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Jefferson Parish investigating workplace complaints at parish animal shelter

Investigation comes up at JP Council meeting

JEFFERSON PARISH, La. — Jefferson Parish officials are looking into allegations of workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation by management at the parish animal shelter.

The allegations made by an animal control officer and the former west bank shelter manager also point to possible animal abuse.

Wednesday, the JP Council allowed about two dozen volunteers, animal rescuers and former shelter workers to make public comments about the investigation.

Many of them spoke in support of shelter director Robin Bealieu and Chief Animal Control Officer Melinda "Mimi" Olson.

Beaulieu and Olson are reportedly on administrative leave while the parish investigates the allegations. 

"Under Robin's leadership, the shelter has become a beacon of hope to so many discarded, abused and neglected pets in Jefferson Parish and beyond," Zeus's Place owner Michelle Ingram said.

"Their innovated programs have produced a tremendous decrease in the amount of euthanasia in Jefferson Parish," Yogi Johnson from Pet Adoption Services said.

RELATED: Allegations of discrimination, harassment at JP animal shelter under investigation

Others voiced deep concern about the complaints and the two officials at the center of the investigation.

"If in fact there are truths to these allegations that animals were abused, people should be held accountable," former shelter volunteer Lisa Brown said. "This should not be going on."

Former shelter employee Edward Haywood who was fired from his job in 2016, made similar workplace claims about the management culture at the shelter.

"There were sexual harassment things going on there," Haywood said. "I personally was one to talk about those. A lot of employees were afraid to speak up."

JP Human Resources Director Peggy Barton would only say the investigation is ongoing.

"It's a long process," Barton said. "There are a lot of employees. We're good at what we do and are educated and trained to do these investigations."

Last week we reached out to Robin Beaulieu for comment.

She said she's still a parish employees and can't comment on personnel matters.