Activists raise concerns for Rhea County shelter

Activists raise concerns for Rhea County shelter

December 25th, 2012 by Kimberly McMillian in Local Regional News

Animal Control Officer Thomas Wilson, with the Rhea County Animal Shelter in Evensville, Tenn., points out the possible sick bay area, for cats at the shelter in the newly-built expansion. The expansion will soon house eight cages or 48 towers, as opposed to the two cages currently in the older section.


See the petition to establish a no-kill shelter at

EVENSVILLE, Tenn. - A petition by activists seeking to establish the Rhea County Animal Shelter as a "no-kill" facility is attracting attention online.

Petitioner Julie Woloszyn said she started the effort to "draw attention to the shelter and [for the animals to] receive a fair-enough chance to survive" after a volunteer there was dismissed this month.

Woloszyn said the shelter had not euthanized any adoptable animals since May under Richard Orlowske and that he had worked "24 hours a day, seven days a week to adopt out the animals."

The Rhea County Sheriff's Office, which oversees the shelter, dismissed Orlowske from his volunteer duties after a reported confrontation with a dog owner.

Orlowske said this week that a nonelected official or company should run the shelter, rather than the sheriff's office, and that the animals' survival was of the utmost importance.

Sheriff's office animal control officer Thomas Wilson runs the shelter.

Sheriff Mike Neal, who helped establish the shelter in 2008, could not be reached for comment.

Petition signer Kellie McMurry Anderson said Orlowske's position should be filled, because Wilson's main job is "serving the community ... not [working] behind the desk."

Orlowske has received a groundswell of support from people commenting on the petition.

"Thanks to Richard Orlowske ... to remove him from this position is a death sentence to the animals that were being saved," Sharon Morgan, of Dayton, Tenn., wrote.

Joset Daatselaar from the Netherlands said Rhea County officials should "form an independent committee to take over all control of the shelter."

The petition requests that the shelter expand its operating hours to the weekends, rather than being open only from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and for a full-time volunteer to maintain the shelter as Orlowske had done.

Since the petition was started, the shelter has opened on Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 4 p.m.

Woloszyn commended shelter personnel for ongoing improvements at the facility and said she hoped to "continue seeing progress made for the animals."

Those shelter improvements, funded largely by an anonymous donor, include additional cages and an area for sick animals.