An animal shelter director's troubled journey from Columbia to Louisiana

COLUMBIA, Mo 10/5/13 (Beat Byte) --  A woman selected to direct the Central Missouri Humane Society (CMHS) last year is embroiled in a whistle-blower lawsuit over allegations of animal cruelty, veterinary ethics violations, unlawful shelter practices, and wrongful termination. 

Kimberly Sherlaw, who accepted the CMHS directorship only to turn it down a week later, is at the center of litigation against the East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control and Rescue Center in Baton Rouge, La.  Former staff veterinarian Amy Cangelosi filed the suit in June, accusing Sherlaw of firing her for reporting violations of state law and the shelter's "No Kill" mission.

"Sherlaw pretty much tore apart our veterinary program," Cangelosi told a news service that covers veterinary issues. "She was abusive to the staff; she was abusive to animals." 

After director Alan Allert, DVM resigned the CMHS directorship for health reasons, the humane society's board of directors hired Sherlaw in 2012 following a nationwide search.   Sherlaw was praised for her support of No Kill policies, which seek to avoid euthanizing stray animals through adoption, spay and neuter programs, and pet owner education.   

Shortly after declining the Columbia-based job for "personal reasons," Sherlaw moved south to join the Companion Animal Alliance (CAA) as its director.   A nonprofit group that operates the East Baton Rouge shelter, CAA is also named in Cangelosi's lawsuit

Sherlaw "yelled at, chastised" and "screamed at" employees, including Cangelosi and another veterinarian, whenever they challenged her, the lawsuit alleges.   She also "dramatically increased and ordered the illegal euthanasia of animals at the shelter." 

Other allegations against Sherlaw's management include "beheading [deceased] animals in front of living animals, a violation of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Euthanasia Guidelines and Shelter Standards and Louisiana law."  In Louisiana, dead animals are beheaded before rabies testing for safety and hygiene purposes.   But the procedure must be done away from live animals. 

Sherlaw resigned the CAA directorship late last year after the charges surfaced in separate complaints to the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine.   She could not be located for comment, and has not commented in other news stories about the controversy.