Yesterday was a surreal experience for many volunteers as they were invited to meet the new acting shelter manager of the Baldwin Park Shelter, Gayle Miley. Many of them had heard reports that one of Ms. Miley’s first acts upon taking over from her popular predecessor, Lance Hunter, was to complain that the shelter had too many volunteers.
Also attending the meeting was Dr. Salcito the chief DACC veterinarian, and chief county volunteer coordinator Rohmi Reed – the author of the recent e-mail inviting prospective Downey shelter volunteers to tour the shelter on June 31st!
A few of the volunteers came with hard questions for Ms. Miley. The first of these was why euthanasia rates at Baldwin Park had risen since she took over. Ms. Miley denied that it had, which flew in the face of the evidence – as the volunteers had seen four of their networking dogs euthanized (the polite way of saying killed) in the last two weeks, after not losing a single dog in the preceding several months.
They also heard Miley, Salcito and Reed insinuate that Hunter had not adhered strictly enough to DACC policies and procedures during his tenure and that they were going to “improve” things. This was hard to stomach for veteran volunteers who knew that Lance Hunter had fostered an unprecedented degree of cooperation amongst volunteers, staff, rescues and the community at large, as a result of which adoptions, rescues and transports soared and euthanasia rates fell dramatically during his tenure. Evidently fostering live release of pets was not following procedure.
This led to anger, disbelief and silence from the frustrated volunteers. Many of them shook their heads knowing that they were getting smoke blown up their collective rear ends. How could they trust Gayle Miley, who had fallen asleep at an important May 7th meeting at DACC headquarters where shelter managers, veterinarians and transporters met to discuss implementation of new transport policies? How could they believe her sincerity when she refused to even respond to a high school that had e-mailed and called her to ask if they could help raise money and awareness for the shelter? How were they to respond to a person who was observed through the back window of the manager’s office taking naps in her office with her door closed and the lights off? Why had they frequently overheard her screaming insults at her staff who they knew to be hard working and conscientious – especially since rumor had it that she had been removed as head of the Agoura Shelter for exhibiting the same behavior several years earlier?
Many of the volunteers spoke about transferring to the volunteer-friendly Downey shelter whose manager welcomed their help while others spoke about quitting as DACC volunteers altogether. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and they remembered what motivated them to volunteer in the first place was to help the pets. Gayle Miley is scheduled to retire in seven months – and they joined the majority of Baldwin Park’s staff in looking forward to her retirement party.