Letter to the Editor: Neglect at the Carbon County Animal Shelter


Carbon County Commissioners,
Sheriff Jeff Wood,

Over the years I have worked closely with the Carbon County Animal Shelter. I have personally treated many thousands of their animals. This work has all been done pro bono or at reimbursement rates that do not cover the expenses that I have incurred.

In November of this year, the leadership in the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office ordered shelter employees to only feed the dogs half of a cup of food daily. This severe neglect would have soon led to the deaths of the dogs if concerned shelter employees had not reported the abuse to me.

On November 30th, Animal Shelter employees brought an emaciated German Shepherd weighing only 33.2 lbs (photo attached). His ribs, pelvis, and spleen were clearly visible through his tight skin. His eyes were sunken in and his tail hung limply. The dog was only days away from death by starvation. The aforementioned starvation diet was only providing 8% of his dietary needs (to put this in perspective, this is the equivalent of a human only being fed ¾ cup of white rice per day). I hospitalized the dog and was able to save him, but it is unclear if he will suffer lifelong physical or mental effects because of his neglect.

I do not know what motivated this neglect. It was reported to me that an entire pallet of dog food was available to feed the animals, and I am not aware of any requests for donations of food. I can only conclude that the order to starve the dogs was given due to petty grievances between the shelter employees and their supervisor at the Sheriff’s Office. There are rumors that retaliation occurred after employees reported the abuse.

What makes this the worst example of animal neglect I have ever seen during my career is that it was perpetrated by the very public servants tasked with enforcing animal abuse laws. If an ordinary citizen treated an animal like this, they would certainly be prosecuted. I have lost confidence that the Sheriff’s Office is competent enough to run an animal shelter.

I cannot in good conscience continue working in partnership with an organization that neglected animals to such an extreme degree. Effective immediately, I will no longer be providing veterinary services for Carbon County Sheriff’s Office. The county currently has an overpayment of $1,200.68 on its account at Castle Country Vet, which we are refunding immediately.

As a stakeholder, citizen, and veterinarian, I urge the following recommendations be followed:

  • I call for an outside investigation of the animal neglect that occurred. If the details that I have put forth in this letter are confirmed to be true, then the supervisor ordering the decreased ration is clearly in violation of Utah Code 76-9-301 and should be prosecuted. I have seen the Sheriff’s Department investigate and press charges for far less egregious instances of animal neglect.

  • I urge the shelter to establish a Veterinary Client Patient Relationship in accordance with Utah Code 58-28-604 with a veterinarian who is willing to work with them during this period of transition.

  • I recommend that new leadership be hired to oversee the shelter. My recommendation is to find an outside organization (like a Humane Society) to run the shelter or to hire a veterinarian to be its medical director.


Dan Harmer, DVM
Veterinarian / Owner
Castle Country Vet, LLC

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