Board’s Silence has Animal Shelter Supporters Growling

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February 27, 2011; Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle | The board of the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter in Belgrade, Mont., doesn't think it’s anybody's business but its own about why it is searching for a new executive director. Other than announcing that Tracy Weller was placed on administrative leave last fall, only to resign six weeks later, the board isn't saying a word about what lead to those actions.

The wall of silence greeting people trying to find out more isn't pleasing donors who contributed $550,000 to the shelter's operation in 2009. Dian Bottcher, a long-time contributor, who stopped making donations after Weller left, is frustrated about the board's refusal to discuss her departure, how they're planning to find a new executive director, and how much, including the current search, and how much all this is costing the shelter. "If they didn't have anything to fire her with, they used my donated money, mine and everybody else's in the valley, and it's not right," Bottcher said. "That's a real chunk of money that could have helped animals."

When queried, shelter workers, including volunteers, say the board said little more than an investigation was underway after Weller was placed on administrative leave. Said Missy Mayfield, a volunteer dog trainer, "The board has kept it very secret." If only animals could talk.—Bruce Trachtenberg

  • Patrick B

    Raises interesting questions about the rights of donors. If you give money to an organization, what can you expect to hear about the operation of that nonprofit? If there were some potential civil or criminal action that caused the dismissal, and the board chooses not to prosecute, what then? If it is some other lack on the ED’s part that got her placed on leave, should the board disclose this? And if they do, would that create a potential liability situation for the board with the former ED? Could she sue? Usually HR matters are not disclosed. But what about any legal ones?

  • Susan P

    HOV is a first class animal shelter operation. As a donor and volunteer for HOV, I think it is an amazing facility that is well run and is growing to serve the community even more. The Board and organization, from what I have seen, embraces integrity, sound business principles, and works incredibly hard to make sure the animals, and the families who adopt the animals, are well cared for. Those that find things wrong with HOV probably have long lists of what is wrong in the rest of the world — negativity only breeds more negativity. I personally embrace the positive and what is good, and there is a great deal of good going on at HOV that I choose to focus on.