Monday, March 19, 2018

St. Louis County Fires Animal Shelter Director Beth Vesco-Mock

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 8:16 AM

click to enlarge Beth Vesco-Mock. - SCREENSHOT VIA YOUTUBE
  • SCREENSHOT VIA YOUTUBE
  • Beth Vesco-Mock.
Two months ago, St. Louis County's recently hired director of Animal Control & Care, Beth Vesco-Mock, was getting credit for leading the department's "culture shift" and lowering euthanasia rates. Now she's out of a job.

As first revealed by Riverfront Times, Vesco-Mock had left her previous shelter job in New Mexico under a cloud of controversy — including accusations that she'd made racist remarks to staff. And despite her short tenure, a remarkably similar cloud gathered around Vesco-Mock's leadership in St. Louis County.

On Friday, citing "a number of matters relating to the current management of the shelter [that] were recently brought to my attention" County Executive Steve Stenger fired her.

"Because we cannot tolerate inappropriate conduct or activities, we immediately began an investigation," Stenger said in a statement. "As a result of our findings, we have initiated termination proceedings for the shelter director and will look for new leadership for this important position."

The firing comes after weeks of complaints about conditions at the county's pet adoption center. More than a dozen shelter volunteers have quit since Vesco-Mock was hired in September 2017, and their outrage eventually made its way to County Council meetings.

Critics of Vesco-Mock pointed out that she is not a licensed veterinarian, and they described her as a bully who had a tendency to make what they describe as offhanded racist comments. During a February council meeting, Vesco-Mock was asked by a council member whether she had called black people "gang bangers" or stated that she preferred "crackers."

At that point, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Vesco-Mock's lawyer whispered into her ear, and she refused to answer.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com

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