Changes in place for Elgin's animal shelter

Published: Mar. 18, 2015 at 9:14 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2015 at 12:06 PM CDT
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ELGIN, Okla._Changes are coming to the Elgin Animal Shelter in the wake of criticism over the death of a dog being held there that had been attacked, and was then buried in a ditch.

The Elgin City Council recently voted to fix some structural problems at the shelter, such as the fencing and flooring, as well as changing some of their policies and procedures. One thing that won't change though, is the person who was in charge when a dog was attacked and killed.

For the past three months, the Elgin Animal Shelter hasn't heard one bark as it's been closed to domestic animals. The City Council has heard from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and a committee formed with Elgin residents to hear recommendations on how it can improve. The Department of Agriculture had one recommendation, paint and seal the shelter floor. That will help keep the shelter clean from bacteria from feces and urine.

One of the major changes on the way for the Elgin Animal Shelter is the fencing in between the kennels. Right now, a dog can push right through and get to the other side, but soon livestock paneling will separate the animals.

"Nothing is going to push through, they hold back hogs and stuff, so we know it's going to be tough enough," explained Elgin City Council member Jeff Snow.

Snow says metal panels will be over the livestock paneling to keep the dogs from seeing each other. Snow says all these structural changes can happen in a month and allow the shelter to reopen.

He adds that the shelter is changing the policy on how long they'll keep dogs there. The currently policy has been five days until a dog is euthanized, but Snow says they'll keep a dog for 14. Seven days for the original owner and seven more for anyone to adopt the dog.

"We want to be a no-kill shelter, but we can't keep them in the pen forever and we want to get them to somebody," said Snow.

One thing that isn't changing is Elgin's animal control officer, Daniel Linthicum. His contract was put on hold after the dog was found dead, but he is back on duty after being cleared of any foul play. Snow says the council backs him, and so does the city.

"They put out some petitions to have signed to keep Daniel and we didn't receive those, but the person who was collecting those let us know that he had over 600 autographs. So, we have the support of the community," said Snow.

Plus, the city is now making every dog taken in by Linthicum be documented in a file in his truck, the shelter and City Hall. So, there is no doubt on what happens to a dog at the shelter.

The city will also begin tighter enforcement of the ordinance requiring animal owners to register their pets with the city. Snow says only 30 dogs are currently registered, but he believes there are at least 150 in town. He said that will help the city return dogs to their owners faster.