INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The embattled chief of the city's animal shelter may soon be outof a job. Wednesday afternoon, the mayor removed the chairman ofAnimal Care and Control's advisory board and some believe theshelter chief is next.
Warren Patitz, the board chairman, was not paid for his service.But he said the volunteer position put him in the middle of apolitical firestorm. He believes politics guided decisions abouthis removal, not concerns about the welfare of animals and CircleCity citizens.
Patitz believes conditions at the shelter have dramaticallyimproved following the December 2008 hiring of Douglas Rae asshelter director.
"There were animals slammed against the wall in the euthanasiaroom. They were killed in front of banks of animals watching. Therewere animals dragged down the hall in control sticks urinating anddefecating. There were animals left bleeding in the kennels. AndMr. Rae put an end to all that," said Patitz.
But Patitz believes the new shelter chief will soon be out of ajob.
Patitz' removal leaves a litany of questions. Does this signal achange of direction? And if so, might more firings follow?
Patitz believes the answer to both questions is yes. He stronglybelieves the mayor asked him to step down so he could more easilyfire the shelter chief. Patitz supports the changes Rae has made atAnimal Care and Control.
Paul Okeson, the mayor's chief of staff, said it's possible theshelter chief is at risk of being fired just nine months after hishiring. He points to the fact that the shelter director is on60-day probation.
"Conscientious decisions have been made to disproportionatelyfavor the kennel operation by pulling animal control officers outof the field in favor of the kennel operation," said Okeson.
Okeson believes that decision put citizens at risk fromdangerous stray dogs -- a claim Patitz disputes.
"There have been 55 less dog bites reported this year inrelation to the same period last year. There have been over 1,200more officer runs," Patitz said.
But Okeson said there are more complaints concerning stray dogsat the mayor's action line than any other citizen concern. Theysaid as of August 1, 2009, stray dog complaints ranked number onewith more than 17,000 calls placed.
But Patitz said stray dog complaints have been the number onecomplaint since 1995, indicating it's an ongoing problem and cannotbe attributed to Rae's leadership.
Animal Care and Control has faced budget cuts in recent yearsand an increase in the number of animals it houses.
The Ballard administration acknowledges that they're asking thedepartment to do more with less, but they said public safety shouldnot be sacrificed because funding is tight. They believe publicsafety should always be the shelter chief's first priority.
Federal investigators are looking into multiple cases where counterfeiters have floated fake $100 bills. According to police reports, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department arrested three people for printing off the fake bills.
Update: According to the Lafayette Police Department, Lafayette area schools have been checked and the threat has been deemed not credible and lockdown lifted.
A disbarred attorney and former South Bend city council member convicted of forging the names of other lawyers on court documents won't be spending any time in prison unless he gets in further trouble.