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Dog's death prompts policy change in Geronimo

GERONIMO, Okla._The death of a sick dog at the Geronimo animal shelter has prompted a change in a longstanding policy.

A city worker brought the stray dog in Wednesday, June 3. City officials say it was already sick and lethargic when they quarantined it outside from the six other dogs inside the shelter. The dog died Saturday and that prompted the city's investigation into whether their policies should be changed.

Since it opened in 2013, the shelter is only meant to hold animals for 72 hours. They don't provide medical care, just food and water. If no one adopts them, they're sent to another facility, like Lawton. Also, they don't have a full-time staff to treat sick animals. But after this weekend's incident, the mayor says it's time for that to change.

Newly-appointed Mayor Kevin Bayman says the new city policy will start with documenting the animals' initial condition before they enter the shelter.

"Any animals that are extremely sick like that. That we have vet services available for them. We were already in the process of making that happen," explained Mayor Bayman.

Bayman says the plan is to set up an emergency on-call procedure so a vet can be called in to check on those animals, because they don't have enough money for a full-time position. In the meantime, they're doing what they can to make sure the sick dog didn't contaminate the shelter last week.

They've moved all of the other dogs that were in the shelter when the dog died to the Lawton animal shelter, and the Geronimo shelter has been cleaned.

"Right now, the shelter remains closed and the doors remain locked as they prepare to clean it again a second time by spraying down all the surfaces and cleaning them with bleach," said Mayor Bayman.

Bayman says they plan to keep the shelter closed until next week when the cleaning is finished and the new policies are in place.

"We have a great facility. It is nearly brand-new, and we have a great need for that facility here in the city and I would love to be able to get more participation and to adopt more dogs out and the animals that we do receive here," said Mayor Bayman.

As far as funding that on-call vet, the city already passed its annual budget, so the City Council will have to make the decision at the next council meeting on how much money will need to be moved around in the budget to pay for the vet care for sick animals.

The city is also in the process of hiring a new dog catcher. For about two weeks, they have had a temporary person in place looking after the animals. They plan to have the new hire start work next week.

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