Animal Shelter

After considering the little bit of information I have been able to obtain thus far, I have just a few minor observations on this pet control situation.

First, control of the animal shelter is a separate issue from Susan Overfield's removal from the City Commission meeting. Her right to speak, and the City's legal authority to remove her, if any, exist or don't exist regardless of what issue she was discussing.

Second, as noted elsewhere, I sat on the committee that set the new pet control fees. I did not see anything in my involvement that led me to believe there was any sort of ulterior motive on the part of any committee members. Bob James from the Animal Foundation raised the issue of funding for the new shelter a couple times, but this was done in an open way, and he and Jim Donahue discussed the issue in a civil fashion in my presence.

Third, I have been provided some emails from several years ago relating to the interplay between the Humane Society of Cascade County and the Great Falls Animal Foundation. There was obviously some dissension between the two groups. I am trying to obtain some additional background and context for these emails before I post them, assuming I will at some point.

Fourth, I think the City's proposal to the Humane Society is, frankly, unworkable. Imagine if you were on the board of an independent entity that contracted to provide a service to the City. Then imagine if the City asked your entire board to resign to be replaced by board members who will be recruited and appointed with the 'assistance' of the City. I do not have access to the Humane Society's governing documents, but I would be amazed if they allow the board to abdicate its responsibilities in order to be co-opted by a government entity. I think the City can contract with the Humane Society or not; anything else is overreaching.

Fifth, there have been numerous allegations of 'problems' with the Board of Directors of the Humane Society. What are these problems? Mr. Donahue informed me that the City wanted an independent financial audit and, according to him, the Humane Society obtained one and passed it. That doesn't sound like a problem.

Rather than vague references to 'problems' and 'complaints,' I think the City should lay its cards on the table. What, specifically, are the problems? Are they documented? Are the complaints documented? I would hate to think that the government would create a pretext for unstated goals. I am not saying that such is occurring, but unless and until we see something documenting a serious problem with the Board of Directors of the Humane Society, one has to wonder what is really going on. If circumstances are bad enough to merit what I anticipate will be justified as an 'emergency' response by the City, evidence of some wrongdoing certainly should exist.

Sixth, the City Commission voted to extend the Humane Society's contract for 30 days. On whose authority was the decision made to countermand the Commission's vote and seize control of the shelter?

Finally, I have one more observation at present, and it is based on my own experiences. I sit on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Cascade County. Occasionally we will learn of problems with our service partners, i.e. the entities to which we provide funding. While it is important to provide oversight, we always remind ourselves that these people are trying to do good.

Likewise, I don't want to be a scold, but I hope all involved, whether the Humane Society, the City, or the Animal Foundation, will all remember that for the most part we are talking about volunteers. These are people who are trying to do something good for animals in our community. There have been no allegations of personal misconduct on the part of board members from either charity. Let's keep personalities out of this, remember everyone's trying to help, and solve the problem.


GeeGuy said...

Hey, anonymous. If you want to slam the United Way with false information, you can do so on your own blog. I happen to believe in the organization and I know the truth about it.

Think maybe things have changed in the last 25 years?

Adios, partner...

Anonymous said...

RE: Rather than vague references to 'problems' and 'complaints,' I think the City should lay its cards on the table...... evidence of some wrongdoing certainly should exist

Makes sense as the best and most reasonable place to start.

Anonymous said...

Can they really make them vacate the building? I thought it was given to the hscc. I know I've donated $$ to the hscc for improvements to that building, as a hscc building. Not city owned building.

Anonymous said...

I love the Trib coverage of Bark in the Park this Sunday a.m. HALF the article dealt with guess what. POLICE DOGS! I mean, HOW MANY people were there, and the trib couldn't find ANYTHING to report about except corky's k-9s?! Wow.