BARC Sucks

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

In three words, Barton's response — which she said was furnished by BARC's interim director, Barbera McGill — was not true. Veterinarians in Texas need a Department of Public Safety registration to handle controlled substances.

In a later conversation, Barton told the Press that, actually, Ohashiegbula-Iwunze asked Rundell if he was registered prior to December 22, 2008.

"According to Dr. O, he was not," Barton said.

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.

The Press also asked Barton to ask Health and Human Services Department Director Stephen Williams if he was aware of Rundell ever suggesting that he would be a whistle-blower. Williams replied in an e-mail: "No."

So here's what we have:

• The head of the city's Health and Human Services Department unaware that, in an official report, one of his employees threatened to be a whistleblower by accusing another BARC vet of falsifying city records

• The interim head of BARC unaware that vets at the shelter require a state-issued controlled substances registration

• The city pound's chief veterinarian, twice reprimanded for gross incompetence in another state, unable to determine whether one of her subordinates had been operating in violation of state law for eight years.

And here's what else we have: According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Rundell operated without proper registration between December 1991 and August 1999; and from March 3, 2001, to December 22, 2008. For 15 years, Rundell violated state law while maintaining city employment. That leaves two excuses for the folks who ran the Health and Human Services Department during that time-span: incompetence or indifference. But solving either of these, apparently, is "beyond the scope of the city's resources."

Here's what Frank Michel, White's spokesman, told us about the mayor's commitment to BARC: "He's commented on it repeatedly...[It's] not true that the mayor's not interested. He's asked his senior leadership in that department to help resolve this. We increased the budget. We brought in new management — of course, that didn't work out, [the] gentleman left. But he's asked Stephen Williams and the people in charge in that department to help resolve this as quickly as possible. But as he said before, it's going to take a community solution, and just throwing money at it is not going to be the only answer."

So there you have it. Mayor White has asked the man who has continually demonstrated a lack of awareness of what's going on at BARC to resolve things. Things should be better any minute now.

In August 2006, Nathan Winograd, a national advocate for "no-kill" shelters and the former director of the Tompkins County (New York) SPCA, gave a two-day seminar in The Woodlands. More than 100 no-kill advocates from seven states attended the seminar, which was sponsored by The Woodlands Dog Park Club.

One person paying close attention was Tim Holifield, a Montgomery County constable and the head of that county's animal shelter. He had heard about Winograd's success with other shelters, and he was eager to implement Winograd's no-kill components. The shelter had already started this by creating a low-cost spay/neuter clinic, which resulted in the alteration of more than 1,700 animals in the first year. Holifield was especially excited about reaching out to even more volunteers, telling the Houston Chronicle, "These guys are heroes. They have reduced the number of animals that are euthanized."

By Houston standards, it was mind-­boggling: Here was a public official actually seeking outside input and thanking volunteers and foster parents instead of just making sure they didn't set foot inside the shelter.

Since Winograd was already in town, he offered to conduct a free assessment of BARC. Kent Robertson, who was BARC's director at the time, declined the offer.

Fast-forward two years, and the city once again found itself speaking with Winograd, only this time things seemed more promising. By December 2008, the only sticking point seemed to be the city's insistence that Winograd release it from all liability. In an e-mail to city personnel handling the terms of his contract, Winograd wrote: "Given that the contract value is only $5,000, I cannot agree to indemnification clauses."

Meanwhile, Barton told the media that state law did not allow cities to waive liability for contractors.

Barton neglected to mention another condition the city wanted, though, which Winograd explained to the Press: "Part of the things that they had included in their contract negotiations with me was: When I could talk to the press [and] what I can say to the press...So there's still an element of wanting to limit transparency and sort of control the information that gets out there. That to me is not evidence of really embracing reform and change."

Overall, Winograd said, "I've worked with dozens of municipalities over the years and have never quite encountered the bureaucratic inertia and hurdles that the City of Houston wanted me to jump through."

This didn't mean the city didn't have their feelers out, though. During negotiations, Benjamin Hernandez, chief of staff of Health and Human Services, called Abigail Smith, the current director of the Tompkins County SPCA, to get an idea of what exactly becoming "no-kill" would involve.

"I said, 'Don't jump off the edge of a cliff," Smith said. "You're going to need a lot of money. You're going to need a phenomenal facility. You're going to need huge community buy-in. You're going to need a ton of foster homes. And you're going to need a bunch of vets that are going to donate services to you.'"

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help

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?

Houston Concert Tickets