STANTON, Mich. (WOOD) - It might have been Jim Woudenberg's penchant for secrecy thatkilled his contract with Montcalm County.
For 30 years, his family business, R&R Research, had thepick of dogs from the county animal shelter, which he would sell toresearch facilities for animal testing. In exchange, he provided afree service to the county, disposal of euthanized animalcarcasses.
But throughout the years, citizens questioned this practice.Finally, they pressured the county board into creating a citizenspanel to look into operation of the shelter.
On Monday, the panel presented its far-reaching proposal. Itscenterpiece was the recommendation to kill Woudenberg'scontract.
It gave the county board enough reason to end the contract byoutlining instances in which Woudenberg refused to cooperate withthe panel and refused to answer questions about how and where hedisposed of animals and carcasses.
The panel made the argument that such secrecy was improper in agovernment contract.
"He is unwilling and unable to detail his disposal locations,"panel member and veterinarian Randall Carpenter said. "This is notacceptable."
Woudenberg tried to maintain the contract.
"Your vote is legislating the closing of a business that's notfailing and not breaking laws," he said.
Still, the USDA is investigating Woudenberg for undisclosedreasons. He has a history of violations with the agency thatregulates the Class B animal dealer industry.
The county board voted 6-3 to end his contract. It will expireAug. 1.
County commissioners warned they might reconsider if promisesmade to help operate the shelter don't materialize.
Among those promises is citizen contributions, which would payfor cremation of euthanized animal carcasses. The contributionswould eliminate the need for Woudenberg's services.
However, although the contract was not renewed, animals stillwill go toward research. The panel recommended the shelter provideanimals directly to veterinary schools under specialconditions.
The panel's report also details a number of other ways toimprove the Montcalm shelter.
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