LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A young man is in charge of tackling old problems at Louisville Metro Animal Services. Mayor Greg Fischer's decision to chose 26-year-old Justin Scally as the top man at LMAS has many people asking whether he made the right one.
Mayor Greg Fischer introduced Scally with rave reviews on Wednesday at Metro Hall.
"When we began to look into Justin's background we received nothing but positive and glowing remarks about his compassion and leadership style," said Fischer.
"This is a community partnership and a community project," said Scally. "We are not going to succeed if we don't all work together to make this better for the animals."
Scally comes to Louisville from the Humane Society of the United States where has served as the interim manager of disaster response.He's also worked as the director of the Wayne County Department of Animal Control Services in eastern North Carolina. In addition his resume shows he's worked as an animal control officer, a veterinary technician and a newspaper photographer.
"Clearly he is head and shoulders above all the other people we looked at for the job, so we are excited to have someone here that has the energy, the passion, and the domain, expertise to get that done," said Fischer.
But, his young age, lack of a college degree, and employment by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is drawing concern. HSUS is an agency that some say has taken an extreme position on issues like medical research, hunting, and horse racing.
WAVE 3 sat down with Republican Council Member Kelly Downard after the mayor's announcement.
"The Humane Society of US does everything in their power to fight no kill legislation to fight no kill activities," said Downard (R-District 16).
"Humane Society has some views that are not related with how we are going to be running our animal shelter here at all," said Mayor Fischer. "I see those that are of the mainstream concern and not going to be affected of running the animal shelter in any way."
Animal welfare organizations like Louisville Kennel Club and No Kill Louisville say they were left out of the hiring process and say Mayor Fischer's hiring process wasn't transparent.
"When you look at the fact that No Kill Louisville had their bid turned down for lack of experience, there is some inconsistency there," said Downard.
"The process that was used where I was supposed to be on the final selection committee and it was abandoned and secret," said Louisville Kennel Club member Donna Herzig.
"From what I'm reading everything about Justin he doesn't use the no kill model," said No Kill president Jessica Reid. "He has high kill rates in his past shelter, in one shelter they didn't even adopt out a certain breed of dog."
"The other reason is I don't think this individual is the kind of individual we have to have to make this community rock and roll," said Herzig.
Scally will take over an agency that is a "parade of horrors as Herzig calls it.
An audit in May called for a complete overhaul of the agency. The city looked for an outside agency to run it, but the only bid came from No Kill Louisville and it was rejected. Last week, Assistant Director Jackie Gulbe resigned amid controversy over a dog she put in a suitcase.
Leaving some worried if Scally is in over his head.
"Things need to change at LMAS and I really hope Justin brings about that change," said Reid.
No Kill Louisville and Louisville Kennel Club tell WAVE 3 that the city passed up what they call a perfect candidate. Becky Reiter is the Executive Director of Boone County Animal Control in Northern Kentucky.
Scally starts his new job August 8 with a salary of $90,000.
Some viewers voiced their opinion on Facebook, not concerned with Scally's age, but pushing to bring someone new with young ideas.
Scally will also have two members to his senior leadership team. Donald Robinson will be assistant director of operations. Margaret Brosko as senior manager of special initiatives and communications.
Contributing to this story was reporter Katie Bauer.