7 years of trouble.

    

That's what many animal rescue organizations, residents and even parish officials are accusing the Caddo Animal Services of.

    

They say controversy after controversy has led Everett Harris to where he stands now -- on paid administrative leave while an investigation is still underway into a recent Facebook post he made.

But his supporters say people have it all wrong -- while the commission continues moving forward with changes to help the shelter.

The bizarre post was made on the Caddo Animal Services page, showing anti-Semitic symbols drawn on pictures of adoptable dogs.

Click here to read that story.

Harris claims his post was an accident - but the move led to a protest outside government plaza demanding he be fired.

"It's obviously fallen on deaf ears. I personally am sick of Caddo Parish being stuck in the negative spotlight nationwide for these animal control issues," said Samantha Schuster, who organized the rally at Government Plaza.

"Mr. Harris may be good at another job, but he's not good at this one," said protester Jill Holtzclaw, protester.

"I don't think anybody is saying that Mr. Harris is a bad guy," said Sherri Muslow, protester. "He really needs to find another outlet for his talents because it doesn't lie in community relations and it doesn't lie in helping the animals."

People who have had dealings with him over the years and don't like his management style want him gone. We decided to look at what brought on all the controversy.

To get a candid understanding of Harris, we spoke with supporters and detractors and people who have worked with him. 

"His abilities fall underneath cleanliness and accounting, but there is so much more to animal services than those two," said Caddo Commissioner Matthew Linn of District 4.

Linn is an outspoken critic of Harris. 

"Being so rigid with your stance on  a scenario, it doesn't serve the people," he said. "We're not gonna run it like we're in the military at animal services."

He says when Harris was hired nearly 7 years ago, the sheriff proposed having inmates from his jail help train dogs from the shelter.

"The dog becomes friendlier, the person in jail becomes friendlier.. and we save the taxpayers money,"

Harris said no. 

Much of the controversy involves Harris's dealings with animal rights groups and a handful of high-profile incidents.

There's Braveheart from 2013. Someone left him in a storage unit to die. A family stepped up to foster the dog to recuperate, but he was taken back and put in the shelter while police investigated. Critics say the dog's care suffered.

Harris said he was following policy.

There's Lucky and T-Bone this past March.

Click here to read that story.

In June, a pregnant Houston woman lost her lab while in Shreveport. The dog wound up in the animal shelter. A rescue group offered to bring the dog to Houston. Harris refused, until a parish commissioner intervened.

Click here to read what happened.

And here we are to the Facebook post. Harris has been placed on paid leave. His friend and boss, parish administrator Woodrow Wilson, hires brings in a private firm to investigate.

"I've had hundreds of phone calls. Every three weeks, I get a phone call of a new scenario," said Linn. "Run somebody off, threatened to have somebody arrested, banned a rescue group from the facility."

The people we spoke with about Harris have worked for and with him. Almost everyone has the same observations: Harris runs a good, clean shelter that is better than the one he inherited. But they tell us he is too inflexible and lacks people skills. Many people have left the shelter in tears.

"How if you speak out or have a suggestion, or offer a good idea that you are beaten down. And if you report any sort of errs that take place, there is huge revenge taken against the employees," said Linn. "And a lot of stuff has been swept under the carpet and no matter how many times you bring it up, it continues to be swept under the carpet."

Caddo commissioner Michael Williams say people should not lash out at Harris. 

"He's a man of integrity and character, a man of faith. And a man of education who has a pHD. We're waiting on the facts. Mr. Administrator, whatever you decide to do, I stand with you," he said during the last commissioners meeting. "He was an excellent selection. We all make mistakes. I think it's unfair to make a knee-jerk reaction and judge someone based on this particular incident."

Commissioner Jerald Bowman said it was his idea to use a private firm for the investigation, which is looking into the Facebook post and Harris's work as animal services director.

"We really wanted an unbiased, fair and due-process," Bowman said. "A lot of people already have decisions made, but we have to go with the policy and fairness."

Right now the shelter is being run by assistant director Chuck Wilson.

"There are great employees at the shelter, they work tirelessly and are dedicated," said Bowman.

Meanwhile, the Caddo commission is moving forward, despite the challenges.

"I'm excited, especially to see the ball hasn't been dropped," said Bowman. "We want the citizens to know that we're staying away from that negativity."

The commission is working with the Animal Services Committee, formed about two years ago to address issues in the parish. They are almost done updating the parish's animal ordinances. One key change is reducing euthanasia rates.

"One of the big concerns in this area is the number of animals being euthanized every year. We have a huge intake at our local shelter," said Candy Peavy, a committee member. "Now, it's actually in the ordinance that every animal that leaves a shelter, are going to be required to be spayed or neutered prior to adoption. There were a lot of animals leaving the shelter not spayed or neutered and no one was checking up on them."

Bowman says Harris has worked closely with the committee on the ordinance changes and other improvements to the shelter.

"We will have a conference call with Petpoint next week, a system that will be implemented at the animal shelter that allows veterinarians to access and send information to one central source," said Bowman.

But there is an end goal: Changing the shelter's policy manual,

"There are so many things that we can do, and would love to do but are not doing right now," said Peavy.

In just a few months, they hope to start working on changing policies like having a foster program, a bigger off-site adoption program, working with more rescues and allowing programs to use the shelter as a resource.

"We want the shelter to be a resource, to come to learn more information -- brainstorm with other rescuers, not a place that's tucked away. We want to see better signage out there," Peavy said.

Peavy said after the last animal services committee meeting, things are looking forward.

"That was so positive, and there was a lot of can-do attitude at that meeting, and I feel like that's doing to be the mood going forward with this committee. "The commissioners are ready to see change happen. This has been dragging out way too long, and the time is right."

But for some, change can't come soon enough. 

What's not known is if those changes will include Everett Harris.

Parish administrator Wilson would not speak to us about the controversies or comment on Harris' work at the shelter. Harris, who is still on leave, was also unavailable for comment.

    

We're told the investigation should be wrapped up by the end of the month.

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