The last few years have been rough at Louisville Metro Animal Services. Director Gilles Meloche “resigned” amid myriad scandals and lawsuits. Deputy Director Wayne Zelinsky became Interim Director in Meloche’s wake. Only to be forced to resign last Wednesday as a result of an investigation conducted by The ‘Ville Voice. A new Interim Director, Debbie Fox, was appointed and she’s receiving glowing reviews from all over.
But that doesn’t mean the situation will immediately improve at LMAS. It’s important to continue to talk about the problems that exist with hope that Fox will eventually force change and clean house when it comes to the bad apples. So let’s keep on keepin on. Deal?
Over the past few weeks I have reviewed hundreds (thousands?) of medical records from LMAS. The information I’ve gathered is offensive and inappropriate for any sort of governmental agency. Upward of 70% of cats that LMAS euthanizes are not vaccinated upon intake and many aren’t examined upon arrival. About 90% (these percentages are just estimates based on all the reading and research I’ve done so far – I could be a bit off) are never treated at all for anything during their stay. That’s despite exams that determine the existence health issues and problems that could be treated. For the most part, cats sit for a couple weeks in a cage – which isn’t cleaned and the litter box isn’t changed until the cage gets a new cat – until their eventual death.
Just alarming. It’s like Zelinsky and his right-hand, Jackie Gulbe, have worked super-hard to make sure the animals either die from preventable illnesses or get euthanized for a simple infection. Blows my mind why anyone in the Abramson or Fischer Administrations would think it’s okay. I won’t even try to be objective, here, and I readily admit it makes me ache deep down.
Back to my point. The medical records.
For the purposes of my head not spinning (please), I randomly selected a small group of medical records to examine and summarily compile in a database. To do so, I highlighted the number of files on my screen (about a hundred files for 46 total dogs and cats). Random amount, sure, but there was just too much damn material for me to dig in any deeper for this story.
The spreadsheet, which you may download by at the end of this story, covers animals that were received by LMAS December 28, 2010 through January 17, 2011 and covered euthanasias from January 10, 2011 through January 26, 2011. Of those 46 animals, ten were dogs, 36 were cats.
Find out what really happens at Louisville Metro Animal Services after the jump – with details of unbelievably heartbreaking numbers that should wake Metro Government up a little more…
Here are the highlights:
- 13 received absolutely no examination upon intake
- 23 animals that were considered “normal” upon their initial intake exam (those animals that actually received the exam) were euthanized ten to 14 days later because they had contracted “contagious diseases”
- Three were euthanized because they were “fearful”
- Five dogs were euthanized because they had Parvo or were exposed to Parvo. They either did not have Parvo upon entering the LMAS facility or were not examined in a couple instances, thereby putting hundreds of other dogs at risk
- Of the 20 cats that were euthanized for URI or “severe URI,” only two of them had URIs when they arrived at LMAS. The rest developed URI or “severe URI” over the course of roughly two weeks.
- When an animal is listed as being euthanized for having a “contagious disease,” there’s almost never evidence or information to back those claims up. Only in the instances of tape worm and Parvo was there proof.
- On numerous occasions the same notes seem to be copy & pasted for multiple animals. I.E., “et for medical, severe URI, won’t survive 24 hours” for five different cats on January 19. Three cats on January 25 were all noted to have severe URIs and congestion, same copy & paste job.
- In one instance, a dog was examined and found to be “normal” on January 11. Eight days later an individual was interested in fostering the dog if it were in danger of euthanasia. Three days after that, on January 22, the dog was euthanized because it had been exposed to Parvo while at LMAS. It was fine for two weeks prior.
- Another instance involves a cat that entered the LMAS facility on January 16 and was examined as “normal.” On January 18 an employee recommended the cat for euthanasia because it was feral. That same day, here’s what other employees had to say the reasoning for euthanasia: “This cat is not feral at all. Wearing a red collar and very very loving. Loves to be held and gives kisses. Good candidate for Animal House. Would like to work up once off stray wait.” and “cat is neutered. Obviously someones pet.” Finally, yet another employee added, “Cat also received all intake vaccinations – wouldn’t be able to vaccinate if cat was feral.” A week later, on January 25, the cat was euthanized for a severe URI and for not eating.
Problems like that have to be rampant if they’re popping up frequently in such a small, random sample. They’re backed up by comments left on this very website and by dozens of LMAS employees and volunteers I’ve interviewed over the past few years. Beyond that? You’ve all seen the photographs of countless animals destroyed for ridiculous reasons. You know it’s happening.
Blatant. Sickening. Disheartening.
This is just scratching the surface. It’s why I have repeatedly called on Greg Fischer to do the right thing. It’s why my work will continue.
Should be quite clear by now that I’m not merely writing about LMAS just to harp on Fischer. He said he wanted transparency and I am bringing all the transparency he can stomach.
NOT TODAY – HOPEFULLY SOME DAY
Reality is often difficult to accept but we all must do so with regard to Metro Animal Services. Reality is that place needs to be cleaned up. When the LMAS staff and volunteers repeatedly tell the mayor’s office – for multiple years in a row, no less – and Metro Council there’s a problem? Believe me when I say there’s a big problem. When LMAS insiders have to repeatedly rely on the media to do what Metro Government refuses to do? There’s a problem. When someone like me has to start digging and pulling out all the stops? There is a huge damn problem. It’s not going away. I’m not going away. We’re not going away.
Two of the few things I’m proud of in this life are the tiny bit of credibility I’ve gained in rooting out corruption and my reputation for persistence. I hope that I have after four years proved to you that I put my money where my mouth is on those fronts. I will continue to use what little credibility I have to bring issues to light. And I’m nothing if not persistent.
Hope you’ll stick around for what’s to come.
Click here (Warning: PDF Link) to download the medical records spreadsheet.