Conn Humane Society President Allegedly Used Staff To Help Run For State Senate

February 18, 2010
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Another former Connecticut Humane Society employee has come forward to accuse Richard B. Johnston, director, president and chairman of the Connecticut Humane Society, with wrongdoing in what has become a major battle between Johnston and present and former employees.

The former employee, who asked not to be identified, said in a written statement she worked in the 1990s at the Newington headquarters, when Johnston ran on the Republican ticket to represent the 20th senatorial district along the shore.

She said she and other employees were told by managers to spend part of their on-duty time in 1994 to stuff thousands of envelopes for his unsuccessful campaign.

The postage for these letters were paid from money donated to the Humane Society, one of the oldest and best known charities in Connecticut, she said.

“There was a whole political operation running at the shelter,” she told me.

The former employee also corroborated stories from other present and former workers that Johnston used Humane Society staff to daily care for his infant daughter, who is now a teenager. The staff was also required to care for his dogs.

Johnston, who is also a real estate agent and a lawyer, has refused to comment on any allegation. Through a spokeswoman he denied any wrongdoing, threatened libel suits, and blamed the attacks on union activity.

Problems at the CHS became public after Johnston and his hand-picked board of directors, appealed an 18-15 vote by the staff to join the Machinist Union last December. Five union leaders have since been fired and two others placed on probation.

Johnston’s activities are being investigated by both the state attorney general’s office and by OSHA. Four members of the Humane Society board are looking into allegations also. You can read more details in the prior columns listed at the bottom of this column.

The former employee, as well as other employees, accuse Johnston of creating an environment of fear, harassment and intimidation. Johnston personally checked employee mail before they were delivered, she said, adding that when she worked there she caught Johnston going through her desk and her pocketbook.

She and others have alleged that Johnston on occasion would go into the women’s restroom unannounced.

“The CHS also purchased a Spay/Neuter van that has not been used for one surgery. Instead it just is a show piece at events. The veterinarian hired to do mobile S/N was hired and her position eliminated,” she said.

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63 Responses to Conn Humane Society President Allegedly Used Staff To Help Run For State Senate

  1. Stop the Bleeding on February 18, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Ok enough already…..when is the man going to see the writing on the wall and walk away before he’s taken away in handcuff’s….which might be a nice site to see by the way. With so many past, present and fired employee’s coming forward, it’s just NOT possible that all these allegations are not true. The manager’s who continue to support his tyranical behavior should be ashamed of themselves and also step down for the sake of the animals. This is not about having a job….it’s about stopping cruelty to animals and mankind…Your all just hypocrites when you call yourselves Management. Now if you excuse me, I think I’m going to be sick…..

    • Sadie on February 18, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      I couldn’t have said it better myself…
      Fantastic comment!

  2. MikeL on February 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    I’ll say this again, why the heck not at least step aside until this is settled, for the sake of the agency.

  3. uberVU - social comments on February 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ctwatchdog: Conn Humane Society President Allegedly Used Staff To Help Run For State Senate http://bit.ly/cXasQC via @AddToAny…

  4. OMG on February 18, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    This mobile spay/neuter bus would be a dream for any rescue to have, it has never once been used for its intended use. He felt that it would cost too much to fully staff the bus and also would of had to hire another vet to perform the surgeries. I understand that it cost around 250,000.00 to build this bus and it would have been a huge asset to the community, but instead it sit’s as a billboard at the Humane Society’s parking lot.

    • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 18, 2010 at 8:32 pm

      You would think the board of directors would have a problem with such an expensive billboard. It doesn’t even go out on events like it used to. It’s gounded….

  5. Sadie on February 18, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    The Board of directors has proven to be quite useless…and these so called managers and executives should be ashamed of their role in this as well. Step down BOD, tyranical Richard, Janice Marzano, Joanne Lincoln, Kitty Baker, Raymond Gasecki, Alicia Wright, Karyn Cordner, and Elizabeth Clavette.
    Your actions have only amplified an already dangerous situation. The truth is finally coming out…and so is judgement day. You are and always have been in it for yourselves…never for the animals and dedicated staff.
    Let people who are qualified, intellegent, honest, and decent run this shelter.

    • Focus on February 18, 2010 at 9:15 pm

      Please don’t count the board out quite yet. They need to investigate complaints and accusations before they will remove the President.

      I urge you to email the board members- here are email addresses for some of them:

      Leslie White- lwhite@troikainvest.com

      Chris White- wethlife@aol.com

      Bob Baseler- bobaseler@midmaine.com

      • Sadie on February 18, 2010 at 10:20 pm

        The BOD is just throwing the coalition a crumb; they don’t really intend on doing anything. If they truly cared we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.
        Trust me. The only way they will act is if it affects them in some way; they honestly could care less.

        • Mer on February 18, 2010 at 10:28 pm

          The BOD has a duty to the organization, but that duty extends both ways. They would be just as remiss to dismiss Johnston without conducting an investigation as they would be for ignoring these reports.

          For the time being it is in everyone’s best interest to stay alert but the give the BOD the benefit of the doubt and the time to act.

          If, in the face of all these allegations they conclude not a single transgression occurred they will look very, very culpable. They’ve been provided more than enough to hang themselves with.

          • We need you on February 19, 2010 at 10:50 am

            You said that very well, Mer. Give them a chance to do something, and if they do NOTHING, then they are as much at fault as anyone.

  6. Lindsay on February 18, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Once a dirty politician, always a dirty politician.

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  8. One More Volunteer on February 19, 2010 at 1:26 am

    CHS Workers and Former Workers,

    I believe your have a great rallying cry in the old union song “Which Side Are You On?”

    Here’s a link to a youtube of the great Pete Seeger performing the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGoUFicSyHA

    And here are the lyrics, which have been around since 1931, when the song was written, but have as much meaning as to the management of CHS as ever before:

    WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

    Our father was a union man some day I’ll be one too.
    The bosses fired daddy what’s our family gonna do?
    Come all you good workers good news to you I’ll tell
    Of how the good old union has come in here to dwell.

    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?

    My daddy was miner and I’m a miner’s son
    and I’ll stick with the union ’til every battles done.

    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?

    They say in Harlan County there are no neutrals there
    you’ll either be a union man or a thug for J.H. Blair

    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?

    Oh workers can you stand it? Oh tell me how you can
    Will you be a lousy scab or will you be a man?

    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?

    Don’t scab for the bosses don’t listen to their lies
    Us poor folks haven’t got a chance unless we organize.

    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?

    • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 19, 2010 at 4:03 pm

      and in the words of Tina Turner…SIMPLY THE BEST…..Better than all the rest, we will endure and we will make things right for those poor animals.

  9. canine companion on February 19, 2010 at 10:25 am

    thanks for the insight, sadie … do i really count seven managers (not including RJ)? what is that in relation to the remaining staff: 1.1 managers to each staffer?

    these people who allow RJ to carry on as he does really need to look in the mirror.

    • Mer on February 19, 2010 at 11:08 am

      Karyn, Kitty, Elizabeth, Joanne and Marissa are all managers/ team leaders for the adoptions/incoming staff. One staff member was out on leave from New Years until this week. 2 more were fired a couple weeks ago. So by my count there were 5 people managing about 6 workers. The employee on leave has returned and they did hire one new person. So currently it’s 5:8.

      Can you imagine a school classroom where it took 5 teachers to teach 8 children? People would be screaming that the teachers were incompetent. Of course, this isn’t school, all the workers actually want to be at CHS and to do a good job….so…given that, I think this ratio speaks volumes about Richard’s managers and what he actually wants them to accomplish.

      Facility management and animal care clearly aren’t on his to do list.

      • Lindsay on February 21, 2010 at 2:05 pm

        My husband is a firefighter in Hartford, I was also a volunteer for over 5 years. In any organization, you can reasonably expect ONE person/manager/officer to be in charge of 3-7 people. It of course depends on the nature of the job, like in firefighting, one officer on an engine will be in charge of 5 or 6 guys…too many more and it becomes a danger trying to keep track of things. Too many less, and you begin to micro manage way too much and nothing gets done efficiently. It’s all about efficiency. There should be ONE manager for adoptions to manage a team of 8-10 counselors, taking into consideration that not all 10 people would work on the same days. Same for incoming. There should also be a SEPERATE behavior staff, with one manager and several employees deicated soley to socializing and training. These are the people who should be present at special events and promotions with the animals because they can describe the behaviors. Plus once cleaning, feeding, and general care are done, any free time not spent with customers, should be spent by both incoming AND adoptions socializing the animals! Doggy play groups would be a fantastic way for dogs to de-stress, burn some energy, socialize, and learn from eachother making them much calmer in the kennels. But oh no! There’s so much fear about putting the dogs at risk of kennel cough they aren’t allowed to come near one another. If they had a chance to play their immine systems would take care of these minor infections without any need for meds, and in fact medicating for something mundane as kennel cough can often lead to antibiotic resistant strains of the virus. My dogs have been exposed numerous times to KC by my foster animals and not once have they needed medication becuase they are healthy. Same goes for people, you don’t actually need a flu shot if you have a strong immune system, all creatures are designed to fight these things off. Let the dogs play and run!!!!!

        • A Voly on February 21, 2010 at 2:10 pm

          Lindsay, Joanne has started play groups in the training room. The dogs have a blast!!

          • Mayor of Dogtown on February 21, 2010 at 4:18 pm

            I got to see Petey play with Grover and Ohhhh I forgot the other goober’s name….and they were having a ball…..It sent shiver’s up and down my spine because Joanne used to do this regularly and that’s what has been lacking since she was not in that position. So it’s not only the staff and volunteer’s not having fun any more, it’s the poor animals as well. Kudos to Joanne for getting back to the roots of when it was fun….

          • Joanne on February 21, 2010 at 7:20 pm

            Thank you Mr. Mayor for the kudos

        • Mer on February 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm

          Lindsay, I totally agree with your staffing recs. I also think it’s insane that they refuse (well, when there was actually enough staff to accomplish this) to have rotating “on call” employees.

          When one person is away on an event, another is out sick and a third has scheduled time off you’ve just cut your staff in half! That, as we know, is dangerous and leads to an increase in employee injuries and a decrease in animal care.

          And what now, with all of 3 or 4 people scheduled per day? One person calls out and you’ve just lost 25% of your staffing that day. How is that possibly reasonable to anyone?

  10. Pug Lady on February 19, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Richard finally do something right and step down!

    • Also a Volunteer on February 19, 2010 at 1:55 pm

      I wish he would too. Someone with a molecule of moral fiber in them would. Unfortunately this is not the case for RJ.

    • Focus on February 19, 2010 at 3:33 pm

      Why isn’t he completely embarrassed by everything that has taken place? He should slink away with his tail between his legs and find another job.

  11. OMG on February 19, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Some of these things are clearly illegal, have any charges been filed for any of these violations? What is the Dept. of Labor say about all this? Still no comments from him or the board either? Do they think that this is a joke and it will all just go away? Something has to happen, any other shelter would be shut down under these circumstances.

  12. A Voly on February 20, 2010 at 6:40 am

    The bus was at the Pet Expo and people were very curious about it’s use. If it was used for it’s intended purpose it could compete with the TEAM bus that goes around the state neutering and spaying cats at a very affordable price. I have had 5 of my cats taken care of by them and am completly satisfied. Also, many people tried to donate monies to us and we were told we could not except them. Howave sold ever we could sell some merchandise we had and we could have sold a lot more if we had more than 3X sizes or extra small shirts, people were very disapointed.

    • Now a former volunteer on February 20, 2010 at 12:58 pm

      I’ve been fighting that fight for two years now….the BUS is key to that organization’s getting the word out. To think that it sits in the parking lot now just makes me crazy….As far as merchandise, your absolutely right, having just 3xl sizes was ridiculous. It’s a shame that the bus is equipped for spay and neuter issues but we never do that, we don’t even bother to use it for rabies clinics. I realize you need someone to drive the bus and with such limited staff NOW, it can’t move….but over a year ago, we had more staff and could have gone out. I find it hard to believe with all the volunteers we have there that NOBODY could drive that bus or if not, maybe have them take a class to get the license, would that not pay for itself in the fact that the bus would be out there….? I can’t imagine why the board doesn’t see that we have the tools to use in our favor, but instead we take that 100,000 dollar bus and use it as a billboard….and not even a moving one at that…

      • A Voly on February 21, 2010 at 4:10 am

        Eric drives the bus when needed

        • Lindsay on February 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm

          Three years ago there was someone hired JUST to drive the bus, she had been a school bus driver, and all she did was help book events and get the bus there with whatever animals and staff were going. We adopted out quite a few animals then. And Eric shouldn’t have to be the only they rely on to drive, especially considering his eyesight, it’s not fair to him if something happens while he’s driving. But maybe that’s the plan, send him out, hope he wrecks and fire him?? My father has cerebral palsey, and at his former job (worked there over 20 years) they constantly changed his title and job description hoping he couldn’t perform the duties so they would be able to get rid of him. He was a great employee, but they couldn’t fire him without reason because of the disability so they fished around until they made it happen by just eliminating the position. That’s how they got rid of the last bus driver, they told her there was no longer a position. And then they just filled it internally when George was around and he drove.

          • Mer on February 22, 2010 at 12:57 pm

            Johnston has been trying to get rid of Eric ever since he determined Eric was de facto “too nice” because his employees “didn’t hate him.” That’s why, despite his experience, seniority, and background in animal control, he was demoted from Team Leader to be replaced by Elizabeth who was and remains his equal in exactly zero of those qualifications and brings nothing else to the table.

            I think they are afraid to fire Eric but are steadfastly trying to push him out.

            In any other organization Eric would long be a manager by now, but Richard doesn’t hire men to be in power positions. It’s a harem in there.

          • Also a Volunteer on February 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm

            You would be hard pressed to find any (non-management) worker or volunteer at CHS with anything negative to say about Eric. I hope so much that when change occurs, he can be put in a managerial role. When he had people working for him they were happy and they all respected him and wanted to do a good job for him. Everyone there loves him – his personality, his love for the animals and his expertise are top notch. He should represent what CHS strives for their employees to be like. Instead he gets demoted and treated like crap. He is hands down one of the best people there.

      • JP on February 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm

        Here’s an interesting note about CHS’s lack of community outreach. CHS has a neighbor that has ended up with breeding cats dumped outside of the Newington facility and ended up in her yard. She has asked for help to spay/neuter these cats and her request was rejected. Way to go CHS. I am happy I don’t live in your neighborhood.

        • OMG on February 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm

          I also tried to get CHS to do something about the guy with the barn across the street. These poor farm animals there are suffering, they are skinny and neglected. The guy’s own relative filed a complaint with CHS about the guy burying a pony that had died on his property. I also witnessed goats inside the barn tethered with 1 foot ropes in the stalls. When I asked why nothing was being done, I was told to keep quiet because Richard did not want negative publicity of people asking why CHS wasn’t stepping in to help these animals right across the street. The neglect of these animals still goes on to this day? Anyone can go and see for themselves, and why you’re there stop at CHS and ask Richard why he chooses to ignore this matter?

  13. Focus on February 21, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Speaking of the 250k bus, I would like to highlight the fact that the communications/ public relations people at CHS are really doing a poor job overall.

    The informational materials that were given out at the Pet Expo are very outdated, and speak of a Bethany or Bethel branch (sorry, cannot remember which) and also of associations with PetSmart and PetCo (again, cannot remember which). There is no longer a Bethany(?)/Bethel(?) branch, and there are no Petsmart/Petco affiliations. This is not acceptable for a charity that has the kind of money in the bank that CHS does. Get your sh!t together and spend the tima and money to draft some accurate promotional materials.

    In addition, the shutting down of the Facebook page is ludicrous. I remember a couple months ago a lady wrote on the “wall” of the Facebook page lambasting CHS for not being more helpful with some stray cats she had come across. The management hates to have to respond to postings like that, and apparently that is why they took the page down. Nothing like addressing the public’s concerns.

    And finally, the events at the Newington branch are always poorly publicized. I have taken it upon myself in the past to post them in the “Pets” section of Craigslist and people would write back and thank me, saying they would have never known about the events otherwise.

    While we are at trying to get Johnston removed, it is time for new PR personnel, too.

    • Mer on February 22, 2010 at 12:49 pm

      I believe that PR person has stated repeatedly “I don’t like doing events.” Interesting career choice then.

      As for the literature – I don’t want to assume that everything is a wrong doing or misdeed but, I do wonder if that is intentional. It showcases to the public how active and involved CHS is in the community. Who fact checks event fliers? You go to PetSmart next week and think “Oh, I guess they don’t do that here” or “I must have the day wrong.”

      I am only wondering about that because I know on their 990s the Petsmart and Bethel locations were mentioned through (I think, I haven’t double checked) the 2007 return. I don’t know what year all of that stopped officially (and can’t find later returns online) but it seems like there’s a tax benefit to CHS to purport those activities are on going.

      Again, this is pure speculation. I’m not trying to make broad based accusations, just wondering whether there is some inherent benefit to keep feeding the public incorrect info or whether it’s just an oversight.

      One is just as reasonable as the other to me.

      • anony mouse on February 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm

        Bethany was closed, and the property was sold for profit, with Richard handlling the sale. CHS pulled out of all but one of the Petsmart locations, without giving them any notice. Bethany was sold in either 2007 or 2008, and Petsmart adoption centers were shut down in 2008 or 2009.

  14. Gioia on February 21, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Mr Gombossy:

    What news can you share with us regarding the investigative efforts coming from the assistant AG’s office and from OSHA?

    • OMG on February 21, 2010 at 9:44 pm

      I spoke with OSHA personally last week and they told me that they were just finishing up with the investagation, but she did not give me any details about it.

  15. Now a former volunteer on February 22, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    The interesting thing about the post below about Eric…is that most companies strive to have manager’s who are respected by their staff. There isn’t anyone in the “trenches” that doesn’t respect Eric. Mr Johnston however feels that if you don’t have a bunch of write ups on your employee’s than you are a bad manager. I’ve been in Management for over 20 years and hardly ever have to discipline my staff. To me, if I have to discipline someone, it means that I failed as a manager. Of course there are times when you just have one of those employees who are just plain trouble…but the people at CHS are star quality and so don’t deserve the treatment they have been getting.

    • anony mouse on February 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm

      When Eric was the Incoming team leader there was a sense of community, as well as a shared mission among Incoming, Medical, and Customer Service. All of the employees of these groups tried to make the jobs of one another as easy as possible, knowing that ultimately it was the animals that would benefit. Only Kitty was combatative. Creating hostility between the teams was her M.O. And when Eric wouldn’t abide by it, he was demoted. Elizabeth was promoted in his place. Lacking Eric’s education, experience, or professionalism, she got the job by being totally sudmissive to Kitty. The other two Team Leaders, completely overburdened by the combined abuses and combatativeness of Kitty and Elizabeth, asked to step down. And yet Eric is still there, fighting the good fight, with an increasingly small number of other dedicated employees. And will, with a few others, likely be gone soon.

  16. Focus on February 23, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Is it true that Johnston handled the sale of the Bethany branch? If so, no doubt he took a commission…..WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

    • Also a Volunteer on February 23, 2010 at 2:08 pm

      Yes that is true

    • Mer on February 24, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      Based on totally public, state maintained information, this is, I believe, Johnston’s broker licensing information.

      This is the information necessary to report improper activity to the state Board. I have no first hand knowledge of the Bethany sale or else I would report it myself.

      RICHARD B JOHNSTON
      AVON, CT 06001

      Credential Information
      Credential Credential Type Status Effective Date Expiration Date Supervisor Name Supervisor Cred#

      REB.0344170 REAL ESTATE BROKER ACTIVE 04/01/2009 03/31/2010

      • Focus on February 25, 2010 at 9:25 am

        What is the address of the Bethany property? Does anyone know?

        The problem with Johnston, aside from the obvious ones, is that the guy wears so many hats its ridiculous.

        President (and Chairman of Board) of CHS, real estate agent, attorney, former politician…. Any time you have so many different positions, there are bound to be conflicts of interest. Some conflicts can be “waived”—but some cannot.

        • Mer on February 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm

          According to animalshelter.org:

          “Connecticut Humane Society – Bethany Shelter

          788 Amity Road
          bethany, Connecticut 06524
          Phone: 203-393-0150
          Fax: 203-393-3570
          Email: info@cthumane.org
          Website: http://www.cthumane.org/

          Bethany doesn’t have its land record on line so I couldn’t check the conveyancing history for the property.

  17. A Volunteer on February 27, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Rest in peace, Billie and Tisk. The latest of Joanne’s victims. There must be a special place in hell for those who euthanize animals and hide behind the excuse “Aggressive” For anyone who knew Billie, aggressive is so inappropriate. Such a mild, scared cat who just needed a chance. For shame, for shame Joanne.

    • JT on March 1, 2010 at 2:42 pm

      And may Grayson also rest in peace. Another cat unnecessarily euthanized because he was on daily meds and it would have been too expensive to keep him or send him to sanctuary. I hope something is done soon. This whole matter seems to be moving very slowly.

      • Concerned too on March 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm

        Does anyone know how many animals have been sent to the sanctuary?

        • JT on March 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm

          The only one I know of from Newington is Jitterbug.

      • Also a Volunteer on March 4, 2010 at 11:41 am

        Grayson was euthanized???? Wow was I lied to.

  18. Focus on February 28, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I am sad to learn of the euthanization of a few more cats on Friday. Billie was a shy cat who needed time to warm up.

    It is disgusting that the CHS management will put the scared animals to sleep under the guise of “aggression.”

    I honestly don’t know how they can continue to deceive the public into believing that euthanasia only happens for extreme illness and aggression, because that it NOT how it plays out in reality.

    • Concerned too on February 28, 2010 at 2:56 pm

      Can anyone explain the red cards? From my understanding I thought those cards were to let volunteers know those animals are not to be handled? Did management change the red cards to P.T.S. without the staff and volunteers knowing?

      • Focus on February 28, 2010 at 10:03 pm

        Good question. Cats get red cards for the following reasons:

        (1) The cat is very scared or stressed and hence the staff do not want volunteers to be trying to play with the cat and stressing the cat further, or

        (2) The cat may be displaying a little bit of attitude and need to calm down, the staff do not want an agitated cat to have a bunch of people touching it.

        You might think that a red card was a death sentence, but many of us are watching very carefully the cats that have red cards, to ensure they are not put to sleep.

        I don’t think Billie or Tisk were even red cards. In my interactions with them, they were fine. Billie was timid but was coming out of her shell and loved to eat while she was being pet.

        Rest assured that the Board of Directors will learn of each and every questionable euthanasia that occurs from this point onward. We are all over the issue and are not relenting. And suffice it to say that we have ways of knowing who got euthanized, as well.

        The management has really done themselves in 🙂

        • Now a former volunteer on March 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm

          I have mixed feelings about the red cards. I understand the need for them, but I also feel that THOSE are the animals that need us vollunteer’s the most. OKAY, so there are going to be dogs that are just not going to let us walk them, that’s fine, do what your comfortable doing, but not allowing ALL of us to never touch those animals sends them to a sentence of death in the long run because nobody has time to spend with them.

          Joanne has done wonders with some of the dogs there lately and I only wish that while Tabitha was there that someone MADE her do her job better so that so many dogs were not put to sleep. I didn’t spend a lot of time with the cats so I can’t speak to them as well.

          • Lindsay on March 3, 2010 at 11:50 am

            Well she’s playing catch-up because Tabby was only a puppet. Having no prior animal experience, she only did what she was told, and when she got out of hand and no one reprimanded her that’s management’s fault. JL should have stepped up a long time ago to right the wrongs, now shes going against the tide.

            The smart thing would be to test the volunteers’ skills. Work one on one with a qualified behvior person with a variety of dogs or cats with different issues and assign a grade level to their skills or color code something. And those who want to do more will have to learn more about the actual scientific background behind the behaviors. It’s one thing to work with a lot of animals and get a feel over time, but it’s a lot safer and more practical to know the science behind it and have a better understanding of “why” they act that way so you can fix the isssues. There is a severe lack of education going on there, with employees, with volunteers, and with the public. If RJ would stop running it like a puppy mill pet store and treat it like an educational resource (which is what it’s intended to be) there would be fewere returns because no one would be allowed to take an inappropriate animal home and they would uinderstand the work needed to fix problems. Is Joanne a good trainer? Yes. Should she be a supervisor? Absolutely not. She’s not dependable to say one thing and stick to it and not try to blackmail people or twist things around when things go wrong. It takes someone who can admit when they are wrong to be a good supervisor someone who is consistant and provides positive feedback (which none of the current supervisors do).

            When we train animals through positive reinforcement, they learn quicker, retain the knowledge, and are happy to comply. Why is it so hard to then transfer these methods to working with employees????

          • Now a former volunteer on March 3, 2010 at 4:32 pm

            Wait, Lindsay…are you saying you don’t enjoy being belittled, yelled at, reprimanded and made to look like a ten year old? I used that same comparison in a letter to the board. In order to build a business, you need to build UP your team not tear them down every chance you get. They are the face of your business. It is THEM who deal with the people walking in your doors.

  19. Lindsay on March 1, 2010 at 10:47 am

    How about JL not wanting to euthanize animals herself and trying to pawn it off on others? That’s part of her job as the behavior person, if she deems it unfit, SHE has to euthanize it, not pass the buck on to medical or anyone else. If it’s behavioraly unfit, medical, or anyone else for that matter, isn’t suposed to handle the animal because that would be unsafe. So you would think wtih this dilemma she’d pass more animals and allow them to be worked with. OR allow medical to treat them because guess what?? – a very large number of behavioral issues stem from underlying medical issues!!!!! That is the FIRST thing I recommend my clients do before I get too in-depth working with a dog, I want to see that they’ve taken the dog to a vet and had a full work-up done to eliminate underlying issues. Pain causes stress and aggression, that’s a known, documented fact. And since dogs are pre-programmed to not show signs of illness, we need to be thourough in our checking. A dog may react to body handling and snap at the tester. But it should not be held against that dog (or cat) if they are arthritic and the touching hurts them. Or maybe they have a skin infection, or a tumor below the skin that no one has found because the animal won’t allow you to touch him. NORMAL places always check medical first THEN behavior. Ever watch the Animal Cops? The first place animals go is to medical. They are checked out upon arrival, then quarrantined/allowed to rest and eat a few days before being re-checked, THEN behavioral tests are done. That is the proper order.

    It’s not necessary to behavior check an animal the second it walks in to determine if they will take it or turn it away, UNLESS that dog is outright attacking when it walks in the door, or unless the person wishing to surrender states that dogs has a bite history. Then reccomend euthaniasia, muzzle the dog and do it quickly. Don’t let them rot in a kennel first. But of course we know it’s all about profit for RJ and if all the animals coming in require medical care, there goes his hefty bonus at the end of the year. And to think that with all that money, CHS doesn’t have a vet on duty on weekends, nor someone on call after hours. When foster animals are out and have a problem, foster families are asked to either hold off until a week day, or to used a designated office outside of CHS. There should be a vet and tech on call at all times in case of emergency. I know of some medical personnel whom I could have called late at night if I felt my foster was dropping off and in need of euthanasia (litter of about 9 pups, 1wk old, rejected by mom, only 2 ended up surviving, one of mine died in my arms before I could bring her in for euthanasia). But not anymore, everyone has to worry about RJ checking who’s code was entered to open the door and at what time.

    Something’s gotta give.

    • Now a former volunteer on March 2, 2010 at 5:05 pm

      Lindsay, your absolutely right. Their testing system needs a tune up. I agree with everything you’ve stated and want to add my two cents. The area they DO test in is unfair to the dogs as well. They test in a hallway, its dark, dreary, no windows and too narrow so they can’t really feel comfortable. What is that about? They have a training room, they have other places that are much less threatening to the dogs than to do it in a dark hallway where they can’t really move around in. It’s totally unfair and should be modified. It’s almost like they need to get tested so fast so they can get them out on the adoption floor but then they don’t pass the behavior test so where does that get you?

      when you have medical staff who care enough to give up their OWN time to be with animals in the shelter, OFF THE CLOCK, then get reprimanded for being in the building with out a supervisor, that tells me there is a total disconnect for what your mission really is….

  20. Concerned too on March 3, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    ATTENTION BOARD MEMBERS-
    Please help the animals, staff and volunteers now, before it’s too late!

  21. Concerned too on March 3, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Is there any justice for animals anymore? I ‘d like to ask everyone to take a look at these web-sites:
    http://www.ctvotesforanimals.org
    http://www.facebook.com/…/connecticut-votes-for-animals/89442813578
    On Monday 3/8/10 there is a public hearing on the cva’s tethering bill, we need to help get this legislation passed. I sure hope that Chs is concerned and helping in any way, that’s their mission! If this law is passed just think of the animals that are saved in Connecticut!
    Chs please help, I know you have alot on your plate right now but this would be a step in the right direction.

    Didn’t mean to get off the subject, but I wanted this information to get out there.

    • Lindsay on March 3, 2010 at 6:07 pm

      It’s great in theory, but about 90% of the currrent ACO’s acrosss the state are members of the “good ole boy” club. They were grandfathered in to the position years ago becuase they got sick of patrol work, and they frankly don’t give a damn about enforcing any animal laws. I know this because my job takes me across the state working with animals and I don’t hesitate to call ACO’s to report wrong doing, but 9 times out of 10 I get no answer or they don’t bother to come out. Even for a dog with a tumor the size of a grapefruit protruding through a hole in the skin and smelling of rotten flesh. Now if CHS hadn’t stopped the law enforcement division they could lead by example, and even set new standards for all other ACO’s but with all that’s going on the only reason I can see RJ signing this thing is to look like a good guy in the face of evil. That’s all he’s ever been good for. Google his name and all sorts of articles will pop up supposedly written by him regarding all sorts of issues, from dog training to spaying and neutering. There’s no way any were written by him and I’m pretty sure he couldn’t tell a neutered from an intact male if it sat on his face.

      • A Voly on March 5, 2010 at 3:05 pm

        Your right about the ACO’s. I live in Windsor and he used to be one of the police dispatchers, really quailified…………..Try an communicate with him and he gets arrorgant and acts like a cop.





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