After more than a year of meetings, investigations, hearings, changes and review the local Animal Shelter remains open and viable. The Shelter was subject to investigations by the Sherriff’s Department, the Department of Michigan State Police, and the State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Drug Enforcement Agency declined to investigate the matter when given the opportunity. Ultimately the Shelter paid some fines for improper statistical data management, record keeping and veterinarian accessibility. The record keeping, empirical data compilation and recording have all been brought into compliance with State mandates. Similarly, updates to cages, inventory, and accessibility to veterinary care have been undertaken.
Wexford County Prosecutor, Anthony Badovinac, does not plan to issue charges against anyone involved with the Shelter as of this date because according to him; “there is no documentable proof of intentional criminal culpability by any one individual or multiple individuals ; neither is there anything to suggest that criminal activity, as currently defined by state law, occurred. While a few of the past practices concerning the entity could be couched as “less than optimal”, there is nothing blatantly suggesting criminal activity and nothing after multiple investigations and the attendant scrutiny that would allow criminal charges to be pursued in good faith, given the burden of proof, which would have to be sustained. The concerns brought forth by the multiple investigations revealed no verifiable criminal activity and have been addressed and brought into compliance with current mandates. All issues from the prosecutorial viewpoint, are at this time, closed to further review.”
Concerns were reviewed involving the Shelter’s long-time practice of occasionally waiving adoption fees because it was viewed as commonsense to take the costs off the public dole if an individual was willing to adopt a pet, or recording the transfer of an animal to a rescue individual or Shelter as an adoption. While that practice, in hindsight, was not subject to strict scrutiny, it nevertheless continued for a long period of time and added to the potentiality of statistical and empirical inaccuracy and the conjecture of misuse or under-reporting of receipted funds. That issue is again, at this time not verifiable as to amount, personage or duration. The issue has been addressed and new procedures have been implemented to insure proper record-keeping, fund ascertainment, and even adoptions at no charge if certain parameters are met, just like the old days. The investigation did lead to many improvements, including but not limited to public awareness, more volunteer involvement, additional training for staff, and safeguards for both animals and workers.