Baton Rouge Pound Oops-Kills Another Pet

Brittany Seelmann left her beloved 4 year old dog Thrall in the care of a friend last month. When Thrall reportedly bit a repairman at the house, AC took him to the Baton Rouge pound for a 10 day quarantine. The facility is managed by a pet killing group called Companion Animal Alliance.

Ms. Seelmann says she called and spoke with someone from CAA daily about Thrall – making sure he was eating and re-verifying that the release date on his paperwork, July 29, was correct. On July 28, someone from CAA called Ms. Seelmann to tell her they’d killed her dog by mistake. Oops.

“I was just devastated when she called me. I immediately started crying,” Seelmann said.

CAA director Beth Brewster released a generic Oops-Kill statement from the Crappy Pound Manual:

“My staff and I are devastated we failed Thrall while he was in our care. He was brought to us after a bite case occurred for quarantine as required by ordinance. Our protocols are based on national standards, but unfortunately human error does occur. Everyone involved has been reprimanded, we are retraining staff on procedures and working on tightening our vigilance to ensure that this will not happen again.”

So yeah it’s sad but don’t forget he was a BAD DOG and we were just following the law and we’re only human and what human hasn’t oops-killed someone’s pet, you know?

Also, retraining and the usual blah.  Which apparently does not include transparency:

CAA would not comment further on how many people were disciplined and how.

thrall memorial

Shelter pet advocacy, courtesy of the irresponsible public. (Image via WAFB)

Ms. Seelmann held a memorial for Thrall at the pound and set up a table to raise awareness about some of the other owned animals CAA has killed. That took guts.  And she had to dig down past her grief in order to harness that power.  Good on you, Ms. Seelmann.  I am glad someone is advocating for the right of shelter pets to live, since no one at the shelter seems to care.  I hope more local animal lovers will join you in calling for reform at this pet killing facility.

(Thanks Clarice.)

CAA Sends Owner of Lost Pet to ATM, Oops-Killing Dog While Owner is Gone

The long troubled Companion Animal Alliance in Baton Rouge, LA has killed owned pets before under suspicious circumstances.  But even for this disturbing group, the killing of an owned pet named Bow Wow represents a new low.

Screengrab from WAFB website showing CAA records for Bow Wow.

Screengrab from WAFB website showing CAA records for Bow Wow.

Eighteen year old Bow Wow escaped his yard on May 11, 2013.  His owners, Patrick and Kimberly Morris, searched for him, put up fliers around the neighborhood and visited the local pound several times.  Pound workers refused to allow Mr. Morris to walk the kennels to look for Bow Wow himself, instead telling him on 3 separate visits that his pet wasn’t in the facility.  In fact, AC had picked up Bow Wow the day he got lost and chokepoled the elderly dog into the pet killing facility on May 11.  He was there every day the owner was turned away after inquiring about him.

Finally after one week of runaround, Mr. Morris convinced CAA to allow him to walk the kennels to look for his dog.  He found him immediately and Bow Wow began going crazy with excitement.  CAA refused to give the dog back without the ransom fee, even though they had held the dog for a week unnecessarily while turning the owner away multiple times.  CAA forced Mr. Morris to go to an ATM for the cash to bail Bow Wow out.  While the owner was getting the money, CAA oops-killed the dog.

Mr. Morris was devastated:

“I can tell you it was like losing a child.”

Patrick’s wife Kimberly says she would like to see a system overhaul at the shelter.

“There is nothing that can replace him,” said Kim Morris.

“No monetary gain. I don’t want this to happen again.”

Sadly, Bow Wow was “again”.  CAA has killed people’s pets before and will undoubtedly kill more in future.  CAA is in the pet killing business and they don’t discriminate between those whose owners are looking for them and those in need of new owners.  And the local government backs them 100%.

Bow Wow at home, as pictured on the WAFB website.

Bow Wow at home, as pictured on the WAFB website.

Shame on Companion Animal Alliance again, and the local politicians and killing apologists who enable them to continue their reckless actions which hurt pets and people.  Pets are family.  CAA has no right being in the family services business.  I hope local advocates will organize and demand the government kick CAA to the curb, replacing them with a group committed to no kill.  It’s long overdue.  And the pets in Baton Rouge can’t afford to wait.

(Thank you Joni for the link.)

Was it in writing? Why yes, it was.

Companion Animal Alliance in Baton Rouge, LA has a troubled history.  Although the pound’s director resigned in December, it doesn’t look like there have been any significant changes at CAA, at least not as far as pet killing and cover-up are concerned.

Meet Kodak, a male cat at CAA who had rescue and back-up rescue ready and waiting to save him.  Here is a screencap from Facebook, taken yesterday:

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Note in the comments next to the photo that on Saturday, February 16, CAA posted that Kodak was going to Don’t Be Cruel Sanctuary.  But word got out on Monday, February 18 that CAA had killed Kodak because he was aggressive.  Isn’t a sanctuary the perfect place for an aggressive cat to go?   Why kill him?

CAA quickly launched into cover-up mode by deleting their own comment about Kodak going to rescue and having staff members run interference on a thread about him on another FB page.  One of the many comments by CAA staffers on that thread included this gem:

What HOLD was placed upon him? Was it writing? Where is this documentation? Is there verifiable proof that this HOLD was disregarded?

The obvious implication being that CAA knew nothing of any attempt to rescue Kodak and as such, killed him innocently.  There are 2 problems with that.  First, there is no such thing as a pound being blameless when it kills healthy/treatable pets.  And second, CAA knew full well Kodak was going to rescue.  They even put it in writing.

Screengrab from Facebook taken today, showing CAA's comment deleted.  (click to enlarge)

Screengrab from Facebook taken today, showing CAA’s comment deleted. (click to enlarge)

And they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddling internet.

(Thank you Christine for alerting me to this story.)

LA Pound Director Resigns

Kimberly Sherlaw, director of the troubled Companion Animal Alliance in East Baton Rouge, resigned yesterday according to a local paper:

[CAA Board Chair Christel] Slaughter initially said the decision was “mutual,” but later acknowledged that the board initiated the conversation.

Pet advocates have been complaining for months about the needless suffering and death occurring at CAA and this blog has featured a number of discrepancies in CAA records.

Slaughter said the allegations by employees “put pressure on the situation,” but stopped short of saying that Sherlaw’s resignation was directly related.

“It’s hard to say. There was so much polarization and hearsay. It’s hard to know where reality is,” she said.

It’s hard to know where reality is?  I may be able to assist.  Reality is failing to comply with the open records law.  Reality is pets suffering and falling over dead in their cages.  Reality is killing healthy/treatable pets.  Reality is killing pets whose owners want them back.

There appears to be a widespread culture of neglect and abuse in the parish government that involves looking the other way, at best, and covering up possible crimes, at worst.  While replacing the director is a step in the right direction, I can’t imagine the pets in East Baton Rouge are going to fare any better until there is a systemic change in philosophy regarding the shelter.  It should be a safe haven for pets.  Anyone who doesn’t embody that belief in word and in deed, needs to be rooted out and replaced.  A shelter doesn’t get to the state CAA is in because of one director on the job for 7 months.  It’s not “hard to know where reality is”.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Companion Animal Alliance in Trouble Again

I’ve been trying to FOIA records on 3 pets at Companion Animal Alliance in Baton Rouge but CAA doesn’t seem too interested in complying with the law.  (If you want to see how I spend my spare time, you can scroll through my attempts to get CAA to provide complete, legible copies of these records.)  Maybe they’re busy getting blown by the local AC director who is supposed to be investigating them:

Former volunteers and staff members claim administration problems are leading to neglect and abuse of the animals. One report claims the euthanasia of a sick puppy was not done in a timely manner.

“I went back the next day and they had not touched the dog,” said former intake specialist Jaden Stafford. “They didn’t even get it food or water or a newspaper. Then, I gave it food and water and set it up in a cage properly and it sat there for three days before it was euthanized.”

Reports from former shelter workers like Stafford spurred an investigation by the East Baton Rouge Animal Control office, which found no evidence of intentional abuse.

“My investigator did not think there was any criminal intent to hurt animals,” said Animal Control Director Hilton Cole. “Was there criminal negligence? That is debatable. We chose not to go that route.”

I love how he characterizes criminal negligence of dogs and cats by a public shelter as “debatable”, like he’s talking about a laptop sold with a slight nick in the cover.

CAA is slated to meet with the Metro City Council today to explain how the complaints are just a bunch of disgruntled ex-employees and vols and blah.  If I worked for CAA, I’d be hoping the council buys that lame-ass story and doesn’t actually look at the frightening history of the place or even worse – show up at the facility and demand to see records and animals.

In the meantime, I’m still hoping to find out what happened to the 3 pets that CAA doesn’t seem to want me to know.

Companion Animal Alliance Kills Owned Pet Trapped by Cat Hater

The following excerpt is from a post on the Facebook page of the group Lost Pets of Baton Rouge:

August 8

We are sad to report that someone posted about their lost cat yesterday only to find out that his Lulu had been picked up by animal control and was at the shelter last week. Sadly, the shelter only holds a “stray” animal for 3 days before they are allowed to put it to sleep (mostly due to lack of space). […] There is a great chance that Lulu was euthanized last week when her 3 days were up.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, I requested Lulu’s records from Companion Animal Alliance (CAA) in Baton Rouge.  Lulu had been trapped by a citizen and animal control impounded her at 7:50pm on Monday July 23, 2012.  Her behavior was noted as “normal” by the impounding officer.  There are no notes indicating she was scanned for a chip.  CAA never determined her gender:

Portion of CAA records for Lulu (click to enlarge).

Her condition was listed as “appears normal” on two occasions:

Portion of CAA records for Lulu (click to enlarge).

But on another portion of her records, CAA lists Lulu as “aggressive”, which appears to be in conflict with the above entry:

Portion of CAA records for Lulu (click to enlarge).

In fact, a person who actually interacted with Lulu described her as “nervous but allowed petting” in this Facebook posting:

Screengrab of Lulu at Companion Animal Alliance in Baton Rouge, as posted on Facebook.

There are no notes indicating Lulu was ever scanned for a chip while at CAA or that any efforts were made to locate her owner.  The times on the CAA records appear to be automatically set to 12:00 am.  I think it’s worth noting that Lulu was impounded after hours, on the night of July 23.  It’s unclear what time she was killed on July 26 due to the 12:00 am default timestamps but if it was before 7:50 pm on the 26th, then CAA held her for less than 36 hours.  There are no notes indicating she was sick or that CAA did not have sufficient cage space to house Lulu.  In fact, one might reasonably assume that CAA killed Lulu so quickly simply because they could.

Lulu was a pet who got trapped by a cat hater.  Lulu’s owner was looking for her but by the time he found the Lost Pets of Baton Rouge FB page and posted her there, CAA had long since killed her.  On the newspaper lining the cage in which Lulu is pictured at CAA, the word “Battleground” is visible.  In the world of shelter pet advocacy, our battle is against shelter directors who insist on killing pets in the face of lifesaving alternatives.  Lulu could not defend herself against those who killed her after she got trapped and impounded.  She could not demand that she be sheltered by those paid to protect her from harm.  She could not speak out about the failures at CAA and how she became a victim there.  But we can do that.  This is our battleground.

More Problems with Cat Care at Companion Animal Alliance

This is the third post in this week’s series on cats in the care of Companion Animal Alliance (CAA) in Baton Rouge, LA. As with the previous post, the information about the cats below was provided to me by a volunteer who wishes to remain anonymous. I am referring to her as Sally, a fictitious name. Read the first post in the series here.

Angel was a little black cat with ID #21197. She was impounded on February 20, 2012 and the impounding ACO notes that she was “caught in an AC cat trap”. Sally reports that Angel was a friendly kitty and sent me this photo of Angel being cuddled by a person on February 23:

Angel got sick in CAA’s care and when Sally visited her on February 28, she appeared to be dying right there in her arms.

Sally begged an employee to get a vet for Angel but he said it would be hours before the vet was available. In fact, according to CAA records obtained via FOIA, Angel wasn’t treated or euthanized at any time on February 28. She was left until March 4 when she was killed for being “feral”. Her records contain no notes indicating she was ever sick. I have starred two notations on the portion of Angel’s records pictured below to draw attention to the pre-euthanasia reason being listed as time/space and the euthanasia condition being listed as feral. This appears to be a discrepancy within the records and both scenarios appear inconsistent with Sally’s photographs of Angel.

Peaches was cat #21045 at CAA, impounded on February 9, 2012 after being trapped. The impounding officer wrote “very sweet cat” in the record. Sally sent me this photo of Peaches getting some love on February 14:

CAA records list Peaches as being killed on March 5 for “medical – severe”. (I have starred her entry on the list below.):

As with Angel, there appears to be a discrepancy in the records for Peaches regarding the pre-euthanasia reason (medical – severe) and the euthanasia condition (healthy). I starred the discrepancy in the portion of the records pictured below. There are no notes of any kind in Peaches’ records indicating she was ever sick at CAA.


Stanford was impounded as cat #23352 on April 26, 2012.  The impounding officer indicated he was a “dangerous” feral cat who had been trapped.  Sally photographed this cat on 3 different dates and remembers that he never appeared to be feral – that is, he did not back away, hiss or lunge at her.  She says Stanford came in healthy but got sick at CAA.  His original cage card was lost and he was issued a new ID number (24605).

Stanford at CAA on April 29, 2012 when his ID # was 23352.

Stanford on May 1, 2012, still with ID #23352.

Stanford on May 8, 2012 with new ID #24605. He appears to look sick in this photo.

I requested records on both of Stanford’s ID numbers from CAA and found several discrepancies.  For starters, they seem to have him listed as 2 different cats, each killed on a different day. (I starred both ID numbers for clarity.):

The records for cat #23352 indicate he was killed on April 27, 2012 for “aggression” while noting his condition as “appears normal”.  (I starred both notes for clarity.)

The records for cat #24605 indicate he was killed on May 11, 2012 for “time/space” while noting his condition as “appears normal”.  A handwritten entry reads “Been here over 3 days”.  This is a direct contradiction to the listing that says he was killed for being feral.  (I starred 3 notes below for clarity.)

There are no notes in the records of either ID number indicating the cat was sick.


Rango was cat ID #21819 at CAA.  He was impounded on February 8, 2012 after being trapped.  Sally says he was there for about 3 weeks, never got sick but on her February 28 visit he was gone.  She photographed him twice while he was at CAA:

Rango at CAA on February 9, 2012.

Rango on February 23, 2012.

I requested his records to find out what happened to Rango. CAA records indicate he was at the pound for just 5 days before being transferred to a rescue group:

The complete records for all these cats can be viewed here.

I reached out to CAA director Kim Sherlaw regarding the records for these cats but haven’t received a reply.

Apparent Discrepancies in Cat Records at Companion Animal Alliance

This is the second post regarding cats in the care of Companion Animal Alliance in Baton Rouge.  The information regarding the cats in this post came to me from a volunteer who has asked to remain anonymous.  I am referring to her as Sally but that is not her real name.

Sally told me that cat #22709 was a mama cat who came into CAA with one kitten on March 29, 2012.  She says a rescue hold was placed on the mama kitty but CAA killed her 2 days later, stating she was sick.  This is the photo Sally provided to me of cat #22709 and it looks like the same cats depicted in the photos in the CAA records:

The records from CAA, obtained via FOIA, appear to contradict not only the story provided by the volunteer, but also themselves. One portion of the records describes the cat as “active – animal is not in shelter”:

Another part of the records indicates mama and baby were owner surrendered on March 29:

Another document on the same cat indicates she was a stray, picked up by an ACO, and her status in July was “available”:

I reached out to CAA director Kim Sherlaw hoping to get some clarification on this cat but received no response.


Sally indicates cat #22706 was also a mama cat who had a kitten.  She says a rescue group took the kitten but left mama.  Sally states that the mama cat was very sick and appeared to be suffering.  CAA took no action to either treat or euthanize the cat until some days later when she was brought to the kill room.  But her records had been lost so the staff returned the sick cat to her cage.  A rescuer finally pulled the cat and took her to a vet clinic for euthanasia in order to end her suffering.  This was the photo Sally provided of cat #22706 and it looks like the same cat depicted in the photo in the CAA records:

The CAA records (note the “-2” after the ID number, as if the original records were lost) appear to count this cat as a live release and there are no notes indicating the cat was sick.

Portion of CAA records listing the condition of cat #22706 at time of transfer as “normal”:

I reached out to CAA director Kim Sherlaw hoping to get some clarification on this cat but received no response.

The complete records provided under FOIA for both these cats can be viewed here.

I will be posting additional records on other cats at CAA which also raise questions.

Reports of Needless Suffering and Death at Companion Animal Alliance

Many people heard the buzz about the Companion Animal Alliance (CAA) in Baton Rouge, LA and their supposed no kill efforts.  Local volunteer Amanda Brice has put together a well documented 14 page recent history of the pound, aptly title “Not No Kill”.  If you are unfamiliar with CAA’s story and/or if you would like to see how a volunteer can make an important contribution simply by documenting online activity, please take a look at this document.

Ms. Brice used to help out with the cats at the Companion Animal Alliance. She stopped visiting the facility because her offers to care for the stray cats, whom she felt needed the most help, were refused and she no longer feels welcome there. Management advised her that volunteering with the stray cats is a “privilege, not a right”.

Ms. Brice says that CAA does not vaccinate all pets upon intake and the sick cats are not separated from the healthy ones. One employee has been in charge of caring for the stray cats at CAA but when that person took a leave of absence, Ms. Brice says she saw the cats were being neglected. She offered to help but her offer was refused by management.

Ester, as pictured on Facebook.

Ester was cat ID #34488 at CAA. Ms. Brice selected her to photograph and network because she had a URI and was being housed in the stray area which the public is steered away from at the pound. Ester’s photo was posted on a rescue group’s Facebook page on November 15, 2011. An adopter wanted her and called the pound on November 17 but no one ever got back to her. Amanda says Ester was killed shortly thereafter. I requested Ester’s records from CAA but the response was that her ID number was “not in system”. What happened to Ester’s records?

Delan, as pictured on Facebook.

Delan was cat ID #24439 at CAA. Ms. Brice says an adopter wanted him and paid for him on November 17, 2011 but he wasn’t scheduled for neuter surgery until November 23.  The adopter asked if she could take him home during that period and bring him back for the surgery but CAA refused, keeping him housed in the stray area.  While waiting, Ms. Brice says Delan fell over dead in his cage. I requested Delan’s records from CAA but the response was that his ID number was “not in system”. What happened to Delan’s records?

Image of records requested from Companion Animal Alliance (I starred Ester and Delan’s entries for clarity). Click to enlarge.

I will be posting a follow up to review apparent discrepancies in the records of the other cats on the above list.

I reached out to CAA director Kim Sherlaw for comment but have not received a response.

Thank you Amanda Brice for speaking up for the stray cats at CAA.