Thursday, April 12, 2012

Years of wrongs still do not make anything right ....

from the CBC News website:
Sydney animal shelter kill rate too high: SPCA
The Nova Scotia SPCA says the animal shelter in Sydney euthanized far more animals than it adopted out last year.
The provincial group won control of the shelter after a court battle with a local humane society.
Kristin Williams, executive director of the SPCA, said an audit found that 565 animals were adopted last year while another 813 were put down.
That's well above the 10 per cent euthanization rate at most shelters, she noted Wednesday.
"Obviously, our aim is to make sure that every animal has a chance to be given a loving home, and it was clear that the animals at the Cape Breton shelter were not given that opportunity," Williams said.
The SPCA has a no-kill policy, which means animals should only be euthanized if they are in extreme pain or extremely aggressive.
Williams said they've been able to stick with that policy in Cape Breton.
"We have been operating that shelter since January and we've been able to do so without euthanizing animals for reasons other than mercy and severe aggression [and] that may cause a risk to public health," she said.
"It really is about attitude."
The SPCA launched a legal fight last year against the Cape Breton Humane Society, a local group that was running the shelter and was once a branch of the provincial organization.
During a court hearing, volunteers and staff with the SPCA said they had serious concerns about cases of animal neglect and a failure to provide veterinary care at the shelter.
The local board said it was largely unaware of those concerns and that many of the allegations were based on hearsay.
In January, a court awarded the SPCA temporary control of the shelter.
The SPCA promptly restricted new arrivals, saying it would only accept those brought in by animal control because too many cats and dogs at the shelter were sick.
Nearly 50 animals were transferred to a shelter in Halifax in the first week.
Williams said her group will return to court in late May if it can't reach an agreement with the local humane society for permanent control of the Sydney shelter.
Well then ... as with any online media article, these days the comments can often be more telling than the story itself!   Commenting provides a wild west forum where detractors and supporters can attempt to sway public opinion on any issue.
One of the more interesting ones in this case suggests that if the SPCA was running the shelter when all this killing was taking place .. while the renegade shelter was only running for a couple of months .. that clearly the society and by extension the ED are to blame for all the killing.
Someone has conveniently overlooked a few teeny little details:

  • the people running the renegade shelter were the ones doing all the killing,
  • the dismissed manager and disgraced former branch president repeatedly lied to provincial about everything from animal care protocols through to shelter statistics,
  • previous site visits from provincial were never unannounced... which in realspeak means that there was always time to prepare
  • the dismissed shelter manager and disbanded board would still be killing animals this year if the society had not finally paid the Sydney shelter an unannounced visit!
  • Straight, sweet and simple ... when advance notice is provided it simply is not possible for provincial to be able to see the full picture.   
When the branches were transitioning from a more independent stance, it may have made sense (to provincial at least)  to give them the grace of a couple of planned site visits.  Sacrifice a few to save ever so many more down the road might have seemed like a good idea at the time.
Not to be mean, but there was never, ever going to be a time when the dismissed manager was going to transition gracefully to No Kill.  Through no fault of the existing board, the Sydney shelter had been allowed to go on its merry own way for far too long to accept the authority of provincial.
While I do not always see eye to eye with the society, I do believe that they took the right action by taking the unprecedented step of making a surprise audit of the shelter!
It was an eye opener that did more than obligate provincial to act.   It caught the attention of the community and laid the groundwork for the strong level of grassroots support when the society regained control of the shelter.
Quite frankly, given the sorry state of the audit results .... along with the significant improvements that have been made in such a short time ... this middle aged grandmother suspects that the humane society is holding out for an agreement that includes a non disclosure clause.
But I am ... as I always seem to do ... wandering afield in my meandering way.  The point I am actually trying to make is that surprise inspections are the game changer.  In small communities, where board members can easily be related to shelter staff and managers, it is difficult for locals to find a ready ear for any problems they might have.
What time is it?   It is always time to appreciate the value of proactive management.  At the end of the day, it is always cheaper and cleaner to address things before problematic protocols become standard practice.    At the end of the day, years of "wrongs" never make a 'right' .... they are just harder to fix!

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