CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office says the mayor supports the new head of Animal Care and Control, despite an alderman’s questions about leadership and treatment of animals at the Southwest Side facility.

Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) has been asking Animal Care and Control to provide him with documents about the death of a female pit bull named Devyn, and he said what he’s received so far raises some questions.

“Not only this dog, but at least 76 others that we’ve identified that have died in the shelter’s care for unexplained reasons; and that could be for a multitude of reasons, whether it’s health, whether it’s age,” he said. “But we’re also looking to see if it was in any way connected to the treatment and level of humane care that they may or may not be receiving within the department.”

Lopez says the deaths of those 76 dogs go back to January.

Animal Care and Control Director Susan Russell has been on the job 3 ½ months.

The alderman says in the past, Animal Control has been a political dumping ground.

“We are trying to change that culture, but that requires doing some extraordinary things and we have to see if Director Russell is up to that task,” he said. “We’ve tried to work with her on issues. I am hopeful that she is, but at the same time, if she’s not, then I’m hopeful she will do the right thing and step aside.”

The mayor’s office released a statement of support for Russell:

“The Mayor, Alderman Lopez and Executive Director Russell all share the same goal of improving live outcomes for animals. The Mayor supports the newly appointed Executive Director, who is working on a concrete plan to improve departmental operations as well as community relations.”