Workers at CA Shelter Allege Neglect Causing Animal Injury and Death

The non-profit Peninsula Humane Society is contracted by San Mateo Co in California for animal control.  Sixteen PHS employees held a press conference in the shelter’s parking lot this week. The workers allege that sub-standard conditions, understaffing and neglect have led to the injury and death of several animals at the facility.

ACO Dylin Skiles said a dog named Max was recently put into a kennel that had a hole in it:

[I]t had not been fixed despite the fact that we had asked several times.

The workers have video of Max with his head and leg stuck through the hole along with blood beneath the dog. A still from that video:


Lisa Van Buskirk, Sr. VP of Community Engagement with the Peninsula HS, said the kennel did not have a hole in it at the time Max was placed inside:

That dog had recently come in and clearly wanted to get out – was biting at the fence. It did cause his mouth to get scratched up.

That dog.  So apparently it was just a mouth scratch and it was the dog’s fault anyway. Got it.

Except the ACO is not having any of it:

“What I saw was a dog that had [his] neck cut,” Animal Control Officer Dylan Skiles said.
Skiles said he requested management inspect all of the kennels weeks before the incident, after a previous incident where a dog was injured trying to escape a broken cage.

The workers further allege that several kittens died in foster care over the summer because they weren’t fed properly.  Van Buskirk again defended the shelter stating basically eh, kittens die. But others lived so, where’s the love?

Employees say a dog was oops-killed at the facility last December due to chronic understaffing. Van Buskirk says the employees involved failed to follow proper procedures and were fired.

Another employee reportedly left an overheated dog who had been rescued from a hot car in the back of the animal control truck until he finally died. That ACO was also fired, which appears to be a satisfactory resolution for Van Buskirk, but workers say the lack of air conditioning in the truck has never been addressed.

And then there’s this:

The whistle blowers said they have tried to have a conversation with Ken White, the president of the shelter, but said he has requested meetings without a union representative present.

Van Buskirk said White was on an extended vacation overseas and the timing of the allegations is suspicious considering the group has been in ongoing contract negotiations with the union for more than a year.

Speaking of suspicious, Mr. Extended Overseas Vacation gets paid more than a half million dollars a year to run the non-profit (I mean: non-nudge-nudge-wink-wink-profit). He has reportedly promised improvements to the 60 year old buildings but failed to deliver.  To be fair, it’s probably pretty difficult scrounging up motivation to tell someone to fix broken stuff in a CA shelter while sipping drinks on the French Riviera.

(Thanks Clarice.)

5 thoughts on “Workers at CA Shelter Allege Neglect Causing Animal Injury and Death

  1. The Peninsula Humane Shelter is where Kim Sturla got her start. She’s long been a fringe person in ALF and currently heads her own AR group. As best I recall, 25 years ago Ms Sturla got the PHS to be an advocate of non-breeding agreements and two level licensing. Figuratively, she’s in bed with Wayne P.

    1. Kim Sturla runs Animal Place, a huge farm animal rescue that has two facilities in California. She literally “saw the error of her ways” and formed a vegan group that rescues farm animals that have either been dumped in shelters, alongside the road, downers at auctions etc. They have, in recent years, moved into rescuing hens from factory facilities. They are responsible for some of the largest rescues in California and have set new standards for rescuing these hens. I’ve been to their facilities, they have NOTHING to do with Wayne Pacelle or the HSUS. They routinely work WITH other shelters when they place hens for adoption. Yes, she worked at Peninsula Humane but a long, long time ago. There have been others through the years who have updated their policies, one being Brigid Wasson who worked there for many years before going to Sonoma county to run their shelter, from which she was suddenly and summarily fired (that was written about in this blog). Brigid had started a series of training sessions designed to help shelters reunite lost pets with their families and has since made it a national presentation (did you know upwards of 25% of shelter animals already have a home? She’s trying to get them back TO that home) and recently commented on the current crisis at PHS on her facebook page, if you want me to find you a link I can.
      Kim is the absolute definition of someone changing the entire way they view and deal with animals. I know Nathan Winograd talks about an incident in the first chapter of his book “Redemption” involving Kim but that’s not the Kim that operates Animal Place today. We should all hope that people working in shelters could have the same consciousness awakening that Kim did, we’d be MUCH better off.

  2. Is this the same Ken White who ran one of our AZ kill shelters? I think he even wrote columns in the local newspapers, probably making excuses for shelter kiliing. All of these crappy, excuse laden shelter directors keep getting recycled throughout the country. Why does anyone hire them?

    1. The same reason Matt Pepper still has a job – they get shuffled around like abusive priests, they “care about the animals”, have the right background, etc. It’s all such a load of BS, some days I can’t even stomach it.

      I strongly recommend that the employees do meticulous documentation of conditions daily. With video/photos if possible. All notes with date, time, and situation included. Because their boss is a jackass.

      1. Unfortunately we now have Matthew Pepper at Michigan Humane Society, great at glossy pr and killing.

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