Aug. 15, 2018 — Oregon Coast Humane Society (OCHS), still faced with the changes brought about by a new board and lack of an executive director, has announced a significant addition to the organization’s leadership team with the hiring of a new shelter manager.
OCHS Board President Shauna Robbers said she is glad to have one of the main elements of the recently reorganized group hired and expected on site soon.
“We are pleased to have hired a full-time shelter manager with a great depth of experience,” Robbers said. “Her name is Marina Lewis and she is in the process of moving here from Plano, Texas. We expect her to be here to start in her new position as early as next week, and we are really looking forward to working with her. She will be an important hire for us moving forward.”
There have been a number of changes at the OCHS as a direct result of an inquiry into the shelter’s practices, which was initiated by the Oregon Department of Justice late last year.
Lewis’s hiring addresses one of the board’s major problems, which has been a lack of leadership at the OCHS shelter, while board members are continuing to work to implement other suggestions made by the Department of Justice.
The position of thrift store manager was filled last month and the search for an executive director, to supervise all operational aspects of the organization, is ongoing.
The humane society’s current board members were selected by a vote of the membership of OCHS in April.
There have also been some contentious issues, in addition to unanticipated personality conflicts, that have created new concerns within the OCHS ranks.
Some of these concerns have been expressed in letters and emails sent to the Siuslaw News and posted on social media platforms, and during protests and petitions organized against the current board.
There has also been confusion and anger generated by the unclarity and misinformation shared surrounding the recent euthanasia of two long-term canine residents of the shelter.
The OCHS No-Kill Policy, which lately has been criticized on social media platforms and among board members, has resulted in disagreements on the intent of the policy. These disagreements led to the resignation of directors Jack Hannigan and Dolly Brock last month.
A new director, Jackie Parker, has recently filled one of the empty positions on the board.
Robbers is well aware of the furor surrounding the euthanasia issue and points to the organization’s website, which has a description of the protocols and procedures in place to determine if, and when, an animal should be euthanized.
“We have a very active animal welfare committee and we have updated the animal welfare and euthanasia information on our website,” Robbers said. “It spells out very clearly the process we have in place to determine what is best for each animal.”
One of the most repeated claims on social media platforms states that the end-of-life policies that govern the assessment and determination of an animal’s long-term health and quality of life at OCHS are being ignored.
Some have also accused the Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) of not following past practices with end-of-life decisions for some shelter animals. That claim, however, is not consistent with the OCHS policies currently online and not within the guiding principles indicated by the shelter’s policies.
Robbers said that any individuals with concerns about an animal’s adoptability or health circumstances has the opportunity to make their concerns known and participate in the deliberations surrounding that animal’s ultimate disposition.
The OCHS website states that any party may refer any shelter or foster care animal to the AWC for deliberation by submitting an Animal Referral Form, or any other written means, that states the name of the animal and the nature of concern. The AWC referral forms are available at the shelter and must be turned in to the shelter manager. A copy will be forwarded to the committee chairperson. The validity of the referral is for the committee to determine.
The AWC policy goes on to say, “It is the responsibility of the AWC to conduct meetings and make recommendations for or against the non-emergency euthanasia of an animal. When euthanasia is considered, a quorum of the AWC must be present, of which a majority must vote for euthanasia in order to issue a recommendation to the shelter. All ballots regarding euthanasia shall be conducted by written secret ballot with the shelter manager or designee as the neutral observer to validate the ballot. The final decision to euthanize shall be made by the shelter manager or, if the shelter manager is unavailable, by majority vote of a quorum of the board of directors.”
In addition, one of the suggestions made by the Department of Justice seems not to have resulted in achieving the department’s desired outcome.
Barbara Butzer was hired by the department in April to oversee and manage the situation at OCHS. Her primary goal was to help the organization and to implement the Department of Justice’s suggestions for replacing board members and, secondarily, to find an individual to run the organization. She was hired on a short-term basis but was unsuccessful in finding a replacement for her position who she felt was qualified to run OCHS.
At the annual OCHS membership meeting held in June, Butzer stated that she was widening the search and was hopeful that a suitable candidate would be found before her contract was concluded. Unfortunately, that was not accomplished before her departure, but interviews for the position are underway.
Robbers said she believes an executive director for OCHS will be found soon.
According to Elizabeth Grant, the senior assistant attorney general at the Oregon Department of Justice, OCHS has been diligent in its efforts to implement her department’s suggestions. She also believes the organization has adequately addressed their major concerns.