Animal welfare director with controversial history takes OKC job

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City is in the middle of an animal overpopulation crisis.

As many as 700 are cared for daily at the only city-run shelter.

Julie Bank is the new animal welfare superintendent.

"I hope that we are a caring loving organization here who's going to look at every single animal and do everything we can in our power for that animal," Bank said.

But some in the rescue community wonder why Bank was chosen for the job when the goal is to make Oklahoma City a no-kill shelter.

She was a lightning rod for complaints as the head of the New York City animal shelter, accused of euthanizing more animals than anyone before her.

"There were some kind of rumors and rumblings going on about possibly the history of Julie, so I looked into that a little bit. The best I can do is what I could find online," rescue volunteer Jessica Justus said.

Bank was accused of firing employees who used social media to try and save dogs.

Now some local animal welfare advocates are voicing their concerns about Bank on Facebook.

One Facebook post reads: "The person doing background checks must have been absent that day."

"I'm not afraid to hear something bad, I understand why it's probably being said, what I want to know is how we can work together to fix it," Bank said.

With a $4 million budget, Bank may face the same tight money issues she did in New York, and some animals like an emaciated pit bull need more care.  Bella Foundation volunteers took her home today.

"We work with Oklahoma City the most, they have the highest intake of animals, so we try to do most of our pulling from this facility," Traci Neasbitt said.

Bank says it's important to her to continue those relationships with local rescues.

The shelter needs volunteers.

People can help at a community cleanup day February 21 at the shelter.


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