Letter to the editor: Humane Society needs to do more for rescue animals

Published 4:10 pm Monday, February 1, 2016

To the Editor,

I read with interest your story about the collaborative effort ongoing in this community to find homes for as many animals as possible in the Beaufort County Animal Shelter. As a foster “mom” for Washington Cat Rescue, an occasional transporter for dogs and cats leaving the shelter for a rescue, and an advocate for adoptable animals, I can attest to the exhaustive efforts made by ENC Shelter Dogs, ENC Shelter Cats, and Washington Cat Rescue to get adoptable animals out of the shelter before it’s too late. I urge citizens who use Facebook to check out their pages and to consider helping out.
While I appreciate the optimistic statements made by shelter staff and HSBC board members in your story, I know much more needs to be done. The Humane Society and shelter leadership, in my opinion, do not advocate in any significant way for adoptable animals in the shelter, and often stand in the way of those who do. Shelter leadership: How many of the animals you claim as “adopted” are actually going to rescues thanks to the efforts of ENC Shelter Dogs, ENC Shelter Cats, and Washington Cat Rescue? Of the trained shelter volunteers, how many are merely cleaning cages instead of interacting with animals and people in any meaningful way (like counseling people who come to surrender their animals)? How quickly do you cut off access to the shelter for more outspoken volunteers who don’t agree with one of your actions, or act as whistleblowers for the more questionable of them? Why, when the shelter is full of dogs, would you continue to trap stray dogs, so that euthanasia is imminent? When rescue volunteers plead with you to spare the lives of animals they say they can place, do you euthanize them anyway? Because you can? Volunteers can step forward to verify and validate stories like these but are afraid to because they believe you will cut off their access to the animals that need them. The shelter is not a tiny kingdom; it is a publicly funded agency. Act like one.
Humane Society: the rescue community at large believes you have a significant amount of money in the bank. What’s it for? When our county is so big, why is the shelter so small? Why is the spay/neuter discount so small and time-limited? And, excuse me, but I believe the president of the Humane Society should not also be the veterinarian across the highway from the shelter whose practice benefits from HS funds. This vet should not have anything to do with the leadership of an organization that allocates money to his/her practice. What ethical code would allow this? As a licensed mental health provider, I can tell you my state board would call that a “dual relationship” and possibly impose disciplinary action.
Yes, we need more help from the community in the form of volunteerism and advocacy for shelter animals. Yes, there are cruel and thoughtless people in our county who abuse and neglect their animals and/or dump them at the shelter. The leadership for improving and saving the lives of shelter animals should be coming from passionate animal advocates on the Humane Society Board and on the shelter staff. The adoption/rescue rate for adoptable animals at our shelter can and should be between 95 and 99 percent. The relatively small but fiercely dedicated rescue community is working towards this goal — where is everyone else?

Deborah Christner