“City officials are continuing to work with the state regarding the review [of policies] and will provide the results of the investigation upon its completion,” said Cory Stottlemyer, Missouri City media relations specialist.
Animal shelter volunteer Valerie Tolman said the city tightened shelter regulations and set specific times for when volunteers may arrive and work, limiting them to two hours per shift.
Volunteers may arrive at the shelter Monday through Friday at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Stottlemyer said. They may also volunteer Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. These set times are to ensure efficiency and security.
An administrative assistant from the Missouri City Public Works Department has been relocated to the Animal Services Department and will remain in the office during operational hours when the animal control officers are responding to calls, Stottlemyer said.
City staffers also confiscated medications used to treat animals because an internal audit revealed expired prescription drugs and alleged controlled substances were stored at the shelter by volunteers, according to a statement released by the city in December.
Tolman said the medications were obtained by the volunteers legally.
After continuous vet visits and observations, volunteers became adept at identifying the symptoms and began treating the animals with leftover prescriptions, which were pooled together and not for a specific dog, Tolman said. It was an issue of cost, and volunteers were paying for the medical treatments, she said.
“A vet’s still prescribing it, and we were under a vet’s supervision, but we were not taking each individual dog to the vet, which is what the city says they object to,” she said.
The volunteers privately raised the money for medical procedures and treatments and could not buy each animal his or her own prescriptions, Tolman said. Because volunteers are no longer allowed to medicate or treat these animals, it has caused delays in treatment and brought down the quality of care they receive, she said.
“Staff continue to take any sick shelter animals to the veterinarian when necessary for care,” Stottlemyer said.
Tolman said she was also told the city is no longer using test kits from medical technology company Abaxis to diagnose heart worms for dogs. Previously, the volunteers bought the kits, and the animal control officers would administer and run the tests, she said.
Early detection kits are not easy to use and, if not administered properly, may lead to inaccurate test results, Public Works Director Shashi Kumar said.
“It was strongly recommended that heartworm tests be administered by a veterinarian, or a veterinary technician,” he said. “As such, in the interim, the city will purchase the test kits and have it administered by our vet. Staff is already working towards this.”
Tolman said volunteers will attend future City Council meetings as staff continues reviewing policies regarding its municipal volunteer program.