On March 6, 2015, two starved Pitbull dogs were reported to Caddo Animal Services by a concerned citizen. The dogs were severely malnourished and had no shelter; nothing but a small piece of foam to sleep on. CPAS responded, gave the owners 24 hours to improve the living conditions for the dogs and that was it. The original complainant followed up with the Shreveport police department when conditions were not improved as ordered, and Caddo Animal Control did not follow up. After SPD was contacted, CPAS again returned to the home and seized the two dogs. No charges were filed against the owners; the owners signed a release of ownership of the dogs to CPAS.
The dogs were evaluated and found to have heart worms, whip worms and hook worms.
The mission statement of Caddo Animal Services:
The Caddo Parish Animal Services mission is to protect the citizens of Caddo Parish from dangerous, nuisance, and uncontrollable animals and ensure the protection and welfare of domestic animals. The Caddo Parish Animal Services Section responds to approximately 13,000 citizen requests each year. We also provide pet adoptions and help rescue injured animals.Local rescue groups have attempted to pull the two dogs from Caddo Animal Services but have been refused.
Of course this is all reminiscent of the Braveheart story; you will remember the puppy found in a storage locker in September 2013. He was very near death and through miraculous efforts he survived, recovered, and is now a symbol of the fight against animal abuse and neglect. When Braveheart was seized by Caddo Animal Services he was declared "evidence" until public outcry forced the agency to release him to the care of a veterinarian.
This situation is alarmingly similar. The two dogs rescued last week have been named Lucky and T-Bone. There is a Facebook group where supporters have now garnered help from animal rescue workers all over the country who want to help and who have the know-how to get it done. They have posted a petition calling for the release of Lucky and T-Bone to a rescue group. At this time the petition has over 2,800 signatures garnered in just about 24 hours. There is also a GoFundMe page to raise money for vetting which has raised over $1300.00.
Rosheen Rayburn works in animal rescue in Arizona and runs the highly visible Rally Against Animal Abuse page and website. She put together this video that succinctly states the situation:
After this story hit social media last week, Caddo Animal Services director Everett Harris was hit with a barrage of emails and phone calls asking that the dogs be released to a rescue. Harris refused and also refused to let concerned animal groups see the dogs. A shelter volunteer reported that the two dogs were being held outside in the stray/hold pen; the weather last week in Caddo was cold with a constant rain.
Harris held a hastily called press conference to reassure the public that the shelter can care for the animals "just like they can," referring to the rescue groups asking for the dogs; he took no questions during the conference.
Harris's reluctance to release the dogs to a certified rescue is a concern. Bo Spataro, owner of Braveheart and a warrior for animal rights posted this comment on Facebook last week:
Let's do the right thing. And Caddo doesn't have to go very far to learn how to work with rescue. JUST WALK ACROSS THE RIVER DUDE. What government agency wouldn't let the private sector help them. We have the money. He have the resources. We have the heart. Don't tell us how to spend our money... just take it. Get out of the way and let "good people" help. Hey new mayor. You gonna keep being so animal UNFRIENDLY over there across the river. Dig in on how your commisioners keep thinking this 100k plus year employee is doing a good job. More to it than fresh paint on the walls. YOU HAVE A PUBLIC OPINION PROBLEM. And this problem has merit. Read your email. ~ Bo
Caddo Animal Services has a 72% euthanasia rate because they refuse to work with rescue groups; Bossier Parish has a significantly lower rate because they do work with rescues. Look at the numbers:
72% of the dogs and 87% of the cats that go to Caddo Animal Services are euthanized. That's a problem.
The problem in this case is leadership; Everett Harris's refusal to do the best thing for the animals in his facility has been documented; he has been rude and abrasive to the public on numerous occasions. During the Braveheart crisis when his agency refused to release Braveheart, Harris was verbally abusive to rescuers who offered help.
I get that his is a high stress position, but he could alleviate that stress by accepting help.
As citizens of Caddo Parish we need to demand a change. Caddo Animal Services must reevaluate their position with rescue organizations. All you have to do is look at those numbers for Bossier Parish to see that there is room for improvement in Caddo. There must be a change of leadership at Caddo Animal Control.
To initiate this change, please contact the Caddo Commission:
The email address for Everett Harris, Director of Caddo Animal Services is firstname.lastname@example.org
Write to them all and demand that they first release these dogs to PetSavers who has volunteered to pull them, and then demand that Everett Harris resign in favor of a director that truly cares about the high kill rate at our shelter.
If you can, please attend the Caddo Commission meeting Monday, 3/16/15 and step up for your three minutes to speak to the commission about this problem. The meeting is at Government Plaza at 3:30. Even if you don't want to speak, come show your support.
Caddo Animal Services is an embarrassment to our community; we have got to do better.