LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Metro Animal Services is working to improve how controlled substances are tracked after an audit revealed issues in documentation and inventory procedures.

LMAS Director Ozzy Gibson said the shelter took in around 7,500 animals last year, and 80 percent of them needed some sort of medical attention.

“I learned real quick we’re running a hospital here," Gibson said. "It’s not just a shelter.”

Taking care of sick or hurting animals or performing surgeries requires LMAS to handle strong drugs controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Each drug needs to be properly documented to minimize any risks of some going missing or getting stolen.

“When we get the shipment of the scheduled narcotics, there are two books the way the DEA wants it logged,” Gibson said.

And that’s only the start. When someone needs to use a dosage for an animal, it must be logged which batch and vile the drugs were pulled from in different books. Finally, when the controlled substances are disposed of, it must be logged in two other books and the original DEA books showing the initial shipment.

Gibson guesses there are at least 30 people with LMAS who administer controlled substances to animals.

“It’s very complicated,” he said. “I can plainly see how you can lose a milliliter or two based on human error.”

Gibson said what he does not want to see drugs to go missing or be stolen.

“The issue you have is, No. 1, if you have a scheduled narcotic missing, that could go criminal,” he said.

To minimize risks, Gibson requested the shelter’s policies and procedures be considered for an audit.

The Office of Internal Audits agreed. An auditor spent six months in 2016 monitoring how controlled substances were administered and documented. The results were provided to LMAS in June 2017. In summary, the documentation and inventory needs improvement.

Gibson said he was pleased with the results, and the shelter is already implementing some suggested corrections.

“We were doing a lot of things on the front end and at the tail end,” said Gibson, interpreting the audit results. “But some of the things we were doing in the middle for our processes, we needed to write down that policy.”

Gibson said the shipment records and the disposal records line up. But tracking how those drugs are used and inventoried in between needs improvement. So he is tightening up policies, putting more directions in writing and holding everyone accountable.

If the monthly inventory shows that something isn’t lining up, then it will be reported to the DEA. The administration may take action, depending on how much is missing or unaccounted for. LMAS could take it a step further even if the DEA does not act.

“If we think it’s possibly criminal, we will call the public integrity unit and have them step in," Gibson said. " And they’ll decide what they want to do. Ultimately, it could end with some type of administrative review.”

Any incorrect drug logs could run the risk of losing a license.

“If you lose your license, then you can’t get scheduled narcotics," Gibson said. "Then you can’t treat animals. So we’ve got to have all our ducks in a row."

With one of the many suggested corrections now in place, LMAS split up the dosage lists. So there will be no confusion what employee gave which animal how much medication.

“So now there’s two separate lists,” Gibson said. “The a.m. list, this person gets is. The p.m. list, this person gets it. So it doesn’t look like you either didn’t give the animals the medicine or the medicine is missing.”

The shelter is also reviewing the possibility of adding scanners to replace recording dosages by hand. And shelter leaders are looking to upgrade the medication safe and possibly add more security cameras.

“I just want to make sure that what we have in place, we set Louisville Metro Animal Services up to be one of the best shelters in the country,” Gibson said.

You can read the full audit below:

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