|Former ACO charged with 12 counts of animal abuse|
|Written by Chris Case|
|Wednesday, 11 July 2012 16:42|
Misdemeanor charges stem from Highway Patrol investigation
A year after being fired as Cuba’s animal control officer for failing to perform his duties effectively, Jeff Bouse is in hot water again. This time, he faces criminal charges from the county prosecutor’s office—24 of them in all—for animal abuse and tampering with public records. The charges stem from a Missouri State Highway Patrol investigation that concluded in June.
According to a highway patrol report filed by Sgt. D.E. Taylor, Bouse failed to take care of the animals under his watch as animal control officer during a 72-hour period beginning July 26, 2011. Bouse claims he was ordered by two supervisors not to care for the dogs in the pound while he was reading utility meters on the last three business days of that month.
While Bouse maintains his innocence, saying he was only doing what he was told to do out of fear of losing his job if he disobeyed, the patrolman’s investigation did not find any evidence to support Bouse’s claims. Numerous witnesses interviewed during the investigation—employees at public works, the police department, and elected officials at city hall—indicated Bouse failed to perform his duties. No one would corroborate Bouse’s statement that he would be fired if he visited the animal shelter facility during the three days of reading meters at the end of the month.
A city alderman instructed Bouse to do a minimum of cleaning and feeding at the pound during meter reading days, and the alderman stated Bouse agreed to do so. Bouse told the investigating officer that he did agree to clean the pound but was later ordered by a supervisor (Bob Baldwin, public works director) not to perform his duties at the shelter. Baldwin denied making such a statement to Bouse.
“Based on this investigation,” Sgt. Taylor wrote in his report filed with the circuit court, “it was determined by numerous sources, including a representative of the Department of Agriculture and the undersigned officer who heard Bouse admit, during a post-Miranda interview, that the dogs (twelve dogs, including seven adult and five young dogs) in the Cuba Animal Shelter were not cared for as required by the Department of Agriculture. Bouse himself described the conditions as deplorable.”
The health inspection conducted last summer that resulted in Bouse’s firing was done with Bouse present as animal control officer, and he signed off on the officer’s report of the incident where animals were found unfed and caged in their own excrement and urine. The dogs were believed to have been left unattended for three days. Several of the dogs were covered with their own urine and feces due to unsanitary cages.
The report noted that Bouse told the shelter inspector he had been temporarily reassigned to read meters and as a result the kennels had not been cleaned for several days.
Bouse lost his position as animal control officer last summer during a closed city council session on August 2. Their decision was unanimous.
“It’s simple, as far as I’m concerned,” said Alderman Don Conaway after the termination. “We had a state (dog pound) inspection and it failed. He didn’t do what he said he was going to do (as animal control officer). He didn’t clean the pound like he was supposed to.”
On the day following Bouse’s firing, other city employees and a volunteer for the animal shelter witnessed poor living conditions inside the facility, with multiple days of accumulated excrement in the cages and animals suffering from the parvovirus. Three of the dogs were euthanized and a fourth later died due to parvovirus.
There was additional indication that Bouse had not attended the city shelter during his meter reading days at the end of June, as well, when photographs of the shelter conditions were taken at that time. Bouse freely admitted to the investigating patrolman that he had not cared for the animals during that period while he was reading utility meters.
Bouse has been charged with 12 counts of class A misdemeanor animal abuse as a result of the ongoing investigation. He has also been charged with 12 counts of class A misdemeanor tampering with a public record. Authorities say Bouse tampered with the animal shelter’s official records in an effort to “impair their availability.” Cage records and other documents were found to be missing from the shelter during a follow-up inspection by the Department of Agriculture last August, soon after Bouse was terminated from his job.
He has denied having taken any records from the city pound and maintains his innocence.
Editor's Note: Jeffrey P. Bouse, age 44, the former Cuba animal control officer charged in connection with this investigation, is not the Jeff Bouse who owns and operates Hayes Shoe Store in Cuba.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 12 July 2012 17:10|