The problems at Caddo Parish Animal shelter are not new but Parish Administrator Woody Wilson believes that the shelter is steadily improving.
Not so, according to Ray Abney, a kennel worker there who handed in a five page resignation letter this past Friday detailing a history of cruelties, abuses and mismanagement, among other things.
‘It’s getting worse and worse,” Abney said of the facility.”The kennel is disgusting. They should be sited for animal cruelty. I’m sick of the politics. I’m sick of the fact that nobody really cares or these animals,” continued Abney, who was working to set up rescue placement for the shelter’s animals.
Since Abney’s resignation a petition has been created denouncing treatment and conditions at Caddo Parish Animal Shelter with a goal of 5000 signatures. Already there is over 1,100 signatures from as far away as Belgium and Italy and covering the US and Canada.
Started by Debbie Bratten, president and founder of Arkansas Southern Dog Rescue, the purpose of the online petition is to let Caddo officials know that everyone is watching the shelter and they’re not happy with what they see.
“My purpose in starting the petition was to make the administration aware that this is something that is being monitored far and wide and that we are NOT going to just go away and allow them to continue to sweep these atrocities under the rug,” Bratten said in an e-mail to The Times.
Said Wilson: “I don’t need a petition to tell me to do the right thing. I’m already doing the right thing.”
Nevertheless, it’s important that Caddo taxpayers, many of whom are seriously concerned about the care of animals, are kept abreast of developments at the shelter and that they see steady, even dramatic improvements in operations.
In the past, Abney has received high marks from members of animal rescue groups and his departure does signal ongoing dysfunction at the shelter.
I am including a letter a letter from Ray Abney as well as the full resignation letter. At the bottom will be a link to the petition. Please take the time to read through it, it will really open your eyes! The petition includes the resignation but due to formatting, it is difficult to read and I wanted to make sure that you didn’t miss one eye opening word!
My Dear Friends & Animal-Lovers,
I have just terminated my employment at the Caddo Parish Animal Shelter. In order to avoid having to explain my situation to many, I am attaching a copy of my resignation. A reading will show how inhumane the shelter is. I am sorry to leave the animals behind, but I can no longer tolerate the abuse without the freedom to save lives.
I would be pleased for each of you to write an email to the “Caddo Parish Major Players”. I am attaching a file by that name. Perhaps if they are bombarded by email, they’ll make some positive changes and stop causing misery to my dear ones (the animals).
It has been a pleasure working with each of you. I hope we can work together again in the future. However, at this time, I have acquired excellent employment elsewhere and have begun college as well. As a father of four minor children, full-time employee, full-time student, King of the Krewe of Barkus & Meoux, I will find little “extra” time in my day.
Feel free to pass this message and attachments on to all who might be able to make a difference in the lives of the animals at Caddo. I truly believe if enough attention is brought to bear on the shelter, changes will be made.
Please also note I’ve changed my cellular telephone number to: 318-272-6282.
I forever remain your friend in animal care,
In memory of my dear “Fat Cat” (killed: 7-06-07)
Raymond R. Abney Jr.
New cell: 318-272-6282
email: firstname.lastname@example.org (at gmail.com)
Caddo Parish Major Players
Randy M. Lucky
Asst. Par. Administrator
Karen K. Bell
Dist. 1 Commissioner
Dist. 2 Commissioner
Carl A. Pierson Sr.
Dist. 3 Commissioner/Pres.
Dist. 4 Commissioner
Sam L. Jenkins Jr.
Dist. 5 Commissioner
Dist. 6 Commissioner
Dist. 7 Commissioner
Dist. 8 Commissioner
Dist. 9 Comm./Parliamentarian
Dist. 10 Commissioner/V.P.
Dist. 11 Commissioner
Clifford Ray Collins
Dist. 12 Commissioner
Martha Van Horn
State Animal Control Association
Louisiana Animal Control Association
David Marcantel, President
c/o Calcasieu Parish Animal Control
5500-A Swift Plant Rd.
Lake Charles, LA 70615
Notice of Resignation
To: Caddo Parish Commission
Attn: Human Resources
Attn: Messers. W. Wilson & T. Weaver
From: Raymond R. Abney Jr.
Date: September 28, 2007
I herewith tender my notice of resignation, effective immediately, for the following reasons:
I have worked for Caddo Parish Animal Services since January, 2006. It has ever been my belief that the animals in our care should be first on our list of priorities. It has become blatantly obvious that my belief is not shared by the whole my co-workers. I will not sit idly by while animals are tortured, neglected, abused, mistreated, and killed.
- I have personally witnessed a Kennel Worker purposely beating cats with the rims of the nets on two occasions.
- I’ve witnessed a dog, scheduled for euthanasia, beaten in the mouth by a catch pole to the point of bleeding, by that same Kennel Worker.
- I’ve witnessed a puppy being hung by a hose while being dragged from behind by an ACO. I’ve witnessed many ACO’s improperly euthanizing animals.
- I’ve witnessed a Kennel Worker hang a puppy by a leash and swing it like a pendulum into a cage, at first hitting the rim of the cage, then swinging it again to land it in the cage.
- I’ve witnessed ACO’s playing loud music in the Euthanasia Room, as if it wasn’t stressful enough for the animals.
- I’ve witnessed a Kennel Worker dancing in the Euthanasia Room, waiting while a Kennel Worker ahead of her was holding a dog for euthanasia.
- I’ve witnessed a Kennel Worker habitually spreading diseases, especially Parvovirus, and never being reprimanded save the occasional proverbial slap-on-the-wrist.
- I’ve seen puppies being transported in dirty garbage cans.
- I’ve seen the Kennel Manager feed dogs from a food barrel with mice and mice nest in it.
- I’ve seen Kennel Workers feed dogs from food barrels with mold and mildew, mice (alive and dead), mice nests, and other foreign matter.
- I’ve seen drains clogged for months before being cleared, all the while, the raw sewage drained freely on the ground.
- I’ve seen ACO’s place Pit Bulls with other dogs… and even with a whelping mother.
- I’ve witnessed an ACO using a very small dog house for a whelping black Labrador Retriever and her 9 puppies.
- I’ve seen whelping boxes go un-cleaned for days while the newborn puppies lay in filth.
- A local rescuer and I saw a dead dog in a freshly cleaned cage with a live dog.
- I’ve witnessed cats and kittens poisoned to a slow and painful death by Kennel Workers ignorant of the effects of the chemicals they were using.
- I was working at the shelter when an ACO left a certain location with a kitten in a cage on her bumper…the cage hit the ground as the ACO sped off without knowing what she had done.
- This same ACO and a Kennel Worker placed an apparently euthanized dog in the cooler. The next morning the dog was still alive, the ACO having failed both to administer a sufficient amount of sodium pentobarbital and to confirm that the dog was dead before placing it in the cooler.
- I’ve seen dogs, replete with ticks, placed in a run un-dipped, unsprayed, and neglected.
- I’ve seen countless animals arrive at the shelter in good health only to sicken and die miserable deaths. I’ve watched a shelter, already in poor condition, fall even further into disrepair under the mismanagement of the Kennel Manager.
- I have witnessed appalling ignorance in the shelter workers, to the extent that they are unable to pronounce and spell common dog breeds such as Dachshund, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher, Chihuahua, Catahoula, Pit Bull, Poodle, Schnauzer, and even Pug—just to name a few.
- I’ve seen the kennel mismanaged, improper equipment purchased, drugs misused, records falsified, paperwork lost constantly, etc.
- I’ve seen more crimes committed against these innocent animals than I could write here without submitting a book to you. Perhaps the worst crime I’ve witnessed is the Kennel Manager ordering the deaths of animals for which I could find homes…and worse, animals for which I’d already found homes.
- Then, of course, there was the death of our dear kennel pet, ‘Fat Cat,’ a crime for which only one of the two offenders was terminated.
- The Kennel Manager also gave five American Pit Bull Terrier puppies to two different ACO’s. Three of the puppies were sold for $25.00 each to a known Pit Bull fighter. The ACO who sold the puppies is still working there.
- I’ve witnessed animals disappearing, no doubt sold for profit or used for bait.
- I’ve witnessed the Kennel Manager abruptly remove 5-week old puppies from a nursing mother knowing I had a home for the entire family and they were already committed to rescue. The question wasn’t “could it be done?” Of course it could. The question was “is it ethical to do it.” The answer is a resounding “NO!”
I was originally told to register my complaints with the Kennel Manager. That I did, but I was retaliated against. The Kennel Manager has a way of getting rid of her enemies (those Kennel Workers who obviously have a higher Intelligence Quota than she, and who she believes pose a threat to unseat her in her management position), and keeping those Kennel Workers which she believes pose no threat to her rank: those she believes are too ignorant to assume a management position. As a result, those Kennel Workers who remain at the shelter are either friends of the Kennel Manager, or too afraid of losing their job to say anything.
I was then told to register my complaints with the Director. That I did. After the Director was fired, I gave my complaints to the Interim Director. What was done? I was told by Mr. Weaver that I complained about “every little thing.” Unfortunately for the animals in the shelter, their lives are considered a “little thing” by the Interim Director. I can only hope a real Director who loves animals will be hired soon.
I’ve been promised many things by the managers and directors of Caddo Parish Animal Services, only to receive nothing. I was promised full-time position. After months, I was given ‘temporary full-time.’ After months of that, I was finally given full-time. The Kennel Manager promised me the position of ‘Assistant Kennel Manager.’ She and the Director, Dr. Dale, discussed it, and both assured me that would be my position. However, the Kennel Manager lied to me over and again until finally appointing another worker (Diane) to that position. I was promised a permanent position as Adoption & Rescue Coordinator. It was never posted. I was promised a substantial raise. It was never given. I am disgusted with the endless lies and false promises. Furthermore, I know these lies will continue. I have witnessed the Kennel Manager lie to Dr. Dale on countless occasions, as she’s lied to other upper management, rescue groups, employees, her subordinates, and customers. She is a hopeless prevaricator and uses her lies to conceal her intellectual weakness and flawed managerial attempts. She has alienated the local animal welfare groups and many local, out-of-town and out-of-state rescue groups as well. Although she will hide her apathy with a counterfeit outward appearance of an animal-lover, eventually the truth will shine through as it has many times in the past.
Make no mistake; the Kennel Manager is a ‘Backyard Breeder’ who exploits shelter animals for profit. She has a ‘Catch & Kill’ philosophy and was infuriated with Mr. Nathan Winograd because he exposed her for the failure she is. She does not care how the shelter is emptied out, as long as it is emptied out, to make room for more animals. For her, the easiest way to get rid of an animal is euthanasia. There is no doubt in my mind she prefers this method as it relieves her of many of her additional duties if the animal was placed for adoption. She makes little or no effort to eradicate sickness in the shelter because it is her primary excuse for euthanasia. Sickness gives her a blameless option to kill countless animals. Her second method of emptying the shelter is adoption followed distantly by her third method, rescue. Amazingly, this Kennel Manager’s plan is the exact reversal of what logic dictates it should be.
Primarily, the shelter should be attempting to rescue out every rescue-candidate in the shelter. There are many reasons for this, reasons which I have repeated to the management so many times I sound like a broken record. Briefly, however, when we send an animal to a nonprofit rescue group we immediately reduce the pet population in Caddo Parish (since the great majority of the animals are sent out of the parish). The rescue group takes on the burden of all health issues, including heartworms, broken bones, allergic conditions, spay & neuter and all other health problems. Rescues will take many animals which the shelter cannot afford to rehabilitate or socialize. They take on the responsibility of finding a great home for the animal (shelter workers cannot be so meticulous in finding homes as the rescues can.) The parish saves a fortune in time and money, and makes space in the shelter for adoptable animals.
Secondly, we should look to adoption. Any animal which cannot be rescued should be spayed or neutered and placed for adoption. This is a more costly proposition than rescue, but still much preferable to (and less expensive than) euthanasia.
Only as a last resort should the shelter consider euthanasia. Euthanasia is costly, time-consuming, and emotionally very taxing on the personnel.
The Kennel Manager is very territorial and any attempt to modify her preferred method of making room for new arrivals is violently fought. Because of my passionate and persistent efforts to save lives, I am viewed as a threat. She has made countless efforts to control and manipulate me. However, I refuse to be a pawn on her chess board.
I was willing to work at the meager wage of under $9.00/hour, as long as I was allowed to rescue as many animals as possible. Under Pat Scott, and Brandon Daniel, I was unfettered and rescued record numbers of dogs, cats, and exotics. However, since I was returned to Annette Lewis’ crew, I was hampered at every turn. My rescue numbers took a nosedive. In some cases, she euthanized animals on purpose, knowing I had rescues for them.
I wrote many complaints, and for all my efforts to better the lives of these animals, I received a letter from the Interim Director which read, in part, “YOU ARE A KENNEL WORKER.” All that I had worked for was gone.
Finally, I wrote a grievance against the Kennel Manager. In that grievance hearing, I was asked, “What can YOU do to make it better?” WHAT CAN I DO? I’m the one being threatened. I can stop caring about the animals. I can stop rescuing them. I can stop my programs. I can lose some I.Q. points. In other words, there is nothing I can do… that’s why I was forced to write a grievance.
This is undoubtedly the worst job I’ve ever had. I’ve never in my life worked for so little, under so much duress, with such ignorant management and co-workers.
Now we come to my on-the-job injury. I worked through it, taking injections in the elbow. When the doctor determined that course of action was ineffective, I was sent to a specialist. He, too, attempted injections and learned of their ineffectiveness. Therefore, he placed me on light duty and scheduled an operation.
The Kennel Manager decided there was no ‘light duty’ for the Kennel Worker position (although all I was doing was office work.) Interesting that there was ‘light duty’ for a pregnant Kennel Worker. Therefore, there is precedence for ‘light duty’ for a Kennel Worker. It makes no difference ‘why’ light duty is needed. The fact is that it exists. Still, I was told I would be sent home. It would behoove the parish to consider that, if I chose, I could make an excellent case for a sexual discrimination lawsuit on these grounds.
The following day I had a meeting with Messers. Wilson & Weaver, and was allowed to work on ‘light duty.’
Then I had the operation. I took two weeks off. I was then sent back to work (by Dr. Bilderback) on ‘light duty.’ The second day after I was back, I was sent home (by the Kennel Manager) again. She said, “You’re really going to hate me now.” She sent me home claiming it was an order of Mr. Weaver and, once again, there is no ‘light duty’ for the Kennel Worker position.
I contacted Human Resources and was told by Cheryl that she would get back with me. She did not. The following week, she called me and told me Annette (Lewis, Kennel Manager) ‘had been trying to contact me.’ She told me that I could return to work on ‘light duty.’ I said I thought there was no light duty for my position. I also informed her that I was out-of-town. I will contact Annette on my return, Monday, Sep. 24th after my doctor’s appointment.
I will not be toyed with like a ping-pong ball. I know well there is a ‘light duty’ position as I did it… and so did another Kennel Worker before me. You send me home, bring me back, send me home, and try to bring me back again. This is ridiculous and a pathetic way to run any organization. I am certain the mismanagement doesn’t stop at the Kennel Manager position, but am unsure how far up the ladder it goes.
I felt I was a large part of the humane movement begun by Dr. Dale at the shelter. However, with the firing of Dr. Dale, the re-empowering of Annette Lewis, the dismantling of ‘Humane Services,’ and the attenuation of my ability to save animals, I no longer feel a part of a humane movement. In fact, I feel there is no humane movement whatsoever. I stand alone at the shelter, and will not do so for under $9.00/hour, especially since I can no longer save the lives of these dear animals.
I am educated and experienced and able to find employment making many times this salary. I stayed for the animals, which I referred to as ‘my dear ones.’ I braved sexism and racism. My love for the animals was used against me. It was also used by other workers as a reason to push their work off on me, knowing I would not allow an animal to be miserable. I will no longer stand for this.
I know you have a large responsibility, Mr. Wilson. But you are in error in your governance of the shelter. It is a shame that the lives my dear ones are so low on your list of priorities. Unless you hire educated, experienced management and caring, animal-loving workers, and train them properly, the shelter at Caddo Parish will ever be ‘the inhumane society.’
For these reasons, and many more, I herewith tender you my notice of resignation.
Raymond R. Abney Jr.
cc: personal attorney
cc: Personal file
cc: Animal welfare groups
cc: Rescue groups
If you’re angered by these atrocities and abuses that have occurred and want to get the message out to officials that it’s time to wake up, you are being carefully watched, take a moment to sign the petition.
We are their voices; the innocent, the weak, the defenseless!! Be heard or let the abuse continue!!