CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - The Director of Caddo Animal Services and Mosquito Control has been placed on paid leave after a post on the parish department's Facebook page Tuesday stirred controversy and complaints.
Caddo Parish Administrator Woody Wilson confirms Everett Harris is on paid leave pending an independent investigation into whether parish policy was violated when Harris posted a photo of a newspaper clipping of dogs up for adoption with Nazi and Jewish symbols scrawled on them.
The image was posted just before 11 a.m. with the caption, "How to deal with the difficulties of life."
The post was taken down after it sparked confusion and outrage, even after Harris identified himself as the person responsible for the posting and explained that it was hate mail that had been sent to him.
Harris then posted an apology on the Facebook page later in the afternoon, explaining that it "was accidentally uploaded and posted when I was updating ASMC's Facebook page with adoption photos."
Wilson, who is his supervisor, issued a statement defending the post as accidental.
The incident has become the latest in what some in the animal rescue community in particular say is an ongoing issue with Harris' management of the Caddo ASMC and with his interactions with their volunteers as well as the public.
Previous efforts, including petitions, to force Harris to resign or for Wilson to fire him, have failed.
At least one Caddo Parish commissioner put it bluntly Tuesday, wondering aloud whether this latest incident is enough to take efforts to remove Harris to the next level.
"The only recourse we have is to replace Woody Wilson in his position, to get rid of Everett, because apparently Dr. Wilson and Director Harris are so tight, they are inseparable," said District 4 Commissioner Matthew Linn." If Everett is going to go down, I guess Dr. Wilson is going to let him pull him down with him."
There is no word on exactly what happened between the time Wilson defended the post as an accident on Tuesday afternoon and when he confirmed the investigation into possible violation of parish policy on Wednesday afternoon, but Wilson did say it is being conducted by an independent third party.
"We wanted a non-biased approach on this one," he said, explaining that the third party is a human resources consulting firm outside the area.
The decision to hire the outside firm for the investigation was based on a recommendation from the parish legal team, according to Wilson, who says he wanted to "stay out of it," because he doesn't want people to think the process is invalid.
"It was an administrative action. Based on apparent gravity of this situation, we thought it would be the best course of action to take."
The findings of the investigation will be reviewed in a pre-disciplinary conference, during which Harris will be able to have an attorney present.
While the conference will be closed to the public, Wilson says the resulting decisions or actions taken will be released.
Wilson says the Caddo Parish Commission has been notified of the investigation.