Friday, October 12, 2012

Testimony from Heidy Hollister, CVT

Admin Note:  Greenhill fired Heidy on August 10th for outlining the unethical practices of Greenhill's Director of Shelter Medicine, Gail Schroder and asking Lieberman and Semple for support so that the animals are cared for properly.

It is very important to note that these communications were sent prior to August 10th.  The "GS" referred to in the emails is Greenhill's Director of Shelter Medicine, Gail Schroder.  Instead of properly addressing these concerns, Greenhill fired this compassionate, dedicated CVT.  I have added the bolding and italics.

From: Heidy Hollister
Date: Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 7:33 PM
Subject: ethics
Cary Lieberman; Jaclyn Semple 

Cary, Jaclyn: 

Among one of the more disturbing things that happened today, I have been informed by Gail Schroder, DVM not to treat ailments on the animals that we are going to euthanize at the end of their holding period. This is unethical and against my oath as a veterinary technician to ease suffering!

I would like to know what the contract between the City and Greenhill says about this!

Case in point, GS did an exam on Oakly, a senior dog with horribly crusted eyes, extremely uncomfortable ears due to otitis and a bleeding lump on his hind foot.  Otherwise, dog is barking, eating, loves to go for walks, etc. When GS was asked to do something about this dog, she wrapped the foot, but neglected to address the ears and eyes. I had several people, volunteers and employees ask me if I was going to do something for Oakly as he seemed uncomfortable. Not to mention the fact that it looks really bad in a shelter to have a dog in this condition. I did, and when GS found out about this, as I tried to write my treatment on Oakly's chart, GS informed me that she did an exam on this dog and there were no further treatments necessary, as, in her words, "we were not going to spend money on a dog that is not adoptable and is going to be euthanized". Frankly, this dog is adoptable, I have seen worse cases and we still adopted or transferred these kinds of dogs.  

Furthermore, she informed me that I can do more harm than good with treating him.  I have been a vet tech for a long time, and not cleaning eyes of goopyness, or cleaning uncomfortable ears due to otitis has NEVER harmed any dog...

Another case in point, Mister, FIV/FelV positive kitty with tumors, eating, purring, engaging in human interaction. He was up for euthanasia, but I found a rescue that was willing to take him into a foster home to live out the rest of his life, however short, a week, a month or possibly longer. GS informed me that this cat was suffering.  Again, as a vet tech, a suffering cat does NOT eat, purr, engage in human interaction, and loves on you when you take him out of his kennel  I guess she and I disagree on what suffering means. This kitty was euthanized today, while I had arranged a transfer.  What does the contract with the City say about this?

To me, it looks like we would rather euthanize a cat than have him live out the rest of his remaining life in a loving home.  Again, this is not okay with me.  What kind of humane society are we? GS' response to this was that she rewrote her policies and procedures and I am no longer to "waste" my time on finding resuces, only Kimber, whom, by the way knows very little about cats, as she has confessed to me herself.  

On another note, I was informed by GS not to leave any doors open to my office if I am not in there.  After two years of doing this, I forgot a few times today, and she finally said to me: "you left the door open AGAIN". She does not need to speak to me this way, I am an adult.  I explained to her that I was trying to remember, I am not perfect! She stated that it wasn't that hard to remember to keep the door closed, but "whatever!". Funny thing happened, after we euthanized Mister, I announced I was going to go get a bag to put his body in, and when I returned to my office, GS was not present and the lock box was left open with all the drugs for the world to see.  

I am not used to this kind of treatment and it makes it very hard for me to do it, when I am being micromanaged.  I hope you will address these issues and I would like to see a copy of the contract between the City and Greenhilll, as this is public record. 

Admin Comment:  This first paragraph is very telling about the prevailing attitude regarding animals suffering prior to being put to death.  I have added the bolding.

From: Heidy Hollister
Date: Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 8:36 PM
Subject: More
To:  Cary Lieberman; Jaclyn Semple

Cary, Jaclyn: 

Jaclyn, as you know, I came to you with these problems.  Even though you listened, and I appreciated this, I was surprised by your response about Oakly when you stated that you "didn't know about the medical part".  Really? You think it is okay to let a dog sit in the kennel with crusty eyes, and painful ears until he gets euthanized?  Even if you did not know anything about any medical issues, this should not be okay...

I am really unsure about my role as a veterinary technician, as most of my duties have been taken away from me.  I am trying to do the best I can, but I am not left with much to do.  I am unsure of my role any longer.  I am totally frustrated, particular with the fact that everything is based on Greenhill policies and procedures, but we are NOT Greenhill, we are First Avenue Shelter and we have a different clientele, and a different "breed" of dog/cat come through our shelter, but I feel that the Greenhill people fail to recognize this.   

I am asking for help, not adversity!

From:  Heidy Hollister 
Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2012 4:59 PM
To: Cary Lieberman; Jaclyn Semple
Subject: More issues
Cary, Jaclyn:

I have spend the entire night thinking of the aweful day last Friday, and I feel you need to know more about I am really upset and unable to perform my work as a veterinary technician.  I feel this is a hostile work environment, and I am asking for your assistance.  Here is the continuation of Mister's euthanasia:

While GS and I were waiting for Mister's pre euthanasia sedation to take effect, GS continued to get text messages on her phone, and she was giggling and thoroughly engaged with the text messages.  After administering the sedation, she walked out several times, and didn't even monitor his response to the drugs.  Some of these kitties do not respond well.  I was left to hold the kitty in my arms comforting it.  I would have expected a little more respect for Mister's fate, and a little more professionalism from our DVM.  Euthanasia is NOT something to take lightly, no matter if it is in a shelter setting, or with a client present; there should be NO difference.

Another situation:  Stinky was presented to us on Saturday during my vacation and tested "faint' positive for leukemia.  GS wrote on the board to euthanize him after his hold time was up.  The next day, I retested him, as there is such a thing as a faulty test.  I just wanted to be sure, especially since I was informed that that day, Kristy tested 20 cats, and mistakes happen.  When I retested, it came up negative.  I reported the results to GS over the phone, and she told me I had to retest on serum, not whole blood, but she would come in to take blood the next day and retest at Greenhill.  For your information, in order to get serum, one has to spin down the blood with a centrifuge, which 1st Ave Shelter does not have.  In order to facilitate the process, and make things easier, I drew more blood and went down to Urgent Care after hours to borrow their centrifuge.  I have a good relationship with them, established over the last two years, and I am always welcome to ask for their help with these kinds of things, no charge! Again, the result was NEGATIVE.

When I reported the second negative result, GS interrogated me as to how I did this, and how she didn't want me spending time driving to Urgent Care on work time to spin down the blood, which I didn't, it was after hours; no charge to 1st Avenue Shelter!  I do a lot of stuff without charging my time, because I am motivated to care for these animals, as in spending time to write you these emails, on my off time.  She proceeded to say that she didn't want me using Urgent Care in such matter, as there are more important things we need them for, such as blood pressures.  I believe rechecking a test for a kitty that looks otherwise healthy and is slated for euthanasia is just as important as a blood pressure.

Then GS wanted to look at the kitty again, as he has a squinty eye.  She did an exam and drew blood again.  I asked her why she drew blood again, and she told me that in case he goes to see a specialist and undergoes surgery, they may need blood work.  Now this is a apparently healthy kitty, other than his eye. So why are we spending money on bloodwork when a surgery is not even indicated; he hasn't seen the specialist yet? It may just be an eyelash bothering his eye? But until we know, why draw blood.  It feels like she is second guessing every move I make to save an animals life, and attacking my integrety as a competent veterinary technician.  I have 15 years of experience.

I have many more notes of event that happened.  I really hope you will not let this go unaddressed. 

Admin comment:  The only response received:

From: Jaclyn Semple
Date: Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 9:49 PM
Subject: RE: More issues
Cc: Cary Lieberman
Cary and I will discuss all of this with Dr. Schroder when she returns on Thursday. In the meantime, I hope to see you tomorrow morning at 1st Ave.


These next three emails have to do with the cat Oscar.  Oscar's story and his medical file can be found here:  Oscar Suffered at Greenhill for nearly a month

From: Heidy Hollister
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2012 9:19 PM
To: Jaclyn Semple

Subject: Sorry to bother you

Sorry to bother you, but I do most of my networking for the animals in my spare time and at night....really no problem...It is the core of me to find a solution for most, if not ALL, animals. I have found a foster/transfer for Oscar, provided we can do the surgery...I am not sure if that is in the books or a feasible (financial) solution. You just have to know I try to give all animals a second, or even third chance. I am more of a no-kill person, but I realize, too, we cannot save every animal, as in the two geriatric cats currently at the shelter. But when it comes to a younger kitty, I am all for it. I am also thinking of how this makes Greenhill looks, as a whole, as an organization that goes out of its way to do every thing....I am aware of our reputation, and I really want to make us look good every time we can! We can put this on Facebook, a very effective way to show of all the good we do for animals, thus more donations! Plus we can request donations for Oscar's cause....

BTW, thank you for making my day better, I appreciated you involving me in some of the issues of the daily shelter life of the animals is what I do, and love to do.

-- Heidy Indigo Hollister

On Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 8:30 PM, Jaclyn Semple <> wrote:
Hi Heidy,

You're not bothering me - I was actually going through my inbox and responding to all the emails I got today anyways. Can you give me some more information about the transfer option for Oscar? If we could do the surgery, would the transfer be able to provide post-op care for him? I just don't think it would be in Oscar's best interest to do the surgery and then send him somewhere that couldn't provide care, which could place him even more at risk of continued pain or complications.

Let me know what the details are. I'll be at Greenhill in the morning. You can either email me or call my extension there - x 134.


From: Heidy Hollister 
Date: Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 8:41 PM
Subject: Re: Sorry to bother you
To: Jaclyn Semple <>

Thanks for your response.  Kristy and I would be able to do the post-op care at the shelter; we feel comfortable with it...and I know we can do this; we have discussed this.  West Coast Dog and Cat Rescue has a permanent home for him, as in foster first, then a home. Julie McDonnell is very good at that...I just want to give a young kitty like this a chance to live. 

Again, thank you, and I will talk to you tomorrow.  My extension is 106, btw, you scared the hell out of me on the intercom, when I heard my name. I wasn't used to an intercome and I had to look around where that was coming from...very funny!