Last week, in an article in The Santa Barbara Independent, Supervisor Salud Carbajal, one of the people responsible ultimately for oversight of the long-troubled Department of Animal Services, said he was aware that shelter volunteers feel they can not speak candidly and critically of staff for fear of retaliation. His suggestion to improve the situation was “to have a cup of coffee” together. Carbajal’s response is unacceptable. Retaliation and harassment of volunteers is against the law.
After many complaints from the citizens of Santa Barbara County, an independent review board came to the conclusion that there were significant problems with its management by the current director of the program. Ventura County, when faced with similar issues, turned its poorly run shelter around in record time as soon as it replaced the shelter director with someone committed to change. Santa Barbara’s solution was to put the director, Jan Glick, in charge of the oversight committee created to bring our Animal Services Department up to acceptable standards.
The people who are charged with oversight, the Board of Supervisors and the Director of Public Health, do not seem to be willing or able to step in and make appropriate changes to the management. Given the fact that public money is being used poorly to run a department that has been determined to be substandard in its management, it might be time to involve the Grand Jury. Volunteers who have been harassed and fear retaliation from county staff may submit complaints with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.