Conn Humane Society Still Has Trouble With Priorities

May 23, 2010
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The  following is from Cathy DeMarco Spokesperson and Founder of the Coalition for Change

On Saturday, May 22, the ground breaking ceremony for the new Waterford shelter took place. All CHS Newington workers were encouraged to attend. The Newington headquarters of CHS shut down from 12:30-4:00 PM in order to let employees attend this event.

The public was not notified of the closing by either a website announcement or an updated phone greeting. The only notification that we are aware of at this time is a note attached to each entrance.

When workers returned to the Newington shelter, a line of potential adopters had formed.

The Coalition fully supports the expansion of the Waterford shelter, which became a reality after Richard Johnston’s resignation (Mr. J. continually delayed the actual construction of this facility). The Coalition is solely responsible for Richard’s removal so we feel just as responsible for this positive step as well.

However, we are extremely concerned with the decision to close Newington on their busiest adoption day of the week. The Newington shelter gets the most visitors and the most requests to see the animals on Saturdays. Is it in the best interest of the animals to close for 4 hours and turn away their best chance of finding their forever home? After all, the priority should be to make the animals available for as many hours as possible. This ceremony should have been held during the week with a representative number of employees from each shelter.

In addition, we feel that the Sunday schedule should be extended as well as adding a late night once a week.

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28 Responses to Conn Humane Society Still Has Trouble With Priorities

  1. Now a former volunteer on May 23, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Well if that isn’t just isn’t a brilliant decision made from people who obviously are more interested in the politics of a shelter rather than the process of adopting the animals out. Saturday, the day when most families are out shopping for many things including animals….someone decides that it is more important that the staff close the doors to the public, drive an hour (+) to waterford for some ribbon cutting ceremony or whatever, listen to some political nonsense probably from the board…then have lunch and drive the hour back…..just in time to feed the animals and leave for the day. The dogs got to stay behind while potential adopters approached the doors unable to get in to see the pets they saw online available for adoption. I can’t help but wonder how many people drove long distances only to find a note taped to the door saying we’re closed until 430…..but if you would like to come back then, we will give you 30 minutes to get an animal because at 5pm we stop letting the public see animals so we can get out of there at 530…..That place is really lacking some serious leadership although at this point I think a Brownie Troup Leader would make better decisions when it comes to the welfare of the animals.

  2. enough is enough on May 23, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    I could not believe the conditions at the Waterford shelter. The BOD should be ashamed of themselves for letting that shelter run in such deplorable conditions. The place was an absolute mess. I’m not sure what was worse, the smell of dirty cat boxes was so strong when you walked in it was awful. The dog kennels looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in days. There was dog poop in one of the kennels that was empty, but looked like it had been there for a week. You would think they would of cleaned up the place for such an important event. Don’t forget what this new shelter will bring “higher numbers”.
    I think they should of said, “We clearly don’t care about the animals in our care as long as they bring us a profit.” I had to walk away when Chris White was speaking because I became sick to my stomach. I’m surprized the BOD made an appearance, I’m sure they will comment on how much they volunteered at this event. Five years in the making? Do you care to tell the public and donors why it took all this time for the ground breaking to take place, or are you going to claim that you were not aware of this either? I guess you have to try to make yourselves look good somehow. Guess what, It’s not working!

  3. Karma on May 23, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Is this not proof that a major cleanse is needed??? They do not know what the priorities are. I can’t imagine what will happen next and how it will be justified in some ridiculous way. Come on Chris, Bob, Leslie, et al, admit it, you don’t know what you’re doing. Step away from the shelter…and take the disfunctional managers along with you before you run it into the ground. There are many organizations out there that are waiting to help you if you let them. Please let them.

  4. BunnyWhisperer on May 23, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Glad I”m not the only one disgusted with the lack of foresight on this one. I was scheduled to work Saturday during that time. I was lucky enough to be told the shelter would be closed, but not told why. I checked the website, I googled it, finally I was told via Facebook by a FORMER volunteer what was going on.

    When I got in for my shift on Saturday, the place was supposed to be open at four, but volunteers, adopters, and I believe someone from medical were the only ones there; the lights were only just going on at 4:15 or so. The poor animals were crying because they had no idea what was going on (honestly, if everyday the exact same thing happens, people come in at 9:30 leave at 5:30, if things all of a sudden changed you’d get freaked out too).
    If they wanted to do it one a Saturday, that’s fine. But don’t shut down operations and drag all the staff to it. The BOD would be fine doing it on their own…not like they were likely to be doing anything else worth doing.

    • Greyhound lover on May 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm

      Those poor animals; there are many times when they go without; like when maternity wasn’t getting taken of until 1pm.
      If ever the nice girl who cares for the momma cats and kittens is out, they depend on volunteers to care for all these creatures…what happens if a volunteer doesn’t show for one reason or another??? Nothing! There were so many, countless, times when these tiny babies weren’t cared for until 1pm…from 5:30 pm the day before until 1 pm the following day, tiny kittens waited for a fresh bowl of water, food, clean litter. What the hell kind of place is this? The dogs don’t get walked and the cats are left for hours without food.
      Disgusting!

  5. Bridget K on May 24, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Cathy, great topic, I too have seen major flaws in CHS’ hours of operations. When I worked at CHS I made a proposal to the CFO to increase their hours of operation. The one stipulation was that there had to be more staff.
    On top of the skilled Animal Care staff they already had they only had to hire a couple more people at each branch to make this happen.
    Everyone at CHS, in management, attacked this idea. They do not like change there, the managers reject any changes, and anything that might mean more work to an already over loaded group of staff.
    That’s why CHS should have hired more staff, qualified staff, like the animal care workers already in place. And it has the funds to do so. Besides what this Richard regime couldn’t comprehend, is that more hours and staff means more adoptions, more programs, better animal care. They staff each department with the bare minimum number of staff, when I was there 50% less staff than the HSUS guidelines for shelter care taking recommend.
    The CFO wanted to implement my staffing model, but without proposing a staffing increase! When Maureen and I finally got it through his head that this was insane idea without proper staffing, Richard then wanted to implement the plan ASAP, and without staffing!
    They also close their shelters for every little thing! Good Friday! I mean really. I proposed once that we close the shelter for Easter, if they wanted to close the shelter for this holiday. They close the shelter instead on a Good Fri. Then they are open Easter Sunday, but always end up closing early, because no one comes. On Good Friday, car after car pulls into the empty parking lot looking for adoptions or assistance. when I made the proposal, The HR Admin Janice, said “you don’t want an extra day off!?!” She was upset that I actually proposed loosing a day from the already greedy admin holiday schedule… an action that would actually benefit the animals not the upstairs staff, how dare I!
    This goes to show you, the people running the shelters are the same people Richard put in place, the same people he could control, and who never put the animals first. This last incident speaks 1,000 words…the place is the same with or without Richard.
    We need to clear this management and BOD out now and fast!

  6. Kristen on May 24, 2010 at 11:33 am

    It’s so sad that CHS’s new president can’t get things on track. It looks as if history is sadly repeating itself and the animals are once again getting the negitive end out of this.

  7. Mer on May 24, 2010 at 11:37 am

    This is what makes me crazy re: CHS/the Board etc. There isn’t a single person making decisions that has any decision making skills. I honestly couldn’t care less if the Board closes the shelter for a PR event – yes, it makes them look good, but the press is good for CHS as a whole. However, in the middle of the day, on their busiest adoption day of the week, without adequate notice to the public or adequate provisions for animal care?? Come the #*$% on! Who is calling the shots here?

    Once again they Board drops the ball and fails remember that they work for the ANIMALS not themselves.

    The Simon Foundation just opened in Bloomfield. CHS better get its act together or it’s going to see a lot of business and support drifting a few miles north. When you’re no longer the only game in town you need to step up the quality.

    • Anita on May 24, 2010 at 1:30 pm

      That’s right; I’m sure the Simon foundation will do great! And, Richard isn’t around to sue them, bully them,…basically run them out of operation. That’s what CHS always did in the past.
      The monopoly shall fall!
      finally, let someone who knows what they are doing and has the passion for the animals really “do the right thing”. CHS has been sucking up the donations and attention in this state long enough. They never shared and they never played fair. CHS should have used all it’s money to actually help the rescues and other shelters; instead of charging them and dumping ” difficult” animals on them! Yes they charge rescues!!!!!

      • Mer on May 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm

        Have you seen their webiste? Their adoptions procedure is everything CHS has claimed “can’t be done” with regard to screening and checking vet references (ahem, and for everyone, not just those adopters managers have a “bad feeling about”). They also have trainers who actually train to help ensure that most dogs go home knowing basic commands (another luxury at CHS!).

        I’m not trying to compare unfairly. I know CHS takes in a volume of animals that isn’t comparable to a brand new shelter; however you simply cannot ignore the difference in operations when a shelter is founded by a business man, who knows enough to SPEND MONEY on the best consultants etc., AND who personally rescued dogs out of his home for years before setting up the Foundation. THIS is what PERSONAL experience with rescue animals produces. The article above is what showing up for lunches and never being involved in daily operations produces.

    • enough is enough on May 24, 2010 at 2:04 pm

      Is the Simon Foundation hiring? I would love to work for a shelter that actually cares for its animals and staff. Maybe my expierence and knowledge would be appriciated and I can actually have someone listen to my ideas and not treat me like shit because I’m not a kiss ass. I will certainly be recommending this new shelter to everyone.

      • last straw on May 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm

        I have just made a donation to the Simon Foundation. Further, I intend to make future donations to the Simon Foundation. Anyone who explores their website cannot help but be impressed by the superb preparations they are making for the care of their animals. I say, let the CHS go down AND down AND down!!! Then, perhaps, like the mythological Phoenix bird, it can rise anew from the ashes with a return to its true mission–posted so noticeably on its walls.

        • Mer on May 26, 2010 at 1:35 pm

          Please consider sending a quick, non-inflammatory letter or email to the CHS Board and let them know where your money is going and why.

          If nothing else, maybe CHS will send someone to the SF to take notes.

    • Now a former volunteer on May 24, 2010 at 8:47 pm

      It really disgusts me that the Board and the manager’s felt that the animals should SIT in their cages on the busiest day of the week, knowing full well that it’s their BEST shot at being seen in favor of sending the staff over to waterford so they can clap while the ground breaking began. That’s just proof positive that a total overhaul needs to happen there. Okay people enough is enough, would you all please just step down, at least you can save face that way. Anyone who is in charge of making decisions there needs to be written up for failing to keep the animals as the focal point of the mission statement. Why did the staff from Newington NEED to be present? Who knows how many people drove to the shelter to adopt an animal only to find your doors closed. This is the kind of thinking that is running CHS, it needs to end NOW!

  8. Elizabeth Strole on May 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    The Sunday hours should be extended. 11-4 is not a long enough time to be open on Sundays. People in management say Sundays are slow, but they wouldn’t be so slow if CHS were open for more than 5 hours! People are deterred from coming in because they know that if they come in at 2, chances are they’ll wait 2 hours and not even be able to see a pet before the shelter closes.

    And I agree that they should have one extended weekday, possibly Friday night, as it will draw more potential adopters in. Gone are the days when everyone works 9-5- many people work long hours and would likely enjoy the opportunity to view pets at later times on a weekday. If Friday hours were lengthened, pets could get adoped out and then have the entire weekend to start getting settled in new homes.

    The fact that this will entail spending more money on workers is not lost on me, but with the money that CHS has, there is no (valid) excuse not to.

    • Now a former volunteer on May 24, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      Well, you bring up some great points Liz but, just because they stay open later on Friday doesn’t necessarily mean it will cost them more, they “could” open later…having a small crew open up and clean and feed the animals and then have the shelter actually open at like noon, it wouldnt be so horrible.

    • OMG on May 24, 2010 at 9:58 pm

      Management always said that Sunday’s were slow. Once again they were wrong as it use to be one of the busier days. Just ask the employees ~ Mike & Megan as well as Ron & Lynn (who are no longer employed @ CHS) how it was to work a Sunday. Management would not know because management was not there. In the event they came in, they did not stay the entire day & were NEVER available to help when the staff was in need of assistance. Sunday’s could be a great day for adoptions but it’s the weekend & they need their time off….what a joke!

      • Mayor Of Dogtown on May 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm

        As one of those Sunday folks, as a volunteer….I always felt bad for the counselors on Sundays because it was always busy so I’d come in every Sunday after working all day Saturday (as a volunteer) just to give them a hand in adoptions. IT wasn’t always the best adoption day in numbers because the limit of dogs available was such that the ones left for Sunday tend to be limited as to who they could go home with or ones that had some “issues” that needed the right fit. Not to mention that with so few counselors, the general public would be waiting for close to two hours just to get to a counselor THEN be told that they could not look at a particular dog because they had children under a certain age. People were never happy about wasting a good chunk of their Sunday sitting in the CHS hallway waiting for your name to be called. Another change needing to happen is to put those requirements back on the cages to eliminate those types of things…

        • Seriously on May 25, 2010 at 8:52 pm

          Seriously, this just proves Mr. Mayor that you in the coalition truly have no concept what really goes on. The placement requirments on the cage cards have been reinstated for over a month now.

          • Volunteer on May 26, 2010 at 8:40 am

            I can’t tell you how many times those placement cards say one thing and the adoption counselor says something else. And if you work there you know that. Also I have been asked countless times questions on the animal’s sex, breed and age even though it is clearly stated on the paperwork clipped to the front of the cage. People don’t look or don’t notice so aren’t always aware.

          • Mayor Of Dogtown on May 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm

            If that’s the case, GREAT! But to say “seriously” that we (the coalition) have no concept as to what really goes on there is just plain STUPID on your part. If it were not for the coalition, no changes would have been made and you would still be sucking up to Mr Johnston as you all always have, then probably talked smack about him , then threw someone under the bus to save your ass. You should be thanking the coalition for sticking up for the animals who have no voice, no say and no hope in that place. If you can seriously sit here and defend the management in that organization then you are truly dilusional and I can probably recommend a good therapist for you to start seeing. Don’t worry we’re not finished yet.
            We’ve got a lot of work to do to get that place back to what the mission statement implies. How can you defend closing down on a Saturday when you know darn well that is the animals best chance to go home? It just shows that the people are in it for their own selfish needs instead of putting the animals ahead of their needs.

          • Now a former volunteer on May 26, 2010 at 10:13 pm

            HA HA….it appears that the coalition are the only ones who seem to have the animals best interest at heart….The general public has no faith in CHS any longer, time for a face lift.

    • Mer on May 26, 2010 at 12:03 pm

      Well then, Seriously, if you know so much, can you please tell us what the Board has done to eliminate the Manager’s arbitrary adoption qualifications, applied on a person by person basis? Because the last time I was in there a couple with a fenced in yard, hunting dog experience, adult children and stellar vet records was told they couldn’t adopt the dog they were looking at. The reason was because The Manager, who didn’t meet them, talk to them, ask them about their ownership experience etc. didn’t think they were the right “KIND” of people for the dog. She made it clear that in no way were her staff authorized to go forward with the adoption had the family wanted the dog. Keep in mind, this Manager had already had the chance to send the dog home with “her KIND” and “her KIND” couldn’t be bothered to give the dog a week in a new home before deciding the dog wouldn’t work out afterall.

      This is why the placement cards are a joke in the first place. No matter how good a match a family is, if the Manager finds them too rich or too poor or too black or too latino or too “not my BFF who plans on selling them in her garage for profit” arbitrary reasons are invented as to why those people can’t adopt. And, as usual, it’s the staff who has to tell the family some bs reason why they don’t qualify, even though they meet all the standards listed.

      • enough is enough on May 26, 2010 at 6:51 pm

        Mer, Thank You for your post. You clearly have had a first hand expierience with this “manager”. Everything you stated is the truth. This has been brought to the district managers attention, but has fallen on deaf ears. This has happened to me on several occasions. It is amazing the effort she puts in to NOT adopting out animals just because she doesn’t like the adopter. CHS’s own employees have also been not allowed to adopt. They met all of the qualifications but because she didn’t like them she would deny the animal a great home. She also likes to hide the puppies and highly adoptable small dogs so that she can hand pick who gets to adopt them. Apparently none of the upper management or the board care how she treats people because these issues have been brought up several times and yet she continues to run the place as if it was her own. Maybe her and her BFF should open up there own rescue, now there is a GREAT idea!

      • Mayor Of Dogtown on May 26, 2010 at 8:43 pm

        I can’t even put into words how accurate that is…Would sometimes make me sick when PRE judgements were made but you had to pretend there was another reason for rejecting the adoption. UGH, the things these folks got away with…..

  9. OMD on May 24, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    The cowards ironically continue to speak the truth!!! Whats up with that Leslie,Bob,Doc Haines,Chris and the rest of your peeps, The reason they brought the employees to the event is to look like the GOOD GUYS and have someone show up. Why doesn’t the BOD sit in a cage for 24 hours and be fed bread and water. Then let them sit in dirty diapers! Change needs to be made NOW!

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  11. last straw on June 1, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Perhaps someone who’s qualified would give us an update on where things stand currently and where they think things might stand at some future time. Can we expect a change in managers before the new Director comes on board? Are the animals being treated in line with the mission of CHS?





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