"This can't be kept a secret," staff member tells board.
COLUMBIA, 2/24/10 (Beat Byte) -- "I love the Central Missouri Humane Society, and I want nothing more than to see it succeed. But unless a serious shift in attitude toward animal welfare occurs with [new shelter operations manager] Pam Pearn, she is not going to lead us to that success."
So wrote foster and kennel coordinator Jeff Trotter in a detailed and disturbing January 31, 2010 email to the eight-person Central Missouri Humane Society (CMHS) board of directors. Citing Pearn's many decisions to, in his words, "arbitrarily euthanize" various animals, Trotter openly worried that CMHS would lose staff members, animal foster caretakers, volunteers, and donors.
"No one is going to give money to an animal welfare organization that doesn't appear to care about animals," Trotter advised the board. "This can't be kept a secret. Regular volunteers are going to see animals disappearing more often. Someone is going to talk and then any quality PR we've built up will be gone because the arbitrary euthanasia of great animals is one thing people will not forgive or forget."
Worrying that poor communication threatened loss of trust with volunteers who temporarily care for shelter animals before permanent homes are found, Trotter told board members that Pearn euthanized a foster dog brought back to the shelter to have an old face wound examined. "She did not call the foster home first. She did not call me first," Trotter explained. "This is, in my mind as Foster Care Coordinator, unacceptable."
On speaking to Pearn, Trotter said she "did not show any real understanding of why it mattered the dog was a foster and no one had been called prior to him being euthanized."
When the argument turned to the CMHS mission, Trotter said he told Pearn she was violating "the part regarding the elevation of welfare for all animals." But Pearn disagreed. "She told me that she and I had different opinions as to what that meant, and that euthanizing the dog was her decision and what she says goes."
Pearn struck co-workers as having "little patience for animals," Trotter explained. "There are several staff members who have come to me, at times in tears, because of decisions Pam has made."
He also compared Pearn to former director Patty Forister, who "had her faults as a manager. But one thing you can absolutely say about her was that we went all out to save animals. That is not the case any longer. These animals I've detailed for you would not have been euthanized under Patty or Heather [Duren] and no other animals would have been euthanized in their place."
Three weeks later, Trotter says the situation is much better. "The points raised in my original e-mail are no longer an issue worth further discussion," he told the Heart Beat. "To quote from my e-mail and characterize those quotations as being current issues facing the shelter would be a misrepresentation of what is actually taking place at the shelter in the here and now."
Saying CMHS has made "excellent progress" since executive director Alan Allert, D.V.M. and Pearn joined the organization, Trotter emphasized that "for the first time in years, the Central Missouri Humane Society has unified and focused leadership."
That leadership, he explained, has both a "legitimate plan for the shelter's present and future," and "a legitimate strategy for making it reality."