LAWRENCE – Fox 59 has learned that most of the animals that survived what have been described as deplorable conditions inside the Lawrence Animal Shelter were taken to Indianapolis Animal Care and Control as Lawrence city officials consider shutting down the shelter permanently.
On Oct. 22, a call to police about an unrelated matter led officers to the animal shelter where a dead cat and dog were found. The remaining dogs were in poor health, and were without enough food and water. They were also living in their own feces. A metal tool had to be used to scrape the feces off the floor.
Two other dogs died as the shelter was cleaned and investigation begun.
”That just doesn’t happen here. We have staff in place to make sure the dogs are taken care of,” said Dan Shackle, Indianapolis Animal Care and Control Administrator, when Fox 59 asked him how this could happen at a shelter.
IACC has a working relationship with the Lawrence Animal Shelter. After several days, the dogs are to be transferred to IACC where they can potentially be adopted or sent to a rescue. The former animal control officer in charge, David “Andy” Ross, had not been following that protocol.
Only one dog was brought to IACC in June and the last drop-off before the Oct. 22 discovery of dead animals and limited food and water was on Aug. 15.
Ross is facing several charges including neglect and official misconduct which is a felony.
”I would not have my animals in that type of environment,” said Greg Swingle, the former Deputy Police Chief, who spoke with Fox 59 days after the discovery. Swingle was supposed to oversee the facility. He has since been demoted and reassigned.
”When I came here at 8:30 that night, I was appalled with what I saw,” said Swingle. He told Fox 59 he had not been there in more than three weeks.
The Lawrence Police Chief said the shelter is now empty, and they are considering a variety of options moving forward including having no facility of their own for abused, neglected or lost dogs.
“They brought us 16 animals total since the night of the incident,” said Shackle. “Some have been adopted, some have been sent to rescues, some have been euthanized for medical or behavioral issues, and some have been returned to their owners.”
Ross is expected in court in January.
According to court documents, he told detectives he had been following orders to only feed the dogs a cup of food a day. In response to questions about the condition of the shelter, he said he had recently become busy.