It looked less like a police jury meeting and more like a trial in Vermilion Parish, with Pam Monceaux as the defendant. Monceaux, Director of the VP Rabies Animal Control has come under fire after it was discovered three dogs scheduled to be rescued were euthanized.
Sasha, Pepper and Ringo were scheduled to be rescued by CARA out of Ascension Parish on March 6th. Hours after the shelter's suggested pick-up time for the dogs, they were killed.
Outraged, dozens of animal activists and rescue organizations filled the Vermilion Parish Police Jury meeting room to voice concerns and call for immediate change to parish shelter policy.
Before the 5:30 meeting kicked off, an online petition made it's way across social media. The petition, addressed to Billy Noegel, Public Works, states “recent figures received indicate 1,425 animals were euthanized.” The petition claimed 1,300 were never posted for rescue.
Five thousand supporters signed and shared, seeking more active participation on the VPRAC's Facebook page and faster responses to rescue agencies.
As the fire grew larger under Monceaux and the police jury's feet, another abrupt change angered rescuers. The shelter turned away Cindy Hunt, with the Animal Aid for Vermilion Parish, as she tried to rescue a dog. The shelter, according to Hunt, refused to allow any animal out until a new agreement had been reached with 501c non-profit rescue organizations.
The small police jury meeting room was overflowing, as resident grabbed their pitchforks, ready to see justice done. Representatives from CARA, AAVA, ARF-LA, even Lafayette Animal Aid and the Crowley Shelter were present, ignoring pleas from the police jury to be silent.
Tony Alonzo, an attorney contacted by AAVA started things off, approaching the “stand” and giving a re-count of March 6th, the dogs final day. His first witness, Judy Neal, a transporter for CARA, who was on her way to collect the pups.
“My transport coordinator told me the dogs were tagged for rescue and were safe until I could get there,” Neal testified.
Timing seemed to be the main issue. Emails between the shelter and CARA indicated that Neal was to arrive at 8:00 am. Records indicate she did not call the shelter until 11:57AM; the dog were euthanized at 10AM.
One juror pointed out that a simple phone call expressing how late Neal would be might have saved the dog's lives.
“8:00 am, no call. 9:00 am, no call. 10:00 am, we put the dogs down,” said the juror.
Alonzo fired back, “If these animals were saved and tagged for rescue, there was no reason to kill them.”
The juror quickly responded, “But, how did we know they were coming?”
The back and forth let up once Alonzo introduced a surprise.
“I spoke with a man, ” he began. “He is an employee at the shelter. He said he told Monceaux, why don't we wait until after noon? She said, ‘Go ahead and kill them.'”
Gasps filled the room.
Attorney for the police jury, Paul Moresi stepped in to remind the public of the parish's court mandated ordinance that lists a four day holding period for animals. Sasha, Pepper and Ringo were there for 32 days. Also, the ordinances states the parish must euthanize to prevent over-crowding.
Alonzo's response, “This individual that contacted me advised me that there were 20, 25 cages on that day. There was no over-crowding.”
While jurors defended Monceaux, stating she followed parish policy, she sat simply shaking her head at the allegations.
After rounds of debate, rescue organizations got their point across; this was not an isolated incident and something needed to be done sooner that later. A subcommittee was put together to oversee issues. At the first part of the meeting closed, jurors assured the crowd the subcommittee would look into their interests and “change policies accordingly.” Moresi added that Monceaux did
not do anything illegal.
The subcommittee is scheduled to meet Monday, March 17th.