An audit has found that euthanasia numbers at a St. Louis County animal shelter were manipulated to appear artificially low

An audit has found that euthanasia numbers at a St. Louis County animal shelter were manipulated to appear artificially low.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the issue was that a former director of the St. Louis County Pet Adoption Center required all owners surrendering pets to check a box labeled "ORE" on a form. No one explained to owners that the code meant "owner requested euthanasia."

If the animal was put down for any reason it would be excluded from statistics reported to a county advisory board.

Acting health director Spring Schmidt says a low euthanasia rate had been a "clear expectation" but wanted it met through "system-wide change and not through a manipulation of numbers." Several changes are in the works, including using more transparent language about euthanasia.