During this same period, July 2007, Forest Turner was appointed to an interim director position at Code Compliance, and that's when England says things began going sour, and hit a peak in late 2008 after Turner became the full-time director of Code Compliance. Communication between city staff and the Animal Shelter Commission became strained, and a previously smooth working relationship turned hostile.

Of the increasing acrimony, says England, "I attribute it to a change in leadership at Code."

While the physical plant of Dallas Animal Services had been transformed dramatically for the better, what went on inside the facility and at City Hall remained unchanged.

Lieutenant Scott Walton, interim division manager at Dallas Animal Services, has
demonstrated his “compassion” charge to shelter workers by fostering shelter
 kittens at home. He believes “responsible pet ownership,” including strict adherence to spay and neuter laws, will be the best
long-term solution for the shelter.
Mark Graham
Lieutenant Scott Walton, interim division manager at Dallas Animal Services, has demonstrated his “compassion” charge to shelter workers by fostering shelter kittens at home. He believes “responsible pet ownership,” including strict adherence to spay and neuter laws, will be the best long-term solution for the shelter.
The 2010 Humane Society audit of DAS found that cat keepers were "overwhelmed" by minimum daily responsibilities. Here, veterinary assistant Ameha Gebremichael checks on a kitten after an exam.
Mark Graham
The 2010 Humane Society audit of DAS found that cat keepers were "overwhelmed" by minimum daily responsibilities. Here, veterinary assistant Ameha Gebremichael checks on a kitten after an exam.

In early 2008, complaints surfaced in the press about urine pooling in inoperative drains in the facility and the mistreatment of dogs, including workers dragging them from cages to the euthanization lab. During McDaniel's term as division manager, two temporary workers were fired for mishandling shelter dogs. By the late spring of 2008, after a little more than a year on the job, McDaniels was reassigned to another city department. He could not be reached for comment.

For a second time, and after a third national search since the 2001 HSUS report, former shelter director Kent Robertson was brought back to oversee DAS.

"We were thrilled," says England of the ASC. "He did great before, and we [could] work with him." But with all the shake-ups, relationships had deteriorated among shelter managers, the city and the ASC. In 2008, the commission worked with the city council and enacted stricter, more progressive ordinances regarding the spaying and neutering of pets and the tethering of dogs, and conflicts arose over how to best disseminate this information to the public—shelter workers themselves were poorly educated about these changes.

Things the ASC—and the HSUS, in some cases—had wanted were not implemented, such as improved communications with the public and social networking through Facebook and the shelter website.

Maintenance issues were repeatedly noted by the ASC, especially dealing with the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. Current ASC chairman Skip Trimble recalls Robertson assuring the commission that the problems were being dealt with. But when the HSUS report came out, those auditors also saw HVAC problems.

"Our advice was good advice and has been proven to be good," Trimble says, "because it's pretty much the same thing as the HSUS recommended in their [2010] report."

The commission, which meets regularly with DAS representatives, felt it was being ignored, even with Robertson, someone they respected, leading the division. Recommendations and changes were "talked about and thought about and ignored," England says. Nothing seemed to stick over the two years Robertson held the division manager position for a second time.

More than anything, commissioners felt that Suhm and Turner, who would become Assistant City Manager, were trying to impose their will on the ASC as well as the shelter. In October 2008, the commission was told in a mass e-mail from Assistant Director of Code Compliance Lynetta Moore that it was scheduled to participate in an Animal Services Halloween retreat, though no one bothered to ask anyone on the commission for input. "It was like, please report for duty," England recalls. "Many of us found that very offensive."

Commission members contend that Robertson was physically present at the shelter but seemed less hands-on than before. His job as shelter division manager included supervising Tyrone McGill, who much to the dismay of commission members admitted he had never even owned a pet. He was close friends, however, with Robertson's boss, Forest Turner, so managing him was somewhat tricky, says animal rights attorney Feare. "Cronyism doesn't make for good management."

The cat death and resulting criminal prosecution of McGill was not the only instance of animal shelter abuse to get negative play in the press in the last 18 months.

In July 2009, 27 dogs were returned to an owner who had demonstrably neglected them. And that was after the new 2008 ordinances had put a cap on pet ownership at six animals. The city looked as though it was violating its own legislation.

In August 2010, field worker Donnie Jones, who had been disciplined in 2009 after leaving two severely burned dogs to suffer alone in kennels inside DAS without notifying anyone, was accused of handling a cat roughly with a catch pole. Then in September, when a Dallas police officer was called to the scene of an injured dog in East Dallas, according to police reports, he witnessed animal control officer Charles Jackson "dragging the injured dog to the animal control vehicle and picking it up by grabbing the dog's rear fur" as it cried and whimpered. The dog, which was microchipped and identified later as someone's pet, was eventually euthanized.

Attorney Feare says that the work environment at DAS had grown so hostile that some staffers engaged in a campaign to discredit his client Domanick Munoz after he testified against McGill before the grand jury.

In a letter to City Attorney Tom Perkins written before the grand jury considered the case, Feare wrote that there was a "concerted effort on the part of several supervisors and employees" to elicit written statements against Munoz. People also began spreading rumors about Munoz's family, Feare says: "They said his wife was a lesbian." The city said it hired an independent investigator to examine Munoz's complaints and the entire McGill incident, but so far, his client, who still works for DAS, has not been contacted for a statement, Feare says.

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140 comments
Texasrho83
Texasrho83

Seems to me that DAS needs exactly what Eddie Hooper says it needs - a consistent leader who actually cares about the animals and can work with the higher ups to get things done. The ones who suffer in this back and forth struggle between those who have the power but don't care and those who don't have the power but care, are the animals...

Society turned it's back on them and what's worse is we don't even allow them a final chance to find happiness with caring people. How many other large cities have similar problems with their "humane" services? I dare say the majority :(

guest
guest

The article talks about how the employees are suffering with a morale issue, and have trouble remaining compassionate with animals. Sounds like they need to get fired! Replace them with people who don't struggle with this. HENCE people who want to work at an animal shelter in the first place and have a love of animals..

Robert Curry
Robert Curry

It is sad that the Advocate decided to try this felony animal abuse case in the press before it goes to court.

Jeff
Jeff

No paycheck and no job on earth could make me leave an animal to die inside a wall. I'd have called every reporter in town and had the cameras rolling when I hacked through the wall. They ought to fire every person down there except the whistleblowers and put McGill in jail.

And let's get rid of this Asst. City Manager while we're at it.

Thank God for Scott Walton. Why can't we find more people like him?

anonymous
anonymous

Thank you for covering this story. So sad.

Guest Girl
Guest Girl

This story could have been written without the P***** off in the title. Why has it gotten so acceptable to have cuss words in everything that is being printed. It is just to easy to substitute another word for the cuss word

dino
dino

My heart and prayers go out to all who care for these animals every day. This is a VERY difficult job, physically and mentally. I GREATLY appreciate all you do! ....and next time an animal gets stuck in the wall, call me. I will come and knock a hole in the wall. Even if it means criminal charges. There IS no excuse for that happening!

Morrisdalton
Morrisdalton

OMG this makes me absolutley sick and i can only pray and pray hard i will that these pukes get what is coming to them, no wonder i love animals more than most rotten people and would have no problem dismissing them

Trish
Trish

Too bad Eternity isn't a long enough sentence for this horrific inaction...

Ali
Ali

My only solace is that there is a special place in Hell for people like you, Tyrone McGill.

dranon
dranon

The only way to control the pet overpopulation would be to make it illegal to sell a dog or cat. Once you eliminate profit from cat and dog breeding it makes it a lot easier to control the animal populations. If someone is caught selling a dog or cat the punishment should be large fines ($500-1000) per offense. If a breeder is a multiple offender they should be required to observe one days worth of pet euthanizations at the location animal shelter. If they continue to offend, then they should be euthanized.

Marie Adame
Marie Adame

People that don't own pets and are not compassionate animals lovers should NOT WORK IN A SHELTER!! That waste of a human being Tyrone should be stripped from ever working in animal shelter facilities. GET RID OF HIM AND ALL THE IDIOTS THAT HIRED HIM!!!

CLEAN HOUSE AND CLEAN IT FAST. I cannot in my deepest point in my heart believe thata heartless human being slowly let an agonizing animal that was crying and crying for help....DIE---WHAT A BLACK HEART HE HAS..AND I BET HE SLEPT WELL THAT NIGHT!!!This person needs to pay. I hope one day he remembers when he's on his death bed how heartless he is and I hope he dies slowly too. There's no room for him in heaven or on this earth.

The two other shelter workers on trial that were heartless in handling a helpless dog, shouldbe banned from ever working at a shelter.

I have no sympathy for these people that we call humans!!!!!

Mother Nature
Mother Nature

I have a basement in my house. Give Tyrone to me. It would be my honor to listen to him whine for 2 weeks while I sit with my cat in my lap and wait for him to die. What a pathetic excuse for a human being. This is the sadest and most disgusting story I have read since those about the Nazi's. An example needs to be made of him...

Arthur Alford
Arthur Alford

Horrifying, sad, criminal. To be charged with protecting animals yet having no regard for their lives when one could have easily have been saved? I can't express my disgust.

Mikedub99
Mikedub99

I'm a little confused why the employees didn't knock a hole in the wall and free the cat? Wouldn't that have solved this problem before it ever became a problem?

Tibbies2girls
Tibbies2girls

The more that I know about people in Texas, the more I wish Hitler had started exterminating humans there first. That state sucks in every respect when it comes to doing the right thing by and for animals.I know where I will never spend one red cent of my money.May they all rot in hell just as the poor cat did.

livid
livid

This is just digusting. The supervisor needs to have a mental evaluation. Its obvious he lacks a conscience which, means he is probably capable of causing harm to other animals and even humans. I don't care how scared or intimidated the employees were of their supervisor they should have choosen to do the right thing. They get no slack from me. It takes a very sick person to be able to continue with their day and enjoy their lunch while hearing an animal begging for it's life.Shame on you, you disgust me.

Rixtex
Rixtex

It's not just the animal shelter. The whole city government in Dallas is seriously screwed up.

JBMANNON
JBMANNON

THE BOSSES SHOULD BE FIRED , FINED AND MADE TO CLEAN CAGES FOR HOW THE ANILMAL WAS.tHIS CAN NOT BE TOLERATED.

Rednckgrl3
Rednckgrl3

All of those ppl are to blame... it was a defenseless animal who needed help.. how could they work all day with that going on.... I guess the employees get neuter along with the animals at the shelter... They need to step up for the animals....

guest
guest

Perhaps we need to do a complete sweep with all new employees/from top to bottom. Inspections should be done without prior knowledge so one can really observe what goes on first hand. It is a disgrace not only to Dallas but to the cruelty of the animals!

Barnes
Barnes

Before you all cry foul you better realize that this is what HSUS and animal rights volunteers do. They make false charges to get everyone fired so they can come in and do what they want. This is happening all over the country and its not about animal welfare anymore its about getting rid of the concept of pet ownership by controlling animal committees, shelters and the laws. Every state is being attacked by these animal rights cult members. They do not care about the truth or the welfare of the animals. Their job is to harass everyone who works with animals. HSUS wants to control your right to own an animal.

Denice
Denice

What can the average citizen do to help bring about change to DAC?

Gary
Gary

What an incredible disgrace for the city of Dallas. Twice as many households in the United States have have pets as have children yet we ceremoniously discard animals as easily as we do yesterdays newspaper. I have a particular affinity for animals as I have two service dogs, my current working dog Titan (a 5 year old Great Dane and his replacement upon retirement Zeus also a Great Dane). At retirement I have chosen to keep Titan in my care until his passing. What kind of human being would I be if I simply turned my back on the dog who has dedicated his very life to mine simply because he was "no longer useful". Needless to say I am on disability and spend about 15% of my monthly income caring for my dogs. Does it cut into my budget, you bet it does but these animals give me a life that would not be possible without their presence. I have very little human companionship because of my disability and these two dogs make the world a better place for me to live. Get a grip people and realize that animals serve MANY useful purposes in this world and are dependent upon us to protect and care for them.

Animal Advocate
Animal Advocate

Nice representation of Dallas. Animals are gifts to us from GOD and should be treated that way. GOD see's all and what goes around comes around, maybe not in this lifetime, but the next. GOD BLESS all the precious animals in need everywhere!!!!!!!

Renee/animal lover & vet tech!
Renee/animal lover & vet tech!

Back in 2008, I worked at the SPCA in Dallas, where I saw quite a few things that were questionable by the standards I learned when I attended school to be a Veterinary Assistant. However, none of them were criminal in nature, but rather the fact they are limited by their funding and I NEVER, EVER saw any abuse by any of their employees.

What is a complete DISGRACE is that this is a city funded BRAND NEW state of the art facility. So, what is the REAL excuse? NONE in my opinion. I loved Dallas, but really wish that people would have compassion for the animals. Gandhi was right---the moral compass of a nation can be judged by how it's animals are treated. God bless the animals, the HONEST workers who REALLY care and I truly hope that DAS gets their act together. We are supposed to take care of animals!

Citizens of Dallas should be VERY ANGRY! You've got a great town and the Super Bowl is coming and the ENTIRE world will be watching. Is THIS the kind of thing that Dallas wants the world to judge them by?

peter
peter

This is not an animal shelter, this is a death camp.

Rakester
Rakester

THIS IS AN ABOMINATION.Dallas should be ASHAMED of itself. Job or no job, I would have kicked the walls in and then when I got fired, taking my firing public.

WickedCats
WickedCats

So when does McGill get served on animal cruelty and neglect charges? That's what should happen. That cat was alive and nothing was done!

Mim506
Mim506

The manager should be fired and proscuted for "CRULETY TO ANIMALS" and serve time and also the funding to DALLAS SHELTER SHOULD BE CUT BY 5.2 million I bet that would get some peoples attention and maybe the workers and the shelter would take these matters more serious!!!!!!!

Heavenly_
Heavenly_

this happened to a squirrel who was trapped in my house ; i threw in a small rope and after 30 second the poor thing appeared out of nowhere; God this is a sad story that could of been prevented.

gemsoda
gemsoda

Grow up Andrea Grimes - pissed isn't a word a professional journalist would never use. Oh, I guess you aren't a pro.

guest
guest

Couldn't he cut out the wall board, free the cat and repair the wall himself on the weekend? Seems like a no brainer to me.

Arthur Alford
Arthur Alford

If you read the article, employees were told not to take any such action by the shelter manager, who said he'd take care of it himself. He then allowed an animal in his care to starve to death.

Ranger275218
Ranger275218

Excuse me, Tibbies2girls, you are lumping all Texans together? I have a friend who goes out every night into dangerous areas to feed feral cats. I recently saw a woman in a skirt and high heels get our of her very expensive car to pick up a tortoise and move it out of the street to safety. It really warmed my heart to see that.

Try to focus on the good that people do instead of demeaning an entire state.

There are good, bad and indifferent people everywhere.

Tsicby
Tsicby

Yeah right, Barnes. I guess McGill was also a "golfing buddy" of yours as well. So people who care about the ethical treatment of animals are part of a sinister cult trying to take over America, huh? Freak.

Hope
Hope

Did they just fabricate the cat dying in the walls? Get real. Where there's smoke, there's fire.

sick of corruption
sick of corruption

Can you provide substantiation for your ridiculous claims? Legitimate facts - not innuendo and slander?

Hope
Hope

Donate time and/or needed items. Adopt a pet. I'd check the shelter's website. I'm sure they have a link showing ways to help.

Guest
Guest

I'll back you up on that statement. Using the term "questionable" is an understatement. Unfortunately, even with a staff full of caring individuals, there are a few who feel inclined to leave animals in their own feces/urine for hours, throwing paper over the old to make it look clean, who also hang dogs by leashes and smack around animals when they think no one is looking. I saw these things myself at the SPCA. It seems no shelter is immune from those individuals :-(

Renee/animal lover & vet tech!
Renee/animal lover & vet tech!

It's sad that you can't care.....so why even bother to waste your precious time posting on here........you obviously just don't get it and I wish you nothing but the best!

God
God

Wow, you have a distinct lack of compassion. I can fight fire with fire: I hope you soon die a painful, slow death. I wish it upon you.

sick of corruption
sick of corruption

McGill has been indicted by the Dallas County DA's office. He is awaiting trial, plea deal, whatever occurs - and I hope he pays a major penalty with prison time. Unfortunately, in our backward state, the law does not view animal abuse as the serious crime it is. Therefore, McGill probably will not be given anywhere near what he deserves for this sadistic crime. Also, he continues to draw his $60,000+ salary - every month - and will until this is resolved. Outfrickinrageous.

Guest
Guest

That's a great idea...cutting the funding more than it already has, forcing the staff that is actually kind and compassionate to leave, being replaced by those who don't care about the animals as they are only making minimum wage. The logic of your statement is amazing. History has taught us that, statistically speaking, the more a person is paid is reflected in their work ethic. Cutting the (already reduced) funding would only attract workers with absolutely NO experience or education (yes, some have higher education). Sounds like you have that plan in the bag.

guest
guest

"...isn't a word a professional journalist would never use." Double negatives cancel each other to create an affirmation.Please brush up on your use of the English language.

lowtolerance
lowtolerance

Why do people always say "grow up" when there's a corncob up their rear? Just doesn't make sense. Ooh, look, I used a contraction. I'll never be a pro. Waaaaa!

Magyarlany_nv
Magyarlany_nv

Screw policy....I would have saved the cat...I couldn't live with myself letting it starve

kdawg81
kdawg81

@sick of corruption He cannot, because he is wrong.

 
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