OPELOUSAS — The former director of the St. Landry Parish animal shelter and a current shelter employee were arrested Wednesday on animal cruelty and theft counts, Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said.
Guidroz, who announced the arrests at the St. Landry Parish Council meeting, said the Sheriff’s Office booked former director Patricia Street and employee Troy Gallo on animal cruelty and theft of not more than $500, following an investigation by his office.
The sheriff declined to elaborate on the arrests, saying he will issue a news release Thursday, but he did note that Street and Gallo bonded out of the parish jail shortly after they were booked.
After he announced the arrests, Guidroz was cheered by members of Friends Underwriting Rescue, a volunteer group that has worked at the shelter since November to improve what they claim are deplorable conditions at the shelter.
Jeanie Casanova, who represented the group at the meeting, distributed photos FUR members had taken at the shelter, showing unclean cages and water bowls containing feces.
“We were confronted by problems of basic hygiene for the animals,” Casanova said. “We saw repeated evidence of animals with no water who were placed in kennels in which they were unable to move and get away from filth. These were not isolated events.”
Casanova said it was the volunteers, not the animal control workers, who cleaned out the cages.
“We (FUR) were cleaning the cages while some employees were standing around and visiting or talking to their boyfriends,” Casanova said.
Guidroz said his department did not undertake the investigation because of pressure from FUR.
“The pictures that (FUR) provided to me cannot be considered a chain of evidence to prove my case,” the sheriff said. “I have to conduct my own undercover investigation in order to do that.”
Guidroz said he met with parish president Bill Fontenot before making the arrests.
“I told him what I observed,” Guidroz said.
He also told the council that Fontenot is making an effort to improve conditions at the shelter.
Fontenot did not speak on the arrests or FUR’s allegations during Wednesday’s meeting.
At a previous meeting, parish Chief Administrative Officer Jessie Bellard said the parish is building larger facilities to house animals picked up by animal control.
Editor’s note: This article was changed on Thursday, June 19, 2014, to correct a misquoted statement made by Jeanie Casanova. She actually said some employees were “standing around and talking to their boyfriends” — not g i rlf riends.