CENTERTON — Police said they are investigating whether the former director of the Centerton Animal Shelter committed animal cruelty when he euthanized two dogs after a short stay at the shelter.
Brian Rabal, city attorney, confirmed the director — identified on the city’s website as Cody Wilson — was fired for killing the two dogs, and police are conducting a criminal investigation.
Mayor Bill Edwards said in an email he was contacted by a resident Nov. 17 about two dogs being euthanized the previous day at the shelter. He said he had the city’s human resources department inquire about the incident.
The dogs were placed in two separate kennels at the shelter a few hours after it received them from the Cave Springs Police Department, Edwards said. Shortly thereafter, the dogs damaged the indoor kennels, he said.
The dogs were placed outside and damaged the outdoor kennel, he said. Wilson decided to euthanize the two dogs the following morning for acting in a destructive manner, Edwards said.
Capt. Christopher Kelley of the Police Department said Wilson was suspended Nov. 17 and fired on Nov. 22. He said city officials believe there were other options available besides killing the animals.
The investigation determined the dogs were not euthanized in accordance with city policy, Rabal said.
The shelter contracts with Bentonville, Cave Springs and Highfill, Kelley said.
Edwards has placed the shelter under the Police Department’s supervision, Kelley said.
“There will be no other euthanizations at the shelter,” he said. If any euthanizations are necessary, the animals will be taken to a veterinarian’s clinic, Kelley said.
The city’s ordinance does allow animals to be euthanized for safety or health reasons. Kelley said he had not heard of any other dogs being killed under circumstances similar to last month’s incidents.
“I am not aware of any previous shelter administration issues,” Kelley, who has worked for the Police Department for three years, said. “The director has been the same over the course of my employment with the city. I don’t know of any reported issues before now.”
Kelley did not have a time frame for the investigation to be completed. Detectives were conducting interviews on Thursday, he said.
If detectives determine misdemeanor offenses were committed, the file will be sent to Rabal. If they believe felony offenses were committed, the file will be sent to the Benton County prosecuting attorney’s office, Kelley said.
Wilson last month received a five-year service award for working for the city, according to a city Facebook post on Nov. 10.
He did not respond to a request for comment sent to him via Facebook.
Lt. Keith Lawson of the Cave Springs Police Department said the dogs were found Nov. 9. They were kept for seven days at the Cave Springs police station until they were taken on Nov. 16 to the Centerton shelter, he said.
Photographs of the dogs were posted on the department’s Facebook page in an attempt to locate the owner of the dogs. The dogs did not have collars and were not microchipped, Lawson said.
He described the dogs as friendly. Lawson said he and other employees gave the dogs water and food. The dogs did not damage anything at the department, he said.
“We had them for a week and didn’t have any issues,” Lawson said.
The dogs were taken to the shelter with the hope their owners would be found or they would be adopted, Lawson said.