Sugar Land fires 5 people from animal shelter for unauthorized euthanasia

Five Sugar Land Animal Services employees have been fired for sanctioning the unauthorized euthanasia of shelter animals over a six-month period, the City of Sugar Land announced Friday.

The issue came to light on Thursday, September 15 after being reported to senior management by an employee. After a week-long investigation, in which several departments participated, the city confirmed that 38 dogs and cats had been euthanized since April. The investigation concluded Friday morning, city officials said.

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City officials were shocked to learn that nearly 40 animals were euthanized during the six-month period, said Doug Adolph, communications director for the City of Sugar Land.

“At the time, we understood that one animal, possibly up to three, had been euthanized,” Adolph said. “We have confirmed that this has happened. That’s when we put the manager of the shelter on administrative leave.

The manager of the Gillingham Lane animal shelter quit before he could be interviewed, Adolph said. The five dismissals took place between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

Employees involved claimed the animals were displaying aggressive behavior or had a medical diagnosis, Adlph said. However, according to city protocols, a veterinarian must confirm that euthanasia is medically necessary and that the procedure must take place under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. Additionally, animals with behavioral issues should be discussed with a certified behaviorist, who gives a recommendation to the staff.

In performing the euthanasia, the employees knowingly disobeyed direct orders and the Animal Services Division’s standard operating procedures manual, the city said. Proper procedures were not followed and verbal instructions were ignored.

“They decided to deliberately disobey direct orders and ignore policies and procedures. I can’t speak to what was in their hearts – maybe they thought what they were doing was OK – but it wasn’t,” Adolph said, adding that he didn’t. had no reason to believe that anything had changed in April to trigger the euthanasias.

Overcrowding is a perpetual problem in shelters; however, it is against city policy to perform euthanasia to reduce overcrowding.

The city will temporarily reassign employees from other offices and departments to support the remaining five Animal Services employees until new employees are hired.

“To ensure transparency, the Animal Advisory Board, the citizen council appointed by the city council, was notified shortly after the city became aware of the unacceptable actions at the shelter,” the city said in a statement. “It will take time to restore public confidence, but the city is committed to doing so. The prompt and deliberate investigation and disciplinary action is a start.”

As of yesterday afternoon, there are 30 dogs, 40 cats and four rabbits at Sugar Land Animal Services. A litter of puppies was born yesterday afternoon.

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