Before it starved to death last May, the cat could be heard by shelter workers, crying and clawing, trying to escape the confines of the break room wall behind which it had become trapped at Dallas Animal Services. Cats do especially badly in animal shelters, naturally preferring dark, quite repose to loud, boisterous interaction. This cat, terrified, had jumped away from staffers who were trying to clean cages, going straight for a loose ceiling tile and bolting into darkness.

But somewhere in its search for safety, the cat fell between shelter walls and landed between the walls of the employee break room and the ladies' restroom. It couldn't move. It could only yowl and scratch. For more than a week.

On May 3, according to court records, at least two shelter workers, after hearing the animal's cries, notified animal cruelty investigator Domanick Munoz about the cat's attempts to free itself. He e-mailed his bosses, including Tyrone McGill, a shelter manager. He explained that a cat was trapped in the wall, and where. Shelter workers could hear it clearly. And they had to get it out. Fast.

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.
Jonnie England, who served on the Animal Shelter Commission for a decade, volunteers a couple times a week at the shelter, taking photos of cats and dogs in hopes of finding them new homes with adoptive parents or rescue groups.
Mark Graham
Jonnie England, who served on the Animal Shelter Commission for a decade, volunteers a couple times a week at the shelter, taking photos of cats and dogs in hopes of finding them new homes with adoptive parents or rescue groups.

But the cat's cries continued throughout the next day. Another worker, Kimberly Killebrew, told McGill about the trapped cat. McGill told her he'd "handle it," according to an affidavit in the case. But the crying wore on. McGill just kept telling employees he'd take care of it.

Munoz was torn. He loved animals, and his job as a cruelty investigator allowed him to be on the front lines, saving them from horrible situations. But he also loved his family and couldn't risk his job by going over his bosses' heads and cutting the cat out of the wall. That just wasn't the way things were done at Animal Services.

"If he had kicked that wall in, he'd have been fired," says Arlington animal rights attorney Don Feare, whom Munoz retained. "[Munoz] had three small children to feed. He just had to deal with it."

As the days went on, and the cat continued to claw at the wall, the shelter workers wondered when their supervisors were going to take action. According to the affidavit, the workers reported pleading with McGill: Couldn't he do something?

Court records claim that McGill lifted a few ceiling tiles up, but did nothing more to save the cat. Calls were made to McGill's supervisor, Kent Robertson, the shelter division manager and a former SPCA director who had been lauded by animal rights activists in the city for his dedication. But he was out of town, dealing with a family emergency.

More days elapsed and the cat stopped crying. That's when the stink began. Not the stink made by shelter workers furious with supervisors, but the literal stink from the cat's decomposing body. It was so bad that workers couldn't eat their lunches in the break room.

On May 18—more than two weeks after the cat's cries were first heard, McGill cut a square hole in the wall—about a foot across, in precisely the location Munoz had identified. After the day shift ended, McGill and a few other workers pulled the cat's decomposed body out of the wall.

Animal deaths are nothing unusual at the shelter, which receives $6.6 million annually from the city's general fund. Up to 26,000 dogs, eight or nine thousand cats and several hundred exotic animals, livestock and wildlife come through DAS each year. The smallest percentage of those—for example, 1,510 cats and 5,308 dogs for the last fiscal year—will be adopted, rescued or returned to their owners. The vast majority will be euthanized.

But imagine: animal services workers terrified of getting fired for attempting to save an animal's life. Yet at Dallas Animal Services, that's how things worked, say animal rights activists like Jonnie England and shelter employees such as Domanick Munoz, for whom the culture of intimidation at DAS became so bad he had to hire a lawyer after he blew the whistle on McGill. Even Humane Society of the United States auditors found that toeing the party line and maintaining the favor of supervisors often has taken precedence over animal care and safety.

According to a HSUS report released in November, DAS has been suffering from a "morale crisis." Auditors reported that "staff repeatedly expressed alienation from managers and supervisors who used retaliatory disciplinary actions." This, they surmised, was "reflective of ineffective leadership in the management ranks."

Clock in, obey orders, keep your head down. Don't question the bosses. Clock out. If a cat dies in the wall? Hope the press doesn't get wind of it. And in the end, of course, it's the animals who suffer most.

The past year has been disastrous for DAS: Once-lauded animal shelter division manager Kent Robertson resigned and shelter manager Tyrone McGill was indicted on felony animal cruelty charges, though his attorney, Anthony Lyons, adamantly denies his client did anything wrong. Two other employees were put on paid leave pending internal investigations into mistreatment of animals, and a cop—a cop!—was brought in to manage the department in anticipation of a damning audit by the Humane Society that was strikingly similar to the one it issued a decade earlier. Over the last 10 years, seemingly endless shake-ups in upper management and a new state-of-the-art animal shelter costing taxpayers millions can't seem to set DAS straight.

DAS itself has been trapped between two opposing attitudes toward its work: The old dog catcher mentality of "catch, cage, kill," which focuses on rounding up strays, keeping them a short time and euthanizing them quickly, and a more animal welfare-influenced philosophy that focuses on humane treatment, adoption and live release. Animal rights activists blame city managers and city council members for sending out conflicting messages about what it wants the shelter to be. But when city leadership is predominantly concerned with street sweeps and numbers, viewing animals as they would high weeds or graffiti, compassion gets lost in the mix.

"This has come full circle a couple of times," says Andy Allen, a former chairwoman of the Animal Shelter Commission, a city council-appointed citizens advisory panel that oversees the shelter. She recalls the shelter suffering from the same problems a decade ago. "We have to stop this circle."

The interim shelter division manager, Lieutenant Scott Walton—a Dallas police fix-it guy who was assigned to restructure the DPD property room in the wake of the fake drugs scandal nearly a decade ago—is preaching a gospel of "compassion" to employees, but is that really all that's missing at the shelter?

Critics, including current and former members of the Animal Services Commission, say Assistant City Manager Forest Turner, who oversees the Department of Code Compliance under whose purview the shelter falls, has mismanaged his position, putting golf buddy Tyrone McGill in a job he was unqualified to fill; also, Turner has refused to provide the commission with straight answers about city shelter operations. For the past three years, under Turner's leadership and that of City Manager Mary Suhm, relationships between shelter workers, the commission and management have become, according to one former ASC member, "very adversarial."

Turner says the city "strives for continual improvement" and has placed the best employees in positions for which they are well suited. But critics wonder why Suhm, who declined to be interviewed for this story, hasn't gutted the department. They believe City Hall has forgotten that even though the animal shelter is under the Department of Code Compliance, dogs and cats can't simply be dealt with like bulk trash and unmended fences.

Most of all, some past and present commission members wonder why it has been ignored when they have been calling for reform and offering concrete solutions for years. The only answer they can come up with: Bad politics trumps good policy in code compliance.

With its $16.3 million price tag, courtesy of a late-'90s bond election, the new municipal animal shelter that opened in 2007 at the corner of Westmoreland Road and Interstate 30 in West Dallas was supposed to solve many of the problems that stalked previous shelters.

A decade ago, when Dallas Animal Services was called Dallas Animal Control, it didn't fall under the purview of the Department of Code Compliance but under Streets and Sanitation Services. Former commission chairwoman Andy Allen calls that organization structure "a terrible idea."

"That sent the wrong message to the public," she says, "that the job of animal control is to pick up dead animals off the streets." At the time, Dallas actually had two shelters, one in Oak Cliff near the zoo and another on Forney Road in Far East Dallas. Both shelters were aging dank, dark places with leaky roofs and serious rodent infestation problems.

Workers at the time seemed to have little knowledge of progressive animal control philosophy and procedures. At the adoption desk, for example, Allen says "there was no screening all around," neither for the animals chosen to be put up for adoption nor for the citizens who came into the shelter looking for a pet. Quality of life for the animals housed at the shelter was poor at best.

In fairness, workers at animal shelters can develop a hardened attitude toward their work just to survive it. Daily, they must deal with aggressive dogs, clawing cats, emotional owners who have lost their pets or can no longer control them and irate owners who have been cited for anything from dog-tethering complaints to animal cruelty. Some staffers suffer from "compassion fatigue," which sets in when people are asked to deal with trauma—like the euthanization of dozens of animals a day, for example—on a consistent basis.

"The people in this business are some of the most compassionate that I have ever met," Allen says, "but they can be beaten down." In order to deal with the reality of an 80 to 90 percent euthanasia rate, one current kennel worker, Eddie Hopper, says he reads the Bible every morning. "You've got to get your mind right or it can get real bad."

The call for the first Humane Society of the United States audit came in 2000, not as the result of any isolated incident, but from a general sense that the department was in terrible shape.

"Overall mismanagement would be an understatement," Allen recalls. When HSUS released its first report in December 2001, it confirmed what many had known for a long time: "The DAC has been a ship adrift for years," HSUS auditors wrote. In the eyes of both city government and community members, the report continues, "DAC is considered little more than a kennel or 'dog pound.'"

The report took then-Dallas Animal Control to task for egregious handling of euthanasia procedures, calling the selection process for euthanized animals "arbitrary and subjective." Workers sometimes poked animals several times in different sites on their bodies, causing unnecessary pain. After the injection, any given animal would be "thrown into a cart on top of other euthanized animals."

Relationships between staff and management were troubled, according to the report. Field and kennel workers told HSUS auditors that "rules are not enforced, that some staff are abusive and are not held accountable."

"[The report] was just as bad as everybody thought it would be," remembers England, then a new member of the Animal Shelter Commission, who says that even to her it was "very clear that relationships were bad between management and staff. There was a lot of contention there."

Dallas Animal Control was in need of a total overhaul, reported the HSUS. That meant a new building—which was already in the works thanks to a bond election—with proper dedicated space for receiving, lost and found, and adoptions. Also needed was a single shelter director, onsite, overseeing both field and shelter operations.

Taking the advice of the HSUS report, in 2003, the city hired a new division manager, Kent Robertson, a former vice president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas, who was respected for his managerial skills and animal know-how. He was hired to work under Kathy Davis, a director of Code Compliance who, former ASC members say, allowed him to make needed changes at the shelter. ASC members describe being "thrilled" at having an animal welfare professional put in the division manager position.

"The ship was about to crash into the iceberg and he got it turned around in time," England says. Robertson uncluttered the euthanasia lab, making it "a more peaceful place." Allen remembers his insistence that shelter workers make responsible adoption decisions rather than giving any animal to the first would-be owner who walked through the door.

Robertson also ushered in the name change from Dallas Animal Control to Dallas Animal Services. Allen says a change in attitude is what matters, but the re-branding signaled Robertson's emphasis on service over control—a change that was "a long, long time coming," she says.

Yet in 2006, just as England, Allen and the ASC thought things were finally turning for the better, Robertson left to take a job in Houston with its animal services department. His resignation came on the heels of Davis being transferred out of Code Compliance and into a new department. Davis and Robertson did not respond to repeated interview requests.

Davis had spent years dealing with the uproar generated by her decision to lay off employees who she accused of improperly ticketing citizens and inconsistently enforcing code law. She had disciplined 40 percent of her workforce and fired 28 people, many of whom got their jobs back after appealing their terminations. Some former commissioners recall Davis telling them that city officials wanted the entire Department of Code Compliance, starting with the animal shelter, revamped. But these commissioners suspect that she was transferred for doing her job too well. "There really was nothing that went wrong under Kathy Davis," Allen says.

The '07 transfer was not a demotion, City Manager Mary Suhm told the The Dallas Morning News at the time, but rather was due to the fact that the new Building Inspections Department needed "more attention." Davis has since moved to Los Angeles where she works in animal services.

Two people, whom ASC members said worked well with each other and the commission, were suddenly gone. With the new city shelter set to open in late 2007, says England, "we were without a director who had been so supportive and been so understanding of the issues."

October 20, 2007, was a beautiful autumn day that brought city council members, Mayor Tom Leppert and the animal welfare community out to celebrate the opening of the new Dallas Animal Services facility. Leppert cut a long green ribbon in front of the environmentally friendly, LEED-certified building's shiny, welcoming glass doors.

Right off the bat, the first animals were adopted at the new shelter. The new $16.3 million building, mostly paid for by two different bond programs, provided more than double the combined capacity of the two old shelters. It was a clean, well-ventilated workplace for the 120 full-time shelter employees, who would perform a range of functions like animal and kennel cleaning and care, investigating animal cruelty, dispatching field officers to calls about stray dogs and coordinating with rescue groups that foster animals about to be euthanized.

Earlier in 2007, a second nationwide search for a shelter division manager brought in California animal shelter professional Willie "Mac" McDaniel. But despite his background in animal welfare services, he was coming into a department that was being increasingly micromanaged by City Hall.

"He was a very caring person," England recalls. But he was not allowed to manage what needed to be done at the animal shelter. He couldn't even get simple things done like ordering office supplies on his own authority. Employees such as veterinarians and shelter managers were instructed to either not report to him or bypass him altogether, England says.

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.

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.

McGill's attorney Anthony Lyons maintains that his client "has done nothing to harm animals" and contends he is a victim of "a lot of political wrangling" from those who want his job.

In the aftermath of these mistreatment allegations, Robertson resigned, a decision which Turner says was made entirely by Robertson. Meanwhile McGill and Jones have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigations. Jackson was reinstated to an administrative position in Code Compliance earlier this month. Turner says none of them is getting special treatment. But a paragraph from the 2001 Humane Society report condemns just such actions:

"HSUS team members were informed through public comment that at least two employees of DAC had been placed on administrative leave, but not terminated, for mistreatment of animals. If this is true, such behavior cannot and should not be tolerated."

Not only is administrative leave for animal cruelty tolerated at DAS, but according to Turner, it's policy. And from 2001 to 2010, critics of DAS both inside and outside the department say bad policy has been the standard.

"Too often they have employed people who just never gave a damn about animals. They hire just to fill a position," Feare says. The results have been animal cruelty allegations, department mismanagement and public relations nightmares. "Dallas Animal Services sets itself up to fail again and again."

Had 2010 not brought highly publicized incidents of animal mistreatment by shelter employees, the Humane Society report released on November 2010 would have been damning enough. Despite the opening of a state-of-the-art facility, the report made it seem as though little had been done to implement its 2001 findings and many of the same problems persisted in 2010.

Humane Society auditors again found that relations between supervisors and staff remained poor because of fear of retaliation; training continued to be shoddy, and cat keepers "were barely able to provide the essentials of care." The report also called for taking dogs into the exercise yard for 30 minutes a day, in addition to assuaging "feelings of alienation among staff." Many of the fixes were not particularly expensive or time-consuming, such as discontinuing the use of string collars and refraining from the use of catch poles except when absolutely necessary.

Jonnie England has spent days poring over the newest report, highlighting things that the HSUS wanted fixed nearly 10 years ago. "It [shows] a lack of compassion," she says, "and to a large extent, I think a lot of it's a lack of focus."

Despite all that has happened, Assistant City Manager Turner doesn't see the past year as being a particularly bad one. "I wouldn't call it a lost year or a failure," he says before acknowledging that "it's been a tough year."

Turner says he doesn't want to look back, reluctant to talk about anything that happened before he arrived on the scene in 2007. He has little to say about the McGill matter, calling it "something for the courts to decide." According to Turner, DAS is swiftly moving forward, and interim shelter director Scott Walton is a big piece of that.

When Lieutenant Walton first heard DAS needed a fix-it guy, he didn't even wait until the end of a CompStat meeting to e-mail Dallas Police Chief David Brown about his desire for the job.

Walton recalls sending the message from his Blackberry. "It went something to the effect of: Chance for public failure, little to no support, employees divided against each other? I'll take the job."

When Walton took over shelter operations last September, he began preaching a kind of tough love, combining protocol and procedure with his most important charge, he says: "Compassion."

As former ASC chairwoman Andy Allen puts it: "It will take someone going in there with a badge and a gun."

With the HSUS report under review and a professional search agency retained by the city to find a permanent shelter director, Walton has identified three priorities for DAS under his authority: to increase live releases by getting pets out to good, loving homes or rescue groups; to improve the use of resources in the field for loose and aggressive animals; and, most important, Walton says, to facilitate responsible pet ownership. And that means enforcement of Dallas' strict spaying and neutering ordinances that require pet owners to "fix" their animals unless they can prove they're responsible breeders. Compassion can only go so far when owners allow their animals to breed freely and overpopulate the streets and, by extension, the city shelter.

To that end, the lieutenant has hit the ground running. He's cranked up the DAS Facebook page advertising pets for adoption. He requires shelter workers to report to an 8 a.m. detail each morning. He has a policy of greater transparency compared to previous administrations, allowing reporters to roam freely in the shelter hallways.

"When we don't do our best job here at DAS, [the public is] going to take notice," Walton says. "We really are working with lives, and each one of them is important."

On a Wednesday morning in mid-December, Walton is power-walking through the shelter, passing out to employees Christmas tree ornaments—paid for out of his own pocket—decorated with cat and dog stickers and with "DAS 2010" printed on them.

In a city with such a sizable animal population, the task before him is as enormous as it is frustrating. "I never got blamed because a burglar broke into somebody's house," Walton says. "But here at Animal Services, we're responsible for all the loose dogs...that society didn't take care of."

Eddie Hooper, a muscled, Bible-quoting kennel attendant, arrives at 6:45 a.m. to begin cleaning two rooms of cages that house 40 or so of the shelter's "Lost and Found" dogs. He'll barely finish the job by 4 p.m. when his workday ends. The job is physically demanding and repetitive, but it is also essential to ensuring animals stay healthy and therefore adoptable.

Supervisors rarely come in to check up on Hooper's work, which is done on an "honor system," he says. Of course, with pods full of defecating dogs, "If this process is not done, you'll know it."

Some of his coworkers come by to visit a puppy, a Chihuahua they've nicknamed Hope. Janet Henderson, who has a sweet voice made for soothing animals, does a lot of rescues from the shelter, as does Tina Mayfield, who works in dispatch. Mayfield has five rescue dogs at home, and Henderson has a passel, too. Mostly, the women say, they end up with the misfits—old, disabled, injured—animals that are often bypassed by those looking to adopt healthy, energetic puppies.

Gesturing to the brown pile of fur and ears in her arms, Henderson says, "basically my entire paycheck goes to this."

Things get started just before 10 a.m. at the Lost and Found desk, which today is being run by Kathryne Kimball. She makes calls to owners whose dogs have been picked up—one man has put off retrieving his dog for weeks, and she's giving him his final notice that the animal will be put down if he doesn't come this morning.

Pet owners can get combative, she says, but they can't keep lost and found animals indefinitely, and the city charges owners—$220 in fees in this man's case—to take their pets back home. "What are you gonna do?" Kimball asks aloud as she hangs up the phone. "People walk in and see a puppy and say how cute it is, but they don't understand it takes food, veterinary care, time." The lobby becomes backed up with families picking up found animals and hoping to find lost ones in the depths of the shelter. Volunteers from rescue organizations file in, dropping off snacks and hoping to take home animals at risk of being euthanized.

In the kerfuffle, a man brings in a wailing, bleeding pit bull. He says it's been hit by a car, but before anyone can get more details, he's disappeared. Turns out the dog has been shot in two places and is slowly bleeding to death.

Another man drops off a 10-year-old black cat. He's surrendering the family pet. "Why?" asks Kimball. The answer: The cat has stopped using its litter box. "You know this cat could be euthanized as early as today?" she tells the man. The shelter cannot afford to house all the animals that owners give up voluntarily. He says he understands, and he leaves.

An elderly gentleman who cannot afford to treat his aging terrier comes in to ask a veterinarian if his dog can be euthanized quickly once he surrenders her.

"I won't make her wait," the vet tells the man.

The compassion is here, says Eddie Hooper, if you hire the right people. What the shelter needs, he says, is consistent leadership.

"I think if we can get somebody in place, it'll be better," he says, and employees will be held to a higher standard. "We've got to get rid of this BS and get down to business."

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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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