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January 5, 2011

Beating a dead horse

Problems (still) abound at Louisville Metro Animal Services

Since succeeding his supervisor as top dog of Louisville Metro Animal Services, interim director Wayne Zelinsky has had an entire year to make things right within the beleaguered animal control agency.

Despite being named along with ex-Director Gilles Meloche as a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits brought by LMAS employees, the former Sarasota, Fla., police K-9 unit officer set high goals for the public agency after assuming office on Jan. 1, 2010, chief among them to work with animal rescue groups that had been alienated by Meloche, to significantly reduce euthanasia rates, and to increase adoptions. Early in his tenure, it looked as though that might actually happen, even though the recently opened Newburg Road ‘Animal House’ adoption facility was delayed by nearly a year due to faulty
construction work.

In an interview with LEO Weekly in May 2010, Jessica Reid, founder and president of the nonprofit animal welfare and zero-euthanasia advocacy group No Kill Louisville, said Zelinsky — a board member of No Kill Louisville — was fostering an open, intimidation-free work environment at LMAS.

But as the new year unfolds, Reid and other sources close to the shelter maintain that Zelinsky’s reign has brought the embattled animal control agency only more ruin: Conditions at LMAS’ 3705 Manslick Road shelter continue to worsen as its cat room and two kennels suffer from nonexistent and inadequate heating systems (respectively), even during the onset of winter; rescue groups are being alienated and refused access to animals for arbitrary reasons; adoptions at the Manslick shelter have virtually ceased despite assurances they would continue, according to employees; and euthanasia rates haven’t significantly changed since Meloche resigned a year ago.

“Wayne is running the shelter into the ground,” says Barbara Haines, treasurer of the Louisville Kennel Club. “(Mayor Greg) Fischer needs to replace (Zelinsky) with an interim director while a permanent director is being selected. It can’t wait any longer.”

To get a clearer picture of LMAS’ stagnation, one need only look at the current euthanasia numbers. According to data compiled by an LMAS employee, 5,991 out of a total 10,213 animals (58 percent) were euthanized between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2009. During the same time frame in 2010, the euthanasia rate dropped a mere 1 percent, with 5,925 out of a total 10,382 animals (57 percent) being euthanized.

The leading justification for lethal injections at the shelter is “behavior observed,” which, according to a euthanasia log obtained by LEO Weekly, can be behavior such as a cat hissing unfavorably at an LMAS employee; 1,193 animals were killed for that reason last year.

As a result of such flimsy rationale, coupled with the fact that volunteers sometimes are placed in charge of authorizing euthanasia, Reid feels like No Kill Louisville and the animals they serve have been pushed into a corner. Meanwhile, her organization has increasingly picked up LMAS’ slack by ferrying dogs on behalf of the shelter to the Hurstbourne Lane PetSmart and renewing a low-income pet food-assistance program, even as LMAS and other rescues said there wasn’t any money for it.

“Granted, Zelinsky had quite a mess when he came in, but on the other side of it, he was part of that mess,” says Reid, adding that she now feels his membership on No Kill Louisville’s board feels more like a political move than any legitimate concern for animals. “He said in front of (Metro Council) when we did the No Kill Resolution on Sept. 9 that (he) supports us. I think he’s very duplicitous, and he says what you want to hear. If somebody says, ‘I love the color blue,’ he’ll say, ‘I love the color.’ And then, when somebody else comes by and says, ‘Oh, really? I love red,’ he’ll go, ‘Oh, I love red, too.’”

Reid also recounts an incident that reportedly occurred at the Manslick Road shelter on Dec. 28, 2010: “What I was told by volunteers and employees was that (the director of adoptions) said, ‘I’ll euthanize every animal in (this) building if I want to.’”

The alleged statement became public last week after WAVE 3 reported that LMAS workers and volunteers were concerned all of the animals in the former adoption building on Manslick Road were slated to be euthanized en masse. In response, Reid says she repeatedly tried to contact Zelinsky via phone and email, but to no avail. “I never received a response from Wayne,” she says. “Nothing. Not one word.”

Although Zelinsky told WAVE 3 it was “all a misunderstanding,” he defended the agency’s practice of euthanizing animals: “There’s enough checks and balances in there to where I’m comfortable if that decision is made that we’ve given that animal every chance.”

Reid and others think otherwise.

In an interview with LEO Weekly, Zelinsky says another reporter recently asked him about a dog being kicked to death while in LMAS’ custody. “She said, ‘I’ve been told that Dismas (Charities) workers killed a dog at your place,’” Zelinsky says. “You know, my first response was, ‘If somebody knows that it happened, they need to go to the police, not to me and not to you. If somebody can prove this, they need to leave here in handcuffs.”

He says that the dog in question was sent away for a necropsy, and that the results could not determine whether LMAS was at fault for its death.

And although Zelinsky says the Manslick shelter continues to perform adoptions, one employee — who spoke to LEO on the condition of anonymity — contradicts that claim, although she adds that it’s possible because, “We’re never really sure what to expect on any given day. We just take it one day at a time, because we never really know what to expect.” 

LMAS A Cesspool

By thinknaloud
LMAS is a cesspool and animals are dying needlessly at the whim of unqualified and dysfunctional bureaucrats. You can’t trust any records from LMAS because the system is still run by someone who participated in the deceptive practices under Meloche. They still practice to deceive. I can only hope that the powerless humans in our community are not subject to the same kind of corruption and abuse. If you or I treated an animal the way LMAS treats some of them, you would be going to jail and/or facing stiff fines. It is more apparent than ever that those in charge at LMAS still think they are untouchable and why wouldn’t they? I'm praying that the change of administration does what needs to be done. Zelinsky — a board member of No Kill Louisville? Really??? There’s a saying and it’s very appropriate in this instance – you can’t make a deal with the devil. And that goes for the rest of the slim at LMAS who have done Meloche and Zelinsky’s bidding. The sad fact that dedicated journalists in our community have written and aired story after story about this deplorable mess for at least 3 or 4 years and yet it continues on is unbelievable. May I suggest you are not beating a dead horse, but rather speaking out against cruelty and municipal misconduct. Bless you.

NKL is delusional

By redemptionrescue
NKL routinely says that rescues are fed up with LMAS. What rescues? What rescues are on the board of NKL? NKL admits it is not a rescue, but I know of only 2 rescues on the board of this organization. The rescues I volunteer with routinely pull animals from LMAS and we have absolutely no problem working with the staff there. We haven't had any problems for YEARS. So when Ms. Reid insinuates that all rescues are ticked off at LMAS, she'd better be specific because she can only name two - the rest of us are quite satisfied, thank you very much. There are dozens of competent rescues that have no issues with LMAS. This Messiah Complex is disturbing. Interesting that the Kennel Club supports NKL. When you think about it, it's very self-serving and mercenary. Winograd insists there actually IS a home for every animal born, which absolves breeders from perpetuating the problem by continuously breeding animals. Does the Kennel Club support spay/neuter? Absolutely not for their animals, because their money comes from selling babies. Duh. NKL cries wolf because many more animals need to go to rescue so that adoptables are not euthanized. Well, the rescues are every bit as full as LMAS and simply can't take them all. Whose fault is that? It's certainly not Metro's fault. And not all rescues are "good rescues", either. LMAS has the same criteria for rescues as any other credible shelter. Please tell the full story - the other side is every bit as sensational as this crap. And the other side of the story has a lot more truth to it.

NKL needs a reality check

By RealRescue
Is LMAS perfect-no not yet. Has LMAS improved--hell yes. My large rescue group has been pulling from LMAS for several years. We have never had any problem with staff or procedures. If LMAS refuses to work with certain rescue groups--guess what--I refuse to work with certain rescue groups, too. Reputable rescues and shelters use DNA(do not adopt)/DNR(do not rescue) lists all the time and we know which rescues to avoid because their practices or procedures are not up to the standard we demand for our animals. Hello NKL-that is a good thing. There are worse things for an animal than being humanely euthanized. On the NKL face book page, accusations fly but when asked if there is any proof of these accusations, the answers are,"no" or "I can try to find it" or "I heard from someone else". Where is the proof?? Facebook does not equal rescue. How dare NKL,a group not even 1 year old, try to dictate and condescend telling local public intake shelters that have been around up to 120 years how to operate? When it comes to understanding shelter management, NKL is functionally illiterate. NKL is alienating itself from most of the rescue community. We need to collaborate and not dictate to each other. NKL supporters of the NKL cult-beware and do not drink the Kool-Aid. PS, I like red but I also like blue so your point was really lame.

Fox 41 report

By RealRescue
I am sickened by the news report tonight. All you staff and volunteers that thought this alleged abuse was going on and just now decided to report it--you are complete cowards and just as guilty as the abuser if in fact that person exists. It seems really strange that you are so concerned now but made no effort to report it at all when you say it happened. You are happy to wear hoods and give interviews now but what about the animals that may have suffered while you stood silent ? What is really going on here? Did someone not get the promotion or raise they thought they deserved? If I had any idea or suspision that animals were being abused, I would have never left that building until something was done. I would have called every official, police department and news station to make sure this stopped. You did not do that and put innocent animals in harms way. There is a special place in hell for you with all the other animal abusers.

reply to Realrescue

By Nickie Sharoney
I totally agree with you completely. The hooded sneaks made me sick. There is no way I would have kept my mouth shut and watched all these poor animals go through all that hell.They now are trying to save their jobs because they know Zelinsky is on the way out. They are trying to look good and get that pat on the back from the next boss.I believe Zelinsky was on the Nokill board of directors too.They surely had a fallout and Zelinsky is getting hit hard now.Could it be that Zelinsky told the truth about a case pending in the court system. It's public record.... Check it out. NoKill is just as bad as any animal abuser. I know for a fact a so called co- founder of this cult is holding a dog from its owner. They pick and choose what laws they want to abide by. What gives them the right to judge and keep someone elses dog form a caring family? What gives them the right to claim neglect when I know for a fact there is none?These people are no better than Jerry Abramson, Or Melouse, or Zelinsky. They too thought they were above the law. Hope in this investigation they all go down. Jackie Guilbe, Jessica Reed and the whole rotten bunch are back stabbing, money sucking, hood wearing jerks.

Zelinsky & NKL

By redemptionrescue
Funny, you mentioned Zelinsky being on the board of NKL. Do you read the NKL facebook page? What a professional organization, populated by intelligent and articulate human beings. Ooops, let's back up..... Zelinsky on the board of NKL. The members of NKL continuously bash this guy, accuse him of atrocities, hint at illegality and have the audacity to say he's having affairs with his staff? Oh, and the best one happened the other day. Some very thoughtful and compassionate NKL member said Zelinsky should have the crap beaten out of him and be murdered. This is No-Kill Louisville? Where's the love? (Or professionalism?) I heard from a reliable source that Zelinsky resigned from the NKL board and I honestly don't blame him. Who wants to work with small-minded, vicious people like that? Could you really have a working relationship with a group that posts atrocious things like that? I don't know the guy, but if they have to go this far to try to discredit him, I'm beginning to believe he's probably a decent man. All I can say is "consider the source"...

Nokill

By Nickie Sharoney
Yes, I do follow that website. Try writting something on there that they don't want to hear and you will be banned real quick. I did see that remark and I couldn't believe it. Don't get me wrong.I don't like Zelinsky and know he has made plenty mistakes. But these people are just as bad. They are fighting among themselves now. Zelinsky seems to be the one to get the blame for everything. Wait to the whole story comes out and I think everybody will be surprised at the injustice that a member of NKL has done to a family.Thats just one family. Hard to say how many more they have chosen to take it on themselves to choose what is best for their pet. They should clean up their own crap before going after another. This organization is not even a year old and already has many things to work on. Their idea is great but the people running it is another story in itself!! It's the same people that kissed butt with Melouch and Zelinsky. If they have the right to judge and point fingers so do I>>>

NKL and LMAS

By Heywood
I don't see where NKL is the problem. Shouldn't the animal rights community come together and not attack one another? I am sure that I would be suspicious of ulterior motives on the part of the whistle-blowers if they weren't so many in number. We have needed a big change out there for a long time, and we knew when Meloche left that it wouldn't be any better unless we replace him with a qualified candidate. Mayor Abe was just keeping the current bunch there because he was on his way out, didn't care, and knew that it bothered his detractors. Also, I am confused by the comment about the pending investigation. Are you thinking that the city is somehow going to investigate NKL? I don't recall that being part of the Mayor's plan. Just a new director, new management, and a new facility. I don't think he is going after Ms. Reid or NKL. Thoughts?

Nkl and Lmas

By Nickie Sharoney
I totally agree with you that everyone should fight togeter for the lives of all the animals. I did not say that NO Kill was being investigated by anyone. Some of these people do have ties with both NO Kill and LMAS. IT makes me sick that our taxpayers money paid these people to watch somebodys pets get put down and did nothing until now.Also the volunteers watched too and did nothing. Because of bad paperwork people did not even know their pets where even there. So they were put up for adoption or killed. We need someone to come in that has no ties politically or with any of these people and start fresh. they will have to earn respect and trust. Thats all I am saying!!

To Heywood

By redemptionrescue
It's not a problem when a group makes wild accusations against someone, yet can offer no proof? It's not a problem when a member of that group wants to see LMAS employees and management have the crap beaten out of them, and then murdered? Yes, I have proof of this, and so do many others. We all have the same facebook post. Of course, you probably can't find it now because I'm sure it's been removed. CYA, ya know. On another animal welfare forum, I saw them called No Kill Lunatics. A "review" is not an investigation. But if they're going to review one, why not take a look at both? I'll quote a comment made earlier about NKL because I found it appropriate..."When it comes to understanding shelter management, NKL is functionally illiterate." Booyah.

If you find your dog on

By Nickie Sharoney
If you find your dog on petfinder through NO Kill, and LMAS you had better make copies before you contact them.They will take it off and poof your dog is gone!!!! Reid, Goulbie, the workers and volunteers are worse than Zelinsky for watching this and not reporting it. I was told that when the ship begins to sink the rats begin to swim. Swim rats swim!!!!! That's it. THE HOODED RATS!! They should all be charged.

Facebook "Fan" does not equal Member

By NKLvolunteer
First, apologies for the "run on" nature of this post. Commenting info claims paragraphs are automatically recognized, but that does not seem to be working in the preview, at least... I am quite taken aback by the level of hostility toward NKL in these comments. I cannot even begin to speak about issues such as whether or not the accusations leveled at LMAS are true (the mayor's investigation will hopefully uncover at the truth) or whether animals are being denied rescue or needlessly euthanized. I am not on the "inside," I simply volunteer my help when the call is made. I do know NKL has been directly responsible for saving and/or helping animals. They have recruited fosters, they have helped organize spay/neuter events, they organized Pet Angel Trees this holiday season and distributed donations to many animal welfare groups in the area, they regularly raise funds and donations for a variety of groups and individual animals, they have established a fund for injured and sick shelter animals, they help facilitate volunteer efforts for rescue transports and other needs (for LMAS and others), and right now they are stepping in to provide a food bank for low-income pet owners after The Kentucky Humane Society had to shut down their operation. My experience with every other regular NKL member and volunteer has been that they are reasonable, caring people who make an effort to help animals in need. And, I work every day with many, many people who are experienced rescuers--both local and elsewhere--who love NKL and their mission and believe they do good things. The reason I am writing this is because one cannot make a judgement about a core group based on a Facebook page. NKL has nearly 13,000 Facebook fans and I promise you there are not 13,000 people directly and intimately involved with the organization. One of these fans made the "murder" post you refer to, it was removed by administrators of the page as soon as it was seen, it was condemned by the administrators, and authorities were contacted. There have been other cases where a post has garnered heated and/or inappropriate comments. This is the nature of Facebook. Any "Fan" can post to an organization's page, but not every post is representative of the organization in question. It is a public forum and will get the good and the bad. To my knowledge, posts are not removed unless they are seriously threatening in nature. I also know that Jessica Reid has tried to work with LMAS in a very positive manner and she made a public statement on that same Facebook page about why she is speaking out now about the accusations made against them by these employees. If you want to see that post, it is there. It indicates very clearly that she does not KNOW whether these problems exist, but she takes the possibility seriously and wants something done if they are true.

To NKL volunteer

By redemptionrescue
While everyone appreciates support of the animals at LMAS, you imply that NKL is the only dyed-in-the-wool benefactor these animals have. LMAS staff and volunteers also foster sick pets, arrange for additional fosters, coordinate and oversee transports, work spay/neuter events, work rabies clinics. They are never given credit for the above-and-beyond effort they make, because they don't demand it. NKL is not LMAS' savior, although it seems to think so. You mentioned that one facebook volunteer isn't representative of the group. If so, it's also true that a couple of hooded figures aren't representative of LMAS staff. This means that one cannot make an informed judgment of LMAS by what has been presented by the media. Ms. Reid's comments about LMAS staff have been both personal and mean-spirited on some occasions. If someone at LMAS had publicly said the same things about her, how willing would she be to communicate openly with them? And if this bridge has been burned, what will NKL do to repair it? They lit the match, they are accountable.

LMAS--The Saga Continues!

By Shadow911
I definitely agree that Mayor Greg Fischer needs to appoint an Interim Director while the search continues for a permanent director. Aren't most City Workers put on paid administrative leave when they find themselves embroiled in so much controversy and lawsuits? It is a shame that Mayor Greg Fischer has had all of this "misunderstanding" dumped right into his lap his first week in Office. Ex-Mayor Abramson had years to right the wrongs at LMAS but continued on, day after day , week after week, portraying that everything was wonderful here in OZ! Guess what, the curtain has now been pulled. You can't tell me you were not aware of all this when in fact it was YOUR "Change Agent" and his sidekick that had OZ now involved in all these multiple lawsuits. Haven't you heard of the old saying, "Where there's smoke, there's probably fire?" How could someone who had the power at their fingertips fail to have acted while so many innocent animals were being tortured and thousands being unnecessarily euthanized just because they may have hissed at an LMAS employee? Hell yeah, I would hiss? Kudos to LEO for allowing Jonathan Meador as much space, as it appears, that he has needed to educate the public about what was really happening and still happening at LMAS when most of us did not have a clue. I, for example, was one of them. Also, Jessica Reid (NKL) where were you back then when the animals so badly needed you? Weren't you a volunteer there? Why just now are you coming forward and starting to point fingers? Jackie Gulbe, where were you? Why did you bury your head in the sand all those years? Why didn't you be a hero for the animals like you try to portray yourself as? I guess $70,000 TAXPAYER DOLLARS was too good of a thing to mess up, huh? How did you rationalize all that in your head to where you could sleep at nights? Again, thanks to LEO Weekly and Jonathan Meador for continuing to keep the public informed while others in this community have blatantly turned their backs and put their own agendas ahead of the animals who so badly needed them. One last thought, aren't there whistleblower laws on the books to protect these employees at LMAS who have now come forward? Why do you have to hide your faces? Why don't you few who have come forward be a REAL HERO to our animals. I am sure the public and the animals would love you for it. Perhaps we still don't know what all has transpired with the employees and former employees but until they get a backbone things will never ever change. If Mayor Greg Fischer is going to clean house, he has to know where ALL the dirt is! Help him to help you and the animals who only can "hiss."

The Shadow Knows

By redemptionrescue
Good post, Shadow911. But the question remains - where is the proof that animals were tortured or euthanized unnecessarily? And if they were euthanized, they were euthanized by staff, not Zelinsky. Right? They've had the same policies and procedures for a few years, right? Why is this hitting the fan now? Who has it in for whom, and why? THAT'S where the real story is...

Police Investigation at LMAS

By Heywood
According to the WAVE-3 piece, there has been a REVIEW begun by the Mayor's office, but the LMPD is doing an INVESTIGATION. The Mayor's review is to figure out all the issues, and formulate a plan to tackle them The police investigation is to determine what Zelinsky and his staff may or may not be guilty of in the realm of criminal activity and ethics violations. On a legal note, there are NO LAWS on the books to protect City Workers should they become whistle-blowers. That's why Zelinsky told the media that if they would supply him with the names of those talking, that he would "deal with it". They had no choice but to remain anonymous. It is also a foolish assumption that these folks "waited until now" to come forward with this information. Most of them have gone to their supervisors, the director, and members of the Metro Council many times before. They got little or no results. The reporter for Fox-41 noted that over 10 percent of the entire LMAS staff has come forward with allegations of misconduct, neglect, cruelty, and abuse. That's not just one person angry at work and trying to get petty revenge. That's a significant number of people trying to get something done. I can't imagine what family you keep talking about that has been deprived of their pet by LMAS, unless of course you mean the beagle that was picked up by LMAS on the Bullitt County line. The dog had fleas, and ticks, had rotten teeth, and was heart worm positive. There were no vaccination records for over ten years, and the animal was slated for euthanasia. If the young lady who rescued the animal had not done so, it would now be dead. The owner of the dog didn't even bother to look for it for over ten days, which is twice the amount any animal gets at Metro. So you really can't cry foul if you neglect your dog, and it gets taken away. You also can't stalk the person to their home and threaten them to try and recover the animal. But since there was a restraining order issued, and the court awarded the animal to the rescuer, there is little else to talk about on that subject. This is all just sour grapes toward NKL because they are stealing someone's thunder, nothing more, nothing less. There will be no review of NKL by any city or state agency. There will, however be a police investigation into the activities of LMAS, and I am sure it's going to get ugly when they turn over that log. Jessica Reid and NKL have done a pretty good job at helping animals in need as far as I can see, and it doesn't really matter if they aren't as old as some other rescues. What matters is that they save animals. This isn't an elitist clique, and if you think it is, you have something wrong with you. Save the animals. That's why we are here. Not to take swipes at each other over who is a more "legitimate" rescue group.One more thing, what should the "hooded rats" be charged with? They came forward with a host of concerns that they don't feel were being addressed, so with what would you charge them? Telling the truth isn't a crime, and those who think otherwise just have something they want to hide.

Reply to Heywood

By Honesty
This is in reply to Heywood about the Dog.......I'm not sure where you are getting your information regarding that dog, but almost everything you said about that case is false. I know the situation well, and I can tell you for a FACT that NO restraining order was issued - because there was no threatening, harassing, or "stalking" going on. The dog did NOT have heart worms, fleas and ticks. Vet records for the last 10 years WERE produced in court, showing not only vaccinations, but also surgeries that had been performed on the dog. And the court did NOT award the dog to the foster parent (they were allowed to keep the dog while the investigation continues). And, that "...the owner did not even bother to look for the dog for 10 days..." is totally false. There is testimony on the record from another reputable organization that the owner did, in fact, begin looking for the dog the momment it went missing. And, yes, I said MISSING. The dog did NOT "...get TAKEN AWAY because of neglect..." as you infer in your post. This is an ongoing case. If this is, in fact, the same case, then I suggest you recheck your sources, and do a little more digging for FACTS, before you go posting false statements.

Ask and you shall receive

By Truthteller
Anyone angry at those who have come forward "so late" should read this letter explaining the year+ long struggle these employees have had to try to enact the change LMAS so desperately needs. Criticize if you will, but only after you understand all sides. http://thevillevoice.com/2011/01/07/a-metro-animal-services-employees-letter-to-you/

To Redemptionrescue

By NKLvolunteer
No, sir or ma'am, I did not imply NKL is the only benefactor of animals. If you felt there was any implication of that nature, that comes from your reading. I did not imply anything negative about any other animal welfare organization. I did not detract from any other animal welfare's organization efforts. The only animal welfare organization I mentioned by name was KHS, which I stated (factually) had to shut down the pet food bank they had been operating. I also said nothing negative about LMAS or any of its workers. I have many good experiences with LMAS and the employees of that agency. I do believe, however, that if this many people are shouting "smoke!" there might just be a fire, and the appropriate authorities need to investigate and the public needs to be informed. NKL did not light the match for this fire, either. Media reports of possible and known issues at LMAS go back quite a bit farther than NKL's existence. My post was purely and simply to state that NKL does do good things. I believe they are a positive new asset to the animal welfare scene in this city and state. To call us "lunatics," or to state we are advocating violence against anyone or indulge in intense infighting, based on posts to a public forum from individuals who may or may not be affiliated with the actual group is unwarranted and certainly implies much worse. These are the posts to which I was referring.