Want a nice roundup of some of our significant LMAS stories? You’ll find a decent list of them by clicking here.
Original story below.
In February 2013, Louisville Metro Animal Services received a young and beautiful Pitbull named Sadie. She was friendly, likable and loving but had what amounted to a dangling leg from an injury that needed to be amputated. Her owner attempted to claim her in March and received a violation notice of her injuries. When a vet notice is issued, owners are required to provide vet care within 48 hours or they wind up in court. The owner didn’t bother getting her care and didn’t bother showing up for court. Nothing happened. No bench warrant was issued. There was no follow-up from LMAS.
In late August, the owner finally surrendered Sadie to LMAS and she was set to be euthanized.
A big deal, sure, but not something LMAS couldn’t handle and not something that is rare. But Sadie’s story doesn’t end like you think it should.
SADIE, UPON INTAKE
LMAS sent her to Jefferson Animal Hospital and was immediately advised to amputate the leg or put her to sleep. She was placed in foster care with an LMAS employee named Heather Adkins, who confirms everything we’re revealing in a lengthy written statement. Adkins committed to keeping Sadie for six months while Margaret Brosko (then second in command at LMAS), Kim Ward (Foster Coordinator) and Alisa Oerther (Community Engagement Supervisor) worked to secure funding for Sadie to get the medical help she needed. Brosko told Adkins that she would be going public with a PR story about Sadie in order to raise everything necessary and shine a positive light on the agency. And on October 14, 2013, Ward told Adkins that Brosko was, “going to push the story and it will probably be pretty big.”
It wasn’t. Because Brosko never did anything on the Sadie front.
Weeks and weeks of unanswered emails, telephone calls, desperation. Nothing. It was apparent Margaret Brosko had more important things to do than her job. So Adkins raised most of the money needed for the amputation herself. Unfortunately, she was told that it would have to be handled by LMAS and her hands were tied. By that time, Sadie was beginning to self-mutilate her leg and was forced to live in a cone. Brosko was aware of the urgency because Adkins emailed her with frequent updates, begging for assistance. The only time she ever responded was with quips like, “We’re working on it.” and when asked when the surgery would be performed, “SOON.”
Delay after delay, stalling, excuses about missing or never ordered surgical supplies (bogus — the procedure was being done by the Adkins’ own veterinarian, not LMAS), it went on and on. Heather Adkins was desperate. Margaret Brosko was eventually forced to reveal to Heather that all the money that had been raised specifically for Sadie was used on another dog. In fact, private citizens made donations specifically for Sadie and Brosko spent the funds elsewhere.
CLICK TO ENLARGE
In total, there were 18 emails from Adkins to LMAS employees regarding Sadie’s urgent medical needs. During that period she took Sadie to her own vet on her own dime for checkups and wound care. At one point, Kim Ward appears to have also attempted to get Brosko to help Sadie and told Adkins via email that the situation was “becoming an issue of neglect on our part, as far as I’m concerned.” She really hit the nail on the head with that one. Neglect, abuse, misappropriation of funds. Standard Operating Procedure there.
Nothing ever happened. LMAS did nothing. Greg Fischer’s staffers like Sadiqa Reynolds sat on their hands and/or whitewashed a brewing scandal.
Sadie continued to break through her cones, chewing on her paw and leg until late March — a full year after LMAS was told the leg needed to be removed — when Heather reached out to the Arrow Fund in a desperate plea for help. AF reacted and after having the dog transferred to their ownership, rushed her to Blue Pearl Veterinary Hospital for treatment. It was too late. Sadie had chewed up and swallowed so much of her leg and the accompanying bandages that she had an obstructed bowel. She was constantly vomiting and had developed pneumonia. She was euthanized to end her suffering.
A senseless death that was a direct result of Margaret Brosko’s clear incompetence and indifference toward the animals in her care.
The story doesn’t end there, sadly.
After a month, open records requests were filed to obtain copies of emails to/from the parties involved, for medical notes and kennel records. But LMAS and Metro Government had no intention of releasing anything related to the case. The first attempt yielded just three emails — two of which were duplicates and nothing more than a request to Jefferson Animal Hospital for their records. The second attempt turned up unrelated messages and nothing from Margaret Brosko. Unfortunately for LMAS, Metro Government and Brosko? Heather Adkins kept all of her emails and other records. So it was easy to determine LMAS/Brosko were willfully breaking the law by withholding public documents. They were called on it and denied their existence.
That’s just a taste of what exists.
After Sadie died, Brosko and her boss, Donald Robinson, were all the sudden interested in Sadie because they had egg on their faces. They called Adkins and her Union Steward into their office and demanded to know who had called the Arrow Fund for help. For everything she went through and everything she did, Adkins was formally written up for calling in outside help. Brosko was blind to the fact (or willfully trying to cover things up) that her own neglect caused what amounts to torture/neglect and death of a dog in her care.
A month later, Robinson again called Adkins into his office to reprimand her over the open records requests LMAS was beginning to receive. He allegedly told her that she wasn’t his “star employee” and would fire her for bringing negative attention and bad press to LMAS. But he wouldn’t get that opportunity. Heather Adkins left LMAS a few weeks later, still heartbroken over Sadie and disgusted by the treatment she received and the health care Sadie didn’t receive.
Complaints are currently being filed with the Office of the Attorney General. One regarding Brosko’s withholding of emails that we have proof exist and another regarding the matter of neglect, which resulted in Sadie’s death.
At the time, Arrow Fund was public about what went down:
CLICK TO ENLARGE
It wasn’t a secret. Not something that can be covered up.
To make things sting a bit more for Brosko, LMAS, Greg Fischer and crew, here’s the statement provided to us by Adkins:
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Heather Adkins, and I am a previous employee of Louisville Metro Animal Services. I left my position in May for many reasons, the biggest of which is a current issue Ms. Karen Dickson is attempting to bring to light. For fear of retaliation, I didn’t want to step forward. I’m no longer fearful.
Around September 2013, I took home my first and only foster dog, a beautiful gray pit bull named Sadie. She was about two years old, the sweetest, happiest dog you’ve ever met, with a horribly destroyed front leg. It dangled uselessly, likely from a previous traumatic accident that was never seen by a vet.
Sadie was impounded in March of 2013, and when the owner came to claim her, not only did the owner contest a spay (obviously because s/he was a breeder from the west end), s/he received a violation notice on Sadie’s injury (images attached). When a vet notice is issued to an owner, they have to take the dog to the vet within 48 hours, and if they don’t, they get taken to court.
That’s exactly what happened with Sadie. Her owner didn’t bother taking her to the vet, so s/he was given a court date. Which s/he didn’t show up for.
This is the first instance in which Metro Animal Services dropped the ball. Nothing happened. A bench warrant was not issued. The owner was not tracked down to give proof Sadie had been seen. And the case was eventually dismissed by a judge.
Several months later in July, Sadie ended up back at the shelter. After a month, the owner told the shelter in no uncertain terms s/he would not be returning to get Sadie.
Sadie was immediately placed on the euthanasia list.
Rather than see perfectly happy and sweet Sadie put down for only the crime of A—being a pit bull, and B—having a bum leg, I took her home as a foster. This was around the first of September.
The next day, I emailed the foster coordinator at that time, Kim Ward, and asked about my options. I told her my husband and I were willing to raise funds for Sadie’s surgery. As with all MAS fosters, the animals ARE MAS property, and as such, foster parents have little control over what they can or can not do, so I knew I needed permission to go forward.
Kim was right on board with this idea, and she let me know she’d run it by her boss, Margaret Brosko, and get back with me.
In the meantime, I told Tabitha Gray, the vet staff supervisor about Sadie’s situation. I told her Sadie would be a wonderful adoption candidate because she loved other dogs, loved cats, loved people, and was an all-around sunny dog. Tabitha informed me her vet staff wouldn’t do anything for Sadie because they wouldn’t see a financial return on her.
Within a couple days, Kim emailed me back to say hold off on collection any money, because Margaret wanted to use Sadie as a PR tool. They’d received a donation from a citizen that was specified to be used to save a pit bull, and Sadie would be perfect for this. I agreed, because I didn’t care how Sadie got the surgery, as long as she did.
A month passed with no word. I wasn’t concerned at this time because Sadie was happy and healthy, and the leg didn’t seem to bother her at all. I emailed Kim to ask what the status of her surgery was, and Kim let me know they were waiting on the surgery pack.
Another month passed. I emailed often and received vague answers: We’re waiting for the surgery equipment. Oh, the equipment is delayed. The equipment is here, but we haven’t heard from the vet who does our amputations. Still no word. Sorry for the delay. These emails were to/from several different people including Kim Ward, Margaret Broso, and Alisa Oerther. There is even one email I remember vividly from Margaret in response to a fairly long request from me to get the surgery going: One word. Soon.
By this time, it was November, and Sadie began to chew on the paw. I guessed as it got colder outside, the leg began to ache, the way an athlete’s old injury might. It wasn’t serious at first; I’d just catch her nibbling at it, never hurting herself. But one morning I awoke to find she chewed through her paw, including several toenails, so I rushed her to my personal veterinarian, Doctor Stephanie Pollett in Bullitt County. Dr. Pollett cleaned her, bandaged her, and gave me the first of many cones for Sadie’s neck.
At work that day, I emailed Margaret. This was around November 11th, I believe. I told her that Sadie had self-mutilated the night before, and I woke up to find her bloody paw. I said she was fine now, but the situation had hit crisis mode and we needed to get the surgery done NOW.
My husband and I were stunned by what happened next. I was informed that because they never heard from the amputation vet, that they’d had to use that pit bull donation on another dog. It had to be used “right away.” So there was no money for Sadie. They couldn’t do anything for us.
Sadie broke through two e-collars and got to her leg twice, each time consisting of me waking up to her bleeding and rushing her to my personal vet and spending out of pocket to get her cleaned and bandaged, plus purchasing another e-collar.
For most of the fall, I was very communicative with Dr. Pollett about how the shelter had promised Sadie help and hadn’t done anything for her yet. Dr. Pollett offered very early on to do the surgery for low cost—it would include a hospital stay at her own practice, all equipment, all meds, everything. So I had emailed Margaret and told her the price Dr. Pollett stated, and that I was willing to raise this money myself and take care of everything if she would just give me permission to do so.
She said she would need to get permission from the SPOT board.
At a meeting just after Sadie’s death in March, Margaret stated face-to-face she had told me Dr. Pollett was more money than they had raised. This was NEVER communicated to me. How would that have been an issue, when I specifically stated I would raise the money myself if they would give me permission?
On or around December 21st, three weeks after Sadie began self-mutilating and I notified Kim and Margaret, Margaret finally sent me an email giving me permission to raise the money ourselves and let Dr. Pollett do the surgery.
Over the course of January and February, Sadie did well as we raised money for her surgery. She stopped going after her paw, and was able to be out of the e-collar for long periods of time without paying it any mind.
At work, I personally received and cashed at least three payments on behalf of Sadie. One from my best friend, Ann Hunter, in the amount of $50. One from a family friend, Judy Sampson, in the amount of $10. And a third from a Facebook friend, Christine Posey. I’ve contacted all three to request proof of their payment. When they were entered in the shelter’s Chameleon software system, they were referenced as “Sadie’s surgery” and donated as a DONATION SPOT. This is only three I know of; there were definitely others.
We hit our surgery goal on a Friday. That next Monday, I woke up to find Sadie had completely chewed through her bandages and reached her paw again. We visited the vet and cleaned up, talked about setting up Sadie’s surgery—I just needed to let Margaret know we were ready to do so, if SPOT was ready to write the check. Then I took her back home.
As a side note here, I recently found out that a SPOT board member stated no information was ever brought to them regarding Sadie. They had never heard of her, nor had they given permission to do the donations through them to pay for the surgery. She stated they likely would not have been a part of this situation in the first place. So whether Margaret lied to me, or this SPOT member was misinformed, I’m not sure.
Within two days, Sadie went downhill. She began to cough and be lethargic. On Wednesday, she vomited several times. On Thursday, I took her to see Dr. Pollett, who did X-rays and found Sadie had actually consumed some of the bandages this time. She then suggested I contact the Arrow Fund and ask for help.
Which I did. I sent Sadie’s story to the Arrow Fund via email that same night, and then spoke by phone with Rebecca Eaves. She wanted to help, and by early the next morning, Sadie was transferred into the care of the Arrow Fund. Her condition at this point was too severe—she’d developed pneumonia from the constant vomiting, on top of the bowel obstruction, on top of the leg that needed medical attention. They opted to euthanize her.
A meeting was set between Donald, Margaret, me, and our union steward, Sherry Goodman, in which they had me tell the story of what happened in the days leading up to Sadie being transferred to Arrow Fund. After, I was written up.
I told them if Sadie had received the help she was promised in the beginning, then I would have felt comfortable coming to them for help when Sadie ingested the bandages. But they’d proven, over the course of six months, that help would not be coming from MAS. They neglected Sadie, and in return neglected me as the foster parent. That’s when I turned to Arrow Fund.
A month later, Donald Robinson, assistant director, pulled me into his office where he informed me if I wasn’t his “star employee,” he would fire me for bringing this bad press on them. He showed me the open records request from Karen Dickson, who I only knew by name at that point, and told me “Now we have to deal with this.”
I am willing to swear under oath that there are a dozen or more emails in existence that took place between myself, Kim Ward, Margaret Brosko, and Alisa Oerther. I am seeking to provide proof of three separate donations for Sadie that were not claimed in the open records request, and I am also attempting to find all the documentation I had on hand regarding these emails about Sadie, showing the numerous times I reached out to the staff and received no help in return. You can find my story to be corroborated by several LMAS employees who were by my side during the entire ordeal, though I’m sure they fear retaliation and/or termination, so at this point it’s doubtful they would step forward.
This is not all that I have to say on the subject of Animal Services. It is a corrupt place, led by people who care not for the animals, but for good press. They will lie, cheat, and steal to remain in the Mayor’s good graces, and they will grab every success story to the forefront, while dutifully covering up the bad, much as they are trying to do now with Sadie.
After all that, Fischer and crew promoted Brosko to work in his office and have taken great pains to cover the scandal up. They also tried to hire another abysmal director, until we revealed her mess publicly. His staff — government officials paid for with your tax dollars — are now attempting to retaliate because they know we’re blowing the lid off the LMAS nightmare once again.
In all these eight long years of covering corruption at Metro Animal Services and within Metro Government, this takes the cake. It beats everything we’ve seen and our investigations have directly resulted in the firing of several directors, don’t forget. It’s worse than all of that. It’s worse than Gilles Meloche injecting air into the hearts of animals instead of humanely euthanizing them. It’s worse than throwing freshly killed animals into the city dump instead of incinerating them. It’s worse than sexual harassment scandals and legal settlements. It’s worse than Wayne Zelinsky and the escort service shenanigans. It’s worse than Jackie Gulbe stuffing an elderly, overheated dog into a suitcase to take it to the shelter (yes, that’s why she was let go – we’ve already proved it). It’s worse than Margaret Brosko damaging someone’s vehicle with an LMAS truck, which was verified by LMPD and Metro Government, only to be covered up and whitewashed.
This is the worst thing we’ve seen from LMAS because we finally have evidence that everyone from Greg Fischer on down are mismanaging the troubled agency while violating the law in an attempt to withhold information from the public. All in an attempt to whitewash reality and make themselves look like they’re doing a stellar job. Everyone involved ought to be prosecuted, fined, fired and held responsible. It’s just tough to have faith in anyone with an ability in government to do the right thing.
Will Jack Conway, who is now running for governor, step up and do the right thing? Or will this end as just another scalp in our LMAS trophy case?
Something tells us Conway won’t want Jamie Comer, his eventual Republican opponent, hanging this around his neck.