Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — The East Baton Rouge Metro Council did not act after former employees accused Companion Animal Alliance of animal abuse and mismanagement.
The former employees brought photos to Wednesday's council meeting and told stories of animals that were not given proper care, or given care by people who were not licensed.
The photos were so graphic Mayor Pro Tem Mike Walker chose not to show them to the public.
"Everything that I've been seeing there is completely disturbing," said former intake specialist Jaden Stafford. "Dogs have been stacked up on top of each other, pit bulls are put in a cage with other animals. All of the 'allegations' by 'disgruntled employees' are completely factual."
"We are very proud of our record," stated Christel Slaughter, president of the board. But she added that, "it is not where we want it to be yet, it's not where you want it to be yet."
Another former employee said she still supports the shelter.
"Our purpose isn't to eliminate CAA," said Dr. Amy Cangelosi. "Our purpose is to eliminate the management that's causing the problem and restructuring the board. That's what we want. We all want our jobs back. We're dedicated to CAA and we're dedicated to these animals."
CAA has had three different executive directors since the city-parish handed over day-to-day operations in 2011. Supporters of the shelter's current management team said it could not afford to change leadership for the fourth time because it is in the beginning stages of a long, difficult process of becoming a no-kill operation.
"If you change directors again," said Dana Kahn, a CAA volunteer, "it's going to be detrimental to the animals of this parish. If it's detrimental to the animals of this parish, it's detrimental to the citizens of this parish."
"Give Companion Animal Alliance the time," said Cathy Wells, another CAA volunteer. "We are on the right track, and at the end, you will all be very pleased of the shelter you have here in East Baton Rouge."
Animosity between the two sides was clear, with audience members occasionally interrupting the public comments. But everyone, including members of the council, said CAA does not have the resources to meet its goals.
"Going into it, we know that the facility won't work, that it's too small, it's not big enough, we need to upgrade the facility," said Councilman Chandler Loupe. "And also knowing that the city-parish isn't going to put up the money to do it."
CAA says it takes in approximately 20 animals every day, including horses and livestock. It says it is unable to fund an adoption program large enough to reduce its population, which would in turn improve the care of the animals housed at the shelter.
Slaughter mentioned that CAA has raised $650,000 already, but all of that cash has gone to support operations. It needs roughly $2M to buy a new facility.