Published on August 11th, 2017 | by TLV News1
Oxford Lafayette Humane Society Board of Directors Releases Statement in Response to Recent Allegations
The following is a statement we received today from the Humane Society Board of Directors:
According to recent allegations, the Oxford Lafayette Humane Society (OLHS) has been unorganized, has had employee turmoil, has not had transparency, and needs updated bylaws. The board has been addressing these issues for years and has evidently been unsuccessful in rectifying them. This is a result of poor staff training, poor communication between the executive director of the shelter and the board, an overworked staff, an executive director who had too much on her plate, and a board that was unsuccessful in completing tasks assigned to them. In regard to the multiple resignations at the shelter, we are very sad to see these people leave and have reorganized our hiring and training policies. We have asked the new interim executive director to implement these new policies immediately. Below are points discussing the rest of the accusations made against OLHS:
- Charges of Unethical Board Practices – Every board member is a volunteer in a position that requires many hours per week of volunteer work, including fundraising, oversight of operations, attending meetings, budget analysis, animal care, recruitment of foster homes, locating rescues, providing staff lunches, educating the public, promoting spaying and neutering, updating social media for animals that need homes, writing thank you letters, recruiting volunteers, finding drivers for transports, and much more. Most board members also have full time jobs. Not one of us would be on the board as volunteers to do all of these things if the animals didn’t mean so much to us. Finding them a better quality of life and good homes means getting them out of the stressful environment of a shelter. This must be our first priority. Every decision the board makes comes down to deciding whether or not the animal will be better off.
- Claims of Excessive Euthanasia – Euthanasia is an extremely unfortunate necessity for running a shelter in the South. We have to consider the quality of life for the animals that we house, and overcrowding is a huge issue because of the large quantity of animals (almost 5,000 per year) that are dropped off at OLHS. Ideally, we would like to find homes for each and every animal that walks through our doors, but we can’t force the community to adopt, we can’t force them to foster, we can’t force them to volunteer, and we can’t force them to spay and neuter their pets. Until the community is educated about spaying and neutering and people are willing to become actively involved in rescuing animals, euthanasia will be an unfortunate necessity.
- Claims of Misappropriation of OLHS funds – This allegation is untrue. The State audited OLHS and reported no misappropriation of funds.
- Bushby Report Update – Philip Bushby, MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is a highly reputable veterinarian who specializes in animal care and animal shelters. He performed a walkthrough of the shelter on August 1, 2017. We are waiting for his report to declare the state of the shelter and his recommendations on what needs to be done to improve conditions.
- Salary of the New Director – Katie Muldoon claimed that the new interim executive director is making $72,000 per year. This is untrue. We agreed to pay the interim executive director $6,000 for the first month because we knew the long hours she would be working due to the condition that the shelter was left in and the minimal amount of staff remaining. The board will vote on what her payment will be for the next two months during her probationary period and will decide whether she will remain director of OLHS and at what salary.
- Mark Burson – Katie Muldoon stated that Mark was going to be paid $11,000 per month to help as a consultant for OLHS. This is untrue. Mark has a reputable PR firm and has offered to work pro bono for OLHS.
- By-Laws – The board has voted on updated By-Laws and will submit them to the SOS once the final draft is completed.
- Other counties dropping off animals at no cost – Following is a list of animals by county that were dropped off in the month of July:
- Lafayette County (123)
- City of Oxford (39)
- Panola (62)
- Not specified (66)
- Union (20)
- Yalobusha (16)
- Tallahatchie (12)
- Calhoun (10)
- Grenada (9)
- Pontotoc (8)
- Marshall (7)
- Tate (4)
- Abandoned at Shelter (2)
- Out of state (2)
- Quitman (1)
- De Soto (1)
- Lee (1)
As you can see, 66 animals were not accounted for, which is one example of how poorly the shelter was being run and is unacceptable. The new interim executive director is striving to make a more organized business with accountability. The director and Mark Burson will be aggressively pursuing these counties to provide OLHS with funding since we take so many of their animals. The board discussed charging a $5 fee to out-of-county drop offs but voted against it. Instead OLHS staff is encouraged to ask those making out-of-county drop offs for a donation. The reason for this is the culture of animal care that we currently have in this region. If we charge a fee, we believe a majority of people from outside Lafayette County dropping these animals off will either leave the animals in our parking lot overnight without water or shelter, or they will shoot their animals at home in lieu of paying a fee.
- Refusal to Transport Animals – The board voted months ago to encourage the previous executive director to find rescues to transport animals and to use the $6,000 available in the transport fund.
- Dissatisfaction with Board Elections – Elections were held this year and will be held again in two years, as called for in the OLHS By-Laws.
- Criticism of Volunteer Policy – OLHS requires all volunteers to sign in and be over the age of 16. If volunteers are under the age of 16, they must be accompanied by a guardian.
This negative publicity that OLHS has received can only hurt the animals. We receive funds and donations from the City of Oxford, Lafayette County, local businesses, OLHS fundraising events, and individual donors. Our largest funding comes from individual donors, and is certainly being jeopardized by these accusations.
We have taken measures to assure transparency to the public, and moving forward we will be working on improving these areas:
- City of Oxford dog licenses
- Intake donations
- Animal redemption fees
- Stabilization of Operational Procedures
- Two additional hires in management (one internal/one external)
- Wellness protocols
- Public outreach
- Elected officials
- City, regional, state, and national businesses
- Spay and neutering (fundraising)
- Transport (fundraising)
The board of OLHS stands united in saving animal lives. We will follow our updated By-Laws and will continue to educate the public on OLHS activities.