CARE one step closer to Animal Shelter takeover
By Genine Hopkins
A FOIA request by Wexford County citizens has uncovered information that one of the County Commissioners, Mark Howie, performed his own audit on the shelter’s finances, and came up quite short on accounting for money that should have been deposited into the county’s general fund. These discrepancies come on the heels of reports in the Cadillac News of a former shelter employee’s accusations of improper euthanasia at the shelter. The shelter also has kill rates as high as 50% during peak months.
According to his non-official audit – the county’s finance committee is expecting the external and independent auditor’s report for FY 2012 this month – there is roughly $6,910 unaccounted for in 2012, and over $20,000 unaccounted for in FY 2011.
The report was provided to the Wexford County Sheriff and Undersheriff by Howie at a meeting earlier this year; the report was requested by both the County BOC Chair Housler and Finance Chair Devereaux in April, discussed at the Finance Committee’s April 2013 meeting. At the very least, the information presented in the internal emails and non-official audit raise concerns of lax accounting and bookkeeping methods. The internal and unofficial audit may have prompted the BOC’s push to seek outside management.
In one of the emails from the County Administrator after a meeting with Sheriff’s Department officials, discrepancies in the number of animals reported to the State of Michigan and the revenues coming into the county through adoption fees may have been the result of animals having been reported as “adopted” but actually taken by rescue agencies. Still, the large sums of money unaccounted for appears to have left the commissioners searching for answers, and considering removing control of the shelter from the Sheriff’s Department ACO employees.
Betty Lloyd, founder and director of CARE in Harrison stated that transparency would be provided to the county’s finance committee on a regular basis and record keeping would be non-negotiable if her group took over the shelter. Additionally, her goal is to increase animal adoptions, a move that is supported by both the Cadillac City Council and the county’s BOC, along with the many residents who have come out in support of Lloyd’s group.
Although an RFP was requested to be drafted by the County Administrator, sources have relayed concerns by the BOC in the RFP wording, which went much further than expected in limiting the contracted services. It was believed that the county would not provide any funding for cats in the initial draft of the RFP. The county’s BOC will meet on Wednesday, June 05, 2013, to further discuss the direction the county wishes to take in this matter. Additionally, Lloyd experienced problems with the ACO when trying to obtain medical care for an emaciated pit bull that was brought to the shelter – that animal was eventually taken to receive care; Lloyd has also procured foster homes for eight kittens and a pregnant female cat to be picked up on Memorial Day, yet when she contacted the shelter, she was informed that all the animals were destroyed on May 24, 2013. Lloyd was planning on attending the Wednesday meeting to express her outrage at this turn of events.
“We had homes for these precious kittens and the momma cat,” she stated in a phone interview, “It is completely inconceivable that these animals were destroyed.”
An email request of whether or not the Wexford County Prosecutor’s office was conducting an official investigation was not returned prior to press time for this edition, but updates will be provided as they are received by this paper.