ST. LOUIS ( -- The Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation has issued an urgent alert surrounding the St. Louis City Animal Control. Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation said this is not just about the welfare of the animals, it's also a public safety issue.

"Something has to be done and this has been going on for way, way too long," said Bob Baker, executive director for Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation.

Baker posted the alert on social media asking people to call St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and the director of health for the city of St. Louis, Dr. Fred Echols, and ask them to make animal control a priority.

“We’re getting complaints from the public saying 'we call the city about animals in need and we get a voicemail and we leave a message and we don’t hear back. We don’t know if our complaints are being taken seriously or not,'" said Baker. 

Baker said this issue has been going on for years and recalls having similar discussions with former St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. 

"I am concerned that it’s going to get to the point where someone is going to get bitten," said Baker. 

One of his biggest concerns with animal control is the lack of staffing.

“There’s only one full-time animal control officer in the city for the entire city. They have a part-time one that comes in two times a week to help out," said Baker.

Dr. Fred Echols said that information is not accurate, telling News 4 there are currently four animal control officers and three of them are full-time. He said the city is also interviewing people right now to fill positions at animal control. The goal is to have nine animal control officers plus a supervisor over the department.

“In an event where there is a shortage, that they’re pulled away, we also have other staff that can provide assistance and even I’ll do it if necessary, so the other weekend I actually responded to a bat call and went to the residence and provided guidance and obtained and got the bat from the residence," said Echols. 

Echols called Baker Thursday after seeing the alert and receiving several concerned emails from residents. 

“It was a productive conversation and now they are enlightened and aware of the true state of the city of St. Louis’ department of health animal care and control program,” said Echols. 

The city currently has a contract with CARE STL, a local animal shelter that houses and cares for the animals that animal control picks up. News 4 reached out to CARE STL for comment and did not hear back. 

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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