Five people have been fired and one resigned after an investigation into unauthorized euthanizations at Sugar Land’s animal shelter, according to city officials.
Employees with the shelter since April killed more than 38 dogs and cats without following proper procedure, according to the results of a city investigation.
“The level of outrage is, I can’t describe,” said Doug Adolph, a spokesperson for the city. “People are pissed here. It was unacceptable.”
Those fired asserted the animals that were euthanized were aggressive or had a medical diagnosis, according to a news release.
Officials with several city departments began an investigation on Sept. 15 after an employee notified the city about unauthorized euthanizations, Adolph said. At the time, investigators believed as many as two or three had happened, he said.
But investigators quickly determined the number of unauthorized euthanizations was much larger, Adolph said. And city leaders took quick action, Adolph said.
The manager of the shelter was placed on administrative leave at the start of the investigation and resigned over the weekend, Adolph said. City officials fired another five employees at the shelter at the end of the investigation, bringing down the total number of employees to about five, Adolph said.
City policy stipulates that employees must seek a veterinarian evaluation to determine if any euthanization is medically necessary, or a certified behaviorist, before proceeding with any euthanization, Adolph said. And then, they are typically conducted at a veterinarian’s office, Adolph said.
“Proper procedures were not followed, verbal instructions were ignored and employees knowingly disobeyed direct orders and the Animal Services Division Manual of Standard Operating Procedures,” according to a prepared city statement.
City staff from other departments will temporarily work at the animal shelter until administrators can hire new full-time employees, Adolph said.
But city administrators know it will take a long time to rebuild public trust, Adolph said.
“One of the disappointing aspects of this is that we’ve done tremendous work at the shelter the past two years,” Adolph said. “We’ve increased adoptions, expanded our volunteer participation and established partnerships with other agencies passionate about animals. Based on what happened, that’s all erased. And we’ve got a ton of work to do to rebuild the public trust.”