Updated: Preston Co Suspends Shelter Manager After She Tells the Truth Publicly
February 4, 2013
Unbelievable: Preston Co, WV required its shelter employees to work in a facility without heat or water this winter. In a place that takes in sick, injured and otherwise compromised pets, heat and water are essential for maintaining health and cleanliness. Never mind that the conditions are sub-standard for the employees and volunteers as well.
Unbelievable-er: The county recently ordered the shelter to take in 100 dogs, goats, chickens and rabbits from a local seizure. With no heat or water in the facility! Which begs the question: How bad were conditions at the location where the animals were seized? Because if the place had either heat or water, it was one-up on the county shelter.
Still, the shelter manager, Courtney Austin, did the best she could by issuing a plea on a Facebook page she had started as a means to help network pets at the shelter. She also spoke to the media and explained that she was asking for foster homes to help. Ms. Austin was reportedly having to burn garbage in the shelter’s cremulator for heat.
Unbelievable-est: County commissioners, apparently unhappy with the fact that Ms. Austin told the truth about conditions at the shelter, suspended her on Friday. The county says Ms. Austin failed to attend a meeting about the Facebook page she started. Ms. Austin’s attorney told the local news that the suspension notice given to her client gives a different reason.
Over the weekend, a support page for Ms. Austin chalked up close to 1800 “likes” on Facebook. Ms. Austin is scheduled to meet with the county tonight. Those wanting to take action can check out the FB page for contact information.
Update, February 5: The commissioners reportedly fired Ms. Austin last night for insubordination, after she refused to turn over administrative control of a Facebook page she had set up to help the shelter’s pets:
Numerous rescue groups from around the area spoke on Austin’s behalf. The commission made their decision before hearing these statements. They do not need to hear the public’s opinion on personnel matters.
Craig Jennings, the President of the County Commission, stated the shelter was never without heat or water. Ms. Austin and her attorney are discussing their options according to the report on the local news.