Metro Animal Services Director resigns amid both praise and inte - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro Animal Services Director resigns amid both praise and internal investigation

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Director of Louisville Metro Animal Services has resigned, according to a news release from Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's office.

Jessica Montgomery, who has led the agency since 2014, resigned earlier this week to, "pursue another opportunity in Florida," the news release states. Mayor Fischer's office says law enforcement veteran Ozzy Gibson has been appointed as Montgomery's replacement.

Montgomery's resignation occurred amid both praise and controversy. According to Fischer's office, Montgomery led the agency as it boosted efficiency, including increases in its live release rate and adoptions.

"In 2013, Animal Services' average live release rate was 68 percent," the news release states. "The agency is now consistently reaching an average live release rate of 80 percent. LMAS also continues a three-year trend of increases in adoption rates."

But Montgomery's departure came amid an internal investigation, according to documents released by the mayor's office this afternoon. The investigation focused on the alleged activities of Montgomery and Louisville Metro Labor Relations Director O'Dell Henderson -- specifically allegations that Montgomery took part in a procedure she was not licensed to perform.

"The complaint specifically states Director Montgomery instructed Veterinary Assistant Brianna (later identified as Brianna Blevins) to retrieve drugs used for euthanasia, sign for those drugs, which were subsequently taken to the home of Director Henderson to euthanize an animal belonging to him," the memorandum states. "The complaint states Director Montgomery is not a licensed veterinarian and therefore it is illegal for her to utilize the drugs and / or direct a veterinarian assistant to use the drugs without direction from a licensed veterinarian. The complainant stated it was illegal for Director Montgomery to perform the procedure herself."

The complaint also alleged that Henderson was not charged for the procedure, but the ensuing investigation ultimately determined that he had.

The report goes on to state that Montgomery had "good intentions."

"The facts of the case are undisputed," the memorandum states. "Director Henderson's dog was gravely ill and Director Henderson felt the procedure was needed immediately to prevent the animal from further pain and suffering. Director Montgomery had good intentions, responding to a request from a co-worker to assist with the heart-wrenching decision to euthanize a beloved pet. Furthermore, Director Montgomery had performed numerous euthanasia procedures during her service in the United States Army and was not unfamiliar with the procedure."

According to the memorandum, Montgomery cooperated with the investigation and took full responsibility. The Jefferson County Attorney's Office reviewed the case and recommended that no criminal charges be filed. However, the memorandum also reveals the discovery of other, "potential administrative and LMAS policy violations which were not the focus of the criminal investigation and may warrant further administrative investigation."

Since then, the case has been closed, according to Chris Poynter, a spokesman for the mayor's office.

"Due to the resignation of the employee, an internal review has ceased," Poynter said, in a written statement.

Fischer's office had praise for Gibson, Montgomery's replacement.

"Ozzy Gibson has proven his dedication to Louisville through years of service in law enforcement," Fischer said, according to the news release. "He has experience managing a large agency, overseeing budgets and leading capital projects, and has a relationship with Metro Government and the Metro Council. He's also a lover of animals, and he brings the right combination of compassion and administrative acumen to hit the ground running to expand on the strides made by Metro Animal Services."

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