Euthanasia, "grave concerns" mark email to CMHS board
COLUMBIA, 2/18/10 (Beat Byte) -- A detailed and disturbing email dated January 31, 2010 about conditions at the Central Missouri Humane Society (CMHS) indicates serious problems have continued at the organization three months after the departure of executive director Patty Forister.
Writing to the eight person CMHS board of directors, foster and kennel coordinator Jeff Trotter expressed "grave concerns" about [new shelter operations manager] Pam Pearn, and an increase in what he termed "arbitrary euthanasia," more commonly known as putting animals to sleep.
"While everyone is seeing newspaper stories saying adoption rates have increased, which cannot actually be proven statistically, no one outside the staff is seeing what is really happening," Trotter wrote. "Arbitrary euthanasia has increased exponentially. I can say that with all confidence because prior to Pam Pearn coming on as Operations Manager, there was no arbitrary euthanasia going on at CMHS."
Citing specfic instances, Trotter expressed frustration that Pearn was undermining his efforts to place pets for adoption by having them euthanized instead. In one case, Trotter said he left the office on Wednesday, Jan. 27, hoping to place a Bassett hound/pit bull mix with another group.
"The dog's paperwork was on my desk and everyone knew I was trying to place her in rescue," Trotter wrote board members. "Thursday morning I arrived at the shelter, and the first thing I did was check my e-mail. Happily, I had received an e-mail from a rescue committing to taking the dog...the very next day."
But it was already too late. "I went back to her kennel to hang a card indicating she had a rescue and realized she was gone. She had been euthanized the evening prior."
Pearn, "who knew I was looking for a rescue for the dog," authorized the euthanasia over concerns it was part pit bull, Trotter wrote.
Noting a CMHS policy of automatically euthanising every pit bull that comes into the shelter," Trotter reminded that board president Jim Loveless "expressed shock and disgust" over the practice. But more importantly, "this was a dog that at best only had a fraction of pit bull in her breeding. Pam knew I was looking for a rescue. The dog was not sick. The dog did not have a temperament issue. She euthanized the dog anyway...I told her I felt she had violated the shelter's mission."
The week prior, a new policy -- of automatically euthanising heartworm-positive dogs -- went into affect that Trotter claims violated both the CMHS core mission and an agreement he had reached with Forrister's replacement, Alan Allert, D.V.M. Heartworms are parasites that invade heart muscle.
"I spoke with Dr. Allert and Pam and received assurances I would be given a chance to find rescues for heartworm positive dogs as long as space permitted," Trotter explained. But in a move he characterized as "totally arbitrary and against the mission," Pearn and Allert ordered euthanasia for "a sweet Beagle named Carter" positive for heartworms.
"This runs against what I thought was an agreement," Trotter wrote. "We did not need the space. We euthanized this dog just to euthanize this dog."
When one of two puppies marked as "Boxer/Hound mixes" came to the shelter, "Pam decided one looked enough like a pit bull, even though the puppies looked very similar, to euthanize," Trotter explained. "So we euthanized an 8-10 week old puppy whose breeding was in no way clearly defined. The fact we euthanized one and kept the other speaks to the arbitrary nature of the decision."
Though Allert and Pearn did not respond to requests for comment, Trotter called the memo old news.
"If you'll notice the date of said e-mail, you'll see it was sent two weeks ago," Trotter told the Heart Beat. "Since then, Dr. Allert, Pam Pearn and myself have had open discussions to help remedy a natural breakdown of communication that occurred in the wake of the change of upper level management at the Central Missouri Humane Society. It was this temporary lack of communication that lead to a misunderstanding on my part of happenings at the shelter taking place when I was not personally on site."
NEXT TIME: Trouble at the top?