Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin issued a memorandum Tuesday to City Council members shedding light on the investigation of the supervisor of the city’s Animal Control unit.
The letter to council members came more than three weeks after the police department placed Killeen Animal Control Supervisor Stacie Sherva on administrative leave while the department conducts an internal investigation of Animal Control.
In the memorandum, Baldwin said he chose to have police Commander Lee Caufield take over supervision of Animal Control and the city’s animal shelter because complaints against Sherva did not originate within the staff.
“Because of the allegations made, and the fact that no employee under Mrs. Sherva’s supervision reported their concerns to their chain-of-command, I felt it necessary to look outside of the animal control unit to fill the Interim animal control manager position,” Baldwin wrote.
The unit was under Caufield’s chain of command; however, the commander did not oversee day-to-day operations at the shelter. Since Sherva was placed on paid administrative leave, Caufield has been reassigned from Killeen Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit to the shelter.
Several days after Sherva’s removal, KPD issued a news release indicating Sherva may have broken policy for the proper care of animals.
Over the past few years, the Killeen Daily Herald has heard numerous concerns voiced by area residents about pets up for adoption at the facility.
Killeen resident Cicely Tillman rescued a 4-month-old pit bull mix from the shelter in late May. At the shelter, she noticed a skin condition on the dog, and asked staff about it. She said an employee told her the dog was suffering from a rash that would be cured with a bath.
The skin condition turned out to be mange, a skin disease caused by mites. After multiple visits to a veterinarian and more than $500 of her own money spent, her dog Prince is now a healthy part of her family.
“He was worth it because he is a major part of our lives,” Tillman said. “I could have easily taken him back and said, ‘This dog is sick.’”
In Baldwin’s memo, he stated the department has taken steps to rearrange how animals are stored at the shelter to separate stray animals from adoption-ready animals to reduce disease exposure.
Other goals outlined in Baldwin’s memo to the council included increased supervision of personnel at the shelter, new equipment to trap stray animals, a stricter cleaning schedule of the shelter, rebuilding relationships with other animal rescue facilities or agencies, and better record keeping of the intake of animals and any treatment performed while in custody.
Baldwin apologized for not allowing the Herald to photograph conditions at the shelter last week. KPD permitted a photographer to take photos inside the shelter Wednesday.