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Update: Justin Scally says he’s leaving Louisville Metro Animal Services in better shape than when he took over the struggling agency in August 2011.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Scally pointed to improvements at the city department’s Manslick Road shelter, increases in the city’s live release rate, decreases in the euthanasia rate and upgrades and standardization to the department’s procedures as signs of success.

Scally is resigning as director of Louisville Metro Animal Services on May 24. He’ll lead the American Humane Association’s Red Star Emergency Services program, which assists animals in disasters.

He says the move allows him to take a role with a national organization and also gets him closer to family in Maryland.

“I received an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down,” he says.

Louisville Metro Animal Services had struggled under scandal in the years before Scally’s arrival in 2011 and hadn’t had permanent director beforehand since 2009.
“When I came over about two years ago, there was a lot of disjointedment between employees, between divisions,” Scally says.”I think that with time, with leadership, with working together, I think we were able to stem the tide to correct those things. And I truly believe that our operations and our successes are a testament to those changes.” 

He adds that the department should continue on that track.

Assistant Director Donald Robinson will oversee staff and other administrative duties once Scally leaves and Margaret Brosko will oversee the Animal House facility on Newburg Road, plus adoption events, plus adoption events, outreach and fostering. Mayor Greg Fischer has begun a search for a full-time director.

“We’ve had some changes such as the implementation of the community cap program, which has been instrument in increasing the live release rate of our animals,” Scally says. “And what I think we need to continue to do is continue our community partnerships. We need to continue the partnerships on life-saving, on helping animals from abuse and neglect and continue to educate the public and keep them involved in the process as we move forward.”

Scally’s most current annual salary was $91,800.80.

Earlier: Louisville Metro Animal Services Director Justin Scally is resigning for a post with the American Humane Association, prompting a search for a successor.

Scally was chosen to lead the struggling city department in July 2011 after working for the United States Humane Society.

He’s leaving Louisville to become national director of American Humane Association’s Red Star Emergency Services. He’ll be based in Washington, D.C.

He replaced Gilles Meloche as the department’s full-time director, with a couple of interim leaders in between. Louisville Metro Animal Services was a target of criticism before and after Meloche left in 2009.

In a statement, Mayor Greg Fischer said the administration will begin looking for a “a new leader who can continue that transformation to make Louisville’s animal service department a national model.”

“Justin and his team have done an incredible job on starting the transformation at animal services — staff morale is up, improved relationships have developed within the animal welfare community, kennel wellness has drastically improved, live release rates have increased, euthanasia rates are decreasing and facility improvements have been made,” Fischer said.

Lori Redman, president of the Kentucky Humane Society, said the in the statement that Scally worked to build relationships among animal welfare advocates.

“Justin’s willingness to work together along with his tireless efforts on behalf of the animals is infectious,” Redman said. “Together, we have created a solid foundation and a vision for improving the lives of homeless animals throughout our community.  The work he has done in his short time will have a lasting impact.”