Eldon Residents Outraged Over Allegations of Animal Abuse by Police
ELDON - Some residents are outraged following allegations that two Eldon police officers abused two dogs at the Eldon animal shelter. The allegations surfaced on Facebook and quickly went viral. Friends of Animals - a local animal rescue - posted Saturday on its Facebook page that, "two dogs being held together (male and female) were forced apart while mating... a very brutal and extremely painful incident. Those involved would never confess involvement, but it was indeed two of our Eldon police officers." On Sunday the animal rights group Saving Dogs of Missouri jumped in on its Facebook page and alleged that when the officers found the dogs mating they "could not get them apart so they literally beat them and had to be taken to the local vet to be euthanized."
Rene Ward who originally wrote the post on the Friends of Animals page said she heard about the condition of the two dogs from the veterinarian who cared for the animals.
"They had been taken to the vet's clinic for euthanasia. The vets noticed it and acted on it immediately. The owner of the clinic called and asked the mayor of Eldon for answers as to why animals were brought to her in that condition," said Ward. "When we found out about it, of course, we called the Agriculture Department for them to come down and take a look at it as well."
Ward said she knows the Department of Agriculture talked to the clinic where the dogs were taken, but was unaware of any further action by the department.
Ward said the allegations of abuse follow a pattern of the unresponsiveness from the animal shelter under a new mayor. Ward says the Friends of Animals used to work together with the animal shelter to provide food, vaccinations and homes for the animals, but that started to change in a few months ago.
"We started to notice a few things," said Ward. "Nobody wanted to work with us which really we didn't understand because we were able to help in so many ways. To turn away the help of a no-kill shelter just doesn't make any sense."
Eldon Mayor Ronald Bly refused to go on camera Monday afternoon because he said the incident was under investigation, but did call the claims false and "ridiculous." Bly told KOMU 8 News that he was aware the incident happened and two dogs were injured at the shelter that had to be euthanized, but police officers did not abuse the animals. Bly said there would be a report on the alleged abuses during the Eldon City Council meeting on Tuesday. Bly went on to say that when he talked to the veterinarian that cared for the two dogs no signs of abuse were found.
When Bly reports his findings on the alleged abuse during the city council meeting Tuesday evening at 6, he's likely to have an audience for that and a proposed ordinance that changes the laws of when animals at the shelter can be euthanized. The same Facebook posts that went viral about the alleged abuses also urged residents to attend Tuesday's council meeting.
The proposed city ordinance states "after 30 days of impoundment, all dogs and cats not claimed by the owner or released to any other person as set forth above, shall be euthanized." The current city ordinance states that "any dog that is not redeemed within seven days after impoundment may be euthanized by the Animal Control Director or other designated person, or released to any person other than the owner, upon payment of a $20 fee."
One of the main differences between the ordinances is the use of the word "may" and "shall." Ward believes the ordinance would require animals to be put down following 30 days while the original language gave discretion to the animal control director.
Bly told KOMU 8 News he believes the proposed ordinance extends the time an animal can be kept in the shelter without being euthanized. When KOMU 8 News went to the shelter, at least one animal still there had been taken into the shelter nearly 240 days ago - in April of 2012.
One worker at Friends of Animals said the alleged abuses are the final straw.
"It's just really changed," said Susan Villarreal. "And now with this incident coming to light, we've gotta do something. We have to band together and make it stop."