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Lyons Mayor Blocks SOAPS Testimony
Wednesday, 06 March 2013

March 6--  The mayor of Lyons refused to hear a presentation from the Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society Tuesday night regarding allegations of animal cruelty at the city's animal shelter.

Mayor Willis NeSmith said publicity before the meeting prompted his decision.

"There's been no problems down there (the animal shelter), but y'all seem to have problems with us and I'm sorry about that.  As far as your complaints, we're not going to listen to them tonight.  I feel like with what y'all have put on the Internet and on the radio, y"all might as well be saying we've been lying.  I don't appreciate it and I'm not going to listen to anything you have to say tonight," the mayor said.

Therisa Ingley, SOAPS CEO, attempted to ask the mayor a question but was dismissed after he asked her if she lived in Lyons.  When she said no, he said he and the council represent the people of Lyons and don't have to take her question.

According to SOAPS, the organization whose complaints NeSmith refused to hear spent at least $150,000 on animals rescued from the Lyons shelter last year.

Afterward, the mayor said in an interview, "If they want to work with us, I welcome them with open arms, but I want them to work with us and not come with criticism and accusations all the time.  I'm willing to work with any of them," he said.

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker announced at the meeting he has been put in charge of the animal shelter and met with SOAPS representatives outside of city hall after the meeting.

"I'm not going to dwell on what's happened in the past.  They've given me a task and I'm going to take that task and do the best job I can to satisfy everybody in this community.  I promise you that I'll bust my tail to see that it's done properly," the chief said.

SOAPS leader Therisa Ingley welcomed the chief's appointment and said it was long overdue.  She claims dogs and cats overseen by the Public Works Department were starved and some died as a result.

Image 

SOAPS volunteers who clean Lyons shelter pens each weekend named this dog "Brad Pitt."  This was his condition at the shelter when he arrived last November.

ImageThis is "Brad Pitt" when SOAPS volunteers took him to a local animal clinic in February.   This is one of the cases SOAPS was not allowed to show the Lyons city council. 

They have others including five kittens locked in a metal building for a week with no food or water.  SOAPS arrived to find one of the kittens had died and the others had resorted to eating it. 

"There were animals that had been left to starve.  We have documentation of that.  We have animals that had been left so hungry they were fighting for food and were severely injured and died as a result of those injuries.  And now we have officials who have called us liars and don't even want to see the pictures or hear what we have to say," she said.

"I've been very pleased with what I heard the Chief say tonight and I feel like SOAPS can have a working relationship with him because our primary goal is to do what's best for the animals down there," she said.

Chief Walker says Patrolman Joseph Sikes has been given the duty of animal control officer and will devote most of his time to overseeing shelter operations.

 
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