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Allegations of Misconduct, Gross Mismanagement Leveled At Broward Animal Care

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Allegations of misconduct and gross mismanagement have been leveled at the Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Division.

A report, issued Wednesday by the Broward Office of the Inspector General, lists multiple instances of misconduct and gross mismanagement that violated the law ranging from the mishandling of controlled substances to failing to administer rabies vaccinations.

“It’s bad and we are dismayed at the lack of respect for the law and common sense good government practices,” Inspector General John Scott told CBS4 News.

Here is the list of reported offenses as listed in the report:

  • Mishandling controlled substances, intended for euthanizing animals but also known to be abused by humans as “date rape” drugs, by failing to secure them properly;
  • Failing to take reasonable precautions against the misuse, theft, loss, or diversion of the drugs;
  • Failing to administer rabies vaccinations to animals prior to their return to owners, including multiple instances where the animals had a known history of biting people,   despite the fact that county law unequivocally requires that the vaccinations be made;
  • Permitting unauthorized personnel to administer rabies vaccine in violation of Florida law;
  • Allowing its state and federally mandated permit and registration to lapse;
  • Repeatedly, and again in violation of county law, waiving impound and boarding fees and deciding not to issue citations at the shelter for unregistered, unvaccinated or “at-large” animals returned to their owners; and
  • Failing to track waivers and establish standardized criteria for them, resulting in the inability to assess the fiscal impact on animal care funding.

The report states the Animal Care and Adoption Division’s “failure to operate responsibly has recklessly created a public health and safety risk for all Broward residents and visitors, as well as causing an incalculable financial loss to animal care funding.”

At the conclusion of the report, the Office of the Inspector General makes a series of recommendations designed to rectify the management deficiencies and ensure compliance with local, state and federal controlled substance standards.

Officials with Animal Care and Adoption, however, are disputing the charges.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Lisa Mendheim told CBS 4.

Mendheim said that many of the criticisms surfaced last year and were addressed.

She said that workers are following the rules and all animals are being vaccinated.

“We changed protocols and procedures with staff and we are confident of the procedures in place currently,” Mendheim said.

In a written statement, Cynthia Chambers who oversees the agency, said, “Broward County management does not believe the findings of the Final Report are reflective of misconduct and gross mismanagement.” Adding, “Since 2012, Broward County has been evolving its shelter management philosophy to emphasize animal health, adoption and reunification of lost pets with their owners and is implementing 10 lifesaving programs with the intent to become a no-kill community.”

The agency said that changes are currently resulting in more adoptions, more fostering of animals and fewer euthanizations.

“Ultimately the buck stops with county government,” said Inspector General John Scott.

The Office of the Inspector General has requested a status report from the Animal Care and Adoption Division regarding those recommendations on or before July 7, 2014.

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