Union County

Union County animal shelter names new director

Lt. Lynn Yow of the Union County Sheriff’s Office is the new director of Union County’s animal shelter.

Yow replaces Michelle Starnes following allegations of improper conduct related to euthanizing animals during Starnes’ work at the Humane Society of Concord and Greater Cabarrus County.

Starnes worked at the facility in Cabarrus County when she was off-duty from her job with the Union County Sheriff’s Office, said Capt. Macky Goodman. However, she was not properly certified to euthanize animals in Cabarrus County.

Goodman, supervisor of the Union County Sheriff’s Office’s services division, confirmed Starnes had been removed from her role at Union County’s animal shelter. He said she is still part of the Sheriff’s Office.

In a letter dated Feb. 18, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Veterinary Division notified Starnes that she was being charged a $1,500 civil penalty for not following the state’s guidelines for certified euthanasia technicians while working at the Cabarrus County shelter.

The letter came from Dr. Patricia Norris, director of the the department’s Animal Welfare Section. In a phone interview, Norris said in order to euthanize animals, a county-certified euthanasia technician must be a volunteer or an employee of that facility – or a veterinarian.

According to the findings of fact, which were laid out in the legal document sent to Starnes and posted online, “Starnes admitted that her certification did not authorize her to euthanize animals for Cabarrus County Animal Control” at the Humane Society of Concord and Greater Cabarrus County.

Barbara Blair, president of the Humane Society of Union County, said news of Starnes’ civil violations “was a surprise for everyone, including members of HSUC.”

“We look forward to a positive working relationship with the shelter’s new director, Lt. Lynn Yow,” Blair said. “The goal to reduce the numbers of animals dying in our shelter does not change with the shelter’s change in personnel. We will move forward with our current plans of reducing kill numbers with the help of Lt. Yow and the staff.”

For more information about the civil charges, visit http://bit.ly/1Awa96c.

Jane Duckwall is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jane? Email her at jbduckwall@gmail.com.