Human drama at the animal shelter

August 4 – PULLMAN – Nestled on a corner of Old Moscow Road and Johnson Avenue in Pullman, the Whitman County Humane Society prides itself on providing quality companion animal care. The shelter has cared for animals not only in Pullman, but also in Whitman County and surrounding areas.

But recently, the central drama of human society has been among humans.

The company will lose six out of seven staff members when their resignations take effect Monday, which was first announced in a Facebook post by the Idaho Animal Rescue Network on July 27. Two of the six resigning staff members are Annie Lindsey, the director of operations at the shelter, and Zoe Skiadopoulou, the shelter’s enrichment coordinator and acting foster program coordinator.

Currently, the Humane Society is working to transfer animals to other shelters in the Pacific Northwest and have pets adopted. He is also working to raise funds to help solve the shelter’s financial problems.

Lindsey and Skiadopoulou said they decided to step down at the Humane Society’s last board meeting on July 25, and the majority of staff decided to step down with them due to concerns and internal issues within the Society. society. Skiadopoulou said people quit because of unarticulated and ignored policies and protocols around paid vacation pay, as well as lack of respect for staff.

“It wasn’t a decision we made quickly or in haste,” Lindsey said in an interview. “It was ultimately ours and we kind of felt the need to defend ourselves and the rest of our staff.”

“It was basically our last step to finally see if we can make our voice heard,” added Skiadopoulou. “So it was honestly a really devastating decision for us to make, but we (use it) as a tool to see if we can make any positive changes.”

Lindsey described the situation at the society as a “huge divide” between board members and shelter staff and volunteers. She said that over the past two years, the bilateral situation has affected many important decisions and that the board will not change its mind or listen to the staff of the shelter, which has led to a conflict. between the two. Staff are handling a huge workload and trying to get things done at the facility by honoring the company’s core values, and board members are denying the problems, Lindsey said.

Dayna Cooper, currently a board member and volunteer with the Humane Society, said in an email, “It’s been absolute hell for those of us still on our feet.” One particular board member was described as a bully and reprimands, their behavior became unbearable and Cooper said she had to stand up for herself and others. Rather than face disciplinary action, the member chose to resign, Cooper said.

Skiadopoulou said the staff are there for the animals, and although the work is demanding, they choose to endure it.

“It’s very difficult on our side to have a job that is honestly so demanding on a daily basis with a lack of respect and agency from the board,” Skiadopoulou said. “Plus, you know – (they) should work with us to create policies and advocate for these animals in their lives.”

Something had to give, Skiadopoulou said, and as the years passed it became more difficult to do a job that was already so demanding.

Lindsey said Humane Society staff and former board members have created a petition to ask current board members to step down and for dues-paying members to choose a new board. Lindsey and Skiadopoulou said they would withdraw their resignations if current board members quit and would stay on to work with a new board to reform policies.

“We would like to give the agency back to the staff and we would like to give the agency back to the community,” Skiadopoulou said.

Lindsey said community members can help human society by adopting if they have a safe space to do so and sending in a specified donation. All specified donations will be used to help the society maintain day-to-day functions and waive adoption fees.

The Board of Directors announced at its June 2022 meeting the need to raise $15,000 per month from July to December to help the budget. Lindsey said a month later, the humanitarian society will need to raise about $20,000 a month to continue operations next year.

The society used to have an active fundraising committee in an effort to get more support. Skiadopoulou was a member of this committee until she announced her resignation, and many committee members have also resigned. Skiadopoulou has not been made aware of the existence of the committee since she submitted her resignation, but she was one of the two remaining members of the group and the other member has since resigned. The Humane Society is hosting a fundraising event from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday called Wine and Whiskers.

Lindsey and Skiadopoulou said they weren’t told about future fundraising efforts, but they hope things pick up and the company is able to meet its monetary goal.

Lindsey said moving animals out of Whitman County Humane Society care has been the hardest thing. Many animals have been raised at the shelter since birth, Skiadopoulou said.

Lindsey reached out to 150 rescue shelters in the Pacific Northwest, and the community showed support. Rescues in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, as well as shelters in the Tri-Cities, Washington’s West Side, Sammamish, Spokane and Lake Forest Park responded.

Today, many of the adoptable cats cared for by the shelter will be transferred to Sammamish to be placed for adoption. A rescue in the Tri-Cities offered to transport the animals themselves, Lindsey said. SpokAnimal, a shelter in Spokane, has offered to take care of any animals the company has left in its care.

The company also saw more adoptions in July than in June.

“A lot of our animals have found their forever homes and that’s motivated people to come out and adopt,” Lindsey said. “I was so grateful, you know, that we kept everyone safe.”

The animals that will remain in the care of the Humane Society are strays that arrive through Whitman County.

“If stray animals come in, we always take care of them,” Lindsey said. “(We try) to get them back with their owners and take care of them if they’re not.”

Pearce can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @Emily_A_Pearce.

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