Metro Council to discuss animal shelter problems

Published: Nov. 14, 2012 at 1:41 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2012 at 2:00 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Metro City Council is expecting to hear a response from the Companion Animal Alliance during their meeting Wednesday afternoon, regarding an investigation into alleged animal abuse.

Councilman Mike Walker introduced the measure.

Former volunteers and staff members claim administration problems are leading to neglect and abuse of the animals. One report claims the euthanasia of a sick puppy was not done in a timely manner.

"I went back the next day and they had not touched the dog," said former intake specialist Jaden Stafford. "They didn't even get it food or water or a newspaper. Then, I gave it food and water and set it up in a cage properly and it sat there for three days before it was euthanized."

Reports from former shelter workers like Stafford spurred an investigation by the East Baton Rouge Animal Control office, which found no evidence of intentional abuse.

"My investigator did not think there was any criminal intent to hurt animals," said Animal Control Director Hilton Cole. "Was there criminal negligence? That is debatable. We chose not to go that route."

Instead, the report was presented to the Metro Council and CAA has been given a chance to respond.

"They are absolutely false," said current CAA staff member Paula Shaw. "Those particular animals that spurred the investigation, unfortunately, we get animals that come in all sorts of conditions. When they come in we have to deal with them and give them proper veterinary care and I can tell you that absolutely happened."

CAA representatives say the allegations are simply a negative attack from disgruntled former employees. Shaw worries the negative attention is hurting the shelter's ability to adopt out animals.

"We, bottom line, just want to get back to business. We want to get back to helping animals. We work really, really hard and we don't need the distraction of this negative campaign against us," Shaw explained.

Cole does agree that conflicting ideologies on animal welfare can create problems in a shelter.

"It's very difficult to run a shelter with all the different personalities when you have volunteers, no kill agendas, euthanasia and all these variables and all this going on. It's very difficult to build that if you don't have a team," he added.

The Animal Control report pointed to some issues with staffing structure and proper procedure.

"We're not sure if the board, the CAA Board, was in touch with what was going on within the shelter. We have heard complaints that the board has no body on it with any sheltering experience, that's a structural defect for sure. So, there are many things that are obvious to us that caused the problem," said Cole.

Shaw agreed the shelter does have problems with communication among the staff, but the problem will be addressed.

The council meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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