Friends Underwriting Rescues, FUR, is calling for animal advocates to attend a public meeting on Wednesday, June 18th to pursue charges against the former St. Landry Parish Animal Control Director, Patricia Street.
Founders and volunteers of FUR allege that Street is guilty of certain illegal actions at the shelter, including abuse and heart stick euthanizations. Representatives said animals were being left in kennels filled with feces on the floor and inside water and food bowls along with dead animals left in cages with live ones.
In addition, FUR alleges Street's daughter, Jordan, let two horses starve to death.FUR claims to have video and photographic proof of several incidents.
In one video obtained by News Ten, an unknown woman shows conditions inside the shelter, including a cage with two puppies, one dead, one alive.
"There is two puppies. One is dead. The other, trying to wake him up, with no hope. This dog has been dead since yesterday" the unidentified woman said.
Another scene has the woman scanning the room with the camera,
"This is the cat room of the St. Landry Parish Animal Control."Another video shows dog kennels with feces strewn about and a cat with ring worms walking around the shelter unattended. FUR representatives said the two videos are simply a drop in the bucket of mounting evidence against Street. For the past three weeks, Street, demoted from her position, has been working with strictly with large animal control cases and enforcement for the parish, including horses and cows.
FUR said even though she is no longer with the shelter, she should not be allowed to work with animals at all. Parish President Bill Fontenot, speaking on behalf of Street and her administrator Jessie Bellard said, that is not a decision for the volunteer group to make.
"The facility needed improvement. Yeah, and I didn't need FUR to tell me that. I had been working on that," said Fontenot who added that Street's removal from the facility was not a direct result of FUR's allegations, but a decision he made to ensure the shelter had the right person for the new direction.
He called it overwhelming at times; 150 animals and a very small staff and facility. Fontenot said conditions at the shelter have improved tremendously over the past two years. He added that he has never personally witnesses an incident of abuse and believed the allegations to be nothing more than a personal attack against Street.
"I never perceived, and I still stand by that there was any abuse by Ms. Patricia Street or any of our employees," Fontenot explained. But what about the videos? Although the videos show no date or time stamp and also do not include solid proof they were taken at the St. Landry Parish Animal Control, it's hard to deny the harsh living conditions of the animals.
"My view, those are the extremely worse conditions. I saw the videos, I saw the pictures and those were at times the system was overwhelmed," said Fontenot.
Stacey Alleman, a former employee of the shelter, worked side by side with Street for three weeks, before she let go after the administration change. She claimed that Street was a hard-working animal lover who hated euthanizing animals, but was overwhelmed by the mounting accusations against her.
"Truthfully, she did the best she could do with what she had," said Alleman. The former worker said she never witnessed Street performing illegal heart stick euthanizations. The process, Alleman said, might seem strange to someone not familiar with euthanazitions, but she assured it was normal and legal.
"She would listen for a heartbeat. When there was no more heartbeat with a stethoscope, she would take her finger and touch the eye to see if there was any reflection or blinking. If that didn't occur, at that point she would take a needle and stick it in the heart to make sure there was no twitching of the muscles. Once that was all done, the animal was considered passed on."
As far as any accusation that Street left animals to starve and die, Alleman said it's far from the truth.
"Some come in that day, they don't look to well and by the next morning they have perished, because you don't know what they came in with"
Street's daughter, Jordan, is also being accused of abuse, in particular, for recently allowing two horses to starve to death. Fontenot slammed the accusation, calling it a complete falsehood.
"Veterinarians advised to put the animals in a stall because they had diseases that could not be cured and it was the veterinarians recommendation and they themselves put these animals down."
Fontenot added that the person or persons behind the videos should have alerted someone immediately to the conditions they witnessed.
"If that person witnessed those conditions then why did they not alert the person in charge? "
Currently the St. Landry Sheriff's Office is investigating allegations into the shelter. Fontenot said should anything illegal be found, he would take the appropriate action.
FUR's meeting will be held Wednesday, June 18 that the Old City Market, 131 West Bellvue Street in Opelousas.
1808 Eraste Landry Rd, PO Box 90665,
Lafayette LA 70509