Snake repellent causes Muskogee DHS shutdown

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Snake repellent causes Muskogee DHS shutdown (KTUL)

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services in Muskogee was closed Tuesday.

For Tom McElwee and many others, this came as a surprise.

"I was wondering why the parking lot was so empty," said McElwee.

The building's landlord told us off camera it all started when a DHS employee discovered a snake in the ceiling tiles.

He said Animal Control was called and found a non-venomous King snake. Fearing there could be more, the landlord and his crew got to work with some snake repellent.

The landlord said he bought the snake repellent, and his crew put it around work spaces inside the office. The trouble is, on the back it says the product should not be used indoors.

Sheree Powell with DHS said when employees returned to work they complained of a strong odor.

"Because of that, we shut down the office for health and safety reasons," said Powell.

McElwee wasn't happy about the news.

"You're kidding me," said McElwee. "I'm going through all this over a snake?"

Ronnie Walker owns the Muskogee Farmers Association in Muskogee.

He said his biggest problem is getting people to read the labels on the products he sells.

"These labels are on these products for our safety," said Walker. "Certain things we use are dangerous, and they need to be used according to the label."

DHS officials plan to do an air quality test on Thursday to see if the building is safe for workers to go back inside.

In the meantime, Powell said people still have access to DHS services online.

"So we can do a lot of our work even without someone stepping foot in a county office," said Powell.

You can access DHS and its services by clicking the links below.