Community reacts to LMAS interim director's sudden resignation

Wayne Zelinsky
Wayne Zelinsky
Mayor Greg Fischer
Mayor Greg Fischer
Jessica Reid
Jessica Reid
Debbie Fox (Source: Mayor's Office)
Debbie Fox (Source: Mayor's Office)

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - More than a year after former director Gilles Meloche resigned, Wayne Zelinsky, the interim director of Louisville Metro Animal Services, gave the mayor his two week notice.

Mayor Greg Fischer says he believes Zelinsky's resigned as a result of city leaders finding out about an entertainment website he and his wife operate. Zelinsky's website - 'Derby City VIP' - offers several services, including access to restaurants, strip clubs, nightclubs, and private entertainment.

Fischer says city leaders learned about the website on the night of Feb. 1 and called Zelinsky in for a meeting the next day. During that meeting, Fischer says Zelinsky resigned from his job and handed them a two-sentence letter which reads as follows:

"Please accept this letter as my two week notice, resigning as Interim Director of Metro Animal Services effective 2/16/11. Thank you for the opportunity to serve within Louisville Metro Government."

"As soon as we learned about it we brought it to his attention and he decided to move on," said Fischer.

We repeatedly tried to contact Zelinsky via phone, email and at his home for his reaction, but so far he hasn't responded.

In December of 2010, we confronted Zelinsky after employees and volunteers came to us with fears that adoptable dogs were being needlessly euthanized. At the time, Zelinsky defended the operations at the Manslick Road location and said the allegations were not true.

"There's enough checks and balances in there to where I'm comfortable if that decision is made that we've given that animal every chance it can need," Zelinsky said.

A few days after taking office in January, Fischer announced there would be a complete review of LMAS. Fischer cited concerns about animal welfare and public safety. Jessica Reid, president of No-Kill Louisville, says she was surprised to find out Zelinsky had resigned. Reid thought he would stay in place until a permanent director was hired.

"I was surprised and somewhat relieved, I have to say," Reid said, "because I don't want it to be a fight. I want it to be that we are working together and we're saving as many animals as possible."

Reid says their non-profit organization has tried to work with Zelinsky and Metro Animal Services, but Zelinsky shut them out once they tried to address problems.

"I do think there were some employees who were trying to do better who were trying to change things for the better, take actions that were positive and they were basically stopped," Reid said. "And I think it's a moment to celebrate because it means that real change can happen."

Fischer has named Debbie Fox, the deputy director of MetroSafe, to take the reigns as interim director of LMAS until a permanent director is hired by April.

"I don't know Debbie but if she is at all able to manage, I think we're 100 percent down the road...we're much better off right away then we ever were with Wayne," Reid said.

Applications for the director of Animal Services position are being accepted until Feb. 14.

We learned it is not illegal to run an entertainment company, but Louisville Metro government has an ethics ordinance which states that department directors must disclose that information. In addition, they are supposed to provide an annual financial statement.

The Metro Council has kept a close watch over LMAS after serious complaints of wrongdoing, money mismanagement, and sexual harassment accusations came to light.

"I think what we're seeing is a good step in the right direction to get the house in order so we can move forward," said Councilman Ken Fleming (R-District 7).

On top of the Mayor's review, the Louisville Metro Police Department's Public Integrity Unit has an open investigation.

At last check, Zelinsky's site had a message saying it was down for maintenance.

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