Concerns mount over animal treatment at BARC

August 3, 2009 4:01:23 PM PDT
There is mounting concern over the treatment of animals in the City of Houston's pound. The Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care, or BARC, is going through a major reorganization after being a target of animal rights advocates for years. On Monday, City of Houston leaders are meeting to discuss some of the changes that could be on the way, and why they're necessary.

Two weeks after 60 puppies were turned over to the Houston Humane Society by the City of Houston's pound, they are still small and weak, but are doing better.

"A lot of them were sick," Houston Humane Society Representative Lisa Pogue said. "They had skin problems, worms, and tapeworms, so our job has been to nurse them back to health."

The City of Houston's officials made the drastic move after one puppy fell into a drain at a BARC facility and died. It's just one of a string of incidents that's added to the troubles at the City of Houston's pound.

"It's a disaster," long-time BARC volunteer Shelby Kibodeaux said. "There [are] no words to describe what it is. It's bad."

Kibodeaux says after he complained about a dog's mistreatment last January he became a retaliation target. The City of Houston filed charges against him, accusing him of filing a false police report.

. "Ii found out I had a warrant, and that I had to get a bondsman, turn myself into jail, and spend the whole day being processed," Kibodeaux said.

Seeking to put all of that behind them, the City of Houston has hired a turnaround specialist. The City Council could pay more than $200,000 dollars to Gerard Fusco, a man with a business, not an animal, background.

"I've been there a week and I'm looking at operating structures, how the organization is put together, the structure, and whether or not the processes and procedures are being followed correctly," Fusco said.

Fusco's appointment is temporary and needs approval from the City Council. Animal lovers are skeptical, but at this point they say they're willing to give anyone a chance.

Kibodeaux said, "They just need to hire someone who will do the right thing, hire somebody who loves animals."

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