- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Six months after the director of the Hutchinson Animal Shelter resigned amid a disagreement over use of inmate labor, the city is still looking for his replacement.

Former shelter director Richard Havens resigned earlier this year, The Hutchinson News (https://bit.ly/1FWjesX ) reported. He had complained that inmates from the Hutchinson Correctional Facility who worked at the shelter were unreliable, made sexually suggestive remarks to female workers and tried to smuggle contraband through the shelter to the prison.

City officials discussed returning inmates to the shelter but it hasn’t happened yet. All four technicians working in the months before and after Havens resigned have left the shelter and been replaced.

Police Lt. John Taylor, who is overseeing the shelter, said he wants a new director hired before any decision on inmate labor is made. He said earlier this month that the city is up to its third round of applicants and interviews.

“We just haven’t found the right fit for us, we believe,” he said. “We’re diligently looking.”

He said if inmate labor does return, prison officials have indicated they would allow the shelter to use work-release inmates and that the city would be responsible for paying them as employees, unlike before.

In the meantime, Taylor said the shelter has hired a part-time employee to help with cleaning at the shelter. Sanitation is important because the number of animals kept in close quarters at the shelter significantly raises the risk of disease spreading among the animals.

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, https://www.hutchnews.com


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