State investigating animal control

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INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WILX) - An update on our exclusive coverage of neglect at Ingham County Animal Control, Thursday News 10's Alani Letang has learned the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is investigating. Letang broke this story Monday with pages and pages of documents, medical records, emails, interviews, etc. that we acquired through the Freedom of Information Act.

First Animal Control asked the Michigan Humane Society to investigate.

The Animal Control Director John Dinon gave the MDARD the shelter's response to that report.

That initiated the state agency to conduct its own independent investigation to make sure the shelter is in compliance with state regulations.

The investigation started in June after the Michigan Humane Society completed its investigation of the shelter, after claims of neglect and abuse to five dogs---four of who were seized from a dog-fighting ring in Lansing of summer 2017.

The Humane Society conclusion:

Some of the findings (from the report):
· Dog was symptomatic for 14 days with minimal treatment
· X-ray was recommended, but not performed
· A delay to treat or euthanize caused unnecessary suffering
· Dogs declined in weight
· Regular weighing and monitoring could have alerted medical staff to weight loss
· A maintenance program needed to be put in place to stop dogs from being reinvested with whipworm
Factors that contributed to the suffering/neglect of animals (from the report):
· No written procedure for monitoring long-term court cases
· No written procedure for documenting weight gain
· Medical records that are incomplete, or kept in multiple places for the same animal
· No maintenance plan to control internal parasites
· Lack of open communication between departments
· Lack of training for medical staff on shelter medicine, processing cruelty cases, and supervisory responsibilities
· Supervising veterinarians require staff to floor supervise and attend to the daily animal care
· Inconsistent diet of donated food provided to long-term holds and cruelty weight gains
· Inadequate staff
· Lack of oversight
· Lack of awareness

Director Dinon told Letang in a previous interview that he has since compiled a list of procedures the shelter plans to implement, like tightening up on their record keeping and formalized training for new animal control staff for thin and ill animals.

Dinon said he also plans to implement the following:
1. I am meeting with Ingham County Prosecutor, Caron Siemon, and other Prosecutor’s Office staff to discuss how to get faster forfeitures of animals seized in criminal cases. This meeting is set for Wednesday, June 30.
2. Animals held as evidence will be weighed at least weekly and have at least monthly fecal exams; weights and fecal results will be documented in medical records. This will be done by the animal care staff; an SOP will be written to formalize this procedure.
3. Animals seized because they are thin or did not have access to food will be weighed at least twice weekly and weights documented in medical records. This will be done by the animal care staff; an SOP will be written to formalize this procedure.
4. ICACS will switch to using Purina body scoring system. All animal care and ACO staff will be trained in this body scoring system.
5. All medical records will be recorded in the multi-ops computer record system. The medical records module will be modified to better facilitate entering data and narratives. Lab reports and other medical documents will be scanned into electronic records.
6. Dr. Worthington will pursue additional training on cruelty/forensic exams.
7. ICACS will formalize training for new AC staff, with increased emphasis on animal observation and reporting procedures for thin, ill or injured animals. An SOP will be written to formalize this training and reporting.
8. Animal care staff will scoop feces from outside kennels between dogs to reduce parasite transmission. County facilities staff will seal the concrete in the outdoor kennels to improve sanitation; this is tentatively scheduled for the week of June 4.
9. Dr. Worthington and/or Sami Beckley plus John Dinon and/or Anne Burns will do a weekly shelter walk through to discuss ongoing medical cases, animal care challenges and to improve communication.
10. ACOs will monitor the status of animals held as evidence for their cases. ACOs will do a visual check of these animals at least weekly and will supplement this visual check by reviewing medical records and weight charts if needed. Weekly exams will be documented and concerns about the condition of the animals noted during these exams will be communicated to the director, deputy director, and veterinarian immediately. An SOP will be written to formalize this procedure.
11. ICACS will investigate shelter feeding programs offered by pet food companies or other options to provide a more uniform, higher quality diet for some or all of the animals housed at ICACS.
12. If the animal population in the shelter exceeds the staff and facility’s capacity to care for them, ICACS management will pursue the expedited disposition of animals and/or adding temporary staff to expand capacity for care.

MDARD told News 10 they are working with the shelter to make sure none of these issues happen again in the future, and that the shelter understands and adhere's to state laws and regulations.

MDARD has an animal industry division and within that, they are responsible for licensed animal shelters in the state ---making sure they have things like vet care, sanitary conditions, adequate food...these are among many other requirements.

The Department Of Agriculture and Rural Development conducts regular shelter inspections.

And shelters are supposed to provide intake and euthanasia numbers to the department annually.

This is an open and ongoing investigation so the state won't comment on the specifics of the case.
But a spokesman told Letang they are working with the shelter to make sure everything is... consistent across the board.

Animal control is not commenting on our reports.

You can watch our previous stories on the WILX app.