The Highland County Humane Society is gathering information to determine how to proceed after it found out that its new humane officer has been charged with numerous counts of allowing animals to run at large.
Thursday evening the society’s board of directors met with Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera, but one of the five board members was not able to attend the meeting and no decision was made.
“We just absorbed some information from the sheriff, talked about Kim (Cooley’s) situation a little bit, and have some soul searching to do,” board president Jim Wikstrom said. “It was just a meeting so we could gather some facts so we can make the proper decision on where we go from here.”
Wikstrom said another board meeting is planned for next week and that some type of decision will likely be made then, but he said Friday afternoon that the next meeting has not been scheduled yet.
Cooley was officially appointed to the position on Jan. 4 of this year. She had volunteered with the society prior to that time and had applied for a recent opening on the board directors. But when she was not appointed to the board position, Wikstrom said the board asked if she would interested in the humane officer job. Cooley said she accepted the offer, took the required three-day training course, and passed a test qualifying her to become a humane officer.
According to Wikstrom, the Humane Society was not aware of the charges that had been filed against her, or that a warrant was pending for her arrest when The Times-Gazette informed the board about the situation last week. He also said the Humane Society did not do a background check on Cooley before hiring her.
Since last April, Cooley has been charged with allowing animals to run at large six times, according to Hillsboro Municipal Court. All the charges have dealt with horses she has straying off her Sorg Road property.
The most recent charge was filed on Feb. 6 of this year. According to municipal court records, that charge is still pending and there is still a warrant out for her arrest.
On the other five occasions, Cooley has been found guilty of the charge three times. She was found not guilty once and had one of the charges dismissed.
Cooley said last week that the problem allowing the horses to stray from her property has been fixed. She said she believes that the problem may stem from someone messing around on her property. She also told The Times-Gazette that she was not aware of the Feb. 6 charge.
Barrera said last week that the problem with Cooley’s horses has been ongoing for a number of years. He said was she was warned numerous times before any charges were filed.
As the Highland County humane officer, Cooley is responsible for investigating reports of any type of animal in the county being mistreated or not properly cared for.
Wikstrom said last week that until the recent “bump in the road” Cooley has been an exemplary employee.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.
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