Former LMAS Staffer Speaks Out On C-J Letter

Former Louisville Metro Animal Services employee Karen Dickson is speaking out about a January 22 letter to the editor that appeared in A Kentucky Newspaper.

We discussed it at the time but there’s nothing like hearing directly from those people in the belly of the beast:

I was surprised to read the letter of Jan 22, 2012 regarding recent changes to Metro Animal Services. As the Metro Animal Services Volunteer Coordinator from August 2009 until November 2011, I took pride in soliciting, training and working with all LMAS volunteers at both facilities. The writer is the owner/founder of a local pet food company that comes to the shelters once a year to give the dogs a holiday treat. I’m not sure this self described “longtime volunteer” has spent much time witnessing the daily shelter conditions or interacting with staff.

Her observations of a cleaner kennel with healthier animals might have been due to the fact that the management was aware of her upcoming visit and sent out a press release on Dec. 21 announcing the fact. The media was even invited to attend for a photo op. Current management is obsessed with projecting a public image of cleanliness and order, at the expense of more pressing issues, such as animal health and getting the dogs and cats out alive. While appearances are subjective, numbers are not, and the numbers coming out of LMAS are a depressing read that prove nothing much has changed for the animals.

In 2010, under Wayne Zelinsky, LMAS euthanized 56% of all animals it took in. For the first 7 months of 2011, under two additional Interim Directors, the euthanasia rate was 40%. In the first three months after Justin Scally took over, the euthanasia rate soared to 59%, higher than the previous 7 months or anytime in the previous year. In fact, in just those first three months, Mr. Scally presided over the deaths of 1,233 cats and 438 dogs.

Adoptions are a similarly dismal story. In 2010, 16% of all animals that entered the shelter were adopted. For the first 10 months of 2011, 18% of all animals that entered the shelter were adopted, but this moderate 2% increase was at a new $2.5 million facility on Newburg Road. In light of this moderate increase I think it is fair to ask why the Manslick Road shelter is not staffed with personnel that will serve potential adopters there and not insist they drive across town to see a dog or cat they can adopt immediately.

I agree with the writer that the staff has worked hard at cleaning the shelter, but at what real cost? The shelter is understaffed and volunteers are discouraged from helping if staff cannot scrutinize their every move. If LMAS Management would concentrate on solving the real problems, they wouldn’t have to spend such an inordinate amount of time worrying about public perception. The image problems would solve themselves.

Karen Dickson

Dickson sent that as a response to the AKN but it obviously wasn’t published.

John Yarmuth Donates Congressional Salary Again

Once again, John Yarmuth has donated his Congressional salary to the following 25 organizations:

  • Anne Braden Institute – UofL
  • Bridgehaven
  • CASA
  • Center for Women and Families
  • Crane House
  • Elderserve
  • Family and Children’s Place – Child Advocacy Center
  • Family Scholar House
  • Harbor House
  • Home of the Innocents
  • Jewish Community of Louisville
  • Kentucky Center Governor’s School for the Arts
  • Kentucky School of Art
  • KET Commonwealth Fund
  • The Library Foundation
  • Louisville Fund for the Arts
  • Louisville Urban League
  • Louisville Zoo
  • Maryhurst
  • Muhammad Ali Center
  • Simmons University
  • United Way
  • Volunteers of America
  • Youth Build Louisville

“With our economy in recovery, a lot of really wonderful organizations are being forced to cut already lean budgets,” Yarmuth said. “I am very fortunate to be in a position to offer this small assist as these groups work so diligently and effectively to enrich the Louisville community.”

Yarmuth, for whatever reason, never releases the amounts given to each group.

Actors Theater Is Why Louisville Has Nice Things

This A Kentucky Newspaper story about Greg Fischer turning to Facebook to ask questions about the budget is interesting. Doesn’t mention that he deleted nearly every comment perceived as negative – even when true and honest. [C-J/AKN]

What was that, again, about the Legislative Ethics Commission not being under the direct control of the good old boys in Frankfort? [John Cheves]

Bob Gunnell needs to focus on paying back the $400,000 or whatever he stiffed the IRS for. Maybe focus on his bankruptcy and walking out on Peritus – which is fighting to get what it’s owed from him, apparently – before he tries to keep it up with this bit of killing sidewalks on Brownsboro Road. And opponents declined to go to the forum last week not because the project is moving forward but because Bob got his ass handed to him and he has egg all over his face. [FOX41]

Oh, look, it’s Claudia Coffey doing a story about the Brownsboro Road sidewalk. Wouldn’t it be a good idea for her to disclose the fact that she knows Bob Gunnell personally when doing a slanted story like this? [WHAS11]

Will Jeffersonville ever stop flushing all of its poop into the Ohio River? [WFPL]

Lonnie Napier can’t read or use the Google so there’s no way for him to realize that welfare drug testing doesn’t work. What does work, though, is testing legislators for drug use. Someone needs to file that as an amendment ASAP. [WKYT]

Have you seen how much money taxpayers pony up for silly “studies” every year? Millions upon millions. [Page One]

You can’t even go to St. Matthews without cold getting robbed. Better pack your pepper spray, meemaw. [WAVE3]

Actors Theater opened some downtown apartments for visiting artists. This will be a good thing for Louisville, right? [Business First]

Here’s more on that large drug ring that was arrested in J-town last week. [WLKY]

David Whitlock is proof that Louisville doesn’t need outdated constables, right? [84WHAS]

What Was That About No One Reading, Again?

Yesterday, for the millionth time, we pointed out shenanigans at Louisville Metro Animal Services.

In that post, we also said this:

Meanwhile, Jim King does everything BUT address LMAS. He brought the Zoo up in deficit discussions because his wife (a true Louisville gem) is on the board, though. Nary a mention of cleaning up LMAS to save budget dollars.

Guess who responded?

Jim King // Jan 27, 2012 at 3:28 am


as I’ve said before, LMAS is an executive branch function. I’m President of the legislative branch. We gave the Mayor 28 ways to save money that could presumably go to LMAS needs. It made no sense for me to mention LMAS in a budget “reduction” letter. The Council recently visited the Manslick center and I spoke with Justin Scally last week about adding fencing at the Animal House to allow more than one animal at a time to be exercised outside. I don’t feel you are being fair on this subject and I don’t undersand that as you seen very logical and fair these last two years I’ve been reading you.

Of course I ripped that apart:

jake // Jan 27, 2012 at 8:16 am


The legislative branch of local government has the power to hold the head of the executive branch accountable.

You did not specifically address Louisville Metro Animal Services. It made tons of sense to mention it since the three new staffers there suck down more than $250,000 that could be used to keep that agency out of a deficit situation. Common sense could go a long way there.

You gave Justin Scally a weeks-long heads-up about your visit. We wrote about it. You already know how silly that is and I won’t berate you again. But it’s just dumb to proclaim that as making progress. It’s like telling Richie Farmer you’ll be visiting his apartment at a specific time so he’s able to clean up all the coke or hillbilly heroin from the toilet seat and shoo all the hookers away.

Not being fair? Interesting you should say that. Because the thousands of people who care about Metro Animal Services and this city’s responsibility to do something think I’m being more than fair. Your wife thinks I’m being more than fair. Jonathan Hurst thinks I’m being more than fair. Actually, all of your staff think I’m being fair. And former staff. And campaign staffers. And constituents. Many of them say I’m not being harsh enough and spend their entire days saying I’m bought and paid for by you, actually. I hear about it 24 flipping hours a day, non-stop, even on holidays, even when I’ve been in the hospital. It’s the only thing people talk to me about in this damn town. EVERYBODY seems to have an opinion and 95% of those opinions are the same (rare for Louisville).

This isn’t the most important issue metro government faces but you’re ending up with egg on your face for acting as if the five minutes you’ve spent on the matter in the five years you’ve been reading me (it was at least 4 years ago when you took the polygraph, sir) are sufficient. You know hundreds of people will make sure of it.

You’re playing pat-a-cake with this issue. So are most of your colleagues (with the exception of Kelly Downard). If you were taking it seriously, you wouldn’t tuck tail and run from the people who have been trying to work with you on it for months and months.

Reality, here, is that you’re not a blubbering tool who got elected with daddy’s money. You didn’t have that cushion and privilege. I know first-hand that you have the ability to clean this bullshit up. I personally understand and appreciate the strong desire of the entire council (get real – they all express their embarrassment of the new mayor in private) to let the mayor fall on his own face. But this issue makes our city look ridiculous. It is indicative of the lack of compassion and lack of transparency Greg Fischer has forced upon the metro area under the guise of – yep, compassion and transparency. It’s utter horse shit. Or dog and cat shit, if we’re getting technical.

You have direct access to me and thereby have direct access to every single person working on this. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty? Send someone else to do it.

I may be argumentative on every other issue for the sake of being difficult and to drive up readership. But I have proved I am right on Metro Animal Services for several years. I will own that.

Yeah. Head – desk.

P.S. We also said this:

It’s time for the Democratic Metro Councilman we’ve been hinting about to sack up and speak out on LMAS. Because no one else has the guts to try improving the place.

And it’s beyond time for that councilcritter to sack up and get to it. He knows who he is.