Sugar Land, TX – The city of Sugar Land launched an investigation last week after learning about unauthorized euthanizations at the city’s animal shelter.
Multiple departments participated in a comprehensive, thorough investigation to understand the facts of what happened. The city confirmed that at least 38 unauthorized euthanizations of dogs and cats occurred since April. Employees involved claimed the animals displayed aggressive behavior or had a medical diagnosis.
Per city protocols and the Animal Services Division Manual of Standard Operating Procedures, a veterinarian must complete an evaluation to determine if a euthanization is medically necessary, and that procedure must occur under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. In addition, animals with behavior issues must be discussed with a certified behaviorist, who gives a recommendation to staff.
Proper procedures were not followed, verbal instructions were ignored and employees knowingly disobeyed direct orders and the Animal Services Division Manual of Standard Operating Procedures. Based on what was learned, swift disciplinary actions were taken. The city will continue working to implement any training and protocols needed to ensure this never happens again.
Five Animal Services employees have been terminated and the shelter manager resigned before he could be terminated. The city will temporarily reassign employees from other offices and departments throughout the city to support the five remaining Animal Services employees until new employees are hired. Services at the animal shelter are not expected to change at this time.
To ensure transparency, the Animal Advisory Board, the citizen board appointed by City Council, was briefed soon after the city became aware of the unacceptable actions at the shelter. It will take time to rebuild public trust, but the city is committed to doing so. The swift and deliberate investigation and disciplinary actions are a start.