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Humane Shelter Director arrested

Friday, July 2, 2010

The investigation into 16 dogs being released from the Clay County Humane Society on May 11, culminated in the arrest of Shelter Director Mike Sorrels Friday. Times Staff File Photo.
Who let the dogs out of the Clay County Humane Society May 11? According to a Clay County Sheriff's Department investigation, Shelter Director Mike Sorrels is allegedly involved.

Taken into custody in the parking lot of the Justice Center around 12:30 p.m., Friday,

Sorrels, 27, Brazil, is currently being held at the Clay County Justice Center on the following charges:

* D felony obstruction of justice,

* D felony official misconduct,

* D felony theft,

* A misdemeanor false informing/reporting, and

* A misdemeanor deception.

The allegations stem from an incident on May 11, in which Sorrels reported to authorities the lock on the outside pen at the shelter was allegedly cut, and 16 dogs were released.

Mike Sorrels
Officials confirmed the CCHS board members, employees and volunteers fully cooperated in the investigation.

With the suspicious nature of the incident, investigators turned their attention to the possibility of a disgruntled former employee being involved.

Meanwhile, Sorrels spoke to The Brazil Times about security at the shelter and rumors.

"The Clay County Sheriff's Department are continuing to investigate the matter," Sorrels said at the time. "It's always a possibility -- anything is a possibility -- but I just don't think I should comment about a criminal investigation."

The majority of the dogs were later recovered from alleged "dumpsites" officials confirmed were located near Raccoon Lake in Parke County, Seelyville, Cory and various other rural areas in Clay County.

Information recently provided by unidentified witnesses directly linked Sorrels to the incident and became the basis for a probable cause affidavit filed by investigators with the Clay County Prosecutor's Office for review, which was reviewed again by Clay Superior Court Judge Blaine Akers, who issued the arrest warrant early Friday morning.

Facing a $7,000 cash bond, with no 10 percent allowed, Sorrels remained incarcerated at the jail awaiting formal court proceedings.

Further information is not available at this time due to the ongoing investigation.

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I hope this isn't true. About the time you thought you'd heard of everything ...

-- Posted by brazilian on Fri, Jul 2, 2010, at 11:26 PM

There are children starving in Korea, and he does this? No respect.

-- Posted by Conservative Dad on Fri, Jul 2, 2010, at 11:51 PM

Big Deal !

-- Posted by Thorn44 on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 6:20 AM

I'm missing the point as to why he, as director, would do this? If he really did do this, what did he or the shelter have to gain by doing this?

-- Posted by Claycountian on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 6:35 AM

what a moron.

-- Posted by always skeptical on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 7:14 AM

He was NOT the "director" or the "manager"! He was employed there for the past several months & enjoyed being the center of attention. Sad that any human being would put the animals in harm's way to be in the spotlight. The investigation is ongoing. The shelter will rise above all this & continue on, caring for the animals with the respect & dignity they deserve. The shelter gained NOTHING from this stupid act & had nothing to do with the actions of the employee. It was nothing but a cruel & idiotic thing to do! All responcible will be punished.

-- Posted by Sugarbear on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 7:41 AM

According to the Brazil Times articles, Mr. Sorrels has been titled as the "Humane Society Shelter Director" since January. He was co-director with Brenda Gaskill, but she has not been mentioned for a while. I reckon that left him in charge.

As to why he would do something like this, if he did, is a real mystery. According to the Jan. 20th story, he came to the shelter "bored out of my mind". Perhaps the routine got boring to him.

I have to wonder how he is dealing with being in jail.

LlamaMan, like you, I have to wonder why. The only thing I see that would have been gained by Mr. Sorrel would have been to get his name in the paper afew more times, although he probably didn't expect this particular article.

Sugarbear - a question. If Mr. Sorrel was not the "director" or the "manager", who is and why was he allowed to be the "front" man using the title?

Releasing the dogs was a dispicable act, whomever did it. It put them back at risk while costing the shelter and the county time, effort, and money.

I have to agree with Sugarbear that all that were responsible should be caught and punished!

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 8:51 AM

I only hope that all responsible will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This is a shelter for abused, unwanted and neglected animals, who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in the care and at the mercy of complete strangers. Once again, "trying" a person in the media doesn't prove anything and everyone has a different perspective as to the hows and whys. Lets let the prosecutor, police, judge and jury handle this. I would imagine that if anyone has any information regarding this case, the Sheriff's Department would love to hear it. So, rather than defend or persecute Mr. Sorrell's here, if you have valid information, do the right thing and go to the police.

-- Posted by Clay County Resident on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 9:23 AM

I hate to be the one to say this but I think we, as a community, need to look at the board that runs the humane society. They seem to have a habit (assuming that Mr. Sorrels is guilty) of hiring people of low moral character to run the shelter. I think we, as a community, need to call for the resignations of everyone on the board of directors and start fresh. Perhaps then we can get a shelter director that can stay out of jail.

-- Posted by Village_Id10t on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 11:07 AM

"Shelter Director Mike Sorrels"

I hope this isn't true and I totally agree with what Clay County Resident said. Leave this up to the officials.

Yes LLamaMan it is baffling isn't it.

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 11:13 AM

How many of the citizens commenting about this are members of the Humane Shelter? It costs $10 a year to join. How many of those posting comments actually go to the monthly member meetings and work at the fundraising events?? If you are considering asking the Board members to resign, then YOU should volunteer to be on the Board. After all, once the Board members resign, there needs to be several people ready to take over, right?? Will that be you? Before you sign on, know that being on the Board does not produce income and they are not paid for their service. In fact, working at the shelter in ANY capacity is not a high paying job. In NO way do I support Mike's alleged involvement in this situation. If he did this, it is a crime, no argument there. I agree it is baffling. To criticize the Board and not offer solutions to the problem just shows how little you understand about the obstacles faced in caring for that many animals, vet bills, food, litter and cleaning supplies. Why don't you join as a member and let your ideas be heard by a group of members who always welcome good ideas. Or, better yet, volunteer to be on the Board and make it all better. Oh wait, YOU seem like the type of person who would apply for a paid position at the shelter....so you could make it all better, right? Well, why don't YOU apply for a job there? The actions of one do not reflect on the compassion of others. You don't "own" this problem yet so your comments are not very helpful.

-- Posted by abbccc on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 12:35 PM

I just don't understand this whole thing. Why would Mr. Sorrels do such a thing unless he thought he was going to be the "big hero" by "rescueing" them. Sounds to me like he had help in his little scheme. What a moron!

-- Posted by th1953 on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 2:46 PM

In the paper it said he talked to the brazil times about more security maybe he did this so we all will do a fund-raiser to get security cameras I don't know just a thought. But if true a very stupid way of going about it.

-- Posted by lilmomma on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 3:44 PM

Brenda Gaskill IS the manager & has been for quite a while. The last manager left in January. If you visited the shelter you would see that. Mr Sorrels claimed to be "the director" anytime he could get the media to take his picture. That should have been cleared up PUBLICLY the first time he claimed to be to the media, but to make any more ripples than their already is it was ignored. The board has gone thru a lot of changes as of late & the members of the CCHS are all working hard for the animals. You will see a lot of major changes coming. And a lot of justice for the wrong doings!

-- Posted by Sugarbear on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 5:09 PM

PS I AM A MEMBER & PROUD OF IT! The board & volunteers work hard to provide for the animals. Many of us pay out of our pockets for supplies, & donate lots of time & money for the good of the animals. Yes, let the officials try those guilty but also CORRECT the media as MIKE SORRELS IS NOT NOR WAS HE THE DIRECTOR OR MANAGER !

-- Posted by Sugarbear on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 5:23 PM

Poor Mike, he is just a misunderstood guy who would do anything for anyone. All you have do is ask. He would never do anything wrong and he loved the animals as if they were his own. There, got that out of the way. ;)

-- Posted by I. M. Lee Thall, Esq. on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 5:28 PM

Why didn't the Brazil Times add the quote from the Sheriff supporting the shelter in the paper like the TH Tribune did. Is the Brazil Times trying to continue the negative media. Very understandable to report the story, but THT had more perspective from Mr. Heaton. In the end, the only ones hurt from additional negative media are the animals. The Times needs to realize that. It is bad enough to have this happen, but to have a neighboring newspaper report more support of the shelter (from Mr. Heaton) than our hometown paper????

Same thing with WTHI broadcasting video his arrest. Typically those are not news worthy videos...the stories about the arrest, yes, but not the actual arrest. Any thoughts why that happened?

-- Posted by abbccc on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 9:48 PM

Seems funny to me that the media was there with cameras rolling? Who did that? It is a sad situation when so many are quick to blame the board & members who volunteer to work their butts off to help the animals. And why does the sheriff keep calling him the "director" or "manager" if they did an in depth investigation. If so they would know he is not!

-- Posted by Sugarbear on Sat, Jul 3, 2010, at 10:57 PM

"put the animals in harm's way to be in the spotlight. The investigation is ongoing. The shelter will rise above all this & continue on, caring for the animals with the respect & dignity they deserve."

so were these animaals in the stages being taken home with someone? or just waiting it out to be put to sleep? I say he was just buying them some time or giving them a second chance. but he still needs to do the time for costing the police all the time and money they put into this case.

-- Posted by FIREMEDIC on Sun, Jul 4, 2010, at 6:44 AM

The animals are cared for at the shelter until they are adopted out locally or placed in other rescues in areas where the adoption rates are higher. It is a no kill shelter. Only in extreme cases of illness that can not be treated or a very vicious animal with no hope of helping are they put to sleep. So tell me how dumping a defenseless animal would give it a second chance ! For what? Being shot, hit by a car, starved, or attacked by other animals? There is NO justification for whoever took them & dumped them. NONE!

-- Posted by Sugarbear on Sun, Jul 4, 2010, at 8:58 AM

It is sad to hear of another problem with the shelter. I know that it is easy to point fingers and and say here we go again. With respect of all who have been employed, voluntered, donated and served on the board it is time for this to stop. When it comes to helpless animals emotions run high. I have seen first hand of how the politics over run common sense. Each and every citizen donates to the shelter through taxes. The city and the county sets the contracts for the shelter's operating expenses and awards the contracts on a annual basis. The recent history of the past five years for the shelter has been tainted, this is sad. I say to all of you if a better way of doing business for the shelter step up and be heard. I ask all of you is it time for the city and the county to take the shelter back and be responsible for the employees and the day to day business of the shelter? Have responsible people to sit on a board to make recommendations and have the Mayor and the county officials make the final decisions.

I know that some, most people say the town can not afford this extra expense, however small the contracts are this can be changed. Set proper animal ordinaces, guide lines and fees. I am sure that all of responsible animal owners would not object if a annual dog tax of 5.00. Just think of how this would help the cause, For example if 1,000 dogs were registered each year this would generate an additional 5,000 for operating costs for the shelter. It is clear that all of you know that there are many more than 1,000 dogs in our city and county. Create and enforce codes, make people responsible for their animals. Pay employees for the duties that they perform and hold them accountable. The shelter will survive this latest scandal, how the shelter moves forward is the responsibality of all of us who live and work in this community, city and county.

A final note to all of you who sit on the side lines taht do nothing but voice there narrow oponions and gossip through this paper, focus this energy for the betterment of the shelter and the care of these so deserving animals.

-- Posted by former director on Sun, Jul 4, 2010, at 10:39 AM

Well, well, well how many of you commenting on the way the shelter is ran have actually been there to volunteer? I for one know from experience how things work down there from my previous months of volunteering with my 10 year old child. She worked like an adult walking dogs, scooping poop, washing kennels and dogs, cleaing litter boxes, feeding and watering. All with no personal gain for herself, only the satisfaction of the look on the animals face when she just went in to play with them. She also walked around each night before we left to give each dog a treat and tell them she sould be back the next open day. She did this for 6 months every Thursday night and Saturday and then on Sundays as well. If only a portion of the people of this community would volunteer down there one day a week it would be a better place. It is always the same people doing the same work.

There is no one standing in line waiting to be a Board member, go ahead and knock them all off there wont be anyone to take there place not even you Village Idiot, how many times have you been there to help out, been to a Board meeting lately?

My child and I had to take a break it is heartbreaking to do that much and never have anyone to come and help. Brenda Gaskill is doing a great job and will continue to do so through all of this scandal.

To all of you unemployed animal lovers, apply for a job at the shelter, there is always an opening. They don't have the money to post an add in the paper. They hire people who come in looking for a job with the hopes that they are true animal lovers. Unfortunately that is not always the case.

So if you are not willing to help don't make suggestiosn about how it should be ran because I really doubt I have seen any of you there lately.

-- Posted by Diesel on Sun, Jul 4, 2010, at 12:12 PM

The City does not have a contract with the Shelter, and the Mayor already controls the City Police Department she does not need any control over the Shelter.

I for one own a large amount of dogs that all receive regular shots and vet check ups, I do not agree with paying for a dog tax, why should anyone but me and my family benefit from the dogs I own and choose to care for. The money needs to come from people that are charged with mistreating there animals or not providing them with proper vet care or shots. There are enough of them in this community that the Shelter would be in the black.

-- Posted by Diesel on Sun, Jul 4, 2010, at 2:44 PM

For the record I have volunteered there as did other members of my family, under one of the previous directors. Have donated money and cleaning supplies. We have even adopted multiple animals fromthe shelter. So sorry I do know of what I speak. We have made numerous suggestions to the board of ways to raise more money, ways to save money etc. but they weren't interested, they were more interested in petty 'politics' and 'image'. And to you Diesel put your money where your mouth is, it'sfine to volunteer I guess but don't anyone dare ask you for money is that it even if it would be something like a dog licensing fee?

-- Posted by Village_Id10t on Sun, Jul 4, 2010, at 6:00 PM

I am thrilled you commented on taking a break, Diesel. You have seen first hand what it is like on a daily basis. DEPRESSING!!!!!!!!!!! There is no end to incoming animals. Now it is really bad. There are those who speak on here who don't understand the first thing about it. It is easy for some to sit back & judge the board, members, & volunteers, but if placed in our shoes could they do any better? They are always welcome to try!

-- Posted by Sugarbear on Sun, Jul 4, 2010, at 7:43 PM

Since Bill Collins died the shelter has been a revolving door for managers who have used the shelter for their own personal gain or ego. The only way to solve this is for the county to take over the shelter so it would be responsible to the voters and be accountable for its expenditures

-- Posted by grays on Mon, Jul 5, 2010, at 8:33 AM

First of all, I have been a volunteer at CCHS since September of last year. I also was employed there for a few months this winter until a ringworm outbreak caused me to have to quit. I don't know if Mike did this or not, but I can say that he was definitely doing the place some good before this happened. He was the co-manager with Brenda, at least while I worked there. He took over for the previous manager when she left in January. I was there the day that happened as well. I am also a member of CCHS. I personally think we should all wait to see what happens in this investigation before we point fingers, unless we are just saying, "I hope whoever did it, gets what is coming to him/her". I also agree that if you guys want to post things about the shelter, devote some of your time to them. Even if it is just an hour sometime. I know how desperately they need people just to come in and walk the dogs and play with the cats.

-- Posted by Just Me1 on Mon, Jul 5, 2010, at 6:52 PM

I know from experience that he's pulled a lot worse than that. When local folks find out where he's at now, many more charges will be filed on him. He ran a resturaunt in Waveland and sold equipment that wasn't his. He never payed his employees with taxes taken out (deduct 30% and stick it in his pocket). Wrote several bad checks on the Democratic Party account (which was closed). Left the resturaunt and his appartment in ruins. Had a resturaunt in Russellville, it closed down because he wouldn't pay the help. Several years ago he stole lottery tickets from a local store that he worked at. When he worked at the funeral home, he'd steal jewelery and cell phones from the bodies. YES this is all true! And I can't think of anyone better for this to happen to! It's about time his crooked ways caught up to him!

-- Posted by Wavelandman on Mon, Jul 5, 2010, at 7:45 PM

ITS about TIME!! i told everyone on the board back in February what he was doing.. and not one of them wanted to believe what was going on... i sent letters to every one on the board.. with my phone number and address so they could get a hold of me.. not one of them responded!! so much for their so called humane society... Maybe now they will do something about it!! well i just hope they dont give this IDIOT his job back!!! why did they not listen to me?? there was proof even them.. i just wonder how many animals were tortured.. i was a first had witness to 2 of the shootings!! so since February there has to be more then 16... they just haven't found them or he hasn't confessed!!

-- Posted by Amara on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 1:03 AM

Diesel, it's best to say nothing and let people think that you are a fool but you have opened your mouth have removed all doubt.

-- Posted by former director on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 8:02 AM

So I am a fool because I refuse to pay a licensing fee to own my own dogs? Why should anyone but me benefit from my personal animals? Do you know how many people in this community do not even provide shots or vet care for their animals? Do you really think they are going to pay this fee?

If you are a former director there is a reason, it is because you got caught more than once drunk in the shelter van?

Do not call me a fool, you do not know me or anything about me, I speak from experience. Where have you been lately? If you are so worthly get back to the shelter and take over.

-- Posted by Diesel on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 8:51 AM

Diesel, just wondering, do you pay your Federal and State taxes since by your logic why should anyone else benefit from your earnings?

-- Posted by Village_Id10t on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 10:06 AM

Great! Hopefully they look into the way he put dogs down at that shelter too- they SHOT them! No kidding, wish I were. The board was informed, and it was reported to the news, but nothing happened.

-- Posted by kcingall on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 10:55 AM

Wow. Lot of mud slinging going on here .. and the unfounded accusations! (blushes) Oh, I'm not talking about the article ..

I hope he didn't do this. I would hope no one would do this. If he did, and is found guilty .. then I hope he loses his right to work anywhere that houses animals AND also has his own animals (if he has any) taken away.

Pretty sick, sad individual who would do something like this for attention. Thing is, though .. he got it, didn't he?

-- Posted by Emmes on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 11:24 AM

This is a very sad story indeed. But WHY do we even have a need for shelters???? Because people do not properly care for pets! If you are not planning on breeding your animal, do the sound, humane thing and have it SPAYED or NEUTERED! When traveling in Europe, to one specific country, I noticed there were dogs everywhere-virtually every street corner. I asked our tour guide about the dogs-all had collars on, had been brushed/were clean, and had been well-fed. Who owns these dogs? She told me-"the people"-THE PEOPLE of this city owned all the dogs! They do not have animal shelters-everyone takes care of the animals-and animals are not euthanized! Imagine that! How humane is that? If only we in the U.S. could be so caring and responsible? Wouldn't that be a dream? The animals are defenseless and depend on us to protect them. Do YOUR part-have your pet spayed or neutered!

-- Posted by millertime on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 2:04 PM

Of ALL of the comments on here, I 100% agree with millertime. It is an issue of population control. If you can't afford to spay/neuter, then I question how you can feed and care for them! There are many less expensive options out there for altering a pet. You get my vote, millertime!!

-- Posted by abbccc on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 9:19 PM


Duhhhhh. The dogs were not found dead or shot. They were back at the shelter (alive) within a few days. WHERE did you get information that they were found shot/dead? You better read the whole article before you respond with an attitude. There must be more?????? Give me a break. And, why didn't you alert LAW ENFORCEMENT regarding your concerns? Mhhhh. You would rather stir than notify someone with the authority to intervene immediatley (if what you said was true??) If you were really that concerned, letting the board know and then dropping the issue is weak. If you were concerned, you would have moved on to the next level. I don't think your posting is very factual anyway, just because you wait until June to bring it up again. IF I saw Mike shooting dogs, I would do more than "notify the Board!!" What kind of publicity are you trying to get for the shelter? Negative?

-- Posted by abbccc on Wed, Jul 7, 2010, at 2:45 PM

First of all Amara, i know who you are and what you are telling is true, i witnessed more than one of the shootings first hand. One of them WAS necessary, the other was not even remotely right. You did try, but unfortunately the board buried it. I remember that the national humane society association contacted Mike and the board about the incident and they denied all events ever took place. Gary Howard was the officer who shot the animals and provided a police report supporting the necessity and all details involved in these incidents. These are public record and anyone inquiring on what took place can pull these police reports.

The board and Brenda was well aware of Mike's actions despite the opposition of many members, the board buried it. The exact words (give or take a few) from one of them was "we are getting a lot of positive press right now, this is the last thing we need is something negative."

Also another poster on here "just me 1" was also there during one of the shootings.


Alerting law enforcement???? really?? LAW ENFORCEMENT WAS THERE!!!! THEY SHOT THE ANIMALS!!! THEY FILED A OFFICIAL REPORT!!! what they did may not have been completely humane or ethical(in the case of the bull/mastiff that mr sorrels was pleaded with right up to the execution that there still could have been something done, the animal was abused and scared, but never bit anyone) BUT WAS 100% LEGAL!!! they broke no laws, and the officer involved was mis informed by Mr Sorrels, which explains why one of his charges was deception(well not officially, but you get the point). Personally i think he needs about 50 of those charges.

As far as the humane society goes, they do good things, great things. Brenda Gaskil cares nothing more than the up most safety and well being of the animals, i do not know how many times i witnessed her staying there till 8-9 pm washing blankets so the dogs would have a bed to sleep on. She is a amazing women and does great things for that place.

Do not punish the animals because Mr. Sorrels did all of this. He was very deceptive and put on a front to everyone around him. The humane society needs your help now more than ever. Donate, walk a dog, volunteer, adopt, or do something! Anything! Now is the time to help, not bash the board for their decisions, they were lied to and deceived, and anyone could have fell for it.

-- Posted by thebrazilguy31 on Thu, Jul 8, 2010, at 3:24 PM

He is getting what he deserves. He came there saying he sold his restaurant and was bored, what a lie. I own the building he was renting for a restaurant, he left us with bills to pay, bad checks and sold our equipment not to mention ripping off numerous residents. I tried to contact the board of the shelter by phone and email and got no response. I also let the newspaper know the story they wrote about him was all a lie. again no one contacted me. This is the person who was taking care of unfortunate animals. This is just a portion of a long history of scamming people. he needs to be stopped and pay for his crimes.

-- Posted by dr on Fri, Jul 9, 2010, at 10:33 AM

He is getting what he deserves. He came there saying he sold his restaurant and was bored, what a lie. I own the building he was renting for a restaurant, he left us with bills to pay, bad checks and sold our equipment not to mention ripping off numerous residents. I tried to contact the board of the shelter by phone and email and got no response. I also let the newspaper know the story they wrote about him was all a lie. again no one contacted me. This is the person who was taking care of unfortunate animals. This is just a portion of a long history of scamming people. he needs to be stopped and pay for his crimes.

-- Posted by dr on Fri, Jul 9, 2010, at 10:36 AM

go to the montgomery county papers and read the stories on this person. also there is a court case that the montgomery county democratic party filed against mike sorrels in the clay county courts for stealing money.

-- Posted by po-po on Fri, Jul 9, 2010, at 11:00 AM

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