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Viral video of kittens in poor condition at Port Arthur Animal Shelter prompts investigation, response from city leaders

Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie tells 12News it is not in the city's budget to have a veterinarian on staff at the animal shelter.

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — The City of Port Arthur is investigating allegations of abuse and neglect at the city's animal shelter after a video went viral on social media. 

The video taken by a rescue worker shared across Facebook shows two kittens in poor condition at the Port Arthur Animal Shelter. 

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above may be graphic to some viewers. 12News has blurred some of it.)

The push from Southeast Texas animal activists has prompted city leaders and the Port Arthur Police Department to conduct an investigation. 

Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie says sometimes animals are dropped off or found in terrible conditions. 

"The kittens that were delivered or brought to our shelter, when they received those kittens, those particular kittens, they were in very bad shape," Bartie said. "It's not like we got the kittens over there and watched them deteriorate because on non-care."

Gina Knighton, who shot the video, simply couldn't ignore those conditions. 

"I heard the screaming back there, so I just wanted to go see what it was. As soon as I saw the little kittens I just started videoing it, because I just wanted someone to help," Knighton said. 

That help came a little too late for one of the kittens, who later died after Knighton took them to the vet. 

The City of Port Arthur tells 12News, there just isn't a budget to have a veterinarian on staff at the shelter. 

"We don't have a staff veterinarian, we are only there to house animals and try to treat them with the best, humane treatment that you can actually give," Bartie said. "If the animals are ill or sick or need medical attention, from a budgetary standpoint, we are not budgeted to make sure that every sick animal we pick up can be taken to a veterinarian."

This is a solution that Veterinarian and Executive Director of Beaumont Pets Alive Kelley Kays says she can provide to the city.

"I would love to help the City of Port Arthur you know implement the policies and procedures to get the shelter healthy, and become a no-kill city, which means that 90 percent of the animals they take in would be able to be released to rescues," Kays said. 

Kays will be present at the Port Arthur City Council meeting on March 14, 2023 to formally officer her services to the shelter and help put it in the right direction. 

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