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Shelter not out of dog house

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Past practices of killing at shelter puts center on probation, could yield charges against workers

By Beth Braden

JACKSBORO—Actions by at least two employees at the Adrion W. Baird Animal Center could rise to a criminal level, according to a report from the Tennessee Department of Health, after allegations of improper euthanasia techniques that began in April 2013.

Earlier this month, the department released its monthly disciplinary action report with notice that Campbell County’s Animal Control organization has been placed on probation for a period of one year.

Further documents obtained by the LaFollette Press indicated that the county received word of the probation in September, just weeks after Mike Aiken took the reigns at the formerly troubled shelter.

The investigation found that animal control officers Stan Foust and Otis Poore violated at least two statutes regarding improper euthanasia techniques and several regulations outlined by the Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

“On multiple occasions since 2006, Otis Poore and Stan Foust, employees of [Campbell County Animal Control] and certified euthanasia technicians…improperly euthanized animals that were being euthanized; performed euthanasia by intracardial injection on animals that were not heavily sedated, anesthetized or comatose; performed euthanasia outside respondent’s euthanasia room in front of other animals; left animals unattended between the time euthanasia procedures were first begun and the time that death occurred; and disposed of animals to which euthanasia drugs had been administered without confirming that the animals were dead, despite having recorded that such animals were dead,” the report read.

The state department of health does not have jurisdiction to pursue further criminal charges.

“Any violation of law that would be considered a criminal matter would be the responsibility of a law enforcement agency,” said Shelley Walker, public information officer with the department of health.

Eighth Judicial District Attorney Lori Phillips-Jones is reviewing the report.

County Mayor William Baird said the burden to prove innocence is on the county in this case, so the decision was made to neither deny or admit allegations.

“To clear that up, these were just allegations made to the veterinary medicine board,” he said. “Somebody complains, you have to disapprove them.”

On April 9, 2013, health department investigator Patricia Daugherty arrived at the shelter for an unscheduled visit with then-director Betty Crumley. The shelter was shuttered and the animals removed two days later, on April 11. The facility remained closed until August.

County Attorney Joe Coker, Aiken and Baird signed the seven-page document acknowledging the sanctions between Sept. 24 and Sept. 27. A department of health representative signed the order on Dec. 8.

It was unclear when the year of probation began and what, if any, further scrutiny would be applied to the county’s operations.

“You just have to keep your nose clean,” Baird said.

The state has, however, stipulated that Poore and Foust must re-complete the training in order to maintain their certifications as euthanasia technicians. The county will have to foot the bill for the training, and it must be completed before the probationary period is done.