Multiple residents addressed the Missouri City City Council to protest and inquire about the city’s animal services operations and its municipal volunteer program during Monday’s regular meeting.

Animal shelter volunteer Valerie Tolman said a dispute with Council Member Jerry Wyatt at a Dec. 4 meeting initiated changes in the volunteer program that tightened regulations, such as when and where volunteers may work and take photos of the animals. Tolman also said city staffers have seized medications used to treat animals.

“Now, the volunteers are worried the city is going to go back to their old policy from four years ago where animals that got sick with even treatable illnesses were put down,” she said. “I don’t understand what the city’s endgame is here.”

Staff members released a statement in response to public inquiries, saying certain items, including prescription medications, were being stored at the animal shelter.

A licensed veterinarian reviewed these drugs and identified several expired medications and alleged controlled substances, which were turned over to public safety officials, Media Relations Specialist Cory Stottlemyer said. Some medications like over-the-counter drugs have been released and are available to be picked up.

“All animals at the animal shelter are being treated responsibly,” Director of Communications Stacie Walker said. “Staff is making sure that they get not only medications that they need but if they need to see a veterinarian, they’re taking care of that as well. There is not a lapse in care or attention to detail at all.”

Several other residents questioned the city’s reasoning for restricting access and interfering with the volunteer program.

City officials have contacted the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, requesting an investigator be assigned to conduct a review of policies and procedures at the animal shelter, according to the city’s statement.

Other policies the city is reviewing includes the filming and photographing of animals, allowing these activities only in areas open to the public, City Manager Anthony Snipes said.

Specific times have been identified for when volunteers can arrive, and this is to ensure efficiency and security, Stottlemyer said, adding that this policy has always been in place.

“We’ve kind of had an agreement where volunteers can come and go, but we want to make sure that it’s really helpful for the staff members to have something consistent in place,” Stottlemyer said. “We want to be more consistent with our policy, and that’s across the board. We’re looking at the volunteer policies as a whole, not just in terms of the animal shelter but all city volunteers.”