Below is the written testimony of Sarah Pagen, who volunteered for LCAS when Rick Hammel was manager and Elizabeth Thompson was volunteer coordinator. Sarah goes on to detail what it was like, volunteering at LCAS and the stark differences after Greenhill took over. Sarah recently officially quit as a Greenhill volunteer for First Avenue Shelter (FAS). Of her decision to quit she said, "I wanted to quit for a while now. Them killing so many animals really hurts my soul."
As a public community member, I was hesitant to take a neighbor's
abandoned cat to the Lane County Animal Services (LCAS). I was afraid
that the "pound" would put her to sleep if no one adopted her
immediately. Such is the case in some places. Her sister was M.I.A.
as a foster home accidentally let the two cats out and they ran away due
to a big dog residing there. This cat returned to where I had been
feeding, sitting with and giving them fresh water...outside of her
I was determined to be there everyday to help make
a difference in the cat's experience at the pound. I was withdrawn from
the employees as I sat with the cat daily. I was skeptical of their intentions. I asked questions and requests into her care-taking like
clean litter box, fresh water, soft and fresh blankets and good food.
Every cat there was allowed to come out, four at a time to prevent
chaos, of their kennel and wander in the cattery room. My girl liked to rest atop of the kennels and look at the birds, people
and other cats. I could tell that the cat that had returned to her
previous home was missing her sister and
resenting being locked in a kennel. I apologized daily
to her. She became withdrawn until the day before she was adopted. She
was playful, friendly and full of joy, in my opinion. A nice couple
with a farm adopted her as well as a male cat a few days prior to her
It took a month for my girl to get adopted, but now,
looking back, I realize that is not very long for a cat to be adopted
from the facility. I was continually asked to volunteer in the cattery
as I also helped take care of other cats there while care-taking my
girl. I decided that I would volunteer and help my new cat and human
friends. I found myself going in whenever I had free time. I realized
that the help was needed and well received.
One employee was
overjoyed one day when I came in due to the lack of employees. She had
said it was like having another employee there. I was able to do many
jobs and help many dogs and cats by this time. Employees took me under
their wings and trained me for simple tasks that helped the animals.
Because it was a County, government, run facility, they closed their doors at 6. Not 6:01.
There was always a rush to get out and the doors and gates were locked
frequently upon me. They got used to making sure I was out before
locking it up after a while.
They treated me with respect and consideration.
animals that I knew, or not, were to be euthanized, I was consulted and
asked to comfort the animal prior to the act. I was so sad and asked
why each time. Why kill this one? Is there nothing else that we could
do for the animal? In the whole World, is there someone that could
help? Didn't we owe it to the Creator of Life to sustain a life as best
as we know how? I quickly found out that I
was not the only one with
these thoughts. I found out that the previous manager of the "pound"
was a high kill manager in that he would kill animals to make space for
the new animals coming into the facility. That manager was dismissed
and the new one was more of one that would support care and utilized
resources in the community, state, etc. to give each life it's due
health and lifespan.
Employees were full of dread when the news
came of LCAS being shut down and a new owner would be found. Greenhill
Humane (GH) Society was mentioned from several mouths in assumption that
they would take over. I thought "what is so bad about that?" and
continued my volunteering. I attended several board hearings to put in
my say along with other volunteers and employees/ex-employees of LCAS.
Other community rescue groups were there too. Many people kept using
the word "transparency". I had no idea what they meant. Not until later
when volunteering with Greenhill at their new facility called First Avenue
It did not take long to hear about 3 kittens who
had just come in and were residing in the "isolation" area where
volunteers are not allowed. They had ringworm. I had thought they
would send them to the fosters who handle ringworm cases. The kittens
were quickly euthanized. I found out that it was the new veterinarian
brought over from Greenhill who made that decision. I mourned, but still
volunteered for the cattery.
I was told by the Volunteer
Coordinator for Greenhill that things would be run the same way at FAS. I was
reassured that I could continue on in the same manners. Meetings with
all of the volunteers and the Coordinator were set up to have all of our
One question was were we able to comfort
animals before they were euthanized. The Coordinator was reassuring,
smiling and led all all to believe that we were an integral part of the
workings and yes, we could comfort.
One day at FAS, the Vet
Tech alerted me of the vet's plans to euthanize an elderly, skinny cat
who just came in. I was asked to comfort the cat. I pet the animal and
realized that he was very frail and did not touch him afterwards. I
just prayed with my hands near his torso, but not touching. He settled
into a position, after his head was rubbed to his liking, with four paws
under his body. It was like
he was praying too. Then, alarmingly,
the vet came up from behind and barked at me to not to touch this
animal! She told me that touching the animal was too stimulating. She
informed me that she had just given him a sedative and did not want
touch to interfere with the sedation. I replied that I thought that
what I was doing was calming him. She smiled and laughed and replied
that it was the
sedative that was calming the animal. I sharply
withdrew my position. I was very offended by her demeanor and her
comments. I felt very disrespected. I am a massage therapist and
calming beings is my job!
I mourned and continued volunteering.
stopped volunteering for a couple of months. I could not stand the
heartache and disrespect. There were more new employees than old. The
vet tech was dismissed. The former Volunteer Coordinator from LCAS quit
from her office job that they offered her in the transition to
FAS. It was demeaning to her. The previous employees from LCAS all
tried to their jobs as they were in the impressions to help each animal
individually and to their best abilities. FAS (Greenhill) denied their previous
pathways and shut down viable opportunities for animals to be fostered,
fund raised for, transferred, or to be alive. My heart felt squashed and
the light to follow dimmed.
I mourned and returned and put on
my visors to only help the cats. I trained people whenever I could. I
answered questions for the public the best that I could, but I was only
volunteering once a week for two hours. FAS employees no longer asked
me to do more, but tried to explain to me what I had been doing for
years. They watched over my shoulder and it made me feel very
They brought in more volunteers during my shift
to do my job while I was doing my job. I confronted the Cattery manager
and she just thought there was plenty of work to do. I could do my
job in two hours. I felt disrespected and discounted. I found that I had
to lead volunteers to the mid ISO and quarantine areas to socialize
with animals. Cats were let out in the cattery in huge numbers.
Volunteers were trained different ways so there was conflict and
disarray in the way things were done. Volunteers seemed to verbally set
things straight within the room. Many other volunteers found it was
too difficult to go through FAS' new hours long trainings just to do a
job. LCAS volunteers who were loyal and helpful stopped coming in,
refused to go back while others did what they could do, like me, to help
I started loathing going in for my shift due to
the FAS employees. I knew there was political issues with the new
shelter, but I hate politics and just did my job. I found such
satisfaction in relating with the cats and dogs and people who I knew
from LCAS time.
In the beginning of the transition, 6 pm
came and I was told that I could stay longer if I wanted. By the time I
quit my volunteer shift, FAS employees were trying to herd me out of
the cattery at 5:50 pm.
FAS (Greenhill) changed the way the public could view or adopt animals. They
limited time for animals to be viewed and shut down the adoption
opportunities early. It made no sense to me to limit animal adoption
FAS kept changing the routine set up so it was
difficult to find materials and to adjust every week. They even changed
my job title to that of another job and dissolved my job even though
they reassured me that I was to keep doing my job as it was. Moses
was an adult cat from LCAS who was adopted then returned. Why? Because
he pee'd all over things and the walls. He was a sweet boy. Stuck
back in the mid ISO area, FAS let him out of the kennel to drink
streaming water from a faucet daily. He was there for months and
months. Finally, FAS had his blood tested and it came back with kidney
disease. They put him to death. Did they ask me to come in to comfort
him? Did anyone? I hope so. I heard that he had some "good food"
(canned commercial, low grade, I am sure) before they injected him. If I
were a vet, I would know that drinking a lot of water and peeing
everywhere were signs of something wrong. He was described as being
unhappy, but when I had a kidney infection, I was too! No, my doctor did
not put me to death. I could see a foster home or hospice care home,
but not euthanization. This was a cherry on top of a pile of crap that I
had dealt with at FAS.
had the view (from experience) that FAS (Greenhill) employees thought they were superior, too busy to
chat, and non inclusive in decisions. The first thing I told the
Volunteer Coordinator when she called me to harass my freedom of speech
on Facebook, was that I quit being a volunteer there. The rest is hearsay
and perspective about "negative" comments made by me vs. their inability
to hear the need for changes at FAS of the public, myself included.
Anything that I have ever posted was my opinion and my perspective. I
told her my opinion. I am done with them.
In the end, LCAS was
run really well for the animals of our community in that they got their
needed shelter, medicine, chance to live, and a friendly, stress managed
area. FAS (Greenhill) seems to offer less than that. Is that because of the budget
cuts of the County? Why would they refuse fundraising in which former
employees had found success? I would like to see the community's pound
to be no kill. That doesn't mean that there is no euthanization. Only
the animals that are a danger to humans or are in a state of dying and
pain that cannot be managed. FAS (Greenhill) abuses those guidelines. They deny
medicine for days. They euthanize adoptable and treatable animals.
They deny kittens with ringworm a foster for health. They denied the
elder cat a hospice home.
I am not full of answers. I wish that
I were considered, however. FAS is not the place for my time or
efforts. I will help the animals in another way.