I just received a very long anonymous critique of Brenda Barnette's performance in Seattle, but Blogger will not post any comment longer than 4,096 characters. Please rewrite and submit as two comments. Also, please sign it. All of ADL cited sources signed their comments. Anonymous comments are far less credible.


M. Cross said...

Although ADL LA claims that Brenda Barnette’s critics don't have firsthand experience working with her, I actually did work with her at the Seattle Humane Society, and I would like to offer my perspective in order to show that the criticisms against her are very much founded. Consider these facts:

During 2008, over 50 employees were terminated or left the Seattle Humane Society were under Brenda Barnette's leadership. Given that SHS has about 70 employees, this amounted to a staff turnover rate of approximately 74%, which is extremely high, even for animal welfare. Entire departments including Adoptions and Admissions experienced complete or near-complete turnover. In addition, a number of administrative positions were repeatedly vacated as well, and Brenda herself had at least eight different assistants during her tenure at SHS.

It is 100% correct that Brenda Brenda breeds and shows toy poodles for profit, and she has done the same with Portuguease Water Dogs in the past. The irony of this was not lost on staff, volunteers, donors, and community members in Washington and there have been instances where individuals have withdrawn their support of SHS as a result. While I worked there, one of Brenda’s breeding clients came by to drop off a poodle that Brenda had bred before embarking on a vacation. On another occasion, one of Brenda's breeding poodles encountered medical problems as a result of being un-spayed, and Brenda expressed dissatisfaction with her failed breeding efforts.

There were times when animal care suffered at SHS due to Brenda Barnette's decisions as the CEO, especially her choice to admit large numbers of dogs from California and local puppy mills. The kennels grew exceedingly overcrowded as a result, necessitating that four and five dogs be kenneled together. At certain times there wasn't room to properly kennel dogs at all; instead they were relegated to small crates inside, without outdoor access for days on end. In addition, Brenda’s decision to admit so many puppy mill and transfer dogs jeopardized the welfare of the shelter’s other animals. There were simply not enough resources to care for so many cats and dogs, and despite the best efforts of staff members, cleaning, feeding, and socialization were neglected. Overall, Brenda's emphasis was on keeping adoption numbers high, even if it meant overcrowding the shelter.

Lastly, it's imperative to examine the reasons why SHS can claim a 92% save rate. This nonprofit organization is NOT an open admission facility by any means. Due to my firsthand experience in the SHS Admissions department, I can attest that all the owner surrendered animals arrived via appointment. Although there was not a mandatory fee, owners were strongly encouraged to make a $200 donation at the time of surrender. Furthermore, SHS almost almost always declined to accept Pit Bulls, and at one point, they even had a policy of not accepting any Pit Bull or Pit mix transfers from other shelters. Dogs with bite histories and dogs with any aggressive behaviors were not considered adoption candidates, so they were not admitted to SHS, and the majority of Pits and Pit mixes were deemed aggressive by SHS. In addition, Brenda frequently imported young small breed dogs from Kern County in California instead of transferring in at-risk strays from local municipal shelters so that she could keep adoption numbers at SHS high. It's easy to boast such a high save rate when you always have such desirable animals up for adoption!

In sum, there are many reasons why the animal welfare community in LA should be skeptical about Brenda Barnette. The reality is that the vast majority of SHS staffers are extremely relived to see her go, as are many animal advocates in Washington.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think it's really weird that Pam/ADL are highly recommending Brenda? Brenda is a dog breeder with an unspayed pure bred dog. She works with the AKC. She is friends with Nathan Winograd. If I were the City I would rethink the appoint BECAUSE Pam/ADL/Nathan are recommending her.

Ed Muzika said...

That ADL and Winograd both recommend her increases her credibility in my eyes.

Anonymous said...

The fact that over 50 employees were terminated in 2008 is a good sign. It means that Barnette is not afraid to weed out the 'dead weight' which is exactly what DAAS needs. There is so much dead weight in this Department right there now that a major shakeup with employees would be the best thing to happen.

What Barnette needs to do is clean house; however, she needs to form her own opinions and not listen to others. That was one of many mistakes that Boks made. He listened to others and got rid of employees that he was told were a hinderance; rather than make his own mind up. Boks found out later that the employees who he was listening to were the ones he should have gotten rid of in the first place.

Too little too late. One of many reasons why Boks could not handle the job.

Oh well, what else can you expect when the Mayor hires someone who did not even meet the minimum requirements of the job. Given that and everything else the Mayor has been in the news for lately, you wonder whether or not he will survive the 'recall' campaign that is in progress right now.

The Boks appointment plus the DAAS 'deadwood' employees set the Department so far back that even if Barnette is competent, you have to wonder if so much damage was inflicted by the Boks regime that the Department will ever be able to recover.

Anonymous said...

Question to M. Cross:

Of those large numbers of animals crammed in cages and crates, how many of them made it out of the shelter alive?