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Louisville Metro Animal Services Gets New Leadership

Louisville Metro Animal Services is slated for new leadership nearly 17 months after the departure of the previous permanent director.

Mayor Greg Fischer announced Wednesday that Jessica Jo Montgomery will take the helm of LMAS and will begin her new role this week.  Justin Scally resigned from the post in May 2013 to accept a job in Washington, D.C.

Fischer said there “was no hurry” to find a replacement for Scally during the past several months.

“The worst thing you can do is make a hire that you regret later,” Fischer said.

Montgomery acknowledged her new role will be "a challenge," but added she had no reservations when asked to direct an organization that has been under fire with allegations ofmisconduct and animal cruelty.

The most recent turmoil involving LMAS centers on a pit-bull named Sadie, whose death drew accusations of negligence by a former LMAS senior manager.

The claims of misconduct led Metro council members Kelly Downard (R-16) and Cindi Fowler (D-14) to launch a council investigation into the organization.

Downard said he looks forward to the new leadership at LMAS “as long as they are there to help the animals.”

“My guess is she is going to bring some fresh new ideas and some openness to that department that’s been lacking lately,” he added.

Montgomery is an Army veteran and has worked with wounded military dogs and combat stress dogs for 10 years with the US Army Veterinary Command.

“In the background that I have, I have that strength to see the overall big picture.  Because I’ve been through combat in Iraq, I’ve seen horrible things and I’ve seen great things and I’ve seen what the good people can do regarding animal welfare,” she said.

Montgomery said her top priority is getting LMAS out of the Manslick Road facility “as fast as possible.”

She said the facility is “outdated” and fails to provide “adequate care for animals.”

Councilman Downard said he supports ceasing LMAS operations at the Manslick Road facility.

“It’s terrible,” he said.  “How we do that and how we pay for it, I’m not sure.”

Neither Montgomery of Downard could give definitive answers to where the facility would move to.

“It’s a matter of having the mayor make it a priority,” Downard said.

Montgomery will be joined by Stephanie Moore, who will serve as assistant director of operations, and Daisey Blakeman, who will be the new executive administrator, Fischer said.

LMAS has increased the “live release rate” of animals that come through the shelter by more than 35 percent since 2010, Fischer said.

“We’re going to move it forward the best we can,” Montgomery said.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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