|Posted by [email protected] on August 12, 2013 at 10:40 PM|
I started volunteering as a dogwalker at Chester County SPCA a little over two years ago, out of a love for dogs and the belief that I could help ease their time at the shelter. I was among a small group of volunteers that braved the horrible conditions, draconian rules, - the smell - because we thought we could do better for the dogs. We wanted to help the shelter move beyond those days when dogs didn't get out daily and went kennel crazy with frightening regularity, when dogs "on the list" disappeared routinely, and no one dare ask what happened to them.
I walked dogs through the shelter reconstruction, then worked through new logistics of having twice as many dogs to walk. I gave tours to schoolchildren, started a facebook page for volunteers and staff, and took over the holiday tree fundraising project. When we got a play area I got a plumber to fix the water line so the dogs could have water to drink and a pool to play in on the hot summer days that followed. I learned how to train and work with the dogs to make them more adoptable. When dogs needed to be washed, I washed them, and cleaned their kennels. I spent so much time at the shelter I stopped logging my hours. Additionally I fostered several dogs, literally just took them home, when there was no room for them at the shelter. And then I got them adopted.
My particular area of expertise is working with special needs dogs, those who are hand shy or just afraid. I helped the kennel coordinator with several of these who today are all in happy homes. Babs, who's pictured in the volunteer brochure, is perhaps my proudest achievement. If you've ever seen her before(terrified) and after (smiling) picture you can see the results of my work - the happy, well socialized love of her adopted family.
I was proud of all we'd achieved over the last two years, but that pride has turned to outrage over recent events. CCSPCA is going backwards, and I can no longer be a part of it.Two weeks ago a sweet bulldog named Mona was euthanized. Mona had been our office dog and a volunteer favorite until her adoption. We were all sad when she was returned for barking - her new owner's neighbors had complained. It was my understanding that she was working with a trainer from Perfect Pooch to resolve her barking issue and possibly be readopted. I walked her that day - we had no issues. After walking my last dog I went back to say goodnight and she was gone, her cage card removed. When I asked Grace Keffer where she was I was told it was really none of my business. When I asked if I wanted to adopt her - which I would've on the spot to save her- would it be my business then, I was told she was unavailable. Dr Dieter recommended euthanasia because she had pemphigus and an ear infection - both treatable with medication.
A few days later I received an email from "volunteer" that due to my behavior with Grace I was no longer welcome to volunteer at CCSPCA,. Essentially, I was fired for asking a question. Not only is this a violation of my first amendment rights - and legal action has been successfully undertaken to prove this - it is no way to show any respect for the kind of volunteer and friend I have been to the shelter and the animals. But it is the animals I worry about. They have no voice or advocacy under this new "management team", one with no animal behavior or even management credentials. Vets do not study animal behavior, especially not those of Dr. Dieters era. The fact that animals are being killed on his authority is chilling. He was unable to diagnose a simple case of scabies on one of my fosters for weeks, all while the poor little guy suffered. It tooka visit to my personal vet to solve the "mystery".
CCSPCA needs to get back on track. Hire a new director ASAP, one with animal behavior and shelter management credentials. You need leadership and management with positive direction. Stop making do, stop standing by policies that were forged in the fities, You have an opportunity and a responsibility to move past the way you've always done things, get in line with modern shelter programs that are working for much bigger shelters. Keep letting the inmates run the asylum and they'll run you right off the rails - and onto the front pages. Above all, you need to stop the indiscriminant killing of dogs now.
This letter and several others the board received elicited no response. In fact, I seriously doubt if any board member actually read it.
In the meantime, animals continue to be put down, tortured by immature and uncaring techs. There is no vet tech on staff and no progress has been made towards putting a qualified Executive Director, Operations Manager or Kennel Coordinator in place. Now running the shelter is a "management team" consisting of a former volunteer that now serves as kennel coordinator, two office workers and a volunteer "volunteer coordinator". And the Board president, who spends a large portion of his time in Florida, where his family lives.