Iredell Animal Services director suspended

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Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013 4:08 pm

An anonymous letter, alleging improper euthanizations and the sale of impounded farm animals, has led to the suspension of Iredell County Animal Services Director Chris Royal.

Iredell County officials confirmed that Royal was suspended with pay pending an investigation but would not address specific allegations. A source said a preliminary disciplinary hearing was scheduled for Friday afternoon to determine if Royal should be fired.

County Manager Ron Smith was not in his office Friday afternoon to comment on the outcome of the hearing.

Deputy County Manager Tracy Jackson will head the animal services division in Royal’s absence.

Two sources with knowledge of the situation said that an anonymous letter, mailed to commissioners, county administration, law enforcement and the district attorney’s office, claimed Royal was selling impounded livestock — such as goats, pigs, etc. — for her own personal profit and that she ordered the euthanasia of animals that were not supposed to be put down. The letter also alleges that euthanasia records were doctored to make the department look more efficient.

Messages seeking comment from Royal were not returned as of Friday afternoon.

Iredell County Board of Commissioners Chairman Steve Johnson called the situation unfortunate.

“It is an embarrassment to the county,” he said.