Arbitrator Deems Vet Firing Unjust

By: Ryan Smith Email
By: Ryan Smith Email

Topeka, KAN. (WIBW)—An arbitrator has ruled the Topeka Zoo's former veterinarian should be re-hired. Shirley Llizo believes it's only a matter of time before assuming her previous position.

"It’s very easy when an animal dies, the vet is an easy target, and it’s not just me alone,” said Llizo.

Llizo joined the zoo's staff as the sole vet in 2006. She was fired last October after a USDA annual report indicated poor animal care taking. Her dismissal cited three grievances, including storing expired medicine, not producing complete and timely medical records to the USDA and allegedly acting dishonestly and unprofessionally toward a USDA inspector. All were deemed unjust by Kansas City-based arbitrator Mark Berger.

After three days of hearings and reviewing more than 200 exhibits, Berger ordered
Llizo to be reinstated and compensated for missed time.

Llizo’s attorney said he can't imagine the city not hiring her back and wouldn't comment on their plans if the city refused.

Topeka Zoo Director Brenden Wiley said he couldn't comment on the arbitration.

“More and more people want to see the success of this zoo grow and we are growing toward that with the staff we have here,” he said.

After asking if she felt like she was thrown under the bus, Llizo stated “under the tank, yes.”

It’s still unknown when city officials will bring Llizo back on board.


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