Police are investigating an alleged dog abuse incident that took place at the Cheyenne Animal Shelter last week.

The alleged abuse took place on Wednesday, a day after the dog, a pit bull mix named Tanner, bit CAS employee Marissa Cox.

CAS President and CEO Bob Fecht reportedly ordered animal control officers to take Tanner outside, where the dog was pepper sprayed.

"I decided to do a controlled demonstration using the animal that everybody in this building was the most afraid of," Fecht told KGWN-TV.

"I was very scared that if we did not do something we could have this happen and the next time somebody might actually be killed by the animal," added Fecht.

"This was not a mere puppy bite and we're thankful we do not have to address what to do about an employee fatality," the CAS Board of Directors said in a statement released early this (Thursday) evening.

"Bob has made it very clear that the decision was made by him and he is the one who should face any ramifications," they added.

Police spokesman Officer Kevin Malatesta says the case has been assigned to a detective who's working to determine if a crime occurred and, if so, whether there's probable cause to bring forward any charges.

Below is the statement issued by the CAS Board of Directors:

The Cheyenne Animal Shelter (CAS) Board’s Administrative Committee is conducting an investigation into the very serious dog attack on a CAS Animal Care Supervisor and the animal cruelty accusations. The Shelter Board is committed to thoroughly understanding all the events that surrounded what happened last week. The committee has interviewed the employees and Animal Control Officers who have personal knowledge of the events. They have also interviewed the employees and former employees who made the allegations. Committee members are conducting research on various issues relevant to the incident. To make an informed decision we have to understand not only what happened, but why. Making an informed decision is the obligation the Shelter Board owes the Shelter, the animals it cares for, its staff and employees, generous donors and volunteers, and the public. The Shelter Board very clearly understands that it owes a duty to the Shelter community as a whole.

Last night, the Administrative Committee provided a comprehensive overview of the facts learned, to date, to the Animal Shelter Board and Animal Shelter Foundation Board during the investigation and what was still left to discover. Individual Board members and invited guests asked questions and suggested additional areas of inquiry. The Committee will continue to work to investigate those areas further. Upon completion of the investigation, the Shelter Board will consider all of the evidence and provide answers and make decisions in response to the incident and surrounding allegations. If everything goes as planned, we expect that process to be initiated early next week. Clearly, the Board works closely with CEO and President Bob Fecht. As a Board Member you come to respect the commitment a dedicated CEO has to the Animal Shelter, the animals, and particularly its human resources. After all, the Animal Shelter cannot accomplish anything without good people working there. Because of this, the initial allegations surrounding the incident with Tanner came as quite a shock, both in terms of the severity of the attack on the Shelter employee and the incident the next day. This was not a mere puppy bite and we’re thankful we do not have to address what to do about an employee fatality. The thought that Mr. Fecht would punish a dog in any way is so out of character with his years of service for CAS. The Board members initially told about the incident believed there was more to the story and proper Board notification procedures were followed. The Shelter Board has to learn all the facts before fairly and rationally addressing the incident. Even though we respect the selfless work Bob Fecht has done in the past it does not mean he is above reproach, nobody is. Bob has made it very clear that the decision was made by him and he is the one who should face any ramifications.

Please know that we hear you and appreciate the passion and compassion this community shows animals every day. Saving animals is the work of this shelter and the success stories are many. As an organization we strive for perfection at every level. Certainly we want to do things better today than yesterday.
As a Board, we ask that you give us the opportunity to conduct the full and fair review that this matter deserves. Shelter Board members are volunteers who do not receive any pay or other benefits for donated time. Board members join because, like you, they are passionate about animal welfare and want to ensure the best possible care is taken of shelter animals and that as many of the thousands of animals taken in each year have an opportunity to have a loving forever home. Cheyenne Animal Shelter Board of Directors quickly learn two things after joining the Board. One, the employees, staff, and volunteers at the Shelter are as committed to the mission of the organization as any group anywhere. The mission of the Cheyenne Animal Shelter is to enhance the quality of life for animals and people through compassion, respect and education. These individuals pull together as group to do more with less all with the goal of providing as many abandoned or surrendered animals as possible with new forever homes. They make tough decisions on a daily basis and do amazing work. The second thing learned is that Board members have accepted a volunteer position that is going to require a very large time commitment and require making some very tough decisions. Fortunately, CAS has a large diverse board that brings a lot of varied experience to the table. We want to assure everyone that we take these allegations very seriously and are working diligently to resolve and understand all the issues and ensure all processes and procedures are reviewed to ensure animal and staff safety. The Boards also take very seriously the responsibility it accepts by accepting all animals regardless of nature, behavior, breed, age, health or past circumstances and the risk that staff inherently take-on because of this policy. Ensuring the care and safety of all animals while in CAS’ care and the safety and well-being of the staff that keep the shelter running is of utmost importance.

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