JASPER, Ala. (WIAT) — The Walker County Humane and Adoption Shelter is now under new leadership after concerns from residents. The Greater Birmingham Humane Society officially took over operations on Tuesday following the Walker County Commission’s cry for help.

Several residents have reached out to CBS 42 about the shelter expressing their concerns. Residents said the conditions at this facility are heartbreaking.

Volunteers described conditions at the Walker County Humane and Adoption Shelter as “traumatic” as they worked to clean out the building.

“We saw a good deal of emaciated animals. They were all eating cat food, which is not enough nutrition for a canine,” Allison Black Cornelius said. “We found quite a few deceased animals and animals that were very, very ill and needed immediate vet care. We found a lot of feces, a lot of urine.”

Greater Birmingham Humane Society CEO Allison Black Cornelius said lack of funding, staffing and resources at county-run facilities, like this one, create challenging circumstances.

“We have absolutely no laws to do licensing or spay, neuter to stem the tide of animals coming in. So, it’s a lot of suffering. It’s good intentions but it often turns into this,” Black Cornelius said.

The Walker County Commission, which runs the shelter, accepted a bid from GBHS on Monday to take over its leadership after several complaints from community members.

“The only reason they’ve acted is because the public, specifically on Facebook, has made several posts over the last couple of months about how horrendous this place is and how poorly they treat the animals,” Brandon Stearns, a concerned resident said.

Stearns said his eyes were opened to just how severe the situation was after trying to surrender puppies that had been abandoned near his home a few months ago.

“We found out that this has been an ongoing issue for a couple of years now,” Stearns said.

According to documents from the county commission provided to CBS 42 via Stearns, nearly 290 dogs, cats and other animals died at the shelter from July 2022 to June 2023.

“You have to think about personally, if you had an animal and let them die from no water no care, that’s a criminal prosecution, right? And we have a county commissioner and a district commissioner that knew about this for a long time and essentially did nothing,” Stearns said.

The shelter is temporarily closed and is only taking pets in emergency cases while they work to clean and make upgrades to the facility.

“We can’t have the impoundment facility look like the place they came from. And I know that’s hard with staffing and stuff, but we just cannot do that. I’m glad the commission realized there was a problem and stepped up and asked for some help,” Black Cornelius said.

CBS 42 reached out to District 2 Walker County Commissioner Jeff Burroughs for comment, he sent a statement saying:

“We’re extremely excited to have them win the bid and help improve the facilities.”

Black Cornelius said this will be a long road to recovery and they need all the help they can get. GBHS is accepting donations, supplies and, when the facility is safe, volunteers to help walk and socialize the animals.

If you would like to help foster or volunteer visit the Greater Birmingham Humane Society’s website.