Health dept., BARC parting ways

September 1, 2009 2:44:42 PM PDT
There are new developments in the city of Houston's plans for the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care. The city Tuesday said it will remove BARC from the Health Department in the coming weeks, adding that continuing issues with BARC are a distraction for the Health Department. The announcement came the same day former BARC Chief Veterinarian Gil Costas spoke about his lawsuit against the city. Costas accuses the city of wrongfully firing him in February for blowing the whistle on alleged animal cruelty at BARC, and complaining about the bureau violating state and federal drug control laws.

"Those violations were ignored by the city and as a result, within less than three months of having made the complaints, I was wrongfully terminated," said Costas.

A former BARC volunteer also claimed he heard a dog being mistreated at BARC, then filed a complaint. He stands accused of making a false police report. We are waiting for the city attorney to return our call for a response to the lawsuit.

On Wednesday, the Houston City Council will vote on a new contract for the temporary head of BARC. The council will decide on a contract for BARC interim bureau chief Gerry Fusco. The city chose Fusco to head up BARC to try to fix problems at the bureau.

City Controller Annise Parker says Fusco reduced his fee by almost $25,000 to $135,000. The contract would last four and half months.

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