By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -
The Saginaw County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to terminate Kevin Wilken, the county's animal control director.
After spending nearly 2 1/2 hours in a closed session, Commissioner Jim Theisen made a motion to dismiss Wilken.
"In light of all the information we've received, with the investigations and Mr. Wilken, dismiss him of his duties as Saginaw Co. Animal Control director," Theisen announced to the board.
The motion got unanimous support by the board. This decision comes nearly six months after Wilken was placed on paid administrative leave.
"We have to have an effective animal control unit, and we don't feel under the direction of this animal control director that can happen," said Theisen.
Wilken was put on leave on Dec. 5, 2013, after a internal investigation found some possible wrongdoings. The Michigan Department of Agriculture then completed an investigation of its own and released the results earlier this month.
The state concluded the Saginaw County Animal Care Center had several violations, including improper animal adoption practices, issues with an animal's cage that led to its death and more than 80 instances where the shelter, under Wilken's leadership, euthanized dogs or cats improperly.
"We decided we needed to consider the facts, not anybody's opinion, anger, but the facts, and I think we got all the facts laid out today and the commission deliberated and did what they thought was best for the county," said Mike Hanley, the Saginaw County board president.
The county fired Wilken under the premise of "just cause." It's a case that's been closely watched by many people, including animal lovers.
"It infuriates me, I think that anybody that's put into position to care for something that's helpless like animals definitely should have compassion to the utmost," said Saginaw Co. resident Lindsey Schulz.
"I am happy, that way it's one step towards making the shelter better, whatever they end up doing with the shelter," said Saginaw Co. resident Mike Martinez.
Wilken declined comment Wednesday night.
The Saginaw County Board of Commissioners said they will begin the search for a new director.
Copyright 2014 WNEM (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved.
Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:57 AM EDT2014-07-30 09:57:07 GMT
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