Three whistleblowers went to the local Fox affiliate to expose wrongdoing at the Atlanta Humane Society, prompting the reporter to investigate further and visit the facility to ask for the other side of the story. The allegations involve a failure of the Atlanta Humane Society to report the occurrence of contagious diseases such as parvo to the state Department of Agriculture, as required by law. The reporter found that the Department of Agriculture hadn’t received a single contagious disease report from the facility for at least 2 years. Yet kill records from Atlanta HS for recent months indicate that almost all of animals killed have been puppies – for contagious disease.
There is a video of this great investigative piece at the link which I will describe in part for anyone unable to watch.
When visiting Atlanta HS, the reporter is met outside by Richard Rice, Vice President of Operations who, based on his response, has single-handedly lowered the bar for media crisis management for shelters. When first asked about the shelter’s apparent failure to report contagious diseases, Mr. Rice looks like an immune compromised medical patient being asked for a hug by a plague victim. As he dashes away, he promises to return with the records in question. The reporter sits outside on the curb for ninety minutes before Mr. Rice shows his face again. He doesn’t have the records but he does have a puppy. In what looks like an attempt by Gilligan to avoid being bonked with the Skipper’s hat (You wouldn’t hit a guy with a puppy, would you?), Mr. Rice explains that they’ve done their jobs, are in compliance with state law, nothing to see here, etc.
Eventually, Atlanta HS produces a bunch of fax forms which contain no identifying information about the reporting agency – an obvious requirement – which it says were used as an alternative to phone reporting to the state. The state says they never received a single one of these forms by fax. The fax machine at Atlanta HS prints out a record of every number ever dialed and the Department of Agriculture’s number appears zero times. Even if the faxes had been sent and received, they would not have brought Atlanta HS into compliance.
Apparently 10 million dollars does not necessarily buy plausible deniability.
Update: Atlanta HS has a response to the investigative report on its website. And the response is: You know that lame story we concocted about generic faxes that there is no evidence of ever having been sent or even existed prior to the news showing up? Well yeah – that, still. Also:
It is our hope that the perspectives of former employees do not overshadow the exceptional work that our team performs every day.
The “perspectives” of your former employees come with proof, Atlanta HS. Your “exceptional work”, not so much.