Montgomery County settles with fired animal shelter director

Montgomery County has settled an employment dispute with the former director of the Animal Resource Center fired by commissioners in December.

The county will pay Mark Kumpf the equivalent of 17 weeks of salary and provide him a neutral reference letter. In return, Kumpf agrees to withdraw an appeal he filed with the state’s Personnel Board of Review and not file further claims nor seek any damages from the county related to his employment, according to the settlement agreement.

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“This is one piece that moves us in a different direction,” said Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert. “I think it’s clearly in line with where we wanted to go with new leadership and as far as moving the ARC in a different direction.”

The firing came during a year the shelter weathered increased criticism from animal rights advocates over high euthanasia rates and received a blistering report from independent consultants, Team Shelter USA.

Montgomery County commissioners approved the settlement this week, which also paid Kumpf’s attorneys $1,000.

Kumpf’s annual salary in 2018 was $86,611.20, according to the county.

MORE: Critics target Montgomery Co. Animal Resource Center for animal deaths

Under Kumpf, who became shelter director in 2006, organizational dysfunction created “an avalanche of negative consequences” for animals at the shelter, according to the Team Shelter report which led to his dismissal.

“We knew after that report we needed new leadership,” Colbert said. “These pieces are the result of that.”

Kumpf did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.

MORE: County animal center report: 'Avalanche of negative consequences'

In addition to documenting a low live-release rate of animals, the Team Shelter report also indicated employees improperly stored vaccines, reused syringes and likely ran afoul of state laws and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency by not keeping track of a euthanasia solution called Fatal Plus.

Kumpf is also a defendant – and still being defended by the county — in an ongoing civil lawsuit in the 2014 dog mauling death of Klonda Richey, who had alerted the ARC about a dozen times to a problem dog next door. Documents filed in the case allege the destruction of potential key evidence, including truck logs from 2013 and 2014 — during the period just preceding Richey’s death.

MORE: Dog-mauling lawsuit: County accused of destroying records

The county has approved spending at least $240,000 since 2015 on outside attorneys to defend the county and Kumpf, most recently $75,000 in January.

Kumpf appealed his dismissal with the state’s personnel board in January, prompting commissioners last month to approve $40,000 for other attorneys to represent the county in the employment case.

MORE: County legal bills involving fired Animal Resource Center director hit $280,000

According to the settlement agreement, Kumpf must promptly return all county records in his possession without copying them as well as any other property belonging to the county such as electronic devices and keys. The county agrees to let Kumpf return to the Animal Resource Center to remove personal property in the county’s possession.

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