-Animal “Shelter” ~ shelter from what???

by Judith Fairly –

Judith Fairly

When I read about the crisis at the animal shelter back in January,I called City Manager Jerry Blaisdell and Steve Bates, who was then Director of the shelter. I asked what I could do to help. Both of them advised me to become a shelter volunteer.

That was almost 3 months ago. In the interim, the volunteer program was abruptly canceled. Rescue groups were told they couldn’t photograph animals at the shelter in order to network them. Volunteers who have given generous amounts of their time and money over the past six years were no longer welcome.

Weatherford City Council

Speaking at the City Council meeting on March 27th, some of these volunteers voiced their concern that the ban on volunteers coincided with the return of the shelter manager, Dianne Daniels, who had been absent on some sort of leave for a number of weeks. The City refused to tell them what kind of leave she was on. It seemed like a reasonable question; after all, as an employee of the City of Weatherford, the taxpayers pay her salary.

I visited the shelter last week.

Animal "Shelter"

I hadn’t been there for awhile. I always leave with a sense of despair for all the animals who are certainly going to die. Last week was no different. There’s a sense of sadness and hopelessness that hangs in the air.

The kennels were full. Most of them were littered with feces. The stench was horrible. The manic energy of the dogs and sense of desperation indicated that none of them had been out of their kennels for some time. That’s a service that the volunteers provided — one dedicated volunteer walked them every day.

The animals in the cat room hid or slept when I approached their cages, a sure sign of stress.

No one at the shelter greeted me or even made eye contact, with the exception of one of the Trustees. That’s another service the volunteers provided — they knew the animals and helped guide visitors to pets that might be a good fit for their families. There were two Parker County animal control officers on the premises, one of whom was helping a Trustee bathe dogs.

Barbara Pursley

One of the shelter employees told me they’re getting 150 dogs every 5 days. You can imagine how that translates into an unconscionably high kill rate. I asked if I could foster one of the dogs. I was told that you have to be a volunteer to foster. But there’s no volunteer program. I learned that you can foster through an approved 501c3 rescue. I asked if I could have Barbara Pursley at Parker Paws, which is a 501c3 group,  pull the dog so I could foster it. They told me she could only pull cats. Why, I asked? “Because she quit.”

Why does the city prefer to kill those animals than to let those of us who want to help do so?

The Assistant City Manager, Sharon Hayes, is now in charge of the shelter. She tells me that there will be no volunteers at the shelter until the city comes up with a volunteer agreement. I’ve emailed a copy of the very practical volunteer agreement used by the City of Austin to City employees twice. At the City Council meeting this week, neither Hayes nor Blaisdell were able to give an indication of when the volunteers will be allowed to return.

So I ask again, why does the city prefer to kill all those healthy, adoptable animals when there are alternatives: Extending shelter hours, using the donated adoption trailer to bring shelter animals to the community, working with rescue groups, a foster care program, a high volume, low cost spay/neuter clinic, Trap/Neuter/Release program for feral cats, community involvement, pet retention programs, medical and behavioral rehabilitation, a program that welcomes volunteers, and most importantly, a compassionate shelter manager.

After 3 months, there is still no volunteer agreement. The Magna Carta, the foundation of parliamentary law that inspired the framers of the US Constitution, was written in four days in 1215. The Declaration of Independence, perhaps our nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty, was drafted by Thomas Jefferson in seventeen days during the summer of 1776.

I share other citizen’s outrage that the City Manager, who has presided over the abuse and mismanagement at the shelter, has been charged with investigating what went wrong. That’s like asking the fox that killed your chickens to rebuild your henhouse.

City Manager Jerry Blaisdell

Mr. Blaisdell’s lethargic response to this crisis has been to scapegoat Parker Paws volunteers with nonsensical and defamatory charges rather than to accept responsibility for what happened on his watch. Dianne Daniels, the shelter manager who ordered the killing of 40 healthy puppies before Christmas needs to be held accountable. Retire her or reassign her NOW.

And why doesn’t the City Council demand accountability from the City Manager’s office? Who really runs the city of Weatherford — the City Manager, who serves at the pleasure of the City Council, or the Council Members who appointed him to his position? And I ask again: how many more animals are going to die while the City makes excuses?


If you agree with Judith, and want to be a part of the solution to this issue that has cast a shameful shadow over Weatherford and Parker County, sound off!!! Call your County Commissioner or members of City Council and express your outrage at the horrendous treatment of these helpless victims of apathy and complacency! 

9 responses

  1. Senator-Blutarksy

    Thank you, Ms. Fairly

    Maybe some will ponder your questions and the issues you bring forth, without irrational emotional rants and work for productive solutions

  2. To all who have “better management skills to run an animal shelter on a daily basis w/ a minimum budget and staff” then let’s see how your shelter will operate without any glitches or issues. The City Management officers that are assigned to these type of challenges do the best with what is provided to them. I have lived in the county and the city for numerous years and the animal shelter has always been a difficult issue. I have seen both sides…from the volunteer side to the budgetary side coming to the conclusion that the city management is doing the best they can do under limitation.

    1. Sorry, at this late time the excuses are too little too late. The council and city manager were dragging their feet hoping to keep the scandal under wraps until after the election. The city manager has a need to keep the three incumbents on the council. Use your imagination to figure why. They will not oppose him in any real way, unless it is to protect their own political lives. You are obviously either city staff of very close to city staff. Could be you are elected or retired from the city in some way. The budget seems to be more than adequate if used properly. There seems to be a huge discrepancy about what happens to the donated animal food as well. Lots of questions need to be addressed. Smoke, mirrors and slow leaking requested info won’t help protect the responsible parties in this mess.

    2. When there are volunteers ready & able to step up and help, the budget doesn’t matter. Volunteers, by definition, aren’t paid.

      Many people were, and still are, willing and able to VOLUNTEER their time, etc to ensure animals are walked, socialized, adopted and fostered so they don’t have to die.

      Why are healthy, adoptable animals killed, rather than allowed to be helped by volunteers?


    3. Why is it that City Councilman Hamilton was seen visiting the animal sheltor last weekend, expressly last Sunday (I thought it was closed then?) and was supposedly heard to say the animal sheltor to be safe and sound? I just was curious what he was doing there, besides taking pictures with his wife? If this sheltor is in the obvious mess it seems why is he expressing that the sheltor is ok? Hmmm.

  3. Judith is absolutely right.
    I have to ask….. Who is running this town?
    Something smells and it’s not just the kennels.
    In my opinion Diane Daniels needs to be
    investigated for animal cruelty. She needs
    to be held accountable for the killings of
    healthy puppies.
    Why aren’t the concerns of the citizens and
    taxpayers more important than covering
    up for Daniels?

  4. The candidates running for county commissioner will be at the Tea Party candidate forum Tuesday night at Victory Baptist Church. This would be an excellent time to ask some candidates what they would do to change thing.

    I would also suggest that former volunteers take their documented evidence of problems at the shelter and send them to PETA. They can sometimes open doors that have been shut by local officials. Make sure to keep the evidence factual and as nonemotional as possible. It will have a bigger impact.

  5. We are hosting the National Protest Against Kill Pounds in America on May 12th with about 15 locations nationwide including N Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Ohio and New York City. We will protest and demonstrate against the killing of cats and dogs and declare that we will no longer tolerate their completely unnecessary annihilation. The alternatives you pointed out in your blog are superb and we must demand that they take notice that this does not have to be, first by educating the public, second by taking them to court and then holding elected officials accountable. We are New York Animal Rights Alliance America, pls contact us Kay Riviello (845) 856-7366. There is something for everyone to do!!

  6. High kill shelters all over america will not enjoy the cover much longer.
    It wouldn’t take much to bring into the light, what goes on here.
    It would surely not meet the approval of the taxpaying voters either.
    Clean it up now,.. or after the ugly truth is blamed on you.

    See you in the news
    Tom J

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