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      Positive changes help close case on Wexford County Animal Shelter

      The state has closed it's investigation of the Wexford County Animal Shelter.

      The investigation began in January when there were accusations that the shelter was using inhumane euthanasia practices. The State Veterinarian was not able to conclude that any animals were inhumanely euthanized, but The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development required the shelter to make some changes as a result of the investigation.

      The shelter faced fines of $2,100 which included:

      * $1,000 for improper record keeping.

      * $1,000 for not seeking the services of a veterinarian.

      * $100 for not keeping appropriate statistical data and supplying in to the state.

      After the changes were made the fine was reduced to $1,600.

      The shelter purchased new equipment, including a digital scale for accurate weighing, new cat cages and examination tables. The shelter also updated computer software in order to help keep better track of the animals and their records, along with adding some additional training for the Animal Control Officers.

      "It's business as normal with a little bit more hands on involvement by myself, reporting directly to the Sheriff more, myself and the administrative lieutenant," said Wexford County Undersheriff Trent Taylor.

      "I think they are great changes," said 35-year volunteer, Judy Nichols. "I think the willingness of the Sheriff's Department to allow us to come in as freely as we do and allows us to build a great network of volunteers has been wonderful."

      The changes have also led to more volunteers who are donating their time and money to the improvement of the facility and the care of the animals. The Wexford County Sheriff's Department reports that 19 volunteers are currently working at the shelter.

      "My overall outlook is great," said Nichols. "Maybe it's because I'm here everyday and I see the positive things. I see the respect that we get from the ACO's and from the staff and I see how people are working together."

      State Veterinarian, Dr. James Averill says that despite the investigation being closed, they will be conducting a follow up inspection in the next few months.

      The Wexford County Prosecutor also launched its own investigation into the shelter and says that they expect to release results and recommendations in the coming days.