It appears no one on city council knew what was going on at the shelter until after our story aired. So now, Councilman John Leonard has called an official meeting Thursday. He wants to know about basic operations at the shelter and he plans to grill management about why phone calls were not returned and why other employees were not doing their job. But we are sitting down with management first to ask them those same questions.
"Thank you for calling the animal shelter," says the message on the adoption line at the Lubbock Animal Shelter. Three-hundred and six messages left and none were returned. A city employee, paid by your tax dollars, was blamed in a complaint filed by a citizen for not doing her job. As a result, a dog was killed and a family was left devastated. But does the buck stop there? Why did this happen? Who is responsible for this? Assistant City Manager Scott Snider manages many departments at the City of Lubbock. One of those jobs being animal services. He's also been the one asking city council for millions of dollars of your money to build a new animal shelter.
"Why do you think taxpayers should give that money to the City of Lubbock if fundamental responsibilities like returning phone calls or answering the phone haven't been met?," asked NewsChannel 11. "Well, I would tell you that it's certainly not our policy, nor had we advocated that. That was an individual who made those decisions on their own," said Snider.
This all came about when Priscilla Keifer complained to the city about how she and her daughter, a Texas Tech student, were treated by two Lubbock animal shelter employees in charge of adoptions. We can now tell you Denise Patterson, who had been employed with the City of Lubbock for 16 years and making over $23,000, was fired Friday for not returning phone calls. So was Ron Shepler, a four year employee making more than $20,000. Keifer says Shepler's customer service skills were not exactly friendly.
Ex-employees have contacted NewsChannel 11 who blame staffing issues to be the reason for the lack of customer service at the shelter. We know there are seven employees working there. That's not including the number of field officers working around the city. But with Lubbock County inmates working everyday to clean pins, Snider says they have more help now than they ever had. "We believe the staffing is sufficient, in order for them to do the jobs we are asking them to do," said Snider.
We tracked down Janice Barnes, board member of the West Texas Humane Society. They work to save lives at the shelter. We wanted to know if they have had any problems with phone calls not being returned. "There have been some personnel transfers in the past year that has been difficult to get someone to call us back. But usually, we have no trouble. We get our phone calls returned within 24 hours," said Barnes.
Shepler filed his grievance Friday and plans to contest his firing. Patterson is expected to file hers soon as well. Neither employee wanted to talk on camera about what went wrong. As for Thursday, we'll be at that council meeting and let you know any further developments.
|NewsChannel 11 Investigates|