Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Testimony from Local Eugene Certified Professional Dog Trainer sent to Cary Lieberman and Greenhill Board of Directors in June, 2012

The young dog sat shivering by himself in an unfamiliar room at Greenhill Humane Society wondering when the next bout of diarrhea would hit. He was cold, hungry, sick and dehydrated. The kennel staff was surprised to see that he was still alive when they arrived that morning. It had been three days already and it was now the weekend. They wondered how long a dog could be sick like that before he would die. They had a dilemma; if they called the vet again she might get mad at them, yet they were told not to take the dog to emergency care.
They did not want to get in trouble and lose their jobs, but couldn't in all good conscience sit by and watch the young dog die. I stepped in and told them to call the vet and be sure to mention that I told them to make the call, I was happy to take the blame as my job was not at stake. They dialed the phone, waiting and praying she wouldn't answer, so that they could make the decision to take the dog to the emergency vet. But she did answer; the dog did not get any emergency care, and died that night.
This is a scene I witnessed while at your facility, and similar ones as well. I have kept quiet knowing that if I said anything you would not let me come and help the dogs or cats anymore, just as the many trainers before me had also been excused.  Last month you mentioned to the AWNLC group that you use [three local dog trainers] for training help, when we all know that really isn't true.

So…..it is now I who cannot sleep at night wondering what is to happen?  Cary, if you don’t know what is happening in your shelter, it is time for you to not only acknowledge that you have a problem, but to do something about it. If you are aware and this is how you choose to operate, please stop repeating that you treat all adoptable and treatable animals, BECAUSE YOU DON’T.

It is a very tight rope employees and volunteers walk around GHS. I even hesitate to write this knowing it might cost someone their job. But here is what Greenhill employees have to suffer every single day:
  1. If kennel staff say what they think to the vet, the trainer, or an administrator, they risk losing their jobs.
  2. If they don’t speak up, then an animal risks getting killed or dying.
  3. If a vet comes to you and/or another vet about the conditions they work in, they risk losing their jobs.
  4. If they don’t say anything, they have to perform surgeries in sub-standard conditions, then either the animals suffer from lack of sharp surgical equipment, or less animals get their needed surgeries.
  5. If a volunteer says something they will be asked not to volunteer anymore or they risk an employee losing their jobs.
IT TAKES EVERYONE BEING ON THE SAME PAGE TO TRULY EMBRACE THE NO-KILL PHILOSOPHY and Greenhill isn’t there YET. What is not okay is pretending you are, or saying you are, or misleading the public into thinking that you are what you are not. I hear you repeat this same mantra over and over again (this from your FB page): "Greenhill has an incredible team of staff and volunteers who truly care for each and every animal that comes to us…GHS also does a significant amount of work in spay/neuter and assistance for low-income pet owners. Our common goal of providing the best possible for every animal presented to us."

I am not trying to make things more difficult, I just really care about helping adoptable and treatable animals. I erased my posts from your Facebook page a few days ago. I don’t understand why you don’t simply delete all the undesirable ones as well? I am not sure what you are trying to do and why you said publicly and privately that I was welcome to see Riley’s records, and then cut off all communication. I am sure that you knew that would upset me, and it has. I have dozens of stories similar to the one above about the beagle that died of dehydration from diarrhea with no emergency medical intervention. That is not my goal, to get anyone in trouble.

My concern is that:

Most of the dogs at LCAS are either young bully breeds who fall apart in a shelter and totally stress out from being young, confined, scared, under stimulated, and under exercised (think 14 year old human athlete locked in a small cage all day). This manifests as biting, nipping, growling, etc.  It is called “fooling around” and is one of the signs of stress. Very treatable and actually a common phase for many adolescent dogs, which is why so many end up in the shelter. Are you going to euthanize all of those?
The rest are often dogs and cats that look like the cats that were brought into Greenhill last week and euthanized. Not groomed, flea infested, over or underweight, and needing a dental. Cary, now is a great time to embrace change and make sure all your staff is on the same page. I fear this letter will make it go the other way and that they will all be told to keep better secrets or get fired. I hope that is not the case. Your secrecy around the euthanized animals is what got you into this situation. I am not sure what all the secrecy is about except if you are hiding something or just want to show your smugness because you can, but either way is not great for any sort of community relations. You said this when asked about the 5 dogs that were euthanized last week: “It's not true. Perhaps you can tell me where this rumor is coming from, and why people are interested in spreading these lies? I get it that not everyone feels plugged into the loop entirely, but why do they choose to turn that into fear mongering and rumor spreading? We are all here to help animals, why is it so difficult to just use that shared desire as a base, and figure out how to work together?

Honestly, there is a TON of work to do to ensure that the animals don't suffer in this transition. We all need to work together to make this possible.

Cary, people are trying to help and Greenhill won’t let them, except in a tiny little niche where you say it is okay to help, like walking a dog or petting a cat.  You have refused help from over half a dozen trainers who tried to get programs going to teach volunteers how to work with difficult dogs.  The rumors and fear you speak about spread because of the lies and lack of information you share. It is so passive-aggressive and demeaning to make statements like the one above.
I am sorry that it has come to this. I do not expect a response and I know that you are quite busy right now. Take it in the light it is meant to be, hopefully a wake up call so that things can go better for you on the road to No-Kill with the LCAS facility. Perhaps the attitude needs to start at the top and should include all the veterinarians and staff as well. Right now LCAS has a great group of fosters and volunteers who work with the high risk dogs. Greenhill has NEVER been able to let go of control enough to pull that off. How will you manage that now, what needs to change??

Lastly,  I will leave you with this email I got last weekend which is heart wrenching for me and confirms the lack of a no-kill attitude, the  lack of putting the proper amount of money into the medical care of these animals you say you treat so well while in your care, and the general attitude of the Greenhill employees, which is we can’t say anything, we don’t have what we need, we do put treatable animals down, and everyone else should just shut-up about it because our hands are tied and there is nothing we can do. So when I hear you repeat your story over and over again about the great care you provide for all the animals there, it makes me sick.  I wonder if maybe you have repeated your story so often that you have started to believe it. But Cary, seriously, if Greenhill can’t afford sharp scalpels and suture packs, then you are certainly not in a position to be taking on another agency at this time, right?

Sincerely,

Local Eugene
Certified Professional Dog Trainer
(Name available upon request)
Admin Comment:  Visualize yourself in the shoes of these employees and volunteers. Can you imagine being that employee who must endure knowing that animals in the rooms that the public does not see are suffering without medical treatment? Can you see yourself “getting in trouble” for wanting to raise funds to help a treatable animal—and then to see it killed with no remorse? How would it feel to know that adoptable animals are killed, yet be unable to speak of this because the shelter director publicly claims otherwise? Can you imagine knowing that you will lose your job—the job you need so badly for your family’s survival—if you tell anyone the things you witness? How would you feel to be the employee who was just fired because she fought to save the lives of the animals in her care?
------------------------------------------