And yes, it’s about time.
In the last several months the reports from the Caddo Parish Animal Shelter (CPAS) continued to hit new lows. Even when observers could not believe it to be possible.
The litany of “bad acts” alleged to have occurred at the shelter reads like a porn movie script.
A CPAS employee was arrested for beastiality with a dog at the shelter.
A CPAS employee was accused of having sex with this girlfriend in the CPAS parking lot.
A CPAS employee reportedly had sex with an inmate worker inside the CPAS building.
CPAS employees are accused of being part of a dog selling ring. Animals brought to the shelter were being sold on Ebay.
And all of this was followed up by the mistaken euthanasia of a pet cat, Skittles, that was being retained for a 14 day quarantine for rabies.
Not surprisingly the CPAS director was forced to resign after the issues surfaced this year.
Against this backdrop of “you can’t make this stuff up” , the continuing charges by animal activists of mismanagement of the shelter have not subsided.
To address these concerns, Caddo Parish Administrator Woody Wilson has recently named Kelvin Samuel as the interim Director of Animal Services and Mosquito Control. Samuel had served as the Assistant Director since August of last year.
In an effort to quickly bring Samuel up to speed on successful shelter procedures and best practices, he has been scheduled to visit several high-performance shelters in Kansas City, Missiouri along with Brent Toellner, the Regional Director for the Best Friends Animal Society. After being in the CPAS environment for the last year, Samuel will certainly need a new orientation on how to successfully operate a shelter.
The installation of a long overdue camera/monitoring system that animal activists have been advocating for quite some time should improve CPAS employee accountability. The shelter now has 22 cameras in operation with a 30 day recording archive capacity. The cameras will be primarily utilized to investigate charges of improprieties by CPAS employees within the shelter itself.
The Parish reports that as of September 30, the total adoptions for the year are at an all time high. The rescue total on that date was 871; the previous high for a year is 923. Additionally, 391 animals had been redeemed, that is returned by the shelter to their owners.
Intake for 2017 is less than 5,000. In 2016, the intake was almost 7,500. And the euthanasia rate for this year is 48% compared to 57% for last year.
Animal activists have also been advocating privatization of the shelter in an effort to improve accountability and to save tax dollars. Wilson has commissioned a privatization feasibility study by Dr. Jared Lorens of the LSU Public Administration Institute. The report is expected to be completed by mid-December of this year.
Despite all these “good steps”, animal activists are still skeptical that the shelter will be operated efficiently and professionally. Concerns are still being expressed that not all the animals brought into the shelter are properly registered, that animal care is deficient and that too many animals are not being saved.
Many volunteer organizations have ceased to spend time at the shelter assisting in the mundane chores of animal bathing, socialization and adoption efforts. One very active group, PAWS4LIFE, has been barred from the shelter. This group was transporting large numbers of animals and cats to areas outside the state for adoption.
Concerns include the lack of safeguards to ensure that dogs that are picked up are not sold before being taken to the shelter, or that not all dogs will be properly registered into the computer tracking program. They report that in the past twenty-two months over 200 canines were missing or not accounted for after being taken to the shelter.
During that same time frame over ten CPAS employees were fired for misconduct. Many of the remaining employees are suspected of being involved in improper activities at the shelter.
Most importantly, the drastic reduction in volunteers allowed to work at the shelter has increased anxieties over the care of shelter animals and compliance with established policies for dog care and euthanasia.
Although the reduction in the euthanasia rate is commendable, it is below established norms and for that matter the historical low of 33% for the shelter.
So...the good news is that some changes have been made at CPAS. Additionally, statistics on proper operation of the shelter have improved. Whether the new leadership of Samuel can continue improvement at CPAS is an open question.
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