Former St. Landry Animal Control director Patricia Street Gallo and her husband Troy Gallo were arrested on Wednesday and charged with animal cruelty, animal abuse, and theft based on an undercover investigation reported The Advocate. The Louisiana couple posted bonds of $2,000 each; set by 27th Judicial District Court Judge Donald Hebert.
The next day they were back to work amid allegations of heinous misdeeds involving the care and inhumane treatment of shelter animals, including and leading up to reports about the dogs' deaths. According to Jessie Ballard, the Director of Administration for St. Landry Parish Government, Patricia Gallo now works for the parish as an educational liaison, teaching kids about animal abuse issues. Her husband, Troy was transferred out of Animal Control in February and now works as a road foreman.
"There's a presumption that everyone is innocent until they are found guilty," stated Jennifer Connolly, a political science major at a California university, "but when allegations move further than just "he said, she said" with witnesses and graphic photos of filthy conditions, and reports from credible people of terrible misdeeds, wouldn't it be reasonable for a city administrator to take a neutral position, and at the very least remove Mrs. Gallo from anything to do with animals including teaching children about animal abuse?"
Patricia Gallo has been accused of “unorthodox euthanizing and disposal of animals” and allowing shelter animals to live in filthy cages without food or water. Her husband, Troy has been accused of improperly euthanizing an animal with an intracardial injection (heartstick euthanasia). A witness stated he missed the dog's heart and then injected the poison into the animal's abdominal wall.
Louisiana Statutes (R.S. 3:2465) specify that heart sticks are "prohibited unless the animal is unconscious and insensitive to pain through the injection of an anesthetic." The agonizing procedure is considered inhumane on healthy and conscious animals.
A witness told deputies Gallo “would throw the animal onto the floor to allow animal control dogs to finish killing the animal."
A volunteer recounts one of her saddest experiences at St. Landry's Parish Animal Shelter as she went to check on the animals in the euthanasia room to offer them food and water and a few moments of compassion:
"I opened the door to find two large dogs standing in the bottom cage in the euth room with NO FOOD, NO WATER, and NO BED, leaving then nowhere to get away from their own feces and urine. I called Vickie to come see, and when she looked into the cage, she broke down crying. She started to apologize to me saying that after five years of volunteering at shelters, she had never seen anything as sad as this What you cannot see in this photo is the look in the dogs eyes, one standing in their own pool of urine behind the other. It had been hours since we had been there and they could not even sit or lie down. No one from the shelter came to check on them, they were just put in there and left alone. It was truly heartbreaking."
Both Patricia and Troy Gallo deny all of the allegations. On the subject of the stolen dog food, Troy Gallo stated the food he took home was unsuitable for the shelter animals, and he took the food home to feed the hogs. The couple look forward to telling their side, and say they have been unfairly targeted. A witness reported seeing Troy Gallo unload the dog food from a delivery truck.
As recently as Saturday, a couple who attended an adoption event stated they were in the process of adopting a horse from the shelter, and that the price of the adoption kept changing. The couple were then charged an additional fee for micro chipping. When it was discovered the micro chip had already been implanted, the couple asked Patricia Gallo for their $50 to be refunded and were refused; they were told the money was considered a donation.
Terri Courville has now replaced Patricia Gallo as director of Animal Control. Conditions have been steadily improving for the shelter animals. On Sunday, the Facebook page of Friends Underwriting Rescues and volunteers posted:
"It takes EFFORT to keep the place clean and sanitary. The animals are already in a place without freedom to move around; at the very least it should have been cleaned and they should have been provided fresh water and proper food. I love the way the shelter looks now CLEAN with fresh water and food. I wish all of the public would realize how important it is to provide our time and resources to help the animals and staff. Thanks to all that help!"
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