Whistleblower suit claims abuse, neglect at Genesee County Animal Control Department

GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. - The now-former deputy director of the Genesee County Animal Control Department has filed a lawsuit claiming the department repeatedly abused and neglected animals which were in its care since she was hired in January.

Karen Dombrowski claims she was fired unlawfully after she witnessed multiple incidents and brought them to her boss' attention. The lawsuit includes a detailed list of what she and her attorneys call "various practices and actions within the Animal Control department which were in violation of state and federal law."

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Examples given in the suit include puppies "falling down a drain hole in the garage floor of the facility shortly after their birth." Another dog was left in a cage at the animal control facility for seven months "without proper food, water and adequate exercise." A Shitzu dog was left in a cage at the facility garage for several hours and "suffered in the cold environment and from pain," according to the suit. Dombrowski claims the dog had to be euthanized because of the way it was treated at the facility.

The lawsuit continues: "On several occasions in her first two weeks of employment, (Dombrowski) found that all of the animals in the building were not receiving minimal care -- food, water and a clean crate -- on a daily basis. This minimal level of care is mandated by state statute."

There's even a claim in the suit that feral cats were being euthanized in a gas chamber. Gas chambers are not an illegal form of euthanasia in Michigan, contrary to what the suit claims. A bill (Senate Bill 354) which would have banned it failed to pass the House in 2013.

Finally, Dombrowski claims she was "repeatedly disrespected" by defendant Paul Wallace, the department's director, because she is a woman. She says she ultimately was fired Feb. 4 for pointing out the abuse and neglect and for brining it to her superior's attention.

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