Facebook opens the door to criticism of animal shelter management

Many animal shelters have webpages on Facebook. It is a great way to promote their organisation and to communicate with many people which facilitates the re-homing of rescued cats.  There is a great deal of communication between volunteers involved in animal rescue on Facebook.

So Facebook is good for animal rescue organisations but perhaps unexpectedly FB is also good at wheedling out the truth of what is going on because we also know that many animal rescue organisations are quite defensive about what goes on. They try and stop volunteers expressing critical views about what goes on. Shelters become defensive and they are only defensive because something wrong is going on. If everything was in good order at an animal shelter there will be no need to be defensive.  There would be complete transparency because the shelter will be very proud of what they are doing and they’d want to promote their work by divulging information about it.

A classic example of what I mean is the story about the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter.  This is in America and we are told that animal lovers have heavily criticised the shelter on Facebook and perhaps other social media websites after learning that cats were being euthanised without good reason.  Although it must be said that this happens a lot at many shelters but social media provided the opportunity to criticise the shelter and open up a dialogue. We know that Facebook freely allows people to make comments and to communicate rapidly and openly.

In this instance a certain person, JF Richards, who has his own Facebook page concerning cat rescue, wrote about the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter (CVAS).  He had been in communication with a whistleblower who works, it seems, at the shelter; an insider.  He was able to divulge on his webpage that cats had been euthanised apparently unjustifiably and the bodies placed in a bag which was then placed outside the facility.  He also said that most of the cats entering the shelter had been killed.

This forced the management of CVAS to respond.  They took down the social media page, we are told to stop the criticism. I’m not sure whether that means they deleted their Facebook webpage.  I doubt that but it may be the case.  The page was subsequently reopened with a statement from the shelter that the cats were euthanised because one of them had injured a staff worker.

This is interesting because of the references to a single cat so why were many cats killed? There were many angry responses to this statement and the webpage was once again removed.

More details came out from the shelter management. A spokesperson for the shelter told a reporter that the cats that were killed had demonstrated a temperament which in their judgement was unacceptable for adoption and they had to remove them from their cages and kill them to allow better cats to fill their spaces.

As to the disposal of the bodies, she said that they follow the usual procedures and that they are kept in a freezer and then handed over to a contractor.  We have no idea though what the contractor does with the bodies.

Well, that is the story in outline and as we can see when a shelter creates a web page on Facebook or any other social media website they open themselves up to critical comments, which I believe is a good thing because when it happens it is sometimes picked up by news media websites which in turn can (I am not saying it necessarily does) place pressure upon the shelter to improve their practices thereby saving lives.

I must say, it is a bit disturbing to read the reasons why these cats are being killed. They are being killed because the shelter staff’s assessment of their character is such that there are deemed to be unfit for adoption which begs the question as to how good is the assessment and does the assessment taking into account the fact that the cats are bound to be stressed up living in cages at a shelter.

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4 thoughts on “Facebook opens the door to criticism of animal shelter management”

    • FB is a two-edged sword. It can achieve a lot for justice etc. but it leaves people exposed. There is a lot of talk about young people being bullied online. I think it is essentially good but people should be prepared for flack. YouTube also has some cruel and ignorant comments. In the case of this shelter the comments appear to have hit the mark.

      Reply
  1. “My” county shelter sells those dead cats to a company that provides preserved specimens to college and high school biology classes for dissection, among other things.

    see carolina DOT com and look at “preserved specimens and organisms”

    Reply
    • Thanks for that Susan. I believe that the bodies of euthanised shelter cats are often treated as a commercial asset which is why there is a conflict of interest at shelters resulting in too many killings.

      Reply

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