Eldon officials have confirmed that the Missouri Department of Agriculture is investigating the alleged animal abuse involving two dogs and two police officers that is said to have taken place several months ago at the facility run by the city.
Whether the Missouri Highway Patrol will follow the lead of the agriculture department and act on Eldon Police Chief Rodney Fair's request for an investigation is unknown.
Eldon Mayor Ron Bly said the city has not received a response from the highway patrol but is aware of an active investigation by the agriculture department.
The agriculture department declined to confirm there was an active investigation. According to their policies, the department does not release information if there is an investigation. However, if an investigation is done, the results are made public when it is completed.
Problems with the city's shelter began last fall after the person who had operated the facility left. Although the reasons are unclear, it appears the city had decided to make some changes that the former employee did not feel were in the best interests of the animals. The catalyst for the changes may be tied to budget cuts within the city.
It was within hours of the employee leaving that the alleged abuse incident took place. The incident has ignited a firestorm of controversy, putting Eldon in the middle of a discussion between city officials and animal advocates.
The police chief said he was not aware of the allegations until earlier this week. While the mayor acknowledged there had been accusations made, he said he found no evidence to support them.
The allegations surfaced through Facebook posts, encouraging people to attend an Eldon Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8. The alleged incident involved a male and a female dog in heat that were left in the same room.
The two dogs were forced apart while mating, causing the male to lose his genitalia in a brutal and extremely painful incident. The dogs were taken to a local veterinarian to be euthanized.
According to Rene Ward, a longtime volunteer and organizer with the Friends of Animals organization that serves Miller County, the allegations are not the only issue the city needs to address.
The city has discussed making changes to their existing ordinance that would be a detriment to the animals.
Ward said residents and volunteers are also worried about a lack of access to the facility and the loss of a designated phone line to contact the shelter directly.