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Animal Services Fighting Disease With New Standards

After several reported cases of distemper among dogs this summer, Louisville Metro Animal Services officials are taking action on disease control.

LMAS Director Justin Scally has been on the job two weeks. In a statement issued today he attributes the higher rate of distemper to owners who skimp on pet vaccinations in order to save money.

Daily disinfection and scrubbing are now part of the standard operating procedure at the Manslick Road and Animal House facilities. But Scally says that isn’t enough. To truly fight widespread infections, pet owners must stay current on all vaccinations.

The statement also announced that LMAS will continue to offer discounted adoption rates for the rest of the month.

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No Kill Louisville President Outlines Bid for LMAS Contract

While No Kill Louisville is the only animal advocacy group bidding to take over parts of Metro Animal Services, that doesn’t mean the group will win the contract.

Mayor Greg Fischer decided to privatize most of the department after a city review found egregious problems within the agency.

Many organizations sent questions to the mayor’s office asking about the LMAS contract, but none followed through.

“Most national groups are just not familiar with Louisville and it would be very difficult—and we knew this—it would be very difficult to come into a city with very little local knowledge of the city, the animal shelter, contexts, and I think it makes sense why we didn’t see some of those national groups bid on this,” says Fischer’s spokesman Chris Poynter.

A committee will review No Kill Louisville’s bid in the next two weeks and make a decision. He says if the committee rejects the offer, the city will have to come up with a “plan B,” because it’s unlikely the bidding process will be re-opened.

“We could. [But] I don’t see us doing that,” says Poynter. “We had 21 days, we had a lot of interest, at least in the public and from animal rights advocates, so I don’t see us reopening the process.”

The bid outlines how No Kill Louisville—a small volunteer organization—will expand to replace a city agency.

“We’ve done everything from how to get insurance and benefits for everybody to how to handle payroll and time and attendance. We have researched everything fully to make sure that we’re ready if they say yes, we would like you to come in and do this,” says No Kill Louisville president Jessica Reid.

The bid further outlines how No Kill Louisville will handle the inadequate animal services facility on Manslick Road, which was thought to be a deterrent to other potential bidders.

To hear Reid discuss the bid, click below.

Audio MP3
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Animal Services Report Expected Next Week

The long-awaited review of Louisville Metro Animal Services will be delivered to Mayor Greg Fischer next week.

The review was ordered in January after years of continued problems in the embattled agency. When the report is finalized, it will be used to guide a search committee in finding a permanent director for LMAS, which is currently under its third interim director in less than two years.

Search committee member Jessica Reid of No Kill Louisville says she wishes the choice of a director had come before the final report.

“I think the review is a fantastic idea, however I think that we should still move forward with finding and hiring somebody who can think outside the box, who can be flexible, who can manage—because that’s what’s been lacking there for years is strong management,” she says.

Fischer originally planned to appoint a director last month, but delayed the decision to the widen the field of candidates.

The report will also be used to determine whether any services—such as animal adoption—should be handled by outside agencies. Reid opposes privatization and suggests more be done to improve LMAS before any services are changed.

“If it’s run right, if it’s run well, if you work with the community, it can become a positive place and a revenue engine,” she says. “If you do it right, it just can.”

We’ll have an in-depth discussion on the report and its ramifications tomorrow on Here and Now at 1:00.

Local News Politics

Third Interim Director of Animal Services Named, Search for Permanent Director Continues

A third interim director of the troubled Louisville Metro Animal Services department has been named.

Susan Neumayer comes from the city’s Louisville at Work team, which oversaw stimulus spending. She will replace Debbie Fox, who became interim director earlier this year, but planned to return to her job at MetroSafe in April, when Mayor Greg Fischer was expected to name a permanent director.

The search for a director has since been extended, and Fox will divide her time between Animal Services and MetroSafe starting next month. There’s no timeline for naming a permanent director.

Before Fox, the department was run by Wayne Zelinsky, who resigned earlier this year after it was revealed he operated a security service website for patrons of adult entertainment.

Zelinsky himself was an interim director. He replaced Dr. Gilles Meloche, who resigned amid allegations of mistreatment of animals and improper behavior. Both Meloche and Zelinsky were the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by employees.

In addition to the leadership change, Animal Services will now work with the Kentucky Humane Society to improve the adoption rate. As part of the efforts, adoption facility hours have been changed.

From Metro Government:

Animal Services, 3705 Manslick

To obtain a license, pay fees and clerical processing for releasing pets back to their owners:

Monday – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tuesday – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Thursday – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Friday – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Animal Services will continue to operate seven days a week for the intake of animals and for lost and found strays brought in by Animal Control Officers.

Kennels are open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for people to reclaim lost pets or to adopt at the 3705 Manslick Road location.

Animal House Adoption Center, 3516 Newburg Road

Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday – Noon to 6:00 p.m.

Wednesday  –  Noon to 7:00 p.m.

Monday – closed

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Zelinsky Resigns From Animal Services

The embattled director of Louisville Metro Animal Services has resigned.

Wayne Zelinsky had been interim director since Dr. Gilles Meloche stepped down amid accusations of mistreating animals and employees. Zelinsky was also controversial. He is named in two lawsuits and was allegedly operating an adult-themed entertainment business online. Zelinsky resigned after being confronted about the business.

“We advised Wayne [Tuesday] night that we were aware of a website that he had up and running and needed to discuss that with him and he came in [Wednesday] morning and resigned,” says Mayor Greg Fischer.

Last month, Fischer ordered a full review of LMAS and launched a national search for a new director. He said then he would keep Zelinsky in charge of the department, unless the auditors recommended otherwise. Fischer says the search for a permanent director will continue, though he’s not sure about the progress of the audit.

“You know, I make it a matter not to really get in the middle of audits while they’re going on because they start and then you never know what they’re going to find out. They’re hard at work right now. We’ll get a report on it at the end of the first quarter. We’re progressing with the audit, that’s all I know at this point,” he says.

Zelinsky will be replaced by current MetroSafe deputy director Debbie Fox. A permanent director will be named in April.

WFPL’s Rick Howlett contributed to this report.

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Council Committee Grills Meloche Over Flood Evacuation

The Louisville Metro Council’s accountability and oversight committee Wednesday held the first of two consecutive meetings focusing on Metro Animal Services director Dr. Gilles Meloche.

Committee members grilled Meloche about his agency’s reaction during the August 4th flood. The MAS facility on Manslick Road was inundated and while some animals drowned, most were evacuated to the fairgrounds.

Meloche says his team had received disaster training.

“Everybody knew exactly what to do, so we’re just talking to each other, okay, exactly,” he said. “We knew exactly who to contact—everybody, so that’s why we were able to move so fast.”

Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh questioned the effectiveness of that training, given the lack of a written evacuation plan.

“The idea was to have all this training and have the right plan in the coming fall. Because during the summer that’s our time,” said Meloche. ”

You didn’t have time to put the plan down on paper?” asked Ward-Pugh.

“No, not yet…not yet,” Meloche replied.

Councilman Bob Henderson defended MAS’s actions.

“When you take water going from a couple of inches, to go up to three feet in 30 minutes, I’d like somebody to get on the ball and tell me how you could do a much better job than you guys done,” said Henderson. “I’m going to commend you for the job you done.”

Most committee members questioned Meloche’s preparation and handling of animal records after the evacuation. Meloche will appear before the committee again in two weeks to address a financial audit of his agency.