ELGIN, Okla._The Department of Environmental Quality has ordered immediate changes to be made to the Elgin animal shelter.
The problems were uncovered after 7News spoke with a family whose missing dog was found dead in a pit at the shelter.
The animal control director admitted that he initially lied to them about their dog's death, which happened when a pit bull got into the shelter through a hole in the fence. The officer's contract is now on hold, leaving the city without someone in charge for now.
For the time being, if you drive up to the Elgin animal shelter you'll be greeted by a gate and a "No Trespassing" sign. The shelter will be empty while the Elgin City Council decides on the future for their animal control.
Mayor Larry Thoma said before they can re-open the shelter, they must make some changes. One of those changes is being forced by the DEQ. The pit with trash and dead animals must be cleaned and never used again.
"Anytime there is an animal that is dead, we have the option of taking it to the landfill or putting a dumpster out there. Putting it in the dumpster and have them get it that day," said Mayor Thoma.
Also, Daniel Linthicum, the animal control officer, has had his contract put on hold and the city now has no one to take over. The mayor doesn't want the shelter shut down for long. He says two short-term items need to be resolved so it can be operating again.
First, a new animal control officer.
"We'll have to look for someone. Volunteers are good for the shelter in a degree because they can help with adoptions, but on the city's standpoint we would not want to put a volunteer out to catch a dog," said Mayor Thoma.
He wants the broken fencing surrounding each kennel to be replaced and any other repairs the council sees fit. Thoma says everyone's attention is on the animals inside the shelter, but he believes residents are losing focus on what not having an animal control officer in Elgin means.
"We still have skunks, we have armadillos, we have opossums, we have snakes and Daniel has gone out and taken care of those. Right now, if you get a skunk in a trap I don't have anybody to take care of that," explained Mayor Thoma.
There were still three dogs remaining at the shelter Tuesday. Thoma says they're in the process of getting them homes. After that, no animals will be brought there until this is resolved.