Where Does the Buck Stop at GA Shelter?

You know how when someone in the Obama administration screws up, our President says, “The buck stops with me” by way of taking responsibility for the actions of those who work for him?  I can relate to this.  In my office, I don’t do the billing but when there are billing problems that come to the attention of my boss, he comes to me.  He knows I don’t do the billing but he looks to me as overseeing the administration of the office paperwork.  He expects me to work out who is responsible for the error, go to that person and address it so that it doesn’t happen again.  As such, I take a proactive approach in trying to address problems before they come to the attention of my boss.

In an animal shelter, I would think the buck stops with the shelter director.  But maybe Floyd Co AC’s shelter director sees it differently, I don’t know.

Apparently the shelter’s highest adoption rate was in 2009 – a miserable 25%.  And their lowest kill rate was in 2007 – a sad 61%.  This year, shelter director Jason Broome agreed to provide space at the shelter and a phone line for rescue volunteers to try to save the lives of the pets in his care.  The volunteers dramatically increased the adoption rate to 62% and lowered the kill rate to 24% – basically a flip-flop of the shelter’s previous stats.

Last week, the volunteer program was suddenly shut down amidst a GA Department of Agriculture investigation into the paperwork being completed by the volunteers.  One of the volunteers acknowledged there were errors:

“We thought we were doing the paperwork the Department of Agriculture wanted, but we weren’t.”

Agriculture Department spokesman Yao Seidu said he couldn’t discuss the ongoing investigation, but confirmed it was focused on paperwork violations.

The violations appear to involve a failure to properly vet rescue groups who were pulling pets from the shelter.  Several local veterinary clinics were left with pets brought in by rescue groups for treatment but never picked up.  And:

Improperly checked references also have sent animals to hoarders, unlicensed shelters where the animals get in serious fights or are allowed to roam loose, and to “rescuers” that try to scam animal lovers out of PayPal donations online.

Assuming all that is accurate, it’s bad.  I would agree that things need to change.  But my question is – Where does the buck stop?  Shouldn’t the director have been overseeing the paperwork completion, including the mandated vetting of rescue groups?  What happened after the first pet was left at a vet and the rescuer didn’t pay the bill or claim the animal?  Or the second time that happened?  Did the shelter director take any action after pets were found to have been released to supposed hoarders?  Did the shelter director have any problem with pets that were released to unlicensed shelters?  How about Paypal scammers – did the shelter director step in at that point?

I don’t know the details of how events unfolded at Floyd Co AC.  But to my mind, when a director allows volunteers into his shelter, he accepts responsibility for their actions.  He is obligated to oversee their compliance with rules and regulations.  And most importantly, once he becomes aware of a problem, he needs to step in and address it to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  Maybe in this case the director is claiming ignorance, I don’t know.  But ignorance is no excuse.  If anything, a claim of ignorance would be a damning indictment of the director’s failure.

If the allegations are true that pets were being released to rescues who weren’t vetted according to the state laws, why should the buck stop with the volunteers?  Are Floyd Co taxpayers paying the volunteers’ salary and looking to them to take responsibility when things go awry?  No, that is the shelter director’s job.  So why isn’t anyone asking that question?  And must the pets at the Floyd Co shelter face an immediate return to the abysmal kill rates of the past just because someone failed to do his job?

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5 Comments

  1. Beverly Medley-McCall

     /  October 31, 2010

    I “sponsered” a dog from this shelter a few months back. Supposedly one of the volunteers took him home and decided to keep him. I sent a considerable check and asked her to keep in touch and to let me know if things worked out-if not I was willing to foster until we found him a home. The first check I sent “disappeared” (at least it was not cashed) and I sent another directly to this “volunteer” as the shelter requested. Never heard how it turned out. :-{

    Reply
  2. Randy

     /  October 31, 2010

    I find myself in an unusual situation of defending a shelter manager in this case. Too many questions – too few answers or solutions. Unless you have visited this shelter and looked over the funding being provided you would already know why situations like this exist.

    The rescue community does have an obligation to conduct itself within the legal constraints required by the Dept of Ag. That includes making sure EVERY dog and cat pulled under their license is properly vetted and altered as the law requires. Sadly, that’s probably not the case in many of these rescues that weren’t properly vetted.

    Once the shelter director became aware of these paperwork issues he had no choice but to step back and tempoarily suspend the suspect activity.

    I’ve pulled from Rome – the paperwork requirements are more complicated then some GA shelters, however, anyone smarter then a fifth grader should still be able to comply. What that means is we have a situation where dogs and cats were being transferred to rescue groups being run by people who apparently weren’t smarter then a fifth grader and that in itself is troublesome.

    Reply
    • As I said, the director should have been overseeing these issues from the start and when the FIRST problem arose, action should have been taken. If the director remained ignorant while ALL these problems were occurring, that’s a pretty serious failure.

      Reply
  3. cp

     /  October 31, 2010

    I recently adopted a kitten from Floyd County. Those volunteers work extremely hard in a no-win situation. How did the Dept. of Agriculture get involved to begin with? From what I understand, getting a rescue group properly vetted takes too long and is too arduous in this state. I have contacted both candidates for AG Commissioner and advised them of the situation. There should be a better way to resolve this “paperwork” situation than shutting down the rescue operation.

    Reply
  4. Jamie Horton

     /  November 1, 2010

    Of course my concern would be that shelter directors will use this as an excuse to not have volunteers as they are “more trouble than it’s worth.”

    Reply

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