NewsChannel 11 Investigates: Slaton Animal Shelter - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/6/08

NewsChannel 11 Investigates: Slaton Animal Shelter

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What we have learned is that it is only a matter of time before these animals are put to sleep, sometimes even when they have willing adopters. This is the Slaton Animal Shelter. We found it odd there were no signs on the building, no phone number to call if you want to adopt a pet and the hours are a mystery too. The door was locked when we stopped by and it was on a Tuesday just before at 11 a.m.

Melodie Welch contacted NewsChannel 11 to tell us she had a hard time adopting her Shepherd named Grace. The city has it set up to where the Slaton Police Department is in charge of the shelter. "I called to tell them I was on my way. When I got there around 9:30 a.m., I was told he wasn't there he was in Lubbock. I would have to come back after lunch," Melodie said.

They have one officer in charge of adoptions, his name is Sgt. Lopez.  And knowing they would take the animals around 2 p.m. to be euthanized, "I just refused to leave," said Melodie.

Melodie got Grace and took her to the veterinarian who told her the dog was dehydrated and starved. NewsChannel 11 has received numerous e-mails from people telling us how bad it is at the shelter, and the lack of public access there. So we went undercover to find out for ourselves.

We already told you the door was locked at the shelter, and when we stopped by the police department asking if we could see a couple of dogs, we were told we would have to wait until the animal control officer returned from lunch.  We waited for two hours.

Slaton Mayor Laura Lynn Wilson apologized that we had to wait so long.  "Because we're a small town and our funds are limited, we can't afford to have another person here all the time," said Mayor Wilson.

And that's not all. While we were undercover, we were also told we weren't allowed inside the facility - a building funded by taxpayers. "We tried to get in the facility. The animal control officer told us 'Sgt. Lopez gave me strict orders to not allow anyone in the facility.'

NewsChannel 11 asked Mayor Wilson if she could explain why he would say that.  "No, I can't. I think he was concerned about your motives, but obviously, if anyone wants in the facility, we'll certainly be happy to let you in," replied Mayor Wilson. While visiting with the Mayor, she did let us inside the facility.

It was euthanasia day so the pens were close to empty.  Mayor Wilson says they are working to improve the operation, including posted signs, keeping water in the bowls for the dogs and better access.  But one week after our interview, and after claims they would start making an effort to improve the facility, Melodie tried again to adopt a puppy on euthanasia day.

"You tried to adopt another dog, but (you were) denied access. Right?" asked NewsChannel 11.  "Completely. Sgt. Lopez let me fill out the paper work. It was almost two. The dogs had already been taken to the vet's office. I knew time was of the essence," said Melodie.

Melodie said Sgt Lopez wouldn't let her have the puppy until someone was able to check out her home. That was their policy. But with no one home, Melodie would have had to drive back to Lubbock to let someone in. She said she left frustrated, leaving the puppy behind.  "I do believe they were all killed," she said.

Melodie didn't know she had until 5 p.m. that day to get the puppy because, she says, Sgt. Lopez didn't let her know that. When we called Lopez to ask him about that, he said he didn't have Melodie's phone number even though she has already adopted a dog there before.

New procedures at the facility were supposed to begin October 1st, but the Mayor told us they have been pushed back because the policies aren't ready yet.  If you would like to save a life at the animal shelter in Slaton, call the Slaton Police Department at 828-2020.

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