ACO Whistleblower Alleges Cruelty at Baytown Animal Shelter

Warning:  Some images at the second link and some material in this post is disturbing.

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When Fox 26 reported on July 9 that police were investigating the Baytown Animal Shelter in Texas, Mike Lester, the Baytown health director in charge of the facility, said police hadn’t yet interviewed him for the investigation.  He also said no employees had come to him with allegations of wrongdoing at the pound.

Yesterday Lauren Hartis, a former ACO at the pound, went public with her whistleblowing evidence which prompted the police investigation.  Former ACO Hartis “says she saw fellow employees commit animal cruelty on a daily basis.”  And she states she had met with Mike Lester to discuss her concerns:

“I did go to Mike Lester,” Hartis said. “I sat in Mike Lester’s office for more than an hour and he wrote down everything I said on a pad of paper.”

[…] Hartis says Lester reviewed shelter videos and told her euthanasia laws were indeed being broken.

Former ACO Hartis says she resigned after 15 months on the job because she could not stand it any longer.  Among the allegations being made against the Baytown Animal Shelter:

  • Dogs and cats were routinely killed in full view of other pets, sometimes in stacked cages, other times in a large group cage.
  • Cats were ensnared in chokepoles, slammed to the ground and strangled to death by employees.
  • Trapped cats were drowned in a pond on the pound’s property, their bodies left floating.
  • Botched injections of euthanasia solution resulted in animals crying out in pain and terror.

Earlier this month, animal advocates attended a city council meeting to ask for new management at the pound:

One angry volunteer told city council, “You don’t have an animal shelter gentlemen you have a death camp.”

No argument there.

If substantiated by the police investigation, these allegations appear to violate state law so hopefully all involved will be prosecuted.  At the very least, I would think the Baytown city council would suspend the staff for the duration of the investigation due to the heinous nature of the allegations.  Let the volunteers run the place for now.  I think it’s reasonable to make the case that the animals at the pound are in extreme danger if even one of these allegations is true.  Local residents must demand city leaders take immediate action to protect the animals.

(Thanks Nathan for sending me this story.)

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19 Comments

  1. Carol

     /  July 21, 2015

    This is animal abuse in the worse degree. It seems cats had it worse. I hope karma gets their sadistic asses in the end but really hope a big news media outlet gets this story. Sick demented people.

    Reply
  2. vida

     /  July 21, 2015

    I’m glad the directors lies were publicly exposed. The photos and descriptions are disturbing but I hope that sunlight will bring this to an end. I give this woman credit for standing up for whats right and documenting the abuse.

    Reply
  3. Randy Wallace with Fox 26 is awesome when it comes to animal issues. He has reported on a lot of these h*llholes that masquerade as “shelters” exposing their atrocities to the light of day.

    Reply
    • Please continue to report these issues! Animal shelters are disgusting and the more we can notify the public the more hopeful we can be for reforem! This farce has gone way too long! We need reform and a limit on puppy mills! They don’t care for the animals. All they want is money and this in turn adds to the many animal going to shelters to end up dead! MAS is one of the worst in the Country, along with California shelters! Please get the word out! This is horrific!

      Reply
  4. Reading this just about made me vomit and I consider myself pretty tough.

    Reply
  5. I’m so glad you made this public! We really need Shelter reform now! They aren’t Shelters; they’re killing factories and this must change! Animals don’t deserve the abuse at the whim of the ACO and staff!

    Reply
  6. mike

     /  July 23, 2015

    Protest at Baytown city hall tonight at 6

    Reply
  7. Animals are treated like dirt! We need to make changes to stop the abusive treatment and keep animals as comfortable as possible! That’s why they get donations!

    Reply
  8. melinda

     /  October 17, 2015

    Have changes been made there since all this?

    Reply
  9. IF STAFF IS GOING TO ABUSE ANIMALS SO CRUELLY, WHY DON’T THEY GO WITH THE SUGGESTION OF REMOVING ALL STAFF AND LET VOLUNTEERS RUN THE SHELTER UNTIL PERMANENT CHANGES ARE MADE! THEY CAN’T INVESTIGATE; THEY MUST MAKE CHANGES NOW TO STOP THE CRUELTY AND ABUSE!

    Reply
  10. Delbert Thrash

     /  October 22, 2015

    we have got two dogs recently from this shelter. the first was a small dalmation mix. the first (dixie) we took to the vet because of a cough .After a vet bill over 150 with no positive results and my wife could not see to housetrain her we returned her. The second was a terrier hound mix. I picked her out after work on oct14. on the floor in the main wallway there was a place with bloody dog feces . I started to turn around and walk out. (wish I had) Brought the little dog home.Wife named her Rosey.She was the sweetest little dog,very smart,active,housetrained,perfect pet. All fine until late saturday oct17 . she was walking and pink fluid gushed out of her.My heart hit the floor and felt like I was punched in the belly. I got online and found out all i could do for her. All night saturday,all day and night sunday every half hour my wife and I pumped fluids into her. I called our vet Monday the 19th and she said it could run into the hundreds maybe thousands with no guarantee. On tuesdaythe 20th we decided we were being selfish to put her thru this,so we took her back. The man in the shelter I talked to ,I had no problem with him. In fact he honored my request to carry Rosey in(too weak to walk) .Inside the holding area it was extremely humid ,the floor was wet,he opened her door and I put her down (sick dog) on a cold wet floor.I’m still having nightmares.Poor girl needed to be put out of her misery , but she didn’t deserve this. I don’t think I will ever get over this. I didn’t tell my wife about the wet floor because she has a heart condition, it was dreadful. I am not posting this to get anyone in trouble, and I thank the man for letting me carry Rosey back This has been a horrible experiance and I would not recommend this shelter to my worst enemy.
    Patriot53Del@aol.com
    Delbert

    Reply
    • Arlene

       /  October 22, 2015

      OMG! Why oh why would you take that poor little dog back to that place of horror when you knew what it was like? Why not take her to your vet to help her cross? I am just sick over this…..this little life deserved better!

      Reply
      • Delbert Thrash

         /  October 23, 2015

        I didn’t know what it was like until I carried her back there. You are right she did not deserve this , if i had known i would have taken her to my vet . I’m sick over this too ,and believe this…I will do all in my powers to see that these conditions are corrected. When that time comes we will need every voice possible. How about yours?

    • Samanthas

       /  December 28, 2015

      Hi my name is samantha i have been at the shelter doing community service and i have heard the screams of animals who was put down and wasnt sick nor mean i have stepped up and will be making a statement as well as another lady whos dog they killed claiming it was sick it was i knw they let the dogs back in on wet floors im sry this has happen to your family i hope you take actions and fight agaisnt this as well im contact the news and another person all that went on in the short time i was there last week is gut wrenching they really need to put ppl who care in there we cant keep quiet we must speak up and be there voice plz think about it

      Reply
  11. Delbert Thrash

     /  October 24, 2015

    Arlene, sure would have been nice if we KNEW exactly the right thing to do at that time. We made a decision not knowing the conditions of the facility. I don’t know if I will ever get over this. i would not have been cruel to her(Rosey) for all the money in Texas. Now my wife and I will have to live with the decision we made.

    Reply
    • Well, Delbert, as the saying goes, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

      Yours can be a voice for reform and change in your community. Sometimes, all it takes is one determined person to make things happen. It was in my case.

      Reply
  12. Delbert Thrash

     /  October 24, 2015

    thank you Casey. I can’t do justice for Rosey now,but I can help to see that these conditions are not tolerated. And that I don’t make the same mistakes again. The man I talked with did not seem like he was a cruel person. As I look back it seems like it was from lack of funding and/or lack of personel. I can’t imagine that the city counsel and mayor are not aware of these conditions….got a feeling they are about to be aware of it….was introduced to a nice lady on facebook(here in baytown) that is a champion of animal rights . I won’t give her name without her permission , but I’m sure I have another fighter in my corner….casey, your kind words helped to ease my pain. Thank you very much and God bless……RIP ROSEY you are not forgotten…………..

    Reply
  13. Brenda

     /  December 29, 2015

    Need to shut this bunch down and fine those that workd there for animal cruelty a dog come to a persons house that person gets fined up to $5000 a animal so why not fine these jerks for killing defenseless dogs that have no choice bot to be locked up in a cage and hten abused they are just about as bad as someone that abuses kids and the elderly.. GET THEM JERKS OUT OF THEIR MAKE THEM PAY A HUGE FINE AND do some JAIL TIME

    Reply
  14. THIS ANIMAL ABUSE ALSO HAPPENS IN OTHER SHELTER, YET IT CONTINUES! LEADERS NEED TO TAKE A CLOSE LOOK AT ALL SHELTERS! I DON’T KNOW HOW WE ALLOW THIS ABUSE! THE WRONG PEOPLE ARE BEING HIRED AND ANIMALS PAY THE PRICE! I DON’T BELIEVE ANY SANE PERSON WOULD ABUSE ANIMALS! WE NEED TO TAKE CONTROL AND MONITOR SHELTERS REGULARLY!

    Reply

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