Animal control officer tells his side, but it’s not enough to save his job
Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2008 9:53 pm
The Union City Police Department animal control officer connected with the death of a local family’s dog will lose his job, but no criminal charges will be filed at this time.
Police Chief Joe Garner in-formed The Messenger Wednesday that Darrell E. Baty, who had been employed with the department as the animal control officer, has been informed that he is suspended without pay and will be terminated after seven days. His suspension without pay began Tuesday, therefore making his termination date July 1. Baty had been suspended with pay during the investigation, which was instigated when he went outside the city limits June 11 to pick up two dogs which he had been told were strays. The dogs were then euthanized less than 12 hours later, which violates city policy in regard to the animal shelter.
Baty has the right to appeal in writing to the personnel advisory board within 10 days of disciplinary action.
Garner said the investigation revealed that there was no malicious intent on the part of Baty but, because he did violate policy, he will be terminated. The chief said in addition to responding outside the city limits, he failed to notify his supervisor that he was leaving the city limits and failed to check out on his radio with the dispatcher. He also reportedly informed Tim Doyle, animal shelter operator, that since the two dogs had been picked up in the county they could be euthanized the following day.
Garner said the case will probably be a civil matter, though a copy of the report will be given to the attorney general for review.
Baty, according to the investigative report, was called to the police department by patrolman Danny Carr, who was working dispatch at that time. Carr informed Baty that he had received a call from a male subject who worked at the horse stables on Walker Tanner Road and that someone had dropped off two dogs and he wanted the dog catcher to pick them up. Carr told the investigative officer that he relayed the message to Baty due to the fact that the stables are just outside the city limits. Baty agreed to check on it, but then apparently never checked in with dispatch. Carr said he did not do a call of service because the location is outside the city limits.
The male subject, identified as Robert Morill, told the investigator that he did call the police to pick up the dogs. He went on to say in his statement that when Baty arrived, “He said that he wasn’t suppose to be out here and he would lose his job and that he would put a Union City address, not Formac Stables.”
Morrill, who said he has
worked at the stables for more than three months, told investigators that he had “never seen either of the dogs before.” He added that he had just gotten Max, the stable dog, from the vet and that he was looking out for his daughter, the horses, Max and everybody when he decided to call the police about the dog catcher.
Baty wrote in his report to the investigator that Carr notified him of the call concerning two puppies being dropped off on Walker Tanner Road by Formac Stables. “My thinking at the time was that this is ‘just’ outside the city limits, but there are two K-9 puppies that have been abandoned and it was going to be a hot day. My decision again to proceed to this location was that it was just outside the city limits and as an animal control officer it’s not only my job to just pick up strays and any animals running at large but also to protect and care for them.”
He continued by stating that once he arrived, he at no time drove into the stable area or went behind the wooden fence. He said upon his arrival he had to get out of his truck, walk up to the entrance and holler to get someone’s attention. It was at this time he saw a female, later described as the wife of Morrill. She told him that she had “seen a woman in a van drop off the two K-9s. ... So my immediate thinking was even though I’m really not supposed to be out here, which I did tell the people that, I might as well pick up and take the K-9s to the animal shelter. At no time was there ever any malicious intent on my part to harm or transport these two K-9s in order to destroy them.”
Baty continued by stating that Morrill and the woman helped him catch the two dogs and place them in the truck. “At no time did I ever tell them that I would use a different address on any paperwork. I had no reason to mention paperwork to them. My impoundment paperwork shows 0907 hours that the K-9s were picked up by me,” Baty wrote.
Baty then informed the investigative officer of a German Shepherd mix, grayish white in color, he picked up at the Food Plaza on East Reelfoot Avenue shortly thereafter. It is this dog which escaped from Baty at the animal shelter and he later confused with the one belonging to Rodger and Wanda Tanner when she spoke with him about her dog on June 12. He stated when he realized her dog was not in the shelter, he contacted Doyle and let him know. They then realized that the Tanners’ dog “had been put down.”
Baty said after the German Shephard escaped, he was able to take the other two dogs into the shelter, where they were given food and water and where he made sure the pens were “clean and serviceable.” He said he used an Avid scanner to check to see if either K-9 had been microchipped and that none was detected in either dog. “After both K-9s were put in the animal shelter, I did tell Tim Doyle that I had just brought in two K-9s from the county and he could probably go ahead and put them down in the morning. At that time, I had no idea that the same applies to all the animals, no matter where they came from. I always ensured that all the K-9s picked up in the city are kept the minimum number of days required.”
Mrs. Tanner was contacted and asked to go to the animal shelter, where Baty and Doyle tried to explain what had happened. Doyle told her the dog had been put down by mistake and that it was not possible for her to have the dog’s body because it had already been taken to Barker Brothers for disposal in the landfill. “Wanda Tanner then got up mad and stormed out to her car. I followed her out and tried my best to talk to her and she would have none of it. She told me that I had lied and that I would pay. I again tried to explain, but she would not listen,” Baty wrote in his statement.
The officer said he then called assistant chief Perry Barfield, who was out of town, and informed him of the incident. He said Barfield told him to get the “call for service” number and write a statement of what happened and slide it under his door. Baty said he went to Connie Hoffman at the police department and told her he needed the call for service number but she could not find one. She then, at his request, assigned a CFS number and noted the address at 2100 Walker Tanner Road. He noted in his statement that this was not the correct address and that the CFS number actually showed the wrong day and time, but that Mrs. Hoffman explained that she was unable to assign a time and date for a previous day.
Mrs. Hoffman explained in her statement that when she was typing the CFS for Baty he told her first to put an address for the Hampton Inn, but then changed it to Walker Tanner Road. She said she told him there was only about a block of Walker Tanner Road in Union City that he said “OK” and that is why she put 2100 Walker Tanner Road. She said she told him “if this was wrong to fix it. ... I then told him I couldn’t change the date. If it wasn’t today, he needed to put that in the narrative along with what time it was.”
A copy of the report was later given to Kathy Dillion, who is filling in for city manager Don Thornton while he is on sick leave.
Doyle told the investigator that his records on June 17 did not show the two Formac pick ups as destroyed and that it was an “oversight.” “As to why the dogs were put down, I did not look at the impound date and I did not double check it for the date. I had a lot of business going on and it was very busy and I made an honest mistake.”
Doyle has since asked to terminate the contract he has with the city.
Published in The Messenger 6.26.08