HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — A federal inspection into Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary has led to one official being accused of abusing her power.
“Unfortunately, this is a nonprofit in Georgia, and there are protections from nonprofits and, unfortunately, it seems like they’ve been abused,” former Noah’s Ark Sanctuary veterinarian consultant Dr. Jack Kottwitz said.
Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln was at a meeting with State Senator Emmanuel Jones on Thursday morning where the findings of a USDA report into Noah’s Ark was outlined.
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“I’ve seen reports like this, they were for roadside zoos, right before the USDA shut them down,” Kottwitz said.
The six page report reveals a lack of animal care. Kottwitz says it’s noted the sanctuary did not have a contingency plan in the event an animal, like a lion or bear, escapes.
Inspectors also found a number of animals living with ongoing medical conditions.
Kottwitz says what’s most troubling is the number of dead birds that are still on property months after the bird flu outbreak.
- Noah’s Ark animal sanctuary will remain closed for several more months
- Noah’s Ark board member makes public statement for first time since state investigations
- Noah’s Ark employees walk off job, cite unsafe working conditions amid board leadership
Senator Jones asked members of the board several times during Thursday’s meeting if they wanted to speak, no one did.
“I still can’t get over the dead carcasses,” Kottwitz said.
Senator Jones says he’s in the process of reaching out to the governor’s office to request an investigation to have Board President Shelly Lackly removed.
The governor is the only state authority who can remove a board president from a nonprofit.
Kottwitz says according to the timeline of inspections, the decline in care started after Lackly started firing critical employees.
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Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary released a lengthy statement to Channel 2 on Thursday afternoon:
The volunteer Board and dedicated staff at Noah’s Ark take seriously our responsibility to care for the animals here at the sanctuary. We take seriously our obligation to safeguard all of our employees, volunteers, and the local community. We focus our hard work and time on the animals and the sanctuary. As a matter of policy and good governance, we do not focus our attention on disgruntled former employees and their relatives. Instead, we choose to focus on ways to improve the conditions for our animals.
Over the past several months, we have been laser-focused on responding to an unprecedented avian flu outbreak that impacted our animals. We have been in continuous contact with representatives of state and federal agencies charged with helping us contain the outbreak on our grounds. And we have made great progress under the existing leadership of Noah’s Ark.
As always, Noah's Ark works with the USDA to maintain our licensing which includes periodic inspections. Since the outbreak of Avian Flu in August, we have continuously worked with USDA and other state agencies to contain the outbreak and ensure the safety of staff and animals.
We understand that, as a result of today’s “press conference,” questions have been raised about a USDA report that is two months old. That inspection report from Sept 15 occurred six days after three long term caregivers quit and another was fired. Therefore, the findings from Sept 15 followed the direct acts and omissions of many long-term employees who are no longer employed with us. We have taken many steps to address those concerns.
There are more recent USDA reports that show great improvement thanks to our hardworking staff. As recently as last week, eight inspectors from multiple state and federal agencies were onsite to inspect every aspect of NAAS facilities and operations. Their only findings specifically addressed hoof stock issues, and immediate corrective measures are being implemented within the timeframe allowed by the agencies. Thanks to the recent efforts of our new staff and volunteers, our animals are in greatly improved conditions.
Throughout the epidemic, we have maintained a positive, forthright, and fruitful partnership with USDA to address areas of concern. We are extremely proud of this working relationship and the progress made to date as a result of this collaborative cooperation between our organizations. NAAS is in full compliance with all USDA procedural requirements as we continue to be monitored under our imposed quarantine. In fact, NAAS has never seen so much oversight from our agency partners nor have we had the diversity of Federal and State agencies since the Avian Flu outbreak. We have been inspected weekly since August and have just entered into a monitoring period that will now be monthly following the most recent USDA report issued on November 2. The agencies we’ve been working so closely with are the ones with the legal obligation and veterinarian expertise to oversee Noah’s Ark; they are and we are working with them. It is a strong partnership.
As part of our mission to provide a forever home for injured and abused animals, Noah’s Ark strives for excellence in every aspect of our operations to ensure that we are continually improving the quality of life providing a safe haven for our animals, the maintenance of our facilities, and the educational programs we offer to the community free of charge. As we continue to adhere to full quarantine protocols, NAAS is looking forward to our official public reopening in the spring of 2023.
Read the USDA’s full report here:
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