Director of animal shelter resigns

By Keith Strange

June 4, 2014

DOBSON — While officials declined to confirm it on the record, the embattled director of the Surry County Animal Shelter has apparently tendered his resignation.

Word was quickly spreading Wednesday in animal rescue circles, and a notice on an online petition for his removal confirmed the resignation, touting it as a “first victory” for rescue efforts in the county.

Citing confidentiality issues associated with personnel matters, County Manager Chris Knopf declined to either confirm or deny Brown’s resignation.

“I can’t say anything about that because it is a personnel issue,” he said, noting that Health and Nutrition Center Director Samantha Ange or Brown himself would have to confirm his departure.

Ange was out of town at a conference and was unavailable for comment, according to health department spokesperson Maggie Simmons.

A message left on her cell phone was not returned.

Surry County Board of Commissioner’s Chairman Eddie Harris also said he couldn’t comment due to confidentiality issues.

Brown has long been under fire for high kill rates at the local shelter, and issues with his management of the shelter recently came to a head following the May 16 killing of five puppies after rescue groups said they had been given assurances the puppies would be held for pickup and adoption.

Following the killing of the puppies, described as five-month-old British Red Ticks, an emotional Melanie Morrison of Carolina Canine Rescue came before the board of commissioners to demand Brown’s resignation.

“I’m appalled, furious and very upset,” she told the board. “On behalf of myself and all our volunteers, I’d like to ask that Gary Brown be removed from his position. I’m sick of this. I’m sick for the hundreds of animals he has killed.”

She told the board that she didn’t “want a penny of my tax money going to his salary, and if we have to put a sign on a billboard, we’ll do it.”

The online petition for Brown’s removal, located at, quickly tallied hundreds of signatures.

“And that doesn’t count the paper petitions out there,” Morrison said Wednesday. “We don’t have a count on those yet.”

Morrison said word was quickly spreading about Brown’s resignation.

“You probably can’t print what I have to say,” she said with a laugh when asked for a comment. “But I’m very thrilled, and am glad to have someone in the shelter now who is willing to work with rescue groups rather than just kill animals.”

She was referring to long-time animal control officer Abraham Doby, who took over day-to-day operations at the shelter in early May.

“It’s been years since there was a rescue-friendly person in the position,” she said. “Maybe now we can get it down to a no-kill or low-kill shelter. There is just no need to put down a healthy, adoptable dog just because.”

The new sense of optimism was echoed by Jane Taylor of Mayberry4Paws.

“I’m personally very excited about the chance to work with Abraham Doby,” she said. “He is progressive and seems to be on the same page as the rescue groups and I believe we’re going to have a very productive and happy future relationship with the shelter.”

The petition for Brown’s removal, and announcement of his resignation, can be found at:

It is unknown whether Brown’s resignation is effective immediately or whether he will work a notice at the shelter.

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.