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Fort Smith Audit Advisory Board discusses draft audit of the Animal Haven

In a special meeting, the Fort Smith Audit Advisory Board met with members of the Animal Haven to discuss a draft audit of the shelter.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — The Fort Smith Audit Advisory Board met with members on May 24 of the Fort Smith Animal Haven to discuss its draft audit after it was leaked to Facebook.

Fort Smith is contracted with Animal Haven and the city assists with some of the costs that the shelter might take on.

During the meeting, Fort Smith Board of Directors member Christina Catsavis questioned how Animal Haven spent "so much" money in a year. "There's a lot of money missing," she said.

City Administrator Carl Geffken responded by asking, “So, you're saying they’re committing fraud?”

Catsavis answered, "Yes."

According to a draft audit— which could change— more than $100,000 is reportedly unaccounted for at the shelter.

“I have never had a phone call, an email, or a visit from one of the board of directors regarding this,” said Animal Haven veterinarian Chris Ashworth. He says he was blindsided by the audit and never had a chance to defend the shelter. “Tracey didn’t even have the decency to email me the draft.”

Fort Smith auditor Tracey Shockley said she was planning to meet with the shelter, but the draft was leaked to the public on Facebook beforehand.

“You have to have substance, you have to have documentation,” Shockley said to Animal Haven explaining how she got her numbers listed in the draft audit.

“If we lack documentation, the city is paying for something that doesn’t exist,” said committee member Fort Smith Board of Director Neal Martin.

Animal Haven said it would and is getting better at documenting animals, medication, and procedures.

"Approxinmently 13% of the monies paid to the shelter that was overcharged, or inappropriately charged. That's not a couple of animals, that’s a significant amount of money," Martin said. “The city was overcharged.”

“To the extent that there are billing errors, are you willing to give the city credit?” asked committee member and Fort Smith Board of Director Lavon Morton.

Animal Haven said it will and said it's done so in the past.

Shockley and Ashworth are scheduled to meet soon to go over the audit and explain the reason behind their numbers. The final audit could be released on June 16.

Fort Smith began its audit in November to assess its current contract. Its contract with Animal Haven ends in 2027.

During the meeting, Jake Morgan, now a former Animal Haven board member, resigned because of the "fighting" going on at the meeting.

There was also a brief outburst whenever Geffken told a woman to stop shaking her head. Members of the crowd shouted, "Remember who you work for, you work for us."

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