Explosion at Greene County Animal Shelter injures officer

Explosion at Greene County Animal Shelter injures officer

GREENE COUNTY - An explosion at the Greene County Animal Shelter has left the only animal control officer in the county injured.

Randy Hawkins was taking euthanized animals to a gas fueled incinerator on April 10th, when a blast came out from the unit's door.

Shelter attendant Gayle Joyner said when she got to the shelter, Hawkins was coming out of the front gates looking disoriented.

She said they've had trouble with the incinerator not working properly before, but nothing she thought would lead to this.

"It knocked him about ten feet back and two feet up in the air, slamming him into our emergency trailer," said Joyner.  

Joyner said the explosion happened when the ignition system in the incinerator didn't fire correctly, causing a buildup of pressure.

Hawkins suffered burns on his palms, hearing damage and a concussion. But what he was wearing during the explosion Joyner said may have saved his life.

"He just happened to have on his bullet proof vest because he was going to go into a not so nice neighborhood and the bullet proof vest saved him," she said.

While Hawkins recovers, there is no one to collect stray animals, and euthanize the unadoptable ones. Joyner said things will become difficult.

"Once I'm completely full we're on standby," she said.

Joyner said once the shelter hits capacity, she'll have to turn animals away.

"It may be weeks or maybe even months until Hawkins is able to return to work," she said.

Joyner is now in the processes of getting certified to become an animal control officer.

The Greene County Health Department Director Michael Rhodes said there is no investigation into the explosion and they are in the processes of getting a professional to fix the damaged equipment.

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