CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Five months ago, angry citizens were calling for the resignation of then Caddo Parish Animal Services Director Everett Harris.
Harris did eventually resign amid controversy. Now, the hunt continues for a new director. In the meantime, the interim director Chuck Wilson says relationships with local animal rescues are strong since he took over in September of 2015. Bark-La-Tex animal rescue's Samantha Schuster agrees.
"It's pretty much like an open door policy with him," said Schuster. "We can go in and we can pull dogs that we want. We are able to help more in a way that the community really needs."
Schuster said that was not the case with former director Everett Harris.
"In the past, it was very stressful. And we would go in and we would always feel like we were walking on eggshells. We couldn't really do anything. We couldn't really help the way we wanted to help," said Schuster.
Wilson said the animal shelter has been seeing improvements for the past few years, even while under Harris.
Wilson said in 2015, the shelter saw a decrease in the animals they've had to euthanize.
"It's very important to get that number down cause that's how many lives we can save. The lower that number is the more lives coming into here that we have saved," said Wilson.
Wilson credits work that has been done to get more animals spayed and neutered. He said the Robinson Rescue has spayed and neutered animals and the Caddo Parish animal shelter also started.
The shelter has also seen a drop in the number of animals they've taken in by more than 1,000 animals for 3 years straight. Something he also credits to groups that have spayed and neutered.
Wilson said, "Spay and Neutering animals means less animals are running loose, which leads to less being picked up, which directly impacts our euthanasia numbers."
Wilson says his experience with the department has helped him be successful in the role. He started as an animal control officer and was assistant director under Harris.
"You have to know how to do that part too, as far as the enforcement side not only the shelter," said Wilson. "So knowing all aspects of the organization helps me make decisions and helps me run the place appropriately."
Caddo Parish Administrator and CEO Dr. Woodrow Wilson said a nationwide search for a permanent director will begin in February.
"What I've been doing is taking this time and thinking about the type of person that I would want in that position and what the need would be in the new director," explained Wilson.
Dr. Wilson says he plans on including representatives from local animal rescues in the committee to help in the search.
Interim director Chuck Wilson has the option to apply to be the permanent directors, but as of now, he has not put his name in for consideration.