zero violations. His inspections were unannounced.
Archer said the shelter lacked resources and the previous board of directors was not actively involved with the shelter. She also claims the animals that were euthanized were put down due to repeated illness, which was allowed by shelter by laws.
Gina Archer has worked at CLASS for 14 years.
Back at the shelter, there is no working air conditioning or computer. Gilstrap said there are $3,000 to $4,000 in unpaid bills to deal with. But despite all that, things are turning around, thanks to the help of strangers.
“I am so proud of our community, because we couldn’t do this without them," said Gilstrap. "There’s no way we could do this without them.”
While some animals still need to be tested for heartworms and other conditions, others are ready for adoption. Currently, the shelter is offering adoptions for half price. Gilstrap said what the shelter is in need of most now is good homes for the animals and monetary donations.
There is no way to currently donate online or via credit card, but Gilstrap expects that to be available by the end of the week.
Anyone who would like to donate money, time or items can do so at the shelter at 2170 Old Sattler Road in Canyon Lake, or call CLASS at 830-899-2527.
Monetary donations can be mailed to the shelter at P.O. Box 1933 Canyon Lake, TX, 78133.
In New Braunfels, donations are being accepted at Tan 2000 and Millenium Medispa in the Marketplace Shopping Center.
Meanwhile, the Comal County Sheriff’s Office says it is gathering information to determine whether anything criminal took place at CLASS.