KATC Investigates

Apr 3, 2014 8:07 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck and Tina Macias

KATC Investigation finds many Vermilion animals euthanized early

A KATC investigation has found that the Vermilion Parish Animal Control Center may have violated parish law when it killed hundreds of dogs and cats before its ordinance allows.

Each parish makes their own rules when it comes to how long animals should be kept before being euthanized. In Vermilion Parish, they're given four days.

The parish's animal control ordinance reads, "If any such dog or cat is not claimed within the four days after it is seized and impounded, it shall be disposed of in a humane manner."

However, KATC's investigation found that in 2013, 27 percent of dogs that were euthanized died before the four days were up.

KATC reviewed hundreds of parish euthanasia records and uncovered that last year, more than 21 percent of all dogs and cats were killed before four days, some even dying the day they arrived at the facility.

2013 Dogs Cats  Total 
Total Euthanized  601  751  1,352 
<4 Days 160 134  294 
 %<4 Days 27%  17.8%  21.8%

KATC's investigation began with complaints from animal rescue groups over three dogs being put down by Vermilion Parish the same day they were supposed to be rescued.

Our investigation looked at kill rates for every Acadiana parish, which we will detail tomorrow. Vermilion didn't give us theirs, but they did give us access to their records.

Those records showed hundreds of animals had a fast death at the facility.

For example, three chihuahua puppies came to the Verimilion Parish Rabies and Animal Control Center last year on Sept.12, but they didn't stay for the four days required by law. According the facility's euthanasia log, the puppies were put down the very same day.

But the chihuahuas weren't alone. It's been short stays for other animals at the facility.

Last year two cats, Tessi and Rebecca, along with their kittens, were brought in on April 17. However, the very next day, April 18, the facility's euthanasia log showed Tessi and Rebecca were euthanized.

There's also 6-month-old Jane, a mixed breed brought in last year on August 26. Jane was killed three days later that Thursday.

A former animal control warden in Vermilion backs up what we found in the documents.

"Every Thursday was euthanasia day, and sometimes we would pick up the dog on Monday and by Thursday they were gone," said Thad Savoy, a former animal warden of the Vermilion Parish Rabies Animal Control Center.

As warden, Savoy signed off on the animals he brought into the facility. However, only some of those dogs while he worked at the facility, he said, would get posted online, and get a fair chance to be saved.

"Most of the dogs that were picked up were able to be rescued. But they were not rescued or put online because of the color or the breed. ... It's kind of hard to say; it's kind of hard to describe why," Savoy said.

For now, the parish is not commenting on KATC's investigation. On Wednesday night, the Vermilion Parish Police Jury unanimously denied KATC's request for an interview with Animal Control Facility Director Pam Monceaux and Public Works Director Bill Nogel.

"I would like to see more animals get adopted. That's my number one concern," Savoy said.

The only way dogs and cats should be killed before the four days is if their death is, "Deemed necessary or appropriated by a licensed veterinarian," according to Vermilion Parish ordinance.

However, KATC found no parish records of veterinarians giving permission for these "early euthanasias."

While officials denied our request for an interview, they said parish administrator Linda Duhon would be able to discuss what KATC uncovered next week.

 

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