From: "Tom Morris" <>
To: "Tommy Gonzalez" <>,
Cc: "Pat Fowler" <>

Subject: Fw: Appalling Incidents At The Irving Animal "Shelter"
Date: Sat, 2 Sep 2006 13:00:11 -0500

Mr. Mayor and Other Honorable Citizens:

Upon reflection, I realize there are other practices and issues you should be made aware of as you consider badly needed reforms at theIrving Animal Shelter.

The first is that the current Shjelter management authorizes the needless killing of healthy animals on a systematic basis. As you know, there are mandated "hold" times before the City can kill a dog or cat at the Shelter. What none of us in the volunteer ranks understand is why Shelter management insists on killing healthy, adoptable animals at the earliest "legal" opportunity when there are empty cages remaining unused in the facility. I understand that overcrowding is a real problem and in those situations it is necessary to follow the "letter of the law" when it comes to enforcing minimum hold times. But when there are empty cages this practice of killing healthy animals as soon as their minimum hold times are up is totally senseless and contributes the the feeling by those of us interested in seeing conditions Shelter conditions improve that management cares nothing about "animal welfare" and everything about "animal control".

I have asked Mssrs. Fowler and Teel why they feel they must adhere to this killing schedule if cages are open. They have never given me a logical response as to why they continue the practice.

Another equally senseless practice at the Shelter is killing animals on Sundays. The problem with this is that it makes it impossible for rescue groups to save an animal identified for rescue on a Saturday but not removed from the Shelter that day. John Teel's response to this is that it takes a long time to kill an animal, and they need the time to do so when the Shelter is not open. The reality is they currently kill animals when the Shelter is open. Several witnesses heard Shelter employees state that 21 cats were "put down" last week while the Shelter was open. If Shelter management is as committed to to animal welfare as they claim, you would think they would have policies in place designed to save lives, not destroy animals prematurely before they know if a dog or cat may have a home.

The last thing you should know - if you do not already - is that a former Shelter employee has filed a suit against the City of Irving pursuant to the Texas Whistleblower Act. The plaintiff is Tarah Baumgarter. She worked as an Officer at the Shelter for almost six months before being terminated. Ms. Baumgarter makes numerous allegations, including:
Controlled drugs missing from the Shelter
Dogs in Shelter not removed from cages during cleaning but instead soaked in chemicals and hit with hoses
Animal feces not cleaned from inside cages
Small dogs and puppies bounced around cages during cleaning by being hit by hoses
Injured dogs left in cages without veterinary care
Female dogs placed in cages with male dogs
Large dogs placed in cages with small dogs
Healthy dogs placed in cages with sick dogs
Cats killed in animal control trucks in the back of the facility instead of being logged into the Shelter and then euthanized
No sedation on cats killed in trucks
If person feeding dogs did not like a particular dog, it would not be fed each day
If three dogs were in a single cage, food only sufficient for one dog was placed in cage, resulting in dominant dog obtaining food and others going without
Plantiff was touched in a sexual manner on two occasions and upon report to Shelter supervisor no action was taken
Dogs not permitted to be placed in euthanasia room because an employee used room to eat his lunch
Dog pinned against back wall of cages with boot to be given initial shot for euthanasia
Re-use of same syring to euthanize several dogs and needle then repenetrated drug bottle so as to cause contamination
Improper drug log book used and when Plaintiff submitted proper form, Supervisor did not implement
Plaintiff compelled to remove head of dog to be tested for rabies by method of chopping head off with axe without proper protective devices, resulting in blood and body fluids flying into Plaintiff's face and mouth
One or more persons not certified carrying out euthanasia
Kicking dogs after brought into Shelter
Wild bobcat babies left in Shelter for two days without food
Healthy dogs that are noisy, dogs held by police department when owner arrested and when dogs seized on abandonment or cruelty, all placed in quarantine area with dogs suspected of rabies disease.
Rabies cages and room not properly secured
If too many rabies case dogs came in, one would be removed and place in general caging with other dogs, even though quarantine time not sufficient
No rabies quarantine policy/procedure manual present in or at room
On dog bite calls, if owner alleges rabies innoculation, proof not required
Cats placed in quarantine placed in cages without litter box, food or water for days

My wife and I had occasion to interface with Ms. Baumgarter in the days just after we became active in assisting the Shelter and just after she had started her job as an Animals Services Officer. We found Ms. Baumgarter to be a very energetic, enthusiastic employee who was very excited to be working at the facility. In the short time we knew her we saw her do numerous things to assist the animals in her charge, inclusing arranging for animals to be transported to other facilities where they would have a better chance at adoption and repainting and carpeting a portion of the cat room to provide a play area for cats and kittens.

Strictly form a personal point-of-view, it is difficult for me to believe Ms. Baumgarter made all these allegations up. But that is strictly my opinion. However, as City leaders, you owe it to the citizens of Irving to keep trck of this case. If even a fraction of her charges are found to be true, it certainly reinforces all the evidence others have brought forward about shoddy and negligent Shelter management.

I, and others like me who are fed up with excuses as to why provable acts of cruelty and negligence at the Shelter continue to be tolerated by our City, demand action by you on our behalf. If no satisfaction is forthcoming, I will personally pay for advertisng in the Irving Journal to inform the citizens of Irving about these issues and tha fact that elected officials are ignoring these concerns.

Thomas E. Morris


From: Morris, Tom
Sent: Friday, September 01, 2006 4:18 PM
To: ''; ''; ''; ''; ''
Cc: ''
Subject: Appalling Incidents At The Irving Animal "Shelter"

Mr. Mayor and Other Honorable Citizens:

I am a member of the Irving Shelter Reform Group. I became aware of the terrible conditions at the Shelter last Fall when I first went to visit. Since then my wife, Clare, and I have worked diligently to do what we can to improve conditions in the Shelter and improve the adoption rate of healthy animals that end up in the Shelter.

I am not a “screaming animal rights activist”. I am a senior officer in a large public company where I am charged with making high level decisions daily. I think others would tell you that I am objective and level-headed. And I understand the mission statement of a city animal control operation starts with “control”.

With that being said, I have been REPEATEDLY disgusted by incidents that have occurred over the past year where it has been obvious that the Shelter management and staff have ignored the welfare of dogs and cats that have ended up in the facility while making it as difficult as possible for volunteers willing to give of their own time and resources to ASSIST THE CITY in getting more animals out of the facility alive.

The most recent incident in this sad saga is the case where the needs of the little dog named “Irving” were ignored based simply on rigid adherence to bureaucracy. But unfortunately – and needlessly – what occurred in this case is merely the latest in a LONG series of other totally senseless and avoidable cases of inhumane treatment and/or flagrant disregard for the well-being of the animals by the staff.

Until recently I had been of the opinion that it would be better to work with Shelter senior management (Mssrs. Fowler and Teel) in the hopes that by pointing out these issues to them things would get better.

But they haven’t. Things are getting worse. The Shelter staff continues to BLATANTLY ignore the welfare of the animals and needlessly put restraints on volunteers who only want to help turn this hellhole into a better place.

There are many issues/problems to be resolved in the facility. But four must be addressed immediately if things are ever going to get better.

The first is to fire Susie Williamson, the Shelter Supervisor. She does not possess the leadership skills or temperament to hold that position. Her demeanor is usually surly or harassed. Her negative, bureaucratic attitude and public moodiness combined with her lack of compassion is a disgrace to the City. Her lack of interest in aiding “Irving” is not atypical. She should be removed immediately.

Second, you should demand that senior City staff answer some very serious questions, such as:

· Why does your staff continue to deny accusations of mistreatment of animals when there are multiple eyewitness accounts of these abuses taking place regularly?

· Why do these incidents continue to occur despite the promises of senior City management that “they are committed to making things better”?

· Why are needless obstacles and petty regulations being put in place to make it even more difficult for volunteers to assist in increasing the adoption rate? For example, why is the Shelter (acknowledging that they are already short of staff) going to take on the task of taking photos of the animals for Petfinders when motivated, qualified volunteers have been doing the job? I suspect it is because management does not want volunteers to know what is really going on with disposition of the animals.

Third, you should demand an outside audit of the Shelter. Bad things are happening in the facility daily. You and your fellow citizens of Irving deserve an impartial third party evaluation by nationally recognized animal control professionals to delve into current practices so that YOU can better understand what is going right – and wrong – with this facility. Once you really know what is happening, you will be in a better position to take corrective action.

Lastly, you should demand to review the credentials of the part-time veterinarian recently added to the staff. Too many reputable vets who practice in Irving have already found fault with many of her diagnostic conclusions. There is a real question as to her competence.

As leaders of our City you have an obligation to make Irving a model of civic excellence. How we manage the Shelter is a direct indicator of success or failure on this barometer. Currently, we are failing. As a citizen of Irving, I am appealing to you to take action now to make the Shelter what it should be – a “shelter” for unfortunate animals that end up there – and not a holding pen where the staff just counts the days until they can euthanize another homeless pet.

Thomas E. Morris


<> > Subj: RE: Little White Dog named "Irving" and
> Small Paws Rescue Org.
> > Date: 9/1/2006 8:57:19 AM Central Standard Time
> > From:
> >
> > Small Paws is one of the most highly recognized
> > 501(c)3 groups in the country. I have worked with
> > them in the past; they are a FANTASTIC
> organization.
> > They have a very significant membership, and are
> well
> > known and respected on a national level. There
> should
> > be NO REASON that an animal they want to pull
> > shouldn't be given to them the first time they
> ask,
> > let alone the third time! They are NOT a second
> rate
> > humane group. I'm certain that Irving will be
> hearing
> > from their membership.
> >
> > Do the problems at Irving have to go "national"
> before
> > the necessary changes are made?
> >
> > Many ACO services across the country are setting
> > successful, positive examples of what a facility
> &ACO
> > team that truly cares about the welfare of the
> animals
> > can do. Why is Irving having so much trouble
> > resolving the problems when they know what the
> > problems are and have so many resources/humane
> > volunteers (at NO COST) helping???
> >
> > I'm truly saddened to hear that the new vet's
> actions
> > apparently haven't resulted in better treatment
> for
> > those unfortunate animals coming in to IACO..
> >
> > Count me in as a strong supporter of an external
> audit
> > ASAP (like YESTERDAY)!! I also want to say that
> I
> > strongly support Betty in her opinion that
> "...Susie
> > Williamson should be removed from her position
> > immediately,..."
> >
> >
> > Respectfully,
> > Kat Chaplin, (817) 379-0969
> > Ahimsa of Texas, Inc.
> > Classy Cats, Inc.
> > Roanoke, TX >

<Subj: A Little Dog named Irving
Date: 9/1/2006 3:38:40 PM Central Standard Time
From: (Betty is the President of the citizen's group for Animal Shelter Reform)

Mr. Mayor, Member of the City Council, City Manager, and Pat Fowler,

This has been a banner week at the shelter and, quite frankly, I have not been able to put my feelings into words until now.

I do not know about the State of Oklahoma, but here in our great State of Texas, a veterinarian is sworn to uphold the following oath as adopted by the House of Delegates in 1969:

"Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I will accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence."

Yesterday, Clare Morris and I made a trip to Dallas where the little dog Irving lay in a diagnostic hospital for animals. We felt it necessary to be introduced to this little guy personally and make certain we had not been misinformed, as the shelter staff is saying. Trust me on this one, Herb. We were not misinformed. I held Irving in my own arms, wrapped in a towel so as not to bruise his protruding ribs, and looked into his face. In my own hands they placed a solid stone removed from his bladder: it was the size of a golf ball (picture attached). He had a second stone they did not show me; however, the medical staff said it was somewhat larger than the one I held. A healthy dog? You do not need the use of sophisticated equipment to see that this dog was suffering. (my own picture attached)

Some may consider me silly when I tell you that I whispered "I'm sorry this happened to you on my watch" into his ear. He was a tough little guy - he licked my face and wagged his tail: he was going to be okay. Small Paws would see to it. They delight in helping animals who are Hospice patients and to quote one of the rescuers there with me yesterday "we hold their little paw until they cross over Rainbow Bridge." This group enjoys more than 6,000 members internationally: when they flex, it shows.

Not only did Dr. King make a serious mistake in evaluating this dog's medical condition; but the shelter supervisor failed to recognize distinct and basic symptoms of extreme distress. This surprises me due to Ms. Williamson's experience as a competitive dog breeder. To deem this critically ill dog healthy and place a "I'm ready for adoption" card (picture attached) on his cage was ludicrous!

I believe if anyone mentions the 72 hour hold period one more time I will scream. This is not about the 72 hour hold period. This is about the fact a skilled veterinarian and shelter supervisor failed to see an animal in extreme pain, the fact those individuals were willing to let this emaciated and suffering dog stay in that cage unmedicated and urinating on itself from August 24th until August 31st, and the fact that one of those individuals was so focused on control that they refused a renowned group of rescuers the opportunity to pull the dog for emergency care! How many times do I have to say it? We are NOT the enemy. We've been told the shelter staff has named themselves and our group the "Hatfields and McCoys". That, sir, is what we deal with as we spend countless volunteer hours, such as yourself and the council, to help OUR city shelter because the staff cannot possibly do it all! Unfortunately, you get what you ask for. Yesterday at 2:45 p.m., with a small little dog in my arms, I became a Hatfield and the shelter became a McCoy. They labeled us; we drew a line in the sand; and they stepped over it. It is unfortunate, because we are more determined and more dedicated than ever before to oversee our shelter until it is a polished jewel. Only then, will we rest.

Just yesterday, Clare and I went to the shelter at 4:40 p.m. to conduct a "head count" of the cats and kittens. This was my first time to actually experience a roll call of this sort, and in that short amount of time I assisted, I found two cats missing and unaccounted for (again); and a cage with four kittens with an identification card marked "three". I see why animals cannot be found; I see why an entire litter of unweaned kittens were lost in July; and I see how a box of unweaned babies could be placed on a top shelf and forgotten. By the way, at one minute until 5 p.m., Clare warned me to hurry for Leticia would come and tell us to leave when the clock struck 5. With 30 seconds to go; there were several uniformed ASOs gathered at the front desk, and just as Clare warned, the door opened and Leticia announced "are you girls ready to go?" Of course we were, just let us make one more note of one more mistake on the tracking system. We finished our tally outside OUR shelter, standing on the sidewalk. A young ASO walked past me carrying a "live animal" box marked "Justin's Cat" - I am hoping it is one of the missing ones: I'd rather it be in the box and not properly logged out, than MIA.

I should have pushed harder at City Hall; but because of the respect I have for my home town, for you Herb, and for my friends on city council; I failed to focus as clearly as I should have. My mistake. This is MY shelter, run by MY taxes; and I am taking ownership from this day forward. This is YOUR shelter, run by YOUR taxes too - I'm asking that you take ownership with me.

As a core member of the Irving Animal Shelter Reform, I am asking for a full outside audit from the Humane Society of the United States - now. It would be very honorable for the city to send them an invitation and put a stop to all the negative publicity and ill feelings from citizens.

The cost of an audit will probably be comparable to a K-9 police officer that is imported from another country, which is approximately $20,000. I would prefer the next K-9 officer be recruited from our own city shelter's Death Row as seen in other cities, and the money used to fund the audit. The result would be an excellent blueprint of shelter procedures to be used for Irving's new state-of-the-art animal shelter.

I would appreciate a call, an e-mail, a cup of coffee? Just something would be wonderful.


Betty Yarbrough
Citizen of Irving>