By Debi McNamara
For The Register-Guard
April 16, 2015
Kill Lane County formed in 2012, when the Greenhill Humane Society
began administering our taxpayer-funded First Avenue Shelter in Eugene.
Since then, hundreds of employees, volunteers and community members have
reported to us shelter wrongdoing they have witnessed.
allowed us to post their testimonies on NoKillLaneCounty.org and our
Facebook page. We are contacted frequently because people trust our
discretion in reporting their disturbing experiences.
accounts of poor veterinary care have been reported, ranging from
inadequate to abusive practices, and we’ve posted medical records
proving this. No Kill Lane County finally took legal action to review
Greenhill’s records. The Lane County district attorney recently ruled in
our favor, finding that First Avenue Shelter is subject to public
record requests. Greenhill’s attorneys are appealing this decision.
is a sampling of what volunteers have recently reported to No Kill Lane
County: “There’s a shortage of staff, and most seem to work very hard
and are sincere in their compassion for the dogs. Staff turnover seems
high, as is volunteer turnover. I think foster [homes] are low in number
due to Greenhill’s attitude and restrictions... .”
in the kennel has always been very nice to me, but several have told me
they ‘can’t say’ when I ask them questions about specific dogs.
Sometimes I try to find out about medical conditions of certain dogs and
just get the run-around. Several I’ve been so concerned about —
concerned that they will get killed rather than treated — but I can’t
seem to get through for more info... .”
“Greenhill seems so
withdrawn and covert — like they are separate from the public from whom
they want money, not help. They appear to have an ‘us-and-them’ attitude
and are constantly on the defense. Because this attitude was pervasive
years ago when I volunteered at their facility, it isn’t going to change
overnight with the current management.”
and practices alienate community members. Greenhill turns away animals
daily and has failed to help thousands of pets in jeopardy. But
accountable and effective leadership could quickly transform this
shelter culture to one that is able to generate and maintain an
outpouring of community support.
Last September in Canon City,
Colo., innovative leader Doug Rae became the director of a high-kill
shelter, the Humane Society of Fremont County. Three months later, the
shelter was saving 100 percent of adoptable pets.
Mexico Pets Alive’s ambitious goal is to end the killing of adoptable
animals in that state. With a rescue, foster and training program
currently in place, the group is now enthusiastically building an
adoption/rehabilitation center. Programs will include wards for animals
with contagious illnesses and bottle-fed baby animals; pet retention
assistance; and the PawCore program, which hires veterans to
The Nevada Humane Society’s stunning
statistics overview showcases record numbers of volunteers and
life-saving programs. Hiring a skilled director with no former shelter
experience immediately changed the organization’s culture and practices.
Honesty and accountability became the norm. Seven years later, enormous
community support continues to pour in, with high numbers of
volunteers, foster homes and donations.
Greenhill’s board of
directors has a choice. A change in leadership and a commitment to
transparency would reverse this downward spiral. Instead, taxpayer and
donor dollars are being used to wage a desperate and costly legal battle
to conceal legitimate public records, which Greenhill’s managers know
will further expose their failings.
No Kill Lane County has
launched a local and national fundraising campaign for legal fees and to
pay for records requests. Our current requests include medical charts
and records dealing with behavior assessments, euthanasia and animal
Our taxpayer- and donation-funded shelters should
be accountable to the people they serve. The public has a right to know
how animals were cared for in shelters and what became of them.
Community members can — and should — expect from Greenhill a much higher
standard of leadership and success for our shelter workers and homeless
We are asking for community support in requiring of Greenhill honesty, transparency and accountability.
public trust is restored, records requests won’t be needed — because
there will be no doubt about the integrity and intent of our shelter
board and management.
Our amazing community will then
enthusiastically support a dynamic leadership team and staff who are
capable of building and maintaining programs that provide a safety net
for all of Lane County’s stray pets — a goal that Greenhill’s board of
directors can choose to make a reality.
Debi McNamara is a spokesperson for No Kill Lane County