Posted: Aug 24, 2012 6:14 PM by Maddie Garrett
A former Crowley city employee is facing animal cruelty charges Friday. City officials said he killed and possibly mutilated several dogs after being fired from the City of Crowley Animal Shelter earlier this week.
Police arrested 50-year-old Michael Edwards Thursday night. He's charged with three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, five counts of obstruction of justice and one count of malfeasance in office. He remains in the Acadia Parish Jail on $15,000 bond. But police said there could be more charges as the investigation moves outside of Crowley.
"Horrific, from the stand point of a former employee, a gentleman that was terminated Tuesday afternoon and then went on a little bit of a tear," said Crowley Mayor Greg Jones.
Jones said Edwards was an employee at the shelter since March. He was fired Tuesday for breaking shelter policies, which include handling adoptions.
"In one case, maybe improperly but in other cases, just like all the paperwork was there and someone didn't sign it," said Jones. "In hindsight, ok, maybe it was falsified."
But charges of killing animals and improperly disposing of their bodies came after the City fired Edwards.
Of the eight dogs found off a dirt road near the shelter, five were already dead from a dog fighting ring and were being kept at the shelter as evidence. The other three the mayor said, he believes Edwards killed Tuesday night.
"Killed and then mutilated possibly," said Jones. "So you've got counts of animal cruelty and counts of tampering with evidence which brings in the malfeasance charge."
Crowley Police Chief K.P. Gibson said they believe roughly a dozen more dogs were killed at the hands of Edwards and disposed of outside of the city of Crowley. He said they have found at least 10 to 20 dead canines with micro-chips from the City of Crowley Animal Shelter.
"One thing is the animals that were micro-chipped and discovered were logged as coming in and not going out, meaning to an owner, being adopted or even being euthanized the proper way," explained Gibson.
But how could so many dogs go unaccounted for? Mayor Jones has his suspicions...
"At this time we think he was doctoring some of the paper work," he answered.
All of this comes at a time when the shelter is trying to turn things around under new director Jehnna Leleux, who took over in June.
"(She) has made a lot of positive changes at the shelter. We've had LSU come out and they're helping us and I'd hate to see this set back a program that we've started making improvements on," said Jones.
Because of the investigation, the shelter needs to adopt out all remaining animals. Leleux said they will be at Tractor Supply in Crowley on Sunday afternoon, starting at 11:00 a.m.
There is a $25 dollar adoption fee. Leleux said all animals are vaccinated, de-wormed and have micro-chips. She said they hope to have the shelter back open early next weekend.
A point of clarification on this story: Thursday night, two independent sources, close to the animal relief effort, told us more than 200 dogs had been killed. Friday, Chief Gibson and Mayor Jones both said that number it is closer to 15 to 20 dogs killed. However, detectives are investigating whether more canine deaths could be connected to Edwards.