Animal Control officer fired after Lawrence police find malnourished dogs at shelter

Police angered by neglect; two dogs found dead

LAWRENCE, Ind. - While investigators were responding to a report of vandalism at a Lawrence animal shelter, they said they discovered they had a lot more than vandalism on their hands: Many dogs were malnourished and a couple were already dead.

It's a story RTV6 broke Wednesday evening.

The Lawrence Police Department said the deputy police chief headed to the Lawrence Animal Control shelter to investigate some reported vandalism.

However when deputy chief Greg Swingle scoped out the shelter, he said he was very upset to find the animals -- mostly dogs -- were in poor condition. Swingle said two dogs were already dead.

Swingle said many of the dogs were malnourished. He and the police chief decided to suspend Lawrence Animal Control Officer Andy Ross, who was later fired.

"They were in poor condition. They had bodily waste on them from being in the kennel," Police Chief Michael Walton said. "They were obviously underfed, and it was just nasty all the way around."

Now, Swingle says the shelter is under the jurisdiction of the police department. He said the department will not "stand for these sorts of conditions" at the shelter.

Swingle said he was at the shelter cleaning until 3 a.m. Thursday, and it is now ready to house the dogs again.

"We have it set up where there is supposed to be daily contact with the animals," said Police Chief Mike Walton. "They get fed, cleaned, watered, everything should be done every day, and that just wasn't happening."

Swingle said there's no question in his mind the animals were being neglected.

"To me, yes ... if you don't feed a dog each day, or twice a day, they're being neglected," Swingle said.

A state veterinarian examined the dogs Thursday and decided to allow the Lawrence shelter to house them for now, but no new animals will be taken in at the location because of a threat of parvovirus.

Lawrence police said the fired animal control officer has not been charged with a crime. The State Board of Animal Health will prepare a report on its findings in the shelter. Those findings were expected to be released next week.

Once the report comes back, Lawrence Police said they will take their findings to the Marion County Prosecutor to determine what charges -- if any -- should be filed in this case.

Some Lawrence residents like Mark Bristow think charges shouldn't be limited to Ross.

"For them to put it all on Andy Ross is, you know, it's not right because they're over him and they should be the ones taking a hit just like he is," Bristow said.

This is an ongoing story. Watch RTV6 and refresh this page for updates.

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