ST. AMANT — In a video taken secretly by a former employee of the Ascension Parish Animal Shelter, a shelter employee — chewing gum, sunglasses perched on her head — can be seen casually injecting kittens held out for her, belly up, by another employee.
The employee performing the euthanasias — two kittens are shown being injected— doesn’t look at the animals again once they’re injected.
It’s not clear from the video whether the sodium pentobarbital is being injected into the kittens’ abdomen or heart, but the breeziness of the procedure is unsettling.
“The kittens, after they were stuck, were put into a kennel and seized until they died,” said Lilly Landaiche, a former animal control officer with the shelter. “I know, I was there.”
It was unclear if Landaiche was the person who created the video, made several years ago, that was shown Tuesday night at a public forum called by Companion Animal Rescue of Ascension, a volunteer organization that finds foster and adoptive homes for cats and dogs from the shelter.
Last week, Ascension Parish banned CARA from taking animals out of the shelter, after one of its officials posted impassioned comments on her Facebook page that parish officials said they viewed as threatening.
CARA spoke out recently about the shelter’s stopping its volunteers — before the more recent, complete ban — from receiving pit bulls to be fostered unless the volunteers were certified, and also requiring CARA volunteers to have personal rabies vaccinations before they could take large dogs from their kennels to be photographed. The parish has denied it made that second requirement.
Michael LeBlanc, the supervisor of the shelter, has said there have been misunderstandings over the policies, which he said are for safety.
The forum Tuesday drew close to 100 people.
Information about CARA and the shelter was first presented, followed by comments from several rescue volunteers, before the floor was open to the public.
CARA volunteer Jami Hollingsworth Redmond showed pictures of several animals that had been obviously ill, from cancer in one case and from a crushed spine in another case, that she said had stayed at the shelter for several days without care. CARA took the animals and brought them to a local vet to be euthanized, Redmond said.
The rescue group is seeking access for its volunteers to be reinstated; for the shelter to utilize humane euthanasia techniques such as sedation and a quiet room; and for training for those who perform the procedure.
CARA would also like to see the appointment of a standing volunteer oversight committee to do random inspections for animal comfort, cleanliness and precautions taken against parvovirus outbreaks, including the use of chlorine when cleaning, and basic medical care for injured animals.
Data from the shelter shows that from December 2011 to May 2012, the Ascension Parish animal shelter took in 1,409 cats and dogs and euthanized 1,147 of them, CARA volunteers said.
Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.