Longview, Texas…Seems we have a problem…A very BIG problem!!! -The ‘dirty side’ of animal shelters

The situation in Longview, Texas began last February, at least that is what I thought…I am only recently advised of the situation there…this is an on going situation…It actually began as far back as October, 2011.

There most certainly is BIG money in being a Humane Society…WOW!!!…and in Longview, there are missing funds…to the tune of over $100,000.00!!! Funny thing is, we are constantly hearing about how horrible it is to breed and sell animals as exploitation of animals, that preforming animals is exploiting animals,  when in reality these not for profit organizations are making the BIG bucks…EXPLOITING ANIMALS …A plea for donations and ultimately the SALE of animals…all at the expense of the taxpayer. Longview is an example of what is wrong with the system and yet it appears it will continue and is going on everywhere.

Do you honestly think people that KILL 700-1000 animals a month really care about the animals…think again people…could you do that?!? I know I sure couldn’t…

http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/longview-animal-shelter-closes-while-awaiting-test-on-dog-that/article_5eaffa48-86b0-5ce6-a8da-cdbc7753c599.html

Longview animal shelter closes while awaiting test on dog that died

Longview’s animal shelter is taking in strays at the city’s rodeo arena pending medical results on a puppy that died shortly after arriving.

“It takes three days to get results, so we’re closed to the public until then,” said shelter Director Christine Kerr.

The shelter, which is run by the nonprofit Humane Society of Northeast Texas, will be accepting animals at the arena pens at the Longview Fairgrounds until it gets a green light from a veterinary medical examiner.

Kerr said Wednesday the shelter on Enterprise Street has received multiple phone calls asking whether the facility is stepping up euthanasia.

“No, no, nobody’s getting killed — nobody,” Kerr said. “We are not in a panic; we are not euthanizing.”

Kerr said the shelter is comfortably low of occupants. Adoptions of 204 animals set a record in September, and another 57 the first week of this month is keeping the animal population low.

“As a matter of fact, we were so excited,” Kerr said, “Because, until this happened we were saying, ‘Wonderful! Another day of us not having to euthanize, because we have room.’ ”

Kerr said animals brought to the shelter are vaccinated for various diseases including distemper, which is suspected of killing the great Pyranees puppy brought in by an animal control officer.

“It could have been just an upper respiratory infection,” she said. “But it’s hard to determine. We’re testing him because we want to make sure it isn’t distemper.”

The animals already in the shelter when the puppy arrived are still there. That’s 30 cats, which cannot contract distemper, and fewer than 100 dogs.

“We are constantly monitoring their health,” she said. “And they are showing no signs of anything.”

Some confusion arose from the closing. When someone asked why the doors were shut in a post on a Facebook page run by the animal welfare group, 4 Pets Sake, another person posted that the facility was having “power problems.” That person cited a staff member at the shelter as source for the information.

“I had no idea (why that was posted),” Kerr said. “Maybe they were assuming we were without power when they couldn’t get through on the phones.”

The Facebook page has been a busy one, drawing so many “friends” it is shifting to a separate format used by celebrities and projects with mass appeal.

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December 2011

http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/longview-animal-shelter-will-euthanize-dogs-after-outbreak/article_be3cae3d-6be6-5c0a-965c-09a744a305ab.html

Longview animal shelter will euthanize 154 dogs after outbreak

A viral outbreak at Gregg County’s only animal shelter means a death sentence for at least 155 dogs.

Humane Society of Northeast Texas Executive Director Christine Kerr through teary eyes confirmed Saturday that a dog adopted from the shelter died from what a local veterinarian determined was distemper. Canine distemper is a contagious, incurable, often fatal viral infection that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems.

The shelter, which welcomes stray and unwanted animals from at least three counties, is closed until, at the earliest, Dec. 27. Shelter and Longview environmental health officials have set up a temporary intake facility at the Maude Cobb Activity Complex rodeo grounds on Grand Blvd.

Meanwhile, through Monday night, Kerr and her staff are euthanizing the 154 dogs who were at the shelter Friday when the outbreak was discovered.

“There has been a lot of fingerpointing, a lot of negative publicity out there,” Kerr said. “I would ask people not to blame the staff.”

It is the first distemper outbreak at the shelter in about five years, she said.

Because canine distemper does not affect felines, all 136 cats at the shelter Friday have been spared.

Humane Society of Northeast Texas leaders are asking residents to delay any animal surrenders until the shelter reopens. Once the euthanisia process ends, staffers will power wash “every inch of the inside” of the shelter through Thursday, Kerr said. She hopes that animals housed temporarily at the rodeo arena can return to the shelter on Enterprise Street by Friday.

The temporary shelter at Maude Cobb was established after learning that nine dogs — including the dog who tested positive for distemper — recently died from what were undetermined causes. Eight of the dogs died after they had been adopted or rescued.

Humane Society of Northeast Texas is offering a full refund for residents who adopted one of the affected animals, while staff members are encouraging other pet owners to closely monitor their pet’s health. Adopters obtain an insurance policy that covers as much as $750 in veterinary expenses.

“If I have a message for the public, it is to please vaccinate your animals. Please spay and neuter your animals, because it is so very important to take care of your animals properly,” Kerr said.

“We have a lot of citizens who believe that the animals contracted this in the shelter,” she continued. “The incubation time is between four and 20 days. We very seldom have any animal staying with us long enough for 20 days. In all reality, the animal that came in with distemper was one of the animals that someone surrendered or animal control brought in.”

Kerr also asked that the community support the shelter’s staff.

“Everybody who works there loves animals,” she said. “If you look at the reality of an open-admission shelter, the fact that we get the broken, the sick and the unwanted, and we cannot help all of them, and sometimes, they are so sick, they come in and spread a disease that can not be stopped, and that’s the sad part.”

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February 2012

http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/longview-councilman-animal-groups-should-unite-to-build-shelter/article_70699850-822d-5c98-8d9f-dcbd574956bb.html

Longview councilman: Animal groups should unite to build shelter

District 1 Longview City Councilman John Sims said Tuesday he will meet with area animal welfare organizations in hopes of the groups uniting with each other and with the city to turn a dream of building a new animal shelter into a reality.

“The only way we all will be happy is with a new, state-of-the-art animal shelter run by the city of Longview,” Sims said during a council work session Tuesday at LeTourneau University’s S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center.

The work session presented the council with the opportunity to discuss several long-range projects for the city. The council did not take any action during the session.

Mayor Jay Dean and members of the council have expressed a desire for about a year for a public-private partnership to build a new animal center in the city. The city has a one-year contract with the Humane Society of Northeast Texas for animal sheltering services at the city’s lone shelter, which is on Enterprise Street.

Dean said moving forward with developing a new shelter will require input and contributions from the community.

With regard to the city’s recycling program, the council is mulling the possibility of replacing its 18-gallon recycling bins with 65-gallon or 95-gallon receptacles in the hopes of increasing recycling in Longview.

In conjunction with that, Sanitation and Fleet Manager Dwayne Archer said semi-automated or automated trucks could be used to lift the larger receptacles.

Fully automated trucks could eliminate the need for ground crews, saving the city $45,000 a year; however, the trucks would likely require more maintenance, Archer said.

District 4 Councilman Wayne Frost said, at this time, residents do not have an incentive to recycle and that the city could consider an incentive, such as coupons, for recycling. However, District 5 Councilman Richard Manley disagreed, saying people want to recycle but need a bigger receptacle.

In District 3, Councilwoman Kasha Williams discussed revitalization efforts in South Longview, saying she would like to see the city bring in an urban developer to assess the community.

Williams said the streets bond will give the area a face lift, but she’d like to see a beautification component as well as a long-range master plan for the southern area of the city.

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http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/longview-shelter-reopens-today-amid-vaccination-allegations/article_1e624d76-3b84-58c4-a1ee-2ce85ad05e17.html

Longview shelter reopens today amid vaccination allegations

The Humane Society of Northeast Texas is expected to open its doors today, more than a week after closing the Enterprise Street facility due to a viral outbreak.

On Monday, a California animal rescuer who worked with the Longview shelter released emails to the News-Journal suggesting the shelter discontinued vaccinations that might have prevented the outbreak. Humane Society of Northeast Texas Board President Susan Mazarakes-Gill said the allegation is untrue.

Since 1972, the shelter has operated as a nonprofit group on funds from contracts with Longview, Gregg County and several other local governments, along with public donations and fees for adoptions and other services. Longview City Council members and Gregg County commissioners this fall authorized one-year deals with the Humane Society for animal sheltering services through Sept. 30.

Lisa Satchwell, director of California nonprofit K-911 Rescue Inc., said her rescue partner was given two dead puppies from Longview during a recent rescue transport. Another puppy from Longview died at a veterinarian’s office two days later, and a fourth puppy “who seemed healthy when he left Longview” has been diagnosed with parvovirus and pneumonia, leaving the rescuer with a $1,500 vet bill, Satchwell said.

According to emails provided by Satchwell, when she contacted a coordinator at the Longview animal shelter, she learned vaccinations ended around the Thanksgiving holiday.

No one answered the door at the shelter or returned phone calls Monday. Executive Director Christine Kerr has said in past interviews that, though the shelter is closed Mondays, staffers are usually there to clean the facility in preparation for opening Tuesdays.

Mazarakes-Gill said staffers moved surviving animals from a temporary shelter at Maude Cobb Activity Complex on Thursday, cleaned the temporary shelter Friday, and, with a skeleton crew, prepared the Enterprise Street shelter over the weekend for opening today.

On Dec. 16, Kerr announced the shelter had closed, after an outbreak of canine distemper was discovered. In response, the Humane Society euthanized 154 dogs and said the shelter would remain closed until today.

Canine distemper is a contagious, incurable, often fatal viral infection that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems. A basic vaccine called a distemper shot vaccinates against distemper, parvovirus and some kennel cough agents.

According to Facebook messages between Satchwell and Humane Society of Northeast Texas Rescue Coordinator Sheri Lipina, the shelter stopped giving shots as recently as Dec. 11. Lipina said animals that had been vaccinated for parvovirus were testing positive for the disease because of the vaccine and not for actual parvo.

“That’s not good, but vaccinating is worse,” Satchwell told Lipina, according to the messages. “You just had parvo and you have a bunch of under-a-year pups that have no vaccs — that is really not good.”

Satchwell said the issue arose after the shelter euthanized a mother dog whose litter of puppies tested positive for parvo. Satchwell wanted to rescue the mother, because dogs more than one year old seldom get parvo, and “That’s when I found out that they weren’t vaccinating … And there is a perfect reason why they should vaccinate, if they’re killing a dog because she didn’t have her vaccinations.”

When Kerr announced the shelter’s closing Dec. 17, she asked residents “to please vaccinate your animals … It is important to take care of your animals properly.”

_______________________________________________________

Ironically, this is from the same day in February

http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/group-seeks-decision-on-gregg-animal-shelter-finances/article_b55864bf-da4f-504d-a4d8-d448f0505a56.html

Group seeks decision on Gregg animal shelter finances

Residents suing the Longview animal shelter for its financial records filed a motion Thursday asking Judge David Brabham to decide the case March 15.

The lawsuit, filed in August by Longview attorney Kelly Heitkamp on behalf of five East Texans, seeks full disclosure of financial activities by the Humane Society of Northeast Texas. The group also is seeking $29,200 for the cost of the lawsuit plus the hourly costs of Heitkamp, a paralegal and a legal assistant.

The motion asks Brabham to rule whether or not the nonprofit shelter fully responded to requests for bank and other financial records. Brabham has signed the order setting the March hearing.

The group is asking for financial documents created since October 2007 with Austin Bank, Raymond James investment firm, Federated Credit Union and Wells Fargo.

Thursday’s filing includes a sworn statement from a forensic financial auditor, saying records the shelter released to the group were not complete.

The group argues the financial statements are public record because the shelter on Enterprise Street accepts tax dollars.

Under its agreement with Longview, the shelter receives $162,500 a year plus water, sewer and sanitation services. Gregg County contributes $30,000 annually.

The shelter took in $614,599 revenue in fiscal 2009-10, according to the nonprofit tracker, Guidestar.com., and reported $598,090 in expenses.

Heitkamp said the lawsuit arose from the residents frustration in trying to obtain detailed accounts for two years.

Filing the lawsuit are Christopher Edgeworth, Lori Morgan, Belinda Wiggins, Angela Young and Candice Bernard.

_______________________________________________

Also from the same day in February (I guess I must have been sleeping…)

http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/longview-city-officials-at-odds-over-animal-shelter/article_2b309b67-9beb-5543-90ea-9ca20a874b03.html

Longview city officials at odds over animal shelter

Longview’s mayor and the Humane Society of Northeast Texas’ board president said Thursday that there are no plans for the animal shelter to turn over its property and assets to the city.

District 1 City Councilman John Sims said the humane society’s board told him at a meeting a week ago that it was interested in turning over the shelter and its assets to the city. According to Sims, the board also told him it had made the same offer to Mayor Jay Dean months ago.

“They all spoke up and said we have already made that offer to the mayor,” Sims said. “Me and I guess none of the other council members knew anything about that. We weren’t told. I feel like the city should take over that animal shelter.”

Dean and Susan Mazarakes-Gill, board president of the Humane Society of Northeast Texas, said Sims’ story simply is not true.

“John Sims mentioned that to me one day this week. I told him it didn’t happen,” Dean said.

“Nobody from the animal shelter, the humane society or any of the other various organizations that deal with animal welfare in our community made such an offer. If they had, I would have advised them that it’s probably illegal.

“But the fact is that it just never happened. Mr. Sims is confused with this story. Hopefully he’ll get his facts straight.”

Sims said he was asked to attend a board meeting of the humane society on Feb. 14. He said the board showed him its financial statements and said the organization does not have much money.

“I’ve been pretty harsh about them killing the dogs like they have,” Sims said. “The lady running the shelter now, I am convinced is trying to do the best job she can. And I’m convinced the board is trying to do the best job they can — but they’re broke.”

Sims said that after the meeting ended, Mazarakes-Gill asked him if he would like to say anything to the board. Sims said he asked the board if it would be willing to turn over its assets and that the board said yes.

“We did not say anything about the city taking over our shelter. That’s just not true,” Mazarakes-Gill said. “We never offered to turn over any of our assets.”

Mazarakes-Gill said as a nonprofit organization, the humane society would only be permitted to turn over its property to another nonprofit organization.

“He said the city wants to enter a public-private partnership for a shelter,” she said. “We told him we would discuss that, but we did not agree to that either.”

The humane society’s board believes a new shelter or an additional shelter is needed, and Mazarakes-Gill said the board would like to partner with other entities to build a new one.

Sims said he wants the city to go to the voters to see if taxpayers would support a bond issue for another shelter.

“I just don’t feel like we’re handling this right,” Sims said. “I’m very upset that we aren’t doing something about the neglect of our animals. Other cities own the animal shelters in their towns, why don’t we. It’s a mess right now.”

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August 2012

http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/officials-to-debate-humane-society-contract/article_3c473e5d-b39a-54b8-a14d-77f932471100.html

Officials to debate Humane Society contract

City officials, animal lovers and shelter workers are coming together this week to address the city’s escalating animal problem and the growing need for a new or expanded facility to take care of strays or abandoned pets.

All Hearts 4 Paws, a newly formed group dedicated to the welfare of community pets, will hold a 6:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the Longview Public Library to raise public awareness about Longview’s pet overpopulation issue.

 “I don’t know that everybody is on the same agenda, but everybody agrees that this is something that needs to be done,” said Elyse Bowers, All Hearts 4 Paws organizer.

Members have addressed Longview city leaders at the last two city council meetings, asking the city to consider the need for a new animal shelter.

City Mayor Jay Dean said he was aware of the need, but funding was an issue.

“Our Longview shelter is not the proper place for our stray pets to be taken to,” Bowers said.

The group has asked the city to no longer take animals to the Humane Society of Northeast Texas, at 303 Enterprise St. in Longview.

Bowers said the shelter is overpopulated and disease infested.

Stuart Russell, interim director of the Humane Society of Northeast Texas, is among the speakers planning to attend Tuesday’s meeting.

She agrees that the shelter is overcrowded. The Humane Society is doing the best it can with the number of animals coming in daily — and there are just too many, she said,.

“We definitely have a pet overpopulation,” Russell said.

When the facility was started in the 1980s, it was intended to service only the city of Longview.

More than 20 years later, Longview is among eight entities the local Humane Society services. The list now includes Hallsville, Gilmer, Gladewater, Lake Cherokee, White Oak and Gregg County.

The facility is licensed for up to 140 animals, but on any given day the number of animals needing shelter could easily exceed the space limitation.

“We have outgrown this space about 20 years ago,” Russell said.

Not only do abandoned and stray animals come from the eight entities, the nonprofit shelter takes animals from other places without contracts for a $36 fee. And that does not count the number of pets taken to cities and counties with contracts by people who do not reside in those areas.

In the two weeks since Russell was named interim director, people from as far away as Avinger, Lindale and Carthage have brought pets to the shelter.

Typically up to 1,000 animals a month are brought to the shelter, depending on the time of year. Of those, about 600 to 700 are euthanized each month, Russell said.

All Hearts 4 Paws would like to see a new shelter constructed that would be large enough to accommodate the abandoned and stray pet population. The group has no funds to contribute to the effort, she said,.

Lack of space at the Humane Society of Northeast Texas not only contributes to disease among the animals, it also is a deterrent to pet adoptions.

If the Humane Society were to expand, a separate area should be constructed for people to come in and adopt animals.

“We need to come up with somewhere new where we can put our adoptable animals, where the community feels comfortable in going and it makes it quite clear what is up for adoption,” Russell said.

A new building, however, would not solve the problem. As long as people do not take proper care of their animals, the pet population will continue to grow. People are the problem, Russell said, not pets.

“If everyone would spay and neuter and vaccinate, we’d be out of business and that would sure be nice,” Russell said.

Bowers agreed that pet owners should take their responsibility more seriously.

“The shelter and local rescues are to their maximum capacity, and there are still hundreds of pets wandering on the street in every neighborhood. It is so disheartening,” Bowers said.

“Pets are just like us in that they need shots, their teeth brushed, clean water and food, and medicine to stay healthy and survive. They come to the shelter sick and neglected, some near death,” Bowers said.

District 1 Longview City Councilman John Sims agrees that something needs to be done.

The city, he said, is looking into the pet over-population problem.

Sims plans to attend Tuesday’s meeting.

“I am not sure what can be done, but it’s time the city seriously looks at the issue,” Sims said.

___________________________________________________________

http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/operation-save-the-animals-takes-off-in-longview/article_bd40a6f3-7c77-5d6d-9200-772bb623cee3.html

‘Operation Save the Animals’ takes off in Longview

Longview Mayor Jay Dean announced the name of a new task force that will be charged with finding a solution to the city’s animal overpopulation problem.

During the next two or three weeks, people from all walks of the community will be asked to serve on the “Operation Save the Animals” task force, Dean said at Thursday’s meeting of the City Council.

 Once formed, the task force will take 60 to 90 days to work toward a solution to overcrowding issues at the Humane Society of Northeast Texas animal shelter serving Longview, which receives financial support from the city.

The Humane Society has said it is taking in upwards of 1,000 stray and abandoned animals every month. Of that number, from 600 to 700 are euthanized because of overcrowding.

The shelter was designed to handle 140 animals monthly from Longview, but it has begun taking in animals from surrounding communities as well.

Dean said the task force would include members with backgrounds in finance, veterinary medicine.

“This is not just a City of Longview issue,” he said of the shelter, which also receives financial support from Gregg County. “Other cities and counties are involved. I know we need a plan, we need a long-term plan.”

Kelly Heitkamp, a Longview attorney, appeared at the meeting to present the results of a forensic accountant’s study of the Humane Society’s books. But Heitkamp said she had agreed to withhold the information to give the mayor’s task force a chance to move forward.

In other matters, council members mulled a proposed $152.1 million budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget, and a 50-cent tax rate per $100 valuation to fund it.

The proposed tax rate was discussed in a public hearing, the first of two scheduled before a rate is adopted on Sept. 13.

For the owner of an average residence valued this year at $137,860, the proposed tax rate would generate $690.54 in city property taxes. The proposed tax rate will generate more tax revenue during the 2012-2013 budget year because property values have increased overall.

Property taxes paid on last year’s average $135,465 homestead generated $678.54, for a difference of $12 between the two years.

The proposed budget contains funding for mid-year pay raises of 3 percent for all employees, $600,000 in added money for streets programs, $155,000 for traffic signal improvements, and a new internal auditor position costing $90,000.

Water and sewer customers will see a rate hike in the proposed budget.

For the average customer using 7,000 gallons of water with a 5/8-inch meter, the bill would increase by $3.58, up from $49.87 to $53.45 a month.

The increase is necessary to offset many years when increased costs were not passed on to customers, according to City Manager David Willard. He said the city needs more large volume water customers, and is currently talking with one.

“If we can find more customers, it will help with the water rate,” he said.

Also in the budget is funding for construction of a $6 million downtown street improvement project along a three-block area of Green Street, from Cotton to Whaley streets, is moving forward.

Longview City Council members approved a $6.3 million contract, submitted by low bidder, East Texas Bridge, a Longview company.

The Green Street re-construction is the second largest project of the $52.6 million street bond package passed by voters in 2011.

Construction is expected to begin in October, During that time traffic is expected to be delayed.

As part of the project, brick lined streets that are caving in will be reconstructed in the fashion of Fredonia and Tyler streets.

Construction of a new traffic signal system at the intersections of Center, Tyler, Methvin and Whaley streets are also included in the Green Street project.

City Council also agreed to purchase right-of-way parcels for the Hollybrook Drive widening project. Estimated cost of the four parcels is $79,000. Hollybrook Drive is slated to be widened from two lanes to four between Eastman Road and Loop 281.

_____________________________________________________

September 2012

http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/mayor-s-task-force-seeks-animal-shelter-solution/article_e01081ec-0eb0-5fcf-90d9-5e69184b5cd0.html

Mayor’s task force seeks animal shelter solution

An 11-member Animal Shelter Task Force put together by Longview Mayor Jay Dean met for the first time Wednesday. The group is tasked with finding a solution to the city’s unwanted animal overpopulation problem.

Dean said he and city council members have unsuccessfully wrestled with the issue for three years.

The task of finding a solution now rests with veterinarians, animal rights activists, a businessman, a former city councilman and representatives from the Humane Society of Northeast Texas.

“The charge is real simple — we want to save the animals,” Dean said.

More unwanted animals, from Longview as well as surrounding communities, are routinely dropped off at the Humane Society of Northeast Texas. Because of overcrowding, each month about 700 of the 1,000 animals abandoned there are euthanized.

Dean said he would like to see that trend reversed. He vowed to back away and let the task force determine how to make that happen, but directed the group to make a recommendation in 60 to 90 days.

“It is real important, we think, in terms of being a regional shelter,” Dean said.

Longview veterinarian Ken Glaze was named chairman of the task force.

Glaze is not new to the city’s animal problems. In 2010, he chaired the animal ordinance committee.

“He has patience to listen, to do a good job.” Dean said.

One of the challenges has been different groups that want to save the animals but were unable to agree on how to get that task accomplished, Dean said.

In order to make the 60-to-90 day deadline, Glaze said the committee would have to stay focused. Each member is charged with making one to three preliminary recommendations to solve the overcrowding issue before the next meeting.

Dean has said he favored a public-private partnership, but that there are other avenues to research.

Gregg County officials have indicated the county would likely make a financial commitment, and other cities that currently pay the Humane Society a fee to use their services could do the same, Dean said.

In addition to Longview, the Northeast Texas Humane Society has contracts to receive strays from Hallsville, Gilmer, Gladewater, Lake Cherokee, White Oak and Gregg County.

Longview paid $165,000 this past year to use the Humane Society shelter, and will pay more, $206,250, during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Gregg County’s contract with the Humane Society is $30,000.

The shelter is licensed to take up to 140 animals, though task force member and Humane Society Director Stuart Russell said there are 77 cages.

If other entities using the Humane Society would make a financial contribution toward a new building and offset the debt expense, service use fees would likely be lower, Dean said.

Dean said he anticipates bringing others with expertise into the development process, and possibly mayors from other entities currently serviced by the Humane Society of Northeast Texas.

District 1 City Councilman John Sims will serve as liaison between the City Council and the task force.

The task force will meet in public session at 11:30 a.m. each Wednesday at the Moeschle Room in the Longview Public Library.

_____________________________________________________

Most current article to date September 2012

http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/longview-council-oks-contract-with-animal-shelter-attorney-urges-review/article_a12779c1-ffba-5b2e-ad4f-3fc5a8eae2b3.html

Longview council OKs contract with animal shelter; attorney urges review of financial records

Longview City Council members on Thursday OK’d a contract with the local animal shelter that includes a 23 percent price hike and 30-day opt-outs for both parties.

The backdrop for the decision to enter into the $203,000 contract is a letter the Humane Society of Northeast Texas wrote telling the city it will close its doors on similar contracts in two years.

Thursday’s 6-1 decision, with Councilman John Sims dissenting, followed council discussion and resident input during a public forum led by local attorney Kelly Heitkamp, who urged elected officials to look more closely at the shelter’s books.

“I know the taxpayers care, because it’s tax dollars that are involved,” Heitkamp said, offering highlights of a civil lawsuit she filed for four residents that revealed expenses she said are worth questioning.

Those included $108,000 in checks written during an 18-month period on the humane society’s bank account.

“We still have no explanation for $108,000 from Austin Bank,” she said. “I want answers, don’t you? I want answers for these taxpayer dollars we are talking about.”

She and forensic accountant Nicholas Burkett offered to open their findings to any council member or city staff member, but Heitkamp later said that no one took them up on the offer.

Council discussion before the vote referred often to a task force that Mayor Jay Dean set up to look for long-term solutions to the gross imbalance between the Enterprise Street shelter’s 140-animal capacity and the 700 to 1,000 animals brought there monthly.

Director of Development Services Kevin Cummings told the council that city staff members looked into using pens at the Longview Fairgrounds as a temporary animal shelter.

City staff also investigated using shelters in Nacogdoches and other cities.

The least expensive option the city could devise would cost $75,000 more than the contract before the council, Cummings said.

Despite his vote against the contract, Sims said he was hopeful because of the task force, which has met once and was given 60 to 90 days to recommend a solution. Sims also appreciated the shelter’s two-year deadline.

“Finally, I feel good about the direction we’re going in,” Sims said. “I think the sooner we can get those animals out of Enterprise Street the better off they will be.”

Several council members stressed an eventual solution should be a regional one.

“You can pretty much say it is a countywide operation that is going on out there,” Councilman Sidney Allen said. “And these people in the county are depending on us. The question is — it’s inevitable — who pays for it? And the next question is who operates it? We know where we’ve got to be 24 months from now.”

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So, there you have the LONG of it….Most certainly hair raising and alarming!!! I will update as I find the updates

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~ by topcatsroar on September 18, 2012.

One Response to “Longview, Texas…Seems we have a problem…A very BIG problem!!! -The ‘dirty side’ of animal shelters”

  1. […] Now you might be wondering about previous scandals from the Longview Animal Control/Humane Society/Animal Services…Links of Interest: The Dirty Side of Animal Shelter-Longview https://topcatsroar.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/longview-texas-seems-we-have-a-problem-a-very-big-probl… […]

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