Report from Louisiana: Call to Action Against High Kill Animal Shelter

Readability

Report from Louisiana: Call to Action Against High Kill Animal Shelter

By: Pat Austin

Added: Thank you The Dead Pel­i­can for the link!

SHREVEPORT – Bear with me, read­ers, for this week I’m bring­ing you a local prob­lem but it is one that needs national atten­tion in order for it to be rec­ti­fied. Your help is needed.

Our local ani­mal shel­ter is deplorable. The city of Shreve­port has a pop­u­la­tion of just over 200,000 peo­ple, and we are the third largest city in the state of Louisiana, yet we can’t seem to fig­ure out how to run a humane ani­mal shel­ter. The prob­lems at Caddo Parish Ani­mal Ser­vices are epic and have been going on for years. Any attempt to solve the prob­lem has only been a token one.

Con­sider the following:

July 2007: CPAS direc­tor fired for fail­ing to prop­erly per­form his duties, for exam­ple: fail­ing to do rabies tests on a racoon that had scratched a man, among other offenses.

Sep­tem­ber 2007: CPAS adop­tion coor­di­na­tor Ray­mond Abney resigns his posi­tion, cit­ing mul­ti­ple, hor­rific cases of tor­ture, neglect, and abuse at the shelter.

2010: CPAS has a 78% euthana­sia rate.

2011: CPAS has 80% euthana­sia rate.

2012: CPAS has 83% euthana­sia rate.

2013: CPAS has 81% euthana­sia rate.

Octo­ber 2013: Karen Dent’s Golden Retriever escaped her back­yard when a tree fell on a fence; CPAS picked up the dog. Dent called the shel­ter and was told she could claim her dog, but when she arrived the dog had been euthanized.

Octo­ber 2013: A puppy was found in Sep­tem­ber in a Shreve­port stor­age locker, aban­doned and left to die. Lit­er­ally at death’s door, he was res­cued and taken to the emer­gency vet clinic and then trans­ferred to Ben­ton Ani­mal Hos­pi­tal. By Octo­ber he was in fos­ter care with a vet tech and mak­ing a nice recov­ery at which time CPAS comes to their home and seizes the ema­ci­ated, still very frag­ile dog, as evi­dence of the ani­mal aban­don­ment crime. “Brave­heart” was heart­lessly placed in a ken­nel at CPAS rather than allowed to stay in fos­ter care under the atten­tion of a vet tech. Mas­sive pub­lic out­cry resulted in ani­mal cru­elty charges against the owner of the stor­age locker. (Braveheart’s story has a happy end­ing.)

2014: CPAS has 79% euthana­sia rate.

August 2014: Adop­tions vol­un­teer Reed Ebarb resigned his posi­tion at CPAS after direc­tor Everett Har­ris ver­bally attacked Ebarb and his attempts to move more dogs into res­cue and off the euthana­sia list. Ebarb was vig­i­lant in com­pil­ing and report­ing monthly euthana­sia rates to the pub­lic which was often well over 70%.

2015: CPAS has a 78% euthana­sia rate.

March 2015: Two mal­nour­ished dogs, dubbed Lucky and T-​Bone, were picked up by CPAS after a cit­i­zen com­plaint of neglect, found to be full of par­a­sites, yet when Pet­Savers Res­cue offered to take the dogs and vet them, direc­tor Everett Har­ris denied the request, ignit­ing yet another firestorm of pub­lic outcry.

August 2015: Amanda Mid­dle­ton was trav­el­ling through Shreve­port, blew a tire, and her dog, Libby ran off and got lost. Libby was lost for two days before being found and taken to CPAS where a microchip was scanned and her fam­ily iden­ti­fied. A Humane Soci­ety vol­un­teer had per­mis­sion from the eight-​months preg­nant Mid­dle­ton to retrieve the dog and meet Mid­dle­ton halfway to return the pup, but direc­tor Everett Har­ris refused to release the dog to any­one but Mid­dle­ton, despite writ­ten per­mis­sion from Mid­dle­ton to do so. Mid­dle­ton drove all the way back to Shreve­port from Hous­ton to get her dog.

August 2015: CPAS direc­tor Everett Har­ris was placed on admin­is­tra­tive leave, and then resigned, after post­ing an offen­sive photo on Face­book of dogs with a Star of David and Nazi sym­bols drawn on their heads and the cap­tion “How to deal with the dif­fi­cul­ties of life.” He said he meant to post the pic­ture to a pri­vate account rather than the pub­lic CPAS page. Har­ris was on paid leave for sev­eral months, then terminated.

June 2016: Chuck Wil­son, for­mer assis­tant direc­tor of CPAS, is appointed new direc­tor of CPAS.

Octo­ber 2016: Amber McMillan’s two dog were euth­a­nized despite her mul­ti­ple vis­its to CPAS search­ing for them. McMil­lan con­tends that her dogs were not in any of the stray hold ken­nels she was shown when she went to the shel­ter. She showed pho­tos of her dogs to the employ­ees at the shel­ter and filed paper­work. The dogs were killed nine days after intake.

Novem­ber 2016: DeAnna Robin­son adopted a large breed dog from CPAS; he weighed only 30 pounds when she brought him home. He was ema­ci­ated and could barely walk. He had been housed in a ken­nel at the shel­ter with five other dogs.

Decem­ber 2016: A stray dog, “Ellie,” wan­ders into a man’s yard; the man brings his own dog out­side and orders it to attack Ellie who sub­se­quently dies from her injuries. The event is cap­tured on video which cre­ates a social media firestorm. CPAS fails to press charges, thereby sanc­tion­ing the inhu­mane attack.

Decem­ber 2016: “Tini” was picked up by CPAS on Decem­ber 30 after being hit by a car; her own­ers deter­mined that Tini was at the shel­ter but they were not allowed to pick her up for four days, despite that fact that the dog had a bro­ken jaw and other injuries and needed imme­di­ate med­ical care. Because of the New Year’s Eve hol­i­day, Tini had to stay in the shel­ter rather than be reunited with her family.

Jan­u­ary 2017: In two sep­a­rate events, two dogs tagged for res­cue were acci­den­tally euthanized.

Jan­u­ary 2017: Amer­i­can Boston Ter­rier dog res­cue attempted to pull sev­eral dogs but the dogs either starved to death or were euth­a­nized before the res­cue arrived.

Jan­u­ary 2017: Big Fluffy Dog Res­cue out of Nashville TN, came to CPAS to pull two dogs but left with 17, and later came back for more, because of the deplorable con­di­tions in which they found the dogs in the CPAS shel­ter, which included inad­e­quate med­ical care for bro­ken bones, mal­nour­ished dogs, and over­crowded ken­nels. BFDR is urg­ing pub­lic out­cry against the abuses at the Caddo Parish shelter.

Jan­u­ary 2017: A cit­i­zens meet­ing to dis­cuss con­tin­ued prob­lems at CPAS is attended by two Caddo Parish Com­mis­sion­ers who cite lack of first-​hand accounts as one rea­son why no change has been made at CPAS.

Feb­ru­ary 2017: CPAS ken­nel worker placed on leave, and then fired, for hav­ing sex with a dog. The act was filmed by another CPAS worker. Where this act actu­ally took place has not been revealed; reports are that it was not at the shel­ter, but does it matter?

Obvi­ously, the prob­lems at the shel­ter are ongo­ing and it doesn’t seem to mat­ter who the direc­tor is. Mean­while, lit­er­ally hun­dreds of dogs (and cats) are euth­a­nized each month. The shelter’s euthana­sia rate is right around 50 to 60% right now, down from pre­vi­ous years where there was a 77% or more euthana­sia rate. This decline is due to the help of some tire­less res­cue groups and an improved will­ing­ness by the cur­rent direc­tor to work with rescues.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_95755” align=“alignright” width=“300”] Euthana­sia rate: Caddo Parish Ani­mal Services[/caption]

There are vol­un­teer res­cue groups that work to pull dogs from the shel­ter and take them to states “up north” where stricter spay/​neuter laws have resulted in lower num­bers of avail­able pets. Our dogs have a much bet­ter chance at adop­tion there.

That being said, this shel­ter still needs major change. State inspec­tions have taken place but they are announced at least ten days in advance which gives the shel­ter time to clean up their act. After the pub­lic meet­ing in Jan­u­ary, two Caddo Com­mis­sion­ers toured the shel­ter, but again, it was announced.

The Parish Admin­is­tra­tor, Dr. Woody Wil­son, has con­trol over this sit­u­a­tion. He works for the Caddo Parish Com­mis­sion, but his over­sight of CPAS oper­ates is com­pletely inde­pen­dent. There is no sys­tem of checks and bal­ances and Wil­son has the final, and only, voice.

Granted, we have a huge prob­lem here in unwanted ani­mals; too many peo­ple in this area see ani­mals as prop­erty and all too often refuse to get their ani­mals spayed or neutered. The director’s job at the shel­ter is a huge one. But it’s clear to me that this direc­tor has lost the faith of the pub­lic by this most recent string of alle­ga­tions, and some­thing must be done.

For years, and years, we’ve been told by the Parish Admin­is­tra­tor that they are revis­it­ing and review­ing laws, poli­cies, and pro­ce­dures yet we are still bat­tling this issue. The pub­lic out­cry rises, we get lip ser­vice, pub­lic out­cry dies down, and the cycle con­tin­ues. When pub­lic out­cry rises, we are dis­missed as crazy ani­mal peo­ple who get their infor­ma­tion from social media. When cit­i­zens go to shel­ter board meet­ings to voice con­cern, they are quickly shut down if their expe­ri­ence is not first-​hand.

It appears that the only thing that might work is a national out­cry. This shel­ter admin­is­tra­tion needs to be com­pletely rebooted. They all need to go. If qual­i­fied, they can be rehired; if not, more the better.

This shel­ter needs to be cleaned up, lit­er­ally; all poli­cies need to be exam­ined, updated, revised. Dogs in stray/​hold, for exam­ple, are kept in out­door pens regard­less of the weather. Too many dogs are crowded into pens thus cre­at­ing feed­ing issues and fights. When Big Fluffy Dog Res­cue pulled their thirty dogs, they wrote:

Caddo Parish Ani­mal Shel­ter in Louisiana has been the sub­ject of seri­ous com­plaints for years. In Jan­u­ary, Big Fluffy Dog Res­cue took in more than 30 dogs from this shel­ter. Most of the dogs were ema­ci­ated, many had seri­ous health issues and most had bite wounds con­sis­tent with fight­ing for resources. Big Fluffy Dog Res­cue attempted with­out suc­cess to deter­mine whether the cause of the ani­mals’ suf­fer­ing was the shel­ter itself or if the dogs came in to the shel­ter in that con­di­tion. Caddo Parish did not appro­pri­ately inves­ti­gate the issue and the con­cerns of ani­mal res­cuers were largely swept under the car­pet and derided by the local gov­ern­ment as unfounded. Local media cov­ered the story.

There is a vet­eri­nar­ian “on call” but not on site. Dogs with bro­ken bones or other injuries lan­guish. There is no feral cat or TNR pro­gram; there are no online records – every­thing is still done on paper. If a vol­un­teer speaks out or com­plains about con­di­tions or abuse, they are banned from the shel­ter. Quite often they choose to remain silent so they can con­tinue to help the ani­mals in the shel­ter. Any online pres­ence is due to the work of vol­un­teers. If you go to the shelter’s page and click on ani­mals for adop­tion, you might find a few, but these are out of date and do not nearly reflect the num­ber of avail­able animals.

The issues are epic. But at the very least, the neglect, abuse, and mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion must be stopped. And sex with ani­mals? Please. Is this the best we can do with vet­ting our employ­ees (this woman was a paid employee – not a volunteer!).

To be clear, I’m not call­ing for the fir­ing of cur­rent direc­tor Chuck Wil­son; while he may not be per­fect, many of the vol­un­teers appre­ci­ate his efforts yet Wil­son is hogtied by the cur­rent struc­ture of over­sight. The source of the prob­lem lies in the fact that the con­trol is all with the Parish Admin­is­tra­tor Woody Wil­son who has shown very lit­tle inter­est in mak­ing this shel­ter a safe and humane shel­ter for animals.

Please share this with any ani­mal rights advo­cates or orga­ni­za­tions you know that might be able to help the cit­i­zens of Caddo Parish clean up this shel­ter and turn this sit­u­a­tion around. Ide­ally the shel­ter should be pri­va­tized or turned over to a com­pe­tent, estab­lished res­cue with a human­i­tar­ian mis­sion. Please email or write let­ters, polite and respect­ful let­ters, to Parish Admin­is­tra­tor Woody Wil­son, and the Assis­tant Parish Admin­is­tra­tor who is report­edly work­ing Woody Wilson’s job while he is being inves­ti­gated on a res­i­dency issue.

A national out­cry is the only thing we haven’t tried. There are plenty of cit­i­zens here who want to make a dif­fer­ence; the prob­lem is in the pol­i­tics. We need help and you can con­tribute by help­ing to shine light on this issue.

Points of Con­tact:

Randy Lucky, Parish Admin­is­tra­tion – rlucky@​caddo.​org

Dr. Woody Wil­son – wwilson@​caddo.​org

Louisana SPCA. Humane Law Enforce­ment: dispatch@​la-​spca.​org

Louisiana Ani­mal Wel­fare Com­mis­sion: http://​lawc​.la​.gov/​r​e​p​o​r​t​-​c​r​u​elty/

Shreve­port Mayor Ollie Tyler: mayor@​shreveportla.​gov

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port.

(P.S.: Thank you Chris Muir for the cool artwork!)

By:  Pat Austin

Added:  Thank you The Dead Pelican for the link!

SHREVEPORT – Bear with me, readers, for this week I’m bringing you a local problem but it is one that needs national attention in order for it to be rectified. Your help is needed.

Our local animal shelter is deplorable.  The city of Shreveport has a population of just over 200,000 people, and we are the third largest city in the state of Louisiana, yet we can’t seem to figure out how to run a humane animal shelter. The problems at Caddo Parish Animal Services are epic and have been going on for years. Any attempt to solve the problem has only been a token one.

Consider the following:

July 2007: CPAS director fired for failing to properly perform his duties, for example: failing to do rabies tests on a racoon that had scratched a man, among other offenses.

September 2007: CPAS adoption coordinator Raymond Abney resigns his position, citing multiple, horrific cases of torture, neglect, and abuse at the shelter.

2010: CPAS has a 78% euthanasia rate.

2011: CPAS has 80% euthanasia rate.

2012: CPAS has 83% euthanasia rate.

2013: CPAS has 81% euthanasia rate.

October 2013: Karen Dent’s Golden Retriever escaped her backyard when a tree fell on a fence; CPAS picked up the dog. Dent called the shelter and was told she could claim her dog, but when she arrived the dog had been euthanized.

October 2013: A puppy was found in September in a Shreveport storage locker, abandoned and left to die. Literally at death’s door, he was rescued and taken to the emergency vet clinic and then transferred to Benton Animal Hospital. By October he was in foster care with a vet tech and making a nice recovery at which time CPAS comes to their home and seizes the emaciated, still very fragile dog, as evidence of the animal abandonment crime. “Braveheart” was heartlessly placed in a kennel at CPAS rather than allowed to stay in foster care under the attention of a vet tech. Massive public outcry resulted in animal cruelty charges against the owner of the storage locker. (Braveheart’s story has a happy ending.)

2014: CPAS has 79% euthanasia rate.

August 2014: Adoptions volunteer Reed Ebarb resigned his position at CPAS after director Everett Harris verbally attacked Ebarb and his attempts to move more dogs into rescue and off the euthanasia list. Ebarb was vigilant in compiling and reporting monthly euthanasia rates to the public which was often well over 70%.

2015: CPAS has a 78% euthanasia rate.

March 2015: Two malnourished dogs, dubbed Lucky and T-Bone, were picked up by CPAS after a citizen complaint of neglect, found to be full of parasites, yet when PetSavers Rescue offered to take the dogs and vet them, director Everett Harris denied the request, igniting yet another firestorm of public outcry.

August 2015: Amanda Middleton was travelling through Shreveport, blew a tire, and her dog, Libby ran off and got lost. Libby was lost for two days before being found and taken to CPAS where a microchip was scanned and her family identified. A Humane Society volunteer had permission from the eight-months pregnant Middleton to retrieve the dog and meet Middleton halfway to return the pup, but director Everett Harris refused to release the dog to anyone but Middleton, despite written permission from Middleton to do so. Middleton drove all the way back to Shreveport from Houston to get her dog.

August 2015: CPAS director Everett Harris was placed on administrative leave, and then resigned, after posting an offensive photo on Facebook of dogs with a Star of David and Nazi symbols drawn on their heads and the caption “How to deal with the difficulties of life.” He said he meant to post the picture to a private account rather than the public CPAS page. Harris was on paid leave for several months, then terminated.

June 2016: Chuck Wilson, former assistant director of CPAS, is appointed new director of CPAS.

October 2016: Amber McMillan’s two dog were euthanized despite her multiple visits to CPAS searching for them.  McMillan contends that her dogs were not in any of the stray hold kennels she was shown when she went to the shelter. She showed photos of her dogs to the employees at the shelter and filed paperwork. The dogs were killed nine days after intake.

November 2016: DeAnna Robinson adopted a large breed dog from CPAS; he weighed only 30 pounds when she brought him home. He was emaciated and could barely walk. He had been housed in a kennel at the shelter with five other dogs.

December 2016: A stray dog, “Ellie,” wanders into a man’s yard; the man brings his own dog outside and orders it to attack Ellie who subsequently dies from her injuries. The event is captured on video which creates a social media firestorm. CPAS fails to press charges, thereby sanctioning the inhumane attack.

December 2016: “Tini” was picked up by CPAS on December 30 after being hit by a car; her owners determined that Tini was at the shelter but they were not allowed to pick her up for four days, despite that fact that the dog had a broken jaw and other injuries and needed immediate medical care. Because of the New Year’s Eve holiday, Tini had to stay in the shelter rather than be reunited with her family.

January 2017: In two separate events, two dogs tagged for rescue were accidentally euthanized.

January 2017: American Boston Terrier dog rescue attempted to pull several dogs but the dogs either starved to death or were euthanized before the rescue arrived.

January 2017: Big Fluffy Dog Rescue out of Nashville TN, came to CPAS to pull two dogs but left with 17, and later came back for more, because of the deplorable conditions in which they found the dogs in the CPAS shelter, which included inadequate medical care for broken bones, malnourished dogs, and overcrowded kennels. BFDR is urging public outcry against the abuses at the Caddo Parish shelter.

January 2017: A citizens meeting to discuss continued problems at CPAS is attended by two Caddo Parish Commissioners who cite lack of first-hand accounts as one reason why no change has been made at CPAS.

February 2017: CPAS kennel worker placed on leave, and then fired, for having sex with a dog. The act was filmed by another CPAS worker. Where this act actually took place has not been revealed; reports are that it was not at the shelter, but does it matter?

Obviously, the problems at the shelter are ongoing and it doesn’t seem to matter who the director is.  Meanwhile, literally hundreds of dogs (and cats) are euthanized each month. The shelter’s euthanasia rate is right around 50 to 60% right now, down from previous years where there was a 77% or more euthanasia rate. This decline is due to the help of some tireless rescue groups and an improved willingness by the current director to work with rescues.

Euthanasia rate: Caddo Parish Animal Services

There are volunteer rescue groups that work to pull dogs from the shelter and take them to states “up north” where stricter spay/neuter laws have resulted in lower numbers of available pets. Our dogs have a much better chance at adoption there.

That being said, this shelter still needs major change. State inspections have taken place but they are announced at least ten days in advance which gives the shelter time to clean up their act. After the public meeting in January, two Caddo Commissioners toured the shelter, but again, it was announced.

The Parish Administrator, Dr. Woody Wilson, has control over this situation. He works for the Caddo Parish Commission, but his oversight of CPAS operates is completely independent. There is no system of checks and balances and Wilson has the final, and only, voice.

Granted, we have a huge problem here in unwanted animals; too many people in this area see animals as property and all too often refuse to get their animals spayed or neutered. The director’s job at the shelter is a huge one. But it’s clear to me that this director has lost the faith of the public by this most recent string of allegations, and something must be done.

For years, and years, we’ve been told by the Parish Administrator that they are revisiting and reviewing laws, policies, and procedures yet we are still battling this issue. The public outcry rises, we get lip service, public outcry dies down, and the cycle continues. When public outcry rises, we are dismissed as crazy animal people who get their information from social media. When citizens go to shelter board meetings to voice concern, they are quickly shut down if their experience is not first-hand.

It appears that the only thing that might work is a national outcry. This shelter administration needs to be completely rebooted. They all need to go. If qualified, they can be rehired; if not, more the better.

This shelter needs to be cleaned up, literally; all policies need to be examined, updated, revised.  Dogs in stray/hold, for example, are kept in outdoor pens regardless of the weather. Too many dogs are crowded into pens thus creating feeding issues and fights. When Big Fluffy Dog Rescue pulled their thirty dogs, they wrote:

Caddo Parish Animal Shelter in Louisiana has been the subject of serious complaints for years. In January, Big Fluffy Dog Rescue took in more than 30 dogs from this shelter. Most of the dogs were emaciated, many had serious health issues and most had bite wounds consistent with fighting for resources. Big Fluffy Dog Rescue attempted without success to determine whether the cause of the animals’ suffering was the shelter itself or if the dogs came in to the shelter in that condition. Caddo Parish did not appropriately investigate the issue and the concerns of animal rescuers were largely swept under the carpet and derided by the local government as unfounded. Local media covered the story.

There is a veterinarian “on call” but not on site. Dogs with broken bones or other injuries languish. There is no feral cat or TNR program; there are no online records – everything is still done on paper.  If a volunteer speaks out or complains about conditions or abuse, they are banned from the shelter. Quite often they choose to remain silent so they can continue to help the animals in the shelter. Any online presence is due to the work of volunteers. If you go to the shelter’s page and click on animals for adoption, you might find a few, but these are out of date and do not nearly reflect the number of available animals.

The issues are epic. But at the very least, the neglect, abuse, and miscommunication must be stopped. And sex with animals? Please. Is this the best we can do with vetting our employees (this woman was a paid employee – not a volunteer!).

To be clear, I’m not calling for the firing of current director Chuck Wilson; while he may not be perfect, many of the volunteers appreciate his efforts yet Wilson is hogtied by the current structure of oversight. The source of the problem lies in the fact that the control is all with the Parish Administrator Woody Wilson who has shown very little interest in making this shelter a safe and humane shelter for animals.

Please share this with any animal rights advocates or organizations you know that might be able to help the citizens of Caddo Parish clean up this shelter and turn this situation around.  Ideally the shelter should be privatized or turned over to a competent, established rescue with a humanitarian mission. Please email or write letters, polite and respectful letters, to Parish Administrator Woody Wilson, and the Assistant Parish Administrator who is reportedly working Woody Wilson’s job while he is being investigated on a residency issue.

A national outcry is the only thing we haven’t tried. There are plenty of citizens here who want to make a difference; the problem is in the politics. We need help and you can contribute by helping to shine light on this issue.

Points of Contact:

Randy Lucky, Parish Administration – rlucky@caddo.org

Dr. Woody Wilson – wwilson@caddo.org

Louisana SPCA. Humane Law Enforcement: dispatch@la-spca.org

Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission:  http://lawc.la.gov/report-cruelty/

Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler: mayor@shreveportla.gov

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

(P.S.: Thank you Chris Muir for the cool artwork!)