Metro Animal Service’s history of controversy

Metro Animal Service’s history of controversy

Metro Animal Service’s history of controversy


by Adam Walser

Posted on June 30, 2011 at 5:54 PM

(WHAS11) – No Kill Louisville just lost a bid to take over Metro Animal Services.

This latest problem at the Manslick Road facility is just the latest in a number of controversies in recent years.

Concerns identified through state and city audits include low adoption rates, bad record keeping and poor leadership.

Metro Animal Services is now a department without a permanent leader and, according to city leaders, a whole lot of problems.

The outbreak Thursday is just the latest in a long list we've been reporting about in the past three years.

In August 2009, when the flood arrived at Metro Animal Serivces and killed 14 animals, the agency's director, Giles Meloche., was already awash in controversy.

After it became obvious he didn't have an emergency plan, he was hauled before Metro Council to explain.

“We had to train our staff, put everything that was possible in our plan without any training,” Meloche testified at the time.

That same year, a state audit found Meloche sold sick animals and an employee sued him for sexual harassment, leading to his resignation in October.

“Were there some controversies? You have all covered that appropriately, and he's moving on,” said former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson.

After Meloche's resignation, Assistant Director Wayne Zelinsky took the helm of the agency, but things didn't get much better.

He faced criticism from animal activists who said the shelter had deplorable conditions and euthanized too many animals.

The state auditor discovered that 134 animals couldn't be accounted for during his watch.

“Euthanasia was in the 80 percent range six or seven years ago,” said Zelinsky, in an interview with WHAS-TV in January. “Now it's down to 57, way too much.”

But it was Zelinsky’s side job that eventually led to his resignation.

The city discovered he owned and operated an adult  business called Derby City V.I.P. which provided special access to strip clubs and other businesses.

He failed to disclose this fact to the city. 

“It's certainly not something you expect to see. So in that matter, it was a surprise,” said Mayor Greg Fischer.

Since then, dogs have killed other dogs as a result of faulty latches in kennels at Metro Animal Services.

And new studies recommended a complete overhaul of Metro Animal Services, but just this week, a proposal from No Kill Louisville , the only non-profit group bidding to take over the operation was rejected, since city leaders determined it didn't have enough experience to operate the department. 

Mayor Greg Fischer announced this week that the city will begin a review of prior applicants for the Metro Animal Services Director job and hopes to hire a new director within the coming weeks.