Liz McCormick Published

Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office Responds To Allegations Of Animal Abuse

Berkeley County Sheriff Nathan Harman.jpg

The Berkeley County Sheriff is calling a recent legal action filed in the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals by a national animal welfare group a “disgusting corporate tactic.”

During the week of Thanksgiving, the nonprofit group Alley Cat Allies filed a petition with the state’s high court, claiming Berkeley County Animal Control has mistreated several of its animals since 2020. That same week, the animal welfare group purchased 17 acres of land in the county for more than $300,000, saying they did so to “further their work” in the county.

On Wednesday, two weeks following the filing, the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department, which houses the animal control unit, formally responded to the allegations in a press conference.

Sheriff Nathan Harman went through each of the five allegations in detail, arguing the time and date the animals were picked up, that care was given to each animal and that all were rescued or adopted in a timely manner, with the exception of two that had to be euthanized.

“We are not a kill agency at all,” Harman said. “We are an adoption agency. Let’s reunite the dogs with their owners. And when I talk about euthanization, that is the absolute last resort.”

Harman accused Alley Cat Allies’ actions as an “attack” on the county and as “tactics” to receive more funding and cause a “social media frenzy.” He also noted that the group’s legal filing submitted with the West Virginia Supreme Court was done on Giving Tuesday – recognized as a national day of giving.

“I’ll be daggone if I’m going to stand silent and let a corporate nonprofit business, where folks are making six figures, use this county organization as their pawn to establish themselves here,” Harman said.

Alley Cat Allies President Becky Robinson makes more than $240,000 annually, according to the group’s most recent tax filing.

Robinson issued a statement following the press conference standing by her group’s claims, calling what they discovered at Berkeley County Animal Control “undeniable evidence of animal cruelty.”

“Prior to filing the writ of mandamus … Alley Cat Allies had conversations about our concerns with the Commander, Patrol Division and Animal Control Division and others in Berkeley County Animal Control,” Robinson said. “We also visited the shelter on multiple occasions … Our investigation has uncovered a pattern of abuse, denying animals veterinary care and in some cases urgent medical treatment.”

Harman and Berkeley County Animal Control Chief Kevin Jones said Alley Cat Allies never reached out to them.

Berkeley County Animal Control has until Dec. 31 to respond to the filing with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.