When a 16 year old volunteer took an exuberant dog out of his cage at the Sangamon Co shelter in Illinois last week, the dog was very excited. The dog, called Alpha, hadn’t been walked in more than a day. In expressing his enthusiasm, Alpha scratched the girl. She reported the scratch to the staff who then made a note of it on the dog’s kennel card. Another vol, Leland Grove Mayor Jill Egizii, felt this was unfair to Alpha and would present an obstacle to adoption. She told the local paper that she gets scratched by exuberant dogs all the time and doesn’t consider it to be a strike against the dog. So she replaced Alpha’s cage card:
The new card had Alpha’s name and a note that said, “Good Boy.” In the section for “energy level,” the box for “high” was marked.
“It’s a different way to say the same thing, really, but in a more positive light. It allows the dog to be pulled out so that somebody could look at him for a potential forever home,” Egizii said.
Egizii added that volunteers routinely make notations on kennel cards. She said she didn’t think she was breaking any rules when she made the change, and she doesn’t think Alpha is dangerous.
Sangamon Co Administrator Brian McFadden didn’t see it that way. At all:
“The fact is, her actions violated the rules and put the county at a huge risk and potential liability if that dog were ever adopted out without full disclosure of its actions, and then it harmed someone… I think we would find ourselves in a courtroom pretty quickly.”
Plus there is apparently some sort of state law about cage cards in Illinois (which I’d like to read, if it exists in this plane):
McFadden added that once the volunteer notified staff that she had been scratched, the county was legally obligated to make that notation on the kennel card.
“That set in motion a chain of events dictated by state law. We can’t ignore it,” McFadden said.
So the mayor was a law breaker and created liability for the county. As such, the county suspended her for 2 months.
After Egizii was suspended, there was speculation in the community that the action was taken because she objected to a mass euthanization at the shelter.
McFadden says pshaw, that’s just a coincidence. Lawbreaker. Lawsuit. Lions. Tigers. Bears.
Egizii did not know of any other volunteer who has been suspended from volunteer work at the county. She said that since last week, two other Friends of Sangamon County Animal Control board members have resigned, and a couple of dog walkers have left.
The county, which has credited volunteers with being instrumental in helping to drastically reduce the kill rate in recent years, seems to have developed a new strategy in the way it handles volunteers. I guess if it ain’t broke, break it.
The mayor is still working on getting Alpha into rescue. She doesn’t know if she will continue to volunteer at the shelter after her suspension expires.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)