While there may not have been enough evidence to substantiate allegations of abuse, a report issued by the Missouri Department of Agriculture does raise questions about how the Eldon animal facility is managed.
The report indicated the city will not be issued a license to reopen the animal control facility until they comply with state rules and regulations. Although the city has made some progress in the last several months, the agriculture department cited several areas where improvements were still needed. The animal facility falls under the direction of the Eldon Police Department.
The report also cited inconsistencies in statements given by two police officers, a former shelter employee and a member of the public works crew.
The state stepped in to investigate after allegations of abuse surfaced in January. The allegations involved two dogs who were hurt while being held at the city's facility. The dogs were euthanized. According to statements in the report, the city's policies had been changed last fall due to budget cuts.
Those policy changes included reducing the hours of operation of the facility and discontinuing the practice of paying a $15 fee for rescues in lieu of a $10 charge for euthanizing. The facility would still have been required to hold animals for a specific number of days before euthanizing them based on a state rule.
The allegations ignited a firestorm of controversy with the Friends of Animals based in Eldon and other animal advocates over the operation of the facility. At one time, the animal facility had worked closely with animal rescue groups to place the unwanted dogs and cats. More than 100 animal advocates showed up for a board of aldermen meeting shortly after the allegations surfaced. Some represented Friends of Animals.
Rene Ward, of the Eldon-based advocacy group, said she had not seen the report.
Although she is glad the city is fixing the shelter, she said it should have been done a year ago.
"It doesn't matter what you put there without good people running it," she said. "I feel like a wrong was righted."
Ward said she is anxious to see what the city does.
Mayor Ron Bly could not be reached for comment. Police Chief Rodney Fair declined to comment on what the plans were for manning the facility until after he had an opportunity to discuss the report with the mayor.
The report now goes to the Missouri Attorney General's office for review. The attorney general has the authority to file civil lawsuits against animal care facilities if the state finds violations of the Animal Care Facilities or Canine Cruelty Prevention Acts. The Department of Agriculture routinely consults with the attorney general's to determine whether civil action is warranted.
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