Volunteers at the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection in Roanoke, Virginia were heartbroken when they found out two of their favorite dogs at the pound, Murray and Smokey, were suddenly killed on management’s order earlier this month. Smokey had a volunteer willing to take him if he was ever put on the kill list and although she had reportedly communicated that to staff, she was never called. The killings represented a tipping point for volunteers, as they wrote in an opinion piece on Roanoke.com:
The concerns of volunteers go far beyond the deaths of the two dogs mentioned, as sad and unnecessary as they were. There is systemic mismanagement, high turnover with constant firings and people quitting because of the negative environment, hostility toward volunteers that emanates from RCACP executive director Dave Flagler himself, an atmosphere of distrust because employees are asked whether they are “with” the staff or the volunteers, poor customer service with regular complaints from the public that fall on deaf ears, outdated sheltering practices and an unwillingness to do anything different or beyond what has always been done.
Volunteers and local citizens regularly attend the quarterly meetings of RCACP’s executive committee […] to voice our concerns. They too fall on deaf ears.
Frustrated volunteers planned a peaceful protest after Murray and Smokey were killed. When management found out about the planned protest, the volunteers were locked out of the pound. The protest was canceled and management let the vols come back after a few days.
Flagler told WDBJ that volunteers must accept the fact that the facility kills animals:
“If they cannot accept that, then it’s quite possible that this isn’t the right place for them,” said Flagler.
The facility director says the volunteers are overreacting to something that is in the day of a life of an animal shelter.
If killing animals has become so ingrained for Flagler that he literally locks out anyone who doesn’t agree that shelter pet killing is standard fare, he needs to find a new line of work. Wanting to do better is supposed to be a laudable objective, not a contemptible machination.
Vols recently addressed the shelter’s board to call for Flagler’s ouster. Instead, the board unanimously voted to have an advisory board conduct a study of animal killing at the pound and report back in 30 days. Flagler said he will only change if forced:
If the review […] finds his approach is out of step of modern practices, he said, then it will be time for him to change.
I’m less concerned about the degree to which this shelter director is out of step with modern practices and more concerned that he doesn’t seem to realize that killing a dog who has an adopter is wrong. As is punishing those who disagree with you when they attempt to exercise their 1st Amendment rights and by extension, punishing the animals by locking out the people who meet their primary socialization needs. This is basic human stuff. You can be taught modern practices. Compassion and humility, not so much.
(Thanks Lisa and Clarice.)