By Marion Marks
In the last few days the pressure on Director of the Caddo Parish Animal Services, Everett Harris has reached a fevered pitch. Demands for Harris’s resignation and a full investigation into the conditions at the animal shelter, staff issues and policies that Harris has consumed much of the Commission and staff energies. The public should see more of the boil before things erupt…
To: “Harris, Everett” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: “Dominick, Doug” <email@example.com>, “Johnson, Lyndon” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Bowman, Jerald” <email@example.com>, “Linn, Matthew” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Epperson, Ken” <email@example.com>, “Thibodeaux, Michael” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Cox, David” <email@example.com>, “Escude, John” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Baker, Lindora” <email@example.com>, “Lynch, Stephanie” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Smith, Jim” <email@example.com>, “Williams, Micheal” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Wilson, Woody” <email@example.com>, “Bell, Karen” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Letter of Resignation
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2014 3:03 PM
As a lifelong resident of Caddo Parish I am calling on you to resign immediately as you have obviously lost the confidence of the people that you serve.
I know Reed Ebarb well and have worked with him on animal rescue. Knowing that you have so little regard for the volunteers that help make you and your organization look better I can only imagine how little you care about the animals under your care. I can only ascertain that you are on a power trip and do not take suggestions or criticisms well. I run 2 businesses and I can tell you that in order to be an effective leader you must be humble and open to new ideas even if they are contrary to your own.
I think this time you have underestimated the power and passion behind animal rescue in Caddo Parish. When looking at social media (Facebook specifically) the top 4 animal rescue organizations in Caddo Parish they have combined “likes” of over 19,000. When looking at both the Caddo Parish Animal Services and Mosquito Control and the Caddo Parish Commission, there are combined “likes” of 335. That is a pretty large voting group that will be mobilized in protection of our animals during the next election cycle.
I would like to think that a sincere, public apology might help your case but I think that since this is not a first time offense for you then we are way beyond that.
I may be reached by replying back to this email but will not give my full name to you as I understand that you can become violent when challenged.
In full disclosure, I am copying each of the Commissioners along with the Parish Administrator so they will be aware of the seriousness of this matter.
Please disregard any typos, etc. as I am extremely offended and upset over this and other prior incidents.
I’m writing to you today in regards to the latest incident with Mr. Harris and the Caddo Animal Shelter. This man’s actions are reprehensible. If he had acted in this manner in any other faction, he would have been terminated by now. Why is it that he is still in this position? A year ago, when the Braveheart incident occurred, many of us, myself included came to you and asked that he be removed. Now we are demanding. My tax dollars pay his salary. And for what he gets paid, there is NO excuse for his actions.
I am very disheartened by what I have seen going on in the parish. And when it comes to animal welfare, well let’s just say that Caddo is so far behind that it’s amazing anyone wants to help. The fact that you and your fellow commissioners turn a blind eye on it all does not go unnoticed by the public, and will be remembered when elections come around.
As a resident of District 1, I ask that you do something about this man’s deplorable behavior. Please, remove him and find someone that is willing to work with the public and take the animals’ welfare into consideration.
Thank you for your time.
Director Harris needs to go!!! You need to keep the animals’ best interests at heart. Get rid of Director Harris!!!
My name is Amber Thompson. I’m writing today to ask that … the Commission, seriously consider the recent complaints and allegations against the director and/or related parties/employees of the Caddo Parish Animal Shelter. I myself do not have first-hand knowledge of any of the events that have taken place. I have, however, heard over the past months many negative stories, comments, etc. regarding the shelter and the way that it is managed. In fact, as an example, a close friend of mine recently had to visit the shelter to find her lost cat that unbeknownst to her, had been turned into the shelter by a neighbor. The cat had a collar with a bell and a tag on. She’d called multiple times and every time was told it wasn’t there. When she finally had the time to go by there to see for herself, he was there. She was able to bring him home. But, it shouldn’t be that hard.
I follow and donate to multiple local shelters and rescue organizations through social media and it has been my experience that in comparison, the Bossier City Animal Control and its partners have a much firmer grasp on effective methods for adopting out and/or rescuing the animals that come through their facility. They work closely with the public, all aimed at the same common goal. I myself recently worked with them to find a rescue group in North Carolina to take in a white german shepherd that had been at the shelter for a few months. They were incredibly easy to work with. That dog, Susie, has since been transported to North Carolina, vaccinated, spayed, and adopted to a couple there. I feel that if Caddo Parish has organizations that are ready and willing to offer their resources, they should be accepted with open arms. There’s simply no reason that a city/parish of our size should have such a poorly run facility with the track record that it has. We should be the ones setting a better example and holding ourselves to a higher standard.
I don’t know if you’re an “animal lover” but I am. (If you couldn’t already tell) To many Caddo Parish residents, our animals are our family. And it breaks my heart that more isn’t done to help the ones that are helpless themselves. I just ask that you take the allegations seriously and look into this, please.
Thank you for your time,
From: “MV Loftus”
To: [All Commissioners]
Subject: Caddo Animal Control/Shelter
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2014 11:39 AM
Change is DEMANDED at the Caddo Animal Control/Shelter! It is time that Caddo become a kill free shelter and an individual in place who will run the facility accordingly. We do not need anyone in that position that will not work with the public or local rescues with an attitude of uncaring. Animals are not just ANIMALS! They are individuals with 4 legs, eyes, and a soul! Animals should be treated with dignity and respect! The local rescues in the area to as much as possible to pull and educate! The Caddo Animal services should have a director that will assist with all and not just be there for a paycheck!
Mary Virginia Loftus (MV)
From: “Bobbie Gore”
To: [All Commissioners]
Subject: RESIGNATION OF DIRECTOR HARRIS
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2014 11:33 AM
I am writing to express my disdain at how awful animal rescue efforts are in caddo parish (and all of nw louisiana, for that matter) with regards to the animal control facilities and it’s leaders. Get with the times, please. We need a leader who will go the extra mile to ensure that EVERYTHING possible is being done to avoid euthanasia. The numbers don’t lie! And there ARE ways to help these cats and dogs avoid being PTS…if we find the appropriate individual who has enough compassion and knowledge to make it happen. Let’s stop looking the other way and DO SOMETHING.
From: “Charli Gentry”
To: “Dominick, Doug” <email@example.com>, “Johnson, Lyndon” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Bowman, Jerald” <email@example.com>, “Linn, Matthew” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Epperson, Ken” <email@example.com>, “Thibodeaux, Michael” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Cox, David” <email@example.com>, “Escude, John” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Baker, Lindora” <email@example.com>, “Lynch, Stephanie” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Smith, Jim” <email@example.com>, “Williams, Micheal” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Citizens for Change at Caddo Animal Shelter’s status.
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2014 10:38 AM
If you are receiving this many complaints about Director Everett Harris it is a problem. Poll the shelter’s employees anonymously.
From: “nhemeter .”
To: [All Commissioners]
Subject: Everett Harris –
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2014 9:45 AM
I am writing to you about Mr. Everett Harris, Director of the Caddo Parish Animal Services shelter. I had my own problems with this man and wrote a Letter to the Editor about his behavior. He was combative and un-professional in my dealings with him. He is not serving the animals or the people of Caddo Parish in a professional manner and I sincerely hope he is fired immediately. The euthanasia numbers are some of the worst in the state and this is costing the tax-payers a lot of money not to mention the waste of animal’s lives. He needs to go immediately.
Thank you for your service to the Citizens of Caddo Parish. Please contact me if you need additional information.
Supporters of the Intact Animal Permit Law
Below is my Letter to the Editor.
Dear Letter to the Editor,
I recently had an unpleasant experience in speaking to a Mr. Everett Harris Director of the Caddo Parish Animal Services. I am with The Supporters of the Intact Animal Law, a statewide group formed to combat pet overpopulation, increase awareness about the benefits of spaying and neutering and press for laws which would save animals’ lives and reduce the cost to the Parishes for animal control services. We are collecting information around the state regarding Intake of animals to shelters, number of adoptions, number euthanized and cost to the tax-payers for animal control.
To say that Mr. Harris was un-responsive is putting it mildly. His attitude and lack of cooperation was evident to me within a minute of our conversation. He told me he would not give me the information, which is against the law as this is a public record and is available to anyone upon request.
While talking to him and explaining our efforts to combat the astronomical number of dogs and cats ending up in shelters he was very resistant and even stated that you could not get people to neuter male dogs and our efforts to gather these statistics were of no concern to him. This is coming from the Director of an Animal shelter! His ignorance and combative attitude was appalling! Why in the world is this man in charge of the Parish Shelter? I understand he makes $92,000 a year!
I certainly hope the citizens of Caddo, who pay this man a hefty salary, will work to get a director with compassion, understanding and awareness of the many issues animals face in our society. Mr. Harris is a detriment to animals and people of Caddo Parish, his attitude is costing the tax payers a lot of money with not much in return.
I was able to obtain the statistics from another source. I still have not heard from the Parish Officials in charge of the shelter whom I reached out to after my conversation with Mr. Harris.
Total intake was 9,756 with 7,852 animals euthanized for 2013 – 80% Euthanasia rate. The budget for animal control for 2014 was $2,085,328 with $1,515,465 for salaries. This is a lot of money for a 20% adoption rate and a man who is not representing the fine people Caddo Parish in a professional manner.
Supporters of the Intact Animal Law
7704 Sycamore St.
New Orleans, La. 70118
From: “Louise Texada”
To: “Lynch, Stephanie” <email@example.com>
Cc: [All Commissioners]
Subject: Nothing Changes but the Date at CPAS
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2014 10:09 AM
Thank you for your straightforward response. I know that many people resort to extremist thinking when they feel powerless and unheard. I suppose that has become part of this dynamic.
I trust that you will keep an open mind and the needs of our parish your priority vs. your personal feelings towards people that know no better way to express their frustration.
Please note that I do not perceive Mr. Harris as villainous. I did not ask for his termination or resignation. I do perceive him as in a position that does not serve him, nor one in which he is able to serve in his finest capacity. We concerned citizens have been appealing to the CPC and the Caddo Parish Administrator for change for quite some time now, and Mr. Harris has proven to be resistant to those changes.
If CPAS were HIS private enterprise that would be his prerogative. However, this is a public service and taxpayers are allowed a voice.
Last year concerned taxpayers arranged for the ASPCA Community Initiatives Director to present to the public at Southfield School and the next day to the employees at ASPCA. Afterwards, many of us again presented our concerns in a very balanced and organized fashion to the commissioner meeting. We were than directed to the development of the Animal Services Committee. It pains me to see someone like Mr. Harris continue to alienate people that are capable of improving CPAS (note, at the commission meeting the testimony by Ninna’s Road to Rescue, his antipathy towards Ashley Delrie as witnessed by many of us, and now his harassment of Reed Ebarb).
Perhaps, along with your defense of Mr. Harris, you could also defend concerned citizens that are harassed repeatedly when they only have good intentions and a proven track record in animal services. In my 30 years of corporate employment, we were trained on this dynamic repeatedly. Harassment, or creating a hostile work environment, is considered a serious legal liability in most work places these days. It certainly thwarts creativity, cooperation and change as evidenced in our current situation.
On Aug 14, 2014, at 5:49 AM, Lynch, Stephanie <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Thank you for your letter.
I will give no thought or consideration to the meritless request to terminate or ask for the resignation of Mr. Harris.
Some principals have painted themselves in the most caring, angelic light known to man, while painting Mr. Harris in the darkest and most villainous light ever.
These two opposite extremisms cause me great concern. Im sure the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Commissioner Stephanie Lynch
From: Louise Texada
Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 11:09:39 PM
To: Escude, John; Thibodeaux, Michael; Linn, Matthew; Cox, David; Bowman, Jerald; Smith, Jim; Wilson, Woody; Williams, Micheal; Baker, Lindora; Johnson, Lyndon; Lynch, Stephanie
Subject: Nothing Changes but the Date at CPAS
Dr. Wilson and Commissioners,
Here is yet another example of Mr. Harris alienating someone capable and willing to improve the situation for cats and dogs at CPAS. So, once again, I want to implore you to realize that our community deserves someone willing to implement positive change instead of someone threatened by it.
Mr. Harris is not a bad person BUT he is in a bad position and you all (Dr. Wilson and Commissioners) are letting him stay there. Please reassign him. He lacks the vision to embrace and facilitate what needs to be changed at CPAS. He continues to support the status quo and to meet challenges with defensiveness and hostility. I know that all of you are well aware of this pattern.
Mary Louise Texada
250 Carrollton Ave.
Shreveport, La. 71105
From: “Carla White”
To: [All Commissioners]
Subject: Please make Director Harris resign from Caddo Parish Animal Services
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2014 9:39 AM
I am tired of the community and organizations trying to help rescue and adopt the hundreds of dogs and cats at the Caddo Parish Animal Service, and their efforts are ignored by Mr. Harris himself. Mr. Harris has been very rude to many rescue organizations and volunteers. That is no way to help a community with a high euthanization rate. He has been given plenty of opportunities to treat these volunteers better. He should be overjoyed at the works of the rescues and volunteers. Instead, he treats them with insult and rude comments. He doesn’t care for the animals! Just for his paycheck.
I’m asking you to demand his resignation and place someone in his position that cares about the animals and solving the euthanization problem. Please, represent your community and do what is right. This man has been given too many chances!