CHICAGO — FOX Chicago News has learned three workers at Chicago’s Department of Animal Care and Control have been fired in a mix-up over animals to be euthanized at the shelter.
The firings are the result of an investigation by Chicago’s Inspector General, which found that a total of four dogs were mistakenly put down when they were not supposed to be.
The IG also found that when workers realized they’d made a mistake, they doctored the paperwork to hide it.
FOX Chicago News and the Better Government Association have learned that a report on the investigation is set to be released on Thursday.
The investigation started four years ago, when a dog belonging to a Chicago Police lieutenant bit someone, and was sent to the pound for ten days of rabies observation.
Instead of caring for that dog, workers at Animal Care and Control killed it with a deadly dose of Phenobarbital.
The lieutenant was furious that his dog had been euthanized, but got no answers when he called the pound.
So he called Chicago’s Inspector General’s office.
Now, its investigation has concluded that a total of four dogs were put to sleep because of confusion caused by poor management and sloppy record keeping.
The IG also found that several people responsible for the mix-up tried to cover it up, going so far as to alter documents and lie to investigators.
That made matters worse because the drug used to put the dogs down is a Schedule 2 narcotic controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency, and must be tracked under Federal law.
On the advice of the IG, new Animal Care and Control commissioner Cherie Travis has now fired three employees, including a veterinarian and a shelter supervisor.
Another employee has been suspended, and four more have been disciplined.
Chicago’s Better Government Association worked with FOX Chicago News to get this information.
BGA Executive Director Andy Shaw said the incident at Animal Care and Control may not seem as serious when it involves dogs instead of human beings, but “incompetence is incompetence.”
“A cover-up is a cover-up and a waste of tax dollars is a waste of tax dollars, and it’s inexcusable,” Shaw said. “I’m thankful that we have another Inspector General who takes this stuff seriously, gets to the bottom of it and comes up with an investigation that forces action.”
“We’ve obviously brought to the attention of the new Commissioner a substantial number of problems,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “We have found her to be extremely responsive and we look forward to structural changes which our findings clearly indicate are required.”
FOX Chicago News’ planned interview with Animal Care and Control commissioner Cherie Travis was canceled by the city. We hope to speak with her later.