August 29, 2013

Fur flies in animal shelter dispute

The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — A dispute between the Chickasha Animal Shelter and a local volunteer group erupted following the shelter's handling of food donated by the group.

Fran Morris, a director in the volunteer group Friends Fur Change, said she was told by another group member that Chickasha Animal Shelter Supervisor James Kasper was giving food donated by the volunteer organization to a local farmer on Aug. 14.

Morris said she confronted Kasper who told her they will often give outdated items away.

"I know what was on the shelves that day, and a lot of it was still good," she said.

Morris proceeded to contact Chickasha Police Chief Eddie Adamson to file a report on the incident.

"I did take a receive information report on the incident from the volunteer who witnessed the action," said Adamson. "The matter is being reviewed and investigated by the city."

City Manager Stewart Fairburn said when staff find the shelter is in an abundance of food, the surplus will be given away. He said it has, in the past, been sent to one person, but it will now be given to other area shelters.

"We get three pallets of food per week from Walmart," Fairburn said. "Sometimes we'll find that we have too much food. One thing we'd like to do is spread the wealth , so if we have a surplus of food, we'll contact other shelters and see where the need is."

Volunteers, along with the animals they take care of, are at a surplus, Fairburn said, which is good but can also lead to confusion when it comes to time and resources.

"We started the animal shelter with new people back in March," Fairburn said. "They came and said we'd like to help, and they've brought about 20 people. Sometimes, you can become overwhelmed by volunteers. We're working right now to spread that out and establish hours."

Morris said since the incident, it has been difficult for the volunteers of FUR to work in the shelter.

"They're not open on Mondays, but volunteers are supposed to be able to come in and work," she said. "He (Kasper) told our volunteers to go away, and that he doesn't accept volunteers anymore."

Currently, the shelter has more animals -- more than 80, Fairburn said -- than staff and volunteers would like to have. To combat this, the sides will continue to work together to organize more adoption fairs, Fairburn said, but their policy of a "less kill" shelter will remain. Friends Fur Change would like to see Chickasha have a no-kill shelter in the future.

"We've been doing less euthanasia, which is why we have so many," Fairburn said. "It's not impossible to do [a no-kill] with more placements. We're working with the FUR folks to try and do more of those. If we can get more placements and get a no-kill shelter, that would be great."

Morris said since the group started working at the shelter, there have been  no healthy animals euthanized.

The shelter will now also be looking at specialized food, such as that for puppies or kittens. This way, volunteers can worry less about what the pets have to eat and more about finding them homes.

"Instead of spending volunteer resources on food, we'll pick that up," Fairburn said. "They can go look for adoption opportunities, which is the number one priority."