By Derrick Blakley

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (CBS) – Critics say conditions at the North Chicago animal-care shelter often aren’t fit for a dog.

“The seriousness of an animal coming in and possibly dying in this facility could very well happen,” animal advocate Charlie Burleson tells CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley.

But animal warden Ted McLelland, the only animal control employee in the city, disagrees.

“Maintaining the level of care these dogs need when they come in — I believe I can do a pretty good job of that,” he says.

In January, a shih-Tzu was photographed at the pound, lying on a wet, cold floor. Two months earlier, with the warden out of town, six dogs were discovered unfed and untended.

“When the warden is not around, when he’s out of town, there’s no communication who’s going to take care of the animals, and that’s what happened in November,” animal advocate Jill Janezich says.

At city hall, that episode sparked protests during council meetings.

The mayor called it an isolated incident.

“There is no time when the animals aren’t being watched or make sure they have proper food, water,” Leon Rockingham Jr. says.

But Burleson, a retired Waukegan police sergeant with animal control experience, said it’s not a new problem. Photos from 2010 show two dogs in dirty cages at the pound.

“It’s been an ongoing issue. Our animal warden really needs some help,” Ald. Charles January agrees.

The state Department of Agriculture, which oversees animal control, fined North Chicago over the November incident but said the pound was in compliance. The state says record-keeping is poor, and so are basic facilities.

There is not even a scanner to read implanted ID chips to tell who owns a pet.

The city says those issues are being addressed and physical renovations at the pound are being planned for spring.

Volunteers want to help with donations of materials and manpower, but they say they’re not sure the city wants them around.

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