Former animal shelter worker files whistle-blower lawsuit
BY Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org October 11, 2012 7:42PM
Updated: November 13, 2012 6:36AM
A former Porter County Animal Shelter employee claims she was fired after blowing the whistle on neglect taking place at the shelter.
According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Hammond, Rebecca Carroll worked at the shelter from March 2010 to December 2011.
Carroll says in her suit that she first started reporting animal neglect and abuse to Porter County Commissioner John Evans, then-Director Kristina Montgomery and Porter County Councilman Dan Whitten in November 2011. She claims Evans and Montgomery did nothing about the issue, however.
She was then fired on Dec. 9, 2011, five days after the county had a public hearing on the status of the animal shelter.
“The plaintiff, Ms. Carroll, was fired in retaliation for exercising her right of free speech and for performing her civic and lawful duty to report animal abuse, pursuant to Porter County Code,” the suit says.
The animal shelter had already been under fire for some time, with the county firing former Director Judith Bonaventura in July 2011 after more than $5,000 went missing from the shelter. Montgomery was hired a month later to replace her but resigned at the end of November 2011, just after Carroll claims she alerted authorities about the neglect.
The shelter also had a parvovirus outbreak right around that same time.
Commissioner Evans spoke at a County Council meeting near the end of November about the state of the shelter, seeking possible solutions to its problems. Councilman Whitten acknowledged at the time that the shelter was in a “state of emergency.” The council and commissioners then held a special meeting in December where they approved a study to look at the needs of the shelter. The study, released earlier this year, said the county needed a new shelter about three times the size of the current one.
The county and the Porter County Board of Commissioners are all listed as defendants in the case. Carroll is asking for damages.