The Benson Animal Shelter in Arizona reportedly transformed under the leadership of ACO Laurie Fivecoat, about whom area animal advocates had many good things to say at a recent city council meeting:
Rica Powell, founder of Smiling Dog Rescue out of Benson, said that prior to Laurie Fivecoat’s appointment as shelter manager, the rescue community of Southern Arizona was not involved with the Benson Animal Shelter “in any way, shape or form,” citing a closed door policy and lack of transparency. She described the facility as a “shelter of the past, with a 1950s attitude.”
Powell said Fivecoat changed that when she came on board. “The changes that happened are astonishing,” Powell added. “She brought your shelter from an archaic situation to a vibrant up and coming shelter which was community involved, with volunteers and social networking, low cost spay and neuters,” and more.
“Last year almost 90 percent of the animals that were taken to the Benson shelter left alive and well,” [animal advocate Geir] Hundal said. He spoke of Fivecoat’s networking efforts with outside rescue organizations and other shelters, describing those efforts as “an unshakeable commitment to save every life possible, even at the expense of extra time and effort,” adding that “Staff would spend up to a year finding the right home for the right pet. That’s a job well done.”
good ol’ boy police chief apparently longed for that “shelter of the past” and re-hired a good ol’ boy former Benson ACO, Paul Teza, near the end of January, appointing him shelter manager. Fivecoat is still employed as an ACO but is no longer manager. Teza had managed the facility several years ago, with a live release rate of just 59%. The first things he did upon being re-hired were to cease the transfer of animals to other shelters, shut out the team of volunteers except for those he personally approved, terminate all rescue partnerships except those he personally approved (reportedly none) and kill a dog named Rusty, a shelter favorite who was described by volunteers as “goofy”.
Two year old Rusty had been “fawned over” by the public at adoption events and was one of the few dogs an elderly volunteer was able to walk regularly. Teza reportedly noted in Rusty’s records that the dog was “aggressive, a bite risk, nervous in confined spaces and that he actively avoided direct observation.” So he ordered him killed. Teza seems to have seen in 11 minutes behavioral traits that none of the volunteers saw in Rusty in the past 11 months. I don’t think I would like that guy staring at me either.
When the local paper asked police chief Moncada about the killing, as well as the quashed networking and volunteer programs, he provided a statement. It doesn’t adequately explain any of these issues and ends with the following:
Prior to Paul’s hiring, conditions at the shelter were poor at best. Now, between his and Sgt. (Floyd) Graf’s efforts, the shelter is in better condition.
So the shelter saving 89% of its animals was a hellhole but things are looking up now that Mr. 59% is in charge? Maybe we should ask Rusty’s opinion – oh, never mind.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)