BARC Sucks

The city's animal shelter just can't get its act together

The one big result of the task force's report was the hiring of a new BARC director, Kent Robertson, who was wooed away from his position as Dallas's Animal Service Manager. So what did hiring Robertson do for the City of Houston's animal shelter? Here's a hint: Kent Robertson is once again Dallas's Animal Service ­Manager.

Robertson was emblematic of the change Mayor White declared he was for. A respected shelter director, Robertson had achieved success in Dallas, and many in Houston felt he could replicate that success here.

In his two years as BARC director starting in 2006, Robertson's biggest legacy appears to have been the hiring of a woman named Eunice Ohashiegbula-Iwunze as the shelter's chief veterinarian. Robertson did not return the Press's calls, so it's unclear where exactly he found her, but it's quite possible this epiphany occurred while he was flipping through a copy of Vets Who Couldn't Hack It in Other Cities Monthly. In a two-year span, Dr. Ohashiegbula-Iwunze racked up two separate findings of "gross incompetence" by the New Jersey Veterinary Board of Medical Examiners. One of the findings, which resulted in a license suspension, had to do with the accidental killing of three pets at her clinic. (She was also reprimanded for poor record-keeping, which, come to think of it, actually makes her the perfect BARC employee.)

Although exact numbers are hard to pin down...
Photos by Daniel Kramer
Although exact numbers are hard to pin down...
...BARC receives more than 20,000 animals a year.
Photos by Daniel Kramer
...BARC receives more than 20,000 animals a year.

When Kelly Cripe, a longtime animal welfare advocate, caught wind of "Dr. O's" record, she addressed the mayor and city council members at a council meeting earlier this month.

Cripe, a spokeswoman for Continental Airlines, had served on the BARC task force but is now persona non grata, thanks to her subsequent public criticism of the report and of the mayor specifically. To Cripe, and other advocates who spoke to the Press, Bill White is the one person who could most effectively implement change at the shelter.

And Cripe made this belief abundantly clear in her public remarks, in which she said that she and others keep bringing up the same problems with BARC and the city keeps looking the other way. But a funny thing happens when you continually tell local media that you believe elected officials aren't pulling their weight and you actually name those officials: No one on the City Council asks to extend your time limit during the public input session.

So when the two-minute buzzer went off before Cripe finished her prepared remarks, she wasn't asked to stick around. There was only uncomfortable silence. And then there was Bill White, who thanked Cripe for her input. He couldn't have been any clearer had he actually said anything.

Margaret Gondo, the next animal advocate in line, had more success, perhaps because she hasn't been as vocal a critic. She got some good responses, like this from Councilwoman Ann Clutterbuck: "How many more years are we going to sit here silently?"

White's remarks seemed to explain why Gondo got further than Cripe: "The public servants [at] this table, to a person, want to do their jobs diligently...if people can talk with each other and not about each other, then it makes elected officials" more willing to talk. (Like Cripe, Gondo was also a task force member. She was also a BARC volunteer, but was asked to resign her services because she had on at least one occasion remained on the grounds past the volunteer deadline of 6 p.m. If there is one thing BARC officials seem to hate, it's when people who sacrifice their time to care for animals at no cost to the city stay past 6 p.m. It's an unconscionable offense. In a memo from then-Manager Vincent Medley to Gondo, Medley warns that "Your vehicle must be out of the gate at 5:50 p.m. every day. Your disregard for the volunteer hours is the reason this action has become necessary.")

And this quote, which she gave the Press, probably won't help her reception next time she approaches City Council: "Most of the things that the Bill White administration [has] tried to do are basically window-dressing — things to make it look like everything is great on the ­outside."

Which isn't to say White didn't have a point about talking nice: If elected officials aren't willing to talk over such trivial matters as "city and state law," they certainly aren't going to respond to allegations of incompetence. Which is why, when Gondo alleged that BARC vet David Rundell may have worked for eight years without a state-issued controlled substances registration, the city immediately asked for a Department of Public Safety ­investigation.

Apparently, asking a state agency to investigate what is an easily provable matter is a lot easier than asking Rundell himself. That way, the investigation focuses on only one person — the target — rather than his superiors, who knew or should have known their subordinate was willfully breaking the law.

When the Press asked Kathy Barton if anyone from the city had asked Rundell directly if he's been consistently registered with the state, Barton first responded in an e-mail, not with a "yes" or "no," but with the following: "The Texas Code 481.062 allows Dr. Rundell to prescribe ketamine and other scheduled drugs under Dr. O's DEA license and supervision. Fatal-Plus [a solution used in euthanasia] can be used by Dr. Rundell under the shelter's license."

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BARC really does suck we took our Great Dane to BARC to be Quarantined, only because he accidentally got out and jumped on a child, because he's really playful and loves to play with children, he's not vicious at all, and his teeth accidently scratched the child it wasn't a bite, so the child's mother took him to the doctor, so after that BARC came to our house and told us what we had to do or we would be fined, so we took him up there and they said he would have to be neutered as well, he's 10 months and weighed 110lbs, he was really healthy, they neutered him the same day as the pick up date even though he had already been there for 8 days, so he was basically still under Anesthesia, so we had to carry him to the car, he looked like one of them dogs on them abandoned and malnutrition commercials and just real sick, also he had little sores over his body, I wanted to run through that place like a human tornado and tear up everything in sight, it's a horrible place very unsanitary it smelled like dog poop in and out, all animals are treated real bad in there.


this man needs to lose his license to practice vet medicine ANYWHERE. LEAVING A DIEING DOG LAY ON THE FLOOR FOR SEVERAL HOURS, HAVING SEIZURES,REALLY.  he is a pig. i could tell you what to do with that cigar he was having.  on matters of BARCS, we have BARCS here, and i  find them to be abit  off base. to many :bad" dogs have left there. and i know of 1 case where a girl thought maybe a found dog was her's and when she tried to get an answer to a question, she was told  she had to fill out an adoption form.  that is not right.  she was out of state. everything matched perfectly and according to their post, it was last call for the dog. i believe they treated her badly.  in all fairness, they did finally get in touch thru email and answer her. they claimed it was not her dog, but how do we really know that was the truth. they will get more money by adopting that dog out then returning it to the owner. sad thing is our major league ball teams here)orioles and ravens  are  supporting these people) i have heard.  they need to support the shelters in the communities instead that REALLY need help and are struggling and  barely making it thru.


Stop stealing other people's puppies off their own property.


BARC stole my puppy, I called numerous times and left several messages to which none of my calls were returned, the Owner/Manager told me I had to pay $500.00 -which I did not--my puppy was stolen off my property and BARC left a note stating that the dog was taken from its home address, and then I found out re-sold my puppy to some one earlier today.

Has this happened to anyone else before?

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