An award-winning volunteer at Louisville Metro Animal Services has been suspended for posting videos and photos of LMAS-housed dogs on her Facebook page.
Briana Holloway estimates that she has spent 10-12 hours a week since May 2012 volunteering at LMAS facilities. Mayor Greg Fischer’s office recognized Holloway, 34, in 2012 for her volunteer work at LMAS. She says she was given free dog food for a year as a reward for her many volunteer hours and was even offered a position as an Animal Care Specialist with Louisville Metro Animal Services. She declined the position, but continued to volunteer at LMAS.
More than a year ago Holloway began making videos and taking photographs of dogs at the Manslick facility and posting them on her Facebook page in an effort to get the animals adopted or to find foster homes for them. She says her efforts have led to the adoption, rescue or fostering of more than 20 dogs, and raised awareness about the animals being kept at the Manslick facility. Holloway's Facebook page can be viewed at www.facebook.com/beenah.breezay.1. and an example of one of Holloway's videos can be seen below:
“Because people tend to judge "bullies" by their breed and by their looks, I started doing videos of these animals," she says. "They (LMAS) do videos of the dogs that are in Animal House, but they don’t do videos of the dogs that are in Manslick … and what (the videos have) done is show a lot of people that there are really good animals at both facilities.” Holloway says she was not secretive about her efforts and assumed that because photographs and videos were posted about the dogs at Animal House it was acceptable to do the same for the dogs at the Manslick facility.
But on Tuesday, January 14, Holloway received a call from the Assistant Director of Louisville Metro Animal Services, Donald Robinson.
Holloway stated: “He called me yesterday and said ‘Are you making videos of dogs at Manslick?’ and I said ‘Yes, I am,’ and he said ‘Well you didn’t get permission for this, and you know, you’ve got people thinking we’re killing animals . . . .’ He told me I didn’t get permission for the videos, and he’s got a big problem with that. He told me to stop doing the videos and, as of right now, I can no longer volunteer. I can’t go to Animal House and I can’t go to Manslick.” Holloway says Robinson told her that they would revisit her volunteering opportunities in February. “In all honesty I just love dogs," says Holloway. "And I love bully breeds more than anything because I feel like they’re so misunderstood, and I honestly feel that Metro Animal Services doesn’t do enough to promote adoption of these animals.”
“Bully Breeds” is a classification given to American Bulldogs, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Boxers, and Boston Terriers. Bully breeds have a reputation — which many animal advocates would argue is undeserved — for aggressive behavior.
Louisville Metro Animal Services operates two facilities: Animal Care Center on Manslick Road, and Animal House Adoption Center on Newburg Road. Animal Care Center, on Manslick Road, is the city shelter; Animal House, on Newburg Road, is strictly an adoption center. The Manslick Road facility is where all the strays, owner-surrendered pets and court-case animals are brought in and housed — and where, if they aren't transferred, adopted out or claimed by owners, they are euthanized.
Holloway says of the facility on Manslick Road: “They don’t even let volunteers come to Manslick, for the most part. Normally all volunteers would go to Animal House.”
Holloway says she was allowed to work with the dogs at the Manslick Road facility because of her experience with bully breeds. “My goal was to go over there, get them [the dogs] out, exercise them — because they sit in those kennels every day, seven days a week, if I don’t go over there and get them out.” When asked if she was the only person exercising the dogs at the Manslick facility, Holloway replied: “No one else does it because they don’t have time to do it.”
“The staff has staff favorites," she added. "These staff favorites go to Animal House. I feel like they’d almost rather ET [euthanize] these animals [at the Manslick facility] than get them adopted. They don’t put these animals on press releases. They don’t put them on the Louisville Metro Animal Services facebook page, and if people don’t know about these animals then they’re literally sitting there waiting to die.”
According to statistics compiled by LMAS, Metro Animal Services took in 3,806 dogs between January 1, 2013 and October 13, 2013. Of that number, 926 were euthanized. The remainder were adopted, fostered, returned to their owners or transferred to animal rescue groups. In all of 2012, 1,399 of the 4,984 dogs taken in by LMAS were euthanized. More data about LMAS intakes and outcomes can be found at portal.louisvilleky.gov/dataset/animal-services-outcomes-data.
Margaret Brosko, Senior Manager at LMAS, said Holloway "violated some policies and procedures of the volunteer program, and so she was asked to take a break from volunteering for a month while we reevaluate the situation. As far as details, unfortunately Metro (government) has a policy overall that we don’t disclose information on employees. We have that same respect for the volunteers of not discussing personal or employee matters.”
Brosko said of the Manslick facility: “It’s definitely possible to adopt an animal from the Manslick Road location . . . people are more than welcome to come and look at that facility. We do adoption walk-throughs for that facility every day.” According to Brosko, “Any animal that is at the Manslick location that is adoptable is posted on our Petfinder website along with all the other adoptable animals that are ready to walk out that day.”
Brosko also said “A lot of the animals at the Manslick location are promoted through the rescue transfer program, because a lot of those animals may have a slight behavior issue or a medical issue or things of that nature.”
When asked how LMAS’s policies affect the adoption of animals, Briana Holloway tells a different story, at least for pit bulls and similar dogs: “I think they make it much more difficult to adopt the bully breeds. I think they think I’m like some bright-eyed Bambi girl or like some tree-hugger or something, and all I want is fairness . . . . I shouldn’t be banned . . . I think the people on Facebook share (information) about these animals more than Metro Animal Services does."