DEA, state officials investigate controversial Chicago Ridge animal shelter

CHICAGO RIDGE, Ill. -- Federal and state investigators made an on-sight inspection of the controversial Animal Welfare League in suburban Chicago Ridge on Tuesday.

Demonstrators were also at the shelter on Tuesday to once again demand a change in leadership.

DEA agents and state investigators were questioning the director, Linda Estrada, and her staff.

In a written statement, Estrada said the day went well.

Sources said authorities were pouring over dog logs, euthanasia records and medical records.

The staff at the Animal Welfare League has been under fire. The shelter has been accused of giving animals lethal doses of medications—confirmed by necropsies done by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

One of Shannon Gaglione’s foster pit bulls was given seven different antibiotics after surgery to remove a harness imbedded in his body.

“Amikacin is very strong, chloramphenicol is rarely used and can be fatal to the animal and also the person that’s handling it,” she said.

The Animal Welfare League is also accused of not having full and detailed documents. One document had no information about a hernia surgery a dog had, who performed it or who approved medications.

Crystal Broccardo worked or volunteered at the shelter for 21 years. She just quit a month ago.

She said vets stayed on the clinic side where they performed low cost surgeries and exams. She said there was never a vet on the shelter side.

And while Estrada says the Animal Welfare League has passed every Department of Agriculture inspection, there are photos that appear to show unsanitary and neglectful conditions.

“The number one thing that we want to see is reform. we want Linda out and we want the board removed,” Nikki Ormsby, a member of Animal Welfare League Reform, said.

City officials told WGN that Chicago Ridge police are investigating the disappearance of thousands of dollars-worth of Heartgard, a heartworm medicine, reported stolen over the weekend.

The attorney for the Animal Welfare League told WGN in part: “The Animal Welfare League is Chicago’s oldest shelter. In the past 10 years, we have taken in approximately 150,000 animals. The DEA was at one of our clinics today as part of an inspection they are entitled to do by law.”

There is also still an open Department of Agriculture investigation.