Usually when there is an outcry by the public, by the employees of an animal shelter over a manager being let go, it’s one of joy, much like the munchkins singing “Ding, Dong, the wicked witch is dead”. Not so for the latest manager of the Sonoma County Animal Care and Control shelter, Amy Cooper.
In her just-shy-of-one-year tenure at the very troubled shelter, she managed to lower euthanasia rates from 43% to 28%, increased outreach programs with area rescues, and not only raised staff morale, but earned their trust and respect. Why, then, would someone who was praised in the first six months of her employment by County Chairwoman, Valerie Brown, as being a blessing, someone who has built up relationships despite the difficulties faced from past negativity on the shelter, get canned?
All sides are mum. Agriculture Commissioner, Cathy Neville, has no comment. By law, she cannot say why an employee is relieved of his/her position. However, Neville did say when asked about what areas of the shelter needed improvement, that affordable spay/neuter programs were needed and wants the next manager to concentrate on outreach with the community. Hmmmnnn.
By all accounts, that’s exactly what Cooper was doing. The Executive Director of the Sonoma County Humane Society cited Cooper’s efforts to bring about low cost spay/neutering programs.
Speculation over the decision to let go a manager who was apparently doing everything she could, utilizing her many years working with animals by fundraising, and in other shelters, has brought forth the idea that the problem did not lie with Cooper’s performance, but with a conflict of personality between herself, and AC Neville.
The county’s Risk Management officer, Marcia Chadbourne stated she could not respond as to the why because “it’s a personal matter”. Personal? Others say that Neville caved to demands by animal advocate R.J. Kamprath (or perhaps they are working in tandem). Kamprath stated in a previous article that work towards a low-cost spay/neuter program was needed, and that more transparency should be forthcoming in the number of animals coming into the shelter vs. the number outgoing.
The funny thing about that is, these numbers are available on the website, and in reports upon request.
Something is rotten in Denmark, my friends. Read between the headlines.
Although the position of shelter director was probationary the first year, and therefore considered “at will” employment requiring no explanation on either side for discontinuation of the position, it seems that it would be considered quite petty and irresponsible to let go someone who has turned the shelter around in so short a time, with more good changes to come, over a possible, piddling personality conflict. Who is more important here, anyway? Neville, or the animals?
I invite Amy Cooper, R.J. Kamprath, and AC Cathy Neville, to contact me at [email protected] with any comments they would like to make on their behalf concerning this sad situation.
The animals have suffered a set back that can be ill-afforded after past allegations of mismanagement at this shelter. The people who have worked with Cooper, both the public and the animal rescue groups/advocacy programs, and all the shelter employees, deserve an answer.
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More from Michele Gwynn: Ms. Gwynn is also the San Antonio Sex & Relationships Examiner. Her humor in explaining “the unexplainable” goes hand in hand with her candor. She has interviewed celebrities for her column, and a former UN Ambassador, Sichan Siv for a San Antonio local paper.)