Animal advocates say a Great Pyrenees was euthanized at the Iberia Parish Animal Shelter, even though a rescue organization was ready to take the dog and place it with a foster home. The advocates say this is one more reason why the shelter needs a full-time manager.
Jamie LeBlanc of New Iberia contacted the shelter the morning of Aug. 31 about the animal, but when she arrived she was told the dog wasn’t adoptable. She repeatedly asked the employees why and they eventually said the dog was sick.
In an interview Friday, Mike Stockstill, director of the Iberia Parish Rabies and Animal Control Department, said the dog had blood in its stool and was vomiting bile, so earlier in the day he had decided to euthanize it.
While LeBlanc was at the shelter, she said she could see the dog and said it wasn’t deathly sick and was sitting up. She told the shelter employee that she planned to take the animal straight to a veterinarian.
And LeBlanc said she was ready to pay the necessary fees and take ownership of the animal, but the employee would not give in.
Because the shelter euthanizes on Tuesday — and it was a Friday — LeBlanc said she felt comfortable leaving and returning to get the dog.
LeBlanc contacted the rescue organization’s representative in Covington within about 30 minutes, who then called the shelter to confirm all the dog’s medical expenses would be covered.
But by the time the rescue representative called, about 40 minutes after LeBlanc left the shelter, the dog had been euthanized.
“I was so upset because I didn’t think they were going to do this. I broke down … I try to get every dog I can out of that shelter, but this Great Pyrenees, it just touched me,” LeBlanc said.
She said this could have been avoided.
“If there was a full-time shelter manager there, this would have never happened, but we have someone (Stockstill) making $50,000 a year that’s never there,” LeBlanc said.
Also LeBlanc contacted Amie Varnado of New Iberia another animal advocate and founder of the nonprofit Friends of Iberia Animal Control. Varnado said she talked to Stockstill after the Great Pyrenees was euthanized and Stockstill said it was a “mistake.”
But Stockstill said he didn’t say that.
“What I said was two wrongs don’t make a right,” he said.
Stockstill said the dog was in the shelter 17 days. At a meeting that morning, Stockstill decided the dog should be euthanized because the long Labor Day weekend was at hand and the dog was sick.
Stockstill refused to take a position on whether his employee acted appropriately — by not turning over the dog or calling him.
“The point is it’s unfortunate on both sides,” Stockstill said.
He added, “No one came out with a positive feeling in this incident.”
Stockstill said the animal advocates should have called him, but LeBlanc said she didn’t have his number and didn’t realize the dog was about to be euthanized.
“If I would have been notified and if they would have contacted me I would have been happy to give them the animal,” he said.
Stockstill said he later talked to the employee who refused to adopt out the dog.
“He said, ‘Mr. Stockstill they have threatened us so much. They have criticized us to such a great extent about adopting animals out that were not healthy, and this animal was no longer healthy, (so) I told them that it was no longer adoptable,’ ” Stockstill said.
Stockstill said the volunteers should push the Iberia Parish Council to give more money to the shelter, so it can more vigorously pursue animal adoptions. He said the animal advocates should present a “legitimate proposal” in writing, which the council can act on.
Also Stockstill reiterated the shelter’s primary purpose is rabies control. Based on ordinance, stray dogs that are picked up and dropped off are given five days to be reclaimed by their owner, he said. At the end of that five-day period, the dogs become parish property and can be euthanized.
“As long as there’s space, we attempt to keep them and get them adopted out,” he said.
But only sick and aggressive dogs are quickly euthanized, Stockstill said. Beyond that, the shelter tries to keep all its animals available for adoption for as long as possible.
Councilman Roger Duncan said Stockstill needs to work a “little harder” on getting the animals adopted out. He said Stockstill should be at the shelter every morning.
Duncan said he wasn’t against giving more money to the shelter, but wants to see in writing how the money will be spent and what it will accomplish before he would vote for it.
“If we are going to allocate money for the animal shelter, we need to look at where we’re going to pull it from. ... I think we need to look at it (now during budget season) for next year,” he said.