Animal shelter manager under internal investigation

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Lt. Mary Lou Respess, the manager of Gwinnett County's animal shelter, is under internal investigation and has been reassigned.

Respess has been the leader of the shelter, run by Gwinnett County police, for more than four years after being appointed to replace Sammy Jeanes in 2007. She's now been temporarily reassigned during an internal affairs investigation by the police department.

The specific nature of the investigation is unclear.

"It's not an issue of care of the animals," police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith told the Daily Post. "It's strictly a personnel issue."

Another police spokesman said the department could not comment on the open investigation "per merit board rules and regulations."

An open records request filed March 7 by the Daily Post was temporarily denied. Police said that "material will not be available for public disclosure until 10 days after the investigation has been concluded."

As of Wednesday, the investigation was still open, Smith said.

Several members of the county's animal advisory council and recently formed animal task force said they did not know the reason behind the investigation. Kenneth Poe from the county's human resources department said there were no documents pertaining to the case in Respess' personnel file.

County spokesman Joe Sorenson was also unfamiliar with the investigation.

"Major Dan Bruno is now over the day-to-day operations of the (animal shelter)," he said. "I am not aware of any other details."

Bruno has been a major assigned to the police department's support operations division -- which oversees records, communications, property and evidence, facilities and animal welfare -- for more than a year, spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said.

Prior to that, he was an assistant chief until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation began its 2010 investigation into a large quantity of missing drugs at the department. While GBI agents were never able to determine what exactly happened to the drugs, they did find the department had exercised poor supervision of the narcotics unit.

Bruno took a voluntary demotion, officials said at the time. Another officer, Maj. Bart Hulsey, retired before his own demotion took effect.


dazzle 3 years ago

She might not have been the best or most experienced shelter manager but things have gone from bad to worse now that more inexperienced police have taken over management, They are killing dogs that trainers have put in countless hours training and did not even notify them or give them a reason. Have told volunteers there will be no more special adoption events and pretty much guaranteeing that many dogs that should be saved will be killled. Police departments have no business running an animal shelter, they are much better at catching criminals and keeping the citizens safe. This shelter needs to be taken from the police and become a stand alone department reporting directly to the County management where they can hire a real shelter management with experience as well as a love for animals and a goal of saving lives.


10DogMom 3 years ago

Why doesn't Sheriff Conway take over this? At least he cares about animals and rescues them himself. Ever since Sammy Jeans left, this place has become a disgusting pit.

Mike Beaudreau made a big deal about making it better. Really? now a man that stole drugs when in his former position has been given the job?

I'm so embarrassed to be a Gwinnett citizen. I never tell anyone where I live anymore.

You will reap what you sow however. Karma applies moreso to animals then people.


shorty219 2 years, 12 months ago

because of course it is harder to feed and care for an animal than catch criminals (Sarcasm)


Frodomom 2 years, 12 months ago

The officers running the shelter now do not care to put in the time or effort for the animals. It is truly as sad day in Gwinnett, this shelter was hosting events for the public, movies in the summer, special adoptions, education by trainers, some of the dogs were going to school to learn to be better pets when adopted. I think we had the lowest kill rate in GA but not any more! Some did not think Lt. Respess was doing a good job, well if you were only given half the staff to run a full shelter the size of Gwinnett's, you would find it hard also. But it seemed she just put in more hours herself, after 28 years serving the citizens of Gwinnett I think she deserves a little loyalty and respect from the force she has dedicated her life too. I would love to see the shelter run by an agency other than Police and yes Butch Conway could do a much better job. Maybe Lt. Respess should resign and go to work with the agency that takes over the shelter. I think she was doing to best job possible.


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