Administration reviewing animal shelter operations after widespread video; Port Arthur City Council to receive report

Published 12:40 am Thursday, February 23, 2023

An internal investigation is underway in Port Arthur following a widespread video of two kittens in poor conditions at the city’s animal shelter.

Port Arthur City Manager Ron Burton said he has asked for a full report on the incident to see whether any regulations or procedures were violated. He plans to get the information from the Animal Control Department, then share the findings with the Port Arthur City Council.

Burton said the city’s animal shelter was inspected Nov. 8 by the Department of State Health Services and no negative findings were noted.

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The state office performs the inspections without letting the city know in advance when officials are coming, Burton said.

Mayor Thurman Bartie believes the kittens seen in the video were in poor health when they were dropped off at the shelter.

“Those kittens didn’t get in ill health in our compound,” Bartie said. “They were brought here by, from what I understand, an unknown individual.”

On Feb. 13, an area woman visited the shelter and took video of what she saw in one of the kennels.

In the video posted on Facebook, one kitten appeared dead at first but was dying while in its own excrement. The kitten was covered in fleas and died when a volunteer found it and rushed it to a veterinarian. A second kitten that was alive was also in the same kennel.

Mayor Bartie also believes there are people that want to trash his city and he detests this.

“We try to do things that are right. They want to take an incident and make it appear we did something wrong or illegal and that‘s an untruth,” Bartie said. “As far as I know, what I’ve been apprised of, we are following the law as a municipality on handling of animals.”

Bartie echoed Burton’s words in that the city will review the issue.

The mayor said he is not going to be mean to degrade a city employee who he knows is doing a good job over some terrible circumstances.

“I’m sorry it happened, totally sorry it happened, but let’s get to the bottom (of it),” he said. “And, no one has come forward and say that’s my kitten.”

A supervisor at the animal shelter was not available at approximately 3:45 p.m. Wednesday to allow a Port Arthur Newsmedia reporter to enter and view the facility.