Come Back, Volunteers

It’s too bad The Independent didn’t ask some of the volunteers who are at the County Animal Shelter the most what was going on from their point of view. [ “Dog Fight,” 8/4/11.] Several of us presented a comprehensive functional reorganization plan to the K-9 Pals Board a year ago that would have left Ms. Ward overseeing the medical contributions, but diversified control of volunteer programs (fostering and training) to people more suited to and capable of effective inclusion of interested volunteers.

None of this has anything to do with euthanasia of dogs. Ms. Ward has been the primary assessor of dogs at the shelter, and has concluded that many dogs over the years did not fit the standard of adoptable dogs for our community. The County has a written policy on care and evaluation meetings, and states criteria for adoptability which has not changed – regardless of who is in the meeting.

Mr. Bandurraga [a volunteer quoted in the article] has never attended a C&E meeting. The discussion about Darlene, the pit bull, was very difficult, but the facts were that she had threatened kennel staff, was stranger-aggressive, and was able to get over a six foot fence. Does the public want that dog living next door? Would it be responsible for the county to adopt her out to your neighbor? And with the sheer number of dogs at the shelter, and money (whether K-9 PALS or County) limited, in the two-plus years Darlene was there, neither Mr. Bandurraga nor anyone else apparently could provide the socialization or training he thinks would have made a difference to this particular dog.

K9PALS, the organization, has obviously provided some extraordinary services to the dogs at the shelter. Had they made changes suggested by many, many volunteers over the years, K9PALS would not be in the position of removing itself simply because one person was told she could not be at the shelter. So, although the shelter dogs are no longer the primary beneficiaries of the donations to K9PALS from the public, hopefully both volunteers and whatever K-9 PALS morphs into will continue to support the dogs at the shelter. Volunteers who quit because of the treatment they received are returning, and more should come back and help. The County is open to ideas and suggestions, and is working hard to have a fully engaged and involved volunteer group that works with knowledge and understanding rather than blind obedience to a single person. We’re helping the dogs every day; come join us.

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