As somebody who has helped at and donated to local animal shelter for years, I was disturbed to read this investigative report on our local shelter. To hear 13 employees leaving over Dori Villalon’s leadership team tells me there isn’t any real leadership to be had, especially if this issue seems to have followed her. The actions of employees speak louder than fellow higher-up staff. Thirteen people don’t leave for nothing.

I am uncomfortable that Ms. Villalon and her team are trying to spin words like “emotional” to their benefit. “In animal welfare, there’s a lot of emotions,” stated CEO Kerri Burns. This implies these employees are just too emotionally invested in a way that makes leadership decisions seem cruel. Those comments are patronizing and suspicious at best, lacking any sign of insight or self-reflection — perhaps a peek into how things are conducted?

Either way, there’s clearly something wrong here, and the animal-loving people of Santa Barbara need to get to the bottom of it.


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