It seems lately, once again, the work of Bound Angels is drawing some criticism. I was alerted of this situation a few weeks ago and have been handling it personally, but want to make you aware in case you hear of it from someone else.
In any situation there will always be critics and this time the criticism is coming from some disgruntled employee(s) at the Ventura Animal Shelter. Before I dive into the accusation, I’d like to remind you that this is the shelter we have been working for the last year developing programs that have saved countless dogs’ lives. We now have a crew of almost 100 volunteers who walk dogs, host play groups, show dogs (including power breeds – which were never allowed out before), handle dog to dog intros, take photos, post to Facebook, handle behavior assessments and so much more. We have a stellar team and the results show. Almost every month we have shown improvements in adoptions and LRR (live release rates) over previous years / months.
I have personally instructed hundreds of hours of workshops, classes and training. Volunteers have taken part in countless hours of training and have learned the tools to save lives. Several employees have participated as well. However, there’s always a bad apple.
Since our training makes it incumbent upon employees to interact with the dogs in a way they are not familiar with, we seem to have upset a few. One of my rules is that all interaction with dogs must be done with the use of treats. Several of the employees were happy about that, but a few were not. They found this to be a waste of their time and complained about the extra work. One employee told me, “I was hired to kill dogs, not adopt them out, it’s easier to kill them and not deal with the people.” I talked to the employee and hoped he’d see the light. Several others talked behind my back and tried to sabotage the program and my experience in dealing with any dog at the shelter. I was confronted with challenges of, “No one can handle this dog. No body can get this dog out of the kennel. This dog is so aggressive that he has to be put down.” This is par for the course, Ive heard it at every shelter I’ve taught at. Each and every time I’ve proven them wrong. I’ve proved that, most often without any corrections, the dog was misunderstood, and on a few occasions through corrections shown that the dog can be rehabilitated. Well, as I now find out, this upset some egos. Some of the employees were treated so badly by employees that sadly they left. Since their tactics could not get me to leave, they took it up a level.
One employee has lashed out accusations calling me an abuser of dogs. A few other disgruntled employees now join him calling for me to be removed from the shelter. These employees feel it un-necessary to see if an aggressive dog could be rehabilitated, or interact with a dog in a manner that is consistent with our policy of giving every dog a fair chance. Yet they want our program to be removed.
So, why do I care? It’s not for my own sake, it’s for the sake of the dogs. The Deputy Director as well as her boss asked me to come in and work with staff and volunteers to change the status quo… and we did. Adoptions are up, euthanasia is down, the shelter has a large Facebook and youtube presence and the morale of rescues and volunteers is at an all time high. We are saving lives…. and that is what counts. But for a few (and I stress a few) employees, they are not happy with the extra work and the challenge of saving more lives. They thought I would be an easy target to attack – WRONG. I’ve written rebuttals to their false accusation and stand by my offer, I’ll rise to the challenge of handling, assessing and working with any dog in their shelter, if they will do the same.
This is a tough road to travel since the employees have a powerful union that can make life difficult for anyone that challenges them.
The work of Bound Angels is not always fun, it’s not always easy, but it is always in the interest of saving more lives.
As supporters and friends, I always want to keep you abreast of the situations that surround our important life-saving work. Thanks as always for your continued friendship and support. For our detractors, I challenge you to step up, put aside your differences and let’s save more lives together.