A comprehensive report of the investigation’s findings was turned over to the district attorney’s office Thursday. After review, Calhoun County District Attorney Brian McVeigh said he will decide whether further investigation is needed in the case.
“We have tried to talk to everybody who has or believes they have information we need to have,” said Sheriff Larry Amerson, whose office is investigating the allegations. “Since we have no other people to interview at this time, we’re turning over the information that we have.”
Amerson said the two investigators assigned to the case interviewed nearly two dozen people since the claims of abuse at the county-operated facility were reported in December at a Calhoun County Commission meeting. There might be more people to talk to, Amerson said.
“That door is still open,” he said. “Some of the people who have spoken to us in the investigation have told us that there were more people out there that had information.”
The investigation began after two people filed complaints with the Sheriff’s Office days after animal rights supporters leveled allegations of animal cruelty against control center employees. According to those who made the allegations, the control center euthanized animals improperly and maintained unkempt kennels.
The director of the control center, Charles McDonald, has said he’s never participated in or witnessed any abuse at the center. He said in December that if any abuse was detected, he would “take action.”
Calhoun County Commissioner Eli Henderson said he has no reason to believe the investigation will yield criminal charges. He also said the commission is taking proactive steps to ensure no unreported problems occur at the facility in the future.
Two of the steps the commission will consider are creating a five-member board to oversee the control center and adding security cameras in the facility, Henderson said.
Amerson said the investigation was unusual because of the subject matter. Unfamiliar with the animal abuse laws that would be violated if the allegations were accurate, the Sheriff’s Office consulted outside sources.
“We have taken this investigation very seriously,” Amerson said. “Allegations have been made of torture of animals and abuse of animals, and we wanted to make sure we talked to all parties that may have evidence or information.”
Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544.