Report: Little evidence of animal abuse at St. George animal shelter

Posted at 9:09 PM, Aug 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-22 23:12:54-04

ST. GEORGE – Little evidence supports accusations of animal abuse at the St. George animal shelter, which was brought to the St. George City Council from concerned residents and animal enthusiasts in July, officials said Thursday.

A report outlining the investigation into allegations of abuse at the St. George animal shelter says there’s little evidence to support the claims, but there have been major changes.

The report, conducted internally by the St. George Police Department, points to poor management as the reason for many of the abuse claims. Former manager David Vane has worked as an animal control officer for 26 years. Police Chief Marlon Stratton said he was a good employee, but many of the practices needed updating.

“We’ve kind of done things the way we have always done them,” Stratton said. “And obviously we needed to make some adjustments.”

The investigation comes after local animal advocacy groups brought the allegations before the city council. City officials claimed they had no idea questionable practices were being performed.

The investigation looked at several different aspects including: rudeness of shelter management, particularly Vane; abusive treatment of the animals; inhumane euthanasia practices; poor shelter management in general; and mismanagement of shelter funds.

In the end, the report states most of the specific incidents, such as puppies falling down drains, occurred more than 10 years ago. Recent claims, such as cleaning kennels with dogs still inside were rationalized as money saving measures by Vane.

“A lot of the allegations were around his management practices,” says St. George City Manager Gary Esplin. “I don’t know that they were necessarily directed at him personally.”

Vane has been reassigned as an animal control patrol officer. New manager Sgt. Ivor Fuller has already put in beds for the dogs, covered the drains and the city has begun work on a new outdoor space for the animals.

Animal advocates are disappointed with the bias in the report, saying an independent investigation would have been preferred -- as long as abuse doesn’t happen in the future, they’re glad the city is taking it seriously.

“There are certain things in there that just don’t ring right with us,” said Dixie P.A.W.S operational director Lynn Burger. “But we want to move forward, we don’t want to just dwell on what happened.”

The report does outline specific recommendations for making things better at the shelter. Many have already been put into place and are closely in line with a resolution recently passed by the city council addressing the allegations.

To read the full report, click here: