Mar 13, 2014 10:44 PM by Dave Fields

Vermilion Public Works director defends animal control supervisor's decision to euthanize dogs

Vermilion Public Works Director Billy Noegel, on Thursday night, is defending his animal control supervisor, saying that she unfairly has been the victim of false accusations and defamation in the case of three dogs, scheduled for adoption, that were euthanized last week.

Noegel said that, on the day the dogs were put down, the rescue organization scheduled to pick up the dogs was a no show and that perhaps, he said, Vermilion Parish Animal Control (VPAC) Supervisor Pam Monceaux "may have been set-up."

"You should have heard what people said last night at the meeting, not just on email, on Facebook, and everything. They said she (Monceaux) enjoyed killing dogs. Murderers, they were called--not just her--but the department."

The public works director strongly defended VPAC's actions and said that he requested that the Vermilion Parish Police Jury (VPPJ) draft a press release to defend Monceaux's department. Noegel told KATC that he felt so strongly about what he considered to be "defamation" against Monceaux, that he went home after the meeting and immediately composed an initial draft of the press release himself. Noegel said that he delivered that draft to the VPPJ attorney for final approval and release to the public.

Noegel, with support of some members of the police jury, indicated that the onus of blame falls squarely upon the rescue organization that agreed to take the three animals. Noegel explained that animal control staff, in the past, has been misled by individuals or organizations who make promises of which they do not deliver.

"They (the rescue group) said they were coming," Noegel said. "They never showed. It's not on us. If I tell somebody I'm going to be there at eight, and you don't show up. Nine o'clock, you don't call. Ten oclock, you don't call. Eleven o'clock, you don't call. Eventually, they did call at11: 57a.m. They say that someone told them to be there at 1:00p.m. Where did they get that from? They didn't get that from us. Was it on purpose? I don't know."

Paul Moresi, legal counsel for VPPJ, echoed Noegel's sentiments.

"One of the things that has been lost in the shuffle about the three animals is that we kept them for 30 days or more and that we made them available for rescue, but the group that agreed to rescue them never showed up. On the day that we made the animals available for rescue, there was no email from the rescue organization. There was nobody who showed up. Nobody called to suggest that they were on the way, so we followed normal procedures," Moresi stated.

Moresi also alluded to a 1993 court order by Judge Jules Edwards resulting from a case in which Vermilion Parish Animal Control was sued regarding complaints about too many animals in one kennel. Moresi explained that Edwards' ruling imposed specific overcrowding limits on VPAC and VPPJ. Moresi said that Edwards required that the police jury take all actions necessary to avoid overcrowding. As a result, Moresi said, the police jury was ordered not to have more than one animal or four puppies or kittens at a time in a single kennel.

Moresi said that the police jury made it known to its animal control division that "we need to be aware of this court order and we need to comply." Moresi said that it has been policy that after four days of holding an animal, the decision to keep the animal is "based on spacing and on the number of kennels and also the number of animals and the the number of animal deemed eligible for rescue," Moresi clarified.

Wednesday's police jury meeting prompted several animal rights advocates to speak during what became an especially contentious discussion. One of the points of contention entailed a hold on animal adoptions that had been placed earlier in the day, temporarily preventing rescue organizations from being able to pick up animals from the shelter.

Noegel said that he explained that the decision by the animal control to suspend animal adoptions originated from a conversation about a Louisiana revised statute between the VPAC supervisor and another animal control supervisor from a different parish. The conversation revolved around an obligation to sterilize animal prior to transferring them to another individual or organization for adoption.

"We've been aware that it's our obligation whenever animals are adopted to sterilize them," said Noegel, who read from the statute during last night's VPPJ meeting. Noegel said that the other parish's animal control supervisor "intimated to her (Monceaux) that if animals were adopted out without being sterilized, she might have to get go get them."

Noegel asserted that Monceaux's decision to suspend further adoptions pertained only a perceived liability for VPAC if she had released animals without fulfilling the VPAC's sterilization obligations. However, Noegel said, animal advocates at the VPPJ meeting last night falsely presumed that Monceaux had ulterior motives, such as "a vendetta" or "revenge" against rescue organizations. Noegel said he felt that Monceaux's opponents during the meeting were unfair to her.

Noegel said that he was able to correspond Thursday with Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission's veterinary expert, Dr.Gary Balsamo, who reassured the public works director that if VPAC obtained a signed promise from a rescue organization to sterilize adopted animals themselves, that the sterilization obligation would rest with the rescue organization and not with VPPJ or VPAC.

With that reassurance, VPPJ moved last night to remove the hold on further animal adoptions. KATC learned that several animals, in fact, were adopted from VPAC on Thursday.

Police juror Wayne Touchet, who is a past president of VPPJ, said that the jury made an earnest attempt at Wednesday's meeting to address concerns, but confided with KATC that progress on this issue won't happen overnight.

"We lifted the their (VPAC's) hold in the committee recommendations made last night. We're going to ratify that Monday night. I would hope that they (animal advocates) took our action last night as serious. What we did last night won't be ratified and made official until Monday night. We're going to begin the process of changing our policies. That's going to take some time. It's going to include some of the things that volunteers are requesting that we change at animal control," Touchet said.



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