Animal Shelter Left Drugs Laying Around, Failed to Vaccinate Dogs for Rabies

In a 114-page report, the Broward Office of Inspector General lays down the hammer on the Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Division, accusing the shelter of recurring "misconduct and gross management."

Among the report's findings: the shelter mishandled controlling a drug for euthanized animals that known on the streets as "Special K" and is used as a date-rape drug. The shelter also failed to secure other drugs such as sodium pentobarbital and xylazine, a sedative.

The shelter also often released dogs to owners without vaccinating them against rabies, according to the report.

See also: Greyhound Trainer Forged Dead Veterinarian's Name as Proof of Vaccinations, State Says

Inspector General John Scott wrote in the report that Animal Care and Adoption's "failure to operate responsibly has recklessly created a public health and safety risk for all Broward residents and visitors, as well as causing an incalculable financial loss to animal care funding."

Some drugs and unsecured syringes were found inside unlocked county trucks and, in some cases, the personal vehicles of employees, the report says.

Scott also alleges that the ACAD allowed its state and federally mandated permit and registration to lapse.

The shelter also allowed unauthorized personnel to administer rabies vaccines, according to the report.

And that's to the dogs who were actually given vaccines. Some were sent to homes without them. In some cases, dogs who had been reported to have bitten a person were released without their rabies vaccines.

"By failing to vaccinate dogs and other strays as required by law," Scott writes, "ACAD recklessly created an unacceptable public health risk."

In addition to this, the ACAD allegedly repeatedly violated county law by waiving impound and boarding fees. The ACAD also failed to issue citations at the shelter for unregistered, unvaccinated or "at-large" animals returned to their owners.

For their part, the ACAD said that their decision to waive fees was in response to the county's stated desire to one day transform the animal shelter into a "no-kill" shelter, according to the report.

The ACAD, however, admits that the county code did not authorize their policies.

At the end of the report, Scott hand out recommendations on how the ACAD can clean up its act.

With regards to the animal drugs being mismanaged, the report says that the ACAD should have specialists log the daily check-in and check-out of the drugs, and that supervisors should periodically review the logs.

Scott also recommends that the drugs storage conditions should be a required element of said supervisors' responsibilities.

Basically, Scott says, communication between workers and supervisors should be better in order to make sure drugs don't go popping up in people's unlocked cars. The report says that mismanagement of these drugs made it impossible to tell if any of the employees abused them.

Scott also says that all dogs without their shots need to be vaccinated against rabies in conformance with Broward County's Code.

Officials with Animal Care and Adoption, however, are disputing the charges.

Cynthia Chambers, who oversees the Broward Animal Care and Adoption Division, wrote a letter to Scott in response to his report:

"Broward County management does not believe the findings of the Final Report are reflective of misconduct and gross mismanagement. Since 2012, Broward County has been evolving its shelter management philosophy to emphasize animal health, adoption and reunification of lost pets with their owners and is implementing 10 lifesaving programs with the intent to become a no-kill community."

Added ACAD spokesperson Lisa Mendheim, per WSVN: "The investigation really didn't bring to light anything we didn't already know and weren't already working on. As far as some of the accusations regarding rabies vaccinations, all that has been addressed. We do have our veterinarian administering rabies vaccinations."

View the Inspector General's full report below.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph