Board’s Silence has Animal Shelter Supporters Growling

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