Hartford Animal Shelter Facebook Page Causes Controversy

The noise from barking dogs at the Hartford Animal Shelter is nothing compared to the commotion its Facebook page has caused.

The page, which has some 33,000 followers, has suddenly stopped posting pictures of dogs available for adoption, which animal advocates say is critical to saving the pooches' lives.

"We were asking questions on the Facebook page – 'What's going on?' – and nobody's answering," said animal advocate Deb Grillo. "There's something going on."

The issue is that the Facebook page is not officially affiliated with the city of Hartford. The volunteer who runs the site said she's been asked to take it down and hasn't been allowed to take any new pictures of the dogs.

Hartford police said that's not the case.

"I'm not so sure what happened," said Hartford police spokesman Deputy Chief Brian Foley. "To me, it sounds like a communication breakdown."

Foley said a personality conflict may have also come into play. Still, he insists, the city supports any and all efforts to help these dogs, although volunteers taking photos of them must be accompanied by an animal control officer and right now the department is significantly short staffed.

Despite the conflicts, everyone agrees that adoption is the most important thing.

"If this whole issue brings awareness to the dogs we have in Hartford and it finds more homes for the dogs, then fantastic; it's all the better," Foley said.

Nearly 1,900 people have signed a petition calling on the city to reinstate the animal shelter's Facebook page. The shelter posted a response to the outcry on its Facebook page Thursday.

"The Hartford Police Department will continue to partner with the volunteers involved in the adoption process. This means that photos and bios will resume and be posted on Facebook. Due to the request of the Hartford Police Department the name of this Facebook page will need to change so that it properly represents our partnership. However, it is possible that we will not be able to change the name of the existing page. If that is the case we will create a new page and communicate the change accordingly," the administrator wrote.

As animal control and the Facebook page administrator work out their differences, no dogs will be put down unless they are unfit for adoption due to their temperaments, according to the animal shelter.

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