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Sad Messes At Metro Animal Services Continue

April 6th, 2011 by jake · 17 Comments

There are no words for the shizstorm of a mess at Louisville Metro Animal Services.

So I’m excerpting a giant bit from Jonathan Meador this week:

As such, Neumayer becomes the animal control agency’s third interim director since Jan. 1, 2010. Sources within LMAS and in the city’s “no-kill” animal welfare movement suggest this revolving door of management has paved the way for a power grab by the Kentucky Humane Society, which the city has tapped to essentially take over LMAS’ sheltering operations until an eight-person panel appointed by Mayor Greg Fischer selects a permanent director.

According to the mayor’s office, consultant Karen Koenig of the Kentucky Humane Society is being paid $9,000 a month from LMAS’ operating budget for a period of up to three months.

“Bringing in KHS to supposedly increase adoptions when their philosophy is very close to LMAS’ doesn’t seem like a good fit,” says Donna Herzig, president of the Louisville Kennel Club. “In addition, we need transparency and accountability. I know the mayor has been very forthright with respect to those two things, but it’s hard to have transparency when you’ve got a private organization that isn’t required to release information … What if something’s going wrong with this contract? What do you do? How is that transparent?”

Herzig also contends the Kentucky Humane Society “buys into the myth of pet overpopulation,” which she claims results in adoptable pets at times being euthanized. However, the Kentucky Humane Society’s website states that “all cats and dogs remain available for adoption as long as health and behavior permits.”

-SNIP-

“Things haven’t gotten any better,” says Jessica Durbin, public education coordinator for LMAS. “When you have people like myself and others there who are halfway intelligent people, and instead of listening to their ideas you decide to spend $27,000 on a consultant who can tell you to do the things we’ve already been saying, it’s very frustrating. I like KHS, but the way this is being done has got a lot of us up in arms.”

Durbin points out that the city could hire two part-time animal adoption coordinators — positions at LMAS that are currently not filled — for that amount of money, adding that she doesn’t have much hope for the agency until a new permanent director is selected.

Click here to read the entire story in LEO Weekly. This is something you can’t afford not to read.

And then ask yourself why Chris Poynter is so quick to attack critics who question the Kentucky Humane Society. Is it because they’re now regretting that $9,000-per-month fee they’re paying the KHS for services LMAS already handles?

According to folks within LMAS, the KHS staffer has to shadow LMAS workers in order to learn what they’re supposed to do and has little working knowledge about rescues and adoptions – the services they’re contracted to provide the city.

If KHS was really there just to help out – why would the organization need to take all of the databases and contacts LMAS has for its own use? Shouldn’t they be asking how things are done and in what order so they can come back to say, “Here’s what you’re doing incorrectly, here’s where you can improve, this will work better”? Because all I’m seeing is KHS getting a sweet payday because Debbie Fox is a friend.

Tags: Bad Behavior · LEO · Metro Government · Scandal

17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hear No Evil See No Evil // Apr 6, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    There is no way to compare KHS to a city shelter. KHS charges $25 to turn in a dog or cat, it takes in no strays and can even with the payment, turn an animal away. Metro takes all including strays. While KHS says that they find homes unless there is illness or tempermant problems, I personally know of instances where animals were killed or threatened to be killed because they “pulled on a lead”. Notice how no one will say how many animals KHS killed and for what reasons. Notice also that they do not release stats of how many adoptees are later returned to LMAS as chronicled on this website. Go to the website of Nathan Winograd and see the real NO KILL numbers and see how if we are committed and work towards this goal, we too could see an 80-90% SAVE rate. This community wants that result. No more smoke and mirrors.

  • 2 Get Your Facts Straight // Apr 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Hear No Evil, you are wrong on many points.

    Yes, KHS charges a fee to surrender an animal. They do not receive government funding so all services must be supported by donations, adoption/surrender fees and external programs (like training classes and summer camp). Research non-profit animal shelters around the country and you will discover that this is in no way uncommon.

    KHS takes in strays. Daily. They do not send animal control officers into the public to pick up strays (since that is Metro’s job) but they accept any stray brought to their door.

    They do not turn anyone away. People may leave after learning about the possibility of euthanasia or because they do not want to pay a surrender fee but they are not turned away. In fact, KHS tries to give people help to keep the animals in their homes.

    “Pulling on a lead” is not a reason for euthanasia. Since you personally know of these instances, I can only assume that: 1) they happened years ago or 2) there were other circumstances that you aren’t aware of (did the animal pull on a lead while also growling and snapping?).

    Sometimes adoptions don’t work out. If a KHS animal is dropped off at Metro, KHS picks that animal up. Animals adopted from Metro are also surrendered to KHS. I’m not quite sure how the unavoidable fact that adoptions are sometimes returned should in any way be used as a slight against either organization.

    Jake, I know sensationalist posts get more page hits but, since you do seem to truly care about animals, I hope you’ll consider the fact that you are not doing a service to the homeless animals in Jefferson County. When citizens feel like they can’t trust their animal welfare community, they donate less, they volunteer less, and they are less likely to adopt locally. Perhaps a more effective route would be to support the folks that work their asses off behind the scenes at KHS, just as you do those at LMAS. There are great people in both places who just want to save as many lives as they can. Rumor mongering isn’t helping.

  • 3 jake // Apr 6, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Really? I’m not?

    Then comment using your name and stand 100% behind what you say.

    Because I’m pretty sure the fact that I’ve donated an ass load of cash to LMAS, helped coordinate countless adoptions, constantly promote events and practice what I preach is saying a lot more than you’re saying.

    The Kentucky Humane Society’s coffers are empty and via Debbie, KHS is now making a sweet ass $30K for doing nothing. $30,000 of MY taxpayer dollars. Public funds. Just like with Wayne cutting some sort of crazy ass deal with the UofL cat lady. It’s all about a pay day for you folks who constantly complain about warranted criticism.

    I mean, really… last year the KHS sent 500 rescues. LMAS sent 2,200. What was that, again, about KHS consulting for LMAS? Seems like it should be the other way around.

    So, you damn well better believe I’m going to question how those dollars are spent and who is spending them.

    Until you spend hours upon hours covered in dog shit and cat guts from volunteering at LMAS? Well, you know what you can do. And if you don’t? I’m happy to meet you on Manslick to walk you through the nightmare.

    I’m tired of you concern trolls trying to defend a paycheck. Take it elsewhere.

    This is an area I won’t budge and it has jack shit to do with views, reads, whatever. This is far from rumormongering and it’s direct from Metro Animal Services employees.

  • 4 Rosebuds // Apr 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    “When citizens feel like they can’t trust their animal welfare community, they donate less, they volunteer less, and they are less likely to adopt locally. Perhaps a more effective route would be to support the folks that work their asses off behind the scenes at KHS, just as you do those at LMAS. There are great people in both places who just want to save as many lives as they can. Rumor mongering isn’t helping.”

    No arguing that there are great people at both places. Absolute truth there.

    But – is it really a rumor if it’s true? If you ask me, it’s damn well time Louisvillians started to question their unending “trust” in some local animal welfare agencies, especially ones who won’t report their euthanasia numbers. Why hide it unless you’re afraid of your donations drying up? And clearly that’s towards the top of the list, as “they donate less” is the first consequence listed.

    Clearly, money doesn’t save lives. KHS is sitting on $6M in net assets. NET. And in tax year 2009 alone they brought in nearly $2M in donations and grants, on top of $2.7 in “program revenue.” And before anyone starts in on “it takes money to run an animal shelter” – we know that, Einstein. But even AFTER paying all expenses, KHS was still in the black by $42K – admittedly quite lower than recent years. Even still, they’re sitting on $1.5M in C-A-S-H. And they’ve got a $2.1M payroll, not including $105K for their top dog(s?). Pull their 990 from guidestar.org and you can see that’s all IRS fact; no fancy numbers pulled out of my ass.

    With that amount of money, they shouldn’t euthanize any animals at KHS. But, boy, do they ever.

    If the state of animal welfare in this city (or this state or this country) is ever going to change for the better, it won’t happen because carefully crafted PR schemes hide the truth behind the facades in order to rake in the dough. If the worry is in lost trust, how about out with the numbers, the TRUTH, to prove trust is still warranted?

  • 5 Hear No Evil See No Evil // Apr 7, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Get your facts straight, you are wrong. One of the instances, I speak about was where a citizen recently found a dog loose without identification in an east end park. The dog was a bull and terrier mix and we know that KHS limits the number of those that they accept even with the payment. The citizen paid the money and more to “ensure that he would have a good home” . The dog passed the food test but the next week was pulling on a leash and therefore the only option was ET. The citizen picked up the dog hoping that it wasn’t too late and took it to a local vet who, like many vets in this community, has saved more lives that anyone can count. The vet’s assistant who weighs about 90 lbs, on a good day, leash broke the dog in less than 20 minutes. He was adopted by a wonderful family with two other bull and terrier mixes. He has completed his first round of obedience training and may do therapy work. KHS would have given him the needle. So much for saving lives, especially if you are the wrong breed.

  • 6 Turner // Apr 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I think if MAS and government try hard enough they can find a way to get Nancy B back into the rescue job (and meeting all protocols and requirements of government) and keep transfers to rescues high at MAS. It takes a will to do this and that may be what Fisher’s staff is lacking. KHS and MAS both have some weaknesses in their animal assessment protocols. What will Trimble, Henry and Spencer, very poor counties, do when KHS is no longer working with them. I am interested in why KHS is not continuing with these small counties.

  • 7 Get Your Facts Straight // Apr 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Jake, I’m sorry if I came across as confrontational, that wasn’t my intent. I simply wanted to present the idea that divisiveness in the animal welfare community is counterproductive. I stand by that.

    I do not doubt that you have contributed time and money to LMAS. So have I. I’ve seen Manslick inside and out and I know how bad things have been there.

    You referred to the disparity in rescue numbers as a reason to doubt the competency of the KHS consultants. Are you aware that KHS is one of the rescues that regularly pulls dogs from LMAS? I’m not privy to KHS databases, so I don’t know an exact number (perhaps you could get that from one of your sources) but 10 animals a week seems like a conservative estimate of the help KHS has provided. That would mean over 500 animals saved in the last year.

    The stated intent of this consultant is to help with adoptions. Based on public statements of KHS and LMAS numbers, it appears that KHS did 3 times as many adoptions as LMAS last year. I’d say it seems like they can help in that area.

    Hear No Evil, first of all I’m happy to hear that this dog found a home. That’s fantastic. Again, not having access to KHS records, I have no way of finding out if there was any other reason, aside from leash pulling, for the dog to be considered unadoptable. I can say that I have never heard that used as a euthanasia reason and there have been many pit bulls at KHS that pull like crazy.

    One important point to consider: KHS did not euthanize that dog. When that was a possibility, they contacted the person who turned him and gave them a chance to pick him back up. I know for a fact that that policy is in place to try to keep from euthanizing animals. KHS gave the dog a shot and, when that didn’t work out, they didn’t jump straight to euthanasia, they looked for a way to make sure that the dog made it out alive. This instance you describe highlights exactly why that is such an important policy.

    Rosebuds, I don’t have any more knowledge of the financial status of KHS than you do, so, unfortunately, I can’t shed any light on why funds are or are not being used. I don’t know their euthanasia numbers and I agree with you that, whatever they are, they should be released. I actually think, based on my experiences with them, that it would be a pleasant surprise.

    Out of curiosity, what euthanasia percentage of their total animals would you consider acceptable? Per Nathan Winograd’s site, it seems that 80-90 percent is considered commendable for an open admissions shelter. How close to that do you think KHS should be?

  • 8 warhorse // Apr 7, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    There are currently people employed by LMAS that have been there for some time that know the ins and outs of the shelter like the back of their hand, Debbie Fox was there long enough to have conversations with all employees and should have been able to asses who would have been better suited to give advice on needed changes with in the shelter. The out right lack of trust or faith in the employees at the shelter is the biggest issue standing in the way of it being run successfully. Instead a few bad apples have made it next to impossible for people to do their jobs well or effectively, but I know she had conversations with these employees and unless they are all worthy of an oscar the city could start taking an interest in the individuals out there, weed out the bad, promote and support the good and start improvements now. Spending my tax dollars on yet another un-neccesary step in this long enough audit/selection process is just showing me that yet againt the city has no compassion for the animals that live here. By the way, where is the audit????????

  • 9 Sherri // Apr 7, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    “KHS gave the dog a shot” is an interesting choice of words, GYFS. In 2010, KHS gave approximately 2500 animals a shot of a different kind, the type that kills them. Their kill rate is around 30%, but that is a closely guarded secret that they are welcome to dispute. Lets throw open the books shall we? Or will that sicken the deep pockets that are buying into the bullshit that KHS is the compassionate choice, the no kill choice and Metro are the real killers? Their leader is more concerned with keeping the revenue stream flowing by deluding the folks that keep donating to KHS. I hope this “consultancy” fiasco will shed some much need light on KHS. I don’t think that is what they had anticipated coming with their paycheck, but that is what they need.

  • 10 Eloise // Apr 8, 2011 at 1:43 am

    “KHS sent 500 rescues. LMAS sent 2,200. What was that, again, about KHS consulting for LMAS? Seems like it should be the other way around.”

    THIS tells me more than anything KHS has NO business “consulting”. No Kill Louisville does more for LMAS – why is the mayor not utilizing their information about turning the shelter around? IT works. See the shelter in Houston, Texas!!

  • 11 ukfan1969 // Apr 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I am a former employee of LMAS and a harsh critic. However, thier rescue rate is high considering the lack of management and lack of care from those in charge. It is extremely higher than KHS’s in fact. The reason is because employees like Amanda Balwin, Shawn Moffit, Courtney Gray, Karen Dickson AND former employee Amy Rock who was “let go for overstaffing” work countless hours off the clock to get animals to rescue. If Greg Fisher really wanted to help he would hire Amy Rock back and another additional adoption coordinator as well as a full time rescue coordinator. The money they are using to “consult” with KHS could be used to pay those employees. How can LMAS be successful at increasing adoptions with 4 adoption coordinators and an adoption supervisor who will not even manage. Ann Camp will not deal with customer complaints, fails to order properly and passes the buck of management onto the overworked adoption coordinators. Rebecca Riggs (interim supervisor) was abhorant on her dealings with euthanasia, but she did her job as a manager. Supplies were ordered, customers were dealt with and when the adoption coordinators were busy she would get off her ass and help! Now Miss Riggs has been demoted back to her original position, Amy Rock and Samara Woods were “let go” all because Ann Camp came back to work only to tell them after the fact she would be part time. Rebecca has been forced by Ann to continue her duties as manager, but only be paid as an employee, while Ann makes the big bucks.
    Paying KHS any money while LMAS is understaffed and thier are SOME quality employees thier who could give FREE advice as well as NO KILL LOUISVILLE. This is crazy!

  • 12 The Black Dahlia // Apr 9, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Yes KHS may pull dogs from LMAS but MANY of these dogs are later euthanized at KHS. So no, their lives were not saved. I have seen countless LMAS employees receive phone calls that a particular dog they loved is going to be euthanized at KHS. Many times I witnessed employees jump up and drive straight over to KHS to reclaim the animal to avoid it being killed.

    Don’t drink the kool-aid. LMAS sent 5x the number of animals to rescue last year than KHS. LMAS has a much larger rescue contacts database which was put together solely by staff members off the clock. And promptly given to KHS for unknown reasons.

    The city refused to hire more adoption coordinators, animal care specialist and a rescue coordinator due to budget constraints but then paid $27,000 for KHS to come in and basically steal LMAS’s rescue contacts, cherry pick the highly adoptable dogs for their adoption program and stand around under the guise that they are “helping” LMAS.

    It’s all very sad….. KHS will not release their euthanasia numbers to the public which makes me suspicious as LMAS always has been truthful about how many animals die at their facility.

    I am also troubled by the fact that the city brought in KHS when there are so many actual No Kill Groups in the area which would have offered way more assistance at a much lower price (Shamrock Foundation, Animal Care Society, Shelby Co No Kill Mission, Woodstock Animal Foundation, No Kill Louisville.)

    In an upcoming rescue meeting KHS also picked what rescue groups would be contacted to attend. Several groups they contacted are on the “Do Not Rescue” list through United Rescues of Kentucky for bad rescue practices. LMAS does not work with these groups and yet KHS does and has invited them to the KHS / LMAS rescue meeting. However KHS left off many other rescues that LMAS works with daily from from the invite list……

    This was a very poorly devised plan. I wish the city officials would listen to the staff and volunteers at LMAS and figure out what it is they really need.

  • 13 jake // Apr 9, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Greg is only listening to Sadiqa and Allison.

    Two people who have zero clue what’s going on at LMAS.

    I mean, it’s a sad day when the couple people (and, let’s face it, there are only a couple of them because the rest have been fired or quit) at LMAS detest me reach out to confirm things.

  • 14 The Black Dahlia // Apr 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    And don’t get me started on how many KHS dog are returned to Manslick because KHS makes you schedule an appointment to return the animal and charges $25 to give the animal back to them.

    There are tons of KHS dogs who spend weeks at Manslick waiting for KHS to come pick them up. Sometimes KHS will just tell the MAS staff to euthanize them…. Nice. Woodstock, ACS, and Shamrock animals also sometimes appear at MAS but these groups always promptly pick them up and never ask that they be euthanized…..

    KHS adoption criteria is pretty lax…. Yes they do a lot of adoptions but how many of them are good adoptions? For a cheap can of Ol Roy dog food you can adopt a dog from them for a $1 during their “adoption specials.” And how many of these animals are returned to LMAS or given away to unknown fates on Craigslist? Even the HSUS warns giving away animals for free or for super low prices. It’s always advised to rehome animals with a minimal fee of $50.

    Come on!

  • 15 Kat // Apr 10, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    This doesn’t sound like KHS is trying to “consult”, it seems they are trying to take “control”. Who are they to claim LMAS rescue contacts & DECIDE who to to invite. This is WRONG on every level.

  • 16 ukfan1969 // Apr 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Kat, you are right! I just got a phone call from an employee at MAS who wants to remain nameless to ensure thier saftey. This person told my KHS came in with a laptop and downloaded all of the MAS foster information, including MINE! This is illegal because I did not authrize my information to be sent to another organization. I promptly emailed the mayor and he was out of the office, but I did recieve a response from someone else saying they will look into done it. I am getting a lawyer, I have had enough of what they have done to me. My sexual harrassment complaint was dismissed even though I had 3 witnesses who made written statements. It seems they can do whatever they want and no one can stop them.

  • 17 ukfan1969 // Apr 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Jake, you really need to dig into what KHS is doing at MAS. IT is criminal and all about money. Please help us!!

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