UPDATE: Montgomery County Animal Shelter euthanized 78 animals outside established procedures, sheriff's office officials say

Montgomery County Animal Shelter is located on Hwy. 242 and has a variety of adoptable dogs and cats.

Montgomery County Animal Shelter is located on Hwy. 242 and has a variety of adoptable dogs and cats.

Updated Sept. 21 at 1:15 p.m.

The Montgomery County's Sheriff's Office released an official statement Thursday following the announcement that two employees of the Montgomery County Animal Shelter were placed on paid leave earlier this week.

According to the statement, 84 animals—60 cats and 24 dogs—were found at the home of a Conroe resident who could not efficiently care for them. An animal rescue group contacted the shelter, and the animals were voluntarily surrendered by the owner Aug. 17. Six dogs were deemed healthy, taken to the shelter and placed for adoption.

Jordan Gentry, chief veterinarian with the shelter, reported to MCSO that the remaining 78 animals were euthanized outside of established procedures after their arrival at the shelter Aug. 20. According to the MCSO statement, Gentry said he spoke with Director Aaron Johnson following the euthanasia and reported the incident to MCSO on Aug. 24, at which time the investigation began.

According to MCSO, the sheriff's office had not been contacted about the animals before Aug. 24. Sheriff's office officials have not stated which procedures were not followed or how they were violated.

Officials with the sheriff's office said the investigation is still ongoing, and detectives are investigating the circumstances leading up to the euthanizations. MCSO officials have not yet responded to requests for comment for additional information.

Posted Sept. 19 at 5:40 p.m.

Officials with Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack’s office confirmed Wednesday afternoon two employees with the Montgomery County Animal Shelter have been placed on paid leave following the launch of a criminal investigation from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office.

“Due to the serious nature of credible information, two employees have been suspended, with pay, pending the outcome of an internal (criminal) investigation,” Noack said in a statement.

Shelter Director Aaron Johnson, who has worked at the shelter since May 2017, is one of the employees on paid leave. Johnson confirmed the leave via Facebook Messenger today, but said he was unable to comment any further on the matter.

The identity of the second employee could not be independently confirmed by Community Impact Newspaper.

“As a matter of employment practices, we do not comment on internal and/or criminal investigations involving employees,” Noack said.

Precinct 3 officials said Noack currently has oversight of the shelter.

Allegations against the employees reportedly involve the euthanasia of several animals brought to the shelter from an owner identified as an animal hoarder, said Laura McConnell, president of the Lone Star Animal Welfare League, an animal rescue group based in The Woodlands.

McConnell said the nonprofit has worked with the shelter in the past on spaying and neutering programs and as a rescue group. McConnell said the organization did not wish to provide an opinion on the investigation until all the facts are public.

“It would be disturbing (if true) that the multitude of animals brought in from a hoarding case were not seen by the vet before euthanization [sic] or if a plea was not put out to rescues,” McConnell said in an email.

Since 2016, MCAS has had four directors, with Johnson accepting the role in May 2017. Prior to that, MCAS was operated by a private management company, Care Corporation, until Montgomery County terminated its contract and took over operations in August 2015 to improve conditions at the shelter, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.

From July 11 until late August, MCAS waived adoption fees to relieve overcrowding, as the shelter had consistently housed 900 animals for the first half of July, despite only having 545 kennels. In 2017, the shelter had reportedly achieved "no-kill" status, meaning the shelter had a live release rate of more than 90 percent.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


Companion Animal Hospital is now offering curbside service for clients and their pets. (Courtesy Companion Animal Hospital)
ROUNDUP: Coronavirus coverage in North Houston continues

Read some of the latest coronavirus updates from communities in the North Houston area.

Installing orange meshes across local buses is one of the measures METRO is taking to ensure appropriate social distancing between bus operators and passengers. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)
METRO heightens preventative COVID-19 measures

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County has begun taking more aggressive measures to halt the spread of COVID-19, the transit authority announced April 7.

Figure Four Partners, a subsidiary of Perry Homes, has offered to let government partners purchase Woodridge Village, a 268-acre development that Kingwood residents allege caused flooding in their communities, such as Elm Grove Village. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper) (Designed by Ethan Pham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County commissioners vote to continue negotiations, partner with entities on Woodridge Village property acquisition

During executive session at a Harris County Commissioners Court meeting April 7, commissioners deliberated purchasing a 268-acre property in south Montgomery County that officials want to turn into a detention area.

Lone Star College System has moved about 97% of its more than 9,000 class sessions online since mid-March as facilities have closed during the coronavirus pandemic, LSCS Chancellor Stephen Head said. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pandemic changes move Lone Star College System to enhance online, workforce education long-term

Lone Star College System has moved about 97% of its more than 9,000 class sessions online since mid-March as facilities have closed during the coronavirus pandemic, LSCS Chancellor Stephen Head said. He foresees LSCS continuing to enhance its online options even after stay-at-home orders are lifted.

With staffing taking up the vast majority of public safety budgets, staffing may have to be one area to cut costs, officials said. (Anya Gallant/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston police, fire departments propose slight budget increases for 2020-21 amid coronavirus downturn

However, both police and fire chiefs acknowlegded personnel cuts may be necessary.

Houston fiscal year 2020-21 budget workshops run from April 7 through May 20. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County launches Small Business Economic Assistance Loan Program, begins process of creating COVID-19 relief fund

In partnership with the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Harris County launched a $10 million Small Business Economic Assistance Loan Program on April 7 to help small businesses on the road to recovery.

New Caney ISD announced April 6 that it would be canceling proms for all high schools. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
New Caney ISD cancels prom for all high schools

New Caney ISD officials announced via the district website April 6 that due to the coronavirus outbreak, the district is canceling prom for all high schools.

Live music acts such as Houston-based band The Tontons have been wiped off venue schedules amid the coronavirus outbreak. Local musicians are now eligible to apply for monetary support from the newly formed Houston Music Foundation. (Courtesy Mark C. Austin)
Newly formed Houston Music Foundation offers relief to out-of-work musicians

The fund hopes to start cutting checks as early as this week.

Houston fiscal year 2020-21 budget workshops run from April 7 through May 20. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Houston city budget workshops kick off amid economic turmoil

Houston city department heads are presenting budget proposals to City Council members throughout April and May.

Sheldon State Park, along with other state parks across Texas, will temporarily close at 5 p.m. April 7. (Courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)
State parks, historic sites in the Greater Houston area close under Gov. Greg Abbott's order

Gov. Greg Abbott announced via a news release April 7 that state parks and historic sites should be temporarily closed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Abbott's order closes all state parks and historical sites effective 5 p.m. April 7. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Abbott closes state parks, historical sites due to coronavirus concerns

Abbott said the closure is to help prevent large gatherings and strengthen social distancing.

Nancy Garner works on face masks at her sewing machine. (Courtesy Nancy Garner)
See what these North Houston-area businesses are doing to stop the coronavirus

From face masks to hand sanitizer, North Houston residents and companies are getting creative to help stop the spread of coronavirus.