By CJ Cassidy
CHARLESTON, MO (KFVS) - A local animal rescue group says their eye-opening investigation could put Charleston City leaders in the hot seat.
In the wake of that investigation, Charleston Police shut down the city pound.
Members of the SEMO Animal Rescue Group say they saw the most horrific conditions inside the city operated dog pound and they decided to do something about it.
Now the chief of police, who oversees the pound finds himself in the dog house, and folks Heartland News spoke with say his efforts to make amends come a little too late.
Here's what members of the group say about conditions inside the pound:
"They were horrendous. They were soaking in their urine, two small dogs were in the cage together covered in feces."
Alanna Downey heads the group, and says she posted the photographs she took online, raising cries of protests from animal lovers across the country.
"There were multiple slabs of meat in the large dogs cage. Raw meat. They had a bluish purple tint to some of them," Downey said.
"We feed the dogs dog food. But we have been giving them raw meat on and off for years as a treat," Police Chief Robert Hearnes said.
For now the pound is empty, shut down pending an investigation by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
Authorities there say the city did not have a license to operate the pound and that is a violation of state law.
Another Charleston resident says it's about time someone's stepping up to speak up for the animals.
He says he found his dog in a pit, one day after the animal went missing.
"He had been shot," Jesse Alexander said. "You could see scratch marks where they throwed the dog in the hole and shot him."
Chief Hearnes said earlier in the day the city buried the dogs they shot. However he would not return calls to confirm if the junk pit Heartland News found is where the dogs are tossed into, but we did spot two partially burned dog carcasses inside.
Alanna Downey says that's the kind of problem she hopes to change.
"The chief of police is being put in the spotlight and he's got to account for what he's done," Downey said. "To say he didn't know what was going on, I don't believe that for a second. If he didn't know, how is he running this city?"
The Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis came in and placed the other dogs at the pound, at nearby shelters. They say Chief Hearnes has been more than willing to work with them.
Authorities at the Missouri Department of Agriculture say once they wrap up their investigation it will be up to the Mississippi County prosecutor to decide whether to file charges against the city.
Under Missouri law, those who operate shelters, pounds, kennels must euthanize animals under guidelines governed by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The law says they also have to provide their animals with proper shelter, food and healthcare, as well as pay an annual license fee and be subject to inspections at least once a year.