Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker doesn’t seem to be hesitating this time.
When Walker got word that Bossier City Animal Control might cover up, if not have countenanced, illegal behavior, he didn’t mince words. “I’m firing anybody that’s lying … I don’t care who they are, or how long they’ve been there.”
Eyewitness accounts and e-mail chains, Walker suggests, convince him that something went on, even if the ongoing investigation he said as yet to turn up hard proof. He suspects that shelter employees disobeyed Louisiana’s R.S. 3:2465, which states that euthanasia by intracardiac injection on cats and dogs shall be prohibited unless the animal is unconscious or rendered completely unconscious and insensitive to pain through the injection of an anesthetic. Further, personnel involved in the process must receive training on it within a year of employment.
Circumstantial evidence shows the unfortunate animals did not receive anesthesia, nor did trained individuals perform the life-ending act. At first, the city denied this had gone on, but Walker’s later statements seem to represent a change of tune.
That has a familiar ring to his handling of a previous controversy in city government. In 2016, an employee handling a city vehicle which had an accident had alcohol in his system, although not at the level of legal impairment. He asserted he had not drank on the job, implying that the reading must have come from (impressively, apparently) partying the previous night.
At first, Walker defended the guy, calling him a “good employee” even if he had only worked for the city for two months. The city then had no explicit policy automatically firing the guy, but eventually with the glare of national publicity and the City Council moving to put a zero-tolerance ordinance on the books, Walker backtracked and canned the guy.
This time, the city did reflexively retreat into bunker mode at first, denying any troubles, but Walker apparently now knows to get out in front of things as soon as a whiff of trouble seems evident. Of course, he may leave it at that, claiming he can’t find evidence despite a witness willing to come forward and a document that implies illegalities did occur.
The past couple of years have made for a rough go for stray animals in the Shreveport metropolitan area. The Caddo Parish Animal Shelter has seen a series of scandals that also included seemingly inappropriate euthanasia. Webster Parish has no such government-run operation and has not seen such difficulties, while nongovernmental entities (such as this newspaper) have tried to spread rescue and adoption strategies to preclude any need for putting down strays.
Walker’s words sounded decisive. Let’s hope on this issue his deeds match these.
Jeff Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University Shreveport. His views do not necessarily express those of his employer or this newspaper.