Thursday, August 5, 2010

Circling the Wagons Rarely Works

A couple of months ago I started this blog with a problem that had arisen at Countryside Humane Society in Racine, Wisconsin. Staff had given expired vaccines for six months to approximately 600 animals. I won't rehash those details. They're in my very first entry.

Shortly after the vaccine fiasco, the management of the humane society circled the wagons and denied any wrongdoing. One Racine alderman, Eric Marcus, has stayed determined to get to the bottom of this. There has also been ongoing coverage of the events in Racine Uncovered - a web-based news site.

Alderman Marcus has tried to get a copy of six years worth of Countryside's records and has been denied. Even though at least a portion of these records should fall under the Freedom of Information Act (more on this below). So, finally Marcus found someone who would come forward with allegations of abuse. The story aired on WISN news last night.

I am not a big fan of using one story to make a point - but in this case it may have finally achieved the desired outcome. Enough of a public outcry to get to the bottom of this mess. We'll see.  Countryside is still not responding and has hired a lawyer to represent them.

Countryside Humane Society has now been  removed from the membership list of AWARE (Alliance of Wisconsin Area Rehoming Efforts)  a partnership of shelters and rescues in Wisconsin who promote the responsible rehoming of adopted animals.

My point - "Crawling into bed and pulling the covers over your head does not make the storm go away." In this case, it's getting worse by the day - because I'm sure there will be all sorts of anecdotal stories of mistreatment that may surface. Just look at the comments that are starting to pop up under the WISN news story. Soon Countryside will have lost the public's support and donations.  The income from their animal control contracts is not enough to keep their doors open.

Countryside management needs for once and for all to come out in the open, show their records, apologize, roll a few heads, and get back on track in a new, responsible, transparent fashion that the taxpayers and donors expect and deserve.

If you are trying to get records from an animal shelter that provides animal control services (falls under the Freedom of Information Act) - here is a step-by step guide put out by the No Kill Advocacy Center.

Also at the No Kill Conference last weekend in Washington, D.C. there was a session on "Forcing Transparency".  Here are the live blogging notes from Christie Keith of the Pet Connection.


  1. Linked this story on my site, it's also on the Racine Post! Great Job
    Racine Uncovered!

  2. FOIA is federal it actually falls under the WI open records law. Well done.