Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Leadership Required!

Lakeshore Humane Society is a small limited admissions shelter in Manitowoc, Wisconsin that takes in about 1000 animals a year. In April, one of our Lost Dogs of Wisconsin volunteers, agreed to attend a public meeting on behalf of our organization to see what the outcome of the city's stray contract would be. Our group is very concerned that many Wisconsin shelters are giving up their stray contracts. 

Animal control contracts are often being split up and given to private individuals, some that hold the dogs and cats in their garage, a warehouse, or a barn.  They often don't have microchip scanners, websites, Facebook or even internet access. One we know of doesn't have a camera.  This is making it virtually impossible for lost pet owners to try to find and reclaim their pets, especially since we know that it is possible that the animals could have wandered a long distance and/or crossed jurisdiction lines.

Cindi Ashbeck, our Lost Dogs volunteer,  a soft-spoken but very intelligent woman attended the meeting. She called me the next day to say that not only was the status of the contract a mess, but the whole humane society was a mess. Not one to let a "mess" deter her, she has dived in head first to make change for the animals in Manitowoc County.

One of the interesting things about this humane society is that it has an open door membership policy. Anybody can pay their $35 and vote for the board (after a 60 day waiting period) even if you don't live in the county. Board members of shelters are supposed to "steer the ship". When you don't have the correct people at the helm, the whole operation is doomed, no matter how well-meaning the director, staff or the volunteers are.

The old time board members of Lakeshore Humane Society do the same song and dance that is heard over and over again in shelters around the state and the country. "It's the irresponsible public, it's pet overpopulation,  killing is kindness, blah, blah, blah..."  Change is scary, it is easier to defend the old ways than to try something new. 

There is a handful of great new people that are on board or want to get on board, Cindi Ashbeck included. They have been reading and absorbing all the information and facts that are out there. They are well-armed with the truth. Cindi attended the Great Shelters Conference in Ohio to learn as much as possible about good sheltering practices.  She has started a blog and a Facebook page to inform and educate the public.

The city council also wants change. They want a board of directors that will be honest with them and negotiate the contract. They don't want to go elsewhere. But they will if they have to. Here are details from one of the council member's website.

Pretty obvious to all involved, is that some of the old-school board directors need to go. Dave Evans and his wife, Renee Evans have sat on the board for many years. I'm sure they have supported the humane society in their own way, but times are changing, methods are changing and board members need to keep up.  

Dave Evans  made the following comment at a meeting this summer.  "When they stop making ugly animals, we'll stop killing them."   Really? Those words are coming out of the mouth of a board member of the humane society? Unfortunately, Dave Evan's term does not end this fall. He has another year. Dave Evans also made comments at the meeting this week that the humane society's bylaws were not needed and didn't have to be followed. 

Another board member's rudeness and arrogance broke down the talks with the city. 

One  board member, Brenda Meverden, who is running for re-election and a new candidate, Kim Repinski  who is running for a director position  did not even have the courtesy to show up at the Candidates' Forum to answer questions by the members. This tells me that they don't take their responsibility to the animals and the humane society seriously.

Elections are October 18. I'll be there. I've paid my membership fee and I have a right to vote. I believe in democracy and the will of the people. It is time for change in Manitowoc County.  The animals are depending on us.

"Success and growth are unlikely if you always do things the way you've always done them. When you stop changing, you stop growing." - John Mason

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