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Later this year, Mayor Greg Fischer will name a new director of Louisville Metro Animal Services. The director will be the fourth person in two years to lead the agency, and the second person to not have the title preceded by ‘interim.’

Fischer told the Courier-Journal he’s determined not to overlook anything as the city conducts background checks of every applicant for the position. Fischer is looking to avoid a repeat of the last few years, when previous director Gilles Meloche (who was found after a national search) stepped down amid accusations of mistreating animals and harassing employees. After Meloche, Wayne Zelinsky was named interim director. He stepped down last week after The Ville Voice uncovered a business Zelinsky and his wife were running. The business promotes adult entertainment.

MetroSafe deputy director Debbie Fox is now leading LMAS. She will serve until a permanent director is appointed.

Louisville Metro Animal Services interim director Wayne Zelinsky has resigned.

The announcement comes weeks into a review of the department ordered by Mayor Greg Fischer.

For more than a year, LMAS has been the target of criticism. Zelinsky became interim director after former director Gilles Meloche resigned amidst allegations of mistreatment of animals and improper behavior. Zelinsky has been named in lawsuits brought by employees, and is also under investigation by the police public integrity unit.

Deputy director of MetroSafe Debbie Fox will be the new interim director of LMAS. She will serve until April, when a permanent director is appointed.

WFPL will have more on this story this afternoon. Mayor Fischer will speak about the matter at a 1:00 press conference.

Below is the announcement from Fischer’s office.

Mayor Greg Fischer today named Debbie Fox as the new interim leader of Metro Animal Services, following the resignation of Director Wayne Zelinsky.

Fox, currently Deputy Director of MetroSafe, will oversee animal control for the city while the Fischer administration conducts a national search for a new full-time director and completes a top-to-bottom review of Animal Services.

Fox will remain in the new role until April, when Fischer plans to name a permanent director for Animal Services. She was named Communications Center Director of Year in 2010 by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials.

“Debbie is a solid leader who has been nationally recognized and has a proven track record in customer service,” Fischer said. “I’m confident that she will effectively manage Animal Services during this transition period.”

Last month, Fischer named a committee to audit Animal Services and a separate committee to search for a new leader. The review and search are being overseen by Sadiqa Reynolds, Chief of Community Building for the city. Applications for the Director of Animal Services are being accepted until Feb. 14.

Zelinsky submitted his resignation, effective immediately, this morning.

Here is the story from WFPL:


The embattled director of Louisville Metro Animal Services has resigned.

Wayne Zelinsky had been interim director since Dr. Gilles Meloche stepped down amid accusations of mistreating animals and employees. Zelinsky was also controversial. He is named in two lawsuits and was allegedly operating an adult-themed entertainment business online. Zelinsky resigned after being confronted about the business.

“We advised Wayne [Tuesday] night that we were aware of a website that he had up and running and needed to discuss that with him and he came in [Wednesday] morning and resigned,” says Mayor Greg Fischer.

Last month, Fischer ordered a full review of LMAS and launched a national search for a new director. He said then he would keep Zelinsky in charge of the department, unless the auditors recommended otherwise. Fischer says the search for a permanent director will continue, though he’s not sure about the progress of the audit.

“You know, I make it a matter not to really get in the middle of audits while they’re going on because they start and then you never know what they’re going to find out. They’re hard at work right now. We’ll get a report on it at the end of the first quarter. We’re progressing with the audit, that’s all I know at this point,” he says.

Zelinsky will be replaced by current MetroSafe deputy director Debbie Fox. A permanent director will be named in April.

After first naming the committee that will search for a new health director, Mayor Greg Fischer has appointed the members of two more committees. The latest panels will oversee the review of Metro Animal Services and the search for a new director.

From the Mayor’s office:

The six-person committee to conduct the performance review includes:

  • Allison Woosley, a CPA and animal advocate
  • Lindsy Wallace, Director of Operations for the Kentucky Humane Society
  • Karen Little, Alley Cat Advocates
  • Dr. Lee Hankins, veterinarian at Springhurst Animal Hospital
  • Mike Norman, Auditor, Louisville Metro Government
  • Jim Brammell, Chief Engineer, Louisville Water Company and member of SPOT Fund

The eight-person committee to conduct a national search for a new director includes:

  • Sadiqa Reynolds, Chief of Community Building for Mayor Fischer
  • Lori Redmon, Kentucky Humane Society
  • David Hall, Floyd County/New Albany Animal Control and Shelter
  • Terri Cardwell, business owner and member of SPOT Fund
  • Patti Swope, business executive and animal advocate
  • Kellie Watson, Director of Human Resources, Louisville Metro Government
  • Jessica Reid, No Kill Louisville
  • Police Chief Robert White or his designee

Once the search committee narrows its list to six finalists, a separate review team will provide additional input and narrow the list to three, which it will recommend to the Mayor. That review team includes:

  • Sharon Mays, Shamrock Society
  • Bunny Zeller, Animal Care Society
  • Ellen Cullinan, citizen and volunteer
  • Donna Herzig, Louisville Kennel Club
  • Metro Council Member Kelly Downard
  • Metro Council Member Tina Ward-Pugh

Council members Kelly Downard and Tina Ward-Pugh were likely among the clearest choices for the final group. Both were active in questioning former director Gilles Meloche whenever he appeared in the council.

 

It wasn’t mentioned on State of Affairs Friday (no time), but there has been an update to the Louisville Metro Animal Services story, courtesy of LEO.

Mayor Greg Fischer has launched a review of Louisville Metro Animal Services and a search for a new director for the agency.

Here is the WFPL story. And here is the full audio of Fischer’s remarks. He began the discussion with the press with an overview of his first week in office (mp3).

LEO Weekly has covered this issue extensively. Here is the latest.

Here is a letter from an LMAS employee. The employees have been speaking to the media on the condition of anonymity, often because they fear retaliation from superiors. Councilman Kelly Downard says the investigation will give them a chance to talk openly. He said it’s like coming to the end of long, dark cave. Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh has also been outspoken on this issue. Like Downard, she is praising Fischer’s call for a review. Here are the councilmembers’ full statements:

“The problems at Metro Animal Services have gone on for too long. I thank Mayor Fischer for taking quick action to address this issue and begin a thorough review of the practices and policies at Metro Animal Services. I look forward to supporting Mayor Fischer, as we work to make Louisville MAS the best run organization in the country.” – Kelly Downard, Past Chair of the Metro Council’s Government Accountability and Oversight Committee

“I commend the Mayor for this action. For to long there have been too many questions about operations, policies and practices of LMAS. The Metro Council has spent much time and effort to help LMAS with new ordinances and funding for facilities but concerns persist. Those of us in this community who love and care for animals want to make sure we and the people who take care of animals are doing the right thing. I am ready to assist in any way possible and I look forward to seeing the final results of the mayor’s action.” – Tina Ward Pugh, Chair of the Metro Council’s Government Accountability and Oversight Committee

A Metro Animal Services update, from LEO:

Wayne Zelinsky, the interim director of Louisville Metro Animal Services, will be retained by Mayor-elect Greg Fischer until a national search for a full-time replacement has been completed.

[edit]

Fischer’s decision to retain Zelinsky contradicts what the then-candidate told LEO Weekly in mid-October. In an interview conducted on the campaign trail, Fischer was asked if Zelinsky would be retained as interim director.

“No,” Fischer said. “We plan on doing a national search for that job.”

Metro Animal Services Director Dr. Gilles Meloche (you can say he’s embattled, controversial, etc) is resigning.

From the Mayor’s Office:

Metro Animal Services Director Gilles Meloche, who helped modernize the animal protection agency over the past four years, will be leaving his post effective Dec. 31.

Assistant Director Wayne Zelinsky will lead Metro Animal Services as interim director. Meloche will work closely with Zelinsky over the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition.

“For more than four years, Dr. Meloche has been a strong change agent who has helped professionalize our animal services operation and significantly increase the percentage of adopted animals,” said Mayor Jerry Abramson. “I appreciate his dedication and service to our community, and I wish him much success.”

Meloche said his agency has achieved most of the goals he set, including modernizing the city’s animal ordinance, increasing staffing and equipment and building a new adoption facility. During his tenure, animal adoptions have dramatically increased and the percentage of euthanized animals has significantly decreased.

“It has been a privilege to work to improve the quality of life for citizens and animals,” Meloche said. “Now is a good time for me to pursue the next phase of my career.”

Meloche’s decision comes after multiple calls for his resignation. Documents have been lost (or destroyed), he’s being sued for sexual harassment and we won’t get into all the accusations about animal mistreatment right now.

Here’s what we reported on today:

Sorry, nothing about the new iPods.

Here’s what we reported on today:

Metro Animal Services is operating out of the fairgrounds. Adoptions are available, but anyone visiting will have to pay a parking fee.

There are about 500 animals at the fairgrounds now, all of them rescued from floods at their previous location.

Ten cats and one dog, however, weren’t evacuated in time and drowned yesterday.

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