BREAKING: Cheyenne Animal Shelter Board President Resigns; Fecht’s Future Unknown
5 P.M. UPDATE: The Laramie County District Attorney's Office still has yet to file charges in the case.
The board of the Cheyenne Animal Shelter accepted the resignation of President Chloe Illoway Wednesday night.
Illoway's resignation comes just three weeks after an 80 pound pit bull named Tanner was pepper sprayed at the direction of the shelter's CEO, Bob Fecht, a day after biting an employee.
Police investigated the incident and determined Fecht and animal control officers Eric Smale and Ryan Johnson "did commit animal abuse by unnecessarily tormenting the dog when it was sprayed with pepper spray."
They announced Wednesday morning they were recommending charges of misdemeanor animal abuse for the three, but as of Thursday morning the Laramie County District Attorney's Office had yet to file charges in the case.
The board discussed the recommended charges for Fecht, but because some members were not present, decided to continue the discussion about his future at a special meeting to be held in mid-October.
Fecht was suspended for 60 days without pay last week.
The Cheyenne Animal Shelter issued the following statement Thursday morning:
In response to recent allegations of animal abuse, the Cheyenne Animal Shelter Board of Directors approved major changes at its September 26 meeting.
The board accepted the resignation of President Chloe Illoway and named Tammy Maas the new President. Maas is a former Vice President of the Shelter’s Board of Directors and a retired Brigadier General.
Although Cheyenne Animal Shelter has never approved the use of pepper spray to subdue aggressive animals, individual animal control officers have sometimes used it to protect themselves. At the September 26 meeting, the board agreed to adopt alternative options for handling animals that have been implemented by interim CEO Phil Kiner. These steps include equipping animal care employees with tools such as water spray bottles, canned air and citronella, which are designed to harmlessly deter aggressive animals.
During the week of October 15, Cheyenne Animal Shelter staff will receive special training on how to safely and compassionately handle animals. The board also agreed to form a new committee to review all policies and procedures and determine where improvements can and should be made. This committee will include Certified Professional Dog Trainer Hud Darrah. Darrah is the former Director of Canine Education and Behavior for the Kansas City Pet Project and is an expert in training and educating shelter employees, animal control officers and volunteers on how to safely handle aggressive or injured dogs.
The board discussed the decision by the Cheyenne Police Department to recommend charges of misdemeanor animal abuse for Cheyenne Animal Shelter CEO Bob Fecht, who is currently suspended without pay, and two animal control officers after the recent incident involving the pepper spraying of a dog. Because some board members were not in attendance, the board decided to continue the discussion about Mr. Fecht’s future at a special meeting to be held in mid-October.
“We believe that these steps are the first in a long process that will begin to restore the trust we’ve lost and help us refocus on our mission,” said Tanya Hobson, a member of the Board of Directors. “We hope these steps will make it clear to the community that we are determined to earn back their trust.”
The Cheyenne Animal Shelter was founded nearly 45 years ago by a concerned group of local citizens eager to provide animal welfare services to the homeless and unwanted animals in the community. Each year, the Shelter cares for over 6,000 pets including puppies and kittens, cats and dogs, rabbits, birds and a variety of other critters. To learn more visit: https://www.cheyenneanimalshelter.org.