The Cedar Valley Humane Society on Tuesday reported good marks from both the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Department on the performance of the Humane Society’s animal shelter at 7411 Mount Vernon Rd.
However, on Wednesday, Linn County Attorney Harold Denton confirmed that the Marion Police Department investigation into billing irregularities at the animal shelter is complete. Denton said the Marion findings are now in his hands for review and the possible filing of criminal charges.
Meanwhile, Marion Police Chief Harry Daugherty on Wednesday reported that his investigators are recommending that Denton file felony theft charges against the management person at the animal shelter who has been responsible for billing. He did not name a name. “Somebody done there is responsible,” the chief said. He added that the Humane Society’s board of directors has been apprised of the status of the police investigation.
It was back in April that the Humane Society’s board of directors asked both the state and city agencies to take a look at its shelter operation following on the heels of a Marion Police Department raid in March in which investigators seized the shelter’s billing records.
In addition to the police raid, a former shelter employee filed a complaint with the state veterinary board, raising questions about the shelter’s treatment of animals. The former employee also alleged that the shelter was a “hostile workplace.”
According to Humane Society board member and spokeswoman Stephanie Holub, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship conducted a random animal welfare inspection at the shelter on May 20.
“All findings in the report were positive, including the condition of the housing facilities, premises, sanitation, veterinary care and records,” Holub reported.
A look at the state department’s report on Wednesday revealed as much. The state inspector gave appoval ratings on all 36 different items it reviewed at the shelter.
The Humane Society’s Holub said Michelle McMurray, an investigator with the city of Cedar Rapids’ Civil Rights Department, also conducted a review of the shelter and filed a report in May.
Holub quoted McMurray’s report: “It appears that the staff commitment to animals and the facilities’ customers is unwavering. There were no reported issues amongst staff members. … It is evident that the staff has a commitment to the animals and their jobs. Staff members appear to work well as a team.”
Holub noted that Doug Fuller, a Humane Society board member and retired Cedar Rapids police detective, continues to serve in an informal leadership role at the shelter. He is providing daily oversight of record-keeping, billing and personnel and volunteer activities, Holub said.
The board of directors has concluded it no longer needs an additional independent consultant to help with the shelter’s management, she said.