Petitioners want answers to Humane Society checks in 2008 through 2010

LONGVIEW/GREGG COUNTY (KYTX) - Animal rights supporters in Longview want the court to order a former board member of the Humane Society of Northeast Texas to answer questions about several checks written over a three-year period.

It took a lawsuit and 13 months of mediation for Candice Bernard and other ex- employees of the Humane Society of Northeast Texas to get the organization's financial records for 2008 through 2010.

Now, they have questions.

"The refusal of providing any documents, really. Just the secrecy and the flat-out refusal to produce any documents that we, as taxpayers, should be able to review," said Bernard. 

The former employees are represented by animal welfare attorney Kelly Heitkamp.

They want to know why former board members of the shelter wrote 90 checks in three years totaling $151,000.

Checks for health insurance, for cash, for attorney's fees and for a board treasurer's travel reimbursement.

The ex-employees have asked former board president lee pigeon to answer their questions under oath.

If he doesn't, they plan to sue the City of Longview, Gregg County and any other local government that pays the shelter to admit its stray animals.

"I feel like Lee Pigeon has the answer to that," Bernard said. "He knows what's gone on, and until we get those answers, I feel like this issue will never really be resolved. It will just continue."

Pigeon declined our request for an interview.

But Humane Society of Northeast Texas President Susan Gill, says no funds have been misapplied.

She says rising costs and lower donations led the shelter use about $100,000 from its savings account last year.

Gwendolyn Akin served on the board for four months in the summer of 2011.

"I definitely took issue with the fact that more money was going towards euthanizing than going to any other positive program like spaying and neutering the animals before they left the shelter," Akin said.

Longview Mayor Jay Dean and other council members have said publicly that they want to focus on building a new shelter, but one councilman agrees with the former employees.

"I think the operation originally started out as a good thing, but it has evolved into something that is horrible," District 1 Councilman John Sims said. "Euthanizing 175 dogs in one day, that we know of."

The petitioners have yet to get an official response from the Humane Society or its representatives on the request.

The court has yet to set a hearing on this case.


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