August 4 – PULLMAN – Tucked away on a corner of Old Moscow Road and Johnson Avenue in Pullman, the Whitman County Humane Society prides itself on providing quality pet care. The shelter has cared for animals not only in Pullman, but also in Whitman County and the surrounding areas.
But recently, the central drama in humane society has been among the people.
The association will lose six of its seven staff members when their layoffs take effect Monday, which was first announced in an Idaho Animal Rescue Network Facebook post on July 27. Two of these six resigning staff members are Annie Lindsey, the shelter’s director of operations, and Zoe Skiadopoulou, the shelter’s enrichment coordinator and interim foster program coordinator.
Currently, the humane society is working on transferring animals to other shelters in the Pacific Northwest and adopting pets. It is also raising money to help with financial difficulties at the shelter.
Lindsey and Skiadopoulou said they decided to step down at the last meeting of the Humane Society Board of Directors on July 25, and the majority of the staff decided to step down with them due to concerns and internal problems. within society. Skiadopoulou said people are resigning because of unspoken and ignored policies and protocols regarding paid leave compensation, as well as lack of respect for staff.
“It wasn’t a decision we made quickly or hastily,” Lindsey said in an interview. “It eventually belonged to us and felt a bit of a need to stand up for ourselves and the rest of our staff.”
“This was essentially our last step to finally see if we can make our voices heard,” added Skiadopoulou. “So it was a really devastating decision for us to make, but we’re using it as a tool to see if we can make a positive change.”
Lindsey described the situation at the association as a “huge division” between board members and shelter staff and volunteers. She said the two-sided situation has influenced many major decisions in recent years and that the board will not change its mind or listen to the reception staff, leading to conflict between the two. The staff takes on a huge share of the workload and tries to make things happen within the facility by respecting the core values of the society, and the board members deny problems, Lindsey said.
Dayna Cooper, a current board member and volunteer with the Humane Society, stated in an email, “This was pure hell for those of us still standing.” A certain member of the board of directors was described as a bully and name-calling, their behavior became intolerable and Cooper stated that she had to stand up for herself and others. Rather than take disciplinary action, the member chose to resign, Cooper stated.
Skiadopoulou said the staff is there for the animals, and although the job is demanding, they chose to make it hard.
“It’s very difficult on our part to have a job that is frankly so demanding on a day-to-day basis with a lack of respect and choice on the part of the council,” said Skiadopoulou. “As well as, you know — (they) should be working with us to create policies and advocate for these animals in their lives.”
Something had to be given, Skiadopoulou said, and over the course of a few years it became harder to push through a job that is already so demanding.
Lindsey said Humane Society staff and former board members have petitioned to ask current board members to step down and allow dues-paying members to elect a new board. Lindsey and Skiadopoulou said they will withdraw their resignations if current board members step down, and will continue to work with a new board to reform policy.
“We want to give back the staff agency and we want to give the agency back to the community,” Skiadopoulou said.
Lindsey said community members can help humane society by adopting if they have a safe place to do so and send an itemized donation. All specified donations will go towards helping the society maintain day-to-day functions and waiving adoption fees.
The board announced in its June 2022 meeting that it would raise $15,000 per month from July to December to help the budget. Lindsey said that at the end of a month, the humane society will need to raise about $20,000 per month to continue operations next year.
The association used to have an active fundraising committee to gain more support. Skiadopoulou was a member of this committee until she announced her resignation, and many members of the committee have also resigned. Skiadopoulou has not been informed of the commission 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 holding a charity event called Wine and Whiskers on Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
Lindsey and Skiadopoulou said they were not aware of future fundraising efforts, but they hope things get off the ground and the society will be able to meet its monetary goal.
Lindsey said the hardest part was transferring animals from the care of the Whitman County Humane Society. Many animals have been raised at the shelter since their birth, Skiadopoulou said.
Lindsey reached out to 150 rescue centers in the Pacific Northwest and the community has supported us. Rescues in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, along with shelters in the Tri-Cities, west side of Washington, Sammamish, Spokane and Lake Forest Park have responded.
Today, many adoptable cats in the care of the shelter will be transferred to Sammamish to be placed for adoption. A rescue in the Tri-Cities offered to transport animals themselves, Lindsey said. SpokAnimal, a shelter in Spokane, has volunteered to care for all the animals that society has left in its care.
The association also saw more adoptions in July than in June.
“Many of our animals have found their forever homes and it motivated people to come out and adopt,” Lindsey said. “I was so thankful for, you know, we’ve ensured safety for everyone.”
The animals that will remain in the care of humane society are strays entering through Whitman County.
“If stray animals come in, we’re still taking care of them,” Lindsey said. “(We) are trying to get them back and take care of them with their owners and stuff.”
Pearce can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Emily_A_Pearce.