Several shelter volunteers at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter complained or expressed concerns about how it was run. One of those persons was an employee, Delana Funderburk. She, amongst others, made allegations that the shelter management were manipulating euthanasia rates and fudging statistics. What she claims is that animals were being euthanised because they were labelled aggressive when they were not. In doing this the euthanasia rates were massaged to appear better than they were.
Ms Funderburk would, I suspect, consider herself to be a whistleblower. She would claim that she has been sacked because she is a whistleblower. She has threatened to sue her former employer for compensation of up to $1 million I believe.
The Gwinnett County animal shelter was managed by the Gwinnett County Police Department and, rather uncomfortably for me, they were the ones who conducted an investigation into whether the concerns expressed by the volunteers were accurate or not.
They came to the conclusion that there had been no wrongdoing. Neither had there been any violations of policy. They claim that they terminated the employment of Ms Funderburk because she allegedly made untruthful statements about a Facebook post written by a former shelter manager who had stepped down about a year ago.
The post had encouraged animal advocates to protest about shelter operations at an upcoming Board of Commissioners meeting. Funderburk’s name was one of those who had posted on the Facebook group page. When asked she denied that she had seen the Facebook post. They say her employment was terminated because she didn’t alert supervisors to the potential protests.
Make of that what you will. It looks a bit shady to me. But I don’t know the hard, intimate details of this dispute. It does seem rather sad that there appears to have been a lot of stress within this animal shelter. It also does appear to me that management were trying to get rid of Ms Funderburk.
In defence, however, of the shelter they say that euthanasia rates have gone down tremendously since 2012 (from over 3000 to just over 500). This does not point to manipulating euthanasia rates but perhaps the rates have gone down for the reasons stated by Funderurk. Just speculating.
Funderburk says that she was terminated because she is a whistleblower who claimed that the administration at the shelter was corrupt and engaged in unethical behaviour which led to the unnecessary killing of animals through the unnecessary euthanasia of non-aggressive and healthy animals.
This particular shelter has, it appears, a history of controversy dating back to 2012 when six shelter employees departed or were disciplined after an investigation regarding a culture of bigotry. In 2015 the shelter was shut down for weeks after an outbreak of a disease. The current shelter manager Curt Harrell was fined about two months ago for ordering the euthanasia of a court protected dog.
This information comes from the online newspaper my AJC-The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (reported Thursday, May 11, 2017).