Remember that one time we had good news about the Sonoma Co shelter in CA? Well hold on to that memory like a clip-on koala stuffy because it may be all you get.
Brigid Wasson, the shelter’s director for the past 11 months, was fired without reason by Sonoma Co last week, one month prior to her probationary period being fulfilled. She describes her termination meeting with the county:
My boss and her assistant came to my office at three in the afternoon, announced their decision, then watched me as I packed my personal belongings and was escorted off the property like a criminal. I was shocked and devastated.
Ms. Wasson, who says she moved to Sonoma Co for this job, is credited by the county with increased rescue placements, establishing social media marketing, improved record keeping and the robust return to owner program for lost pets I blogged about previously. The bottom line:
The shelter’s live release rate is now at 85 percent, up from 59 percent in 2008, according to the county.
In fact, Ms. Wasson told me she had calculated the year-to-date live release rate at 88% just days before being terminated. And that she was working on a number of other programs:
- The community cat program which had already reduced cat euthanasia by 75%
- The Sonoma County animal related ordinance revision which included bringing the ordinance up to state code (it currently isn’t), adding TNR/cat-friendly language, removing breed-specific language (restrictions to Pit Bull type dogs), and reducing pet limit restrictions
- An expanded coalition including shelters in our county as well as in neighboring counties.
A Sonoma Co ACO will temporarily run the shelter while the county seeks a permanent director. The ACO will be the third director in 14 months. It’s unknown what will happen to the changes and protocols instituted by Ms. Wasson at the shelter. But the county’s message seems clear enough: saving the lives of pets at the shelter is not the direction the county wants to go. What type of applicant will be attracted to the position knowing that the previous director increased lifesaving and was fired by the county? What will happen to the lost and homeless pets in Sonoma Co going forward?