The Importance of Choosing One’s Partners Wisely
Over two years ago, “Pati Winn publicized photos and documentation showing the extreme neglect” taking place at a shelter on the peninsula, eventually resulting in the closing of Olympic Animal Sanctuary (OAS). That sad chapter on the peninsula is finally closed – with the last eighteen animals finally having found homes. (Robert Pregulman, “It’s Been a Great Week for Dogs in Washington” Seattle Dogspot, 8/4/2014.)
This affair was particularly of interest to WAIF because at one time we were publicly “raked over the coals” for choosing to not work with OAS. I even have a scathing letter from Mr. Steve Markwell (executive director/founder of OAS) addressed to the County Commissioners and copied to WAIF about how unfair it was for us to not give his shelter some of our animals. In that letter, Mr. Markwell complained how unusual it was that WAIF would require an application to become a partner with WAIF. “No other organization, including some of the most prestigious and respected animal welfare organizations in the United States, have asked us to complete an application process.” Mr. Markwell is going to jail (“It’s Been a Great Week for Dogs in Washington” Seattle Dogspot, 8/4/2014).
Having a formal application process in place to work with various rescue groups and other shelters is standard practice in the sheltering world. Good references, copy of licenses, onsite visits, all are important for due diligence in working with outside groups and individuals. We now know why Mr. Markwell did not want to work with groups that required such.
As past CEO of the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, we had a similar situation. In an effort to further lower euthanasia numbers, our shelter manager stopped working the approved application process for rescues. Unfortunately, she ended up giving some of our animals to an unlicensed rescue group. The neglectful situation in how they cared for the animals resulted in legal action, and our animals suffered. I terminated the employment of that shelter manager.
WAIF will continue to process in a very deliberate manner, any individual or group that would like to partner with us, as a foster family, as a rescue group, or other sheltering environment, in finding homes for our animals. It is not an easy task. Most all-volunteer rescue groups start out as well-meaning people who want to help. Some are soon overwhelmed by the need, and end up being little more than a hoarding situation. There is a reason “Confessions of an Animal Hoarder” was on Animal Planet. It is a regular occurrence that we take seriously.
I am very honored to be working for WAIF. To have stuck with their decision to not work with OAS in the midst of pressure from some public quarters, was a courageous and wise choice, indicating the level of professionalism they have practiced for a very long time.