Letters for June 28, 2015
KHS employees treated unfairly
One has to love Emily Larocque’s quotation in her recent statement: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” Google this and you’ll find that the quote is attributed to Eldridge Cleaver, a leader of the Black Panther Movement, convicted rapist and political activist. Not what most of us would consider a “wise kupuna.”
Two long-term managers at Kauai Humane Society, Mana Brown and Brandy Varvel, approached KHS Executive Director Penny Cistaro with documented and verifiable concerns about the operations at the shelter. Their concerns were dismissed. Mana and Brandy then presented these items to the board president. Again, they were dismissed. Finally, in desperation, they went public with their list of grievances. As a result, they were put on administrative leave, and were subsequently fired this past week. So much for trying to work within the system and being part of the solution, as Emily Larocque cries out.
When Penny Cistaro was hired on as executive director 2 1/2 years ago, there were approximately 36 employees. Of those 36, only four remain. What other nonprofit organization can boast a 90 percent turnover rate in that short period of a time and still retain the confidence of the general public? Emily Larocque states that a survey was completed, and most employees were happy in their position. Yet, one-third of those employees were willing to sign a petition asking for Penny Cistaro’s removal as executive director. We can assume more would have signed, but feared retaliation, as Mana and Brandy have now experienced.
Undoubtedly, Penny Cistaro is the problem, not the solution.
‘No-kill’ is nice phrase for ‘slow-kill’
I thank the staffers at Kauai Humane Society for putting animals’ best interests first, even when the best they can offer some animals is a peaceful end through euthanasia (“KHS is doing good for animals and community,” June 24).
“No-kill” may initially sound appealing to anyone who cares about animals, but it quickly loses its appeal once you realize that “no-kill” shelters keep their euthanasia numbers low by turning away animals in desperate need. For example, Best Friends Animal Society co-founder Michael Mountain once admitted, “We have at least 500 calls per week asking us to take this dog or cat. We can’t do that.”
What happens to rejected animals? They don’t just disappear. A lucky few may end up in open-admission shelters, but many are dumped on city streets or on desolate country roads, where they get injured or killed in traffic, starve, succumb to illness or the elements, and reproduce — creating even more homeless animals. Others are relegated to a chain or a lonely kennel in an isolated back yard.
The solution to animal homelessness — and the resulting need for euthanasia — is spaying and neutering our own animals, passing mandatory spay/neuter ordinances, and providing low-cost spay/neuter services. Until these steps are taken, “no-kill” is really only “slow-kill.”
Animal Care and Control Specialist
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Cistaro, KHS doing good work
I volunteer with cats at the Kauai Humane Society and am dismayed at the recent controversy. Penny Cistaro is the first director in five years whose face I have known, let alone talked to. She has excellent people skills. Her first morning on the job, I witnessed a potentially nasty exchange between a staff member and a visitor which Penny defused quickly and adroitly, leaving both parties feeling they had been heard. I was awed. She makes a habit of saying “Hi” to all, not just staff.
Euthanasia is one of the misfortunes of an open-intake shelter. But once an animal is out for adoption, every effort is made to find it a home. As I write, there are several cats with long hair (difficult to care for), a three-legged kitten, and one that is blind in one eye. The volunteer office keeps a list of animals needing special attention of some sort.
Animals are sent to the Mainland — 26 kittens and cats have found homes there so far this year.
Among programs currently in use to find new homes: discounts during special days or months; the field trip program for dogs; and runners taking dogs out for runs. There are others.
My point: Kauai Humane Society is basically a well-run organization under a caring and competent director whose main concern is for the animals in her care. Let this organization work out what needs attention without the glare of publicity. We have better things to do; the animals need us to do them.