|Sent on:||Sunday, July 28, 2013 9:21 PM|
The ongoing investigation is regarding Carla Frantz’s breeding operation as mentioned in last Monday’s interview with the Health Department Director. It appears they are also looking into some other items. This article includes a long list of concerns local citizens have and our online petition.
7/28/13 LAPEER COUNTY PRESS: Animal rescue advocates, volunteers vent concerns about shelter operations
Investigation of accusations against director Carla Frantz by county health department may be complete in two weeks
Twenty people, many members of Lapeer Adoptable Animals founded by Wendy Yax, spoke during public comment period at the Lapeer County Board of Commissioner’s meeting Thursday morning. Concerns were aired regarding animal shelter director Carla Frantz and the euthanasia policy at the county facility.
Photo by Krystal Johns
LAPEER — It was clear at Thursday’s County Commission meeting that animals are a passion for many Lapeer County residents, as a large group of people, many wearing black and purple shirts bearing the Lapeer’s Adoptable Animals (LAA) logo, attended and spoke up during public time.
The impressive attendance was sparked by investigations into the conduct of Lapeer County Animal Control Chief Carla Frantz, who has been at the center of a number of allegations, including euthanizing five dogs that animal rescue groups had expressed a desire to foster and possibly breeding animals without a license at her Mussey Township home.
Wendy Yax is the founder of Lapeer Adoptable Animals.
“Basically, the board has this under review and we’re not ready to respond until the investigation is complete,” said board chair Gary Roy before public time got underway, adding that he thought that would take “at least a week, maybe two.”
Twenty women spoke during public time, sharing concerns, experiences and opinions about Animal Control and its operations.
The speaking was led by Wendy Yax of LAA, who said LAA was formed in hopes of dropping the euthanasia rate at the Lapeer County Animal Shelter. All five of the dogs that were in question, she said, were “happy, healthy and non aggressive” the day before they were put down, and that the euthanization cost the county an unnecessary $500, as she said it costs $50 per dog to euthanize and each dog could have brought in $50 of revenue.
Carla Frantz is director of the Lapeer County Animal Control.
LAA, she said, is no longer notified by Animal Control when animals are in immediate danger of euthanization.
Other speakers had stories of personal experiences with Animal Control, both recent and from before Frantz was chief. One LAA volunteer wanted to know what happened with the $3,000 LAA won in online contests. Some wanted Lapeer to be a no-kill shelter. Others said that isn’t necessarily the answer, but they’d like all options explored before euthanasia takes place.
Larraine Edwards, the board president of Paradise Animal Rescue, said the animal control offices from surrounding counties work well with the rescue, but since Paradise went into operation in 2003, they’ve only rescued 11 animals from Lapeer, with the last being in April 2011. Other facilities, she said, call when animals are at risk.
“This is common practice with other animal controls,” she said. “I am very happy to see an investigation.”
Michele Joliat of Metamora said Lapeer County is settling for a mediocre shelter, and said, “We have an opportunity to make it a model shelter.”
Others spoke about the conditions they’ve observed at the Lapeer shelter, or the general attitude they have encountered with the staff there.
Tina Rupprecht of Dryden Township expressed concern that volunteers would no longer be allowed into the shelter at the expense of the animals, and Lisa Redmond of Attica said she doesn’t believe that Animal Control employees come in on the weekends, saying she isn’t sure the animals are even fed or given water.
After public time ended, everyone filed out and other county business was addressed. Commissioner Lenny Schneider said, “It was difficult to hear a lot of that.”
“On one side of the coin, I’m very pleased that the public came out... There were 20 people that spoke to us and every one of them was very professional,” he said. “It was also disappointing as an elected representative that we didn’t hear about any of this stuff until now.”
Schneider said he wants the public to know that they can communicate concerns with their elected officials at any time, when they happen.
Also of note, this week the Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan group put up an online petition at www.change.org/petitions/ lapeer-county-boardof commissioners-set-newstandards for-animal-control officers#share, looking for support to ask the Lapeer County commissioners to, “Please develop and institute a Conflict of Interest Statement and Policy that would prohibit Animal Control Officers from doing the following:
• Obtaining a dealer’s or commercial kennel license for personal or financial gain
• Obtaining a transfer of ownership by an animal’s owner to the animal control officer for personal or financial gain
• Giving away, selling or negotiating for the gift or sale to any individual, pet shop, dealer, or research facility of animal that may come into his/her custody in the course of carrying out their official duties.”
The minutes from a Jan. 22, 2013, meeting of the Mussey Township planning commission indicate that Frantz said she breeds dogs for sale as a wholesaler on her 170 acres in the township. She requested a hobby kennel license, which would not hold her kennel to the requirements of a commercial kennel, and that request was denied.
It is unclear whether Frantz is still breeding dogs on her property, as that is part of the ongoing investigation and county officials would not comment.
Also under investigation are the reporting procedures at Lapeer County Animal Control. Health Department Director Stephanie Simmons said Animal Control submits reports “at least quarterly.” There are questions about the number of animals that were taken into the shelter in 2012 not matching the number of animals that were adopted out, transferred or euthanized. Simmons said she is checking into those numbers to find out where the discrepancies occurred. Based on the 2012 annual report submitted by Frantz, there are 68 dogs and 13 cats that are not accounted for in the reported statistics.
The county Board of Commissioners meets at 8:30 a.m. every Thursday in the commission chambers, located in the lower level of the County Complex, 255 Clay St., Lapeer. There is time allotted for the public to speak at the beginning and end of each meeting and speakers are limited to three minutes. Public time is for the board to hear concerns, but not to respond to them, as further information is often needed.