City moves for more change at Amarillo Animal Control

Next Tuesday city commissioners will vote to pass the two ordinances concerning Amarillo Animal Control.

The controversy continues nearly two months after the director and assistant director of Amarillo Animal Control were both placed on paid administrative leave.

Tuesday, city commissioners passed the first reading for two ordinances that will clarify state laws already in place about tethering, food, water and shelter and the inhumane treatment of animals. One ordinance also clarified the authority Animal Control officers have to enforce these codes, along with peace officers.

City Attorney Marcus Norris said that both ordinances needed more clarification for officers, and the public.

"It's always difficult when someone says laws aren't being enforced," Norris said. "You almost have to look at a case-by-case basis."

And although some residents are pleased with the improvements at animal control, others say the root of the problem lies with two city employees still on administrative leave. Mike McGee and Shannon Barlow were removed April 11, 2014. Mayor Paul Harpole said it's normal for city employees to remain on paid leave while the issue is under investigation, but even when it is complete residents still want them gone.

"They are the people who have allowed the conditions at that shelter to get so bad for so many years," Shea White said.

"No, no no, I can't even imagine if they get to come back, I mean it's going to be an outrage, it really is," Stephanie Lynn Cook said.

Just weeks ago residents presented the city commission with a petition of more than 5,200 signatures, demanding the city terminate McGee and Barlow, but that hasn't happened. But residents say they won't give up.

"I mean they sit there on leave, so they don't need to be paid for it because this is actually the killing of animals, and who should get paid for that," Cook said.