Charlotte-Mecklenburg AC & C Volunteer of the Year Nominee

I was recently contacted by Ms. Beatriz “Betty” Gale, a current volunteer at the CMPD-ACC shelter in NC.  Ms. Gale said she has volunteered there for about 2 and 1/2 years and has been nominated for Volunteer of the Year in addition to receiving other accolades from the shelter.  I tried to reach shelter director Mark Balestra regarding Ms. Gale’s story but have not heard back.  If I do, I will add a new post to reflect his comments.

Ms. Gale said she decided to come forward at this time because she feels it’s no longer possible to save any more animals from the shelter.  She says she has fostered a number of challenging pets who might otherwise be considered unadoptable but the shelter is now refusing to allow her to foster additional pets.  Further, Ms. Gale states she’s had many conversations with shelter management in an effort to effect change but “they have dismissed me”.  To which she quickly added, “But I can not dismiss the things I’ve seen”.

What follows is a summary of Ms. Gale’s allegations, sans any opinion or conjecture on my part.  I leave it up to you to decide if you find her credible.  Fair warning that some details may be too disturbing for sensitive readers.

CMPD-ACC kills healthy pets for reasons of “space” while cages sit empty.  As a volunteer, Ms. Gale is accustomed to seeing cage cards of friendly pets whom she considers adoptable with an “E” written on the reverse side of the card.  The “E” stands for Euthanasia.  When she has asked why healthy, friendly pets are being killed, she has been given various reasons.  Sometimes it’s something as simple as the color of the pet’s fur.  If there are more than one or two adoptable black and white cats, any additional black and white cats will be killed because the shelter considers them “unadoptable”.  When Ms. Gale has asked if she could foster the “extra” black and white cats until such time as the shelter is willing to put them on the adoption floor, the shelter has refused.  “They’re inventory that can’t be moved” is what she’s been told.  “The public comes here expecting to see certain types of animals and this [so-called unadoptable pet] is not what the public wants to see” is another explanation she’s received.

In the past, Ms. Gale has been allowed to foster pets for the shelter and in some cases, has been asked to keep them for additional time.  She has always agreed to do so.  But now that’s changed and the shelter is not interested in having her foster pets.  Part of the reason for that is staff members don’t like the fact that her friend list on Facebook includes individuals who have spoken out against the shelter.  But mainly, the shelter leadership simply does not care about saving pets.  When someone speaks up about trying to save animals off the kill list, management will fire back, “Just do your damn job!” to discourage life saving efforts and encourage a focus on killing.

Ms. Gale has worked quite a bit in the shelter’s hold area where new arrivals are kept until they have been processed for intake.  The area is designed to be a brief holding location until pets can be weighed, vaccinated and receive initial health and temperament checks.  Ms. Gale wants to keep the amount of time intakes are housed in the hold area to a minimum because the longer the animals spend there, the increased likelihood that they will become frightened (and labeled as “unadoptable”) or sick.  The stainless steel cages house dogs, cats, raccoons, and possums – all within view of one another – so the potential for pets to become stressed is high and stressed animals can become ill or aggressive much more readily.  But while Ms. Gale has moved quickly to work through the list of animals in need of processing on any given day, the staff involved has told her to “slow down”.  The list often includes about a dozen animals which would be easy to get through and get moved out of the hold area within the day but because the staff are unduly slow in performing their duties, many animals are held over for much longer than necessary.

The temperament testing is performed without the dogs being walked prior – except for a brief potty break.  Ms. Gale has volunteered to walk the dogs before they are tested so that they can release some anxiety and perform more realistically on the test but the shelter has refused.

The shelter has a small kill room without sunlight and with questionable ventilation.  The door is left open and Ms. Gale has witnessed the killing of healthy, friendly pets through the open door on numerous occasions.  The pets on the kill list are not given a final walk so they may relieve themselves but instead are lined up and able to view what is taking place on the kill table.  Next to the kill table is a wheelbarrow and dead pets are tossed from the table into the wheelbarrow.  The dead pets are piled in the wheelbarrow until it’s full.  So the pet currently on the kill table may have watched other pets die before him and is likely looking at the wheelbarrow containing their lifeless bodies while he’s being killed.

Ms. Gale says there are two people on staff at the shelter who work hard to try and save pets by getting them out to rescues and such.  She holds them in high regard.

Added, 11-28-10:  Photos from the Lost Pets section of the CMPD-ACC website may corroborate some of Ms. Gale’s allegations about the holding ward and the presence of a wheelbarrow at the shelter.

I’m assuming the Lost Pets photos are taken in the holding ward.  If not, I’m sure someone will correct the assumption.  The bank of cages visible behind this ferret would allow different species of animals to view one another, just as Ms. Gale described.  (Unless this is a ferrets-only holding ward?)

In the background of the photo of this cat is what appears to be a wheelbarrow with a cloth loosely draped atop it.

The photo of this little dog on a choke pole also shows what appears to be part of a cloth draped wheelbarrow in the background.  Another dog on a choke pole with a cloth draped wheelbarrow visible in the shot.

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52 Comments

  1. Thank you to Ms. Gale and volunteers across the country who have to walk a fine line between helping animals and being kicked out of shelters by management.

    Looking at those certificates, it appears animal control is operated by the police department, which may explain why the so-called investigation has been going on since August with no results, based on what I have read.

    Reply
  2. I am thankful to and for Ms. Gale. Her story is hauntingly familiar, and I really appreciate her willingness to share it. (Many don’t…many live on that narrow and uncomfortable line between betrayal of the helpless animals and being kicked out by the powers that be.)
    How do we fix this?
    Same old story…it’s the animals that suffer and the people who care who end up hurt the most.

    Reply
  3. Jeanne

     /  November 26, 2010

    Broken shelter systems like this one seem to be recursive–like fractals. No matter whether you take a broad view or a close-up look at a single aspect of the shelter, it’s ALL broken, utterly borked. Maybe the 2 shelter employees that this volunteer admires ought to stick around, but the rest of them need to go, and that goes double for the director and the director’s boss, who may not even been in the shelter’s immediate hierarchy. I don’t know of any other way to root out endemic bullying, abusiveness, laziness, and corruption. Can a shelter be changed by outrage and complaints from outsiders? I don’t have the answer to that–but can only hope the county residents will come forward and demand change.

    Reply
  4. Why isn’t this hero’s letter in the newspaper and on TV news? Caring citizens need to demand change.

    This will remain a constant until a city official does more than give lip service to issues like government transparency, humane treatment, honoring taxpayers’ wishes, etc.

    Charlotte, it’s time to hold your lazy officials accountable for these offenses.

    Reply
  5. Karen Johnson Finley

     /  November 26, 2010

    In rebuttal to Ms. Gale’s comments, here’s the REAL story from someone else who volunteers/works at the shelter. Yes, a dog or cat might be euthanized even if there is an empty cage if it is deemed unadoptable. Yes, dogs/cats may linger in the holding ward because we are actually trying to GIVE THEM A CHANCE to settle down. Obviously, if we were going to euthanize them, it would be done immediately, so obviously nobody should complain if they are still alive! If she is so worried about the cats, she should call one of the cat rescue groups — oh wait, one of them is too busy bad mouthing the shelter to bother saving cats! It is a down right LIE about not pulling off the kill list. I can say 100% that the list is reviewed by the staff Vet daily, then by the vet tech performing euthanasias. Betty processing animals in a hurry?? SHE IS NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO PROCESS THE ANIMALS. Another lie. The shelter has not temperment tested dogs for months. Another lie. The “Kill Room”. The dogs are on leash in a waiting area – separate from the small room where they are euthanized by injection. The wheelbarrow is in yet another separate small room. Get the facts straight, Betty. And here’s something else: The shelter will give anyone a tour and yes, we will let you watch the euthanasia process, which you will find is much more peaceful than the gas chambers used in all the other shelters nearby!
    Volunteers like this will be responsible for the demise of ALL volunteers. What a shame.
    Oh yea, and one of your prior posts came from someone who had her animals taken to the humane society due to being 1/2 starved!!!!!!!!!! That’s a fact.

    Reply
    • Jeanne

       /  November 26, 2010

      How drearily predictable. Anyone who points out problems at the shelter is “lying” and rescues are too busy pointing the finger at the shelter to bother rescuing, and the dogs waiting to be killed are actually in a “separate” waiting area, blah blah blah. Best of all, the shelter is far superior to other shelters in the area because they don’t gas the animals. Death there is “peaceful.” I especially enjoyed the way the poster ended her comments with a not-so-subtle threat when she wrote,”Volunteers like this will be responsible for the demise of ALL volunteers.”
      Followed by that sarcastic, “What a shame.” Fire the lot of them–wrap up the investigation and hand out the pink slips so this shelter can move forward. The animals deserve far better than what’s being dished out by the current regime and its apologists.

      Reply
    • Animal Rescuer

       /  November 27, 2010

      To Karen Johnson Finley:

      Your response is so typical that it’s not even believable. A little to heavy in the anger department. Do you take that anger out on the pets? Or do you just take photographs of them in degraded/demeaning poses….for sadistic enjoyment? Was that your switchblade?

      You, Karen Johnson Finley, should be fired along with your esteemed director. Take the staff vet with you too. Oh, on your way out the door, don’t forget your wheelbarrow. Take that!

      Get some people in there with new programs to save the animals instead of the mass killing YOU justify. I’ll give you a hint: Nathan Winograd. Yes, his programs work but only with people who aren’t “know it alls”, who want to change things and are intelligent to see what they’re doing isn’t working. That’s assuming you want to save the pets instead of killing most of them.

      Reply
    • MRS.MICHELE FIORE

       /  February 1, 2012

      YOU ARE SICK AND CRUEL!!!LETS DO TO YOU WHAT YOU DO TO THESE HORRIFIED ANIMALS!!!!

      Reply
  6. Sadly I have no problems believing Ms. Gale. I worked at a municipal shelter where healthy adoptable pets were killed because it was MONDAY. PTS days were MWF and to keep their funding (among other excuses) they had to “turn over” so many animals. Empty cages day after day – my 6 months evaluation was great but that was all I could take. This kind of thing goes on more than you want to know. Try a fight it and get red tape and b.s. all the way. Good for her for making a stand.

    Reply
    • Ronald J.

       /  November 28, 2010

      I didn’t realize there was a “turn over” rate in order to keep funding. Wow, can you explain more. I want to be more enlightened about this. I had an idea of it but never really knew just how they’d operate like that. I always heard of space being needed but I’m interested in what you’re saying. Thanks, Ronald J.

      Reply
  7. pitluvr0631

     /  November 26, 2010

    my friend(another long term volunteer) was denied to save a dog that was on the addoption floor that she asked to be let know when he was going to be euthinized so she could adopt him. The shelter director said no and not ask about shelter buissness again. The 2 yr old boxer was thankfully addopted by someone else before he could be terminated.

    Reply
  8. Jessie Reed

     /  November 26, 2010

    This is absolutely atrocious. THANK YOU Ms. Gale, for coming forward to report this; I am so thankful for people like you who care enough to report these types of gross negligence and, IMHO, abuse. Now, what can we do about it???

    Reply
  9. pitbull friend

     /  November 26, 2010

    Sounds ever so familiar to those of us who have volunteered at the Animal “Humane” Society (AHS) in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Amazing how high-kill shelters seem to use the same words to justify themselves & treat their most dedicated volunteers the same way. AHS has kicked out dozens of volunteers over the years for trying to save animals in one way or another. All the ones I know have gone on to work with other rescues and shelters because they are so motivated to solve this problem.

    Reply
  10. Becky

     /  November 26, 2010

    I have known Betty for 2 years from the local dogpark. I’ve met quite a few of her fosters that she was kind enough to take in when they would’ve been put down otherwise. Between myself having worked for shelters, and seeing the same issues as she talks about, and having seen her love and commitment towards rehabilitating unwanted, thrown away dogs, I cannot imagine doubting her statements. Shame on anyone who does. Congratulations to her for being recognized for her efforts in these times when most people have more “important” things to worry about. God bless those who help the forgotten and unwanted.

    Reply
  11. Dog Watcher

     /  November 27, 2010

    If you want to consider the comments made by employees of that shelter, consider how they treat animals as being investigated currently:

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/11/24/1862031/photos-of-shelter-animals-lead.html

    Reply
  12. Irene Filacchione

     /  November 27, 2010

    I hope there is a special hell for those shelter directors who find it possible to say “no” to a person who wants to save an animal to prevent it from being killed. Euthanasia is a misnomer here, just call it what it really is: not only killing, but UNNECESSARY killing at that. I hope the area newspapers and TV stations pick up this story and thus make the public aware of what goes on in the dark. I have news for these people, your days are numbered and one day your conscience will catch up with you. Stop explaining all the unnecessary killing away, get working on ideas that give these poor animals the opportunity to live, such as hours when people actually can come, get on local TV to publicize animals, get the animals on facebook or your website and a hundered other ways to get them into homes instead of making up reasons why you can’t do it. If you’re smart and imaginative, you’ll figure out a way.

    Reply
  13. Animal Rescuer

     /  November 27, 2010

    Want to change things at this hell hole of a “shelter”? Start with firing the director. Balestra has to go. The director sets the tone. If things are rotten at the bottom you can bet they’re rotten at the top. Remember the saying, “A fish rots from the head down”.

    Take this “shelter” out from under the city/county’s control. Make it a private facility.

    Another thing; how about careful screening of the employees. No sadists allowed. Also, leave your switchblades at home!!

    Reply
  14. Charlotte

     /  November 27, 2010

    Congratulations Ms. Gale, you are both credible and brave. Not surprised that yet another babbling idiot appears from Team Damage Control spewing the wonders from within CMACC. I predict The Big Dog has already served notice to Ms. Gale that her volunteer status has been rescinded and her tarnished badge should be brought immediately to The Dog House. Mr. Balestra spent Thanksgiving Day recruiting member to Team Damage Control by sending his faithful followers a message “There is so much to be Thankful for”….

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Balestra, Mark
    To: Undisclosed recipients:;
    Sent: Thu, Nov 25, 2010 12:50 pm
    Subject: There is so much to be Thankful for!

    Dear Staff and Volunteers of ACC,

    I want to wish you and your families a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

    I reflect upon the past few days and realize how fortunate and thankful I am for each and every one of you. Our animals although should be in forever homes are so lucky when they come to us to have you to reach out to them with caring hands and hearts.

    We remain as strong as ever and will continue to be committed to those who need us the most in this industry, and that are the animals.

    I am so thankful for your wisdom, your time, your passion, your skills, your desire, your love, your devotion and support today and every day.

    I do not stand alone in this gratitude. There continues to be an over whelming outpour of support and commitment to all of us from the community, our government, welfare partners, our administration and most importantly each other who understands this business the most.

    You are leaders and champions in animal welfare and serve as models in what accomplishments are achieved every day.

    I ask one thing, you do not have to continue to defend our honor and integrity through rebuttals with bloggers or reminders to City Council or even commentary to the media. Our reputation stands strong on our own merit from historical and daily success stories.
    Updates to the media will be handled in an accurate and consistent manner through the CMPD Public Information Office.

    As I write this from my office there are several of you inside the building and in the field standing up for and providing care for the many homeless animals that depend on your sacrifices and touch each and every day.

    I am so honored and proud of being a part of this organization and the ACC family of staff, volunteers and community partners.

    Happy Thanksgiving Everyone,

    Mark A. Balestra, Division Director
    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
    Animal Care & Control Division
    8315 Byrum Dr.
    Charlotte, NC 28217
    Ofc.(704)336-4423
    Fax(704) 336-5709
    mbalestra@cmpd.org

    Reply
    • Jeanne

       /  November 27, 2010

      Glad someone finally injected a note of humor into this sad situation. Evidently even Mr. B. can recognize the idiocy of his employees when he sees it in print. The more they “defend” the shelter, the faster they sink their own ship. So defend away–and let the whole world see you for exactly what you are. The only “sacrifices” made at your shelter are the lives of the healthy, adoptable pets being killed there by the thousands. I thought I was inured to the statistics associated with failing shelters, but the numbers at this one floored even me. Send out those pink slips NOW–that’s the kind of “sacrifice” this situation calls for.

      Reply
      • Kim

         /  November 27, 2010

        “I ask one thing, you do not have to continue to defend our honor and integrity through rebuttals with bloggers or reminders to City Council or even commentary to the media. Our reputation stands strong on our own merit from historical and daily success stories.
        Updates to the media will be handled in an accurate and consistent manner through the CMPD Public Information Office.”

        Translated:

        Please stop trying to make up stories to cover our shortfalls. They are contradicting each other. If all the stories come out of OUR office, there’s *less* of a chance we will prove our own selves guilty.

        Carry on.

    • Charlotte

       /  November 30, 2010

      @ Mark A. Balestra
      “Updates to the media will be handled in an accurate and consistent manner through the CMPD Public Information Office.”

      According to this document http://www.charmeck.org/city/charlotte/CMPD/organization/Support/AnimalControl/newsevents/Documents/media%20releases/advisory_usnwc_microchipclinic_082610.pdf Melissa Knicely is employed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care and Control Division as the Public Information Specialist. If transparency and accountability are an important part of Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care and Control Division their Public Information Specialist Melissa Knicely should be able to address any questions and/or concerns. She can be reached at 704-336-3627 or mknicely@cmpd.org

      Reply
  15. Candy

     /  November 27, 2010

    You are so right….seriously…every single person at the shelter should be fired because it is personally their fault that these animals are homeless. I mean…they should adopt millions of pets themselves to keep them from having to be euthanized. It is definetely NOT the community’s responsibility or fault…it is the personal fault of every employee at the shelter. I think all the animals should be set free and all the workers should be fired. Maybe then the animals will stand a chance on the street…you never know when a homeless person might want to claim one and give it a fur lined bed and a rhinestone collar.

    And how dare Mark B send his employees a thanksgiving note of encouragement???? Who does he think he is? He should be like all of us and operate under the philosophy that kicking them while they are down will fix the problem.

    Duh…why are they are smart as we are?

    Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 27, 2010

      They are an animal shelter. It is not their job to slaughter, it is their job to shelter. It is also not their job to sedate, dress up, mock, humiliate, photograph, and turn their charges into jokes.

      Perhaps you would feel differently if this were a state run orphanage or group home. Or if it was one of your own pets who was treated in this fashion. Or perhaps your issue runs deeper – perhaps you just don’t care at all.

      In which case, even I don’t have the letters behind my name to help you with that one.

      Best of luck, and Happy Holidays to you and your family. May they be treated with nothing but dignity and respect this holiday season and throughout their golden years. Something the animals we give voice to were never entitled to – according to people such as yourself.

      (Oh, and Candy, it’s never been about intelligence – although one must wonder about a supervisor that sends out an email that stresses the importance of not involving facebook over the importance of animal welfare – it’s been about morals and values. We don’t think we’re smarter. It’s irrelevant. What IS relevant is that we believe that these animals deserve to be handled with dignity and humanity by the very people charged with protecting and serving them, and others don’t. Seems like an obvious choice to me.)

      Reply
      • Candy

         /  November 27, 2010

        And I completely agree Kim…every animal should be handled with dignity and humanity. I think the pictures were disgusting and completely unacceptable. But what is the point in slandering the rest of the people? The ones who didn’t take the pictures, and didn’t make stupid choices. And this whole string has been about euthanasia? Not “slaughter” as you put it, but euthanasia. What are they supposed to do? When there isn’t anyone coming to adopt the animals and there are hundreds more coming in? Are they supposed to keep all of them and turn into some of those terrible no kill shelters we hear about on the news….the ones where animals are forced to live several to a cage for years and years on end until someone finds out what is going on? There are only so many homes and Charlotte is a city of the irresponsible….I have never in my life seen a place that throws animals away like the residents of Meck County. It’s their fault….the crappy owners, the backyard breeders. There is absolutely no benefit going to come from shaming the innocent shelter workers or from continuing to grasp at any gossip possible to get into the media in order to kick them while they are down. Everyone on here has so much bad stuff to say (which they will answer to god for)….but no one is offering to go help. If you want a difference to be made, then dammit..go to the shelter and help. Give them your ideas, adopt a few animals, help them clean the cages, walk the dogs. It is disgusting that instead of trying to help, everyone is satisfied with reading gossip emails from volunteers that post “alledged” faults and emails sent to them out of the goodness of the heart.

        Bad things happen in our society. And it is everyone’s role to help get past it. Yeah….there were distasteful pictures taken of cats. What does everyone expect to happen? The employees will be punished as the police chief said on the news. Nothing can change what happened. Here it is the holidays and look at what everyone is doing….feeding into the frenzy caused by a few obviously disgruntled people. I’m all for change, especially when it deals with children and animals….but I think it is atrocious the way the citizens of Meck County are addressing this situation. It’s one thing to be upset….but it’s another to turn your backs on the very people that bail you out when that stray litter of kittens shows up under your shed.

        DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE….volunteer…help…make a difference…don’t just sit here and get excited because Betty Gale betrayed the people that trusted her.

      • One of the points I think you’re missing here Candy is that to some people, it looks as if Betty Gale was betrayed BY the people she trusted. She trusted shelter staff to save pets, to allow her to help save them, to treat them with respect and love, and to be open to hearing ideas for change. What she describes is a long term pattern of the opposite of those things.

        When I look at the oops-killing of the family’s two Pitbulls – still without explanation – earlier this year, then the Facebook photos and subsequent actions (and lack thereof) and combine that with two and a half years worth of Betty Gale’s experiences at this shelter, I’m not seeing a few bad apples or an isolated incident. It looks to me like a failure in leadership and systemic rot.

        How you can manage, with a straight face, to say Charlotte is a city of irresponsible, crappy owners and immediately turn around and berate people for not coming to the shelter to help, escapes me. I know I couldn’t pull that off, even in typing.

      • Kim

         /  November 27, 2010

        Wow, Candy, I was really trying to keep this as civil as possible, but for you to tell me to “do something productive?”

        What have YOU done recently?

        I just got back from rescuing a senior dog who would have been “euthanized” at our local high kill shelter because of their “behaviour tests”. This dog is a zero on the self confidence scale, and without rehab will bite in self defense. Bites that produce no wounds, but according to them, a bite is a bite.

        I’ve spent the last 5 years trucking in rescue dogs from other neighbourhoods because our local animal control won’t release to rescues. They also won’t set up a local adoption area. What doesn’t go to the SPCA and a few “lucky” cat rescues gets euthanized to the tune of about 10,000 animals per year.

        The term euthanasia means literally “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy”

        Really?

        Mercy?

        Mercy caused them to withhold animals from willing foster homes? To prevent them from holding additional off site adoption drives? From extending hours? From opening programs such as Seniors for Seniors? From searching out low cost spay and neuter options and educating the public at a high volume and at every grade level about the dangers of dog fighting and why you should have your dogs spayed or neutered? Why vaccines are important? Are they holding microchip clinics? Do they offer first ride home free? Do they licence cats?

        DO THEY SEND OUT EMAILS SUGGESTING THAT OFFENSIVE PHOTOS BE REMOVED FROM FACEBOOK LONG BEFORE EVEN DISCUSSING THE SUSPENSION OR REMOVAL OF THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE?

        Umm… not 100% positive, but pretty sure it’s a big fat NO to everything but that last one.

        Now, the innocent and UNnecessary death of millions of dogs and cats around North America that continues this very second? That is not “euthanasia”, Ms. “Candy”, despite what your propaganda may have told you (HSUS? PeTA?)

        It is slaughter. Slaughter:

        1 : the act of killing; specifically : the butchering of livestock for market
        2 : killing of great numbers of human beings (as in battle or a massacre)

        You see, as time evolves, so does the language. It’s a combination of the two. It’s killing of great numbers of *dogs and cats* as in a massacre.

        Euthanasia is used to end suffering.

        What we are doing to these animals is for our own convenience, nothing more. No-Kill IS possible. I understand your reservations, I was in rescue for YEARS before I truly understood it, and I still think that parts of it are going to be a struggle.

        But the one way I can GUARANTEE you we will never reduce those numbers, no matter what name you want to give them – what you’re doing. Excuses, acceptance, turning the other cheek. “Oh, it’s necessary,” “that evil public,” “damn Paris Hilton.”

        Sorry folks. Your job is Animal SHELTER. Your job is Animal CARE and Control.

        And you are living up to neither, despite the rah-rah’s coming from Candy’s cheering section.

  16. Candy

     /  November 27, 2010

    This city is full of crappy owners…otherwise why would there be thousands of animals being put to sleep. And I’m berating you people…..the people on here that are posting…for not helping. You people have the compassion and the love for animals. You people could do a lot but you just jumped on this bitching band wagon. I don’t expect anything from the crappy animal owners that have caused the overflow…..I do however have expectations for people like you that could do something. I think a ton of trust has been broken over this situation and that is terrible. I think it’s great that the ex-volunteers brought this situation to light so things could be fixed. I do think it is less than admirable that Ms. Gale posted her certificates earned and then said that she gives up. There is no giving up on things like overpopulation because it’s a never ending problem. There is no room for quitters….period. We all need to ban together to help the shelter and the animals…..not turn our backs and say “fire them all”….what would happen to the animals then? Who would take care of them?

    I wish all of you the best and hope you have happy holidays with your families.

    Reply
    • “This city is full of crappy owners…otherwise why would there be thousands of animals being put to sleep.”

      Because the public shelter is killing them.

      “And I’m berating you people…..the people on here that are posting…for not helping.”

      You’re not getting it Candy. There is no “you people”. Does it not occur to you that many of the folks reading this post and some of those commenting are in the Charlotte area? This is your volunteer base, your donor base, your adoption base. And these are the folks you are calling crappy and irresponsible while complaining over the lack of help.

      Reply
    • What is wrong with you Candy.

      You talk like a dirty politician. To you the answer to every question is bad people (except those who work at shelters) and pet overpopulation.

      How that causes mistreatment of pets at shelters you don’t even try to explain.

      Reply
  17. Jeanne

     /  November 27, 2010

    Uh, it seems to me that Ms. Gale DID go to the shelter and help–for thousands of hours. Until she finally gave up trying to make a difference in such a corrupt system. It’s probably true that volunteers aren’t supposed to process animals at intake, as poster Karen Johnson Finley maintains. So shelter employees were getting vols like Betty Gale do their jobs for them–the jobs they’re PAID to do–and then telling them to slow down when their compassion and efficiency made the employees look bad? Sounds that way to me. I have no sympathy with these “workers.”
    The era of shelters as secretive slaughter houses is rapidly ending in this country–and giving way to openness, transparency, compassion and decency in sheltering. Why don’t you pay a visit to Project Halo right there in Charlotte if you want to see a no-kill shelter in action? I guarantee you will NOT
    find “animals forced to live weveral to a cage for years and years until someone finds out what is going on.” Wake up. Read “Redemption” and visit a few actual shelters that have put the philosophy and programs described there into action.

    Reply
    • Candy

       /  November 27, 2010

      but how do you know? you are getting one side of the story…..I refuse to believe that every single worker at the shelter is a heartless p.o.s.

      Reply
      • Candy

         /  November 27, 2010

        And I’m familiar with project HALO but they only take in what they can handle so they can be no kill. How would a public shelter that has to take in everything possibly go “no kill”?

  18. Candy

     /  November 27, 2010

    p.s. don’t jump on me…I’m sure there are a lot of you that do rescue work…like Kim. Everything you say makes sense Kim. I’m just like you…trying to sort it all out. I’m also sure that there are a lot on here that are just jumping on the bandwagon. I don’t see how no kill is possible in a county this size. And from what I have read, I believe Charlotte shelter does the microchip clinics, rabies clinics, extended hours, spay/neuter clinics, therapy programs in schools and nursing homes…..it’s all on their website. It seems like there isn’t much they haven’t tried to get the numbers down. I do not believe it’s right to say “fire them all because they euthanize”. I think that is horrible.

    Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 27, 2010

      “p.s. don’t jump on me…I’m sure there are a lot of you that do rescue work…like Kim. Everything you say makes sense Kim.”

      Really? Really? I’m supposed to believe this? Perhaps I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and remind you that the last thing you said to me was “DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE….volunteer…help…make a difference…don’t just sit here and get excited because Betty Gale betrayed the people that trusted her.”

      “I’m just like you…trying to sort it all out. I’m also sure that there are a lot on here that are just jumping on the bandwagon.”

      What bandwagon would that be? Would that be the… we don’t like when animals are mistreated by the very people charged to protect them, photographed in this manner and then further made fun of on a public forum, the result of this is a request for staff to remove incriminating photos? That’s not a bandwagon. That’s a group of REALLY frustrated and sometimes angry animal lovers.

      “I don’t see how no kill is possible in a county this size.”

      Then you’re ignorant. And I don’t mean that as an insult, simply that you don’t know it’s possible yet simply because you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it! Read “Redemption”, visit the website, study the movement, and then come back and try again for round two.

      “And from what I have read, I believe Charlotte shelter does the microchip clinics, rabies clinics, extended hours, spay/neuter clinics, therapy programs in schools and nursing homes…..it’s all on their website.”

      I redz it awn de interwebz, so it must bee tru, riit?

      If all you have is the information off of their website and no content, schedules, details or regulations, maybe you shouldn’t be defending what you don’t understand lest you get burned by association.

      “It seems like there isn’t much they haven’t tried to get the numbers down. I do not believe it’s right to say “fire them all because they euthanize”. I think that is horrible.”

      It seems? It seems? Euthanizing while kennels remain empty, improperly conducting temperament testing, assessing animals as “inventory” rather than individuals… your case doesn’t look so good, dear. As for “fire them all because they euthanize” where are you getting this? Not from this blog.

      We’re about the progression TOWARDS No-Kill. When shelters or communities reach No-Kill, it’s HUGE. But ANY improvement is celebrated, and any effort to seek improvement, to seek change for improvement, to seek help for improvement is ALL seen as a huge plus and should be rewarded.

      But this is not your average case, and not your average shelter. This is multiple volunteers coming forward, the director interfering in the investigation and attempting to cover things up, other staff members finding the proceedings FUNNY… I do believe that house should be cleaned and employees/volunteers with no known ties to the issue be hired back on probation along with new recruits.

      These are YOUR employees doing this on YOUR taxes. While others like myself stay at home and spend our very own money to run private rescues to save those that the “shelter” will SLAUGHTER due to “behaviour issues” that don’t even exist. We place tens, dozens, hundreds of dogs, all at NO COST to the city. We ASSIST the city when they have a pet their management won’t allow them to help. And you tell me to “do something productive”?

      Thanks, but my “something productive” already takes up 12-18 hours a day and every penny I have – and frankly, how dare you.

      Reply
    • Jeanne

       /  November 27, 2010

      I’ve been doing rescue work for the past 6 years–on the board of a rescue that pulls dogs from gas shelters and other kill shelters and has worked to end gassing in my state (it will end statewide on Dec. 31) ; and I’ve worked as a transport coordinator for 5 years, helping rescues in my state (and in NC) move dogs from kill shelters to safety. And I’ve done hands-on work with feral cats in my community for the past 12 years. I’ve seen my local shelter go from being a horrible place that nobody even wanted to talk about much less visit to a decent, compassionate place where the emphasis is on saving as many dogs as possible–about 75% are saved now, including pits and pit mixes. I’ve seen a gas shelter go from a 98% kill rate to killing NO adoptable dogs this past year–and they stopped gassing healthy, adoptable dogs. Perfect? No–they don’t have a feral cat program and don’t adopt pits to the public so they still have a long way to go. But what a difference already! What does it take? A deep desire and commitment to do what’s right for the animals, no matter what it tekes. A desire to save as many lives as possible, whatever it takes. Compassion and caring. I don’t think the employees at Charlotte-Mecklenberg ouoght to be fired because they put animals down. They ought to be fired because they showed utter contempt and lack of compassion for the animals in their care. Betty Gale mentioned that 2 employees DO work hard to place animals with rescue groups–so I’m certainly not saying all the employees there need to go. I also don’t agree with your characterization of Charlotte area dog owners as irresponsible and uncaring. My experience has been that it’s a very caring, progressive place and I’ve never had a problem getting lots of volunteer drivers for transports going there or going through there. But it’s never easy to get volunteers to come to a slaughter house!

      Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 28, 2010

      Pay CLOSE attention to Jeanne’s response, Candy. Not only can it be done, it’s being done NEAR YOU.

      The problem is not the people, it’s THE SYSTEM.

      Do ignorant owners contribute? Of course! But so do life changes, birth, death, finances and myriad other reasons, which even in private rescue (we take strays too) makes up at least half of our intake.

      The reason these animals are brought to a SHELTER is to be SHELTERED.

      Not slaughtered. SHELTERED.

      Last I looked, this does not include degradation and mocking, followed by acceptance and “tsk, tsk” by supervisors that have had issues in the past.

      You see, it’s not just those who took the photos, those who posted the photos, or those who publicly laughed at the photos who should be fired, it’s anyone who knew what was going on and didn’t file a formal complaint immediately.

      You don’t take in the number of animals daily that they do and have the privacy to do what was done with no on noticing – and anyone who’s worked in an office of ANY size knows you can’t sneeze without everyone knowing.

      @Jeanne – I hear you. We used to pull from Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia and Pennsylvania in the US and I’ve pulled from Quebec and Ontario in Canada. I would call them shelters, but with few exceptions we’re talking about cinder block buildings with concrete floors, no hot water and chain link fencing. Places that even thinking about make my skin crawl to this day. Funniest thing is, if I had to make my list of top ten pounds (they’re not shelters, they are pounds) based on people alone, they would all be on my list of the 15 pounds in the worst physical condition with the worst funding. These same ten also happen to be the most rescue friendly and have impressive kill rates considering the *overwhelming* majority of their funding comes from the penance the city pays them. They are in large geographical areas with small population concentrations of “old school” pet owners surrounded by puppy mills and have better kill rates than some shelters with funding in the seven digit range.

      If they can do it, anyone can do it. They understand that if the nation ever was to go No-Kill, they’d be one of the last to succeed – but this makes them twice as determined to start earlier and work harder, stretching their resources even farther.

      To then hear reasonably funded shelters complain about “the horrible public” and wonder why no one comes through the doors, well…

      head, meet desk.

      Reply
  19. Candy Says:

    November 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    How would a public shelter that has to take in everything possibly go “no kill”?

    _____________________

    Apparently it starts with committed leadership willing to change. You can read about no kill open admission success stories here:

    http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/success.html

    Reply
    • Matt

       /  November 28, 2010

      Dear Ms. Gale,

      If you hold those precious inviduals in high regard, please, dont murder them.

      If there’s a way to keep 9 billion hungry/poor kids in this world without murdering them, there’s a way to save cats and dogs.

      Plz find a way.

      Killing should not be a consideration.

      If you were the one about to be killed, you’d agree.

      Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 28, 2010

      I think that it’s more about the revolution than the achievement, or at least that’s the inspiration it’s given to me.

      I think the litmus test is a No-Kill policy on dogs (not meaning to discriminate, it’s simply that roaming packs of feral dogs are not an issue in every city in North America like feral cats) and a reasonable and steadily improving year-over-year reduction in feline euthanasia.

      No business, no group, no rescue no shelter, no household, not even any individual can ever honestly look inwards and say there isn’t room for improvement.

      I really DO believe that No-Kill will happen. Maybe not within my lifetime, but I DO believe that as long as shelters, rescues, animal controls and pounds continue to take criticism, review and enforce their policies resulting in better animal care and lower kill rates, I’ve done my part. In the meantime if I can save a few hundred animals along the way, I’ll save every one I can.

      I would not suggest ever coming on this board, full of rescuers, shelter workers, vets, vet techs and researchers dedicated to the cause of the study of animal behaviour and the exposure of places like this one to “DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE” I suggest perhaps thinking it over first.

      Btw, even those readers who do not fit into any category above other than “animal lover” are being productive by spreading the word. In case you haven’t realized, you live in a democracy. Public Council bows to public pressure. Particularly in today’s climate when a candidate can get up, guarantee a cleanup of the shelter and a consultation with Nathan Winograd and raise about $5 a person from a million people in a day.

      I think you need to open your eyes to what’s going on here. After that, you need to open your eyes to the reality of the situation.

      Read Nathon Winograd’s “Redemption.” Just read it. I bought it as a skeptic (I’m equally likely to buy a book I like as a book I think I’ll hate – how do you argue you hate a book if you haven’t read it?). Read it a second time, went through a highlighted areas. Did further research, read it a third time.

      Do we agree 100%? No. But who does? However, what he says makes sense, and will make you rethink the shelter system from an entirely different perspective.

      Want another example? Take a look at Calgary. Not No-Kill, but best numbers in the country for save rate, lowest dog bite statistics, highest percentage of dog parks per capita, highest licensing compliance in the country and considered the “gold standard” – the head of the department travels North America explaining how they work WITH the public and local rescues to make this happen. Population of Calgary – 1,008,000

      Never say never. :O)

      Reply
  20. Contact Best Friends
    They have a totally different way of thinking and support NO KILL
    God Bless this lady and our movement of NO KILL has to grow stronger to convince folks that killing is not the answer
    They can be saved – Read “Redemption” by Nathan Winograd. Size of area means nothing. Communities have to be involved, progressive thinking and the notion that pets are not property nor disposable.
    When those issues are addressed it CAN be no kill

    Reply
  21. Matt

     /  November 28, 2010

    “I don’t see how no kill is possible in a county this size.”

    Actually, it’s quite simple. The way to stop the killing in any county, is to stop the killing.

    If this is done, Trust me, they’ll be a No Kill county.

    Reply
  22. Matt

     /  November 29, 2010

    why would there be thousands of animals being put to sleep.”

    Because disgraceful “shelter” directors/operators and their employees, who lack a backbone to say “No, I WONT KILL THEM”, kill them. That’s why.

    Reply
  23. Matt

     /  November 29, 2010

    “why would there be thousands of animals being put to sleep.”

    Because disgraceful “shelter” directors/operators and their employees, who lack a backbone to say “No, I WONT KILL THEM”, kill them. That’s why.

    Reply
  24. Matt

     /  November 29, 2010

    P.S. The pets are not “put to sleep”. They are murdered.

    Reply
  25. Karen

     /  November 30, 2010

    Okay…I have three questions:

    1) How are those pictures taken any different than a picture that is taken of your pet in a Halloween costume? I’m not justifing, I’m just asking here. I’ve asked before and NO ONE seems to be answering that question. I just want to know what the difference is.

    2) Why is it that everyone on here, the media stories, ect. has the answer to solve the problems that apparently Charlotte has (especially with the shelter) and write all about their wonderful solutions on here but they don’t go to city council to make the change actually happen? Again, not justifing, just asking. I really want to know. Some of you put your animal life-changing/life-saving deeds on here…but do you live here? And if not, then how are you helping Charlotte? I mean, the council has control over what that shelter does. Doesn’t it stand to reason that THEY should be the ones to get the message of change and no-kill rather than a department head that can’t do anything without city councils’ approval?

    3) What is a true definition of “no-kill”? Does it mean that a shelter doesn’t put ANYTHING that is alive down? Or does it mean that only the healthy animals are spared the lethal injection and anything that is sick, injured, or wild that’s brought it is allowed to be euthanized? I’ve asked many people inside and outside of Charlotte and I’ve received mixed meanings on this.

    I don’t agree with putting healthy animals down that shouldn’t be put down. They should all go up for adoption and it would be great if city council would make the change.

    Now these are ligitmate questions that I have asked. I am not looking for someone to say “boy, Karen, you’re a real retard for asking this kind of crap”. After reading this, regardless of any kind of personal bashing that may have ocurred between people on these posts, I am hoping that someone with a logical mind (and someone that’s not going to call me an idiot) will be able to answer these questions. All I’m trying to do is gain further knowledge and see if maybe I can use this in the future so that I can maybe rally up a group of brave people that are willing to take that information to city council and make them listen to make a difference.

    Reply
    • Karen,
      I dedicated an entire post to answering your first question but in the interest of brevity, I will summarize as follows: You love your kid. He is a member of your family. You dress him up in a Halloween costume for a party or trick-or-treating. He plays along because it’s fun for him. You photograph him in the costume to commemorate the occasion and have a keepsake to share with family members. These cats were not beloved family members of the people who posed and photographed them. They were in need of protection and thus, ended up at this “safe haven”. They were drugged, posed & photographed in a mocking fashion so everyone could have a laugh. Then they were killed and I assume tossed in the freezer to await collection by the guy who goes around to shelters buying cat carcasses for $5 a pop.

      As far as the city council goes, how do you know local animal advocates haven’t addressed their concerns to them?

      In answer to your 3rd question, I offer this from Nathan Winograd:
      There is only one legitimate definition of No Kill. It is a community where:
      • Healthy dogs and cats are saved;
      • Treatable dogs and cats are saved;
      and,
      • Healthy and treatable feral cats are saved.

      Reply
      • Karen

         /  November 30, 2010

        I know that city council was NOT addressed because I’ve asked those who are now totally against the Charlotte shelter and they either avoid the question or tell me that they don’t think city council will do anything about the situation and therefore there is no reason to even try to go to them to begin with.
        I’ve also read your former posts that you wrote in regards to Ms. Easton, Ms. Amos and this one about Ms. Gale and then your comments. It doesn’t say anywhere in any of those posts that these people have even attempted to go to city council. And it seems to me that they would be the best canidates because they are the loudest at this point in time.
        What it does say is that these people talked to the director, who ultimately shot them down, and then stopped there. Never even tried any kind of chain of command and never even attempted to go all the way to the council. I’m not calling anyone a coward or anything but I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t try.

        But thanks for the answers. I mean, really. That does help. (I know this looks sarcastic but it’s not.) Does that no-kill apply to the small animals such as hamsters and gerbils?, too? Or is it just for cats and dogs?
        I also went to that website you posted further up in this post. Maybe this very loud outcry will be able to make this change possible for Charlotte…

    • Kim

       /  November 30, 2010

      *Karen, I hope this answers your questions, at least from my viewpoint.

      “1) How are those pictures taken any different than a picture that is taken of your pet in a Halloween costume? I’m not justifing, I’m just asking here. I’ve asked before and NO ONE seems to be answering that question. I just want to know what the difference is.”

      *As was suggested before, how would you feel if a complete stranger dressed your child up with a switchblade and a cigarette? Or if your child was posed for humorous photos while unconscious going into or coming out of surgery or a dental procedure? This shows a severe lack of respect of the animals in their care, and was not done in good fun, it was done with what has been perfectly referred to here as “gallows humour”. Like the pun at the beginning of every law and order that makes a joke about the victim’s death. It is highly inappropriate, regardless of whether it meets the statute for “abuse”.

      “2) Why is it that everyone on here, the media stories, ect. has the answer to solve the problems that apparently Charlotte has (especially with the shelter) and write all about their wonderful solutions on here but they don’t go to city council to make the change actually happen? Again, not justifing, just asking. I really want to know. Some of you put your animal life-changing/life-saving deeds on here…but do you live here? And if not, then how are you helping Charlotte? I mean, the council has control over what that shelter does. Doesn’t it stand to reason that THEY should be the ones to get the message of change and no-kill rather than a department head that can’t do anything without city councils’ approval?”

      *I really do always hate being the piece of soggy bread here – but after five years of fighting with our own city council (including an astronomically expensive “consultant” who obviously knew nothing about the business of sheltering and spent more time on the phone with me than probably anyone other individual – in fact, many portions of my emails ended up in his final presentation pretty much in their original form, which was fine by me) and then having them ignore their own advisor, about a dozen citizen meetings, two action groups, two groups of rescues bonded together to try to enact change from within and tons of media coverage, we were blackballed from within because a particular councilor hates dogs (did I mention he just became mayor? Yeah…).

      *What did we get from City Council? BUPKISS, to put it kindly. I spent hundreds of dollars in print material to provide them with the information, research and studies to PROVE that our methods worked better, were more humane and above all MORE COST EFFECTIVE and were totally ignored.

      *Instead, enough people got into the Board of Directors of our local SPCA and got the ENTIRE BOARD to resign. Subsequent to that, talks began about reforming Animal Control. Lucky for us, the building AC is in is owned by the SPCA. We still have a LONG way to go (really, there are not capital letters big enough) but what we discovered in five years is that moving government is like moving an overheated hippo that’s just settled down in a cool mud patch. Good luck with that. Not to say it’s not possible, but when it comes down to it people care more about their neighbourhoods, unemployment, police services, jobs, etc than they do about what’s going on in the dark in a building they’ve never been in or certainly not watched a slaughter in. Movements start slowly, and history has proven to us time and time again that they don’t start in government.

      “3) What is a true definition of “no-kill”? Does it mean that a shelter doesn’t put ANYTHING that is alive down? Or does it mean that only the healthy animals are spared the lethal injection and anything that is sick, injured, or wild that’s brought it is allowed to be euthanized? I’ve asked many people inside and outside of Charlotte and I’ve received mixed meanings on this.”

      *You’re going to continue to get mixed messages here, just like with any movement. There are staunch no-kill advocates who basically believe that as long as an animal is not in debilitating pain, he/she has a right to life. I’m not quite that liberal. I do believe that there are behavioural circumstances that warrant euthanasia. When a dog becomes too dangerous for even his caretakers, or for the animals housed around him, I believe he should be euthanized. That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe rehabilitation shouldn’t be attempted first. And part of my specialty is aggressive dogs, so I take this very seriously.

      *I also believe that in those areas where money is tight, those animals that can not get out to rescue and suffer medical issues should be euthanized. If the shelter can afford to treat them, IT SHOULD. However, if saving one means depleting an already tiny bank account you are putting the rest of the animals already in sanctuary in danger. All efforts should be made to find places, especially for those animals that would go on to live relatively normal lives.

      *But all No-Kill advocates will agree that there is no reason to put down a well tempered, healthy animal, or to use excuses like “one puppy had a runny nose so we euthanized all 20″ as an reason to reduce numbers by putting notch in the “sick” category.

      “I don’t agree with putting healthy animals down that shouldn’t be put down. They should all go up for adoption and it would be great if city council would make the change.

      Now these are ligitmate questions that I have asked. I am not looking for someone to say “boy, Karen, you’re a real retard for asking this kind of crap”. After reading this, regardless of any kind of personal bashing that may have ocurred between people on these posts, I am hoping that someone with a logical mind (and someone that’s not going to call me an idiot) will be able to answer these questions. All I’m trying to do is gain further knowledge and see if maybe I can use this in the future so that I can maybe rally up a group of brave people that are willing to take that information to city council and make them listen to make a difference.”

      Hey, pose a reasonable question, and I’ll answer it as well as I can. And all your questions are reasonable. I don’t like extremists on either side – I’ve said it a thousand times, I prefer to deal in facts. Sure, it’s generally a giant hunch that sends me looking places, but I won’t share publicly anything I don’t know for sure – or at least not intentionally (we all make errors!).

      Look at the current support for certain bills that are being proposed and the overwhelming public support for them – and the incredible difficulty that your government is having getting them passed. Sometimes public opinion doesn’t mean squat. We all know that when election time rolls around “you didn’t fire that shelter director even though his staff took those photos” isn’t going to gain a lot of traction when people are throwing around slurs like Nazi, Socialist, murderer, fraud, you got a guy claiming to have a higher security clearance than the president and he was elected (my sincerest apologies if you voted for him). All I’m saying is the democratic process isn’t as democratic as you think. It’s about who you know.

      The people of this district/area (sorry, Canadian..) need to organize weekly pickets outside this shelter, begging people to adopt (we don’t want to chase adopters away!) while demanding action. Organize rescues, their volunteers and friends, hang signs at dog parks and places dogs frequent. Pet stores and grooming shops. Detail the offences, including the “oops” euthanasia, show the photos, and energize the people. Energize the people, you energize the press. Energize the press… now THAT is when you get the attention of both the council AND the shelter director. The more attention the better, the more protests the better.

      But don’t give up. Our change took 5 years, and I can tell you it was MUCH worse than some “oops” euthanasias and disgusting photos. And we’re STILL up Animal Control’s rear end. You want a solution, you go to the problem.

      Sorry once again (YesBiscuit’s used to it by now) for the long winded post, but I just wanted to make sure that not only did you understand that I get where you’re coming from, but 12 or 15 years ago, I didn’t know either. When I started my battle, I was an office executive and professionally designed and bound presentations hand delivered with explanations to each council member each week for four months, carefully outlining not only the pluses, but also the arguments against and their failings, each issue that faced the city regarding Animal Control.

      Meeting after meeting after meeting after fundraiser after fundraiser. All a waste.

      We still have the lowest pet limit in North America.

      Reply
      • Karen

         /  December 1, 2010

        Kim, thank you very, very much for the explanation and in a civilized manner. Actually, between you and YesBiscuit I have a better understanding. I hope the movement goes forward and that, with time, this particular shelter heads in that direction and gets there successfully.

      • Kim

         /  December 1, 2010

        Don’t get the totally wrong idea about me, Karen – I’ll call a fool a fool. And I’ll tell someone who’s said a foolish thing that they’ve said a foolish thing. And generally in… let’s just say not-so-kind words.

        But a reasonable question posed in a reasonable fashion deserves a reasonable answer… and as some of you may have noticed, I have an excess of time on my hands these days. ;O)

        Seriously though, if you’re in that neighbourhood, get a list together of everyone who is in charge or connected to those in charge of the shelter itself, and the committees in council who fund the shelter. Include names, phone numbers with extensions and emails. Send the lists out and encourage people to pass the list on with the agreement the people call and email ONE PERSON on that list, working their way down, EVERY DAY. They can write a script, you could set up a basic email they can simply type addresses and names into. Six months in, they WILL be willing to sit down and negotiate. Six months more, and they may be willing to actually initiate the tiniest of changes.

        But you CAN change it. What will it take? Dedication, mostly – and two or three minutes of your time every day for a year or two. And YES, you can skip a day if your daughter graduates or it’s your birthday or you have a family reunion. But keep the pressure on, and keep it at medium high. Keep it in the papers. Call the same reporters every thirty days – the ones who did the original stories, and report that nothing is happening.

        See if you can get a volunteer or an employee on the inside with a camera over a week or so that if there IS cruelty happening it can be recorded. If it’s recorded, report it and keep photocopies of all communication. If management takes care of it immediately and appropriately, fine. If they don’t, we have proof that this is going on and management is not dealing with it properly – as was certainly the case with the photo incident.

        And no matter what happens, your shelter will never be satisfactory. The best you can do is to fight continuously and tirelessly to improve it every day. Even a little – but there needs to always be improvement.

        That’s my rant about that.

        ;O) (who obviously needs a nap)

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