The movement to expose the Humane Society of Fremont County succeeded in being number 4 of the top stories in the Canon City Daily Record in 2013. Although there were victories, there is more to do to protect homeless pets and get more saved in Fremont County.
You can see the local article here:
I have quoted excerpts from the article below.
The Humane Society of Fremont County made a number of changes in 2013 following three inspections by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. This should be recognized as the good work of local advocates. Without their voice, the shelter management claimed it was doing nothing wrong. And continued to do so even as they were remediating issues exposed by the volunteers through local and social media. All of these changes were due to the work by local advocates, and all credit for improvements of the shelter in 2013 are due to their work.
“Complaints of shelter violations were filed by former volunteers and a previous employee, accompanied with documentation and photographs to the CDA. The CDA received allegations from the public following the initial investigation.”
The response from the shelter?
“My comment is that these are lies,” according to Tom Cameron, current director of the shelter and manager when all violations were in force. “That’s all I can say.”
So the first response was absolute fallacy. The inspection proved there were many problems with the shelter. So you can accurately say, the volunteers were justified in their actions and validated by 11 violations found at the shelter.
In addition, there were ethical violations that do not necessarily fall under the law that have still not been addressed. But eyewitnesses have repeatedly claimed the Cameron uses company time and resources for personal gain. The board has simply ignored these.
The shelter is legally a privately funded charitable trust. It’s standing for the dictionary definition of charitable is questioned by many in the community. A board of three directors Ruth Stimack, Christopher Jenks, and J.A. Carmack are the sitting board members. The board originally worked without pay. Mysteriously, on the death of the founder and founder’s wife Mr and Mrs. Ralph J Wan) the board began taking salaries. Since 2002, the board is coming close to receive one million dollars in salaries for their participation on the board. They received this even while the board failed 5 inspection in 5 years, 3 in 2013 alone.
- · euthanasia not being conducted in a humane manner and according to the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines
- · animals not always being provided with timely veterinary care when ill or injured
- · violation of animal holding periods (Killing animals before holding them the number of days required by law)
- · a surgery room that also was used as a cat intake and holding area
- · lack of isolation room for animals with communicable diseases
- · no inspection for a foster home
- · improper cleaning and sanitation.
According to the article,
“The shelter’s volunteer program was discontinued just days following the June 7 on-site investigation but was expected to resurrected in November by a volunteer coordinator.”
On Wednesday it will be 7 months since they banned volunteers. Volunteers that, if nothing else, can keep animals socialized and better prepared for adoption. But the volunteers banned were also skilled lifesavers finding rescues to take animals that were on death row as well as finding adopter and fosters.
On Wednesday it will be 2 months since the named date to restart the volunteer program. Many people who have applied have heard nothing, some have had an initial phone call or interview. None has been able to get into the shelter and start saving lives.
The article also states,
“In a separate investigation, the Department of Regulatory Agencies confirmed that the State Board of
Veterinary Medicine had received a complaint regarding allegations of unlicensed veterinary medicine, as well as substandard veterinary medicine occurring at the shelter.
The complaint was accompanied with photos showing that part-time shelter veterinarian Dr. Michael Gangel “neuters the shelter animals that same way farm animals are emasculated and the surgical technique is not standard practice. The animals are left with open incisions to sit in their feces and urine thus often times causing horrible infections.”
Again, thanks to pet advocates, this investigation was opened. As dogs languished in filth getting painful infections they were simply hidden from the public by shelter management. Thanks to the community advocate for bringing this forth.
“On Dec. 16, District Attorney Thom LeDoux said his office has started reviewing the case, but he doesn’t expect a charging decision to be made in the near future.”
How the district attorney in the course of doing his job cannot see any charges available to the district is unfathomable. The violations, found by a state agency (see above) of inhumane euthanasia, killing homeless pets before the legal holding period, the cruelty associated with not taking care of ill or injured animals should raise red flags with any prosecuting attorney. The fact the remediated some of these is not the absolution of guilt. It is just a reaction to public outcry. The deeds were still done by people entrusted to follow the humane laws of the state at a minimum. Ignorance of their duties I no excuse for their actions when it was their legal obligation and they were PAID to do so.
The shelter has receives $30,000 from the City of Cañon City in the past for impound services to the city. Many felt they should not get to renew this. Public Works agreed to move continue this contract for services but on a monthly cycle rather than an annual basis as it has in the past and includes a 30 day termination clause.
This is a good solution to the current problem as the city can pull out if the Humane Society has not or does not continue to improve. The city cannot remove the current board, although they could put pressure on them to perform. This would never have happened with the local advocates reaching out to their elected officials and government bureaucrats on behalf of the voiceless.
A resident of Cañon City Bill Lester will make random inspections at the shelter on behalf of the city. Not knowing Bill’s involvement we hope he can effectively produce reports to keep the city notified and keep the shelter in line.
Stimack was quoted saying, “We appreciate the vote of confidence by the committee and are confident that Mr. Lester will find the animals at the shelter well cared for on each and every visit.”
Well Ruth, you can thank what you call the “Disgruntled” volunteers for Bill finding a well run shelter. It wasn’t happening before they spoke up to the public as you ignored them before that. Since compassion does not seem to be in the arsenal of the shelters tool belt, hopefully fear will suffice for the sake of the homeless pets unfortunate enough to wind up at this shelter.
And now they are announcing they are starting their own internal investigation. The foxes guarding the hen-house to be cliché. There have been numerous offers by people who care about animals, have been trained by some of the best shelter directors in the U.S., have experience at some fo the best run shelters in the U.S. to no avail. They are still trying to forge their own path or simply cover up their inadequacies with misdirection and misinformation. We will see the autonomy of the investigator and what she can bring in the form of making the shelter a loving compassionate operation that is geared toward saving lives. But yet again, even this would not have happened without the local pet advocates putting themselves out there.
“Certainly the allegations have been devastating,” Stimack said in the press release.
Unfortunately these statements never really consider the impact to the animals. It’s always the reputation of the shelter and the board that are the singular concern to date. Which is the crux of the problem and the primary concern of the community. The board is more concerned with the board public image than the care and concern of the homeless pets that are the charter of any good shelter.
“Stimack acknowledged that a preliminary internal review indicated that shelter procedures have not always been consistently adhered to.”
This was the closest thing to an admission fo poor management. Although they are quick to mention they have been running the shelter for more than 60 years, they fail to see that this is one reason they should be excellent at this type of occupation. After decades of experience from each director on the board and the shelter director, how can they be so incompetent in saving lives?
“Every employee undergoes a training program when hired, but it has become evident that we need to provide additional ongoing professional development and training for our staff, especially as animal care best practices change and evolve,” she said. “We take the concerns of the community seriously.”
You cannot teach compassion, the single most important component of sheltering that this management is missing.
And the lack of communication to the community that has asked directly both through social networking, direct emails, and direct traditional mail has gone unanswered. What they seem to mean is they will continue to communicate through one way announcements to avoid the hard questions about their competency and compassion.
In the meantime, please reach out to the district attorney and let him know how you feel about the poor practices, lack of compassion, and incompetency of the current management team. Please reach out to your public officials.
You can find contact information here.