LaGrange police respond to animal shelter accusations

Published 10:00 am Friday, January 27, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By: Olivia Johnson

A social media post accusing the LaGrange Animal Shelter of poor conditions — and a claim that a dog died just hours after adoption due to parvovirus — has made the rounds on Facebook this week.

The post has over 200 shares and the LaGrange Police Department, which oversees the shelter, responded it to point-by-point.

Email newsletter signup

The post was made by Jordan Morris, who says she adopted a puppy from the shelter who died approximately four hours later. She said the dog died of parvovirus (Parvo), though at this point the animal’s cause of death is unknown.

Morris said upon adopting the dog, she noticed its breathing was raspy, and she assumed the dog had kennel cough. She said she tried to schedule an emergency vet appointment and was unsuccessful.

“When we got home, we got some Pedialyte as the vet told us to do because nobody could get us in,” Morris said. “The Pedialyte was to rehydrate him as his nose was dry and his gums were so white that they were turning purple. We started giving him the Pedialyte when he started squirting a puddle of blood out of his rear end. I knew either it was something more serious or the Pedialyte was doing its job — I wasn’t really sure.”

Morris said there were plans to take the dog to the vet the next day, but it died before that could happen.

Morris said after the incident occurred, she called her mom, who looked up the symptoms of Parvo and concluded that’s what the dog died of.

“If it wasn’t Parvo, then I’m not sure, but I’m 99% sure it was for Parvo,” Morris said.

The LPD said in a press release that the notification of Morris’ Parvo accusation was made to the regional Department of Agriculture Inspector, along with a request for an immediate inspection of the facility.

On the advice of a consulting veterinarian, all dogs still in the shelter are now under two-week quarantine for observation.

All dogs in the shelter’s care, including the dog in question, undergo SNAP testing for Parvo upon its arrival. Parvo typically takes up to 5 to 7 days before symptoms develop, this animal displayed no signs of the virus even on the day of its adoption, according to the press release.

Captain Mike Pheil said the shelter works actively with the State Department of Agriculture, especially when it comes to Parvo because its contagiousness.

“If we have an outbreak, the state will shut us down, so we work diligently to control and identify it as soon as it pops up,” Pheil said. “We called them, told them what was going on and asked them to come make sure we’re not missing anything. To my understanding, they will be coming Thursday.”

In the same Facebook post, Morris alleged that many of the dogs in the shelter were malnourished and living in unsuitable conditions.

The LPD said footage taken from the incident disproved Morris’ claims of animals being beaten or terrified of the staff, another claim she made.

According to the press release, many dogs that come into the shelter are unhealthy and malnourished, however, staff members routinely work with a local veterinarian who assesses and provides guidance on the medical and nutritional needs of animals that show signs of distress.

“We work really hard to maintain a good healthy environment in the shelter. If people have concerns. Please call me and give me an opportunity to look into a concern,” Pheil said. “We want to be transparent and be an active part of this community in dealing with the domestic animal issues.”

According to the press release, a review of the video did show one employee using a long-handled floor squeegee in an attempt to guide a young puppy from beneath the kennel that was mounted several inches off of the floor. 

A second employee was seen taking a catchpole from the citizen, who was working with the first employee to coax the animal from under the kennel and used it to gently guide the animal from its hiding spot.

Pheil encouraged residents to adopt animals from the shelter.

“Adopting a pet will help us reduce the overpopulation that we’re continually dealing with,” Pheil said. “It’ll give these animals a forever home and that’s our purpose. We want to move these animals into an environment where they’re happy and healthy, long term.”

Morris said she didn’t plan to adopt an animal at first but felt the behaviors of some of the dogs in the shelter weren’t normal.

“I saw some of the dogs have their tails tucked and wouldn’t even come to me and that wasn’t normal. I’ve never had a dog not come to me,” Morris said. “I was concerned about it, and then when I went to the back room and I saw dogs who had blood in their kennels, malnourished and I said to myself, I’m not leaving here without at least saving one dog.”

Morris said she initially adopted the dog at 2:30 p.m. by 5 p.m. it had died.

“Animal control called me yesterday and asked for the dog’s body and I didn’t want to give them the dog’s body, but we gave it to them so they could do an autopsy on it to see what caused the death,” Morris said. “Results should be coming soon.”

Morris said after the dog died, she wanted to try to save another dog and adopt.

“I saw a lot of people say do your part and help the dogs. I’m trying to help the dogs, but I, unfortunately, cannot save all of them, especially if there is a Parvo outbreak, and they just won’t admit that,” Morris said