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ARTICLE: County hires outside attorney to investigate shelter claims

From: Pam
Sent on: Sunday, August 4, 2013 2:25 PM

County hires outside attorney to investigate shelter claims


LAPEER — The investigation into allegations against Lapeer County Animal Control Chief Carla Frantz and operations at the shelter has been turned over to an independent attorney.

Robert Nyovich of Birmingham-based firm McConaghy and Nyovich has helped the county with internal investigations in the past, said county administrator John Biscoe. The investigation, Biscoe said, is to follow-up on some broad concerns that have been raised about Frantz, internal operations at Animal Control and compliance with laws, policies and procedures.

“Given the attention that’s been focused on Lapeer County Animal Control and it’s chief, it seemed the most prudent course would be to turn it over to an independent examination of the allegations made by individuals in the county and a review of policies and procedures,” Biscoe said.

Nyovich’s services come at a cost of $150 per hour, and Biscoe said there is no way to say how long the investigation will take.

Biscoe said he doesn’t expect it will take more than a few weeks, however, that’s subject to change based on whatever Nyovich comes across.

“He’s going to take as long as it takes,” Biscoe said. “He has to do what he has to do.”

Complaints against Frantz include possibly not following policies regarding euthanasia of animals at the shelter and allegedly breeding animals at her home near Capac.

Five people spoke regarding the issues at Thursday’s County Commission meeting.

“There’s an appearance of impropriety here,” said Pam Sordyl of an organization called Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan. The organization has an online petition at boardofcommissioners-set-newstandards for-animal-control officers#share asking for a conflict of interest policy preventing the chief of animal control from breeding animals, and she said there are already more than 1,000 signatures on the petition.

Frantz’s father, Carl Frantz, spoke passionately in defense of his daughter at the meeting. He said that at the Jan. 22 Mussey Township Planning Commission meeting during which Carla requested a hobby kennel license, she was actually speaking on behalf of her mother.

“Carla never did have a kennel. She went to speak for her mother,” he said, adding that their request for a license was not denied.

“We withdrew it because it was going to cost us more than $5,000 in permits,” he said.

Carl also indicated his displeasure that photos of their property have been circulated.

“We do not appreciate you people coming on our property taking pictures, going into our buildings,” he said.

He also spoke up about his beliefs about Lapeer’s Adoptable Animals volunteer Wendy Yax’s motives, claiming this all stems from Carla being hired as chief over Animal Control Officer Diane Woolner, which brought about a visible, yet silent, response from Yax.

“Their main concern is they want to get chief Carla fired from her job,” he said. “That’s all they’re after.”

County board chair Gary Roy assured those at the meeting that everyone — employees and volunteers alike — will be looked into during the investigation.

“We will get to the bottom, one way or another,” he said, adding, “Carla is a county employee and basically we haven’t seen that she has violated anything that she wasn’t supposed to do.”


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