City denies allegations in lawsuit filed by former animal control employee

By George Slaughter, News Editor
Posted 12/17/21

The City of Katy has denied allegations of a former part-time Katy Animal Control Department worker who filed suit against the city, alleging the city violated the Texas Whistleblower Act.

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City denies allegations in lawsuit filed by former animal control employee

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The City of Katy has denied allegations of a former part-time Katy Animal Control Department worker who filed suit against the city, alleging the city violated the Texas Whistleblower Act.

The city denied Chelsea Gerber’s allegations in paperwork filed Dec. 12 in state district court. Art Pertile, city attorney, said the city would not comment on pending litigation.

Gerber’s lawsuit, filed last month, alleges that she witnessed and reported incidents of animal cruelty at the city’s animal control department during her tenure there. Such activities included improper euthanizing of animals, improper storage of the euthanasia drugs, reported her colleagues accordingly, and suffering retaliation for doing so. The lawsuit alleges further illegal euthanizing of animals, and animal dumping.

But rather than taking adequate measures to remedy the situation, the lawsuit alleges that city officials targeted her. They did this by trying to restrain her political speech, placing her on indefinite unpaid leave, and investigating her for unfounded allegations.

The lawsuit alleges the city told Gerber that while she was cleared and asked to return to work, she would be on probation for six months. The lawsuit alleges the city fired Gerber on Aug. 10 after just over two years on the job.

Meanwhile, the two animal control department colleagues against whom Gerber issued her allegations, David Brown and Spencer Antinoro, remain in their jobs. A city investigation, concluded in March, largely exonerated both men.

The lawsuit alleges the city violated the Texas Whistleblower Act and seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Animal control allegations have taken much of the Katy City Council’s time, particularly earlier in the year.

In April, the council created an animal control advisory board that worked with Police Chief Noe Diaz to suggest improvements in animal control practices. Council member recommended the board members. The board makes recommendations, not policy, so its meetings are not public. The department and shelter fall under the authority of the Katy Police Department.

In August, Diaz said the board made eight recommendations, six of which were adopted.

Adopted recommendations included reinstatement of a 72-hour stray hold, establishing a euthanasia policy, and purchasing a cat cage. Also adopted were requiring vaccinations for all intakes, modernizing the shelter, and beginning public outreach.

The other two recommendations, finding a rescue coordinator and establishing a Katy pet wellness pilot program, were referred to city staff.

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