An open letter to the people of Kaua’i

To the Forum:The recent personnel changes at the Kaua’i Humane Society

have created in understandable emotional reaction among some Board members,

former staff members and members of the public. We want to assure the public

and the membership of the Kaua’i Humane Society that despite this controversy,

all shelter operations and programs continue to run smoothly under the able

guidance and leadership of our new Operations Coordinator, Jason Oune, who is a

former Kaua’i Humane Society employee.

Contrary to the statements that have

been made public by some people, no programs were ever suspended by the Kaua’i

Humane Society and no changes have been made to our euthanasia policies at the

shelter. Out of respect for the former executive director’s privacy, we have

tried to avoid discussing in public the personnel actions taken by the Kaua’i

Humane Society. However, due to the vast amount of misinformation being

circulated, we feel compelled now to correct the many misconceptions with some

clear explanation.

The decision by the Board in relation to the former

executive director was not easy. The Board of Directors held two separate

meetings to discuss this action and the results were the same. At both

meetings, 9 out of 12 Directors voted to make the necessary changes for the

good of the community and the Society. We all knew we would face criticism for

our actions but we were firm in our resolve to do the right thing for the

organization and the people of Kaua’i.

A part of the Board’s decision

concerns the former executive director’s recent conduct before the Kaua’i

County Council. The Kaua’i Humane Society regularly submits a request for

funding to the Kaua’i County Council. This year the Kaua’i Humane Society

requested $900,000 from the County, an increase of $280,000. We knew going into

the County budget hearings that we were going to be asked many hard questions.

This year, some members of the public, as well as individual Council members,

obtained information and data from other animal shelters within the state and

compared it to the information submitted by the Kaua’i Humane Society. The

information and explanations provided by the former executive director were not

satisfactory and the Council requested the Kaua’i Humane Society to provide

monthly breakdowns to verify the annual statistics she had submitted.

To

comply with this request, the Kaua’i Humane Society asked the former executive

director to provide the requested information to us so that we could prepare

for the next Council meeting. After the former executive director submitted her

monthly figures to the Board, questions regarding the figures arose. For

example, the Board discovered that the first six months’ figures in all nine

recorded categories were virtually identical to the second six months’ figures.

It seemed to us that statistically this was extremely unusual and the Board

began to doubt for the first time the authenticity of the figures. Attempts by

the Board to access accurate data were unsuccessful because Kaua’i Humane

Society staff members had been directed by the management not to retain any

supporting documentation for the recorded figures. When the Board

representatives went to the shelter to download any computerized statistical

information, it was discovered that none existed.

Since the Board did not

have sufficient statistics to support the funding request we issued a statement

of apology at the next Council hearing for the “apparent misrepresentation of

data.” Contrary to rumors being circulated, the Board did not wait until the

former executive director left for the mainland to present its findings to the

Council. The former executive director chose to attend a training workshop on

the mainland rather than stay during this very critical time to respond to the

County Council’s questions. At the Council meeting the Board committed to take

action in order to remedy the situation and to ensure the highest level of

accountability to the Council, the County Administration, and to the members of

the Kaua’i Humane Society. The Board’s testimony was televised on Ho’ike and is

available for review by all concerned.

The Kaua’i Humane Society Board is

comprised of a cross-section of people from our community, with a variety of

professional skills including management, accounting and law. Our Board has

served in many ways, for many years, in support of the animals and people of

Kaua’i. We take our responsibilities very much to heart. When confidence in

management is compromised in anyway, internally or publicly, a change must be

made. This does not negate the accomplishments of former management. However,

the short-term disruption must be endured for the long-term good. It takes

courage, in the face of uninformed criticism, for a volunteer Board member to

be willing to stand by a difficult decision.

We are excited about the

future of the Kaua’i Humane Society as we seek a new executive director. We

remain true to our mission to ensure that every animal on Kaua’i receives

compassionate, respectful treatment and a loving home. Through this recent

challenge, we hope to improve our organization and the great services provided

to the families of Kaua’i. We are pleased and grateful for the new shelter

Ieadership, the high morale of our loyal staff, and the support and

encouragement we are receiving from the public.

Mahalo,

The Kaua’i

Humane Society Board of Directors

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